THE BLOG

Climate Change This Week: Record Hot Christmas, Cozy Cohousing, and More!

01/05/2016 09:59 pm ET | Updated Jan 06, 2016

Today, the Earth got a little hotter, and a little more crowded.
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Another Fantastic Reason to Save Forests is the Cassia's owlet caterpillar found in the Amazon rainforest. Credit pbertner at flickr

Forests: the cheapest way to store carbon

OO 50+ Companies Being Investigated Or Punished For Indonesia's Haze Crisis
for fires linked to the choking haze that polluted skies and harmed people across Southeast Asia this fall.

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Credit Rhett Butler

OO Amazon Rainforests Likely To Become Savannah-Like Areas Under Climate Change predicts a new study. Although the response to climate change would vary:

  • as dry seasons lengthen, high-biomass rainforests will become low-biomass dry forests and savannah-like areas;
  • areas already somewhat drier would transition faster to drier ecosystems
  • fire, logging and other human disturbances could worsen these transitions

When we harm forests, we harm ourselves.

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THE HEAT IS ON

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Source www.dialaflight.com

OO This Christmas Shattered Heat Records

  • There was no white Christmas for the eastern half of the U.S.
  • Record hot temperatures in several states -- 86 F in Tampa, FL; 83 F in Houston, TX; 67 F in Boston, MA; 68 F in Burlington, VT and 66 F in New York City, are examples of what will be the globe's hottest year to date.
  • heat added fuel to severe weather in several Southern states, helping create deadly storms.

Related Headlines:

OO The Warmest Christmas Eve Shatters East Coast Records

OO East Coast Heads For Record Christmas Heat Wave
As Cold Air Stays Locked In Arctic
- under an unusual, long-lasting weather pattern.

OO Unusual Winter Has Millennials Concerned About Climate Change and it dominated the conversation on social media for the holidays.

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A GROWING VISION FOR SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES

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Ecovillage Ithaca members participate in a yearly winter ceremony centered around friendship, not material consumption. Credit Frank Muller at the National Geographic

OO US Cohousing: A Growing Model For Sustainable Communities are villages that engage in more resource-sharing, efficient use of space, and affordability, and ultimately smart clean renewable energy use. Cohousing is spreading with 150+ US communities, many touting ecological benefits. In the largest US example, citizens of Ecovillage Ithaca:

  • live in solar powered, well insulated houses
  • around a common living space
  • near organic farms
  • participate in activities centered around bonding, rather than consumption
  • bond more closely to the natural environment

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CLIMATE CHANGE 2015

@@ Climate Change 101: Why Care?
What You Need to Know
- Bill Nye tells it all in five minutes amid graphic, dynamic, engaging, compelling imagery. Check it Out!

OO Fire, Floods, Tornadoes:
Fatal Weather Rounds Out A Year Of Extremes In 2015
- record heat in southern Australia, winter tornadoes in Texas and "biblical" flooding in Britain are among the wacky extreme weather events rounding out 2015 across the globe.

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OO The Year's Environmental News In Pictures - 2015Some of the salient environmental stories were ones of destruction:

  • rising sea levels
  • the continued decimation of vital bees in the US and elsewhere
  • the bleaching of corals due to El Nino and climate change
  • the choking haze that even killed infants in Asia
  • the continued decimation of African wildlife

but there were also stories of hope and beauty:

  • the pope and other religious leaders spoke for action on healing the environment and climate;
  • we'll always have Paris, the first climate meeting where most nations pledged action on climate.

OO 2015: The Year The Environmental Movement Knocked Out Keystone XL Reeling from a string of defeats, environmental and climate activists seized on the tar sands pipeline to rediscover how to rally large numbers of people.

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GOOD IDEAS

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OO Improving Soils Cuts Carbon Emissions And Grows More Food - by replacing carbon lost from the soil, done via adding more organic matter and disturbing the soil less.

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OO Uganda: Interplanting Bananas and Coffee
Combats Climate Change, Boosts Farm Income
- Shady, taller banana trees can reduce temperatures for coffee plants by 2 degrees Celsius or more - the increase in heat predicted under climate change over the next decades.

The banana's permanent canopy, root systems, and resulting mulch prevent soil erosion and degradation in Uganda's hills. The mulch helps to mitigate climate change by capturing carbon dioxide from the air and enriching the soil's carbon stocks.

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Bananas To the Rescue as plants that provide needed shade, soil conservation, and extra income - besides being delicious! Credit Ramesh Ng at commons.wikimedia.org

Intercropping shows no decrease of coffee yields while providing extra profits from banana yields, an important staple and cash crop.

OO Can't Cut Meat Completely? Cut Partly - that is, simply cut down on meat dramatically - use it as a flavoring, for example, rather than the main event as you explore vegetarian options.

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NATURAL REPERCUSSIONS

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Skiing Into Oblivion? is the choice facing many ski resorts, as snow becomes a rarer winter event. Wikipedia

OO US Ski Industry Frets As Climate Change Imperils Winter with rising temperatures, shorter seasons and unpredictable weather.

OO In Canada's Far North, Warm Weather Threatens Vital Ice Road

OO Russia Warming '2.5 Times Quicker' Than Global Average - says the Russian environment ministry warning that floods and wildfires will rise nationwide.
"Climate change leads to growth of dangerous meteorological phenomena," the ministry said.

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A Treeless Southwest? Credit John Corney at johncorney.imagekind.com

OO Climate Change Could Trigger A 'Massive' Tree Die-Off In The US Southwest of conifers, says a troubling new study just out in Nature Climate Change.

Related Headline:

OO US Southwest's Conifers Will Be Nearly Wiped Out By 2100 forecast researchers, using climate models and tree physiological data.

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Algae blooms in Lake Erie. Credit Tom Archer

OO Rising Lake Temperatures May Worsen Algae Blooms

OO Bad News: Arctic Emits Far More Methane Than Thought - the highly potent global warming gas is escaping from the permafrost and lakes far more and faster during the winter than previously thought, based on new observations. This means its speeding up global warming faster.

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A Cattle Farmer Counts His Dead. Credit Joao Silva at the New York Times

OO Drought Deepens South Africa's Malaise and other African nations as El Niño, a weather process believed to be intensified by climate change:

  • brings record high temperatures and low rainfalls across much of the continent.
  • resulting in poor harvests that have already left 29 million people in southern Africa without reliable access to food
  • creates hunger in East Africa, particularly Ethiopia; 10 million people will need food assistance next year.
  • and Poor farming practices worsen the situation.

OO UK: Floods Of Biblical Proportions
Leave Cities, Towns And Villages Under Water

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GOOD CLEAN NEWS

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Source www.pinterest.com

OO US Wind Capacity Tops 70 Gigawatts - enough to power 19 million homes, with hundreds more gigawatts expected in the coming decades - think wind becoming a major source of electricity.

Related Headlines:

OO Wind Power Continues Steady Growth Across The US

OO Wind Industry Strives To Expand With Leased Turbines

2016-01-06-1452048237-8720076-windturbineinstallationinbasinnrangeJuly302013570x.jpg
Harvesting Western Wind in the basin and range region.

OO Major Midwest Power Utility Upping Wind Power
As It Uses Less Coal, Gas

OO Renewable Investment Boom Predicted As Congress Renews Tax Credits

OO US Government Teams With Private Lenders
to Support Beyond-the-Grid Energy Companies

@@ Time to Wake Up: Corporate America's Call for Climate Action Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, the lone US senator who regularly gives Congressional presentations on the need to address climate change.

OO Iran Sets Up Growth Plan to Develop Renewable Energy using green technologies to increase nominal capacity of power plants from 74 GW to over 120 GW by the end of 2025.

OO Germany: Brand New Fossil Fuel Plant Will Never Start
Due to Clean Energy Emphasis

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Source Esteban Bermudez Forn

OO Costa Rica's Green Energy Feat Shows Hope For The Planet

OO Insurance Firm Turns To Planting Trees In South Africa To Combat Drought Risk

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CLUELESS LEADERSHIP

@@ 2015's Top Five Awful Anti-Science Moments By US Leaders

OO Cruz Says No to Climate Change Collaboration
of Paris Climate Accord
- says he would withdraw US from Paris climate accord if elected.

OO Ted Cruz Out of Touch With Republican Voters on Climate:
Most US Republicans Now Back Action On Climate
- most U.S. Republicans who knew of the Paris climate accord support working with other countries to curb global warming and were willing to take steps to do so, says a new poll.

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FOSSIL FUEL FOLLIES

@@ Aerial Footage of Massive Methane Gas Leak - a highly potent greenhouse gas, hazardous to humans.

OO Massive Methane Gas Leak Displaces Thousands In Los Angeles County - a natural gas storage field is spewing out huge amounts of the potent climate change gas. Nearly 2,000 elementary students whose schools are nearby will have to enter different schools by mid-year.

OO Why Engineers Can't Stop The Enormous Methane Leak Flooding L.A. - the 8,000 foot well is too narrow and deep to plug the spewing of 110,000 lbs of methane per hour. A relief well is being built to lessen the pressure enough to plug the leak. One of the biggest environmental disasters in US history and it is happening right now.

OO What Went Wrong At The Gas Storage Field? The company failed to inspect and maintain aging wells that were wearing out. The leaking well had not been inspected in 40 years - and its safety valve had been removed 37 years ago. Can you spell "criminal negligence"?

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Fossil Fuel Profits Trumped Climate Safety

OO Not Just Exxon: Oil Industry Peers Knew
About Climate Dangers in 1970s, Too

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Shale Oil: A Boom and Bust Industry That Ravages Then Goes Away - contributing to climate change as it destroys and pollutes the landscape.

OO Shale's Running Out Of Survival Tricks As OPEC Ramps Up Pressure Companies operating in U.S. shale formations will cut production by a record 570,000 barrels a day in 2016, experts predict.

OO Oil ,Gas Company Fined $2+ Million Over North Sea Leak

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@@ Behemoth - a trailer of the film by Zhao Liang examining the grim cost of coal on China's land and people.

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A film screen capture from Behemoth.

OO As China Hungers For Coal,
'Behemoth' Studies The Ravages At The Source

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OO Paris Climate Goals Mean Emissions Need To Drop BELOW Zero

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CLIMATE CHANGE COSTS

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Source USGS

OO Damage From Sinking Land Costing California Billions as its aquifer, emptied by pumping over the past 4 years by drought-stricken farmers, collapses, damaging important infrastructure.

OO Southern California Wildfire Closes Major Highway

OO World 'Faces Food Shortages And Mass Migration' Caused By Global Warming

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2016-01-06-1452048678-3781944-papuanewguineafrostsdroughtCreditJayLomuatCAREccr310.jpg
Children Suffer as frosts and drought have wiped out subsistence crops in Papua New Guinea. Credit Jay Lomu at CARE

OO EU Doubles Aid To Drought-Hit Papua New Guinea
To Tackle Food, Water Shortages

OO UK Gives Ethiopia $6 Million To Fight Drought
Similar In Scale To 1984 Crisis

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If we do not grow sustainably,
Our children will die inhumanely.

@@ How Parents Can Help Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Teen childbearing cost US taxpayers $9+ Billion in 2010
And the costs of raising a child usually ensures decades, if not a life, of poverty for its mother.
- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Help prevent unintended pregnancies in your community:
publicize where women can access affordable contraception.

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They can go here to find locations:

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And there are many more actions you can do, right here.

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SOLAR KEEPS SAILING

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OO The Solar Industry's Christmas Miracle in 2015 came in the form of the Paris Climate Accord, boosting prospects of solar power expansion, and the US Congress extending solar tax credits.

OO North Carolina, Georgia Growing New Crop Of Solar Farms

OO Nevada: Fighting Climate Change With
One Of World's Largest Solar Power Plants

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Chinese rooftop solar installation. Source www.greentechmedia.com

OO China's Domestic Tariffs to Favor Distributed Solar

OO Desert Tower Raises Chile's Solar Power Ambition To New Heights

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Check it out here, right now!

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WHY WE SHOULD ACT NOW: RISING RISKS

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Daily Climate Change: Global Map of Unusual Temperatures, Jan 5, 2016

How unusual has the weather been? No one event is "caused" by climate change, but global warming, which is predicted to increase unusual, extreme weather, is having a daily effect on weather, worldwide.

Looking above at recent temperature anomalies, much of the US and the waters surrounding it are experiencing warmer than normal temperatures: despite the rain reaching California now, it is still in drought., with water supplies well below normal.

Much of the areas surrounding the North Pole are experiencing much warmer than normal temperatures - not good news for our Arctic thermal shield of ice. Hotter than usual temperatures continue to dominate human habitats.

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There is, of course, much more news on the consequences and solutions to climate change. To get it, check out this annotated resource list I've compiled, "Climate Change News Resources," at Wordpress.com here. For more information on the science of climate change, its consequences and solutions you can view my annotated list of online information resources here.

To help you understand just what science does and does NOT do, check this out!

Every day is Earth Day, folks, as I was reminded by this skipper butterfly I photographed one day. Making the U.S. a global clean energy leader will ensure a heck of a lot more jobs, and a clean, safe future. If you'd like to join the increasing numbers of people who want to TELL Congress that they will vote for clean energy candidates you can do so here. It's our way of letting Congress know there's a strong clean energy voting bloc out there. For more detailed summaries of the above and other climate change items, audio podcasts and texts are freely available.

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CONVERSATIONS