THE BLOG
08/11/2014 03:27 am ET Updated Oct 10, 2014

Climate Change This Week: Mega Methane, Tidal Power, and More

Today, the Earth got a little hotter, and a little more crowded.

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Daily Climate Change: Global Map of Unusual Temperatures, Jan 16 2014

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, the western US continues to show warmer than average temperatures; the eastern Pacific warm spot continues to prevent much rain from reaching California.

The North Pole, which will have one of the smallest summer ice caps recorded this year, shows average temperatures but is surrounded by land areas 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.

(Add 0.3-0.4 C to have these anomaly values calibrate with those of NASA.) Daily updates of can be seen here for both the temperature anomalies map, and the jetstream map. For real time animated US surface wind patterns, click here, and here, for the planet. (Clicking on "earth" there reveals data and map options.)

SOLAR KEEPS SMILING

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As some US states try to impose fixed monthly charges for solar power, financial analysts at Morgan Stanley warn that where electricity rates are relatively high, this could push a mass exodus from the national grid, with solar customers buying lithium batteries to store their solar energy, especially in the west, southwest and mid Atlantic areas.

Meanwhile, a California utility is contracting for 1+ GWatts of solar projects, and another 20% of capacity in geothermal power. And California solar customers are saving an estimated $700-1000 annually on their energy bills via net metering, which encourages use during hours of lower demand.

Globally, affordable off-grid solar products in developing countries are having two major effects in rural communities: 1) providing cheaper, cleaner sources of energy and 2) through the successful pay-as-you-go solar financing programs, creating credit score records that allow these communities to acquire further loans needed for economic improvement.

GOOD CLEAN NEWS

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OO Wind, Solar, Geothermal and Biomass Will Top Hydropower in 2014
For the first year ever... and none too soon, since drought is drying up hydro...

OO Minnesota: For Energy Co-Ops, Behavioral Efficiency Programs Are Succeeding
2-3 % energy savings for 4 electrical co-ops, but every percent counts...

OO New York: Utility Proposes Community Solar, Microgrids as a Service And is already having an impact on planning...

OO Wales, UK: Major Milestone In Tidal Power Emerges With Giant Generator

WHAT WORKS

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Speaking Out:

Ggg religions, jews

OO At EPA Hearing, Religious Leaders Call Carbon Pollution 'An Affront To God'
Christian, Jewish, and Hindu leaders urged the EPA not to weaken their proposed regulations on carbon emissions from coal plants.

OO White House Chief Science Adviser: Wildfires Are Linked To Climate Change

OO PR Firms: We Don't Want To Work For Climate-Bashing Clients

Informed Leadership:

OO Obama: Business Leaders Must Accept Climate Change

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OO India: Prime Minister Modi Pledges New Climate Action Funds In First Budget

Good Ideas:

OO California: Company Recycles Waste Vanadium To Produce Cheaper, Advanced Battery

OO Maps Show How Big Data Can Fight Climate Change - areas impacted by climate and pollution often also hold the greatest potential for clean energy investment.

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OO Californians Twitter To Shame Neighbors Who Waste Water

OO Washington State Is Gearing Up A System To Cut Its Carbon Emissions
State officials are considering both a cap-and-trade system and a carbon tax, to join California and some Canadian provinces in a coordinated effort.

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Reducing Carbon Emissions by Curbing Population notes Eduardo Porter at the New York Times is an obvious yet still touchy pollution and global warming solution. Slowing growth 15% by 2050 could deliver a nearly 30% reduction in emissions, reduce the needed 70% increase in food production, and help preserve carbon-storing forests.

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Wikipedia

Educating women and providing reproductive health services help bring down reproductive rates, and could be done relatively cheaply. Giving women reproductive choice worldwide is equally important:: in the Sahel, for example, where men oppose family planning, reproduction far exceeds sustainable levels.

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Emissions have grown far faster than both rich and poor populations, though, so material consumption needs to be managed, too, especially as populous poor nations become richer, consuming more, faster.

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Photo: US NIH collection

We can manage our populations humanely, or let them crash inhumanely via starvation and war. We can choose.

Education:

OO What Would Jesus Do (About Climate Change)? Gordon College science professor Dorothy Boorse wants evangelical Christians to connect practicing their faith with caring for the environment.

Scientific Insights:

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Credit Richard B Mieremet/NOAA OSDIA

Atlantic Warming Causing Stronger Pacific Trade Winds reports
Tom Arup at The Age. The windy upsurge is partly responsible for pushing global warming heat into the ocean, thus slowing the heating of air surface temperatures. Australian researchers found that the warming Atlantic is creating lower pressure at the surface than higher up, driving large air masses high. Ultimately, these speed the trade winds and amplify the California drought.

Within 15-30 years other conditions will ease the trade winds, though - allowing the heat pushed into the ocean to rise, noted lead researcher Shayne McGregor.

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A large plume of methane rising from the Arctic sea floor, detected at roughly 60 m. University of Stockholm

Scientists Discover Vast Methane Plumes Rising From Arctic Seafloor reports Earth Sky
and Climate Change SOS at Daily Kos. University of Stockholm researchers noted that "these early glimpses of what may be in store for a warming Arctic Ocean could help scientists project the future releases of the strong greenhouse gas methane from the Arctic Ocean."

Methane is about 80 times more powerful than CO2 as a greenhouse gas in its 20 year average life in the atmosphere. Mega releases will accelerate global warming. And then what?

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This is the largest of a few Siberian craters recently discovered, and believed to be formed from the explosive release of methane from melting permafrost. Photo: AP television frame vis Climate Progress

Siberia: Craters Formed As Methane Released From Melting Permafrost reports Ari Phillips at Climate Progress. Measurements at the bottom of the crater revealed high levels of dissolved methane. Unusually warm summers in 2012 and 2013 could have melted and collapsed the permafrost near the surface, releasing methane trapped beneath the ice.

Even if excaping methane could be held to 10% of the total planetary emissions, it will be a chronic source of carbon emissions for centuries - and that is worrying, noted one Australian climate scientist, who monitors greenhouse gas levels.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK

Fossil Fuel Follies:

OO Big Oil Companies Pay Just 11+ % Tax Rate, report finds. Time to nix THAT tax subsidy.

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Credit Greg Goebel at flickr

OO Fed Agency Could Approve Coal Sale , Threatening Obama's Climate Goals - by locking in coal pollution for decades.

OO Pennsylvania: Families Claim State Ignores Fracking-Related Health Complaints willfully; the state attorney general says it will be investigated.

OO Oklahoma: Frackers Spill Huge Amount of Hydrochloric Acid

RISING RISKS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

OO As Temperatures Rise, Britain Is Losing Its Waterbirds But birds in the U.S. are also being affected.

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Record-Setting Drought Intensifies in Parched California reports Andrea Tompson at Climate Central. While the drought can't be directly linked to climate change, the warming of the planet is expected to make already dry places drier. And future droughts could be even worse.

OO California Is Now Experiencing Its Most Severe Drought Ever Recorded The majority of the state is now in the worst category of drought conditions.

OO Governor Brown Declares State Of Emergency As Wildfires Consume California "We're seeing fire behavior we wouldn't normally see until September."

OO Climate Change May Increase the Number of Hawaiian Hurricanes A new modeling study indicates a 2-3 fold increase by 2100.

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OO No Record, But 2014 Summer Arctic Sea Ice Will be Among 10 Lowest Recorded - allowing much more heat to be absorbed globally by the dark waters that replace previous ice cover.

OO Derailments May Increase as 'Sun Kinks' Buckle Tracks

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The Great Lakes toxic algae bloom that affected Toledo, Ohio.

Toledo's Toxic Algae Bloom Fits with Climate Trends reports Brian Kahn at Climate Central. The bloom caused a ban on drinking water in Toledo for two days. Climate change could make the Great Lakes' harmful algae blooms more toxic and last longer.

Other Major US Water Supplies, Economies, Threatened by Toxic Blooms include spots in New York, Kansas, California and elsewhere reports Emily Atkin at Climate Progress. The EPA defines these blooms as major environmental problems in all 50 states.

OO Warming Seawaters Behind Rise In Deadly Flesh-Eating Bacteria In US

KEEPING CARBON STORED: FORESTS UPDATE

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Knobbed hornbill. Some forest specialists, like some hornbills and parrots, require tree hollows typically found in old trees that may be absent in heavily logged forests. Credit Rhett Butler at Mongabay

Ecologists Underestimating The Impacts Of Rainforest Logging says a new study, reports Rhett Butler at Mongabay. They fail to account for subtleties in how different animal groups respond to the intensity of timber extraction, argues the published paper, based on a meta-analysis of 48 studies that evaluated the impact of selective logging on mammals, birds, amphibians, and invertebrates in tropical forests.

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Even selective logging can heavily degrade forests, such as this one in Malaysian Borneo, completely transforming them ecologically. Credit Rhett Butler at Mongabay

The number of birds in forests generally increases with logging intensity as gaps open up habitats for species that thrive in disturbed habitats and grasslands. But mammals, amphibians, butterflies, dung beetles, and ants decline as more trees are removed from a forest.

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This fringe leaf frog is particularly vulnerable to logging in Borneo forests. Credit Rhett Butler at Mongabay

"We found that mammals and amphibians are the most sensitive groups to selective logging in terms of the rate of decline in species richness," the authors write. Removing as few as 3-4 trees from about 2.5 acres can halve the species of mammals; removing 6-8 trees halves the species of amphibians.

OO Cargill To Cut Off Suppliers Who Don't Provide Deforestation-Free Palm Oil - such plantations are driving deforestation, especially in Indonesia.

OO Indonesia: Tin Mining, Palm Oil Plantations Wreaking Havoc On Small Island

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Only 400 breeding pairs of the magnificent Philippine Eagle remain in the wild. Wikipedia.

The Philippines: 'Megadiversity' Meets Mega Deforestation reports Shaira Panela at Mongabay. While logging is now banned, illegal logging is rampant, leaving only 5% of Philippine forests intact. It is the fourth most threatened forest system on the planet.

Stunning High-Resolution Map Reveals Secrets Of Peru's Forests reports Rhett Butler at Mongabay. Peru's landmass has just been mapped like never before, revealing important insights about the country's forests that illustrate the value healthy and productive ecosystems afford humanity.

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The study found that vegetation in Peru stores nearly 7 billion metric tons of aboveground biomass, roughly equaling nearly twice the combined annual carbon emissions of the U.S. and China; it also documented ecosystem gradients that underpin the country's rich biodiversity.

OO Peruvian Oil Spill Sparks Concern In Indigenous Rainforest Community

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 protea I photographed recently here in South Afica. 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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