09/20/2014 02:48 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Climate Change This Week: Energy Efficiency Saves Trillions, US Birds at Risk, and More!

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


Daily Climate Change: Global Map of Unusual Temperatures, Sep 20, 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, much of the U.S. is experiencing well above normal warmer temperatures; the eastern Pacific warm spot continues to prevent much rain from reaching California, sending it into further drought.

The North Pole and much of the areas surrounding it 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.

(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.)



Tam Hunt

New US solar capacity beat out dirty natural gas in the first half of 2014, and that's not even counting small scale solar power projects. Way to go!

In Texas, abundant land, simple permitting, and lots of transmission lines might make this the next solar boom state. In California, solar replaces fossil fuels, as a solar farm arises from an old oil & gas field.

And the energy independence of rooftop solar has one Tea Party Activist promoting solar.



A team of Thomas Reuters analysts predicts that solar will be the dominant form of power by 2025 worldwide, based on emerging fronts in solar technology, particularly the evolution of organic solar cells, the rising efficiency of standard cells, and new ways to store solar energy.

A NY Times piece notes that the German commitment to a renewable energy transition has slashed prices on solar and wind power, reports Seth Zuckerman at ClimateCast, bringing them close to being competitive with standard utility prices.


Check it out here, right now!

In Africa, a Mother Jones piece highlights how rural Tanzanian villages are fighting poverty with solar power.



The many ways improved energy efficiency benefits the world's economies. GHG signifies greenhouse gases, the carbon emissions created from burning fossil fuels. Source: International Energy Agency

Efficiency Upgrades to Save Economies $18 Trillion Via Health, Productivity Benefits equaling or surpassing the resulting energy savings, says a new analysis by the International Energy Agency, reports Joe Romm at Climate Progress.

OO UK: Cutting Carbon Emissions Might
Improve Economy By Upping Efficiency
- says a more realistic analysis than previous ones, which assumed markets were already efficient.

OO Energy Efficiency Is The Most Important New "Fuel" - since the energy demand that is fulfilled by the energy it saves rivals that of fossil fuels, says a new IEA study.


OO Hope For Clean Economy As $20 Billion In Green Bonds Are Issued In 2014

OO Post-Fukushima Japan Turns To Offshore Wind And Solar

OO New England: Efficiency, Renewables Slows Rise In Energy Demand- it's predicted to offset most of the increased demand for electricity over the next decade, said electric grid officials. Thursday.


Blue And Red States Going Green On Energy Policy reports Wendy Koch at USA Today as they push energy efficiency and renewable power to save money and protect the planet, says a report today with prominent bi-partisan support.



JOIN THE PEOPLE'S CLIMATE MARCH and/or the many other events this September to press for action on climate change from our leaders.

OO Everything You Need To Know To Attend The Biggest Climate March In History - as well as the climate summit and over 100 other climate events in September.

Speaking Out:


Much of the public doesn't realize just how much scientists agree on global warming.

97 Hours Of Climate Experts On The Global Warming Consensus took place over 4 days recently at the major global warming information website Skeptical Science to try to close the gap of public perception on how much all scientists really agree on global warming, report John Abraham and Dana Nuccitelli at the UK Guardian.


This is just one of 97 quotes; you can find out what the rest of these eminent scientists have to say with this fun cartoon interactive here - move the cursor over the scientist of your choice, and click to see what she or he has to say...



Activists blocked a fossil fuels shipload with their lobster boat, saying it was necessary to prevent further climate change from more fossil fuels.

OO Judge Makes Legal History, Allows 'Necessity' Defense In Climate Trial - protesters defended their fossil fuel blocking actions as necessary to prevent more climate change. This possibly swayed prosecutors to drop charges.

Credit Katie Valentine

OO Protesters Rally at White House To End Pollution
from Appalachia Mountaintop Removal Coal Mines



OO Emma Thompson to Tony Abbott: Climate Change Is Real - Thompson was on a Greenpeace Arctic mission recently, part of a series of international trips to highlight the threat of global warming.

Good Ideas:

Have Each Nation Pledge Their Own Goals, Agree to Periodic Reviews, argue former US Senators Tim Wirth and Tom Daschle at Yale 360. One unified climate treaty does not fit all national needs; having each nation create its own set of reviewable goals will create much more inspiration to act on them, and compete with other nations.

Credit AllEarth Renewables

OO How To Set Up Your Own Solar School

OO Get Out Front With Clean Energy by starting your own state chapter of Mothers Out Front, a group of mothers, grandmothers and others spearheading two big goals in Massachusetts: getting state government to buy only clean energy, and residents to switch to it.


OO Really Quick Ways to Reduce Oil Consumption, from the 2005 International Energy Agency's Saving Oil in a Hurry.



We Must Fight Gas-fired Power Plants writes Mike Ewall at Energy Justice Now, because the levels of methane gas leakage from nearly 500,000 active (PLUS old ones) and transport structures makes burning gas far worse than coal.

Gas plants proposed for construction (yellow) or expansion (blue) in the US.

Why? Because over the first 20 years of its atmospheric life, natural gas (aka methane) is an 80 to 105 times worse global warming gas than carbon dioxide. Fracking methane emissions will zoom with the burgeoning of gas fracking.


Source: Energy Justice Now

Environmental fracking hazards includes permanent (ie, too expensive to clean up) toxic contamination of soil, air and water supplies, affecting thousands of US communities; fracking has been correlated with nearby rises in poverty.

As in fighting coal, attacking proposed gas plants is the most effective way to stop the fracking madness. Energy Justice Now acts as an organizing and educational hub for communities fighting gas plants. Check out their September 2014 issue here!

OO New High-Resolution Maps Track Greenhouse Gas Emissions At City-Level - and by the hour.

OO Fungi Could Rid US Great Basin of Alien Grass,
Restoring a Vast Carbon-Storing System


Fossil Fuel Follies:

OO People Who Live Near Fracking More Likely To Become Sick, study finds.

OO South Africa: Coal-Fired Power Stations Carry Heavy Health Costs

OO Tropical Dams Are a Methane Source and new data indicate the methane emissions from hydroelectric dams outweigh the benefits.

Clueless Leadership:

OO States Sue to Stop CO2 Cuts
But Prep For Them Anyway

OO As Obama Administration Orders Carbon Cuts, It Sells Coal Rights - oh no, O, say it ain't so!


Greenhouse Gases Rising:


Earth's atmosphere, seen from a satellite. NASA

OO UN Scientists See Largest Annual CO2 Increase In 30 Years:
'We Are Running Out Of Time'

OO Jump in Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations Surprises Scientists - the latest World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) Greenhouse Gas Bulletin raises alarm about society's inaction on curbing global warming.

OO Greenhouse Gases Are At Record Highs

Melting Ice, Permafrost:


OO Half of Carbon from Melting Permafrost Going Into Air,
Adding to Global Warming
- which will further melt permafrost...

Greenland, 2014: Thousands of Nameless, Short-Lived Lakes

OO Sorry Policy-Makers: The 2oC Warming Policy
Is Likely A Road To Disaster

OO Accounting Giant: We're 20 Years From Climate Catastrophe - says Pricewaterhouse Coopers in their latest carbon economy index report.


OO Asia: Climate Change Is Cutting Youth Employment,
NGOs Need To Nurture 'Green-Skills'


OO Half Of North American Birds Risk Extinction By Climate Change - through severe population declines by 2080 if the swift pace of global warming continues, says a National Audubon Society study.

OO US: Iconic Bald Eagle, 10 State Birds, Others
Face Extinction by Climate Change
- over 300 species will be severely affected.

Source: National Audubon Society

OO Birds Of North America Under Threat From Climate Change : Pictures - warming temperatures are reducing the range of over 300 species, pushing many towards extinction.

OO Climate Change Gets Personal:
Minnesota Faces Loss Of Its Beloved Loon
-"It is the voice of Minnesota."

Credit Shutterstock

OO Trees Are Dying From 'No Obvious Cause'
In Rocky Mountains
says report, except for the most obvious one: the rippling effects of climate change.

OO Fungus Stoked By Warming Threatens Organic Coffee - an extreme outbreak has cut yields, lowered incomes and cut jobs from Peru to Mexico.

OO Mussels Can't Stick Around In Acidic Ocean Water - acid water impairs mussels' ability to attach to surfaces and get swept away, alarming commercial growers in the US Northwest.

OO As Greenhouse Gases Surge, Ocean Acidifies More - as it absorbs more emissions, reported the UN.

Extreme Consequences:

Credit Matt Granz at twitter

OO Washington State: 2014 Fire Season 6x Worse Than Normal

The Face of Future California Life: Desert Living is where the super-rich haven ofMontecito is headed, reports Nick Allen at the UK Telegraph. Extreme drought has cut water to mansions by 90%. Cacti, Astroturf, green paint or the brown look has replaced lawns. Short showers, paper plates and astronomical prices for imported water are the new life. As the drought continues, expect worse, especially for poorer people, here - and elsewhere.

OO West Nile Infections Slam California West Nile virus infections are soaring in California, fueled by a drought that experts say has helped make the state the country's hot spot for the potentially fatal disease transmitted by mosquitoes.

Arizona recently experienced flash flooding due to record rainfalls. Source: Andrew Freedman at Climate Central

Wobbling Jet Stream Brings Weird Extreme Weather to US reports Andrea Thompson at Climate Central. The jet stream brought a cold front down into the heart of the US: from summer snow in Alberta, Canada, to lightning in Kansas and record rains in Arizona, creating flash flooding as drought-dry soils failed to absorb so much water so fast.



OO USA: How Global Warming Is Already Worsening Extreme Deluges - with some 70% more water falling in the heaviest rainfalls now than it did about 50 years ago. Here's why.

OO Raging Floods Kill Over 440 In Pakistan, India - due to extreme monsoonal rains.

We Face a Dangerous Climate Changing Future as Episode 8 of Years of Living Dangerously illustrates, notes John Abraham at the UK Guardian. Matt Damon, Thomas Friedman, and Michael C. Hall take us through human stories illustrating our impending dangerous future, if we let business continue as usual.

Forests: the cheapest way to store carbon

OO As Bolivia Plans Dramatic Agro-Expansion,
Forests To Pay The Price (PART II)

When palm oil plantations replace forests, orangutans die, and local villages lose important water sources.

OO Indonesia: Palm Oil Company Keeps Operating Illegal Plantation
- Despite Court Ruling

OO Malaysian Palm Oil Chief Misleads On Deforestation

The FSC could be an important influence in guiding the lumber market away from old growth forests.

OO Forest Stewardship Council Passes Motion For Greater Protection Of Primary Forests

Illegal conversion of forest into farmland drives 50 percent of tropical deforestation.

Illegal Tropical Deforestation Driven Globally By "Agro-Conversion" reports John C Cannon at Mongabay. Nearly 50 percent of tropical deforestation to make room for commercial agriculture between 2000 and 2012 was done so illegally, says a new report by Forest Trends, looking at the global tide of tropical forest "agro-conversion."

Soybean demand worldwide fuels tropical deforestation from agro-conversion.

The study systematically documents abuses of national and international laws that resulted in deforestation to satiate the world's hunger for cheap agricultural products.

In Bolivia, for example, land clearing to plant soybeans, three-quarters of which end up being exported, has been the main cause of deforestation

A green label? Read the fine print. Palm oil, kernel, fruit - whatever it is labeled as - is an unhealthy ingredient that also fuels major deforestation in the tropics, destroying valuable carbon-storing systems.

A full 40% of exported palm oil - the cheap fat found in so many of the products found on supermarket shelves in wealthy countries - comes from plants that illegally replaced forests.

OO Next Big Idea In Forest Conservation:
Harness The Power Of Marketing

OO Domestic Conservation: Indonesia's Rich Should Save
Their Dwindling Natural Resources
- middle and upper classes increasingly support environmental conservation. It is in their interest to do so.

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 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 beetle I photographed recently in South Africa. 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.