THE BLOG
12/15/2014 03:28 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Climate Change This Week: New Solar Record, Murder, a Flying Donut, And More!

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

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Vier Pfoten/Four Paws/RHOI/Rex/AP

Palm Oil is Lethal for Mother and Child: This orangutan mother and five year old child huddled, petrified, as bounty hunters closed in to kill them, to clear "these pests" off palm oil plantations. A last minute rescue by an international animal rescue group, Four Paws saved them -- but others continue to die. Read the full dramatic story here.

OO Japan's SoftBank Invests $7 Million in the Flying Donut From MIT - Altaeros Energies' high-altitude wind turbine will bring clean energy, and possibly internet, to remote locations.

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Indigenous leader murdered days before he was to attend Climate Summit reports Jeremy Hance at Mongabay. José Isidro Tendetza Antún, a leader of the Shuar tribe in Ecuador, opposed a nearby Chinese financed major mine project; bribes and burning his crops had failed to silence him. He joins a growing group of Amazonian martyrs, as governments protect big company forest destroyers rather than local community forest preservers.

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SOLAR KEEPS SMILING

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OO Solar Cell Technique Achieves Record-High 40% Efficiency - and in a way that is readily accessible to the industry.

OO Engineer Reimagines Solar Energy With Stick-On Panels - she predicts peel-and-stick solar cells could one day paper the sides of buildings, cover sidewalks to light walkways, energize home security systems, and help power solar cars or planes.

OO Solar Stock Selloff Creates Buying Opportunity - say some Wall Streeters as lower oil prices created the selloff there and elsewhere.

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Virtual net metering is the way to go for most housing authorities. Source: GreenTechMedia

OO Massachusetts: Public Housing Uses Solar Microgrids for Big Savings

OO Australia: 1 in 5 Australian Households Have Gone Solar before govt incentives dry up.

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Check it out here, right now!

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GOOD CLEAN NEWS

OO New US Oil, Gas Well November Permits Tumble Nearly 40 % as the price of oil tumbles, too.

OO Obama To Use Executive Powers To Meet Climate Goals

OO Canada: Groundbreaking Technology
Stores Wind Power In Salt Caverns

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Dennis Schroeder/NREL

OO Canada: Green Energy Sector Employs More People
Than Its Tar Sands

OO Germany Moves to Speed Renewable Energy Goal - ranging from new subsidies for homeowners to mandatory emission cuts for producers, to meet its goal of 40% emissions cut by 2020.

OO China's Electric Car Production Up 1000% Since November 2013 - now it's nearly 10,000 per month.

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WHAT WORKS

Speaking Out:

OO Church Of England Challenges BP And Shell Over Global Warming to take responsibility for their carbon footprints and limit their contribution to global warming.

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Courtesy of Patricia Gualinga, Director of Intl Relations, Sarayaku community, Ecuador

OO How An Indigenous Community In Ecuador Stood Up To Big Oil - And Won

OO Two Lawmakers Want To Ban Fracking In Florida concerned about its impact on the Floridian Aquifer, the drinking water source for nearly 10 million people.

OO North Pole, Alaska, Sues Koch-Owned Oil Company Over Contaminated Water

Progress in Education:

OO Most Americans Say Climate Is Changing - Over 80% and 60% say it's manmade.

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Jared Flesher

OO White House Announces Initiative To Improve US Climate Education

OO Oil Investors May Be Running Off a Hidden Cliff:
Some Divesting Before Assets Are Worthless
- as a growing minority recognizes that to address climate change, most fossil fuel reserves cannot be used, making them worthless.

New Insights:

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OO 2014 Likely Hottest Year on Record AND
Another First: The Heat's Mostly Due to Global Warming

OO Warm Water Invasion Is Tripling the Melt Rate
of a Huge Antarctic Ice Sheet

Unraveling the Mysterious El Nino phenomenon has taken time and lots of measurements, reports Daniel Gross at Climate Central.

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Every few years, a relatively warm patch of water forms beneath the Pacific. Although just a few degrees warmer, globally, that extra heat can transform the seasonal climate. Some years, the warm region spreads out and up, where it meets with easterly trade winds, creating a feedback loop.

Warm water slows the easterly winds that normally enable an upwelling of cool water. So, slower upwelling increases warming that, in turn, further slows the winds. It's this moment of atmospheric-oceanic coupling that helps scientists define the start of El Nino.

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Explore this interactive map here to see how El Nino has influenced past and present events of human and natural history.

Wind and water exist in delicate balance with the rest of the climate -- so El Nino sets off a cascade of effects. Among its most drastic consequences are increased temperatures along the Pacific and heavy rains along South America's western coast. In a tangled and interconnected system like the climate, a seemingly regional phenomenon like El Nino becomes global.

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Massive chunks of ice broke away from Greenland's Petermann Glacier in 2012, emblematic of the general retreat of ice occurring around the Arctic.
NASA Earth Observatory

Dramatic Changes Are Unfolding in the Arctic reports Edward Struzik at Climate Central as the area warms twice as fast as the lower latitudes. Just within the past decade, changes include significant retreating ice, increasingly powerful storms, the burning of boreal forest and tundra, vast releases of methane from the land, and the shrubby takeover of melting, drying tundra.

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A hybrid of a polar and grizzly bear, harbinger of changes among wildlife, both on land and in the sea. Credit Jodie Pongracz.

On land, caribou are declining as are polar bears, while at sea killer whales are now going after beluga whales, walruses are beaching as their sea ice homes melts away, and birds die as climate changes. Beneath the waves, fish communities are changing.

Ultimately, it's what we don't know about how the Arctic keeps changing that really worries scientists.

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Winters Are Changing Throughout the US reports Climate Central. Over the past 40 years, the US winters have warmed an average 2.4 F, over twice as fast as the global average warming of winters.

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The US northeast is warming twice as fast as the rest of the US.

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US winter precipitation patterns are shifting, with the interior getting somewhat wetter, and the coasts somewhat drier.

OO CO2 Takes Just 10 Years to Peak Heat the Planet - from the time of emission to when it packs its maximum punch of heat, but continues to heat the planet for a century or more until it leaves the atmosphere.

Good Ideas:

OO Lighting Controls Could Save Boston $27 Million Annually

OO Indonesia: A Decade After Tsunami, New Mangrove Forests Protect The Coast

OO Keeping Down With The Joneses:
Neighbors Compete On Saving Energy

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Slower Population Growth Could Significantly Reduce Carbon Emissions, concludes
a study by economist David Rosnick at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Even an additional 1% population growth results in an extra 2 degrees F rise in global temperature by 2100. "Over time, the temperature change is greater and becomes increasingly sensitive to population growth," concludes the paper.

This paper is just the latest of several studies, including the 2014 IPCC report, that links population growth to growing.

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WHAT DOESN'T WORK

Fossil Fuel Follies:

OO The 'Texas Miracle' Is Fueling Huge Economic Growth --
And The Climate Change That May End It.

OO Fueling Climate Change? Fossil Fuel Exports Soar Under Obama

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OO Fracking Operations Study: Even Small Chemical Exposures Pose Risk

OO Big Oil Companies Front Sham Groups To Kill Climate Laws by sowing confusion about the laws among the voters.

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The new state seal of Oklahoma? The state's attorney general let a major oil company write a letter of complaint to the EPA on new regulations under the state's seal and in his name. Several other state attorneys general are in similar cahoots with other energy companies.

Energy Firms Secretly Ally With State Attorneys General To Kill Environmental Regulations reports Eric Lipton at the New York Times in at least a dozen states, and work with other corporate interests as well. These corporate partners, in turn, are providing the attorneys with record amounts of money for their political campaigns, including at least $16 million this year.

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OO Walmart US Burns 4+ Million Tons Of Coal Each Year - its "green growth" business put profits before environment, and low prices at the expense of workers. Do you really want to buy from this company?

OO Alaska: Cut Taxes On Oil Companies Morphs Into Massive Budget Hole

OO Canada: Leaking Wells Arousing Concern - with over 550,000 past wells and 10,000 more kilometers-deep holes each year from fracking, concerns are rising about how they all leak methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

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Israel Environmental Protection Ministry
OO Israel Hit With Massive 600,000 Gallon Oil Spill

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WHY WE SHOULD ACT NOW: RISING RISKS

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Daily Climate Change: Global Map of Unusual Temperatures, Dec 15, 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 US and the waters surrounding it are experiencing warmer than normal temperatures: despite recent rains from the south, the eastern Pacific warm spot continues to prevent enough rain from reaching California, keeping it in severe drought.

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.

OO Climate Has Made the Earth Hotter, Weirder - It's gotten hotter, more polluted with heat-trapping gases, more crowded and just downright wilder.

Rising Seas:

OO Major Deltas, Home To 1.5 Billion People, 'Could Be Drowned.'

Overheating:

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Wikipedia.

OO Deadly Heat in Europe 10x More Likely Than Decade Ago

OO Australia: With Climate Change, Hotter, More Fire Danger Days

OO Melting Of Andes Glaciers Threatens Andean Countries

More Extreme Effects:

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Weather.com

OO Philippines Official On Typhoon Hagupit:
'The Impacts Of Climate Change Are Beyond Our Capacity'
- the latest in a series of extreme typhoons to hit the country, it destroyed 1,000 homes, and killed people.

OO Coyote Booms, Bear Attacks: Climate Change Is Wreaking Havoc On Animal Kingdom

California Dryin'

OO Global Warming Heat Turbocharged California's Epic Drought

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Facebook

OO California Drought The Worst In 1,200 Years,
New Study Says
- but current rains will offer little relief.

OO Drought Dries Rural California Wells,
Residents Carry Water In Buckets.
- and current rains will wet the ground but not fill those wells.

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KEEPING CARBON STORED: FORESTS UPDATE
Forests: the cheapest way to store carbon

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A tribe, its existence threatened by invading fossil fuel companies, literally searches for its ancient identity, a giant face in the forest... The Reunion, an engrossing true story. View it here.

OO Threatened Indigenous Forests Store More Than Half The Amazon's Carbon

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Borneo: Damming the Future is a powerful new youtuber on how big biz is destroying forests, the lives of forest people, and adding to climate change by constructing a series of unnecessary megadams along major rivers there. Check it out here!

OO Latin America: Initiative To Restore 50 Million Acres Of Degraded Ecosystems By 2020

OO Brazil: Deforestation Threatens Water Supplies, Sparks Debate - a respected Brazilian earth scientist's recent report contends that the Amazon rain forest's deforestation is starting to result in a fall of the abundant precipitation that sustains not only animals and plants but also farms and major urban centers hundreds of miles away.

OO Deforestation Jumps In Peru significantly last year, says a top official.

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When Indo-Malay forests are destroyed, orangutans die. BorneoProject.org

OO Indonesia's Ambitious Plan To Reforest 2M Ha Annually

OO Biodiversity Protection Is Key To REDD Forest Conservation Success study shows; hunting must be discouraged.

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A viper enjoys a snack. East Africa's mountaintop forests are among the most biodiverse in the world and need protection. Credit Michele Menegon at Mongabay.com

OO One-Two Punch: Farming, Global Warming Destroying Unique East African Forests

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 these snails on a daisy I photographed in rainy Chile recently. 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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