Ice sheets thick as a denialist’s head

August 25, 2014

Cartoonist Randall Munroe at XKCD demonstrates ice age issues.

Of course it was a cartoonist. Where else does one go to find the truth these days, but the cartoons?

XKCD dramatically shows differences in North American cities and their relationship with their local ice sheets, 21,000 years ago.

XKCD dramatically shows differences in North American cities and their relationship with their local ice sheets, 21,000 years ago. Cartoon by Randall Munroe.

Enric Sala wrote about our disappearing ice for the World Economic Forum — a post worth reading.

Twenty kilometres in 20 years. That’s how much the Ilulissat glacier has retreated as this mighty, flowing river of ice crumbles into the ocean. It sounds like a lot. But I did not fully realize what this meant until we flew over the Ilulissat icefjord. It takes 10 minutes for the helicopter to fly over the amount of ice that has been lost because of global warming – in this glacier alone.

The speed at which the glacier moves has doubled relative to that in 1998. My scientist brain, accustomed to working with numbers and large scales, had a hard time absorbing this information. If I was rationally aware of the consequences of global warming from scientific reports before, now I felt it emotionally. This is what my trip to Greenland with a group of World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders did to us. It made us move from knowing and caring to be desperate to do something about it.

The experience also made us realize that all the international negotiations and agreements to date are not going to help avert the imminent catastrophe. Not even the boldest targets to reduce carbon pollution put forward by the smartest nations are going to move the dial. It’s all an illusion of movement, kind of like Alice in Wonderland’s Red Queen, running and running but not going anywhere.

Truth on ice.

There is a difference, though.  Ice thins, gets weaker, and covers less area.  As that happens, as the planet warms, the density of denialists does not appear to decrease, at least not fast, and not toward greater understanding and less insanity.


August 24, 79 C.E.: Vesuvius had something to say

August 24, 2014

Much as the GOP Caucus and other climate-change deniers, Roman officials in Pompeii and Herculaneum refused to be alarmed at the ground shaking, and obvious eruptions from Mount Vesuvius, on August 24, 79 C.E.

This morning we awake to news of earthquakes in Chile and California. The old Earth keeps rumbling.

Oddly, we now pay more attention to earthquakes than to other things that can cause greater, rolling disasters.

Santayana’s Ghost wonders if we ever learn from history.

Vesuvius, asleep for now. National Geographic photo by Robert Clark

Vesuvius, asleep for now. National Geographic photo by Robert Clark


“Earth’s not warming; it’s dying”

August 8, 2014

From the same designer who brought us INY; would this graphic design symbol get people more properly concerned?

Designer Milton Glaser suggests a logo for discussions on global warming . . .

Designer Milton Glaser suggests a logo for discussions on global warming . . .

Designer Milton Glaser created this logo; he’s serious, according to Salon, today.

Milton Glaser is famous for uniting New Yorkers under the simple, iconic “I Heart New York” logo. (He also designed the label for Brooklyn Brewery and, as I learned on a recent tour, had the good sense to emphasize the beer’s borough of origin back before it was cool.) Now, at age 85, he’s out to rebrand the climate movement. The pitch: a hazy black circle with just a small band of green (read: Earth), which people can purchase and wear as a button. In a poster hung on the exterior of the New York School of Visual Arts‘ East 23rd Street building, the logo is accompanied by the slogan “It’s not warming, it’s dying.”

The obvious problem, right off the bat, is that Earth is warming: It’s done so rapidly over the 20th century, and is expected to continue at an even faster rate over the next 100 years. The world’s governments agreed that we should try to limit warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels to try to avoid the worst consequences of that warming, yet we’re on track to blow right past that limit. While Glaser obviously agrees that this is a problem, the slogan obscures that point. And as someone attuned to the world of climate deniers, I can’t help thinking that getting the hashtag #itsnotwarming to go viral might not have the intended effect.

(Also, as Fast Co.Exist points out, it’s not the planet that’s at risk of dying — it’s us.)

But those are technicalities. Glaser told WNYC’s Brain Lehrer that his problem with the word “warming” is that it “sounds reassuring and comforting.” So if your complaint is that the slogan sounds overly pessimistic, well, that’s kind of the point. “Either Earth is dying or it’s beginning to grow again,” Glaser explained. “My preference would be that it was beginning to grow again, but for the moment I have no evidence of that.”

More at Salon.

What do you think?  A good idea?  Better indicator of a more appropriate message?

(Yes, Fast Co.Exist is right — remember this cartoon?)


EPA approves CO2 permit for Texas steel maker; anyone notice?

June 19, 2014

Here’s the press release from EPA’s Region 6 office:

EPA Finalizes Greenhouse Gas Permit for Voestalpine Iron Production Plant
$740M facility in San Patricio Co., TX, will bring 1,400 construction jobs and150 permanent jobs

DALLAS – (June 16, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a final greenhouse gas (GHG) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) construction permit to Voestalpine for an iron production plant in San Patricio County, TX. The facility’s process for producing iron will use minimal natural gas and will be 40 percent more efficient than traditional methods. The permit is another in the series of permits drafted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and issued by EPA under a program to facilitate timely permitting for applicants in the State of Texas.

“Voestalpine shows energy efficiency is a common-sense strategy for success, not just in business but for the environment as well,” said Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “The joint EPA and TCEQ permitting program is helping Texas business grow while building greener plants.”

The plant will reduce iron ore pellets, which will be used as raw material input at steel mills. The direct reduced iron process will use only clean-burning natural gas instead of solid fossil fuels. The estimated project cost is $740 million and will bring 1,400 construction jobs to the area. Once complete, the facility will create around 150 permanent jobs.

In June 2010, EPA finalized national GHG regulations, which specify that beginning on January 2, 2011, projects that increase GHG emissions substantially will require an air permit.

EPA believes states are best equipped to run GHG air permitting programs. Texas is working to replace a federal implementation plan with its own state program, which will eliminate the need for businesses to seek air permits from EPA. This action will increase efficiency and allow for industry to continue to grow in Texas.

EPA has finalized 43 GHG permits in Texas, proposed an additional six permits, and currently has 21 additional GHG permit applications under review and permit development in Texas.

For all of the latest information on GHG permits in Texas please visit: http://yosemite.epa.gov/r6/Apermit.nsf/AirP

Connect with EPA Region 6:
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eparegion6
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/EPAregion6
Activities in EPA Region 6: http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/region6.htm

Headquarters of Voestalpine, head-turning building by Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes, located in Linz, Austria.  Architecture News Plus image

Headquarters of Voestalpine, head-turning building by Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes, located in Linz, Austria. Architecture News Plus image. Voestalpine plans to build a $740 million steel plant near Corpus Christi, Texas.

This is big news, really.  Texas constantly complains about regulations on greenhouse gases, and regularly and constantly sues EPA to stop regulation.  Texas and it’s wacky governor Rick Perry constantly complain that EPA regulation harms jobs, and that permits never really get issued.  So this announcement should be front page news in most Texas newspapers.

How was it covered?

That’s it for Texas media.  Where are the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express, the El Paso Times?  Big market TV and radio?

National coverage was limited to low-circulation newsletters.

Seems to me that these issues of actual action on climate change, are under-reported.

More:

Groundbreaking for Voestalpine facility near Corpus Christi, Texas

Caption from Voestalpine LLC: After about a year of preparation, Wolfgang Eder, CEO of voestalpine, broke ground today for the construction of a direct reduction plant in Texas (USA). This EUR 550 million investment is the largest foreign investment in the history of the Austrian Group. The voestalpine Texas LLC plant is being constructed at the La Quinta Trade Gateway Terminal in close proximity to the City of Corpus Christi. Starting in 2016, the plant will produce two million tons of HBI (Hot Briquetted Iron) and DRI (Direct Reduced Iron) annually and will supply Austrian locations, such as Linz and Donawitz, with “sponge iron” as a premium raw material. With the new facility, voestalpine can significantly reduce production costs in Europe. The highly automated plant will create 150 jobs.


Annals of Global Warming: Significant events for U.S. April 2014.

May 13, 2014

National Overview - April 2014, from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center

National Overview – April 2014, from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center

NOAA publishes these data monthly.  We tend to ignore them, as background noise.

But click over to NOAA’s site, look at the charts and click to follow links.  Ponder the story being told.

This is the snapshot for April 2014.

Major climate events NOAA is closely monitoring:

  • Drought in the West, Central and Southern Plains, and Midwest. Long- and short-term dryness will increase wildfire risk and continue to have impacts on water resources and agriculture.
  • El Niño development likely this summer or autumn. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, there is a greater than 65 percent chance of El Niño conditions developing later this year, which could have significant impacts on temperature and precipitation patterns across the U.S. More information is available from the Climate Prediction Center.

Supplemental April 2014 Information


  • Climate Highlights — April
  • The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during April was 51.7°F, which was 0.7°F above the 20th century average. This was the 46th warmest April in the 120-year period of record.
  • Much of the contiguous U.S. had April temperatures near the 20th century average. Above-average temperatures were scattered along the West Coast and in the Southwest, the Southern Plains, and across parts of the Ohio Valley and the Southeast. Below-average temperatures were observed across parts of the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains. No state had April temperatures among their 10 warmest or coolest.
  • Alaska had the 12th warmest April of its 96-year period of record, with a temperature 3.8°F above the 1971-2000 average. This was the warmest April for Alaska since 2007. Much of the warmth was situated in western Alaska, where Nome had its fourth warmest April since local records began in 1907. The April precipitation total in Alaska was 23.3 percent below the 1971-2000 average, the 23rd driest April on record. Anchorage had its fifth driest April with only nine percent of normal monthly precipitation.
  • The April contiguous U.S. precipitation total of 2.83 inches was 0.31 inch above the 20th century average and the 30th wettest April on record.
  • Above-average precipitation in the Upper Midwest resulted in Wisconsin having its third wettest April and Minnesota its eighth wettest. Heavy precipitation across the Southeast, particularly near the end of the month, caused Alabama to have its fifth wettest April, Georgia its seventh wettest, and Florida its ninth wettest.
  • On April 29th and 30th, torrential rain fell across the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast causing significant flash flooding. The Gulf Coast of Alabama and the Florida panhandle bore the brunt of the heavy rains. At the Pensacola Regional Airport, in Florida, the two-day precipitation total was 20.47 inches, with 15.55 inches of the total falling on the 29th, breaking both one-day and two-day precipitation records; local records date back to 1879. On the 29th, Mobile, Alabama received 11.24 inches of rain, the third greatest calendar day rainfall total for the city since local records began in 1871. According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment released on May 6th, the amount of heavy precipitation falling in single events has increased by 27 percent across the Southeast since 1958. This event is consistent with projections of increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events across the U.S. as the world warms.
  • Below-average precipitation was observed across parts of the West, the central Rockies, and the Central and Southern Plains. Oklahoma had its 12th driest April on record, with 50 percent of average precipitation. Parts of Texas were also particularly dry, where San Angelo observed just 30 percent of normal monthly precipitation.
  • According to the April 29thU.S. Drought Monitor report, 38.4 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, nearly the same as the beginning of April, with both improvement and degradation of drought conditions on regional scales. Beneficial rain improved drought conditions across the Upper Midwest and Southeast during the month, while drought conditions worsened in parts of the West and across portions of the Central and Southern Plains.
  • Drought conditions improved in Hawaii during April due in part to heavy rainfall at the end of March and the beginning of April. Only 0.7 percent of the state was experiencing drought conditions on April 29th, down from 14.4 percent at the beginning of the month. This was the smallest drought footprint for Hawaii since April 2008, and the first time since June 2008 that no part of the state was experiencing severe drought. Most of the drought improvement occurred across the Big Island, with central Molokai still experiencing moderate drought conditions.
  • A severe weather outbreak on April 27-29 spawned at least 38 tornadoes from Nebraska to North Carolina, according to preliminary estimates from NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center. At least 32 fatalities were blamed on the tornadoes, with Arkansas and Mississippi being the hardest hit. An EF-4 tornado in Pulaski and White counties in Arkansas resulted in 15 fatalities, while an EF-4 in Winston County, Mississippi resulted in nine fatalities.
  • Based on NOAA’s Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during April was 28 percent below average and the 37th lowest in the 1895-2014 period of record.
  • During April, there were about 75 percent more cold daily temperature records (1,419 cold maximum temperature records, 1,380 cold minimum temperature records; 2,799 total) than warm daily temperature records (544 warm maximum temperature records, 1,039 warm minimum temperature records; 1,583 total).
  • Climate Highlights — year-to-date (January – April)
  • For the first four months of 2014, the contiguous U.S. temperature was 38.7°F, 0.4°F below the 20th century average, and the 46th coldest January-April on record. This was the coldest four-month start to a year since 1993.
  • Below-average temperatures were widespread across the eastern U.S. where 13 states had January-April temperatures among their 10 coldest on record. The coldest departures from average occurred across the Midwest. No state had its coldest January-April on record.
  • Warm conditions were observed across a large portion of the West. Arizona and California were both record warm, with four-month temperatures 4.5°F and 5.2°F above their 20th century average, respectively. Nevada, Oregon and Utah each had one of their five warmest January-April periods on record.
  • The year-to-date precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 8.79 inches, 0.68 inch above the 20th century average and the 33rd driest January-April on record.
  • Below-average four-month precipitation totals were widespread across the Southwest and the Central and Southern Plains. Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas each had January-April precipitation totals that ranked among their 10 driest on record. Oklahoma had its second driest January-April on record, with less than half of average precipitation; 1936 was the driest. The dry conditions across Oklahoma decimated much of the winter wheat crop in the state, with estimates of the lowest harvested yield since 1957. In west Texas, precipitation deficits that date back to 2010 have been unprecedented in the observational record, with nearly every major reservoir in the region at less than 40 percent of capacity.
  • The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI) for the year-to-date was the 14th highest on record for the period at 145 percent of average. Elements that contributed to the above-average USCEI included the spatial extent of cold maximum and minimum temperatures, warm maximum temperatures and the spatial extent of drought. The USCEI is an index that tracks extremes (falling in the upper or lower 10 percent of the record) in temperature, precipitation and drought across the contiguous U.S.
  • Based on REDTI, the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during January-April was 27 percent above average and the 29th highest in the 1895-2014 period of record.

Galileo may have put it like this:  Eppure, lei si scalda!


Insta-Millard: Department of Interior’s quick take on climate change report

May 9, 2014

Department of Interior’s video this week leads with climate change — and in fact, each segment deals with climate change in some way.

Published on May 9, 2014

This week: the White House releases the third annual National Climate Assessment, showing that climate change is already affecting Americans and the U.S. economy; USGS releases a Climate Change Viewer that can track water resource changes at the county, state, and watershed level; Secretary Jewell joins California leaders and first responders as the state braces for another tough wildfire season; the Secretary meets with community leaders and experts to talk about the balance between conservation and smart development; the Secretary announces the approval of a new solar energy project on tribal lands in Nevada, and attends the 69th Departmental Honor Awards Convocation in Washington, DC.


“Years of Living Dangerously” – April 13 premiere of climate change information series

April 11, 2014

Will it work this time?  Can it recharge the effort Al Gore started?

Monte Best of Plainview, Texas, explains to Don Cheadle how the Texas drought caused the Cargill Company to close its meat packing plant in the city.

Monte Best of Plainview, Texas, explains to Don Cheadle how the Texas drought caused the Cargill Company to close its meat packing plant in the city. “Act of God,” many local people say.

Here’s the trailer:

The avid promotional explanation:

Published on Mar 14, 2014

Don’t miss the documentary series premiere of Years of Living Dangerously, Sunday, April 13th at 10PM ET/PT.

Subscribe to the Years of Living Dangerously channel for more clips:
http://s.sho.com/YearsYouTube

Official site: http://www.sho.com/yearsoflivingdange…
The Years Project: http://yearsoflivingdangerously.com/
Follow: https://twitter.com/YEARSofLIVING
Like: https://www.facebook.com/YearsOfLiving
Watch on Showtime Anytime: http://s.sho.com/1hoirn4
Don’t Have Showtime? Order Now: http://s.sho.com/P0DCVU

It’s the biggest story of our time. Hollywood’s brightest stars and today’s most respected journalists explore the issues of climate change and bring you intimate accounts of triumph and tragedy. YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY takes you directly to the heart of the matter in this awe-inspiring and cinematic documentary series event from Executive Producers James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

More: 


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