Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy


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Giant Iceberg Plays Bumper-Cars

A 60-mile long slab of ice, known as B-9B, nudged against a tongue of glacier sticking out from Eastern Antarctica in the last month, causing a 965 sq mi iceberg to break off from the Mertz glacier, which is floating in the ocean.  That 965 sq mi iceberg is the size of Luxembourg.

This isn’t necessarily a global warming-related event.  Iceberg B-9 calved from Antarctica back in 1987 and has been floating around the continent since.  Chance allowed it to hit the Mertz glacier 23 years later.

The event could have implications on global ocean currents, however.  Dense, salty water forms in the area of the collision.  This dense water sinks toward the ocean floor and begins traveling around the globe.  It takes about 1000 years for a volume of water to tranverse the entire circuit.  The downwelling in the collision area is one of the drivers of the entire conveyor belt, as it is known.  Since glaciers are frozen fresh water, and since the area around the Mertz glacier can now fill up with sea ice, the formation of the heavier salt water could be slowed.  That could have effects on the remainder of the global ocean circulation.


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Far More Wind Power Potential Than Current Electrical Consumption

Good things continue to to come out of America’s research facilities.  Among the latest: a report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in my state of Colorado finds that the total on-shore wind energy potential in the U.S. is 9X our current electrical consumption.

The last time NREL completed a similar analysis was back in 1993.  Almost 20 years later, much has changed.  Turbine heights can be significantly higher today.  Technological efficiencies have increased.  And their ability to accurately map wind energy potential has undergone significant improvement.

Back in 2000, ~2.5GW of wind energy was hooked up to the nations’ grid.  As of last year, that total increased to an impressive 35GW.  That’s after 8 years of a right-wing cabal running the country that had for more passion for Saudi oil than domestic wind.  Those 35GW are enough to power 9.7 million U.S. households.  As impressive as that 35GW might be, the new estimate of total available wind energy is stunning: 10,000GW!

I would highly recommend going to their maps link.  Click on your state; click on the High Plains states.  Unsurprisingly to anyone who lives or has driven through the High Plains, it’s windy here.  There is enough wind potential from North Dakota down through western Texas to power this entire country’s electrical needs.

The only thing missing is a national-level effort to harness this opportunity.  With fewer renewable resources available to them, you can see why states in the southeast continue to fight hard for dirty energy corporations.  They don’t see the imminent threat that climate change presents to them, which is a tragedy for the entire country.  Enough is enough from dirty energy.  Wind power, only one of many renewable forms of electricity, can provide all the electricity the entire country uses many times over.  It’s time to make a smart switch.

Cross-posted at SquareState.


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Middle-Aged White Terrorist In Austin

Betcha’ missed that headline, didn’t you?  Why is it we have such a hard time in this country pointing out that terrorists are just that – terrorists?  The problem is, the corporate media has solidified in our minds that terrorists can only be brown-skinned and non-Christian.  A middle-aged white guy from Austin?  There’s no way he could be a terrorist, is there?  Yes, yes there is.

Joseph Stack can be identified as a typical anti-tax extremist who committed an act of terrorism against the U.S.

You know what else you’re not hearing?  The right-wing screaming that his friends and family should be tortured for whatever information they have so that we can make sure none of them are planning similar terrorist acts against our country.  What about all the other anti-tax extremists?  According to the so-called terrorist-haters’ ridiculous sense of logic, they should all be tortured too, shouldn’t they?

The right-wing has committed crimes against this country.  The fact that they’re not being called out for it every day is an indication of how far to the right this country has been pushed.


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Unacceptable Language

The tweet stream being issued while today’s health care “summit” was ongoing produced a lot of fact-based, rational arguments for health care reform from the left.  From the right, as if anyone was surprised, racist and sexist messages were issued.  I’ll share one of them:

How far have we fallen as a nation that Nancy Pelosi is the most powerful woman in politics in the USA?  ConservNewMedia

What does that even mean?  The U.S. is somehow scraping the bottom of civilization’s barrel because a Representative from San Francisco is the Speaker of the House?

You know what I noticed on the live feed?  A stunning lack of diversity in the GOP.  Old, angry white men dominated their side of the room.  It’s these cantankerous fools that are doing everything they can to stop any kind of progress into the 21st century.  Wake up, Cons.  We’re 10 years into this century.  You darn near wrecked the U.S. economy and illegally occupied two nations in the first eight years of it, by the way.

Having a half-African American President and a female Speaker of the House is exactly what this country needs!  In fact, the U.S. House, and especially the U.S. Senate need far more members who aren’t old, white or male.  I have a feeling a lot more would get done for the actual people of this country, instead of the soulless corporations running things now.


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Why Should We “Believe” The Earth Is Round?

Why should we “believe” the Earth is round?

After all, it’s only scientists that have said so.

Why should we “believe” there is gravity?

After all, it’s only scientists that have said so.

Do you see how ridiculous it is to hear or read, “Why should we ‘believe’ there is climate change?”

It has nothing to do with “belief”, more to do with science, and everything to do with money.

If a corporation could sell you something based on your “belief” that gravity didn’t exist or the Earth was flat, they would do it.


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Stimulus Bill Created Up To 2.1 Million Jobs

So says the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

The package boosted the economy by up to 3.5 percent and lowered the unemployment rate by up to 2.1 percent during that period, CBO said.

The stimulus has worked so far.  The Great Recession was worse than any economist that it was or would be prior to its passage.  There is more stimulus money (much more, actually) that has yet to be spent.  About the only problems with it?  It was too small and it included too many b.s. tax breaks that don’t stimulate the economy.  Tax breaks don’t stimulate the economy.  They never have and they never will.  The largest expansion of the U.S. economy didn’t occur after the largest tax breaks in American history – during the Bush regime; they happened when taxes on the rich were higher – during the Clinton years.


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Ocean Acidification: 100X Faster Than Last Similar Event

Last week, I wrote about a study that had found warmer waters reaching the glaciers of Greenland, helping to melt those glaciers from below while warm temperatures melt them from above.  This scenario presents numerous dangers for societies around the world.  Faster melting glaciers means faster rising sea levels, which means more impacts sooner.

Today, I will write about a scenario that is potentially more threatening than glaciers melting faster than expected.  New research demonstrates that the oceans are acidifying more quickly than has happened naturally for tens of millions of years.  The threat that presents is when the last similar acidification event occurred, upwards of 50% of marine life went extinct.  It took hundreds of thousands to millions of years to recover from this catastrophe.  It is known as the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM, and it happened 55 million years ago.  The event saw global temperatures rise by around 6°C (11°F) over 20,000 years, with a corresponding rise in sea level as the whole of the oceans warmed.  To put that warming in context, climatologists are warning that global temperatures could rise by a similar amount over ~200 years.  That’s 100 times faster than the last rapid global warming event of similar magnitude.

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President Obama & Nuclear Power

President Obama yesterday announced his administration’s plan to provide $8 Billion in loan guarantees for a new nuclear power plant.  There are a number of reasons why this is bad policy.

First, it reinforces the Cons’ frame that nuclear power is more viable than solar or wind.   President Obama has tried to re-couch nuclear power as “green”, but it’s not.  Lifetime CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas pollution is much higher for nuclear power than it is for either solar or wind.  How does the fuel come into being?  By collecting the sun or harnessing the wind?  No, by mining it.  Then enriching it.  What about the waste?  States currently bicker over untold tons of waste that was generated prior to this century.  Nuclear’s dirty little secret is that waste sits around and is polluting our air and water today.  In typical fashion, proponents want to generate more without dealing with what to do with what we’ve already got.  And, even the most efficient nuclear plant in engineers’ imaginations have to generate some amount of waste.

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January 2010: 4th Warmest on Record

NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) has released their January 2010 Global Analysis Report.  Perhaps the biggest piece of news is that globally averaged temperatures in 2010 were the 4th warmest on record.

This very warm January follows the 8th warmest December, the 4th warmest November and the 5th warmest year on record.

A look at conditions around the globe tells us that Canada, Greenland, northern Siberia (all areas that have already experienced the most warming globally), Africa, the Middle East and southeast Asia were all up to 9F warmer than usual.  Places in Europe and western Russia experienced 9F cooler than usual conditions.  The areal extent of the warm anomalies greatly exceeds that of the cool anomalies, resulting in the globally warmer conditions.

This warming occurred during a moderate El Nino event and the longest solar minimum in the past century.

What’s at stake?  If we continue to do next to nothing to address climate change, 8.6F warmer average temperatures; not anomalies, average.  The current set of proposals by countries to do something might reduce that warming to 7F.  The target established by actual scientists is 2.7F.  We have a long way to go.  You can expect to hear about new warmest months and years on record for years to come.

Cross-posted at SquareState.


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Deniers Ignored IPCC Predictions; Draw Wrong Conclusions About Big Snowstorms

I doubt this is going to surprise anyone in this reality-based community: Republicans are trying to use the record-setting snow accumulations along the East Coast to conclude that climate change isn’t occurring. Unfortunately, a number of Democrats are choosing to pursue short-term political expediency rather than long-term societal stability.

So I’ll start with my own conclusion: this winter’s precipitation fulfills key predictions made by climate scientists.

The climate doesn’t care if legislators make excuses to not work on climate safety. The climate doesn’t care if they do work on it. Absent aggressive, immediate action, the effects of climate change, like this winter’s snow storms, will continue to pile up on all of us. Doing something about it, like clearing feet of snow over hundreds of square miles, repairing broken power lines, etc., will only cost us more and more as time goes on.

The climate will have the last laugh. We might not find it so funny, however.

Below, I provide evidence that these snowstorms are likely to become more common for the East Coast.

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