Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy


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Dick Cheney Pushed For Syria Bombing

All I have to say is, “Duh“.

Were he anybody else, Dick Cheney would have been certified as insane a long, long time ago.  As a member of the moneyed elite ruling class, his psychotic viewpoints on governing and the world are allowed to exist in the sphere of public debate as though they were just as valid as any other reasonable human being’s.

What is interesting is that he was proud to stand on his ideological pedestal even as other members of the Bush Regime slowly edged back toward civil discourse on a multitude of topics.  If only the 2000 election weren’t unconstitutionally decided by an ideological Supreme Court; if only the 2004 election weren’t rigged by loyal Bush lieutenants, we never would have found out just how psychotic Cheney really was.


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July 2011 (Scripps) CO2 Concentration: 392.39ppm

An average of 392.39ppm CO2 concentration was measured at Scripps’ Mauna Loa, Hawai’i’s Observatory during July 2011.  This reading is from the Scripps’ dataset, not NOAA’s, from which I previously wrote.

That value is the highest value for July in recorded history. Last year’s 390.11 was the previous highest July value ever recorded.  This year’s July reading is 2.28ppm higher than last July’s, which is a significant difference.

The yearly maximum monthly value normally occurs during May. This year was no different: the 394.16 concentration is the highest value reported both this year and all time.

This will likely be the last year that CO2 concentrations will fall below 390ppm during any calendar month. Although it hasn’t happened yet (every month in 2011 has recorded at least 390ppm), the yearly minimum that normally occurs in September is upcoming.  Given the trend from May to September in years past, 2011’s minimum should be ~388ppm.

Our species’ aggressive march toward 400ppm and beyond continues. Keep in mind that scientists have recommended that 350ppm should be the target for which humanity should aim in order to keep climate extremes from overwhelming our civilization and the globe’s ecosystems.  One might think that recent weather extremes should be drawing much needed public attention to the climate crisis that is unfolding.  One would be wrong, unfortunately.  It seems that only extremely large, catastrophic events will be enough to grab the American public’s attention.  By then, it will be too late to make a difference.


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June 2011 (Scripps) CO2 Concentration: 393.69ppm

An average of 393.69ppm CO2 concentration was measured at Scripps’ Mauna Loa, Hawai’i’s Observatory during June 2011.  In the past, I reported on the NOAA observation, but it either hasn’t been updated recently or separate measurements have been combined somehow.   This post, like last month’s, will compare Scripps data against Scripps data – not Scripps versus NOAA.

That value is the highest value for June in recorded history. Last year’s 392.03 was the previous highest June value ever recorded, which mean that this June’s value 1.63ppm higher than June 2010.

The yearly maximum monthly value normally occurs during May. This year was no different: the 394.16 concentration is the highest value reported both this year and all time.

This will likely be the last year that CO2 concentrations will fall below 390ppm during any calendar month. Although it hasn’t happened yet (every month in 2011 has recorded at least 390ppm), the yearly minimum that normally occurs in September is upcoming.  Given the trend from May to September in years past, 2011’s minimum should be ~388ppm.

Our species’ aggressive march toward 400ppm and beyond continues. Keep in mind that scientists have recommended that 350ppm should be the target for which humanity should aim in order to keep climate extremes from overwhelming our civilization and the globe’s ecosystems.


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Possible Record Heat In Denver Area Today

I’d bet a good number of metro area folks have heard the forecast for today: HOT! The record high of 98F for the day will likely be challenged. Here is the official forecast discussion from the Denver-Boulder NWS office this morning (sorry for the all-caps, it’s what the NWS text products actually look like):

SHORT TERM…A HOT AND DRY DAY IS IN STORE FOR THE FORECAST AREA TODAY WITH RECORD OR NEAR RECORD HEAT. THE UPPER LEVEL RIDGE WILL AMPLIFY A BIT OVER THE STATE WITH WARMER TEMPERATURES ALOFT. MOST SHORT RANGE MODEL GUIDANCE SHOWS 2-3C OF WARMING ACROSS NORTHEAST COLORADO FROM 24 HOURS AGO. AT THE SAME TIME…THE AIRMASS WILL BE DRYING AND THIS HAS ALREADY COMMENCED PER THE LATEST GPS INTEGRATED PRECIPITABLE WATER DATA. THIS ALL SUPPORTS RECORD OR NEAR RECORD HEAT. DENVERS RECORD IS 98F SET IN 1986…AND AT THIS POINT SEE NO REASON WE SHOULDNT AT LEAST TIE THIS RECORD GIVEN THE ABOVE MENTIONED FACTORS. THERE IS A SLIGHT RISK WE COULD REACH 100F…AND IF WE DID THAT WOULD BE THE LATEST IN THE SEASON A 100F DEGREE READING HAS BEEN OBSERVED. THE LATEST RECORDED 100F WAS ON AUGUST 16TH IN 2002.

There have been 38 90F+ days recorded at DIA so far this summer. That isn’t enough to crack the top-10 summers of all time since the 10th place year had 50 90F+ days, but it is above average (33 days). Last year, DIA recorded 49 90F+ days.

As the NWS office notes, this would be the latest calendar date which recorded a 100F+ day. While we haven’t experienced the ridiculous heat wave and drought that has afflicted Oklahoma (which set the record for hottest month for any state in the American history in July) or Texas, the total number of 90F+ days is significant for us considering how abnormally cool May was.

The relatively high number of 90F+ days in recent years (5 of the top 10 have occurred since 2000) and the late date at which 100F+ days occur are exactly the kind of events that have and will continue to become more prevalent as climate change effects take hold. After all, would dozens of 90F+ days be piling up with “global cooling”, especially when dozens of 32F- days are not piling up? Additionally, the precipitation extremes that occurred last month around the metro area (i.e., 7″+ of rain in 9 days) will also become more common.


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Eastern 3/4 Of U.S. Roasted In July 2011

Thanks to global cooling (not!), the eastern 3/4 of the U.S. was much warmer than normal in July 2011.  In fact, Oklahoma set a record for the warmest month of any state in American history: an average of 88.9F.  Which kind of makes sense, when you think about it.  After all, it was the preeminent expert on climate, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R TB-OK), whose grandchildren built an igloo on the National Mall back in February 2010 – because mocking Al Gore is the top responsibility of a sitting U.S. Senator.  Maybe his family should have spent less time making fun of things they can’t or don’t want to understand but more time praying for rain this summer.  In the end, the solution is simple: stop polluting heat-trapping gases and the atmosphere will trap less heat!  Imagine that!

Back to the state of U.S. climate in July 2011.

July 2011 was the fourth warmest July in NOAA’s records: 77F.  It was the fourth warmest month all time.  Here is what that looks like graphically:

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State of the Poles – Aug 2011: Arctic Ice Near Record Low; Antarctic Ice Back To Average

The state of global polar sea ice area in early August 2011 continues to fare poorly: well below climatological conditions (1979-2009) persist, as they have for every month so far this year.

Sea ice in the Arctic continues to track significantly below average, between the second worst and worst readings during July (depending on the day) in the modern era.  Weather conditions around Antarctica returned to normal during July, recovering from a temporary stall in freezing that occurred during June.  Global sea ice area therefore tracked well below normal during July, reaching for historical lows reached only three times before now.  During July, global sea ice area hovered near the negative 2 million sq. km. anomaly mark.  To date, this is the longest stretch of time that such a negative anomaly has stayed near 2 million sq. km.

To help put this in context, only three previous times in recent history have seen conditions as bad as they are today: in 2007, 2008 and 2010.  The difference between these previous occurrences and current conditions is profound: they previously occurred around September, when Arctic ice reached its annual minima.   Will a new record low global sea ice area be recorded this year?  Stay tuned.  There is only one more month of melting to go in the Northern Hemisphere, while the Southern Hemisphere’s freezing rate will slow down.

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Markets Finally Reflect What Most Americans Figured Out A Long Time Ago: Austerity Is The Wrong Answer

The debt “deal” that the Republican Teahadists convinced an amenable President Obama to agree to won’t actually do much of what it was touted to do.  As usual, the political theater of Washington entertaining Washington took center stage while doing nothing to address the crises bubbling around the country.  The deficit will continue to set records, largely because the Bush-Obama tax cuts still aren’t paid for and the Bush-Obama occupations also continue to be unpaid.  Add to that millions of underemployed Americans, while those who are employed are tending to make less than they did before; none of whom are shopping like they did 5 years ago (because they can’t).  Add to that a refusal to understand Economics 101, which says if businesses aren’t spending (which they aren’t; instead, they think hoarding Trillions of dollars of cash is a good idea), then government should spend (especially when consumers no longer can), but the Teahadists force exactly the opposite action (government spending less), and it should be obvious what’s going to happen to the U.S. economy: it will contract.  It has to.  Every component of GDP is declining, which is exactly what the Teahadists want going into the 2012 election year.

Finally, Wall St. has figured it out.  The markets since the “deal” earlier this week have fallen by multiple percentage points.  In fact, the Dow today lost 512 points to turn in its worst performance since the 2008 financial crisis.  Commodities are all trading sharply lower.  All of this was easily forecastable: none of the fundamentals which led up to the 2008 financial crisis have appreciably improved.  Some of the commentary would be downright laughable if it weren’t so important to actually understand what happened:

“The conventional wisdom on Wall Street was that the economy was growing — that the worst was behind us,” said Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital. “Now what people are realizing is the stimulus didn’t work, and we may be headed back to recession.”

Wall St., like Washington, exists in its own self-made bubble.  The reality that the rest of us face (high unemployment, falling wages, foreclosures) were not faced by the moneyed elite.  “The conventional wisdom of Wall Street” is a joke.  What indices were they looking at that indicated the economy was free of the troubles that assailed it in 2007-2010?

“The stimulus didn’t work.”  This is another stupid talking point.  What chance did it have to work?  It was too small (by at least half) and directed at things that would never cycle the money through the part of the economy that actually matters: consumers.  The stimulus couldn’t work when trillions of dollars of taxpayer money were given away to Wall St. firms who continue to sit on it, too dumb to realize they’re still causing the economy harm.

So congratulations, Wall St.  I’m so glad there is a shining example of a leading indicator finally catching up to where many of us have been for a long time.  It must be irony’s sense of humor or something…

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