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California's Drought and Climate Change
The most severe drought observations in the last 120 years have occurred during the current drought.
The main issue is not whether we're seeing more droughts, it's whether we're seeing more intense droughts.
The lowest calendar year and 12-month precipitation on record have occurred during this drought. The lowest spring snow-pack has occurred during this drought. Last year, for example, snow-pack measurements came in at five percent of normal. Not five percent below normal--- five percent OF normal. The Sierra's really need that snow to act as a storage reservoir for water to be released in the summer the dry season.
Tough talk from Climate Scientists
Recently there has been a noticeable uptick in videos and articles emphatically stating that we’ve already reached a global emergency threshold, and that the climate models of a few years ago should be thrown out and superseded with current models that more accurately predict a much accelerated (“abrupt”) rate of climate change. These reports are flatly stating that we need to get off carbon immediately. Not by 20 or 30 years, but now. They contend that there is no need to continue building carbon based fuel infrastructure, such as pipelines, new coal plants or deep sea oil drilling rigs, and that we need to directly move to renewable sources for energy needs and sustainable sources for petroleum based products such as plastic. Their point: “It’s just a given—we have to do it— we have no choice if we want to survive on this planet.”
The Reason behind the New Surge in Urgency
“It is the summer sea ice loss passing the point of no return, leading to unstoppable catastrophic Arctic methane feedbacks sooner or later… puts us in a state of planetary emergency today.”
John Nissen, AMEG Chairman
AMEG calls for rapid refreezing of the Arctic to halt runaway melting
“We need to cool the arctic. We have methods to do this. This will buy us some time by keeping the methane from coming up.”
Building the Political Will to Address Abrupt Climate Change
The reality is, the country has nowhere near the critical mass of public awareness needed to take broad concrete action to effect such broad, sweeping changes. We are creeping toward that political will, but per the authors of the stark reports noted above we need to be in full gallop away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy.
With regard to action on Climate Change, the most significant change can be made through our political leaders to set a course away from carbon based fuels quickly. There are an increasing number of outlets from which to do this, but one recommended by climatologist Paul Beckwith which I find compelling is Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
Per Paul Beckwith, “We’re in that elusive tipping point in human behavior where people wake up and say, ‘Aha, I have to worry about climate change’.”
The effect of methane hydrate (27 times as powerful as carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas) release in the arctic would be equally catastrophic to an asteroid hitting the Earth, because its impact on Global Warming would be immediate and large. One of the methods to mitigate the risk of methane release might be to drill beneath the methane deposits and capture the methane by tapping it off—in other words by using ‘fracking’ techniques (of all things). We need to prioritize addressing this methane release risk—currently the International Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”) (as one example) is scarcely mentioning it in its reports.
Chemistry note: one methane molecule, at 27 times the strength of carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, can be reduced to one carbon dioxide molecule if it is “oxidized”.
The Enemy – Cowardice and Inertia
World leaders, politicians, statesmen are too cowardly now to take concrete action now because to do so will cause large disruption of our present way of life. There is a conspiracy of complacency in which if we do a few things to adjust our carbon dioxide emission, all will be well. But it won’t, because we already have too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We not only have to stop emitting it, we have to find ways to take it out of the atmosphere. We should be working towards getting carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere at the level of the ‘Manhattan Project’ from the point of view of our own survival—it should be the biggest research program in the world. It’s what the present generation should be concentrating all its attention on.
The Pope’s Power Base
Encyclical – the Pope is very closely following developments of Climate Change
Of the fourteen record years globally, since record keeping began, no less than twelve have occurred since the year 2000.
The Oil and Gas Industry versus Alternative Energy
I've often wondered if, or when, the big oil and gas companies would start hedging their bets on their outdated and "fossilized" approach to energy production, and get on board, at least in part, with the burgeoning renewable energy industry. After all, one of the most strident credos in the business world has always been "diversify". The article "Exxon shareholders to vote on climate change, fracking" shows that the corporate atmosphere in the largest of these companies is still very cold towards any progressive thinking in this area, but the fact that at least these conversations are being held in their board rooms at all would indicate a (very slight) shift in the fossil fuel industry paradigm.
Headlines about Texas mega-droughts followed by Texas mega-floods aside, I'm hoping the current glut of oil and gas on the market combined with the exponentially increasing profits being made in the renewable wind and solar industries will steer these huge players in the corporate world down an alternate path. The main driver will always be profits, not environmentalism, for these companies. --But the writing is on the wall. With that in mind, having climate experts on the board of directors could help them convince their shareholders that a course correction needs to be made. As more and more headlines about climate disruptions splash across the media, these arguments are going to be increasingly difficult for the fossil fuel industry to reject.
The Presidential candidates' views on Climate Change
Kerry Kennedy, President of the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights: "There is something each of us can all do to impact Climate Change, but it's really important to remember that it's better change your leader than your light bulb - we just have to hold our political leaders accountable."
Quotes from 2016 Presidential Candidates on Climate Change (list only includes some of the current front-runners as there are simply too many Republican candidates to include here):
Jeb Bush -
“While President George W. Bush never did anything about global warming, his brother goes further, by not even admitting it exists. In 2009, Jeb Bush told Esquire, “I’m a skeptic. I’m not a scientist. I think the science has been politicized. I would be very wary of hollowing out our industrial base even further … It may be only partially man-made. It may not be warming by the way. The last six years we’ve actually had mean temperatures that are cooler. I think we need to be very cautious before we dramatically alter who we are as a nation because of it.” Last year, he talked about how generating power with natural gas instead of coal would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but he avoided actually saying the C-word or mentioning why reducing emissions would be a good thing.”
Ran Paul -
he says climate science is “not conclusive“; at other times, he caricatures the science of climate change to try to discredit it.
• She understands the science
• She thinks the politics of climate change are daunting
• She fully supports Obama’s landmark power-plant rules
• She connects climate change to women’s rights
• She promoted fracking abroad while secretary of state
• Her family’s charitable foundation takes lots of oil money
• She has supported offshore oil drilling
• She avoids saying anything about Keystone XL.
Like a lot of ambitious Republicans, Rubio tacitly accepted the science of climate change back in 2007. He talked up renewable energy and referred to global warming as one of the reasons to embrace it. By 2009, he had seen the error of his ways, saying, “There’s a significant scientific dispute” about climate change. By 2010, he was using his Republican primary opponent Charlie Crist’s belief in “man-made global warming” as an attack line. In May 2014, Rubio made an inept effort to deny climate science, saying, “Our climate is always changing. And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that’s directly and almost solely attributable to manmade activities.” Ah, merely “a handful of decades of research.” That’s nothing, right? After getting a lot of blowback for those comments, he tried to clarify and just dug himself in deeper.
Notable quote: “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it.
"[President Obama] can and should do more. But the major impediment right now is not Obama, it is the Republican Party. We have to call them out on this. We don’t do it enough. These are people who do not even acknowledge the scientific reality because they are beholden to Big Energy Money and the Koch brothers."
Walker is a favorite of the Koch brothers. The oil oligarchs like him because he opposes governmental regulations, except for when the regulation stymies clean energy. Walker imposed regulations to keep wind turbines further away from homes and signed a pledge never to pass a carbon tax. He has also raised money for the Heartland Institute, an organization that spreads climate misinformation. But he’s never actually said whether he accepts climate science.
Ryan hasn’t made many explicit public comments on climate change, but in 2009 he wrote an op-ed decrying efforts to reduce carbon emissions and claiming that climate scientists are using “statistical tricks to distort their findings and intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.” And his budget would remove the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emissions.
Thank you Diane Etchison for sending - must read!
Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans
MINNEAPOLIS – Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.
The research, conducted by the University of Minnesota, identifies a virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them. “These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information,” Davis Logsdon, one of the scientists who contributed to the study, said. “And yet, somehow, they have developed defenses that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those faculties totally inactive.” More worryingly, Logsdon said, “As facts have multiplied, their defenses against those facts have only grown more powerful.”
While scientists have no clear understanding of the mechanisms that prevent the fact-resistant humans from absorbing data, they theorize that the strain may have developed the ability to intercept and discard information en route from the auditory nerve to the brain. “The normal functions of human consciousness have been completely nullified,” Logsdon said.
While reaffirming the gloomy assessments of the study, Logsdon held out hope that the threat of fact-resistant humans could be mitigated in the future. “Our research is very preliminary, but it’s possible that they will become more receptive to facts once they are in an environment without food, water, or oxygen,”, he said.
Almost 200 countries have agreed to negotiate a United Nations pact by the end of 2015 to combat global climate change, which most scientists expect will bring about more flooding, droughts, heat waves and higher seas. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has cited a probability of at least 95 percent that accelerated warming of the planet has been triggered by human activities, led by atmospheric emissions of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels.
Jere Lipps' comment on the above article:
At the rate of accumulation of CO-2, we will reach that value of 450 ppm in less than 30 years. Seems unlikely that we will hold it to 450 ppm or 2 degrees C by 2100 at the present rate. Those projections do not account for rising rates of accumulation nor of the contribution of released methane from marshes, permafrost and the sea floor as they warm, to say nothing of flaring of oil wells. Methane is a much more effective warmer than CO-2. Even if we stopped emitting CO-2 today, we will still struggle to prevent warming more than 2C (3.8F), and may well reach 10-14F in higher latitudes (like Calif northward) based on methane alone. Remember those TV ads promoting burning of natural gas (=methane) to decrease CO-2 emissions over coal or oil (by half only); we’d still be at 450 in about 50-60 years.
Alternative Energy Updates
Exciting news from Home Batteries -
"We have this handy fusion reactor in the sky-- and it's totally free!"
My plan: I already have a 3.5 kilowatt solar array system (solar panels) on my house. Within the next two years I plan to buy or lease a small electric car I can use locally to go to work (12 mile round trip), which I will, of course, fuel from the solar panels. Also within the next three years I will have the Tesla battery system installed to further allow me to disconnect from the fossil fuel industry and lower my carbon footprint, not to mention lower my cash outlay for electricity and gas.
In Southern California there is so much opportunity for many to move away from fossil fuels, especially considering the cloudless skies we will presumably be experiencing from future extended droughts like the one we are in now. I strongly encourage all who can to invest in such technologies and be supporting of the alternative energy industries, especially wind and solar. If we have any chance at all to avoid catastrophic consequences of Climate Change, those industries will be a large part of the reason.
New Technology in Wind Energy
Has Climate Change Impacted the West Coast Drought?
Thank you Jere Lipps for the great presentation - very sobering, but hopefully motivating
OC Population impacted by sea level rises
Solar Storage - the next step in getting free of fossil fuels
Part of our future? Yes if we have the political will:
Climate Change Deniers
Important article in "The Week" magazine.
Interesting TED talk video.
One idea to address Climate Change from, believe it or not, the US Congress.
We look forward to seeing you at our next meeting
Solar panel breakthroughs:
Other related links:
On Keystone Pipeline:
While climate changes are occurring more quickly than scientists have ever predicted, most people’s knowledge of these realities remains hazy and clouded by political overtones.
A new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which combines the work of 2,000 scientists from 154 countries, drawing from millions of observations from more than 9,000 scientific publications, confirms and strengthens previous predictions and adds one new and very important observation. Even 100 percent emissions reductions will no longer keep our climate from changing dangerously.
More from the International Panel on Climate Change ("IPCC"):
Greenland ice discharge has increased 632% in the last decade.
Northern Hemisphere snow cover has decreased by more than 50% since 1962.
Earth is warmer today than in the Medieval Warm Period.
Permafrost has warmed by 3.6 degrees and 5.2 degrees (F) in Russia and the North American Arctic since the early 1980s. This might not sound like much but once it hits 33 degrees, it’s gone.
Sea level rise rate has nearly doubled since 1993.
Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide (the three most important global warming gases) since 1750, have increased to levels higher than they have been in 800,000 years.
Methane has caused more than half of global warming (52%).
Aerosols (sulfur dioxides) have masked half of global warming (57%). Sulfur dioxides are global cooling pollutants.
Volcanoes have masked 5 percent of global warming, not caused it as another myth would have us believe. Volcanoes release both global warming and global cooling gases and particles. We now know that when the math is done—and it has never been as accurate as it is today—volcanoes cool, not warm.
The solar sunspot cycle has cooled earth by 2% between 1978 and 2011, not warmed it as yet another myth says.
There have been twice as many high temperature records vs. cold records since the late 1970s.
Good News: The Solutions are Within our Grasp
The economic evaluations of the solutions to climate change show that 1 percent of global gross domestic product ($540 billion in 2012) is what we need to spend to control climate pollution every year - using existing technologies, techniques and policy.
This $540 billion may sound like a lot, but it's no more than we spend on either the Clean Water Act or the Clean Air Act in the US every year.
Recent exciting news:
Important information about the future of residential solar panels in California
Report about how utilities are moving nationwide to slow the growth of rooftop solar, especially where higher billing credits are given ratepayers for power generated by rooftop solar panels in California.
SOCAL Connected 2013
"The fire has consumed nearly 225 square miles of picturesque forests. Officials estimate containment at just 7 percent."
"The California Department of Finance said the state has spent more than $44 million fighting fires since the July 1 beginning of the budget year.
Lawmakers budgeted $172 million for the entire season.
'We're eight weeks in and we've spent roughly a quarter of what's budgeted,' said H.D. Palmer, the spokesman for the department.
The $172 million budgeted for firefighting this fiscal year is more than has been set aside in previous years, but costs exceeded the budget last year. The state budgeted $92.8 million last year, but costs have hit $221 million and fourth-quarter expenses are still being reconciled, Palmer said.
Meanwhile, the federal government announced Monday it would reimburse the state as much as 75 percent of the cost of fighting the Rim fire, now the 13th largest in California's recorded history."
As of today, "The blaze has scorched 348 square miles of brush, oaks and pines and 11 homes, as of Saturday, an area larger than the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose combined."
From Joanna Clark - Op/Ed comments to "The Patch"
Species adapt or they go extinct. And the rate at which we're causing change in the environment, living species don't have the time to adapt.
Past mass extinction events lasted more than a million years, not the current hundreds of years that we're causing through our man-made impact on Climate Change/Global Warming.
Republican critics claim that a carbon tax would have a negative effect on our economy. This could theoretically happen but it is succeeding elsewhere. Also, to do nothing to contain CO2 emission would have a devastating impact on the future economy multitudes greater than any carbon tax could possibly render.
Look at what is happening in California cities such as Lancaster and Sebastopol. Sebastopol expanded on Lancaster's solar ordinance by requiring all new homes to include solar systems that provide 2 watts of photovoltaic-derived power per square foot of insulated building area. According to the Press Democrat, "the system must offset at least 75 percent of the building's total annual electric load. Homes and businesses constructed in areas were solar isn't possible must either pay a fee or look into other means of alternative energy." Locally, we need to pressure our city councils to follow their lead. Orange County, with it's sunny climate most of the year, seems an obvious choice to implement widespread solar energy.
Another stab at a solution is what's happening in Lincoln and Rocklin. These cities have implemented neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV) friendly ordinances. NEV's are restricted to streets with a speed limit of 35 mph or less. Local businesses quickly realized that NEV owners bought local, and they installed recharging stations for their NEV customers.
Example links to "The Patch":
< http://lakeforest-ca.patch.com/groups/opinion/p/climate-change-end-game-or-a-second-chance_0d84e715 >
Laguna Niguel-Dana Point
< http://lagunaniguel-danapoint.patch.com/groups/opinion/p/climate-change-end-game-or-a-second-chance_178e38a7 >
Progress is being made-- we just need to ramp it up (a lot):
Now Hiring: 210,000 Workers to Cut Carbon Pollution
Sunrun Helps You Save on Utilities. America's Leading Solar Company.
See Calendar for More Information
In the News! Recent Articles of Interest:
Click on Blue Titles to open link
We need to slow incremental damage while taking out an insurance policy against the growing risk of catastrophic damage.
The study, published online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that ocean acidification can degrade not only individual species, as past studies have shown, but entire ecosystems. This results in a homogenized marine community, dominated by fewer plants and animals. "The background, low-grade stress caused by ocean acidification can cause a whole shift in the ecosystem so that everything is dominated by the same plants, which tend to be turf algae," said lead author Kristy Kroeker, a postdoctoral researcher at the Bodega Marine Laboratory at UC Davis. In most ecosystems, there are lots of different colorful patches of plants and animals -- of algae, of sponges, of anemones," Kroeker said. "With ocean acidification, you lose that patchiness. We call it a loss of functional diversity; everything looks the same."
This is a fantastic visual of changes in atmospheric CO2 over 800,000 years.
The first set of graphs shows the year-by-year change in CO2 levels at various locations throughout the Earth. The red dot is Mauna Loa. When the time progression stops at Jan 2012, the graph on the right will show the historic data back to 800,000 years ago based on ice core samples.
Hurricane Sandy and an extensive drought made 2012 the United States' second costliest year for natural disasters since 1980, federal officials said today (June 13).
Weather and climate disasters racked up $110 billion in damages across the country last year, according to a report released today by the National Climate Data Center (NCDC).
A huge solar sail designed to demonstrate the viability and value of propellant-free propulsion is slated to blast into space in November 2014, mission officials say.
Globally, we emit at least 48 percent more than we did in 1992. Being the world’s largest emitter and second largest economy, China can cripple any climate agreement merely by opting out, meaning that any agreement that hopes to curb emissions must cater to Chinese interests. Read about China's encouraging new move towards carbon emission cap.
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