While the South is drowning, the West is burning


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As of last week, 77 large fires are burning across 1.4 million acres in eight western U.S. states. That’s an area more than three times the size of Houston.

The burning is part of a long-term trend of increasing wildfire in the West, brought on by a variety of factors, none more significant, according to recent research, than human-caused climate change.

RTFA. If your Congress-critter is still in denial about climate change, kick their sorry butt out of office. You can work to put someone useful into office and the dullard can try to find an honest job.

After 113 years of cranking out engines, Mercedes plant to make batteries, electric motors

❝ The first vehicle in history considered to be an automobile was the Benz Motorwagen of 1885…It was also the first vehicle from an automaker that has been around for the duration of the industry: we know it today as Mercedes-Benz.

In other words, the company has been building cars for 132 years…

And engines for those cars have come from its the German luxury car maker’s Untertürkheim production facility for 113 years.

❝ Now, after more than a century of internal-combustion engines, that historic plant is undergoing a seismic change: it will now build batteries for electric cars as well as engines…

❝ …The Untertürkheim facility will eventually be a major supplier to the Sindelfingen passenger-car plant…There, the brand’s EQ line of electric cars will be built, for which Untertürkheim will supply the battery packs.

The luxury marque has said it will launch 10 electric cars under the EQ badge by the year 2025.

Yes, of course, the market for conventional fossil fuel-fired internal combustion engines will continue for a spell. Even with a diminishing market share it will take some years for consumers to change. Cripes, we still have enclaves of flat-earthers AROUND the globe.

The bottom line on the Energy Department’s grid study

❝ The Energy Department published its long-delayed but much-anticipated report on whether the U.S. electric grid can handle the retirement of aging coal-fired and nuclear power plants.

The big questions the grid study sought to answer were these: What is driving the closures of those power plants? And what should be done about it?

❝ The report’s answer to that first question is notable in that it’s already widely known: The No. 1 reason coal and nuclear power plants are closing is that they are being priced out of the electricity market by an abundance of cheap natural gas pumped from hydraulic fracturing projects that have come online over the past decade.

“The biggest contributor to coal and nuclear plant retirements has been the advantaged economics of natural gas-fired generation,” the study states…

That is the result of a low commodity price for natural gas. Short-term thinking at best. Globally, the economics of scale continue to move the advantages of solar and wind-powered electricity.

❝ The study’s policy recommendations include various measures that would likely have the effect of boosting coal and nuclear power. They include requests that:

the Environmental Protection Agency ease permitting requirements for new investments at coal-fired plants

the Nuclear Regulatory Commission do the same with regard to safety requirements

and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission compensate grid participants that help keep power reliable.

What happens now? The follow-through, if any, on these policy recommendations will largely happen outside the Energy Department…

The Republican Party and the Fake President are incapable of pushing through uneconomic plans supporting failing methodology. Certainly not in a timely fashion. I’d rather see pressure put on Democrats and independents, conservative and liberal, to move this nation forward in step with modern science towards energy independence from fossil fuels. Though I’ve been an advocate for nuclear power for decades, the sum of costs for that endeavor has increased well beyond anything based on solar or wind energy. Reasonable economics moved my decision to end support for that alternative years ago.

What sensible folks need to do is fight for the range of reforms, simple and complex, needed to restore democratic, science-based progress to our energy grid. The United States is barely in a position to provide leadership on this question to anyone. The next couple of years will be critical to retaining a voice in the process of revising global power output. That will happen with or without participation by the United States.

Support for little minds in a political movement led by bigotry and ignorance will leave this nation with a mediocre economy and a second-class future.

1989 Ozone Treaty Proven to Reduce US Greenhouse Gas Emissions

❝ The Montreal Protocol, the international treaty adopted to restore Earth’s protective ozone layer in 1989, has significantly reduced emissions of ozone-depleting chemicals from the United States. In a twist, a new study shows the 30-year old treaty has had a major side benefit of reducing climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S.

That’s because the ozone-depleting substances controlled by the treaty are also potent greenhouse gases, with heat-trapping abilities up to 10,000 times greater than carbon dioxide over 100 years.

❝ The new study is the first to quantify the impact of the Montreal Protocol on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions with atmospheric observations. The study’s results show that reducing the use of ozone-depleting substances from 2008 to 2014 eliminated the equivalent of 170 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. That’s roughly the equivalent of 50 percent of the reductions achieved by the U.S. for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases over the same period…

❝ Previous studies have demonstrated that the Montreal Protocol has been more effective at curtailing global greenhouse gas emissions than any other international effort – even though climate change was not a consideration during the initial treaty negotiations in the late 1980s.

You know as well as I or anyone else that – as soon as our Fake President finds out about this – he’s going to make up some ridiculous excuse to try to abrogate the Montreal Treaty. Bad enough it demonstrates that political measures can positively affect some of the damage done to our biosphere by profit-pimps and greed. The treaty was signed into existence by a moderate Republican who understands the value of science..

State of the Climate – Give yourself a update in climate knowledge

❝ An international, peer-reviewed publication released each summer, the State of the Climate is the authoritative annual summary of the global climate published as a supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

❝ The report, compiled by NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate at the National Centers for Environmental Information is based on contributions from scientists from around the world. It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments located on land, water, ice, and in space.

❝ This is the twenty-seventh issuance of the annual assessment now known as State of the Climate [large .pdf]. Surface temperature and carbon dioxide concentration, two of the more publicly recognized indicators of global-scale climate change, set new highs during 2016, as did several surface and near-surface indicators and essential climate variables. Notably, the increase in CO2 concentration was the largest in the nearly six-decade observational record.

No jokes about light reading. Reports designed for peer review are heavy on scientific citations. But, I still feel good about the research I went through at the turn of the Millennium with documents published by the Max Planck Institute as they worked their way towards a definitive response to discussions about climate change.

Here’s a chance to keep up with one of the best American-based global sources.

Whistleblower Case Illustrates How Trump/Flunkies Try to Silence Science


“The threat to these Alaska Native communities is not theoretical…Retaliation against me for those disclosures is unlawful.”

❝ For the first time since the Trump administration came to office and began dismantling the key science underpinnings of federal climate policy, a senior agency official has invoked the protections of the whistleblower law to publicly object to what he calls an illegal attempt to intimidate him.

The official, Joel Clement, had been the director of the Office of Policy Analysis at the Interior Department before he says he was arbitrarily reassigned to an obscure accounting post to punish him for speaking up about protections for native Americans in Alaska. He says that was ordered by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to force him to be quiet or quit — and to send a message.

Clement, who publicized his formal complaint in a commentary published Wednesday in the Washington Post, said his case is not an isolated example but part of a pattern.

Witch Hunt is one of Trump’s favorite condemnations of journalists working hard to present facts to confront his lies – and more. No doubt many of his appointed flunkies – like Ryan Zinke – not only approve of their boss’s lies; but, join willingly in shameful practices like those described by Clement in an attempt to close down criticism and confrontation.

Not unusual for rightwing ideologues. Reminiscent of that Republican creep, Joe McCarthy, who popularized the witch hunt as his favorite political theatre decades ago. Trump’s theatrics promise a revival.

How Small Changes in Average Temperature = Big Change in Extremes

❝ Climate change is driving up summer temperatures across the country. We often talk about warming in terms average temperatures, which can be perceived as small to the public, but any rise in the average temperature leads to a rise in the the number of days that are extremely hot.

To understand what’s happening, we need to get a little geeky and take you back to Stats class. The classic bell curve represents the distribution of all temperatures at a location. The bulk of temperatures — those close to average — sit near the middle of the curve. Record temperatures, which are rare, sit on the fringes, with hot on right and cold on the left. As the world warms from the increase in greenhouse gases, the whole curve shifts to the warmer side, the right. This shift results in a large jump in the number of extremely hot days and a drop in the number of extremely cool days. It also means heat records are more likely to be set than cold records. And it is these extremes that impact our lives.

That’s what we are seeing across much of the country. Average summer temperature have risen a few degrees across the West and Southern Plains, leading to more days above 100°F in Austin, Dallas and El Paso all the way up to Oklahoma City, Salt Lake City, and Boise. It’s worth noting that this trend has been recorded across the entire Northern Hemisphere…

Science is a force for truth. Even for people who refuse to learn from examples as basic as this graphic. Or the research data behind it.

High Ground Is Becoming Hot Property as South Florida Sea Level Climbs


Click to enlargeMiami Herald

A sunny day in Miami – and the tide comes in

❝ One of the first sea-level rise maps Broadway Harewood saw was a few years back, when climate activists gathered in his neighborhood to talk about how global warming would affect people in less-affluent South Florida communities…

“Oh, Miami Beach is going under, the sea level is coming up,” Harewood said. “So now the rich people have to find a place to live. My property is 15 feet above sea level, theirs is what? Three under?

“So OK,” he said, taking on the voice of a rich developer, “let’s knock down the projects, and we move in and push them out…”

❝ One of the great ironies of those historic housing patterns in Miami is that for decades under Jim Crow, laws and zoning restricted black people to parts of the urban core, an older part of the community that sits on relatively higher ground along a limestone ridge that runs like a topographic stripe down the eastern coast of South Florida. Now, many of those neighborhoods, formerly redlined by lenders and in some places bound in by a literal color wall, have an amenity not yet in the real estate listings: They’re on higher ground and are less likely to flood as seas rise.

Whether it’s climate change or an eye for good real estate returns, historically black communities on higher ground are increasingly in the sights of speculators and investors. Real estate investment may no longer be just about the next hot neighborhood, it may also now be about the next dry neighborhood.

RTFA for the whole story, details and futures to follow. Gentrification has added a few new qualities to what makes a hot profit-neighborhood. Height above sea level counts for a lot of investment dollar$. Even if the duds in DC don’t care to talk about it.