June 29, 2015
Obviously, drilling for oil in the Arctic is a stupid idea. A lot of people are angry with President Obama for approving the new effort by oil giant Shell, which is nudging a huge rig up the coast of Alaska toward the Chukchi Sea.
But context is everything. The President has followed a pattern of choosing his battles carefully in relation to climate. The playing field is changing rapidly – and Shell’s efforts in the arctic, in light of the current global price for oil, seem ill advised.
I’m not the only one that thinks so.
Imperial Oil and BP have delayed plans to drill for oil in the Beaufort Sea off the Northwest Territories.
In a letter sent to the Inuvialuit Settlement Region’s Environmental Impact Review Board on Friday morning, Lee Willis, Imperial Oil’s exploration operations manager, says the companies have suspended all regulatory work for the project.
They had hoped to begin drilling by the summer of 2020, the same year one of their two exploration licences expires.
“However, under the current licence term, there is insufficient time to conduct the necessary technical work and complete the regulatory process,” Willis wrote.
June 28, 2015
Ask anyone to name the most polluted city in the world and chances are the immediate response will be Beijing.
In truth, the Chinese capital is only half as polluted as the city in the top spot — Delhi.
In fact, 13 of the top-20 most polluted cities in the world, according a World Health Organization (WHO) report from last year, are in India.
According to a recently published report in British medical journal, The Lancet, the trend toward more extreme weather, combined with the global trend toward urbanization, means the number of people who are exposed to higher temperatures will increase. The report went as far as calling climate change a “public health emergency.”
Key passage about 2 minutes in.
Do I have to comment on this? No, I don’t think so.
June 28, 2015
Trust me, there’s a climate punchline at the end.
June 27, 2015
Thin line between denial and delusional.
Republican senator from Oklahoma, who once brought a snowball onto the Senate floor to disprove climate change, expressed his dismay with the Supreme Court clearing the path for same sex marriages nationwide, adding he has friends in the gay community who agree with him.
Sen. James Inhofe (R) told KJRH that the U.S. Supreme Court is “A very liberal court and we saw what happened last week,” referring to an earlier court decision allowing the Affordable Care Act to continue forward.
Adding, “They haven’t ruled right on anything in a long time,” Inhofe turned to Friday’s landmark decision making same sex marriage the law of the land, saying he has gay friends who agreed with him that it was decided improperly.
“I’ve been disappointed, and I was not surprised. I thought they would rule the way they did. I know a lot of people, actually a lot of people who are friends of mine in the gay community, who also think it was a bad decision,” he explained.
Below, another, more revealing quote, hints what the Senator thinks of his friends in the gay community – and suggests he’s in denial about a lot more than climate.
June 27, 2015
June 27, 2015
Sao Paulo is a paradox of water scarcity and abundance. Brazil’s largest city, located in a region that averages 25 more inches of rain each year than Seattle, is gripped by the worst drought in 80 years. Since the drought began last year, Sao Paulo has struggled to provide water to its 20 million residents.
The severity of the drought is apparent in Sao Paulo’s reservoir levels. Collectively, the city’s six primary reservoir systems are 27.1 percent full, compared to 40 percent full at this time last year—a difference that amounts to 274 billion liters, according to data compiled by the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper.
Water levels in the Cantareira reservoir system, the city’s most important water storage facility is at 20 percent of capacity as the region enters its annual dry season. Cantareira served nearly half of the city’s population before the drought, but now supplies water to 5 million people as water managers turn to smaller reservoirs to relieve pressure on the system.
The Alto Tiete reservoir system, less than half the size of Cantareira, currently is at 22.4 percent of its capacity, and supplies 4.5 million people.
The city’s drained reservoirs, though, represent only a portion of the challenge facing Sao Paulo’s water managers. Another is how residents view the drought. Though reservoir water levels are disturbingly low, Sao Paulo still lacks the visual evidence of a drought as seen in places like California, Australia, and Mexico. That’s because a lot of the city is still very green and heavy rains still occur.
“They are in a drought, but the meaning of a drought is really different depending on where you are,” Newsha Ajami, director of urban water policy for Stanford University’s Water in the West program, told Circle of Blue. Ajami was invited to Sao Paulo in December 2014 to discuss water issues with state officials. Ajami added that the city flooded while she was there. “If you live in an area where drains are overflowing every time it rains, you’re not going to say it is a drought. Perception definitely matters.”
Situated on a plateau 700 meters above the sea, the city is at the headwaters of the Alto Tiete river basin and averages about 1,600 millimeters (63 inches) of rain each year—25 inches more than Seattle. Reservoirs like Guarapiranga, Rio Grande, and Billings hold large amounts of water, but they are either too small or too polluted to bolster Sao Paulo’s water security. In addition, the city is still flooding during the rainy season. Floods made headlines earlier this month, as well as in November, December, and February.
“We are definitely seeing that it has been raining less, but there have been some dramatic events,” Pedro Jacobi, a professor of education and environmental science at the University of Sao Paulo who studies water governance, told Circle of Blue . “We have a situation where the reservoirs are empty, but if it rains in the city, it has so much asphalt that if you have 50 to 60 millimeters [of rain] you are under water in many parts.”
The result is a landscape that belies the severity of the water crisis and a skewed perception that complicates voluntary conservation efforts—Sao Paulo’s primary tool for ensuring adequate water supplies in the short-term.Further clouding the public’s view of the drought is the government’s response, which has been characterized by disorder, distrust, and a general lack of urgency. For example, residents began complaining of dropping water pressure in their homes as early as May 2014, but officials did not admit to water rationing until March 2015. Instead, the government persistently held that rain would refill the reservoirs, negating the need for more drastic measures.
The climatic factors influencing the drought in California and in Sao Paulo are likely interconnected. Cycles in the Pacific sea surface temperature that occur on decadal timescales are coupled to changes in atmospheric circulation that affect weather patterns worldwide. In some regions, atmospheric conditions are such that they block the passage of cold fronts that cause the storms to bring precipitation, changing the path of these rain events.
As long as these blocking conditions persist, there will be regions undergoing dry conditions, whereas others will be extremely wet. The North Pacific has been entering a phase that will likely increase the probability of these blocking mechanisms that favor dry conditions in California and other regions of the planet, including Sao Paulo.