My brother lives in the Methow Valley of Washington, where fires have raged in recent weeks.
Despite power outages, he was able, with a neighbor, to rig pumps and keep a water sprayer on his ranch, while digging firebreaks – sufficient to avoid significant losses. As more and more Americans have these experiences first hand, Climate denial is more and more on the ropes.
The President’s recent aggressive stand on climate science is the best evidence of what pollsters know – climate denial is withering under the relentless pounding of a changing natural world. Moreover, the Sierra Club’s Michael Brune notes here, that 70 percent of renewable energy is being produced in Republican congressional districts, and the messages from home on the benefits of new energy are filtering through to all but the more thick headed politicians.
July 25, 2014
The Heartland Institute, famous for misinforming on the Health effects of cigarettes, and the bogus science of climate denial, now promotes the views of the creationist Discovery Institute, in attacking Science education as “propaganda”.
Not a surprise to me, as, when I attended the Heartland “science” Conference in 2012, I sat thru a lecture where former astronaut “Jack” Schmitt expressed support for education bills passed in Tennessee and Louisiana, which essentially allow schools to teach religious tracts as part of the science curriculum – see above.
The Heartland Institute, a prominent, Chicago-based organization opposing climate science, has teamed up with the creationist Discovery Institute to launch a smear campaign against a group promoting the nationwide adoption of updated science education guidelines.
The guidelines in question are the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), adopted so far by 11 states and the District of Columbia. The National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science—working with 26 state governments—developed the NGSS to update K-12 science education in schools for the first time since 1998.
But, because the NGSS includes material on evolution and how humans are causing climate change, it has faced opposition in some states. Most recently, the Wyoming legislature became the first in the U.S. to reject the NGSS. Lessons on climate change, lawmakers said, would brainwash kids against the state’s coal and oil industries.
The non-profit National Center for Science Education (NCSE)—whose members include thousands of teachers and scientists—provides information and advice to defend quality science education at local, state, and national levels. And its advocacy on behalf of the NGSS has made it a target for both young-earth creationists and climate change deniers.
And thus, a partnership is blossoming. Yesterday, the main article on the Heartland Institute website is written by the Discovery Institute’s Casey Luskin, whose ignorance of science is the stuff of legends.
His article is the first in a two-part column on “how the National Center for Science Education is targeting the nation’s schools to enforce a mythical consensus on global warming alarmism.”
The column trots out the popular young-earth creationist tropes, such as claims of censorship:
Critics believe that, by seeking to put a lid on scientific controversies, NCSE actually serves as an impediment to science education—such that many school systems and individual teachers refrain from teaching about the topics extensively, or avoid the topics entirely, in order to avoid the wrath of “consensus” enforcers. As a result, the nation’s schoolchildren learn neither the facts underlying the theories and counter-theories, nor the reasoning processes by which real science separates fact from fiction….NCSE has attempted not to promote good science education but to censor views with which it disagrees.
And, Luskin characterizes this as “propagandizing kids,” comparing the new education standards to racist beliefs:
July 25, 2014
News about water shortages in the American West are usually illustrated with pictures like that above, showing the decline in surface reservoirs. Now, a science team has looked below the surface.
Turns out the news is worse than we thought.
A new study by NASA and University of California, Irvine, scientists finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought.
This study is the first to quantify the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal water management agency, the basin has been suffering from prolonged, severe drought since 2000 and has experienced the driest 14-year period in the last hundred years.
The research team used data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission to track changes in the mass of the Colorado River Basin, which are related to changes in water amount on and below the surface. Monthly measurements in the change in water mass from December 2004 to November 2013 revealed the basin lost nearly 53 million acre feet (65 cubic kilometers) of freshwater. That’s almost double the volume of the nation’s largest reservoir, Nevada’s Lake Mead. More than three-quarters of the total — about 41 million acre feet (50 cubic kilometers) — was from groundwater. Read the rest of this entry »
July 24, 2014
The impacts are increasingly being felt everywhere – bigger storms in the Midwest, soggy summers in England, drought in Colorado. But nowhere on the planet are the impacts as dramatic as the Arctic, and the ice cap is a prime example.
If you’re sweltering in New York or Miami or Los Angeles, the only ice you’re probably thinking about is the stuff melting fast in your drink.
But up in the Arctic, the ice pack is on pace for another record low. Scientists won’t know for sure until mid-September, the end of the North’s melt season. But two snapshots, one from July 21, 1979, the other from July 21, 2014, show the change.
Below, time lapse of Antarctic September Sea ice extent from 1979.
And here, changes in Arctic (northern) sea ice during the same 1979 to 2012 period.
NSIDC graph current as of 07/24/14
During the second half of June, the rate of sea ice loss in the Arctic was the second fastest in the satellite data record. As a result, by the beginning of July extent fell very close to two standard deviations below the long-term (1981 to 2010) average.
Below, Danish maps of Arctic Ice from observations, which date from the turn of the 1900s.
July 24, 2014
I’ve reported on clashes between clean energy activists and Utilities in Georgia and Arizona. Other battlefield states emerging as the solar/renewable wave moves across the country. What we’ve seen so far is that the overwhelming popularity of renewable energy has overcome big money and big clout from utilities and dirty energy advocates like ALEC and Americans for Prosperity.
Look for more in the Southwest and Southeast, gradually moving northward as solar prices continue to drop.
At some point, one or more states will create a solution that will become the template.
Below, review Skip Pruss on the “Value of Solar” initiative that Minnesota has created.
North Carolina has become one of the hottest states in America for solar power, ranking third in the nation for new photovoltaic installations in fourth quarter 2013 and first quarter 2014. But a regulatory fight pitting solar industry against big utilities is underway, and it could effectively end new utility-scale solar additions.
Every two years, the North Carolina Utilities Commission reviews how it calculates the “avoided costs” (the amount utilities would have to pay to generate or buy electricity elsewhere) of clean energy.
This time though, regulators are reviewing both avoided costs and the maximum size of renewable generation systems eligible for standard pricing – a regulatory process that could “have the effect of significantly reducing, if not eliminating” new solar installations in North Carolina.
July 24, 2014
Rainforest Connection (RFCx) transforms recycled cell-phones into autonomous, solar-powered listening devices that can monitor and pinpoint chainsaw activity at great distance.
This changes the game by providing the world’s first real-time logging detection system, pinpointing deforestation activity as it occurs, and providing the data openly, freely, and immediately to anyone around the world.
For the first time on a scalable level, responsible agents can arrive on the scene in time to interrupt the perpetrators and stop the damage, and the world can listen in as it occurs.