Why Not Now?

September 23, 2014

Young people’s question to the UN. Why not now?

From Climate Reality.

Dark Snow: A Meme Going Viral

September 22, 2014

The recent widely reposted Slate piece on Dark Snow Project, reported with some context here, was just a drop in a tidal wave of media coverage that’s been breaking since midsummer, and especially, since The Dark Snow project wrapped our 2014 Greenland camp.

President Obama tweeted Skeptical Science’s cartoon image of Dr. Box to 46 million followers.

The progressive web site Avaaz has a petition drive based on Dr. Box recent viral tweet, which has 2 plus million signatures and rapidly climbing.


Surprisingly, the usually reliably-in-climate-denial Daily Mail now has a prominent piece on Greenland’s Dark Snow.


Our twin goals of science+communication are playing out. The communication side is popping, and with the data gathered this past summer, I expect that I’ll be reporting on some significant science results in coming months.

Dr. Box concocted “Dark Snow” as a meme that encodes the emerging science of increasing ice melt in a vivid, contradictory image that is proving to be very “sticky”, and encodes in a simple phrase the science behind one of the arctic’s key positive feedbacks.

Read the rest of this entry »

Renewables International:

The US added 2,478 MW of solar power capacity January-June 2014 according to a SEIA report. That’s a 47% increase over the same period in 2013. Cumulative PV capacity has now passed the 15,000 MW mark in the US. While the installation of residential and commercial systems is up, utility scale solar remains the backbone of solar growth in the US.

After a very painful year, wind power recovered a bit during 1H 2014 with capacity additions of 835 MW (1H 2013: only 2 MW). This growth rate is however still well below the average of past years. Cumulative wind power capacity stood at 61,946 MW.

According to EIA data (which only looks at “utility scale” capacities), the US added 2,319 MW of natural gas power during the first half of the year. This came almost exclusively in the form of more efficient combined cycle gas turbines CCGT.  By the end of June, the US had a natural gas powered generating capacity of429,083 MW (of which CCGT: 226,696 MW).

Coal power saw no capacity addition. On the contrary, coal capacity was actually reduced by 2,015 MW.  Summer generating capacity of coal power declined to 303,988 MW by the end of June 2014.

Blame Canada

September 22, 2014


Canada leads the world in forest degradation, according to a new mapping project.

The project, put together by World Resources Institute, Greenpeace and multiple other groups, uses interactive maps to display forest degradation and destruction around the world between 2000 and 2013. According to WRI, more than 104 million hectares (about 401,546 square miles) — a chunk of land the group notes is three times the size of Germany — of the world’s remaining large, undisturbed forests, or Intact Forest Landscapes, were degraded in the last 13 years. The Northern boreal region of Canada, Russia and Alaska had some of the largest area of degraded forests, with the Amazon having the second-largest and the Congo basin the third.

In Canada’s tar sands region, forest fires and industrial development have destroyed or degraded almost two million acres of boreal forest since 2000, according to Peter Lee, Director of Global Forest Watch Canada. Lee told ThinkProgress in an email that Canada’s main driver of forest destruction is an “increased frequency and extent of forest fires” driven by climate change. These fires are likely converting areas that were once heavily forested into shrublands. Logging and road-building are the second-biggest causes of forest destruction and degradation, Lee said, and “massive increases in the pace and scale of energy developments, especially non-conventional oil and gas developments in northern Alberta’s tar sands region and also in north-eastern British Columbia with the shale plays,” is the third.

In order to mine for tar sands in Canada’s boreal region, swaths of boreal forest are cut down, and according to the Sierra Club, none of the land altered to make way for tar sands mining has been “certified as reclaimed” by Alberta, Canada’s government. Canada’s boreal forests serve as key breeding habitat for 292 species of protected birds, according to a June report, and tar sands development has resulted in the death of thousands of these birds. Read the rest of this entry »

Well, I would. You probably would.

But TV journalists are highly trained, and rigorously selected, to be able walk right through such a thing and be completely incurious and oblivious.
Hey, that’s why they make the big bucks.

Jack Mirkinson in Huffington Post:

The People’s Climate March on Sunday was perhaps the largest climate change protest in history. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of New York City. Celebrities and high-profile politicians were among the marchers. The protest was a huge topic on social media.

All in all, it was a perfect opportunity for some of America’s biggest news organizations to cover the topic of climate change, something that usually gets either ignored or badly handled. For Sunday talk show hosts, there was even a nice political hook, since the march was pegged to a UN summit that President Obama will be attending.

Well, so much for that idea. It seems climate change remains one potentially world-shattering issue that just can’t get any respect on television. No Sunday morning show except MSNBC’s “Up” so much as mentioned climate change, or the march, save for one stray reference on “This Week” by The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel. She pointed out that the march was actually gathering right outside the ABC studios in Lincoln Center where the show is taped.

“NBC Nightly News” was the only evening news show to do any segment on the march. (ABC devoted about 23 seconds to the topic in its evening show, and CBS spent exactly zero seconds on it.) Cable news, with the exception of Al Jazeera America, mostly looked the other way, besides a couple of segments on CNN and MSNBC.

A correspondent writes to me:

While the rally exceeded expectations in terms of turnout and energy. I have to say even I am floored by the abysmal coverage on the part of the networks.
As far as I can tell — based on (a friend’s) vigilant monitoring and what I’ve seen – or not seen – this morning, it is truly appalling that CNN, and apparently ABC  and CBS (one minute of random raw footage on cbsnews.com does not cut in my book) ignored what was happening in their own backyard, weekend or not.
Good for NBC Nightly News for at least doing a story on it but cannot say the same for it’s Today Show which so far this morning — almost two hours in — has
not so much as mention the historic rally. They have, of course, heavily covered the missing UVA student, sadly still missing with NOTHING NEW TO REPORT, and what Gwen Stefani “really” thinks about the judges on some stupid talent show. Ugh.



Climate Central:

Just days after NASA data showed that August 2014 was the warmest August on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed the ranking and raised the ante: There’s a good chance 2014 could become the warmest year on record.

“If we continue a consistent departure from average for the rest of 2014, we will edge out 2010 as the warmest year on record,” said Jake Crouch, a climatologist with NOAA’sNational Climatic Data Center, during a press briefing Thursday.

Specifically, if each of the remaining months of the year ranks among the top five warmest, 2014 will take the top spot, he said.

The news may come as a surprise to those living in the eastern portion of the U.S., which has seen a relatively cool year so far, with a frigid winter followed by anear-average summer (which seemed extremely mild compared to recent steamy summers). But the global picture shows that the East was “pretty much the only land area in the globe that had cooler-than-average temperatures,” Crouch said. (The western U.S., on the other hand, has been baking.)

For the year-to-date, the globe has measured 1.22°F above the 20th century average of 57.3°F, which makes January-August 2014 the third warmest such period since records began in 1880. The record-hot August marks the 38th consecutive August and the 354th consecutive month with a global average temperature above the 20th century average, according to the NCDC.

The oceans have fueled much of this year’s warmth, with parts of the Indian Ocean and central Pacific, among other spots, recording their record warmest conditions in both August and the entire January-August period. “And most of the oceans were much warmer than average” during that period, Crouch said.

The Pacific warmth is due in part to the El Nino that has been struggling to develop there for much of the year. An El Nino is defined by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical central and eastern Pacific and tends to raise global temperatures; some El Nino years rank among the warmest on record.

Of the five warmest years on record (2010, 2005, 1998, 2013, and 2003, in that order), only 2013 and 2014 didn’t start with a mature El Nino, according to NOAA. Of the top 10 warmest years on record, 1998 is the only year that didn’t occur in the 21st century, showing how much global temperatures have risen due to the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Read the rest of this entry »


John D. Rockefeller built a vast fortune on oil. Now his heirs are abandoning fossil fuels.

The family whose legendary wealth flowed from Standard Oil is planning to announce on Monday that its $860 million philanthropic organization, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is joining the divestment movement that began a couple years ago on college campuses.

The announcement, timed to precede Tuesday’s opening of the United Nations climate change summit meeting in New York City, is part of a broader and accelerating initiative.

UPDATE: Message from Nobel Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Times continued:

“This is a threshold moment,” said Ellen Dorsey, executive director of the Wallace Global Fund, which has coordinated the effort to recruit foundations to the cause. “This movement has gone from a small activist band quickly into the mainstream.”

Not everyone will divest completely or right away, Ms. Dorsey noted, and some are divesting just from specific sectors of the fossil fuel industry, such as coal.

“The key thing is that they are moving along toward a common destination,” she said.

The Guardian:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for an anti-apartheid-style boycott and disinvestment campaign against the fossil fuel industry for driving global warming, just days ahead of a landmark UN report on how carbon emissions can be slashed.

In an article for the Guardian, the archbishop writes: “We live in a world dominated by greed. We have allowed the interests of capital to outweigh the interests of human beings and our Earth. It is clear [the companies] are not simply going to give up; they stand to make too much money.”

Tutu, one of the most revered figures of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle and a key backer of the economic and moral campaigns that helped end the system, says: “People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change. We can, for instance, boycott events, sports teams and media programming sponsored by fossil-fuel energy companies.”

The Nobel peace prize winner also called for investors to dump their fossil fuel stocks: “It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future. Already some colleges and pension funds have declared that they want their investments congruent with their beliefs.”

Washington Post:

“There is a moral imperative to preserve a healthy planet,” said Valerie Rockefeller Wayne, a great-great-granddaughter of oil magnate John D. Rockefeller Sr. and a trustee of the largest charitable foundation in which the family still plays the leading role.




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