April 14, 2014
Above, someone did a really nice job on the graphics for this segment where an ABC interviewer chats with Dr. Michelle Fowler of Goddard Space Flight Center. I wasn’t aware there was a panic going on in fundamentalist religious circles over tonight’s “blood moon” total lunar eclipse, but once again, I’ve been out of the loop.
In a country where a sizable number of people believe the sun goes around the earth, this is a healthy reminder that all of us have a responsibility as science communicators – and not just in areas of climate.
Pastor John Hagee is warning members of his megachurch to prepare for the end of the world because a “blood moon” eclipse on Tuesday is signaling that the End Times could be beginning.
On Tuesday, most of the United States will be treated to the first of four complete lunar eclipses — which scientists call a tetrad — occurring in six month intervals. The eclipses are often referred to as “blood moons” because as sunlight shines on the moon through the Earth’s atmosphere, it gives the moon a red color.
Hagee, pastor of Texas’ Cornerstone Church, has written a book on the phenomenon titled Blood Moons: Something is About to Change. And he is airing a live television event on Tuesday to reveal “direct connections between four upcoming blood-moon eclipses and what they portend for Israel and all of humankind.”
The tetrad — or four consecutive and complete lunar eclipses occurring at approximately six-month intervals — will all be visible over the United States this year and next, according to NASA lunar eclipse expert Fred Espenak.
April 13, 2014
Above, from December 2013, a segment from Jim Byrne’s San Francisco interview with Lord Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics, on the cost of mitigating climate change.
We’re going to be spending money on energy in coming years. Question is, will we keep spending it on the polluting technologies of the 19th century, or begin, belatedly, deploying the technologies of the new energy revolution?
The latest Working Group report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is out, with a surprisingly affordable sticker price on climate protection.
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just issued its third of four planned reports. This one is on “mitigation” — “human intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases.”
.. The first report warned that continued inaction would lead to 9°F warming (or higher) for most of the U.S. and Northern Hemisphere landmass, resulting in faster sea level rise, more extreme weather, and collapse of the permafrost sink, which would further accelerate warming. The second report warned that this in turn would lead to a “breakdown of food systems,” more violent conflicts, and ultimately threaten to make some currently habited and arable land virtually unlivable for parts of the year.
Now you might think it would be a no-brainer that humanity would be willing to pay a very high cost to avoid such catastrophes and achieve the low emission “2°C” (3.6°F) pathway in the left figure above (RCP2.6 — which is a total greenhouse gas level in 2100 equivalent to roughly 450 parts per million of CO2). But the third report finds that the “cost” of doing so is to reduce the median annual growth of consumption over this century by a mere 0.06%.
You read that right, the annual growth loss to preserve a livable climate is 0.06% — and that’s “relative to annualized consumption growth in the baseline that is between 1.6% and 3% per year.” So we’re talking annual growth of, say 2.24% rather than 2.30% to save billions and billions of people from needless suffering for decades if not centuries. As always, every word of the report was signed off on by every major government in the world.
April 13, 2014
The figures prove it. In Fresno County, which leads the nation in agricultural production, officials issued 256 permits to dig new wells in the first three months of 2014, more than twice the number compared to the same time last year. That includes all types of water wells used for agriculture and homes.
In Tulare County, the number of permits issued to dig farm wells alone has tripled to 245. In Kern County, farmers took out 63 new well permits in the first quarter of the year, more than quadrupling last year’s number.
The price to dig a well depends on the depth and ground composition, drillers say, costing a farmer anywhere from $50,000 to $500,000 before installing the pumps.
Tapping groundwater has other costs. The water that was deposited underground naturally over thousands of years isn’t being replaced as rapidly as it’s being drawn, causing the ground in the Central Valley to sink in a process called subsidence. In California, there is little if any regulation of groundwater pumping by the state.
In most years, Central Valley farmers draw one-third of their water from wells, while the remaining two-thirds comes from California’s State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Most farmers expect to receive no water from either this summer, and that ratio is dramatically shifting to underground water supplies, which could eventually run dry.
Meanwhile, fossil fuel companies are looking to use precious remaining water resources to tap exotic oil shales beneath some of the most critically endangered agricultural land in the country.
April 13, 2014
The fight over the Keystone XL pipeline is entering its final phases—a 60-day public comment period is about to end, at which point John Kerry and Barack Obama will be free to decide whether the giant project is in America’s national interest.
Oil companies and the Koch brothers have said yes; a huge array of groups from the nurses union to the Nobel Peace Prize laureates, economists to climate scientists, clergy to solar entrepreneurs have opposed it, making it one of the biggest and most contentious political clashes in decades.
But it’s fitting that what may be the final arguments will come from the two groups that have fought longest and most powerfully: ranchers and farmers along the route, and Native Americans on both sides of the border. The members of this so-called CIA (Cowboy Indian Alliance) are bringing their tipis and horses to the Washington Mall later this month; they’ll host an encampment for a week, rallying under the nose of the White House and attempting to buck up the president who once promised he would end the “tyranny of oil.”
April 9, 2014
The climate community traditionally underestimates the rate of change in the climate system, Columbia University scientist Maureen Raymo cautions, raising questions about where things will stand once everything “comes into equilibrium” with the Pliocene era atmosphere we’re now experiencing.
April 9, 2014
You can always expect to see Captain Paul Watson on the front lines of the battle to conserve and protect marine ecosystems for wildlife. He and his Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have been doing it for nearly 40 years.
A late-night, cable television got the chance to learn more about Watson’s mission during the most recent episode of Real Time with Bill Maher. He discussed some of his biggest enemies—Japanese whalers—and his joy regarding last week’s International Court of Justice ruling that Japan’s “research whaling” is illegal. It marked a big moment for Watson, who says he has been labeled an “eco-terrorist” for years.
“I’m not an eco-terrorist—I don’t work for BP,” he said to a round of applause from the studio audience.
April 9, 2014
Paul Douglas with a winter wrap-up and look forward at California’s ongoing drought.
In conflicting articles, Bloomberg tries to get its arms around the race between Wind power and Natural Gas. The two have been neck and neck leaders for most new electrical capacity, with solar coming up on the outside.
Wind power in the U.S. is on a respirator.
The $14 billion industry, the world’s second-largest buyer of wind turbines, is reeling from a double blow — cheap natural gas unleashed by the hydraulic fracturing revolution and the death last year of federal subsidies that made wind the most competitive of all renewable energy sources in the U.S.
Without restoration of subsidies, worth $23 per megawatt hour to turbine owners, the industry may not recover, and the U.S. may lose ground in its race to reduce dependence on the fossil fuels driving global warming, say wind-power advocates.
They place the subsidy argument in the context of fairness, pointing out that wind’s chief fossil-fuel rival, the gas industry, is aided by the ability to form master limited partnerships that allow pipeline operators to avoid paying income tax. This helps drive down the cost of natural gas.
I’m not kidding - based on the first hour, this is powerful stuff, and it needs to be emailed, shared, facebooked, tweeted, and seen widely.
I’m told that the quality is good throughout.
Here, above, a discussion with producers and contributors to the show.
If you have not yet watched the first hour, which is free on YouTube, go do so here.
Now we have to figure out how to get the whole series busted out of ShowTime and on to the wider media-verse where it can be seen.
There’s a scene in Showtime’s glossy new climate change documentary in which Republican Rep. Michael Grimm, a longtime skeptic, appears as if he’s about to undergo a conversion of faith on global warming.
The Staten Island, N.Y., lawmaker is shown working day and night in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy to help victims in his district, including a woman who lost both her husband and daughter when floodwaters burst the second-floor walls of their family home. The climate has changed, Grimm allows early on, but he calls it simply part of Earth’s natural evolution. Man’s involvement, he said, is a political debate that he prefers to “leave out” of the discussion.