Despite last week’s lethal tornado in Texas, and the continued rash of storms today – the first part of May saw an unusually low number of tornadoes, – striking in contrast to 2 years ago, when in 2011 we saw an awesome eruption of tornado fury across the US. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground addresses the issue in the video above – both kinds of extremes are very low probability events. Coming in such close succession, they tend to reinforce the “weather whiplash” story that has characterized our “new normal”.
With just three tornadoes during the period May 1 – 7, 2013 has had the third-fewest U.S. tornadoes during the first week of May since record keeping began in 1950. The only year with fewer tornadoes during the first week of May were 1970 (zero) and 1952 (two.) During the ten year period 2003 – 2012, the U.S. averaged 73 tornadoes during the first week of May, with a high of 239 during May 1 – 7, 2003.
UPDATE: Then again, the tornado drought may be ending.
Breaking – CNN:
(CNN) — At least one person was killed and around a dozen injured Sunday when a string of tornadoes tore through four states, ripping roofs off homes, downing power lines and tossing trees like matchsticks
One tornado touched down near Wellston, Oklahoma, taking out power lines and damaging several homes, according to video from CNN affiliate KFOR. The affiliate’s helicopter pilot estimated the funnel cloud to be about a half-mile wide.
“It’s tearing up everything,” the pilot said. “Just ripping everything up in its sight.”
Among the big lies that windbaggers like to spread about wind energy, there are 2 that come up a lot.
One is that wind turbines kill a lot of birds, relative to other human activities.
The other is that windbaggers give a damn about birds.
There are many ways to classify the impacts of electricity generation on wildlife. Effects can be direct and/or indirect; acute or chronic; individual or cumulative; and local, regional, or global. Each type of effect was explored in this study. Acidic deposition, climate change, and mercury bioaccumulation are identified as the three most significant and widespread stressors to wildlife from electricity generation from fossil fuels combustion in the NY/NE region.
Risks to wildlife vary substantially by life cycle stage. Higher risks are generally associated with the resource extraction and power generation stages, as compared to other life cycle stages. Overall, non-renewable electricity generation sources, such as coal and oil, pose higher risks to wildlife than renewable electricity generation sources, such as hydro and wind. Based on the comparative amounts of SO2, NOx, CO2, and mercury emissions generated from coal, oil, natural gas, and hydro and the associated effects of acidic deposition, climate change, and mercury bioaccumulation, coal as an electricity generation source is by far the largest contributor to risks to wildlife found in the NY/NE region.
..wind farms are responsible for roughly 0.27 avian fatalities per gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity while nuclear power plants involve 0.6 fatalities per GWh and fossil-fueled power stations are responsible for about 9.4 fatalities per GWh. Within the uncertainties of the data used, the estimate means that wind farm-related avian fatalities equated to approximately 46,000 birds in the United States in 2009, but nuclear power plants killed about 460,000 and fossil-fueled power plants 24 million.
To recap, about 46,000 avian mortalities were associated with wind farms across the United States in 2009 but nuclear plants killed about 458,000 and fossil-fueled power plants almost 24 million, estimates illustrated by Figure 2. Figure 2 also reveals how the number of absolute birds killed by wind energy pales in comparison to other causes such as
windows and cats. Regardless of where the wind turbines are located, by minimizing reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear power, they prevent the death and injury of wildlife that would otherwise occur across the world’s coal mines, uranium tail
ponds, oil refineries, natural gas facilities, uranium acidified forests, polluted lakes, and habitats soon to be threatened by climate change.
Although most evaluations of the beneficial effects of wind-generated electricity, including the present one, have addressed the degree to which they reduce (through displacement) atmospheric emissions, other important effects are potentially displaced as well. For example, obtaining fossil fuel through mining, drilling, and chemical modification of one form to another (e.g., gasification of coal) has a variety of environmental effects including loss of habitat for terrestrial and aquatic species.
Operation of thermal (energy generation units), which generate heat to drive turbines, produces heated water, either from cooling or in the form of steam to drive the turbines, or both. If the energy from the heated water is not recovered, the water is usually discharged into the environment; in closed cooling systems, its heat is discharged. All forms of generation have associated life-cycle emissions and wastes along with other environmental effects that are affected by the design, materials provision (including mining), manufacture, construction, transportation, assembly, operation, maintenance, retrofits, and decommissioning of the generators and their associated infrastructure. Some of these stages of the life cycle—most notably, mining—have adverse effects on human health as well.
So many folks have written to me and urged me to listen to this, that I finally did.
They’re right, it’s worth hearing. In an era when the ideals of enlightenment seem to have fallen out of favor, Senator Whitehouse makes a case that Jefferson or Franklin would instantly recognize.
GEORGETOWN – Sussex County Council members are not on the same wave length regarding the debatable issue of sea level rise.
At the May 7 council meeting, Susan Love, a planner with the Department of Environmental Control and Natural Resources’Coastal Management Program, delivered an update on progress made by the state’s Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee, which is developing an adaptation plan for the state that will provide a path forward for planning for impacts of sea level rise.
Ms. Love’s presentation drew no love from councilmen Samuel Wilson, R-Georgetown, and Vance Phillips, R-Laurel.
Mr. Wilson cast doubt sea level rise even exists.
“They don’t have no facts. It’s almost BS, to be honest with you,” said Mr. Wilson.
“Man has been on this earth … according to the Bible … about 6,000 to 7,000 years,” challenged Mr. Wilson. “Salt (water) may intrude. You’re talking like it’s going to happen in the next 10 years. It’s been 7,000 years we’re thinking it might come. If it hasn’t done it in the last 7,000 why is it going to do it now all of a sudden?”
Nearly 500 professors, student and alumni signed a letter (see full text below) expressing concern that Carson, as a 7th Day Adventist, believes in creationist theory that holds that all life on Earth was created by God about 6,000 years ago. It rejects Darwin’s theory of evolution, which is the central principle that animates modern biology, uniting all biological fields under one theoretical tent, and which virtually all modern scientists agree is true.
The letter’s authors are not seeking to have Carson disinvited. Instead, they say it was written to raise concerns about his anti-scientific views.
“It’s not true that the temperature has not changed in two decades.”
Am I wrong or does the BBC interviewer seem just a bit snippy about having her misinformation set straight?
I like this new, liberated James Hansen.
May 17, 2013
In the past year, we’ve seen images of extreme pollution events across China, far in excess of anything that would be tolerated in developed countries.
What’s been largely uncovered by mainstream media in the west, are the protests and demonstrations, sometimes violent, that have been breaking out against new coal power stations, oil and gas development, and polluting industries across China.
It’s a standard climate denial talking point that “whatever we do will make no difference because China yada yada”. Time to put that one to rest. Not only has China been leading the world in the development of renewable energy, but has now begun serious discusions about when to introduce a carbon tax of their own..
Environmental carnage of all sorts is a truly major emergency in China, both in the short term and as a potential limit on the country’s development;
Chinese emissions are a problem not just for its own people but also for the world. It has now overtaken the U.S. as the biggest carbon emitter; most of the coal that is burned anywhere on Earth is burned in China.