April 23, 2017
Maybe Bill’s best rant ever.
April 22, 2017
April 22, 2017
And by Conservative Climate Creep, I don’t mean Lord Monckton.
I mean the slow-walking, foot dragging, nose holding, spinach-eating kabuki theater of republican legislators, increasingly beset by angry town hall crowds, where climate change has risen to the hot button level of the Affordable Care Act, Trump’s Tax returns, and possible treasonous connections to Russia.
I attended one of these events in my area recently, asked two climate questions myself, and there were several others, and plenty of crowd support in every instance.
The video above is from a correspondent in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where Republican Jack Bergman is forced to confront the Pentagon’s concerns about security risks of climate change.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis has asserted that climate change is real, and a threat to American interests abroad and the Pentagon’s assets everywhere, a position that appears at odds with the views of the president who appointed him and many in the administration in which he serves.
In unpublished written testimony provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee after his confirmation hearing in January, Mattis said it was incumbent on the U.S. military to consider how changes like open-water routes in the thawing Arctic and drought in global trouble spots can pose challenges for troops and defense planners. He also stressed this is a real-time issue, not some distant what-if.
“Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” Mattis said in written answers to questions posed after the public hearing by Democratic members of the committee. “It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning.”
Mattis has long espoused the position that the armed forces, for a host of reasons, need to cut dependence on fossil fuels and explore renewable energy where it makes sense. He had also, as commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command in 2010, signed off on the Joint Operating Environment, which lists climate change as one of the security threats the military expected to confront over the next 25 years. Read the rest of this entry »
“Exercising my ‘reasoned judgment,’ I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.” –U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken
On November 10, 2016 Judge Ann Aiken issued an opinion and order denying the U.S. government and fossil fuel industry’s motions to dismiss a constitutional climate change lawsuit filed by 21 youth. The decision means that the youth, age 9 to 20 and from all over the U.S., now have standing because their rights are at stake, and now their case is headed to trial.
The youth had filed their constitutional climate lawsuit against the federal government in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon in 2015. Also acting as a plaintiff is world-renowned climate scientist Dr. James E. Hansen, serving as guardian for future generations and his granddaughter. Their complaint asserts that, through the governments affirmative actions in causing climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.
On April 8, 2016, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin first denied the government and fossil fuel industry’s motions to dismiss. While reviewing his decision, Judge Aiken heard oral arguments on September 13, 2016, and issued her historic ruling on November 10, 2016.
April 21, 2017
April 21, 2017
Major new journalism on climate and disease vectors.
Climate change is turning abnormal weather into a common occurrence: Last year was the warmest year on record, the third in a row, and there were more heat waves, freezes and storms in the United States that caused $1 billion or more in damage just in 2016 than in the years 1980 to 1984 combined. Anything that improves conditions for mosquitoes tips the scales for the diseases they carry as well: the West Nile virus that flattened Dallas, the dengue that returned to Florida in 2009 after 63 years and the newest arrival, Zika, which gained a toehold in the United States last year and is expected to surge this summer. “These aberrant years are becoming more common,” Haley told me. “Climate change is clearly altering the environment in ways that increase the potential for these diseases.”
When the health effects of climate change are discussed, the planet-scale impacts get the attention: rising temperatures, which can cause death from overheating; earlier springs, which pump more pollen toward the allergic; runoff from violent storms, which washes fecal bacteria out of sewer pipes; changing airflows that trap ozone near the ground, stressing the systems of people living with heart disease.
The unpredictable weather patterns stimulated by climate change affect infectious diseases, as well as chronic ones. Warmer weather encourages food-borne organisms like salmonella to multiply more rapidly, and warmer seas foster the growth of bacteria like Vibrio that make oysters unsafe to eat. Spikes in heat and humidity have less visible effects, too, changing the numbers and distribution of the insect intermediaries that carry diseases to people.
When former Vice President Al Gore spoke at a meeting on climate and health in Atlanta in February, he chose to start his talk not with a starving polar bear or a glacier falling into the sea, but with images of mosquitoes and ticks. “Climate change is tilting the balance, disrupting natural ecosystems and giving more of an advantage to microbes,” Gore said, standing in front of a giant image of Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species that transmits yellow fever and dengue, and now the Zika virus as well. “Changing climate conditions change the areas in which these diseases can take root and become endemic.”
Right now, yellow fever is causing an epidemic in South America, and dengue has been increasing in Central America. But in the United States, the most alarming disease linked to mosquitoes is Zika, which can cause devastating birth defects.
Zika has been a persistent concern since January 2016, when a Houston man became the mainland United States’ first case, arriving back from a trip to El Salvador with the fever, rash and red eyes of full-blown infection. Now more than 5,200 U.S. residents have come down with the virus, at least one in every state except Alaska. The vast majority were infected by being bitten outside the country, and a small number by having sex with someone who was infected that way. But more than 220 people have caught Zika from local mosquitoes carrying the virus. Almost all of those victims live near Miami, and six live in Brownsville, Tex., along the Mexican border. No one can say yet whether those clusters are random blips or early indications of a pattern of transmission that will blow up into an epidemic when the weather warms this year. Read the rest of this entry »
April 20, 2017
This one’s going viral.