No sooner had I  posted (below) about climate denier backpedaling in the current election cycle, than I came across Lee Fang’s collection of climate denying politicians across the country. Obviously, still a lot of work to do.

Above, report from ABC News shows how Republican politicians with hopes for future credibility are sidling toward the exits of the CrazyTown Hilton.
George P Bush, newest clan member, is running for Texas Land Commissioner, and, for now, copping the “I’m not a scientist” line.

Aaron Huertas for Union of Concerned Scientists:

There was a slight thaw in the climate change debate this month. Six candidates for high office – three Republicans and three Democrats – publicly debated what to do about climate change instead of arguing about the science.

Climate and energy issues have taken prominence in the ad war leading up to Election Day. But politicians running for office in coastal states seem to be realizing that they need to debate how to respond to the effects of climate change too, especially as the effects of sea-level rise become increasingly evident to their constituents.

Public perceptions of climate change are moving from the theoretical to the practical. Coastal residents who are watching streets turn into estuaries at high tide, in particular, want to hear about solutions. Politicians have clearly taken notice.

The level of our political discourse around climate change seems to be rising, along with the sea.

 

Candidates express concerns about rising seas in low-lying Hampton roads

In the Virginia Senate race, Sen. Mark Warner (D) and his Republican challenger Ed Gillespie were asked about rising seas at a forum hosted by the state’s Central Business District Association. Although the event was not recorded, the Associated Press summarized their comments this way:

The Hampton Roads region routinely floods during even minor storms, and flooding is expected to worsen because of sea level rise. Warner said that sea level rise and man-made climate change are clearly linked. He said Gillespie doesn’t believe climate change is caused by humans.

Gillespie denied that characterization. He said in two debates that he’s had with Warner that he believes there’s ample evidence of climate change and that man contributes to it. Gillespie said sea level rise is a major concern and that he believes the federal government has a role to address it, including seeking funding.

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The Greenland Ice Sheet covers an area about the size of all the land in the United States east of the Mississippi River. This huge mass of ice averages a thickness of 2.3 kilometers (1.4 miles), and contains roughly 8 percent of the world’s fresh water. If all of it melted, it would increase global sea level by about 7.4 meters (24 feet).

Except for a narrow perimeter near the coasts, the ice sheet covers most of Greenland’s land surfaces year round. In winter, snowfall blankets the coastlines as well, making the whole island appear white in satellite imagery. But as temperatures rise in the summer, Greenland’s appearance begins to change. Melting exposes rocky coastlines, where glaciers pour out through narrow fjords to the sea. Farther inland, the smooth expanses of white are replaced by bands of darker, bare ice pockmarked with melt ponds and streams.

That underlying “dark” ice is part of the permanent ice sheet, and it is of great interest to climate scientists Johnny Ryan of Aberystwyth University and Jason Box of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. Ryan and Box spent much of the summer of 2014 mapping dark ice and studying its composition in a campaign they called the Dark Snow Project.

Fresh snow has an albedo of about 0.86, meaning it reflects about 86 percent of the sunlight that hits it. The darker underlying ice can have an albedo as low as 0.3. Since it is much less reflective than fresh winter snow, dark ice absorbs a much higher percentage of incoming sunlight, warms the surface faster, and hastens melting.

Around their camp in southwestern Greenland, Ryan and Box observed that snow and ice were darkened by a combination of dust, algae, and soot from wildfires. Most of the soot and dust was likely deposited thousands of years ago, Ryan noted, “so what happened in the past is having a direct effect on how the ice sheet behaves today.”

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The image at the top of this page was captured by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on August 5, 2014, and offers a view of the tents and scientific equipment in the Dark Snow Project. (The camp was located at 67.078 north latitude and 49.402 west longitude.) Dark ice, rich with impurities, was particularly visible east of the melt stream near the camp. The second image was taken by the UAV on August 6 and shows a closeup of one of the tents, as well as research equipment such as a spectrometer and reference targets of pure white (albedo of 1) and pure black (albedo of 0) to calibrate the sensors on the UAV. Several water-filled cylindrical melt holes known as cryoconites are also visible.

The goal of the 2014 Dark Snow expedition was to measure the albedo of the surface using cameras and pyranometers. Box and Ryan hope to compare the albedo measurements they made with the UAVs to the ground-based albedo measurements, and then to satellite observations of albedo from MODIS. The images below were captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite on February 25, 2014, and on August 5, 2014.

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Director Robbie Kenner talks about his new film, “Merchants of Doubt”, which profiles the parallels between tobacco industry science denial, and climate denial.

Kenner is the director of the highly regarded “Food Inc”, which had a big impact a few years ago. I think this one, coming as more and more climate deniers are back on their heels as the tide turns against them, could have a large impact.

Release scheduled for in February 2015.

Carbon Brief:

Arctic amplification has been linked with very cold winters in mid-latitude regions of the northern hemisphere. The UK, the US and Canada have all experienced extreme winters in recent years. Just last year, for example, the UK had its second-coldest March since records began, prompting the Met Office to call a  rapid response meeting of experts to get to grips with whether melting Arctic sea-ice could be affecting British weather.

The new study, published in Nature Geoscience, suggests the likelihood of severe winters in central Asia has doubled over the past decade. This vast region includes southern Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and northern China. And it’s the Arctic that’s driving the changes once again, the authors say.

Pronounced change

The study finds that almost all of the very cold winters in central Asia during the past decade have coincided with particularly warm conditions in the Arctic.

The paper points to sea ice loss in the Barents Sea and the Kara Sea as the cause. These sit to the north of Scandinavia and Russia and to the south of the Arctic Ocean, as shown in the map above.

The researchers found a ‘pronounced change’ towards very low sea ice concentration in the two seas since 2004. You can see this in the series of blue dots in graph below.

Sea-ice concentration in the Barents and Kara seas, expressed as a percentage. Blue and red dots indicate low- and high-ice years, respectively.

The years with very low sea-ice coincide with very cold winter temperatures recorded in central Asia, as you can see in the graph below.

Surface air temperatures over the Barents and Kara seas during winter, compared to the 1979-2013 average. Blue and red dots indicate severely cold and warm winters, respectively.

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Interview before the Des Moine Register editorial board. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

While Climate and Energy continue to show surprising strength as issues in Senate races across the country – fascinating developments as local politicians find that climate change vastly complicates the normal infrastructure demands, beyond the filling of potholes.

Washington Post:

At least twice in a normal year, the Biscayne Bay rises to swamp the streets of this fashionable resort town in an event known as the “king tide.” Water spills over seawalls and gurgles up through storm drains in what scientists say is a preview of life in Florida in a warming climate.

But this is an election year, when even nature becomes a foil for competing political narratives. When a highly anticipated king tide hit the Florida coast last week, state and local officials surged into action to ensure that any flooding was kept out of sight.

Crews went to work at daybreak Thursday to fire up brand-new pumps installed to prevent seawater from inundating expensive bayfront real estate. By late morning, the TV reporters who arrived in wading boots to film flooded streets instead saw only puddles. By Oct. 10, when the state’s two gubernatorial candidates met for a televised debate, the streets were completely dry, and the Republican incumbent was able to deflect a question about the impact of climate change on the state.

“We put $350 million into flood mitigation,” Gov. Rick Scott told viewers of the debate with Democratic rival Charlie Crist.

The scramble to limit the damage from rising waters — practically and symbolically — illustrates the challenges and pitfalls faced by politicians this year in dealing with the divisive issue of climate change. Particularly in hard-hit coastal states such as Florida, where rising sea levels are now an inalterable fact, the effects are becoming harder to ignore or suppress, though officials regularly still try.

-The flooding also poses a special challenge for conservative politicians who are skeptical of the scientific consensus on human-induced climate change. Some Republicans, like Scott, have gradually arrived at a somewhat schizophrenic position, refusing officially to take a position on global warming even as they ramp up efforts to deal with its immediate effects.

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Athens: 10/24/14

October 27, 2014

A correspondent writes: “When I lived in Greece during the late 1970s, winter rains nearly always caused a problem in Athens with flash flooding due to the inadequate sewer system.
But now, even more forest has disappeared on the hills around Athens, and with extreme precipitation events, this is what happens.”

 

Decent, relatively short video summary of the problem, from somebody who knows.

Short synopsis of “the pause” at 6;30 is notable..

And, he shares a global warming limerick, attributed to one Lynne Page.

There’s a clearer analysis forming
Of the increase in powerful storming;
But it’s not just hot air
About which we should care
For the Cold ocean depths have been warming

 

One more thing for science-denying politicians to contend with. As climate change becomes more obvious to the public at large, popular entertainment begins to reflect our shared experience, expectations, and fears.

I’ve posted about Cli-Fi as an emerging genre – upcoming movies like “Interstellar” (apparently) integrate climate change as an essential plot element.  Snowpiercer has gotten a fair amount of press.

Here are some I had not known about.
Above: The Young Ones –  with Nicholas Hoult, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Shannon and Elle Fanning.  I’ll see this one for Michael Shannon alone. This guy is the new De Niro – for lack of a better comparison. If you have not seen “Take Shelter”, its a performance you won’t forget, with a creepy climate subtext.

Entertain This:

After we used the term “cli-fi” in a post the other day to describe the growing sub-genre of dystopian sci-fi movies focused on the effects of climate change, we heard from climate activist Dan Bloom on Twitter, who told us that he coined that catchy term!

There are finally enough cli-fi films being made that Bloom says he is working to create an Oscars-type award  to honor and draw attention to the top movies in the genre. By top movies, he means “most engaging and meaningful” as cli-fi cinema, Bloom says via email from Taiwan, where he’s lived since 1996.

Bloom’s Cli Fi Movie Awards, nicknamed the Cliffies, are taking nominations from now until Dec. 31. The nominations will be announced on Jan. 1, and winners will be named in 10 categories on Feb. 15, 2015. He says he’s assembling a jury of film studies professors, academics and sci-fi novelists to choose the winners, and while there won’t be an awards event the first year, he hopes that will come in the future.

“The Cliffies are not about glitz or glamour or movie stars. They are about the very future  of our planet. Hollywood has a big role to play and indie movies, too,” he says, adding that the winners’ “statuette” will be a small blow-up globe, made in China.

Into the Storm

School buses, barns and airplanes are sent spinning into oblivion when an onslaught of tornadoes touches down. Special effects are skillfully wrought, scary and exciting. As a meteorologist in the movie  puts it, nothing has been quite the same since hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. “While the words “climate change” are never uttered — most likely for fear of turning off non-believers and limiting box office potential — the concept hangs over the movie like the darkest of clouds,” Puig notes.

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