UPDATE: Better pics now available from NASA:


From Arctic Sea Ice Blog:

Well, the folks there (forum member Espen Olsen to be precise) have spotted a large change in Jakobshavn Isbræ, Greenland’s fastest glacier draining 6.5 % of the Greenland ice sheet, between August 14th and 16th.

UPDATE – Washington Post:

Members of the forum estimate that the total area of ice lost from the edge of the glacier (that is, the area lost when looking at the top surface of the glacier from above, using the satellite images) was around 12.5 square kilometers, or nearly five square miles, according to a post on the Arctic Sea Ice Blog, which is operated by ice enthusiast Neven Curlin. If correct, this would be one of the largest such chunks of ice ever to split from the glacier.

“Calving,” which is when ice breaks away from the edge of a glacier or ice sheet and tumbles into the water, is not unusual for this area in Greenland. A combination of rising air and sea temperatures in the Arctic have made calving events more severe in recent decades, and in fact, the Jakobshavn glacier is one of the fastest flowing glaciers in the world, meaning it bleeds ice into the ocean at one of the highest rates of any ice sheet on Earth. As of 2012, the glacier was pouring out ice at a speed of 150 feet per day, nearly three times its flow rate in the 1990s.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fingers crossed.

I don’t envy the guy.


The scientific literature reflects the red panda’s appeal. Frédéric Cuvier, who published the first Western scientific description of the animal in 1825, deemed it “quite the most handsome mammal in existence.” One of the foremost modern authorities, Angela Glatston, in a book she edited about red panda biology, described the animal as “flamboyantly clad in chestnut, chocolate and cream,” and called it “a creature of great beauty and charm.”

Although it is hard to capture in words exactly what red pandas are like, Anna Kendrick, the actress who starred in both “Pitch Perfect” movies, among others, came as close as anyone after she had been panda-struck at Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn.

On “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” she said: “They’re like a fox and a raccoon and a bear and a dog and a cat. They’re like every adorable animal in one animal.” Darwin could not have said it better.

And yet, even though they inspire delight, and have a presence in movies (the master in “Kung Fu Panda”), and on the Internet (in lots of videos and as the avatar of @darth, a popular Twitter persona), they are far less well known and understood than that other panda, the giant black and white one.


And they are in trouble. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which assesses the status of wild populations of animals, estimates that about 10,000 live in the wild, in two subspecies, all on mountain slopes in a narrow band running from western China to Nepal. Deforestation and disease threaten them now, and climate change looms.

Dr. Glatston, who recently retired from the Rotterdam Zoo, runs the global species management program for red pandas for the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. She said that zoos around the world, outside of China, kept about 500 red pandas, which they breed to try to maintain a population as a stopgap against threats to wild pandas. The captive bred pandas could, so the theory goes, be reintroduced into the wild, if necessary.

Below, my newest video on species extinction: Read the rest of this entry »

Need Solar? Google it.

August 18, 2015


Is cheap, clean energy harnessed from the sun and applied straight to your electricity bill right for you?

Now, you can Google it to find out.

Google’s newest tool, Project Sunroof, combines the company’s aerial mapping technology with weather data to users to calculate just how much they’d benefit from investing in solar — and, ideally, to get them started on creating their own solar-powered dream homes. After receiving a custom recommendation for a solar installation size that could cover close to 100 percent of their energy needs and reviewing a simple break-down of different options for how to finance it, users who like what they see can also find information about local solar providers who can actually come and set the whole thing up.

“I’ve always been surprised at how many people I encounter who think that ‘my roof isn’t sunny enough for solar,’ or ‘solar is just too expensive,’” wrote Carl Elkin, the project’s engineering lead, in a blog post. “Certainly many of them are missing out on a chance to save money and be green.”

Google Green Blog:

Enter Project Sunroof, my recent 20% project. Project Sunroof is a new online tool we’re testing to help homeowners explore whether they should go solar. Available in the San Francisco Bay Area, Fresno (in central California), and the Boston area for now, the tool uses high-resolution aerial mapping (the same used by Google Earth) to help you calculate your roof’s solar energy potential, without having to climb up any ladders.

If you’re in one of our test regions, simply enter your address and Project Sunroof will crunch the numbers. It first figures out how much sunlight hits your rooftop throughout the year, taking into account factors like roof orientation, shade from trees and nearby buildings, and local weather patterns. You can also enter your typical electric bill amount to customize the results. The tool then combines all this information to estimate the amount you could potentially save with solar panels, and it can help connect you with local solar providers.

german_renew15The current explosion in solar energy in the US has roots in Germany – where policies to promote solar rooftops were so successful they have lead to an enormous glut of renewable energy, and a steep drop in solar panel prices.


Since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Germany has been one of the few countries that have successfully moved away from nuclear energy. Germany has so far successfully shut down its nine units that had the capacity of generating enough power for at least 20 million homes in Europe. In fact, the contribution of nuclear power in Germany’s electricity generation has now fallen to just 16 percent and renewables are now the preferred source of electricity generation in the country.

However, Germany and its neighbors are now facing an unusual problem. With the dramatic increase in green energy usage, Germany is generating so much electricity from renewables that it is finding it hard to handle it. The excess electricity that is generated is being spilled over to its neighboring countries, thereby increasing the threat of a power blackout should there be a sudden supply disruption.

One problem is that the German transmission network has not kept up with the production of renewables, and this could become a critical problem. There are a number of initiatives in the works to expand and modernize the transmission system.

And there is another idea as well. E-gas.

Yes, there is an energy storage technology that has the capability of storing this excess power. The power to gas technology basically converts the excess electricity into gaseous energy by producing a zero carbon hydrogen gas. This gas can then be converted into renewable methane and used as an energy source in future. German auto giant Audi was the first to use this technology by setting up the world’s first 6 MW- ‘power to gas’ plant in its home country.

In fact, Audi’s E-gas plant is now directly contributing to the stabilization of the country’s power grid. German grid operators are welcoming players that can contribute to stabilize its fluctuating energy production. According to Germany’s second biggest grid operator, Tennet TSO GmbH, an energy-balance player must be capable of drawing close to 6MW power from the grid within a period of five minutes while operating on its standard load profile. Audi’s e-gas plant has been successful in meeting this criterion and has been able to produce more e-gas at the same time by increasing its targets.

Audi USA:

The Audi e-gas plant in the city of Werlte in Lower Saxony produces CO2 neutral fuel, and it also contributes toward stabilizing the public power grid. After successfully completing a test sequence, the plant is now qualified for participating in what is known as the electricity balancing market.

Read the rest of this entry »


Read down the rows and let this one sink in.


The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for June 2015 was the highest for June in the 136-year period of record, at 0.88°C (1.58°F) above the 20th century average of 15.5°C (59.9°F), surpassing the previous record set just one year ago by 0.12°C (0.22°F). This was also the fourth highest monthly departure from average for any month on record. The two highest monthly departures from average occurred earlier this year in February and March, both at 0.90°C (1.62°F) above the 20th century average for their respective months, while January 2007 had the third highest, at 0.89°C (1.60°F) above its monthly average.

June 2015 also marks the fourth month this year that has broken its monthly temperature record, along with February, March, and May. The other months of 2015 were not far behind: January was second warmest for its respective month and April was third warmest. These six warm months combined with the previous six months (four of which were also record warm) to make the period July 2014–June 2015 the warmest 12-month period in the 136-year period of record, surpassing the previous record set just last month (June 2014–May 2015). As shown in the table (above), the 10 warmest 12-month periods have all been marked in the past 10 months.

Dr. Kevin Trenberth interviewed in December 2014, and Dr. Jeff Masters in February 2015.

Compare their comments then and the developing El Nino and global temperature spike now – and ponder how well these scientists understand the global dynamic.

As I posted here last week, the struggle for Fox News’ climate-denying soul has been breaking out in the open.
The polling is clear that most Americans not only agree that climate change is happening, and that humans are the cause, but want the government to do something about it. What we are seeing on Fox News is a foreshadowing of the larger struggle that will be happening in the midst of an election campaign, as 2015 breaks new temperature records, and almost all of the GOP candidates for President are on record as firmly in denial of the overwhelming scientific consensus on the issue.


Research has shown that Fox News is a major driving force behind climate denial, decreasing viewer trust in scientists and the existence of global warming. In 2013, only 28% of Fox News’ climate science segments were accurate, although that was an improvement over its 7% accuracy in 2012.

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith has been one of the few voices on the network willing to accept the scientific reality of human-caused climate change. On the August 10 edition of Fox News’ Shepard Smith Reporting, Smith reported on biased industry-funded science by Coca Cola, and made the connection to fossil fuel-funded climate denial studies.

Lisa Kennedy Montgomery: It’s actually very brilliant marketing on the part of Coca Cola, because they realize that if someone hears that there’s a scientific study behind a reported fact, then they take that, they internalize it and take it to be true … So, what Coca Cola has decided to do is use that “science” in their favor. And if only they could find a few scientists willing to report that it’s not the calories but the lack of exercise that’s making people obese, then they can use this as a sort of an underground marketing strategy.

Shepard Smith: Well this reminds me of two things. The article in the New York Times this weekend pointed out, it reminds you of exactly what the tobacco industry did back in the day, and more recently it also reminds you of what the climate deniers, the climate change deniers are doing as well.

The Guardian points out that, “In fact, just 2 days later, the Fox Business News show Varney & Co. used that strategy in an interview with Roy Spencer…”
Roy Spencer is a former NASA scientist, most famous for repeatedly, stubbornly, and very publicly misinterpreting his own data to claim that the atmosphere was cooling, which he did for years until the overwhelming body of scientific evidence forced him to admit his errors. (he had misplaced “+” and “-” signs).

Spencer also claimed that wind and solar energy are “much more expensive than fossil fuels,” which is simply false. In any case, if conservatives are really concerned about the possibility of rising energy bills for low-income families, they can replace these regulations with a revenue-neutral carbon fee whose rebates would offset any increase in electricity costs.

Unfortunately the interview didn’t include any such constructive policy debate. Instead it shifted to science denial, with Spencer repeating the false claim of no global warming over the past 18 years. In reality, during that time the oceans, surface, and even the lower atmosphere have continued to warm. Unexpectedly, host Stuart Varney pushed back against this global warming denial, pointing out that 14 of the last 15 years have been the hottest on record, and Spencer was forced to admit that the planet has continued to warm.”

Indeed – the “warming has stopped” climate crock has long passed its sell-by date, as 2014 was the hottest year in the modern record, and is soon to be eclipsed by a burgeoning “godzilla el nino” event in the Pacific.  Scientist John Abraham sends me this graph showing how the first seven months of 2015 compares to the annual temperatures of previous years:

Read the rest of this entry »

As the coal industry dies in the US and the developed world, the bogus talking point we hear has been about the “need” for more fossil fuel use in the developing world – the ravages of “energy poverty” on the poor, and the supposed solution – ripping up more farmland and forest to feed a still-voracious carbon industry.
As the video above shows, coal development in the developing world is very much like what we’ve seen in places like Appalachia – the rich reap the benefits, and the poor, as always, are left with the impacts.

The Guardian:

The World Bank said coal was no cure for global poverty on Wednesday, rejecting a main industry argument for building new fossil fuel projects in developing countries.

In a rebuff to coal, oil and gas companies, Rachel Kyte, the World Bank climate change envoy, said continued use of coal was exacting a heavy cost on some of the world’s poorest countries, in local health impacts as well as climate change, which is imposing even graver consequences on the developing world.

“In general globally we need to wean ourselves off coal,” Kyte told an event in Washington hosted by the New Republic and the Center for American Progress. “There is a huge social cost to coal and a huge social cost to fossil fuels … if you want to be able to breathe clean air.”

Coal, oil and gas companies have pushed back against efforts to fight climate change by arguing fossil fuels are a cure to “energy poverty”, which is holding back developing countries.

Peabody Energy, the world’s biggest privately held coal company, went so far as to claim that coal would have prevented the spread of the Ebola virus.

However, Kyte said that when it came to lifting countries out of poverty, coal was part of the problem – and not part of a broader solution.

The Atlantic:

But damage to the climate is not the end of coal’s costs. In 2011, a group of researchers from around the country attempted to calculate that number. They examined the full cost of coal’s “lifecycle” in the United States—that is, the costs of everything that mining coal, transporting it, burning it for electricity, and disposing it does to the world. The researchers included economists from Accenture, doctors and public-health researchers from Harvard University, and ecologists from universities throughout West Virginia. Read the rest of this entry »