Dumbing down of vital US agencies has to be reversed.



A whole lot of homeowners across the country don’t realize that they are already at elevated risk from climate enhanced flooding and storms.
Those of us not at risk from flooding (see below) are still going to be threatened by a mortgage default crisis that could award 2008.

Two indicators here.

Washington Post:

Now, an exhaustive report out Monday shows that nationally, there are at least 6 million households that are unaware they’re living in homes that have a 1 percent chance of flooding in each year — putting them within a “100-year” flood zone. This is nearly 70 percent more homes at substantial risk of flooding than are within the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Special Flood Hazard Areas, a designation that determines eligibility for the National Flood Insurance Program.

This count is set to grow substantially in coming decades due to the effects of climate change, including sea level rise, which will make hurricane storm surges more damaging, as well as precipitation extremes.

A warming climate is poised to wreak havoc on the housing market, particularly if risk is not properly priced. Homeowners could be stuck owning properties that are literally and financially underwater, and insurers and lenders could face a financial reckoning of their own.

The report, from the nonprofit flood research and communications group First Street Foundation, is aimed at leveling the playing field between buyers and sellers, and democratizing specialized flood risk analyses that insurance companies and consulting firms are producing but charge hefty sums to access.

Now, a prospective buyer can see a property’s flood risk score, which First Street calls the “Flood Factor,” along with a map showing flood information, for 142 million properties in the Lower 48 states.

First Street is providing property-level mapping free on its website. Using peer-reviewed models and an approach that looks at both the changing risks of flooding and probable depths of each flood, the First Street analysis assigns each property a “Flood Factor,” which is a score on a 10-point scale, to allow prospective buyers to better understand the flood probabilities associated with a particular property.

I did my house.
Low flood risk for next 30 years.

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The most well known battery technologies are the familiar lithium ion type that we have in most of our cell phones and electronics, and the large pumped-hydro storage plants that operate like hydro dams.
Survey of existing technology in the video above.

But it’s a mistake to assume that the utility planners of 2030, or even 2025, will select from the same energy storage menu we have today. There are dozens, if not hundreds of new chemistries and tech that are currently showing big promise.

New technology now getting attention comes from a battery tech all-star team lead by a Tesla alumnus.

Recharge News:

A US utility planning to source most of its electricity from wind power is hoping that a novel 150-hour battery invented by a secretive start-up will ensure that the lights will stay on during extreme weather conditions.

Minnesota-based Great River Energy (GRE) —a not-for-profit wholesale electric power cooperative which provides electricity to about 700,000 homes and businesses — has announced plans to retire its 1.15GW coal plant and replace it with 1.1GW of new wind projects.

This will leave it with only one baseload power station, the 99MW Spiritwood combined heat and power plant, which runs off coal and natural gas, but will switch to run solely off natural gas. In addition, it has several gas peaker plants that act as back-up power.

The company says that the switch from coal to wind will reduce the cost of electricity to its customers — 28 member-owner distribution cooperatives — and that its “power supply resources will be more than 95% carbon dioxide-free, virtually eliminating carbon risk”.

Below, GRE CEO David Saggau describes how wind is becoming “the new base load”.

As part of its announcement, GRE said it will build a 1MW/150MWh (150-hour) grid-connected demonstration storage project in Minnesota by the end of 2023 using novel battery technology from secretive Massachusetts-based start-up Form Energy. In other words, it can provide 1MW of output for 150 hours straight.

Form Energy has won $50m of funding from investors, including the Bill Gates-backed Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Italian oil company Eni and Macquarie Capital, but has revealed little about its technology — only that is an “aqueous air battery system” and is “ultra-low-cost”.

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Jeff Goodell’s new Rolling Stone piece examines the “Trillion Tree” initiative that we’re hearing from, among others, our climate science denying President.

Tree planting has become a low-risk non-answer that some climate deniers have been proposing for the climate crisis, sometimes without actually mentioning the climate crisis.

Trees, after all, are like Mom and Apple pie. Who’s against trees?

Goodell’s point is that Trees, that is, preserving and expanding intact forests of trees – which can sequester large amounts of carbon, are a good adjunct to our efforts on climate IF we are concurrently closing down the CO2 spigot.

But planting more industrial tree farms does not equate to a major carbon drawdown, in fact it might be the opposite. And without a halt to human emissions, dying forests could become a carbon source, not a sink.

Jeff Goodell in Rolling Stone:

On one hand, this near-universal support for tree-planting as a solution to the climate crisis is not surprising. Who doesn’t love trees? They are our ancient partners on this planet, and they may be far more intelligent than we know (Read Richard Powers’ magnificent novel The Overstory). And yes, the 3 trillion or so trees that already grow on the planet suck up about a third of the CO2 we dump into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. But the idea that we’re going to solve the climate crisis by planting a trillion trees is a particular kind of lunacy, and a great example of what happens when bad science hooks up with do-gooderism and they sleep together in a bed of political expediency.

A pair of new studies out this week show just how misplaced hopes for tree-planting have been. One study, published in Nature Sustainability, looks at how 25 years of forest subsidies in Chile have decreased biodiversity without increasing total carbon stored in above-ground biomass. A second study, in Science, raises big questions about the long-term security of carbon stored in forests, especially as those forests become increasingly vulnerable to drought, wildfires, and disease in our rapidly warming world.

The idea of planting trees as a solution to the climate crisis is nothing new. It was an important part of the 1992 Kyoto Protocol and the 2015 Paris Agreement. Many nations around the world — GermanyCanadaKenya — have launched ambitious tree-planting projects in recent decades. Last August, volunteers in India planted 220 million trees in a single day.

Tree planting is also a key part of cap-and-trade schemes, which allow polluters to continue emitting CO2 if that CO2 can be offset (or absorbed) in other ways. In California, the cap-and-trade program has recognized 133 million tons of CO2 in benefits from forest carbon offset projects between 2013 and 2019. Skepticism, however, abounds, especially on questions about permanence: What happens to all of that carbon stored in trees if, say, a forest burns down?

Tree-planting mania began in earnest last July with a high profile paper in Scienceauthored by Timothy Crowther, a 33-year-old assistant professor at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. Crowther and his team built models that used variables such as soil quality and other factors to suggest there was plenty of room for a trillion new trees on the planet. According to Crowther, those trees could absorb two-thirds of the CO2 that humans have added to the atmosphere in the industrial era. Tree planting, Crowther argued, is “our most effective climate change solution.”

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Watch for something like this as climate deniers, one by one, have to acknowledge reality and admit that science is real.

Honestly, who could have known that people in bars could spread a virus?


AUSTIN, Texas — Texas surpassed 5,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients for the first time Friday afternoon as Gov. Greg Abbott acknowledged in an interview with ABC-7 that he allowed bars in the state to reopen too soon.

“If I could go back and redo anything, I would slow down the re-opening of bars,” the governor said, expressing regret over his decision because of “how quickly the coronavirus spreads in the bar setting.”

The lesson Abbott said he learned is that “a bar setting in reality just doesn’t work with a pandemic.”

Facebook is a sewer, ok, but somebody has to go in there and push back with good info.
So I do, but I don’t enjoy it.


A team of climate scientists working as approved fact checkers for Facebook evaluated a post last year by a White House-connected group that claims the world needs to burn more fossil fuels.

The researchers found that the post by the CO2 Coalition was based on cherry-picked information to mislead readers into thinking climate science models are wrong about global warming. The post, which was published originally in the conservative Washington Examiner, was an opinion piece that had been marked as false, in accordance with Facebook’s standards. The coalition, which is funded by groups that oppose regulations on fossil fuels, was prevented from advertising on the site.

It didn’t last long.

A “conservative” Facebook employee quietly intervened, overturning the fact check, and the misinformation was no longer labeled as false, according to the CO2 Coalition. The post was free to be shared, and a new loophole was created for the coalition and other groups that attack mainstream climate science.

After the quiet decision by Facebook, the coalition says it and other groups that attack consensus climate science can share content that climate scientists have labeled as misleading because Facebook will consider it “opinion” and therefore immune to fact-checking.

The CO2 Coalition is increasingly focused on using Facebook to reach more people with its message that climate change fears are overblown and that burning more fossil fuels would help humanity, Executive Director Caleb Rossiter told E&E News this week. He sees the battle over its climate-related posts as part of a larger proxy war over how to reach an audience outside of conservative media.

“It’s a huge reach. You can reach so many people both with your posts and your advertisements,” Rossiter said. “We’re kind of like Donald Trump. We’re not happy with the treatment we’re getting from the mainstream media, we resort to social media. That’s where our action is in larger part.”

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Siberian Heat Update

June 23, 2020

Thomson – Reuters News:

NEW YORK, June 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A group of young conservatives has urged the United States to rebuild the post-pandemic economy with clean energy to help combat climate change, joining the ranks of Republicans who say they are unhappy with U.S. efforts to slow global warming.

The American Conservation Coalition Campus bought a week-long series of television commercials on the conservative news outlet Fox News, asking President Donald Trump and the U.S. Congress to implement green measures as the nation’s economy reopens.

The group wants low- and zero-emissions technology integrated into transportation infrastructure, incentives for private land owners to capture and store planet-warming gases underground and funding of affordable clean energy.

Here, Republican pollster Frank Luntz’ testimony before the Senate last summer outlined rapidly changing climate awareness among conservatives.

Since the coronavirus lockdowns shut down the U.S. economy in mid-March, Trump has called for investing as much as $2 trillion to jumpstart the world’s largest economy back to life.

“Why not kill two birds with one stone and create a sustainable path to the future?” Benji Backer, founder of the group known as ACC Campus, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

ACC Campus is an organization of conservative college students who advocate for limited-government environmental reform.

“Right now, at the federal government level, they’re investing trillions of dollars into the American economy. That’s something that doesn’t happen very often.”

The ads show images of wildfires, storms and people waiting in lines at food banks, with recorded narration by several Republican presidents, including Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush, on the importance of environmental preservation.

“How we rebuild is how we will be remembered,” it says. “Join the young conservatives in fighting for a clean future.”

The ads ran last week, the group said.

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I was going to say NSFW, but y’all don’t have jobs anymore anyhow.

Washington Post:

A northeastern Siberian town is likely to have set a record for the highest temperature documented in the Arctic Circle, with a reading of 100.4 degrees (38 Celsius) recorded Saturday in Verkhoyansk, north of the Arctic Circle and about 3,000 miles east of Moscow. Records at that location have been kept since 1885.

If verified, this would be the northernmost 100-degree reading ever observed, and the highest temperature on record in the Arctic, a region that is warming at more than twice the rate of the rest of the globe.

On Sunday, the same location recorded a high temperature of 95.3 degrees (35.2 Celsius), showing the Saturday reading was not an anomaly. The average June high temperature in Verkhoyansk is just 68 degrees (20 Celsius).

Verkhoyansk is located at 67.5 degrees north latitude, whereas the Arctic Circle begins at 66.5 degrees.

The town of about 1,300 is located farther north than Fairbanks, Alaska, and is known for having an unusually wide temperature range. During the winter, Verkhoyansk is one of the coldest spots in the world, with temperatures frequently dipping well below minus-50 degrees.

Temperatures in Chersky, about 700 miles to the northeast of Verkhoyansk, reached 86 degrees (30 Celsius) in the past week, which is also unusual and caused by the large area of high pressure, or heat dome, that remains parked over it.

In 2020, Siberia has stood out for its above-extreme temperatures, which have accelerated the melting of snow and ice; contributed to permafrost melt, which led to a major oil spill; and have gotten the Siberian wildfire season off to an unusually early and severe start.