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New Republic:

Global warming is an existential threat to human life, but most candidates aren’t talking about it. One of the few exceptions has been O’Rourke, the Democratic congressman from El Paso, who’s running a heavily covered campaign against incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz.

In the past, O’Rourke has focused on the potential for economic growth in fighting climate change. But in a televised debate against Cruz on Tuesday night, he tried out a new tactic: directly tying Cruz’s climate denial to negative consequences in voters’ lives. “I continue to wonder why Senator Cruz voted against more than $12 billion in FEMA preparedness knowing full well that we will see more Harveys going forward,” O’Rourke said, according to ThinkProgress. “Mind you, that was the third 500-year flood in just the last five years. We know that there will be more of these floods coming, and I want to make sure that the people of Texas, especially southeast Texas, are prepared for the next one.”

When Democrats do talk about climate change, they usually warn about the consequences in the future. O’Rourke’s attack is different. He’s framing climate change as a problem affecting voters right now. He’s also holding Cruz accountable for making the problem worse, since Texans would have been better prepared for Hurricane Harvey had Cruz and other climate-denying Republicans not ignored the scientific consensus. (Scientists found that Hurricane Harvey’s record-breaking flooding was made 50 percent worse by global warming.)

It’s true that, right now, voters don’t prioritize climate change as a political issue. But who could blame them when global warming is constantly framed as a problem for the next generation? If Democrats change that false framing, they just might convince more Americans to vote based on the most critical issue of our time.

Washington Post:

It took a giant laurel oak puncturing her roof during Hurricane Florence last month for Margie White to consider that perhaps there was some truth to all the alarm bells over global warming.

“I always thought climate change was a bunch of nonsense, but now I really do think it is happening,” said White, a 65-year-old Trump supporter, as she and her young grandson watched workers haul away downed trees and other debris lining the streets of her posh seaside neighborhood last week, just as Hurricane Michael made landfall 700 miles away in the Florida Panhandle.

Storms have grown more frequent — and more intense — over the 26 years she and her husband have lived in Wilmington, White said, each one chipping away at their skepticism. Climate change has even seeped into their morning conversations as they sip coffee — ever since the neighbor’s tree came crashing onto their home and property, coming to rest along nearly the entire length of their driveway.

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Incredibly pervasive myth – global warming is due to the “ozone hole”.

Not surprising, I guess, in the age when flat-earthism is again, a thing.

solarguys

The overwhelming momentum of solar technology is lower prices, better performance, and, combined with plummeting costs for batteries – it seems inevitable that some utility customers, if not given the option of installing solar on homes or businesses, may eventually decide to drop off the grid, if they are able to self generate sufficient power.

Opportunities would vary by state, but examples might be farmers, business owners with available open space, flat roofs, or parking lots – medium sized customers who, in leaving, increase costs for those consumers who remain on the utility grid.

Sets up utilities for a classic death spiral. Just sayin’.

I’m cheering Utilities as they attempt to change course from a centralized to distributed generation model, and appreciate the “changing course of the aircraft carrier” nature of this problem. DTE is doing some absolutely vital yeoman’s work in deploying wind energy.
But I feel the need to point out….

Inside Climate News:

A national fight that could slow the spread of rooftop solar has landed in Michigan, where utility regulators are weighing a proposal that would cost consumers more to produce their own power.

The outcome could have widespread significance for net-metering, a popular policy in many states that has spurred dramatic growth in rooftop solar installations. Clean energy advocates say it is the most worrying attempt to undermine rooftop solar that they’ve seen since a 2015 Nevada policy that nearly killed the market there and later was undone after massive blowback.

“It is very clear that DTE is trying to put a dagger in the heart of rooftop solar in Michigan,” said Becky Stanfield, a senior regional director for Vote Solar.

The underlying arguments being spread by utility groups and their supporters are “already contagious” for other states, she said, and will become more so if this is adopted in Michigan, a state that is controlled by Republicans but perceived as more politically moderate.

In the background, Major utilities across the Midwest are changing course to shut down coal plants, and move more and more to no-carbon solutions.

Right now, DTE Energy customers who generate their own electricity from solar panels are paid the full retail price for any excess power that they produce and sell to the grid. The utility wants state regulators to cut that by about 75 percent for future rooftop solar systems. It also wants to create a new monthly charge based on the size of a household’s rooftop solar system.

DTE, Michigan’s largest utility, says the plan would end what amounts to a subsidy for rooftop solar.

That’s a familiar argument. The Edison Electric Institute, a trade group for electricity utilities, is supporting DTE’s proposal using a policy framework that echoes one put forward by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a national group that advances corporate interests through state government actions.

Putting the Brakes on Solar Growth?

The change to net-metering was teed up by a 2016 law, supported by utilities and signed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, that increased the state’s renewable energy requirements for utilities but allowed lower payments for net-metering customers.

The Public Service Commission followed with an order this year that requires utilities to set new rates for paying rooftop solar customers that are lower than the full retail price, but it allowed flexibility in how much lower. Stanfield says DTE went to the extreme.

The company’s proposal would change how rooftop solar owners are compensated for electricity they sell to the grid. Instead of paying them the same retail rate that the utility charges customers, it would pay them a much lower wholesale rate. Last year, that averaged about 75 percent less than DTE’s full retail rate.

The utility is also proposing a new $2.31 per-kilowatt monthly charge for rooftop solar customers, something the Public Service Commission’s staff had recommended against.

The commission—whose three members were all appointed by Snyder—will decide the case in a process that begins in earnest in a few weeks when parties file their initial testimony, with a ruling likely next spring.

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Extraordinary reporting by Vice News – includes Eric Rignot and Josh Willis of NASA.

The Hill:

The Air Force has yet to assign a dollar amount to repair F-22 Raptor fighter jets damaged during Hurricane Michael, in part, because the fifth-generation fighter jets are stuck in damaged hangars and awaiting assessment.

The service is assessing the damage at Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base, which was hammered last week by the Category 4 storm. Officials are making sure the aircraft hangars used to house the F-22s are structurally sound before removing the jets for a more in-depth review with maintenance experts, an Air Force spokesperson told The Hill.

Officials stressed, however, that none of the aircraft were destroyed.

“We do not have any destroyed aircraft at Tyndall. Visually all of the aircraft are intact, they generally look to be in good shape,” Air Force Director of public affairs Brig. Gen. Edward Thomas told reporters Tuesday.

Approximately 55 F-22s are assigned to the Florida base. Reports indicate 17 were left behind as they were in the midst of maintenance. Those aircraft were secured in hangars while the others were flown out of Florida ahead of the storm.

The Air Force would not say how many were left at the base, citing operational security reasons.

The service lists the jets, made by Lockheed Martin, at a cost of $143 million each. Added research and development costs put the price around $330 million per unit.

Thomas told reporters that he had viewed the aircraft while visiting the base with Air Force leaders over the weekend.

“Certainly some damage has been sustained by some of those aircraft, but we expect that they’re all be fixable, they’re all be repairable, we expect they will all fly again,” he said.

Thomas added that until maintenance professionals — including Lockheed and Air Force engineers — are able to “tow those jets out and be able to give a good structural assessment, it’s going to be hard to tell you what the damage might be.”

tornadostudy18_500

Researcher: “This is super consistent with climate change.”

Spatial Trends in United State Tornado Frequency:

We show that national annual frequencies of tornado reports have remained relatively constant, but can’t spatially-varying temporal trends in tornado frequency have occurred since 1979. Negative tendencies of tornado
occurrence have been noted in portions of the central and southern Great Plains, while robust positive trends have been documented in portions of the Midwest and Southeast United States

Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Over the past few decades tornadoes have been shifting — decreasing in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas but spinning up more in states along the Mississippi River and farther east, a new study shows. Scientists aren’t quite certain why.

Tornado activity is increasing most in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa and parts of Ohio and Michigan, according to a study in Wednesday’s journal Climate and Atmospheric Science. There has been a slight decrease in the Great Plains, with the biggest drop in central and eastern Texas. Even with the decline, Texas still gets the most tornadoes of any state.

The shift could be deadly because the area with increasing tornado activity is bigger and home to more people, said study lead author Victor Gensini, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Northern Illinois University. Also more people live in vulnerable mobile homes and tornadoes are more likely to happen at night in those places, he said.

Even though Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma get many more tornadoes, the four deadliest states for tornadoes are Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“More folks are generally at risk because of that eastward shift,” Gensini said.

Because tornadoes sometimes go undercounted, especially in the past and in less populous areas, scientists don’t like to study trends by using counts of tornadoes. Gensini and tornado scientist Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storms Lab looked at “significant tornado parameters,” a measurement of the key ingredients of tornado conditions. It looks at differences between wind speed and direction at different altitudes, how unstable the air is and humidity. The more of those three ingredients, the more likely tornadoes will form.

The increases in this measurement mirrored slightly smaller increases found in number of twisters.

The study looked at changes since 1979. Everywhere east of the Mississippi, except the west coast of Florida, is seeing some increase in tornado activity. The biggest increase occurred in states bordering the Mississippi River. Read the rest of this entry »