I have been fortunate, several times,  to interview Kerry Emanuel of MIT, probably the foremost hurricane expert in the world, above.  In a nutshell, here’s what he tells me.

Long term trends for hurricanes are not completely clear, but models indicate that stronger storms could be an outcome of continued climate change.  Very early indications are that the number of stronger storms, Category 3 and higher, are increasing in the Atlantic, and possibly in the Pacific as well.

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This year, above average predictions – watch for possible El Nino – which might depress hurricanes, but brings a whole raft of other concerns.

Bloomberg:

The Atlantic hurricane season will likely churn out an above-average 11 to 17 named storms, in part due to fading odds than an El Nino will form in the Pacific.

Of storms that emerge during the six-month season that begins June 1, five to nine will reach hurricane strength with winds of 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday. Two to four may become major systems reaching Category 3 or stronger on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.

The Earth’s most powerful storms can threaten lives, destroy property and move global energy and agricultural markets. An estimated $28.3 trillion worth of homes, businesses and infrastructure is vulnerable to hurricane strikes in the 18 U.S. Atlantic coastal states, according to the Insurance Information Institute in New York.

“There is a potential for a lot of Atlantic storm activity this year, ” Ben Friedman, acting NOAA administrator, said on a conference call. “We cannot stop hurricanes but we can prepare for them.”

The U.S. hasn’t been struck by a major system since Hurricane Wilma in 2005, said Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. In September, Hurricane Matthew killed at least 585 people, most of them on Haiti, making it the deadliest storm since Wilma. Matthew went on to graze the U.S. East Coast, causing widespread flooding across the South before making landfall in South Carolina.

In an average season, the Atlantic spins off 12 storm systems. A year ago, the U.S. predicted 10 to 16 would form while the season eventually saw 15 storms.

 

 

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Moving toward our goal for this year’s field season. Still a couple weeks to go on this campaign – help Citizen Science push back against Dark Side.

 

Above, newly confirmed EPA Director Scott Pruitt makes the claim that the Paris Climate agreement makes no demands on China and India before 2030.  He can’t be this stupid, so we just have to call that a lie.

In planning for electrical production, 10 years from now is today. Utility planners know this. So it is that China, for instance, is already moving on promises to level out emissions by 2030 – and in fact, may already have done so.

Forbes:

One of China’s top climate scientists says that China is on track to see carbon dioxide emissions peak between 2020 and 2022, almost a decade earlier than the Chinese leadership has promised, and to make its economy far more energy-efficient than expected. Beijing’s Energy Research Institute’s Senior Researcher Jiang Kejun also confirmed that China’s coal use peaked in 2014, a full decade before most observers thought that it would be possible; the seeming decline since that peak has been regarded by some analysts as a temporary blip due to factors such as a weak economy and increased hydropower in a rainy year, but Jiang says that coal use is on a permanent decline.

Jiang’s comments, although not official policy, are the most authoritative senior-level statement on an expected early peak in China’s greenhouse gas emissions (which are mostly CO2). China is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, accounting for around 30% of the annual global total.

The analysis that Jiang presented at a Department of Energy (EIA) conference in Washington, D.C. in mid-July was significant as his projections are far more ambitious than China’s promises at the Paris climate talks last December. In Paris, and in an earlier agreement with the U.S. China has only promised to see emissions peak “around 2030.”

Scientific American:

Emissions declined in both the United States and China, and stayed level in Europe. That’s because of increased natural gas usage and a reduction in coal usage in the United States and China. Dangerous smog levels in major cities have also forced the Chinese government to crack down on air pollution.

In the United States, emissions dropped 3 percent, to the lowest level since 1992, as the economy grew 1.6 percent. In China, emissions declined 1 percent, while the economy grew 6.7 percent. The country also expanded the reliance of its electrical grid on hydro and wind sources as well as nuclear.

In the United States, current utility planning is already building in compliance with the Paris Accords, as markets dictate increasing use of cheap gas and renewable energy.

Pruitt has elsewhere shown himself to be rather unimaginatively hewing to the climate denial talking point playbook.

Here, Pruitt’s answers to written questions from Senator Ben Cardin, (D-Maryland) Read the rest of this entry »

Remember that time when security experts warned the Bush administration about the dire, imminent threat of a terrorist attack?
Those are some of the same experts warning about the security impact of climate change.  And some of the same people are not listening again.

Washington Post, March 25, 2004:

President Bush’s top counterterrorism adviser warned seven days before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks that hundreds of people could die in a strike by the al Qaeda network and that the administration was not doing enough to combat the threat, the commission investigating the attacks disclosed yesterday.

Richard A. Clarke, who served as a senior White House counterterrorism official under three successive presidents, wrote to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on Sept. 4, 2001, urging “policymakers to imagine a day after a terrorist attack, with hundreds of Americans dead at home and abroad, and ask themselves what they could have done earlier,” according to a summary of the letter included in a commission staff report. Clarke also cites the same plea in his new book.

Clarke told the commission in testimony yesterday afternoon that whereas the Clinton administration treated terrorism as its highest priority, the Bush administration did not consider it to be an urgent issue before the attacks.

“I believe the Bush administration in the first eight months considered terrorism an important issue but not an urgent issue,” Clarke told the 10-member panel. “. . . There was a process underway to address al Qaeda. But although I continued to say it was an urgent problem, I don’t think it was ever treated that way.”

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KQED:

Charges of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, cybersecurity and terrorism are topics that have recently dominated the national security conversation. Read the rest of this entry »

Interviewed in San Francisco, December 2014.

If you like this kind of science communication you get nowhere else, support Dark Snow Project.

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More weather extremes.
While climate communicators are trying to figure out the magic formula to snap people out of denial, the Earth continues to speak in ever more convincing ways.

E&E News:

ALTON, Ill. — The first priority was, of course, keeping everyone safe, as floodwaters got so high that city crews stationed a canoe to navigate one of the lower downtown streets earlier in May.

Reopening the riverboat casino came a close second in this Mississippi River town 25 miles north of St. Louis, between the confluence of the Illinois and Missouri rivers.

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“The boat,” as Mayor Brant Walker calls the brightly colored Argosy casino, contributes $4 million to an annual city budget of $31 million. Floodwaters were still pooling in the lower part of town and in the casino parking lot, but shuttles ferried gamblers from staging points on drier ground to the reopened boat in the days after the worst of the flooding.

“It’s absolutely devastating, especially when you work with tight budgets we currently have,” Walker said.

Add climate change to the common bouts of inundation, and towns along the Mississippi are confronting a new reality, Walker said, one that compounds the misery of previous floods. The 180-year-old town has had five flood events in the past four years, he said, and four of those have been in the top 10 flooding disasters in Alton’s history.

“We’re now living in a world of extremes on the Mississippi River,” he said. “We just don’t get normal spring rains anymore. We get huge downpours.”

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I was already working on this video when Scott Adam’s laughably unfunny attempt to have Dilbert do climate science appeared, and set the denia-sphere atwitter.

Some will still prefer the cartoon version of science, but fortunately, there are real experts to set the record straight, and I talk to them regularly.

I promised Mr Adams that a video was coming to help him out.
Here ’tis.

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Below, compare model projections from 40 years ago, via archival footage, with actual observations from today.  Eye Opening. Read the rest of this entry »