February 17, 2017
Nobel Prize winner Steven Chu shows what an actual Secretary of Energy is supposed to look and sound like.
February 17, 2017
In the waters of the far-eastern equatorial Pacific – close to the South American coast – sea-surface temperatures are beginning to rise, prompting some climate scientists to believe the world could be heading for another El Niño in close succession to the previous event which ended last year.
The last El Niño, which peaked in the winter of 2015-2016, was the joint strongest event on record. It had impacts around the world and the heat released from it added to existing climate change to break global surface temperature records in 2015 and 2016.
Prof Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at the Met Office Hadley Centre said: “The El Niño–La Niña cycle hasn’t been very active this winter, but Met Office predictions and those from some other centres are suggesting an increased risk of an El Niño developing by the summer.”
It isn’t unknown for El Niños to occur in close succession: events developed just two years apart in 1963 and 1965, and have even developed in consecutive years before, in 1986 and 1987. However, the level of warming in current predictions of the tropical Pacific is unusual for this time of year.
Commenting on the likelihood of another El Niño peaking at the end of this year, Prof. Scaife urged caution: “It is very early days and forecasts made at this time of year have great uncertainty, so we are just flagging the raised risk of an event at this stage, given the global consequences if it does occur.”
February 16, 2017
NCSE is pleased to announce the winners of the Friend of the Planet award for 2017: CLEAN, the Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network, which provides a curated collection of resources on climate and energy science and coordinates a professionally diverse network of climate change education stakeholders; Peter Sinclair, the founder of the ClimateCrocks.com website and producer of the Climate Denial Crock of the Week video series; and the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, which researches and develops strategies for effective climate change communication.
“All of the Friends of the Planet for 2017 shine as climate communicators, in different but complementary ways,” Reid explained. “CLEAN is the single best resource for teachers out there, while Peter Sinclair’s sharply satirical and scientifically rigorous videos are a constant delight. And the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication provides a steady stream of important research and thoughtful analysis that nobody interested in engaging the public about climate change can afford to ignore.”
The Friend of Darwin and Friend of the Planet awards are presented annually to a select few whose efforts to support NCSE and advance its goal of defending the teaching of evolution and climate science have been truly outstanding. Previous recipients of the Friend of Darwin award include Barbara Forrest, Philip Kitcher, Zack Kopplin, and Patricia Princehouse. Previous recipients of the Friend of the Planet Award include Richard Alley, Greg Craven, and Katharine Hayhoe.
Midland videographer Peter Sinclair has spent a decade following climate scientists in Universities, at scientific conferences, and in extreme environments from the Cascade Glaciers to the Greenland Ice Sheet. He’s learned the fine details of the science, become recognized as one of the world’s foremost climate change explainers – and along the way, he’s been a thorn in the side of some of the globe’s most stubborn deniers of climate science – including President Trump’s favorite news service, Steve Bannon’s Breitbart.The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) this week named Sinclair, as a “Friend of the Planet”, an annual award, that is shared this year by CLEAN, the Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network, which provides a curated collection of resources on climate and energy science and coordinates a professionally diverse network of climate change education stakeholders, and the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, which researches and develops strategies for effective climate change communication.
February 16, 2017
This is really unsettling.
Consequences of low oxygen ocean described in one of my most popular “Crock of the Week” videos.
The paper, published Wednesday in the journal Nature by oceanographer Sunke Schmidtko and two colleagues from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, found a decline of more than 2 percent in ocean oxygen content worldwide between 1960 and 2010. The loss, however, showed up in some ocean basins more than others. The largest overall volume of oxygen was lost in the largest ocean — the Pacific — but as a percentage, the decline was sharpest in the Arctic Ocean, a region facing Earth’s most stark climate change.
The loss of ocean oxygen “has been assumed from models, and there have been lots of regional analysis that have shown local decline, but it has never been shown on the global scale, and never for the deep ocean,” said Schmidtko, who conducted the research with Lothar Stramma and Martin Visbeck, also of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre.
Ocean oxygen is vital to marine organisms, but also very delicate — unlike in the atmosphere, where gases mix together thoroughly, in the ocean that is far harder to accomplish, Schmidtko explained. Moreover, he added, just 1 percent of all the Earth’s available oxygen mixes into the ocean; the vast majority remains in the air.
Climate change models predict the oceans will lose oxygen because of several factors. Most obvious is simply that warmer water holds less dissolved gases, including oxygen. “It’s the same reason we keep our sparkling drinks pretty cold,” Schmidtko said.
But another factor is the growing stratification of ocean waters. Oxygen enters the ocean at its surface, from the atmosphere and from the photosynthetic activity of marine microorganisms. But as that upper layer warms up, the oxygen-rich waters are less likely to mix down into cooler layers of the ocean because the warm waters are less dense and do not sink as readily.
“When the upper ocean warms, less water gets down deep, and so therefore, the oxygen supply to the deep ocean is shut down or significantly reduced,” Schmidtko said. Read the rest of this entry »
February 15, 2017
As climate changes, one of the most reliable predictions is that precipitation patterns will change – with more water coming in extreme events rain (or snow) events, like we’ve witnessed recently in California and elsewhere.
US infrastructure, already badly frayed by decades of neglect from a congress willing to spend any amount for oil war, but stingy when it comes to actual responsibility.
LOS ANGELES — The St. Francis Dam was a proud symbol of California’s engineering might and elaborate water system — until just before midnight on March 12, 1928, when it collapsed, killing more than 400 people in a devastating wall of water. Ever since, the state has had a reputation of diligent inspections as it has built the largest network of major public dams in the nation.
But the threat of catastrophic flooding from the damaged Oroville Dam in Northern California this week — forcing the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people because of what environmental groups had asserted in 2005 was a design flaw — presented a warning sign for California, where a network of dams and waterways is suffering from age and stress. It also demonstrated that older dams may not be designed to deal with the severe weather patterns California has experienced because of global warming. The Oroville Dam was completed in 1968, toward the end of the golden era of dam building.
The culprit at Oroville was a faulty emergency spillway, used for the first time since the dam was opened after days of drenching storms, driven by what are known as atmospheric rivers, that filled the reservoir to capacity. But engineers and environmentalists said similar problems could occur at many of the roughly 1,500 dams that dot this state.
“We are not maintaining the water infrastructure adequately,” said Peter H. Gleick, a founder of the Pacific Institute, a think tank dedicated to water issues. “We are not maintaining it in Flint, Mich., and we are not maintaining it at our big dams in California. We need to spend more money and time on maintaining these.”
February 14, 2017
Not long ago, many Republican officeholders had a simple answer when asked about the changing climate: What changing climate?
But the public began to notice the heat waves and the torrential rainsand the tidal flooding. So then we had the “I am not a scientist” phase, with one lawmaker after another fending off climate questions with that formula.
That drew such ridicule that Republicans critical of climate science had to come up with a more nuanced answer. Several variations on the new approach were on display recently during confirmation hearings for some of President Trump’s cabinet nominees.
“Science tells us that the climate is changing and human activity in some manner impacts that change,” Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general nominated to run the Environmental Protection Agency, told a Senate committee. “The human ability to measure with precision the extent of that impact is subject to continuing debate and dialogue, as well they should be.”
Let us ponder the craftsmanship of that second sentence.
“With precision” is the key phrase, of course, and it renders the statement almost axiomatically true. Do we have trouble taking the precise temperature of an entire planet and then divining, for a given period, exactly how much of the change in that temperature is caused by human activities?
The airwaves were abuzz yesterday with astounded reactions to Trump “senior advisor” and Eichmann-in-Training Stephen Miller’s performance on the Sunday talk shows.
But best response by far came from Stephen Colbert.
Senior White House policy adviser Stephen Miller made the rounds on the Sunday talk shows over the weekend, and his comments about voter fraud have earned him justifiably dim reviews. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump and Fact Checker Glenn Kessler dealt with those claims in depth.
But amid all the baseless and false statements about electoral integrity, Miller did something even more controversial: He expanded upon his boss’s views of whether judges are allowed to question President Trump’s authority. And at one point, Miller even said Trump’s national security decisions “will not be questioned.”
Here’s the key exchange, with “Face the Nation’s” John Dickerson (emphasis added):
DICKERSON: When I talked to Republicans on the Hill, they wonder, what in the White House — what have you all learned from this experience with the executive order?
MILLER: Well, I think that it’s been an important reminder to all Americans that we have a judiciary that has taken far too much power and become, in many cases, a supreme branch of government. One unelected judge in Seattle cannot remake laws for the entire country. I mean this is just crazy, John, the idea that you have a judge in Seattle say that a foreign national living in Libya has an effective right to enter the United States is — is — is beyond anything we’ve ever seen before.
The end result of this, though, is that our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.
“Will not be questioned.” That is an incredible claim to executive authority — and one we can expect to hear plenty more about. Trump has beaten around this bush plenty, yes. But Miller just came out and said it: that the White House doesn’t recognize judges’ authority to review things such as his travel ban.
“The Ninth Circuit Court? How many divisions do they have?”