Above, worth a review.

I spoke to Glacier specialists Lonnie Thompson and Konrad Steffen,
one a specialist in tropical glaciers, another in the arctic.
Worthwhile thumbnail of climate science history, and prospect for the future.

Below, former New York Times climate reporter (now opinion writer) Justin Gillis takes stock of our current avalanche of climate karma.

New York Times:

SAN FRANCISCO — Now we suffer the consequences.

In Northern California, power was cut to more than a million people this week. Near Houston, houses that flooded only two years ago just succumbed again. The South endured record-shattering fall heat waves. In Miami, salt water bubbled through street drains yet again as the rising ocean mounted a fresh assault.

All of it was predicted, in general outline, decades ago. We did not listen. Ideologues and paid shills cajoled us to ignore the warnings. Politicians cashed their checks from the fossil fuel lobbyists and slithered away.

Today, we act surprised as the climate emergency descends upon us in all its ferocity.

The scientists knew long ago, and told us, that the sea would invade the coasts. They knew a hotter atmosphere would send heavier rains to inundate our cities and farms. They knew the landscape of California, which always becomes desiccated in the late summer and early fall, would dry out more in a hotter climate.

But even the scientists did not quite foresee the way that bone-dry vegetation would turn into a firebomb waiting for a spark. California is the state that has done the most to battle the climate crisis, but that has not saved it from recent fires so ferocious they burned people alive.

In high winds, ill-maintained power lines strung across aging poles are often the source of the spark. The largest utility in the state, Pacific Gas & Electric, has already been propelled into bankruptcy by fire liabilities it calculates at $30 billion. Now PG&E, far behind in basic tasks meant to make its system safer, is pre-emptively shutting down power lines on windy days to try to prevent more death and destruction.

If there is any fix for the fire situation, it will not be cheap or easy. True, the people who were running the power company deserve some blame — but not all of it. We now know that power rates in California, high as they may have seemed, were a false economy. The public was not paying enough to harden the electric grid against rising climate risks.

Nationwide, you can say the same about the fossil fuels we burned so heedlessly these last decades. They seemed cheap and convenient at the time. Only now are we learning the true cost.

As tempting as it is to blame the politicians and the fossil fuel executives for the fix we find ourselves in, that is too easy. At any time in these last three decades, we could have woken up. We could have heeded the warnings of scientists like James E. Hansen of NASA, who told Congress in 1988 that the planet was warming sharply and would continue to do so if we persisted in burning fossil fuels. We could have voted James Inhofe, the climate-denying senator from Oklahoma, out of office. Had we been aroused and angry, we could have wielded our democratic power to bring the fossil fuel companies to heel.

I remember sitting with Dr. Hansen in his NASA office the week he retired, in 2013, wondering along with him when the public revolt over the climate crisis would finally begin.

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Gas tanks hydrogen

After a brief flurry of interest 20 years ago, hydrogen as an energy carrier has been somewhat eclipsed by the rise of solar and wind renewable energies.
However, now that renewables are booming, carbon free hydrogen production is a viable option in more and more areas.

That makes a number of ideas suddenly practical.

IRENA:

Hydrogen from renewable energy could play a central role in the global energy transformation, the latest report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) finds. ‘Hydrogen: a renewable energy perspective’ estimates that hydrogen from renewable power, so called green hydrogen, could translate into 8 per cent of global energy consumption by 2050. 16 per cent of all generated electricity would be used to produce hydrogen by then. Green hydrogen could particularly offer ways to decarbonise a range of sectors where it is proving difficult to meaningfully reduce CO2 emissions.

Decarbonisation impacts depends on how hydrogen is produced. Current and future sourcing options can be divided into grey (fossil fuel-based), blue (fossil fuel-based production with carbon capture, utilisation and storage) and green (renewables-based) hydrogen. Blue and green hydrogen can play a role in the transition and synergies exist.

With falling cost of renewables, the potential of green hydrogen particularly for so called ‘hard-to-decarbonise’ sectors and energy-intensive industries like iron and steel, chemicals, shipping, trucks and aviation is rapidly becoming more compelling given the urgency to limit CO2 emissions. This includes direct hydrogen use but also the production of liquid and gaseous fuels such as ammonia, methanol and synthetic jet fuel from green hydrogen. Electrolyzer deployment is currently ramping up from MW to GW-scale as witnessed by dozens of projects worldwide.

Large-scale adoption of hydrogen could also fuel an increase in demand for renewable power generation, IRENA’s report finds. In total, IRENA sees a global economic potential for 19 exajoule (EJ) of hydrogen from renewable electricity in total final energy consumption by 2050. This translates into around 4-16 terawatts (TW) of solar and wind generation capacity to be deployed to produce renewable hydrogen and hydrogen-based products in 2050.

However, deployment of hydrogen-based solutions will not happen overnight, IRENA’s report cautions. Hydrogen might likely trail other strategies such as electrification of end-use sectors, and its use will target specific applications. The need for a dedicated new supply infrastructure may also limit hydrogen use to certain countries that decide to follow this strategy. Existing natural gas pipelines could be refurbished, but implications must be further explored.

 

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Needed: More Wind Turbines.
And solar panels. And efficiency.

Now.

Above, rural officials with wind turbines in their local area, and Garry George of the Audubon Society.

Audobon:

“A lot of people paid attention to last month’s report that North America has lost nearly a third of its birds. This new data pivots forward and imagines an even more frightening future,” Yarnold said. “And, you can use a first-of-its kind web tool to find threatened birds in your zip code, as well as a list of things everyone can do.”

Audubon scientists studied 604 North American bird species using 140 million bird records, including observational data from bird lovers and field biologists across the country.

Audubon’s zip code-based tool, the Birds and Climate Visualizer, helps users understand the impacts to birds where they live, making climate change even more local, immediate and, for tens of millions of bird fans, deeply personal.

“Birds are important indicator species, because if an ecosystem is broken for birds, it is or soon will be for people too,” said Brooke Bateman, Ph.D., the senior climate scientist for the National Audubon Society.“When I was a child, my grandmother introduced me to the Common Loons that lived on the lake at my grandparent’s home in northern Wisconsin. Those loons are what drive my work today and I can’t imagine them leaving the U.S. entirely in summer but that’s what we’re facing if trends continue.”

Dr. Bateman and her team also studied climate-related impacts on birds across the lower 48 states, including sea level rise, Great Lakes level changes, urbanization, cropland expansion, drought, extreme spring heat, fire weather and heavy rain.

“We already know what we need to do to reduce global warming, and we already have a lot of the tools we need to take those steps. Now, what we need are more people committed to making sure those solutions are put into practice,” said Renee Stone, vice president of climate for the National Audubon Society. “Our elected officials at every level of government must hear from their constituents that this is a priority. Audubon is committed to protecting the places birds need now and in the future and taking action to address the root causes of climate change.”

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Above, in a 2014 interview, Katharine Hayhoe expresses chagrin at the state of climate denial in Texas.

That’s changing, perhaps in response to repeated, crushing natural disasters.

Grist:

Does Texas, the metaphorical oil tank of the American petroleum operation, care about climate change? About two-thirds of it does, says a new poll of Texas voters— and we’re not just talkin’ Democrats.

Sixty-five percent of Lone Star State voters of all political persuasions are in favor of government action to combat the climate crisis, and a third are strongly in favor of it. That’s not the only good news.

Of the 1,660 voters polled by Climate Nexus, 74 percent said they’re more likely to vote for a candidate who supports boosting federal funding for renewable energy. Among Democrats, climate change ranks right up there with the economy and jobs when it comes to issues voters care about in the 2020 election — only health care and gun policy ranked higher. The poll was conducted in conjunction with Yale and George Mason universities.

Texas is still very much a red state. Though Beto O’Rourke came close last year, no Democrat has won a general election in a Texas statewide race since 1994. And last time I checked, the GOP is still firmly in the “don’t take away our straws and burgers” phase of climate denial. So why is Texas suddenly inclined to climate action?

It could have something to do with all of the extreme weather that has walloped the state in recent years. A little more than half of the voters surveyed in the poll think their state government is ill-equipped to handle a big hurricane in 2019. Four in 10 voters voiced concern over having to relocate if there is a major weather event. Most tellingly, close to nine out of 10 Texans say they have been touched by extreme heat within the past year, and nearly half of those surveyed said they have experienced flooding or drought.

Seeing or experiencing extreme weather may have an effect on how concerned voters are about climate change. That’s kind of a no-brainer. And in Texas, climate anxiety is beginning to translate into action. A number of Texas cities have unveiled their own climate action plans, the Houston Chronicle reports, and Houston is planning several climate-oriented debates for upcoming city council and mayoral races.

Statement from African activist at the C40 World Mayors Summit.