Archive for June, 2008

Global Warming Is a Cause For This Year’s Extreme Weather

June 30, 2008
This article was copied from Newsweek Magazine. I think it is totally right.
Matt
By
Sharon Begley
NEWSWEEK
Updated: 6:15 PM ET Jun 28, 2008

It’s almost a point of pride with climatologists. Whenever someplace is hit with a heat wave, drought, killer storm or other extreme weather, scientists trip over themselves to absolve global warming. No particular weather event, goes the mantra, can be blamed on something so general. Extreme weather occurred before humans began loading up the atmosphere with heat-trapping greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. So this storm or that heat wave could be the result of the same natural forces that prevailed 100 years ago—random movements of air masses, unlucky confluences of high- and low-pressure systems—rather than global warming.

This pretense has worn thin. The frequency of downpours and heat waves, as well as the power of hurricanes, has increased so dramatically that “100-year storms” are striking some areas once every 15 years, and other once rare events keep returning like a bad penny. As a result, some climatologists now say global warming is to blame. Rising temperatures boost the probability of extreme weather, says Tom Karl, director of the National Climatic Data Center and lead author of a new report from the Bush administration’s Climate Change Science Program; that can “lead to the type of events we are seeing in the Midwest.” There, three weeks of downpours have caused rivers to treat their banks as no more than mild suggestions. Think of it this way: if once we experienced one Noachian downpour every 20 years, and now we suffer five, four are likely man-made.

It’s been easier to connect global warming to rising temperatures than to extreme weather events—and even the former hasn’t been easy. Only in this decade have “attribution” studies managed to finger greenhouse gases as the chief cause of the rising mercury, rather than a hotter sun or cyclical changes. (The last two produce a different pattern of climate change than man-made warming does.) Now the same “whatdunit?” techniques are being applied to droughts, downpours, heat waves and powerful hurricanes. “We can look at climate-model simulations and likely attribute [specific extreme weather] to human activity,” says Gerry Meehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The Midwest, for instance, suffered three weeks of intense rain in May and June, with more than five inches falling on some days. That brought a reprise of the area’s 1993 flooding, which was thought to be a once-in-500-years event. The proximate cause was the western part of the jet stream dipping toward the Gulf of Mexico, then rising toward Iowa—funneling moisture from the gulf to the Midwest, says meteorologist Bill Gallus of (the very soggy) Iowa State University. The puzzle, he says, is why the trough kept reforming in the west, creating a rain-carrying conveyor belt that, like a nightmarish version of a Charlie Chaplin movie, wouldn’t turn off. One clue is that global warming has caused the jet stream to shift north. That has brought, and will continue to bring, more tropical storms to the nation’s north, and may push around the jet stream in other ways as well.

Global warming has left its clearest fingerprint on heat waves. Since the record scorcher of 1998, the average annual temperatures in the United States in six of the past 10 years have been among the hottest 10 percent on record. Climatologists predict that days so hot they now arrive only once every 20 years will, by midcentury, hit the continental United States once every three years. Scientists also discern a greenhouse fingerprint in downpours, which in the continental United States have increased 20 percent over the past century. In a warmer world, air holds more water vapor, so when cloud conditions are right for that vapor to form droplets, more precipitation falls. Man-made climate change is also causing more droughts on top of those that occur naturally: attribution studies trace droughts such as that gripping the Southwest to higher sea-surface temperatures, especially in the Pacific. Those can fluctuate naturally, as they did when they caused the severe droughts of the 1930s and 1950s. But they are also rising due to global warming, causing a complicated cascade of changes in air circulation that shuts down rainfall.

Hurricanes have become more powerful due to global warming. For every rise of 1 degree Celsius (most of it man-made) in surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, rainfall from a tropical storm increases 6 to 18 percent and wind speeds of the strongest hurricanes increase by up to 8 percent. As the new report acknowledged, “the strongest storms are becoming even stronger.” Atmospheric conditions that bring severe thunderstorms (with hail two inches across and wind gusts of at least 70 miles an hour) and tornadoes with a force of F2 or greater have been on the rise since the 1970s, occurring about 8 percent more often every decade. Get used to it, and don’t blame Mother Nature.

Read Today’s Washington Post or Go To Washingtonpost.com

June 30, 2008

What is Colorless and Tasteless and Smells Like Money, by Shankar Vedantam… a front page Washington Post article  reminds me of the very many plastic bottles I saw on the most beautiful and pristine beaches in Costa Rica, under the mangroves, where the bottles were out of site and out of mind for the occasional tourist. I refused to pay 2 to 4 dollars a bottle at the Washington Mall recently for water…but other persons were paying that price.

There is another Washington Post front page article by Lyndsey Layton entitled Pentagon Fights EPA On Pollution Cleanup. The Pentagon gets away with things as the Bushies sit idley by. This has been the story of the Bush Administration.

Juliet Eilperin, one of my favorite writers, writes an article about the plight of sharks in the Mediterranean Sea (very bad) called,  In Mediterranean, the Predator Is Hunted. Like the polar bear, the shark (many species) will be hardpressed to survive this century. The article is on page A5. A gruesome, but real graphic, accompanies the article.

Matt

We Have the Automobile Technology To get off of Fossil Fuels, So Lets Get Off of Fossil Fuels

June 29, 2008

Yesterday I read that we have the ability to get 150 miles to the gallon of fossil fuel, I read about the technology of electric cars, I know we can produce hydrogen cars. My question is why are we as a country not looking or moving now to alternative forms of energy when we now have the capacity to do so ?

I heard one pundit say that as long as Bush and Cheney occupy the whitehouse there will be 0, 0, 0 incentive for the dirty industries of big oil and coal to change over to alternative forms of energy. Unless there is a catastrophie tommorow their will be no change on consumption patterns of American’s and their addiction to fossil fuels.

I am an old school enviro. and have been, actively, for over 30 years but I am getting no joy out of watching my neighbors struggle with increasing dirty fuel costs, and the resulting changes in our lifestyle as, we in this area, buy smaller cars and use the wonderful mass transit that is present here now!!!!!

Matt

North Pole Iceless For The Summer

June 27, 2008

I have seen this news rear its awful head from at least five sources. The jist of the news is that for the first time that anyone can remember the North Pole will be free of ice for the summer. It is unbelivable but that is bad news amongst the bad news that is prevelant on all levels in the US and world. Lookout all arctic forms of life because you will not survive this as it inreases in scope!!!

Matt

Our Oil and Coal Addiction

June 27, 2008

We have an uphill battle from the oil and coal (its not clean) companies to break our addiction to fossil fuels but we do not have a choice in the matter. Do you really think the oil companies are going to risk losing billions of dollars as we convert over to alternative forms of energy. Get ready for a huge advertizing onslaught from big oil and coal the  likes of which puts tobbacco, booze and the likenesses to shame.

This morning I saw an interview by Tony Blair of Britain. He could not stop talking about Global Warming impacts (good for him). I could not help but think for the first time in my life Europe was technologically way out in front of us on something that we as a country do have the ability to do. Even Japan will  outpace us in energy and now in Toyota cars. As there is talk of the prospects of GMC going into banruptcy. Toyota, which originated in Japan, is laughing all the way to the bank. SUV’s and the pickups, we brought and loved as a young, young people, are now called gas guzzlers and the Hummer, which big US auto is trying to unload, and will not even produce next year, is just a sign of weird, reactionary US times that are, about time, passing.

We have lessons to relearn. Alternative energy forms that we know how to make are being made by our competitors as the  developed world passes us by as the rest of the world is trying to survive or addiction!!! It is time for us to relearn a hard,financially painful lesson.

Matt

EPA, Exxon-Valdez

June 26, 2008

This caught my eye… It was a Juliet Eilperin article about the EPA under George Bush again doing the wrong thing. They (the Bushies) were attempting to squash the right thing (rule making on clean air) using the EPA rule making authority and they (Bushies )were caught doing it and called to task. Read Juliet Eilperin on this in today’s Washington Post on page A 3.

On topics of personal interest to me is the Supreme Court awarding Exxon Valdez 500,000 million dollars, a tepid amount, in spite of all the destruction (and I saw it first hand) they caused in SW Alaska. This is the level of disastor that could happen off the Florida or California coast. I just have a hard time believing we as a country want to flirt with disastor in those sensetive areas. I think their should have been damage awarded, well past any punitive damages that were awarded. I do not like Exxon at all; then and now. The more they suffer for what they did the better I feel. It seems like lawmakers are turning the page on this debaucle in history…hardcores, like me, float with the tide. Read about this disastor starting on the front page of todays Washington Post.

Matt

Yahoo News Article Shows As Global Warming Increases So Do our Security Problems

June 25, 2008

The article writes just that. It writes about increases in Global Warming increasing illegal immigration, terrorizm, food security and so  on. The article is written for iAP,Rueters  by Pamela Hess it is based on an estimate by US Intelligance Agencies.

I also see natural impacts like more mosquitos as we get more floods carrying such diseases as West Nile Virus’ more ticks, more catastrophic wildfire more hurricanes and  more typhoons. I see an increase in Global Warming increasing all of our problems across the board; overwhelming impacts making them go from bad to worse than bad especially if we do not act soon.

Matt

More About James Hansen and Things

June 24, 2008

The Washington Post is an old habit, much like drinking coffee, which I should break but I am not ready to. I am a real fan of its opinion and writer’s in general. It is the primary paper where I was born so  I learned to read it at a young age. I mentioned that the post is chock full of good writers. The best Global Warming writers are from the Post and AP. I mentioned Juliet Eilperin and Marc Kaufman. I should mention David Fahrentold in that bunch. He writes with great authority on the topic of Global Warming.

There is an interesting article in today’s Washington Post by Dana Milbank, another great writer who I often associate with politics. It is entitled, Burned Up About the Other Fossil Fuel. I  thought the article was going to be about burning gas at power plants and such as being a great burden on us in the US. Then I thought the article blasted the American addiction to fossil fuels. Then I thought the article was about coal, an insidious fossil fuel that many powerful person’s are calling clean. we should ween our addiction to coal and just move on with alternative forms of energy, and much needed now, gas efficiency, which as I have written, can happen tommorow.

 This article is really about Nassa Scientist Jim Hansen, who is a global Warming hero much like Gore. One is a general policy leader of the Global Warming Problem, and one is a leader  and a scientist who saw the Human Fingerprint in Global Warming 20 plus years ago when I saw Global Warming as a subset of the biodiversity issue.

Hansen risked a lot when the Bushies came into power and the Bushies tried to minimize a problem that Hansen, a Nasa Scientist , new was large. Hansen was an irritant, and rightfully so, when he stood up to the Bushie’s. He was a Scientist and may have been angered by the Bush assault on science but Hansen new that one day Global Warming would be an important issue. I believe in the future it will be the issue of the day and impact, or overwhelm, every issue out there today in a negative way and we as a country should prepare for that now.

I see Gore and Hanson as true visionaries in what to do about the complicated problems that Global Warming will magnify for all humans. They are visionaries in the same sense that Jefferson  was as a founder of the US. Leopold was as conservationist, for that matter Roosevelt was for a large population of USA folks and Kennedy was for going to the moon. Franklin Roosevelt, the New Deal and Johnson was on Civil Rights.

 I see a new world out there and I am glad Gore and Hansen are out there dealing with it in the good old USA.

Matt

More On Global Warming

June 23, 2008

I listened to the pundits this morning and got some ideas and actually learned a few things, as they were debating about energy policy.

First they all agreed that it would be five years at least until we saw oil from the offshore off-limit for leasing areas in Florida or off of the Atlantic or California. Buchanon, whose politics are radical, thinks we need to drill in ANWR; thats Alaska, and I do not agree.

The general viewpoint, that made the most sense to me, was for a mixture of gas efficiency and alternative energy forms. We can get to where we want to be but it may take some sacrafice on our part as Americans, thought these pundits. They, like I, see even China and India being negatively impacted by Global Climate Change in the next 10 years.

Last evening I argued with a very smart childhood friend about some of the signs of Global Climate change we are now seeing … he had a lot of leverage with me…afterall we were childhood best friends and I have a weakspot for friends and forgive them their indiscresions, but I am tired of arguing my point on Global Climate Change which has a twenty plus year crystalization process behind my viewpoint. I did not dream up my viewpoint in the past two years I just crystalized my viewpoint further as I saw and felt our weather start going haywire and my beloved birds and bears get much of the negatve impacts from our changing world!!!!

We can be more fuel efficient  now (or fairly soon). The technology is allready there. All forms of alternative energy need a full debate. I do not see anyone rolling over their viewpoint this early in the process. On some forms of alternative energy I see some “tweaking” for sure.

I see the hardcores staying hardcore but not stuck in their viewpoint, for or against, the human role and whats done to curtail some of the impacts of Global Warming . We are talking about human survival, I think, and there are, many ways to survive.

I view this as a shorterm debate that has to happen, and I see some traditional enemies as part of the healing process and I see the USA as being restored to its leadership on conservation and ahead of our friends in things like education. I do not see the USA in those roles now and I do not see the world following India or China (those countries have been around far longer than the US and have yet to be leaders in such things as conservation) to meaningful legislation on the prospects of human-caused Global Climate Change.

Matt

Washington Post Has Good Climate Change Article On Page A-2

June 20, 2008

Juliet Eilperin reports on a report on, Climate Predicts Extremes. To remind you, Juliet Eilperin is the Washington Post Science Writer and you do not get much bull from her reporting. I view her writing on Global Warming some of the best I have seen in the popular press. I would say she, Marc Kauffman and some of the AP writers are way ahead of most writers on this complicated topic that will more and more move to the front page of the Washington Post.

In the US Climate Change Science Program produced a 162 page study that saya in the US wean expect more droughts, which means more wildfires in the West, and more floods and storms in the East.

The report is written by A-list scientits on this topic, Thomas Karl, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), and Gerald Meehl, Senior Scientist for the National Atmospheric Research (NAR). This article is a good read and on A-2 of today’d Washington Post.

Matt