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It’s Time for Corporate America to Speak Up on Climate Change

This piece has appeared in newspapers in my conservative congressional district (VA-06). ************* As it is said in the Bible (Luke 12:48), “From everyone who has...

New Report Highlights Climate Crisis’ Threat to Hampton Roads

A new report takes a closer look at which cities will be hurt by global warming-fueled sea level rise. As Brad Plumer reports, Virginia is in the climate crisis crosshairs:
Things don't look good for India. But the United States doesn't get off easy, either. If you look at exposed assets rather than total population, then Miami, New York-Newark, New Orleans and Virginia Beach all climb higher on the list, with $7 trillion in assets vulnerable to severe coastal flooding by 2070. [...]

Take Miami. A three-foot sea-level rise, experts have noted, would likely put all of Miami Beach underwater and turn downtown Miami into an island, channeled off from the rest of Florida. Yet the state isn't doing all that much to prepare for this eventuality. Instead, it's racing to subsidize new developments along the coasts, through state-run insurance and funding for coastal protection. By contrast, cities such as London and Amsterdam are taking more prudent steps to guard against future flooding - and, as the OECD report notes, are likely to cope with sea-level rise better.

That's not an isolated case. In general, the United States has been slow in preparing for rising sea levels. In many cases, we're actively making things worse, as Steve Nash laid out in this excellent article in the New Republic. This is one area in particular where climate-change denial can do a lot of damage - it's awfully hard to prepare for a problem that no one can agree even exists.

So we're not doing climate mitigation, like cutting carbon pollution. And as an event just last month at NASA's Langley Center in Hampton pointed out, we're not doing climate adaptation, either, like coastal restoration & limiting development in areas just above sea level. Basically, if you were consciously trying to leave the worst possible situation for the next generation, you'd be doing exactly what people like Gov. Bob McDonnell are doing now - deny the problem & delay solutions. And note the 2070 date - we're no longer talking about forecast impacts on some future generation, but real changes happening within the lifetimes of the children in your family right now. Amazing that the same people who profess such a concern with our budgetary national debt have no qualms about leaving our kids stuck with a multi-trillion-dollar climate liability.

Can We Outrun the Climate Firestorm We’re Stoking?

FirestormIs it time to stop talking about the low end of climate change predictions? Until now, I've thought of our climate choices as "mild disruption," "wrenching calamity," and "civilization-threatening catastrophe," depending on how quickly and seriously we act to cut carbon pollution. But reading Jeff Goodell's Rolling Stone article on Australia's grim future, I wonder if our continued inaction is putting that first option in the rear view mirror.

The United Nations International Panel on Climate Change issued its 4th Assessment in 2007, predicting a low carbon emissions scenario would see a rise in temperatures by 2100 of about 2 degrees Celsius (about 3 degrees Fahrenheit). The UN continues to cite that 2 degrees C as its goal for maximum temperature rise.

But since that report nearly five years ago, global carbon pollution has continued to rise steadily. And with Washington talking about sticking a new tar sands pipeline in our oil addicted veins, now experts are wondering if we'll act fast enough to avoid the dreaded high emissions scenario:

Dangerous Friday Forecast: Heat Index of 116 in DC, 118 in...

Can I use the term "breaking news" to describe a weather forecast for a sunny day? Yup. That just happened.

Last month, I asked If June Is This Hot, What Will July & August Be Like? Now we have the answer from Jason Samenow of WashingtonPost.com's Capital Weather Gang:

NOAA has upped its peak heat index prediction for D.C. Friday to a stunning, sweltering 116 degrees. Remarkably, it predicts there is a 90 percent chance it will reach at least 110 and a 100 percent chance of at least 105. Earlier today, NOAA was predicting a maximum heat index of 109 Friday.

And poor Richmond, Va.! NOAA projects its heat index will soar to a stifling 118 degrees.

So far, 2011 has been the 11th-warmest year on record. And from NOAA's State of the Climate update, a stat even The Green Miles didn't know:

If June Is This Hot, What Will July & August Be...

Off the Dock 2Before our planet's warming trend began showing up in full force around 1980, the DC area averaged about 7 or 8 days per year of 95+ degree heat. But as the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang reports, in 2011 we're likely to already have had 5 scorchers by June 9th:
A huge dome of steamy hot high pressure - responsible for more than 600 high temperature records since Saturday - shifts toward the East Coast starting tomorrow, Wednesday.

Over the weekend, this sultry airmass brought historically hot temperatures to Houston, Texas which reached 105 degrees Sunday, its warmest June day in history. The Houston Chronicle reported new record highs were set there in five of the first six days in June. The Sunday records in both Houston and Galveston shattered old records by seven degrees. [...]

Here in Washington, D.C., we have already had three days at or above 95 degrees in 2011 and should tack on two more Wednesday and Thursday. Capital Weather Gang's Ian Livingston indicates the long term average for 95+ degree days over an entire summer is 7 to 8, but that number has increased to 11 over the last 30 years.

Short-term weather patterns should never be confused with long-term climate trends - but in this case, they match. The first four months of 2011 were the 14th-hottest on record, nearly a full degree above our 20th-century average.

If we begin cutting carbon pollution now, we can avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis. But how can we make progress when virtually the entire leadership of the Republican Party is committed to denying it's getting hotter, never mind finding solutions to the problem?

2010: Not Just Warmest Year, Also the Wettest

The warmer the air, the more moisture it can hold. It's no wonder then that 2010, tied for the hottest year on record, was also the wettest:

Learn more about how the climate crisis is bringing more freak floods at NWF.org/ExtremeWeather.

Climate Science Denial Spins Storms Counter-Factwise

Sam Seder guest-hosted MSNBC's Countdown last week, just days after a nor'easter that dumped up to three feet of snow along the New Jersey to Massachusetts corridor. Seder said that while climate science denial is dumb any time of year, the storm drove America's climate discussion to feel several degrees stupider than it already is:

To learn more about how the climate crisis is fueling oddball winter weather, go to NWF.org/ExtremeWeather.