Home Climate change Jump in Temperatures at National Airport Over Past Decade Shows Urgent Need...

Jump in Temperatures at National Airport Over Past Decade Shows Urgent Need for Climate Action in Virginia, Nationally


by Morris Meyer

I have been modeling Arlington’s energy system to understand peak energy loads. As part of that modeling I’ve downloaded nearly 20 years of weather data from Washington-National airport from 1999 through 2017. Each of these weather readings has temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction and other weather parameters. My modeling worked pretty well from 1999 through the 2000s, but more recently I found more error in the model the closer it got to the present. After some head scratching, I decided to see what the average temperature was for 1999 through 2017.

Long story short, the 11-year average from 1999 through 2009 was 58.0 F.  The 8-year average from 2010 to 2017 is 59.67 F.  That is a 1.67 F jump in less than a decade (a 0.93 degree Celsius gain).  For perspective, the 1.5 C temperature rise that leads to climate destabilization is 2.7 F. Based on the massive fires in the Arctic, a case could be made that we are in the climate destabilization zone already. [1]

So what to do with this grim news?

On July 13th, Arlington County voted for a 0 metric ton per capita by 2050 goal across the county’s full economy. This is a very bold goal and compares well with NYC and municipalities nationwide.

We must flip every possible county board in Virginia. We must flip the boards in Loudoun, Prince William, Henrico and other counties in less than 100 days.

We should do what we can to reduce our own carbon load, and talk about our efforts with friends, neighbors, candidates, and our elected officials. Let’s get competitive about lowering our electrical bills.

We must flip the Virginia legislature and send clean energy majorities to Richmond, with 2020 bills that very substantially decarbonize Virginia’s energy system.

We must get the word to the Northam administration that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline are an economic boondoggle and an environmental catastrophe. They will cook our world for Dominion’s corporate gain.

We must regulate Dominion and urge the State Corporation Commission to choose a clean energy path. The Dominion renewable energy tariff charges customers more for burning wood in their coal plants. [2]  This is hot garbage to forestall real clean energy development. Other forward-looking, investor-owned utilities have great plans in place [3] – but not Dominion.

We must regulate Dominion accordingly, or if that is not possible, decertify monopolies and introduce a competitive energy market structure to Virginia.

We must send the GOP packing in 2020 and keep the House, take back the Senate, and put a Democrat in the White House.  And finally, to get serious climate legislation in 2021, we need to get rid of the filibuster in the Senate.

Bottom line: Our world is heating, but fortunately we have the tools to respond to our Commonwealth’s greenhouse gas emissions.  We saw what was possible politically in 2017 and 2018; now we need all hands on deck over the next 99 days.

[1] https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/24/world/wildfires-arctic-climate-sci-intl/index.html

[2] https://powerforthepeopleva.com/2019/07/26/dominion-energys-new-choices-are-really-about-limiting-choices/

[3] https://www.xcelenergy.com/company/media_room/news_releases/xcel_energy_aims_for_zero-carbon_electricity_by_2050

NOAA Average Yearly Temperature (degrees Fahrenheit) at Washington National Airport

1999 58.50
2000 56.69
2001 58.27
2002 59.09
2003 56.16
2004 57.76
2005  57.77
2006 58.95
2007 58.81
2008 58.93
2009 57.01
2010 59.50
2011 59.54
2012 61.13
2013 58.56
2014 58.29
2015  59.89
2016 59.97
2017 60.47
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