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An April Reminder of the Anthropocene

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DC's had an odd spring - stretches of cool, damp weather mixed with record highs. After Thurgood Marshall BWI Airport set a record high of 81 on March 18, Monday's forecast of 88 threatens the records of 91 at National, 87 at Dulles and 85 at BWI. Then we're right back down to lows in the 40s on Tuesday & Wednesday.

Globally, the trend remains clear - NOAA's National Climatic Data Center reports January-February temperatures were 0.72 degrees F above the average for the 1900s. That means that the first 2 months of 2011 tied for the 17th-hottest on record.

The March edition of National Geographic took an in-depth look at the Anthropocene: Age of Man. This NOAA graphic highlights some of the extreme weather events around the world in February:

2010: Not Just Warmest Year, Also the Wettest

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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

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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.

Conservatives Make Their Own Reality: Clean Air Act Edition

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It's incredible how many Republicans were rabidly behind the unitary executive wielding unlimited power two years ago & how many Republicans today rail about checks & balances. (To be fair, James Joyner is one of the few conservatives willing to call out Bush administration jackassery.)

An incredible 71 percent of Americans say the federal government should regulate carbon pollution. Polls show that support is remarkably deep - strong majorities support regulation even if it would cost them money.

In the face of that mandate, how do conservatives reconcile their continued opposition to action? James Joyner says let's play make believe!

Sierra Club: “Cuccinelli suit fails to halt implementation of EPA climate...

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Good news from the Virginia Sierra Club.  
As required by the Clean Air Act and the science, EPA has put forward a series of rules to control greenhouse gases in a sensible way, including the endangerment finding, vehicle rule, and tailoring rule.  Big polluters, right wing interest groups, and some states, including Virginia and Texas, immediately challenged the rules and called for the D.C. Circuit to take the extreme step of staying -- or blocking -- the rules from going into force before the court could even rule on the merits.  The Department of Justice, many states, including California, Massachusetts, and New York, and environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, NRDC, and EDF, opposed that stay.

"Cuccinelli continues to waste Virginia tax payers' dollars on frivolous litigation," said Glen Besa, Director of the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter.  "Climate change as real, it is here now and we need to act."

Today, the court agreed that the polluters had not met the "stringent standards" required for a stay and denied their motions.  This means that the greenhouse gas controls will go forward, starting this January.  We expect that it will shortly become very clear that, contrary to industry scare tactics, EPA's rules protect the public and the economy by requiring careful measures to control global warming pollution from the biggest smokestack industries and by working with the automakers to increase fuel efficiency and cut vehicle emissions.

"The litigation is not over but this is an important victory," said Besa.

In sum, Cooch loses, the rest of the human race wins!

Soggy Bottom: New Model Shows Impact of Rising Seas

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Over at TBD.com/weather, John Metcalfe takes a look at the University of Arizona's new interactive model of sea level rise. What would current estimates of 2 meters of sea level rise by 2100 mean for the DC area?
The Jefferson Memorial will not just be by the water, it may be underwater. The northeast part of Roosevelt Island will gain more marshland, as well as the bit of Rock Creek where it meets the Potomac, which should please the old-timers who hunt catfish there. It's hard to see the upside of Bolling Air Force Base becoming submerged, but the military has solid engineers - can't they build a bigger sea wall? And Old Navy's name will finally make a little sense as the creeping water moves inland over the Potomac Yard Shopping Center. I'm sure the chain's marketing whizzes can figure out something about shopping with gondolas.
If those were the worst effects of runaway global warming, that would be expensive to deal with, but not necessarily devastating. However, scientific modeling has seriously UNDERestimated sea level rise to this point -- seas are rising faster than scientists have predicted & so far they're not sure why.

And just a few minutes of tinkering with the University of Arizona's model reveals just how much is at stake for the DC area if scientists have even slightly lowballed sea level rise.

Simpson-Bowles Panel to Skip Low-Hanging Carbon Tax Fruit?

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We currently give polluters permission to dump as much carbon pollution into our atmosphere as they want, free of charge. So if the Simpson-Bowles commission was serious about cutting the deficit, asks Matt Yglesias, why not slap a fee on carbon pollution?
The mere fact that the conservative movement is currently engaged in a  massive fit of pretending that greenhouse gas emissions aren't a problem doesn't change the fact that greenhouse gas emissions are, in fact, a problem. Taxing them would reduce the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions and help mitigate the problem. It also creates revenue.

If Alan Simpson's reason for thinking a tax on greenhouse gas  emissions is a bad idea is that Simpson is a nutcase who doesn't believe  that greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change, then Erskine Bowles should have made him write that on a piece of paper. Then  we could look at the proposal and know it's co-written by a nutcase. It wouldn't surprise me. There are a lot of nutcases in Washington life.  But it's important to know these things.

Even a small tax on the carbon pollution of only the largest emitters like power plants & factories could bring in billions to reduce the deficit. And if the deficit was ever eliminated, you could refund the tax's revenues to all taxpayers equally. Doesn't that make more sense than slashing Social Security? Apparently, conservative Republicans & right-leaning Democrats agree it's more politically palatable to target the poor than to hold big polluters accountable.

Tea Partiers Unclear on Meaning of “Elite,” Content of Bible

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The NYTimes today reports on how the Tea Party is being spoon-fed climate denial by big polluters like Koch Industries, conveniently laundered by conservative media mouthpieces:
"It's a flat-out lie," Mr. Dennison said in an interview after the  debate, adding that he had based his view on the preaching of Rush  Limbaugh and the teaching of Scripture. "I read my Bible," Mr. Dennison said. "He made this earth for us to utilize."

Skepticism and outright denial of global warming are among the articles  of faith of the Tea Party movement, here in Indiana and across the  country. For some, it is a matter of religious conviction; for others, it is driven by distrust of those they call the elites.

Distrust of elites? Rush Limbaugh made $285 million from 2001 through 2008, then signed a contract with salary & bonuses totaling $400 million from 2009 through 2016! Telling Tea Partiers whatever they want to hear so they'll keep listening has been great for business.

But let's say you're a climate scientist like Michael Mann (science denier Ken Cuccinelli's favorite target). Using the estimates at indeed.com, a climate scientist would have to work 588 years to make what Limbaugh does in one year. Who's the real "elite"?

Finally, I don't recall the part of the Bible where the Lord instructed man to take his creation and act like we're holding the Miami University Pi Beta Phi spring formal. But Genesis 2:15 does say, "The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it."

Cuccinelli Fine With Fraud If It Backs His Political Views

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The people who squawk the loudest about "scientific integrity" & "sound science" often have absolutely no problem with outright scientific fraud, as long as it supports their pre-existing political opinions.

Just take the example of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (and speaking volumes by their silence, Gov. Bob McDonnell & Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling). Rather than accept the simple, straightforward, proven proposition that the planet is warming & manmade emissions are to blame, Cuccinelli instead conjures a world ruled by a vast conspiracy by thousands of unrelated climate scientists, including former University of Virginia Professor Michael Mann.

But even the little actual proof Cuccinelli claims to cite is now in doubt:

A leading skeptic of climate change science whose work was cited last week by Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli is himself under investigation on charges that his work contained plagiarism and inaccuracies, a George Mason University spokesman confirmed Friday.
What's Edward Wegman accused of? As DeSmogBlog reports:

Los Angeles Breaks Record for Hottest Temperature

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2010's tied for the hottest year on record so far. Over the weekend, DC tied the record for most 90 degree days in one year. And now America's 2nd-largest city has broken its record for highest temperature:
As of 12:50 p.m.: downtown L.A. had hit 113 degrees, a record high. Stuart Seto, a forecaster for the National Weather Service, said that's the hottest temperature recorded at the downtown station since record-keeping began in 1877.
As climate scientists have been predicting, it's just more evidence of global warming amplifying summer heat waves.

But nothing to see here, right California GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina? No need to buy any less Middle Eastern oil or burn any less mountaintop-removed coal? Just all a coincidence, or sunspots, or something?