Climate science warns that a permanent Dust Bowl is in store for the U.S. southwest — and many other parts of the world — post-2050 on our current emissions path (see USGS stunner: SW faces “permanent drying” by 2050 and NOAA stunner: SW faces permanent Dust Bowls). Turns out we’re already starting to see the shape of things to come.
Dust storms accelerated by a warming climate have covered the Rocky Mountains with dirt whose heat-trapping properties have caused snowpacks to melt weeks earlier than normal, worrying officials in Colorado about drastic water shortages by late summer.
Snowpacks from the San Juan Mountains to the Front Range have either completely melted or will be gone within the next two weeks, said Tom Painter, director of the Snow Optics Laboratory at the University of Utah and a leading expert on snowmelt.
The rapid melting is linked to a spate of intense dust storms that kick up dirt and sand that in turn are deposited on snow-topped mountains. The dust darkens the snow, allowing the surface to absorb more heat from the sun. This warms the snow — and the air above it — significantly, studies show.
In the Democrats’ hunt for votes to pass climate change legislation, California Rep. Mary Bono Mack represents something of a political outlier — a House Republican who doesn’t strongly oppose the bill.
The seven-term congresswoman insists that she is still undecided, saying she will not make a decision until after next week’s amendment process has run its course. But for House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Bono Mack remains the best hope of picking up a Republican vote.
A proposal to pay Americans to scrap their old cars and trucks for newer, more fuel-efficient ones ran into a road block this week, with Senate Democrats struggling to strike the same deal their House colleagues did a week ago.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) appears unprepared to sign on to the Senate effort if it mirrors the House compromise due to worries that environmental concerns were forced to take a back seat to the needs of the battered U.S. auto industry.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) is taking the lead in crafting the Senate-version of the “cash for clunkers” program and has said she is hopeful that it will be similar to the House version, which was brokered by President Obama.
Good for Feinstein — this “compromise” ain’t gonna do much for the climate (see ” ‘Cash for clunkers’ deal not a climate winner“).
As the House Energy and Commerce Committee debates its ambitious cap-and-trade bill, environmentalists will find James Connaughton, President George W. Bush’s top environmental adviser, advocating for Constellation Energy. Karen Harbert, a top Bush Energy Department official, is now heading the energy practice at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce “” a leading critic of Democratic climate change proposals. And F. Chase Hutto III, Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy and adviser, has formed ClearView Energy Partners, aimed at helping businesses navigate climate change legislation.
Hospitals use a lot of power. The lights in emergency rooms burn around the clock. Outlets in the laboratories are taxed by computers, refrigerators and high-tech medical equipment. The air must be kept fresh and frosty to prevent the spread of germs, leaving air-conditioning and ventilation units on permanent overdrive.
All together, New York City hospitals are responsible for about 1.5 percent of the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions, city officials say, pumping them out at more than double the rate for a commercial office building. Energy is the second only to salaries in cost for hospitals, according to the Greater New York Hospital Association.
The vast $320 million desalination plant approved this week by San Diego’s regional water authorities is likely to serve as a test case for whether such a large project can meet its goals while safeguarding its Pacific environment.
The plant, to be built near Carlsbad, north of San Diego, will be the first large-scale desalination operation on the West Coast and the largest in the hemisphere. “If they build it well and it operates well and the price is right, we will see more,” said Peter Gleick, the cofounder and president of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, Calif.
A roundup of Green Inc. news from Europe”¦
An environmental group is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeking to have Washington coastal waters listed as impaired because carbon dioxide is making the ocean more acidic.
The Center for Biological Diversity said the EPA has failed to consider how ocean acidification is adversely affecting water quality and marine animals.
The complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Seattle alleges the EPA violated the federal Clean Water Act by not listing Washington ocean waters as impaired, even though the group says research shows carbon dioxide in seawater is threatening marine ecosystems.
Compiled by Max Luken and Carlin Rosengarten