Clean Start: August 24, 2011

Welcome to Clean Start, ThinkProgress Green’s morning round-up of the latest in climate and clean energy. Here is what we’re reading. What are you?

Hurricane Irene strengthened to a Category 3 storm on the five-step Saffir Simpson scale as it swirled up from the Caribbean toward the U.S. East Coast. [Reuters]

Tourists on a small North Carolina island have begun evacuating as Hurricane Irene heads for the East Coast after leaving more than 11,000 displaced in Dominican Republic. [Fox News]

Oklahoma City had a high temperature of 106 degrees Tuesday, giving the city its 52nd day of triple-digit temperatures in 2011 and breaking the city’s daily high temperature record for Aug. 23. [Oklahoman]

Today, CNBC’s Mad Money with Jim Cramer’s “Invest in America” series will promote fracking in North Dakota, a sales pitch that will boost GE’s bottom line. [DeSmogBlog]

A new field study finds that the predicted increase in plant growth due to more CO2 in the atmosphere will be noticeably limited by higher temperatures — and especially summer droughts. [Science Daily]

Billions of tons of carbon trapped in high-latitude permafrost may be released into the atmosphere by the end of this century as Earth’s climate changes, further accelerating global warming, a new computer modeling study indicates. [Science Daily]

Bhutan’s prime minister has issued a dire warning about the impact of Himalayan climate change, saying it could wreck the tiny kingdom’s ambitious plans to be a world leader in hydropower. “The climate is changing, global warming is real and the impact on our hydrology is very severe.” [Sinchew]

In addition to hundreds of deaths from cold and heat and tornadoes, the national economic toll for extreme weather so far this year is estimated at $35 billion, more than five times the average annual loss. And, climatologists warn, get used to it. [LA Times]

TranscCanada officials are denying the possibility that tar sands crude poses an internal corrosion risk to pipelines, despite having not actually checked for the risk. [Greenwire]

Japan’s lower house of parliament passed a bill on Tuesday to promote investment in solar and other renewable energy sources as politicians took a step toward the prime minister’s goal of reducing reliance on nuclear power. [Reuters]

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