Drier conditions projected to result from climate change in the Southwest will likely reduce perennial vegetation cover and result in increased dust storm activity in the future, according to a new study by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of California, Los Angeles.
The research team examined climate, vegetation and soil measurements collected over a 20-year period in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in southeastern Utah. Long-term data indicated that perennial vegetation in grasslands and some shrublands declined with temperature increases. The study then used these soil and vegetation measurements in a model to project future wind erosion.
Dust-Bowlification “” combined with the impact on food insecurity of Dust-Bowlification (and other extreme events) “” is, I believe, the biggest impact that climate change is likely to have on most people for most of this century (until sea level rise gets serious in the latter decades).
If you want to know what a serious dust storm looks like, the place to go is the canary in the coal mine for climate change — Australia. Here’s an amazing video of the great Sydney Dust Storm of September ’09: Read more
During yesterday’s debate on the Upton-Inhofe bill (H.R. 910) to block climate pollution rules, Democrats who support clean energy manufacturing debunked conservative myths about the green economy. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) discussed their amendment to study the economic impact to American competitiveness of abolishing climate standards while the rest of the world wins the future. With the help of Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), they debunked the myths of a hapless Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). Inslee decried the eagerness of the Republican Party to “shut down the government”:
It is deeply disappointing that our Republican colleagues are so willing, able, and apparently eager to shut down the government. This bill fundamentally shuts down the government. It shuts down the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to help lead us into a clean energy future. Why shut down the agency that can help develop these biofuels that we were just talking about? Why do they want to shut down the engine of innovation? Shutting down the government is not a solution. Shutting down the EPA is not a solution. Shutting down American innovation is not a solution.
Watch these excerpts from the debate:
Myth: China and India won’t impose limits on climate pollution. The fact is, as Doyle explained, China is moving forward both with taxes on energy-intensive industriesand cap-and-trade systems to limit carbon pollution. China also pased ambitious clean energy mandates in 2005 that are driving its explosion of green manufacturing. India imposed a carbon tax last year, and its energy efficiency progress is outstripping the United States.
Myth: Climate standards kill the manufacturing economy. In fact, Germany, which has some of the most stringent climate and clean energy regulations on the planet, now has $41.2 billion of private investment in the new economy, leaving the United States in third place behind Germany and China. Germany is one of the world’s top economic powerhouses because its commitment to advanced manufacturing — demonstrating that industrial jobs don’t require a race to the bottom.
Myth: Cap-and-trade is a socialist-liberal-progressive plot to destroy the economy. As Ryan colorfully explained, Republican idol Ronald Reagan was the first president to implement cap-and-trade markets, successfully eliminating leaded gasoline and ozone-destroying pollutants. George H. W. Bush implemented a cap-and-trade market to stop acid rain pollution with supporters like Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI).
Kinzinger’s claim that the Upton-Inhofe bill, which amends the Clean Air Act, “doesn’t change the Clean Air Act at all,” doesn’t even rise to the level a debunkable myth. That’s just a lie.
Unfortunately, the Tea Party climate zombies that run the House of Representatives ignored the reality today, voting to pass H.R. 910 by a vote of 255 to 172, with 19 Democrats supporting the Republican effort to deny science and deny America a clean and healthy future.
-Senior British intelligence official, retiring in 1950 after 47 years of service
One of the defining characteristics of humans is our ability to ignore or downplay facts that would shatter or overturn our world view. At the same time, we tend to favor or selectively recall information that confirms our preconceptions, which is called “confirmation bias.”
I bring that up because, these days, pretty much everything that seems anomalous is called a “Black Swan,” a term popularized by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in writings such as, “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.”
And so we have both the Washington Post and Foreign Policy writing major pieces on Japan’s “black swan.” But how exactly can a nuclear accident in Japan be a black swan. The Japan Times ran an article whose lead sentence was “Of all the places in all the world where no one in their right mind would build scores of nuclear power plants, Japan would be pretty near the top of the list” back in May 2004 — seven years ago!
Right now in our hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota, we are preparing for what might possibly be record-breaking floods due to winter’s heavy snowfall and the threat of heavier spring downpours. Minnesota has already experienced two 100-year floods in the Red River Valley within the past 13 years. Local doctors report an increase in cases of children with asthma and other respiratory conditions. Lake Superior has seen record low water levels in recent years, threatening not only drinking water supplies but the Duluth-Superior port that receives more than 1,200 ships and 48 million tons of cargo.
All of these public health, economic, and environmental trends have been strongly linked to climate change.
If you spend a little time as an environmentalist, one thing you’ll hear eventually from friends and family: “I wish there weren’t so many groups. It’s confusing””I don’t know who to volunteer for. Wouldn’t it work better if you all got together?”
By Climate Guest Blogger on Apr 7, 2011 at 2:39 pm
The Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environment (ANHE) began in 2008 when a group of nurses decided enough was enough when it came to public health and the environment. Leaders in the nursing profession came together to “promote the integration of environmental health into nursing education, practice, research, and policy/advocacy work.”
Their most recent target? Protecting children, seniors, and others from smog and other air pollutants. Smog can trigger asthma attacks, and exacerbate other respiratory ailments, particularly among children, seniors, and those already ill. CAP’s Lee Hamill has the story.
As global warming from unlimited fossil fuel burning accelerates, the Arctic is being radically transformed. This winter saw large regions of Canada and Greenland about 10°C (about 15-20°F) above the historical average. Temperatures in eastern Canada in the dead of winter were a staggering 21°C (37.8°F) above average. The extreme Arctic warming is wreaking havoc with the polar ecosystems and is linked to the catastrophic snowstorms that pummeled the United States. In a summary of how global climate change is becoming observable to people in their daily lives, NASA scientist James Hansen was forced to redraw his global map with hot pink:
The temperature anomaly in the Arctic — the amount that current temperatures differ from historical norms — is now so severe that NASA’s James Hansen had to add a new color to his charts in order to accurately depict it: Hot pink.
“One sure bet is that this decade will be the warmest in history,” Hansen writes in his survey. Globally, extreme summer temperatures are becoming even more pervasive than warmer winters. “If people cannot recognize that summers are becoming more extreme they may need to have their senses examined or their memories.”
This is not the first time climate change has broken through scientists’ temperature scales. Updating from 2002 to 2009, MIT scientists were forced to add new colors to their “Greenhouse Gamble” roulette wheels for projected future warming.
Yesterday the Senate voted on four anti-climate amendments. The aim was to hobble the EPA’s limited action to set standards for carbon pollution from the largest industrial sources, such as giant coal-fired power plants and oil refineries that already emit other pollution covered by the Clean Air Act.
Brad Johnson has the details on the four amendments, none of which were adopted:
By Climate Guest Blogger on Apr 7, 2011 at 10:08 am
As the budget standoff between the Republican controlled House of Representatives and the Democrats reaches a fever pitch, much of the media attention “” and frustration “” has been focused on reaching a solution to avert a government shutdown. But, under the radar, newly-elected Republicans across the country are proposing disastrous environmental legislation to achieve radical-right aims, such as opening state parks for fracking and exposing their citizens to industrial waste.
Manufacturing is critically important to the American economy. For generations, the strength of our country rested on the power of our factory floors””both the machines and the men and women who worked them. We need manufacturing to continue to be a bedrock of strength for generations to come. Manufacturing is woven into the structure of our economy: Its importance goes far beyond what happens behind the factory gates. The strength or weakness of American manufacturing carries implications for the entire economy, our national security, and the well-being of all Americans.
Manufacturing today accounts for 12 percent of the U.S. economy and about 11 percent of the private-sector workforce. But its significance is even greater than these numbers would suggest. The direct impact of manufacturing is only a part of the picture.
Edited by Joe Romm, we cover climate science, solutions and politics. Columnist Tom Friedman calls us "the indispensable blog" and Time magazine named us one of the 25 "Best Blogs of 2010." Newcomers, start here.