Other stories below: Seal pups face climate change woes; Obama putting oil pipeline on fast track as he touts energy record in Oklahoma
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when communicating climate science is the resistance many have to accepting the notion that human activities are capable of altering the earth’s climate system. After all, the planet is a pretty big place, and the climate was doing its thing long before humans arrived. To some, the abundant scientific evidence showing that manmade emissions of global warming gases, such as carbon dioxide, are likely the key driver behind recent global warming seems, well, kind of arrogant.
To these folks, I say check out a recent study that had nothing to do with global warming. By showing that human activities can have measurable impacts on small-scale weather phenomena – in this case, thunderstorms that spawn tornadoes and hail – the report highlighted that we’re already able to influence weather on a daily basis.
And if we are capable of modifying thunderstorm behavior, it’s not a large leap to understand that we’re also altering the atmosphere on much broader scales.
Deep in Republican oil country, President Barack Obama is fending off criticism of his energy policies, pointing to plans to fast-track an oil pipeline that emerged after he delayed the larger Keystone XL project earlier this year.
Obama was directing federal agencies Thursday to expedite a 485-mile line from Oklahoma to refineries on Texas’ Gulf Coast that would remove a critical bottleneck in the country’s oil transportation system. The directive would also apply to other pipelines that alleviate choke points.
“We’re drilling all over the place,” Obama said in Maljamar, N.M., on Wednesday, standing alongside oil rigs on federal land. The president was announcing his plans for the expedited pipeline, a southern portion of the original Keystone XL, in Cushing, Okla., where construction is expected to begin this spring.
The state legislature of Tennessee has given legal cover to public school teachers to challenge the science of evolution and climate change, in a move that looks set to deepen a debate about politicisation of the classroom.
The bill passed in the Tennessee Senate this week provides legal protection to teachers who personally do not believe in evolution or the human causes of climate change, and instead want to teach the “scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories”.
It comes at a time when science associations are increasingly concerned by moves to inject religious or ideological beliefs into science teaching ahead of the release next month of a new set of education standards which give a central place to climate change.
Spring, with its promise of flip-flops and daffodils, can have a dark side. Take this one, which hit so early in many parts of the nation that the headaches are outweighing the sunny benefits.
High temperatures and a sudden bloom have turned what some call the Bible Belt into the Pollen Belt. Insects usually not seen for a month or two are out in full force in the Midwest and Rocky Mountains.
Chicago is in its eighth day of 80-degree heat. And in New York, a string of days more than 20 degrees warmer than usual have sent baffled residents searching for sundresses and wondering if it is too soon to schedule a trip to the garden store.
Over the last seven days, 4,412 high-temperature records were broken, according to the National Weather Service.
The north woods of Maine, where our family of five is spending a year, is a place defined by winter. The intense cold shapes everything that lives in these woods. The long legs of the moose enable it to walk in deep snow. The meadow voles and red squirrels tunnel through the snow. The local people are paragons of self-reliance. Winter is the defining season of northern New England. Even more so than football or baseball season.
The cold of winter begins and ends on a specific day. It is not a gradual change. A cold front moves in from the north one day and winter is here. This year, the local lake froze on Dec.19 and the snow melted on March 17. Three months of cold.
There was not much snow this year. The ground is bare now, but last year the ground was covered with 20 inches of snow on March 17, according to NOAA’s snow data.
The newborn Antarctic fur seal is especially vulnerable in its first few months of life, new research suggests. It has high energy requirements, which may be harder to meet as climate changes mean they need to use more energy to keep warm.
By studying the energy requirements of Antarctic fur seals, researchers discovered that, despite climate models showing an increase in temperature, the windier and wetter conditions predicted for Antarctica may lead to lower survival rates for the seal pups. Essentially, the pups may have to allocate more energy to staying warm and less to growth and, ultimately, their survival.
Zimbabwe lacks the technical expertise and institutional capacity to mitigate and adapt to climate change, a study has revealed. Environment and Natural Resources Management permanent secretary Ms Florence Nhekairo announced the findings at a function to commission the joint programme to intensify the fight against climate.
The programme is called “Strengthening national capacity for climate change programme in Zimbabwe”.
Ms Nhekairo said a recent study carried by her ministry had shown that climate change remained the biggest challenge to the country as it was threatening food security and economic growth.
“The study reveals that the country has weak inter- and intra-sectoral co-ordination in climate change issues, limited capacity for climate change policy analysis and implementation and limited resources to fund climate change adaptation and mitigation programmes,” she said.
Emirates, an airline based in wealthy Dubai, has been among the outspoken opponents of a system making airlines account for their pollution on all flights using E.U. airports.
Yet Emirates could make a modest profit of €1.5 million, or $2 million, from a small surplus of permits, each representing a ton of carbon dioxide, that airlines can trade as part of the system.
The E.U. Emissions Trading System already applies to about 11,000 factories and utilities across the European Union. Since the start of the year, airlines have had to obtain enough permits to offset their emissions along the entire length of round-trip journeys.