Although the global climate has continued to build up heat at an incredibly rapid rate, there has been a keen focus among climate contrarians and in the media on the slowdown of the warming at the Earth’s surface. The slowdown is in fact a double cherry pick - it focuses only on the 2% of global warming that heats the atmosphere (over 90% heats the oceans), and it only considers the past 10-15 years. Nevertheless, because there was so much attention paid to the surface warming slowdown, the latest IPCC report addressed it specifically, saying,
The long-term climate model simulations show a trend in global-mean surface temperature from 1951 to 2012 that agrees with the observed trend (very high confidence). There are, however, differences between simulated and observed trends over periods as short as 10 to 15 years (e.g., 1998 to 2012).
From 1998 through 2012, the Met Office estimated that global surface temperatures had warmed by about 0.06°C, whereas the average climate model projection put the value at closer to 0.3°C. This apparent discrepancy only represented a tiny fraction of overall global warming, and over a short enough period of time that the internal noise of the climate system could be having a significant influence, but it was nevertheless a challenge for climate scientists to explain the precise causes of the difference.
The current, severe drought has not only gripped New Mexico and the western United States for several years, it has also lifted up the land itself, positioning buildings, streets and mountains in Albuquerque about 0.15 of an inch higher than a decade ago.
Brandon Schmandt, a geophysicist at the University of New Mexico.
That news comes from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, in a study published Thursday in the online edition of the journal Science.
“It probably doesn’t change life for people in Albuquerque or the Southwest, but it’s significant that so much water is being moved around that it can cause the land to move up or down,” said a local scientist, University of New Mexico geophysicist Brandon Schmandt. “This is an amazing measurement, one that we haven’t had access to before.”
The effect of the drought, which Scripps describes as a “growing, broad-scale loss of water … causing the entire western U.S. to rise up like an uncoiled spring,” is even more pronounced in the mountains of California, where the “uplift effect” is more than half an inch.
Six years ago party positions weren’t miles apart.
It’s hard to believe, surveying the GOP field of possible presidential nominees, but back in 2008 the parties were not that far apart on climate change. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee, backed cap-and-trade for carbon emissions. After joining his ticket, so did Sarah Palin. But back then, lots of Republicans and conservatives also supported an individual mandate to buy health insurance. The Republican Party of 2008 was a big enough tent to include people who admitted demonstrable problems existed and supported free-market-oriented solutions. Not anymore. The rise of the Tea Party movement and the rightward shift of the Republican base and the politicians who pander to it put an end to all that. Whoever is the Republican nominee for president in 2016, it’s a safe bet that he - and yes, it will be a he, as all the leading contenders are male - will oppose taking any action on climate change. Chances are that he won’t even admit it exists.
The Republicans basically fall into four categories: (1) Flat-Earthers, who deny the existence of manmade climate change; (2) Born-Again Flat-Earthers, who do the same, but who had admitted climate change exists back before President Obama took office; (3) Do-Nothings, who sort of admit the reality of climate change but oppose actually taking any steps to prevent it; and (4) Dodgers, who have avoided saying whether they believe climate change is happening, and who also don’t want to take any steps to alleviate it. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker fall into the latter category. The Do-Nothings are blue and purple state governors, Chris Christie of New Jersey and John Kasich of Ohio. In a sign of how far rightward Republicans have moved since 2008, these are actually the guys who are trying to position themselves as relatively moderate and pragmatic. The Born-Agains are Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Both are staunch conservatives but only partial wingnuts. Back when that meant believing in climate change, they did, but they have since followed their base into fantasyland. Everyone else is an outright denier and always has been.
It’s wet out here, and the water is deep.
Sharks the size of Cadillacs, eating entire SUVs!
The Great Detroit Flood
There is an overwhelming consensus among expert scientists studying climate change that man-made pollution is the main cause of global warming. But the media may be skewing its coverage of the issue by persistently seeking out the views of a contrarian minority, according to a new study.
In an opinion survey of nearly 1,900 scientists, 90 percent of the respondents with more than 10 peer-reviewed articles to their name “explicitly agreed with anthropogenic greenhouse gases being the dominant driver of recent global warming,” the study found.
It was written by scientists in the Netherlands and Australia, and published in Environmental Science and Technology.
The degree of the consensus was not surprising, as scientists said they basically agreed with findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, which has itself generated exhaustive consensus documents. Surveys of published literature have likewise demonstrated the breadth of the scientific consensus on man-made climate change.
It took a serendipitous slug of toxins and the loss of drinking water for a half-million residents to bring home what scientists and government officials in this part of the country have been saying for years: Lake Erie is in trouble, and getting worse by the year.
Flooded by tides of phosphorus washed from fertilized farms, cattle feedlots and leaky septic systems, the most intensely developed of the Great Lakes is increasingly being choked each summer by thick mats of algae, much of it poisonous. What plagues Toledo and, experts say, potentially all 11 million lakeside residents, is increasingly a serious problem across the United States.
But while there is talk of action — and particularly in Ohio, real action — there also is widespread agreement that efforts to address the problem have fallen woefully short. And the troubles are not restricted to the Great Lakes. Poisonous algae are found in polluted inland lakes from Minnesota to Nebraska to California, and even in the glacial-era kettle ponds of Cape Cod in Massachusetts
Water at a Toledo, Ohio, treatment plant has tested positive for a toxin, and nearly 500,000 Ohio residents have been told not drink the tap water, leading the governor to declare a state of emergency Saturday in three counties, state officials told the Los Angeles Times.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich declared a state of emergency for residents of Lucas, Wood and Fulton counties early Saturday after two water samples from a Toledo water treatment plant tested positive for microcystin, a toxin possibly caused by an algae bloom in Lake Erie.
Heidi Griesmer, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, told The Times that water samples from the Collins Water Treatment Plant had been sent to four different laboratories in the area, but officials were no closer to determining when, or if, the water would be safe to drink.
In its dealings with Africa, China has taken its lead from centuries of European colonial exploitation there. Take all that you want, and too bad if the natives suffer for it.
China, with its rapidly urbanizing population, is the world’s biggest importer of wood products. And in its dealings with Mozambique, it is increasingly buying timber that is illegally harvested, according to a new report (pdf). The nonprofit Environmental Investigation Agency compared Mozambique’s official harvest numbers to global import numbers and calculated that 93% of Mozambique’s timber was illegally harvested in 2013, up from 76% in 2007—and most of that goes to China.
That’s perhaps no surprise; Mozambique is poor and timber is a good source of income. But the level of illegal logging and timber smuggling for the Chinese market is way beyond sustainable levels, despite claims to the contrary by Mozambican officials, according to the EIA. If the excessive focus on just a handful of commercial timber species continues, the country’s commercial stocks will be largely depleted in the next 15 years.
The illegal exports mean that Mozambique suffered losses of $146 million in potential export and exploration taxes from 2007-2013, the EIA says. That could have covered the 2014 state budget for poverty-alleviation programs more than twice over. It could, alternatively, have covered 30 years of law enforcement for Mozambique’s National Forest Program, according to the report from the EIA.
China is taking a lot of heat for its apparent neo-colonialism, but Chinese officials have generally waved such criticism aside as unfounded. But, just last week, China’s ambassador to Tanzania admitted that Chinese behavior in Africa is less than exemplary. shanghaiist.com
“Our people just cannot shake their bad habits,” Lu said, in an interview (link in Chinese) with the Chinese paper Southern Metropolis News yesterday. “Tanzania hosts ambassadors from about 70 countries, but none of them needs to constantly worry like us about consular protection issues,” Lu [Youqing] added.
Chinese citizens have been caught smuggling ivory out of Tanzania, and some are operating illegal gold mining operations throughout Africa.
They’re importing raw materials from Africa, while exporting standard Chinese business practices. Just what Africans don’t need — more corruption.
The month of June was the planet’s hottest, federal scientists said Monday, a record that dates back through 134 years of report-keeping and underscores a trend of increasingly warmer global temperatures.
June’s average temperature — 61.2 degrees — marked the 38th consecutive June that the mercury has been above the 20th century average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
California made history, too. A warm June helped the state log its hottest start to the year on record, with a temperature 4.8 degrees above the 20th century average for the six-month period, and 1.1 degrees above the previous high in 1934.
San Francisco, Sacramento and Fresno all experienced their hottest six-month starts on record. Los Angeles saw its second warmest start, while San Diego saw its third warmest.
Mount Fuji is primed to spew.
After 307 years, the massive active volcano in Japan may be due for another eruption as a result of a buildup of pressure from the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that hit the country’s eastern coast in 2011. While volcano eruptions may often be difficult to predict, a new study published by a team of French and Japanese researchers indicates that Mount Fuji is in a particularly precarious state.
“Our work does not say that the volcano will start erupting, but it does show that it’s in a critical state,” lead author Florent Brenguier, a researcher at the Institute of Earth Sciences in France, told The Guardian.
The team analyzed data from more than 800 seismic sensors in Japan in order to observe how volcanos react to seismic waves, which are generated by impulses such as earthquakes or explosions. By pinpointing how these waves of energy affect volcanos, researchers should be better equipped to evaluate the risk of volcanic eruptions and may even be able to help predict an eruption.