On Monday, we learned from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that last September was the hottest of them all, out of 135 Septembers going back to 1880.The same was true for August 2014. And June of 2014. And May of 2014. What that means is that for each of these months, the combined average global land and ocean surface temperature has never been higher, at least since we started recording these temperatures back in the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes.
These kinds of records are becoming so regular that they’re starting to seem a lot less impressive. They’re shrug-inducing. But to think of them in that way is a mistake. A little context shows just how dramatic the warming of the globe, on a month-by-month basis, has actually been.
You see, for 355 months now (up through September), “every month on this planet has been warmer than the 20th century average,” according to Jessica Blunden, a scientist at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. The Post’s own Philip Bump, then writing at Grist, pointed out numbers like these back in November 2012, when the streak was only 332 consecutive months—but since then, every month has just added to the total. And now, we’re just shy of 30 years of unbroken warmer-than-average months. The last month that actually was not warmer than the 20th century average, according to Blunden, was February of 1985. (It was merely average, she says.)
“It was the worst by a large margin, falling pretty far outside the normal range of variability that we see in the record,” said climate scientist Ben Cook at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. Cook is lead author of the study, which will publish in the Oct. 17 edition of Geophysical Research Letters.
Two sets of conditions led to the severity and extent of the 1934 drought. First, a high-pressure system in winter sat over the west coast of the United States and turned away wet weather - a pattern similar to that which occurred in the winter of 2013-14. Second, the spring of 1934 saw dust storms, caused by poor land management practices, suppress rainfall.
“In combination then, these two different phenomena managed to bring almost the entire nation into a drought at that time,” said co-author Richard Seager, professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in New York. “The fact that it was the worst of the millennium was probably in part because of the human role.”
..”We found that a lot of the drying that occurred in the spring time occurred downwind from where the dust storms originated,” Cook said, “suggesting that it’s actually the dust in the atmosphere that’s driving at least some of the drying in the spring and really allowing this drought event to spread upwards into the central plains.”.
Fresh from the company that gave us the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Steve Koonin is the answer to a troublesome question facing the Journal’s opinion page editors: What you do if you want to continue obstructing progress on global warming pollution, but your usual stable of tame skeptics is starting to die off (Fred Seitz), retire from active research (Dick Lindzen), or discredit itself through serial scientific errors (John Christy) or by taking fanatical and manifestly untenable positions (Heartland Institute)? That puts the editors in quite a pickle. The Wall Street Journal evidently has high hopes for promoting Koonin as a prominent new voice for inaction, having lavished on him 2,000 words and front-page Saturday exposure outside the Journal’s paywall.
Who is Steve Koonin and why should we care?
Koonin has constructed a narrative that is calculated to make people take notice even if they wouldn’t ordinarily trust anything the Wall Street Journal published on global warming: I’m a physicist bringing my brilliance and outside perspective to the backwater of climate science! (He was a professor of physics, and later provost, at Caltech.) I’m green! (He was chief scientist for BP, the oil firm that likes to tout itself as the “beyond petroleum” company, and he was involved with renewables there, among other things.) I’ve got true-blue Democratic credentials! (He was undersecretary for science in the Department of Energy during Obama’s first term.)
Either we will change our ways or they will be changed for us.We have got to act on the overuse, CO emissions, population etc.
…The space agency’s two Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or GRACE, satellites have been been in orbit since 2002, making highly sensitive measurements of Earth’s gravity field. Variations in the gravity field can be caused by a number of factors, including the amount of water stored underground in soil and rocks.
The image on the left was taken in June 2002, just three months after GRACE was launched. The one in the middle was taken in June 2008, and the one on the right is from June 2014.
Why are so many walruses “hauled out” on this narrow strip of land? Part of the reason is that there’s not enough sea ice for them to rest on, according to NOAA.
On September 17, Arctic sea ice reached its minimum extent for 2014, which according to federal data is the sixth-lowest coverage since the satellite record began in 1979.
The climate march that took place in NYC (and elsewhere) on Sunday was fantastic. It was thrilling to see so many people gathered together for a cause. In the process of organizing and marching, tons of social capital was created — connections made, bonds strengthened, seeds planted. It was a signal to policymakers the world over that lots of Americans are taking this seriously. It was a shot of solidarity for people facing up to what can feel like an unsurmountable challenge. For those and many other reasons, the march was awesome, a real triumph for the movement, despite what all the ankle-biters have said.
Having gotten that out of the way, I’ll now resume saying depressing sh*t.
The Obama administration appears to be losing ground in its efforts to cut U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases, according to new government figures that show pollution levels rising again after several years of gradual decline.
Data released Friday by the Energy Department show American factories and power plants putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during the first six months of 2014 compared with the same period in each of the past two years. The figures confirm a reversal first seen in 2013, when the trend of steadily falling emissions abruptly halted.
The higher emissions are primarily a reflection of a rebounding economy, as American businesses burned more gas and oil to meet higher demand. But the shift also underscores the challenge confronting the Obama administration as it seeks to honor a pledge to sharply cut U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases by the end of the decade.
In Greenland, scientists who wish to understand ice loss will follow the water. Greenland mass loss is rising exponentially and leading to higher sea level rise.
On Tuesday 23rd September global leaders - from government, finance, business, and civil society - will meet at the UN headquarters in New York to discuss climate change. It will be the first time the UN has tackled the subject since Copenhagen in 2009. We want the leaders to commit NOW to agreeing an ambitious climate treaty at the COP 21 Conference in Paris next year.
Let’s show them our commitment to reducing global emissions by making one small and easy change - skipping meat for one day a week. Show your support below by pledging to go meat free on Mondays and together let’s urge world leaders to act!
More: Meat Free Monday Pledge
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is joining a coalition of philanthropists pledging to rid themselves of more than $50 bn (£31 bn) in fossil fuel assets.
The announcement will be made on Monday, a day before the UN climate change summit opens on Tuesday.
Some 650 individuals and 180 institutions have joined the coalition.
It is part of a growing global initiative called Global Divest-Invest, which began on university campuses several years ago, the New York Times reports.
Pledges from pension funds, religious groups and big universities have reportedly doubled since the start of 2014.