The U.S. Government Ignores Its Own Military About Climate Change

“America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come….”
George W. Bush, referring to the threat of terrorism in the Middle East, but the same argument could be made about climate change

In the case of the United States government, it’s not so much a matter of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. It knows fully well. It simply chooses to ignore it.

Case in point: earlier this week, the Pentagon released a report in which it stated in no uncertain terms that climate change is a “threat multiplier” that can worsen such important national security problems as terrorism and the spread of infectious disease.

The 20-page “2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap” indicates that the U.S. Department of Defense—along with the rest of us—is already witnessing impacts of climate change including sea level rise, changing precipitation patterns with droughts and floods, rising global temperatures, and an increase in extreme weather. According to the report, these all have the potential to do the following: Continue reading


That Was the Hottest September We Ever Recorded

“One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty counsels. The thing to do is to supply light and not heat.”
Woodrow Wilson

Remember last month when I reported that August 2014 was the hottest August our planet has experienced since accurate records began back in the late 19th century? Keeping that trend alive and well, it turns out that last month was the hottest September globally we’ve ever recorded as well, according to NASA this past weekend. The year 2014 to date is also the third warmest year ever. (It would appear our planet is unaware of what denialists tell us, that global warming stopped back in 1997.) The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects that 2014 could actually be our hottest year yet if an El Niño takes force in the coming months.

Just like the month before, what makes this September record so concerning is that it happened without an El Niño contribution, clearly pointing out just how significant the underlying trend of global warming that’s due to us and us alone actually is. In the years to come when the combination of this long-term warming trend and El Niños kick in, we can expect even more broken global temperature records.

Once again the temps were so high over West Antarctica that NASA had to use brown on its maps to depict the 4° to 8.7°C (or 7° to over 15°F) increase from average temperatures as defined by the time period 1951-1980. Continue reading


The Effects of Climate Change Right Before Your Eyes

If you’ve watched the film Chasing Ice, you’ll have already seen this clip but it’s still worth another look. On May 28 2008, Adam LeWinter and Director Jeff Orlowski filmed something historic: a glacier breakup—also referred to as calving—at the Ilulissat Glacier in Western Greenland. This particular calving event lasted a total of 75 minutes and the glacier itself retreated a full mile across a calving face three miles wide. The height of the ice is estimated to be about 3,000 feet with 300-400 feet above water and the rest below. As they describe, it’s like watching Manhattan suddenly let loose.

In some ways watching nature at this scale is awesome and beautiful. But when you remember what’s behind it all, and that it’s a signal of what we’re doing to our planet, that beauty goes out the window.


California’s Drought Hampering Its Renewable Energy

“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.”
John Muir

California has always been a state that has done an admirable job of generating its own renewable energy with solar, wind and hydroelectricity all well represented. Sadly—and ironically—climate change is interfering with its ability to continue to do so. California has been contending with severe drought since 2011; it now affects the entire state and as a result is drying up all the reservoirs supplying hydroelectric dams. Less water means less pressure to spin turbines and generate electricity. No water means no pressure.

Hydro has traditionally generated about 20 percent of California’s electricity for the first half of each year over the last decade. This year, however, hydro only managed to generate half as much. The bad news of course is that fossil fuels have had to step in to help, so natural gas was up three percent during that same time period. In fact, given how long this drought has been going on, California has increased its use of natural gas by 16 percent over the past decade. Relatively speaking, other renewables have increased their contribution. Wind generated more than hydro for the first time ever earlier this year. Continue reading


Turbines and Avian Mortality: What are the Facts?

“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
Winston Churchill

Previously I’ve previously about bird fatalities associated with wind turbines, but some updated statistics have just been published in the November 2015 issue of Discover magazine, so I thought it was worth revisiting the subject.

According to the article, our North American skies have anywhere between 10 and 20 billion birds each year, some migratory and some permanent residents. Many of these birds are killed because of our activities and wind turbines play a part in that, particularly for some species like the golden eagle. But just how much of a part?

New generation wind turbines kill a whopping 234,000 birds each and every year. That sounds awful, and the article points out that for rare species with small populations like the golden-winged warbler, any loss can be deadly for the survival of the species.  But here’s how wind turbines compare to other causes of death (you may be surprised): Continue reading