Climate Change This Week: A Really Hot 2016 Start, a Really Cool Battery, and More!

Today, the Earth got a little hotter, and a little more crowded.

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When The Forest Goes, So Does This Beauty, a beautiful tropical forest hummingbird. Credit Michel Giraud-Audine at flickr

Forests: the cheapest way to store carbon

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OO Satellite Data Suggests Tropical Forest Loss Worldwide Is Accelerating – The loss rate has been over 60% higher from 1990 to 2010 than previous decades, and higher than previous estimates, according to data covering 80% of all tropical forests.

This counters a previous UN FAO assessment suggesting a 25% decrease in the same period.

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Not Good For You, Earth, Forests, or Orangutans – 3 big conglomerates who can track their profits, but not their destructive sources of unhealthy palm oil, as forests are destroyed to produce it.

OO Check Your Shampoo:
Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson, and PepsiCo
Keep Sourcing Destructive Palm Oil
– breaking their promises not to source palm oil illegal plantations that destroy forests. Boycott palm oil products.

When we harm forests, we harm ourselves.

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CLIMATE CHANGE CROP FAILURE: 500,000+ DEATHS BY 2050

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When Crops Fail, Hunger Increases Credit Jay Lomu at CARE

OO Food Scarcity Caused By Climate Change
Could Cause 500,000 Deaths By 2050
– the effects of climate change on food production alone around the world could lead to more than 500,000 deaths by the year 2050, says a grim new study.

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HOT NEWS

GARGANTUAN MELTING OF GREENLAND IS SELF-SPEEDING

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Ice Melts, Surface Darkens, Heats Further, Melts Further this albedo effect, where darker colors absorb more heat, speeds the melt cycle. Source http://www.theguardian.com

OO Greenland’s Ice Melt Accelerating As Surface Darkens, Raising Sea Levels – the melt faces a
feedback loop: as ice melts, the surface darkens (also darkened from blown in wildfire soot), absorbing more heat, which speeds melting further; the resulting meltwater raises sea levels. The soot is also connected to climate change: Arctic warming ups the frequency of its wildfires.

Related Headline:

OO Greenland’s Melting Is ‘Feeding on Itself,’ Scientists Say in a new study.

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2016-03-15-1458063196-9485998-averagemonthlyFebruaryarcticseaiceextentSourceNationalSnowandIceDataCenterccr320.png

Ominous New Low Tracks Disappearing Arctic Ice Cap – which serves as an important planetary thermal shield in the summer; once that disappears the planet will be absorbing far more heat.

OO Darkening Arctic Ice Sets New Record Low For February Ice – As is happening in Greenland, above, melting ice darkens the remaining surface, which absorbs more heat and further speeds melt, in addition to the ever increasing heating from global warming.

BUT: The consequences – from our atmosphere* to our coastlines** – “will be profound.”

* as thawing [Arctic] permafrost emits additional greenhouse gases
** as melting Greenland and Arctic glaciers create rising seas

Related Headline:

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Created in 2006 – And It’s Only Gotten Worse…. VOTE! Credit Jim Morin, Miami Herald

OO Following Alaska’s Vanishing Ice – the albedo feedback loop makes the Arctic more sensitive to warming than anywhere else on the planet — and gives the Arctic an outsized influence on how much the rest of the planet warms. Darkness begets darkness, warmth begets warmth.

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2016-03-15-1458063289-7678828-globalwarmingcartoonCreditTomTolesattheWashingtonPostSept2001ccr317.jpg

Credit Tom Toles at the Washington Post

OO Did Global Warming Really Slow Down?
Yeah, Right. Did The Laws Of Physics Stop Operating?
As one climate scientist noted, we’re adding more heat to our planet 24/7 – the rest is just details.

Yes, the warming of the air did slow, temporarily – but the total heat the Earth absorbed from greenhouse gases? Nah. It kept right on further heating our planet.

Where did over 90% of that heat go? Where it always goes, for now: into the oceans. Poached lobster, anyone?

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OO Ted Cruz’s Favorite Temperature Data Just Got A Lot Hotter:
Even Satellites Now Show Global Warming
– a new study makes Ted Cruz’s favorite chart obsolete, as atmospheric temperatures set a new record high.

Related Headline:

OO Climate Deniers Lose Key Talking Point
As Satellites Show Temperatures Hit All-Time Highs

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2016-03-15-1458063360-7149815-globallandandoceantemperatureanomaliesjanuarydecember18802016SourceNOAAccr320.jpg

Even Satellites Show Global Warming Source NOAA

OO Why Is 2016 Smashing Heat Records?
It’s Mostly Global Warming
not El Niño that has driven January and February to record high temperatures. By analyzing all the temperature records, a number of researchers have separately concluded that El Niño is responsible for less than 20% of the unusual heat being seen – ie, less than a rise of 0.1C. The rest is global warming, says climate scientist Michael Mann.

“In other words, we would have set an all-time global temperature record [in 2015] even without any help from El Niño.”

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A photographic overview of melting ice, flooding water – from 2008:

@@ Gary Braasch* & Stephen Schneider On Global Warming

*A noted environmental and climate change photographic journalist, Gary recently died while continuing this mission, snorkeling on the threatened Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

“How many fires in the west, intense hurricanes, melting Arctics and disappearing glaciers does it take before people decide ‘maybe something really is going on’?” asks Stephen Schneider. (1945-2010)

Steve was incredibly smart, caring, and witty – with a great knack for creating fantastic sound bites on the spot. I still miss him.

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OO El Niño’s Disastrous Worldwide Consequences Will Worsen even though the Pacific ocean is starting to cool, due to the effect lag between peak ocean temperatures (which drive it) and the weather. El Nino effects will worsen for much of 2016. Effects include:

  • Nearly 100 million people face food & water shortages due to unusual droughts and floods
  • Harsh droughts are affecting Africa, Central America, Southeast Asia, and some Pacific Is.
  • Helping to spread mosquito borne diseases, like Zika virus
  • Contributing to an uncertain economic environment

The piece also notes unusual heat, but several researchers conclude that is mostly due to global warming.

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GOOD IDEAS

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Blooming Food Scraps, Booming Carbon Storage – when a grassland is fertilized with compost produced from food scraps. Credit Dean Fikar

OO A Brilliant New Use For Your Kitchen Scraps:
Upping Carbon Storage on Grasslands
by turning the scraps into compost used to fertilize and promote grass production.

If compost were added to 5% of California’s rangelands, those 3.2 million acres could eliminate 7.6 million tons of carbon emissions.

OO Making Concrete Green:
Reinventing The World’s Most Used Synthetic Material
– by using plastic or industrial waste materials, companies are producing concrete cheaply, with dramatically lower emissions. About time, boys!

The colors show the uneven distribution of chemical elements on this particle’s surface, which is key to its improved performance in batteries. Plus, it’s pretty to look at. Courtesy of Brookhaven National Laboratory and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

OO DOE: Building Better Batteries for Long-Distance Driving and Faster-Charging Electronics – scientists from Dept of Energy labs have found a way to potentially use a simple manufacturing technique to build a high-capacity battery material that protects itself from damage. Test batteries incorporating this cathode material could keep going, and going, and going. Ah, a practically perpetual battery!

OO Does A Carbon Tax Work? Yes. Ask British Columbia.
A conservative party in the province introduced a carbon tax in 2008. The important lesson for American skeptics is that the policy worked as advertised. New York Times. 2 March 2016

OO China Aims To Boost Renewable Energy With ‘Green Cert.ificates’ – China plans to set up a market for renewable energy certificates to try to increase the use of cleaner energy.

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OO Are You Losing Out By Not Divesting? New York Did – New York State’s pension fund would have an additional $5.3 billion to give to its retired employees if it had divested from fossil fuel companies and put that money into clean energy, says a new report.

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GOOD CLEAN NEWS

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OO US Energy Storage Market Grew Nearly 250% in 2015, Largest Year on Record – and is projected to reach 1.7 gigawatts by 2020—with a value of $2.5 billion.

OO Oregon Passes Bill to Cut Coal Purchases, Double Renewable Energy by 2040 Critics say the bill simply shifts coal usage out of state.

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OO Germany’s Second-Biggest Utility Plans to Launch
Residential Solar-Plus-Storage Offering

OO Regulations Work:
Alberta Coal Power Contracts To End Due To Higher Emissions Costs
– it became unprofitable once they had to pay for their pollution.

DID CHINA PEAK? TAKE A PEEK!

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OO China Slashes Coal Use And Thus,
Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Two Years Running
– shows China’s National Bureau of Statistics. Greenpeace East Asia says China’s drop in coal use over the past two years is equal to Japan’s total annual coal consumption.

Related Headline:

OO Decline in China’s Coal Consumption Accelerates to nearly 4% in 2015, say China government statistics, the second decline in 2 years.

What’s more, the reduction took place while the economy grew. The data will raise hopes that coal use in the country has finally peaked.

and

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OO China Set To Surpass Its Climate Targets As Renewables Soar – wind and solar energy surged in China in 2015 to record levels, helping the country to pivot away from coal, which still provides two-thirds of its power.

But….

OO China’s CO2 Emissions May Have Peaked In 2014
But China’s Envoy Says No
– an international study says, which might have indicated that China’s current target of peaking by 2030 was far too easy. The Chinese envoy insists emissions are still growing. China is, by far, the world’s highest emitter of climate changing gases.

and

OO Greenpeace Says China Increasing Coal-Fired Capacity says Greenpeace East Asia, with a total of 210 coal power projects in the pipeline, despite overcapacity in the industry and pollution concerns.

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Calcutta Clutter, Sputter, & Pollution – a taxing situation.

OO India Introduces Car Sales Tax To Combat Pollution – and they’re poorer than us; why isn’t the US doing this?

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NATURAL REPERCUSSIONS

2016-03-15-1458063611-3661808-seaslugbizarreNembrothaKbaryanaAustraliaGrtBarRfSourcetheverybesttop10.comccr320.jpg

A Psychedelic Vision, the Variable Neon Slug is one of many colorful nudibranchs that occur on the Great Barrier Reef. As the reef goes, so will they.Source theverybesttop10.com

OO Next Few Weeks Critical As
Great Barrier Reef Suffers ‘Tragic’ Coral Bleaching
– Fears of an imminent mass coral bleaching there have prompted federal authorities to issue an urgent warning on the natural wonder.

Related Headline:

OO Parts Of Great Barrier Reef Face
Permanent Destruction From El Nino
if the current El Nino, one of the strongest in two decades, does not ease this month, scientists say. Sadly, this is not likely.

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With Drought, Mideast Turmoil Will Grow as falling sources of food fail to sustain the population. Credit AP,Vadim Ghirda

OO Syria’s Drought Has Likely Been Its Worst In 900 Years – says a new study, worsened in part by climate change, and probably having some effect on the human turmoil there. This may signal a long term change towards a drier climate – and more turmoil for the populous region.

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2016-03-15-1458063728-5786488-rattlesnakesnakestrikingstanceCreditCaseyKanodeccr320.jpg

Get Ready, New York! As the north warms more, expect venomous snakes to spread, says a new study. Credit Casey Kanode

OO Snakes’ Expanding Habitat Could Bring Their Venom To Surprising Places says a new study, as warming opens up new habitat possibilities. Care for a bite?

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OO Scotland’s Native Insects At Severe Risk From Climate Change and so will agriculture be, from invading insect pests.

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2016-03-15-1458063811-1737224-muskoxenmuskoxSourcewww.freerepublic.comccr320.jpg

Musk Ox Health Depends on Beetles – in part, because beetles eat snails that carry parasites that infect ox lungs; without the beetles, more ox, an essential Arctic food source for people there, would likely die from lung infections. Just one of many, many ways beetles affect Arctic life. Source http://www.freerepublic.com

OO Arctic Beetles: Even Climate Change’s Tiniest Victims Have Big Impactson much larger species, including humans, as the Arctic warms, scientists find. Beetles, as predators and prey, form important cornerstones in ecosystems.

There are many beetle there and worldwide, so the impacts will be numerous, unpredictable and potentially nasty worldwide.

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CLUELESS LEADERSHIP

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OO Warren Buffett’s Delusion:
Climate Disasters Will Enrich Insurance Business
– is essentially Buffett’s message to stockholders, ignoring fears of other insurance companies that escalating climate catastrophes will bankrupt them first. No, he simply notes that as catastrophes accelerate people buy more insurance from his company.

What exactly does he insure – boats?

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Credit Michael Lukovich

OO Oil And Gas Industry Has Pumped
$100+ Millions Into Republican Campaigns
just for presidential candidates in 2015 alone. Let’s hope it’s a waste of money.

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CLIMATE LEADERSHIP

OO Obama Administration Pays Out $500 Million To Climate Change Projectas part of its $3 billion pledge to help poor countries fight climate change – defying Republican opposition to the president’s environmental plan.

Helping poor countries prevents further instability that can ultimately affect our own security. No nation is an island on Earth, as Syria, 911, and many other disasters have shown.

OO Minnesota Presses Clean Power Plan As Supreme Court Tells Feds To Wait
Gov. Mark Dayton is pushing ahead on his clean power efforts despite a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision ordering federal authorities to delay plans to cut power plant carbon emissions.

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SPEAKING OUT

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Feel the Bern?

OO Bernie Sanders Highlights Climate Change During Minnesota Rallyannouncing opposition to two pipeline projects that would affect the state.

OO Climate Activists Threaten To Shut Down World’s Major Coal Sites – Reclaim the Power says it will use direct action at a dozen international sites in May, including the UK’s largest opencast coal mine in south Wales.

OO Bangladesh: 1000s To March Against Coal Plant Threat To Sundarbans Forest, the world’s biggest mangrove forest, a World Heritage site.

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Fracking? Not in MY Swamp, Buster! Source http://www.provostadventures.com

OO After Public Outcry,
Florida Drops Bill To Frack The Everglades

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Gas Is Ba-a-a-a-ah-ah-d For Earth – make sheep hungry enough and they’ll spell out even the most obvious truths. Source Heinz DeChelard at http://www.abc.net.au

OO Australia: Farmers Use 2,000 Hungry Sheep
To Spell Out Their Message Against Gas Mining

OO Standard Oil Scion Ditches Her ExxonMobil Stock – John D. Rockefeller’s great-granddaughter doesn’t want shares in a company that’s “really hurting the world.”

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ELECTION YEAR 2016:

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If You Don’t Vote For Climate Action, You Can Forget The Rest – in a climate-changing world of famine, drought, rising seas, giant storms and heat waves, there will be no security in jobs, health, wealth, or national safety. There will be chaos ensuing from increasing crises and disasters. Vote.

OO Next President Could Make Or Break
The Paris Climate Agreement
– The US helped lead nearly 200 countries to a recent, international climate change agreement in Paris recently. The upcoming election could determine if the US continues to lead, or reneges on its commitments to cut climate changing emissions. VOTE.

OO Global Warming Policies We Set Today Will Determine The Next 10,000 Years – of global warming, a new study shows — and whether our civilization survives or not: history shows that harmful climate change has destroyed civilizations before.

This time, it could be worldwide. Let’s keep “The Hunger Games“ in the realm of fiction.

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SOCIAL REPERCUSSIONS

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Source http://www.hastingstribune.com

OO Flood Damage Costs Will Rise Faster Than Sea Levels, says a new study, showing that damage will increase exponentially; the study aims to give coastal cities a way to prepare for them.

Related Headline:

OO Costs Rise Faster Than Water says a new study, emphasizing that sea levels are rising quickly, and can have dangerous and costly impacts on human infrastructure.

OO Rising Seas Pull Fort Lauderdale, Florida’s Building Boomtown,
Toward A Bust
– the city is expecting its population to grow by a third, but it already can’t handle the impacts of climate change.

More costs:

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2016-03-15-1458064253-6970714-mourninghomesvictimslost2009AustraliabushfireCreditNicMacBeanatABCNewsccr320.jpg

Faces of Distress from a 2009 bushfire, which are increasing as temperatures rise in Australia under continuing climate change. Credit Nic MacBean at ABC News

OO Natural Disasters Costing Australia 50% More Than Estimated say 2 new reports, which find increases in family violence and mental health problems due to the stress of natural disasters outweighs the cost of rebuilding infrastructure.

OO California County Still Relying On Water Tanks, Despite Rainfall – over 800 domestic wells still are dry. Where water has returned, the supply remains unpredictable.

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As ecosystemic changes increase natural disasters and threaten economic stability, water and food shortage will catalyze civil unrest and conflicts.

OO Pakistan’s Biggest Threat Isn’t Terrorism, It’s Climate Change – You know – that poor, unstable, populous, Asian nuclear power? Yeah, THAT one.

OO Which Mega-Cities Offer Best Protection From Climate Change? The wealthy ones, of course; developing world ones are falling behind, says a study.

OO Crappy Climate News: More Heat Means More Diarrhea – As temperatures rise so, too, do cases of diarrhea in many countries, says a new study. I don’t think we need a graphic here, do you?

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FOSSIL FUEL FOLLIES

THE NEW COAL:

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Credit Ken Doerr at flickr

OO Cheap Natural Gas Leads To More Plants And Pollution – the nation’s boom in cheap natural gas — often viewed as a clean energy source — is spawning a wave of petrochemical plants that, if built, will emit massive amounts of greenhouse gases, warns a new report.

Surprise, surprise, surprise…

OO Can Fracking Power Europe? Several countries hope to unleash vast natural-gas reserves through fracking, but drilling attempts have been disappointing… maybe this is a blessing in disguise!

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Present, But Thinking? Check the CO2 Levels Credit Charles Platiau at Reuters

OO Indoor CO2 Changes Your Mental Climate – leading to poor decisions, depending on the levels, which can increase dramatically, depending on the people density, new research is finding.

OO Ex-Chief Of Chesapeake Energy Dies In Crash A Day After IndictmentAubrey McClendon was the face of the US natural gas boom, a swashbuckling innovator who pioneered a shale revolution, leading a life of luxury and loans.

Sadly, the number of hearts broken by his death are vastly outnumbered by the number of hearts broken by his work.

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If we do not grow sustainably,
Our children will die inhumanely.

@@ The Cost of Unintended Pregnancy: Too Young

Teen childbearing cost US taxpayers $9+ Billion in 2010
And the costs of raising a child usually ensures decades, if not a life, of poverty for its mother.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Help prevent unintended pregnancies in your community:
publicize where women can access affordable contraception.

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They can go here to find locations:

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And there are many more actions you can do, right here.

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SOLAR KEEPS DRIVING

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OO US Solar Energy Is Poised For An Unforgettable Year in 2016 – New statistics just released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration suggest that the booming solar sector will add more new electricity-generating capacity than any other — including natural gas and wind.

OO Off-Grid Solar Market to Reach $3.1Billion by 2020

OO US Utility-Scale Solar Market Fueled by Growth
Beyond Renewable Portfolio Standards –
It’s Demand!
– more than half of 2016 installed utility-scale solar will be outside of state-level requirements.

2016-03-15-1458064360-5086580-UKreservoirfloatingsolarfarmbiggestyetSourcethrewns.comccr320.jpg

Storing Water, Producing Solar Power – the largest solar floating farm yet,on a reservoir near London, shows how to get more bang for the real estate buck.Source threwns.com

OO Meet The World’s Largest Floating Solar-Energy Farm As the global proliferation of solar power continues, energy experts are coming up with new ways to implement the cheap fuel alternative.

OO Singapore Feeds First Solar Power Into Retail Grid To Reduce Emissions

OO UK: Solar Thermal Panels the Latest to Get Hit by Subsidy Cuts – infuriating industry, and as a parliamentary committee warned that changes already made to the government’s energy policy had “spooked” investors and could push up consumer bills by upping costs of new energy schemes.

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Check it out here, right now!

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WHY WE SHOULD ACT NOW: RISING RISKS

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Daily Climate Change: Global Map of Unusual Temperatures, Mar 14, 2016

How unusual has the weather been? No one event is “caused” by climate change, but global warming, which is predicted to increase unusual, extreme weather, is having a daily effect on weather, worldwide.

Looking above at recent temperature anomalies, much of the US and the waters surrounding it are experiencing warmer than normal temperatures.

Despite the sometimes monsoonal rains pelting central California, the drought mapremains little changed, while much of California’s aquifers have been permanently and significantly shrunk by farmers seeking water.

Much of the areas surrounding the North Pole are experiencing much warmer than normal temperatures – not good news for our Arctic thermal shield of ice. Hotter than usual temperatures continue to dominate human habitats.

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There is, of course, much more news on the consequences and solutions to climate change. To get it, check out this annotated resource list I’ve compiled, “Climate Change News Resources,” at WordPress.com here. For more information on the science of climate change, its consequences and solutions you can view my annotated list of online information resources here.

To help you understand just what science does and does NOT do, check this out!

Every day is Earth Day, folks, as I was reminded by these wild flax flowers I photographed one summer. Making the U.S. a global clean energy leader will ensure a heck of a lot more jobs, and a clean, safe future. If you’d like to join the increasing numbers of people who want to TELL Congress that they will vote for clean energy candidates you can do so here. It’s our way of letting Congress know there’s a strong clean energy voting bloc out there. 

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For more on Climate Change, check out my weekly columns at the HuffingtonPost, Climate Change This Week

 

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About melharte

Mel (Mary Ellen) Harte is a biologist (PhD) and climate change educator. She co-authored the free online book, COOL THE EARTH, SAVE THE ECONOMY, available at www.CoolTheEarth.US, and writes the CLIMATE CHANGE THIS WEEK column at the HuffingtonPost. Living summers in the alpine Rockies, she is on the frontlines of watching what climate change can do. Her diagnostic digital photographs of wildflowers have appeared in numerous publications.
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