With global warming changing growing seasons and ranges, and with droughts and storms picking up in intensity, the men and women who produce America's food could use some scientifically sound advice for coping with the changing climate.
The hubs will provide information about ways producers can prepare for potential threats to their crops and livestock as parts of the country are experiencing increasing severe weather events and pest invasions, which scientists have tied to the affects of climate change. And they will coordinate resources through federal and state governments, universities and non-governmental agencies.
It's bad enough that the federal government leases out public lands to private companies to be torn up and mined for coal. Even worse is that the feds are ripping off taxpayers in the process, leasing the coal tracts at way-below-market prices, through a totally inept program, according to a new federal study.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has leased 107 coal-laden tracts of land to mining companies since 1990, recently generating about $1 billion a year for federal coffers. Coal mining on federal land accounts for two-fifths of the 1 billion tons of coal mined every year in the U.S. Less coal is being burned in the U.S. these days, but it still produces about 40 percent of the nation's electricity. Meanwhile, coal exports are growing.
Wildfires not only jeopardize lives and property. They also cause air pollution -- from planet-warming carbon dioxide to health-endangering soot and nitrogen oxides. This pollution can trigger hospital visits. It can also hamper agricultural output, and damage forests and other ecosystems.
This will be a particular problem in California, according to new research published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Scientists analyzed future climate and population scenarios for the state and forecast that air pollution from wildfires in California could increase by between 19 and 101 percent by the end of the century. They found that the worst effects will likely be experienced in Northern California, particularly in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and in the Klamath-Siskiyou region at Oregon's border.
Before today only Ecuador and Dominican Republic had included climate change in their constitutions.
Speaking to RTCC from Tunis, [Member of Parliament] Dhamir Mannai, who proposed the inclusion of a climate amendment, said legislators were concerned about the potential impacts a warming world could have on Tunisia.
“This opens the door for legislation for both the environment and climate protection,” he said.
“As MPs we wanted to tackle the issue head on, and then tackle it through climate legislation, and hopefully put us in a position where we can demand that other countries do the same.”
Retiring a coal power plant in North Carolina wasn't enough to prevent it from fucking up the environment.
Tens of thousands of tons of coal ash and tens of millions of gallons of polluted water have burst out of Duke Energy's shuttered Dan River Steam Station, severely soiling the Dan River -- a waterway popular with hikers, campers, fishing folks, and recreational boaters. The pollution can be seen miles downstream.
The power plant operated from 1949 until 2012, and the coal ash being stored on site was residue left behind after coal was burned. Coal ash contains poisonous heavy metals including arsenic, mercury, and lead. A state agency and environmentalists have been suing Duke in an effort to force it to clear out 14 such coal-ash dump sites across the state, including the one that just ruptured.
But Duke insisted that its dump sites were safe. Just last month, Duke spokeswoman Erin Culbert told the Asheville Citizen-Times that the utility was monitoring groundwater around its coal-ash storage sites to ensure that its neighbors are protected. She rejected environmentalists' calls for the coal-ash ponds to be cleaned up. "[S]pecial interest groups rely on emotion, not facts, to advance their mission to phase out coal," Culbert told the newspaper.
It gets worse.
"We are confident," Duke's general manager at the power plant told the EPA in a 2009 letter, "that each of our ash basin dams has the structural integrity necessary to protect the public and the environment."
We sure hope it felt nice to be so confident about that.
Specifics on the spill are still hard to come by, but it appears that a 48-inch stormwater pipe burst at the power plant, releasing enough ash from a 27-acre storage pond to fill 20 or 30 Olympic-sized swimming pools. According to company estimates, 50,000 to 82,000 tons of ash flowed into the river, along with 24 million to 27 million gallons of tainted water.
Members of Congress have been clamoring for months to undo one of the most ambitious pieces of climate-related legislation they ever passed. The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 would force coastal property owners to pay full market rates for their flood insurance. The law barely mentioned climate change, but it laid the groundwork for a more sane approach to building -- and rebuilding -- along increasingly disaster-prone coastlines and riverbanks.
Last Thursday, however, the Senate voted 67 to 32 to approve the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which would delay the phaseout of federally subsidized flood insurance by as many as four years. That would postpone flood-insurance hike shocks for Americans living in coastal and shoreline properties. But it would also mean that the federal government would continue to encourage homebuilding in vulnerable areas -- with taxpayers picking up the tab following inevitable inundations.
Floods get a lot of attention in our warming world. They can kill people and livestock, inundate crops, destroy infrastructure and homes -- and they make great photo ops. Less attention -- and less international aid -- is directed to victims of intense heat waves that are also linked to climate change.
But it is these heat waves that are most responsible when Pakistanis leave their villages, new research suggests.
Pakistan is a depressing climate case study because its residents are so vulnerable to global warming. The country is poor, it floods easily, and it can be hotter than hell (if your idea of hell is, say, Afghanistan, just to Pakistan's north).
Researchers analyzed weather records and 21 years worth of survey data of 522 households in rural Pakistan in an attempt to figure out which extreme weather phenomena might be driving villagers from their homes. Migration rates were rather low -- about 1 or 2 percent of residents left their villages during the 21 years. But when they did leave, the reason for the migration was often linked to a heat wave. Heat waves are worsening in the region as the climate changes.
There aren't many things bleaker than a soggy English winter, and this winter has really provided something for the Brits to whinge about.
Nearly six inches of rain fell on southern and central England in January, triggering floods and producing the heaviest monthly drenching since record-keeping began at an Oxford University weather station in 1767. And the mid-winter deluges have continued into these first few days of February.
Hitherto-unprecedented flooding such as this has been forecast to afflict the region as the climate changes.
Perhaps climate skeptics should be forced to walk the plank -- so they can feel for themselves where so much of the globe's extra heat is ending up.
The mainstream media repeatedly uttered the false but reassuring-sounding phrase "global warming pause" last year, a reference to an unexpected decline in the rate at which land temperatures have been recently warming, but meanwhile temperatures in the world's oceans were spiking.
Just check out this graph from NOAA, which shows the rise in the amount of energy in the top 2,300 feet (700 meters) of the world's oceans:
In the wee morning hours on Thursday, just a few days after Tesla had installed its 70th Supercharger (it's pretty much what it sounds like -- an electric-car charger that works super fast), a team of the company's employees departed from Los Angeles for an epic drive to New York City.