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Climate Change

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Why closing NYC's only nuclear power plant would be a really bad idea

Rawwwrrr! It's a progressive cat-fight! On the one side is New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who wants to shut down the Indian Point nuclear power plant on the Hudson River, just 25 miles north of the Bronx. On the other side is Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who thinks this would be a really crap idea, mostly because it would mean replacing fully a quarter of the power delivered to NYC with greenhouse-gas-emitting fossil fuel power plants. Also, it would probably lead to brownouts. Cuomo's reasoning is that the Indian Point plant happens to be right on top of an earthquake …

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It's gettin' (really, really) hot in here

Steve Scolnik at CapitalClimate analyzed the data from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center and found that U.S. heat records in June outnumbered cold records by 2,706 to 251 -- nearly 11 to one: Image: CapitalClimate I like the statistical aggregation across the country, since it gets us beyond the oft-repeated point that you can't pin any one record temperature on global warming. If you want to know how to judge whether the nearly 11 to one ratio is a big deal, see "Record high temperatures far outpace record lows across U.S." As for global temperatures, the anti-science crowd had been …

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Me, talking about the cost of the clean energy revolution [THRILLING VIDEO]

Yesterday, I appeared on The Alonya Show to discuss a U.N. report that says $1.9 trillion a year in incremental investment in clean energy will be necessary to avoid serious climate damage -- and to compare that sum with the amounts being spent on war. I'm afraid I was pretty depressing: Take-home lesson here: A fresh haircut and beard trim do not compensate for crappy lighting and a disheveled home office. No, wait, that's not right. The take-home lesson is that the cost of the clean energy revolution is not actually that big. It just sounds big because it's new; …

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Arizona's becoming a dust bowl, and this video of it will scare your pants off

You don't have to wait to find out what the American Southwest will look like when it becomes a permanent dust bowl, with unrelenting drought conditions worse than the 1930 disaster you know from cheery books like The Worst Hard Time. Just watch this video of what it’s like to drive into a "haboob," a.k.a. a gigantic dust storm often seen in the deserts of the Middle East -- hence its Arabic name. Continuing the planet's recent theme of "extreme weather is the new normal, puny ape-people," this haboob is right in line with scientists' predictions for what will happen to …

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Stock up on wine and bacon before climate change gets worse

Hippies have been fighting for awareness and action on global warming for a long time, but now yuppies and hipsters will have to join in. In the last week we've gotten news that bacon prices will soar and California wines will suffer due to inhospitable crop-growing conditions. It's one thing to live in a slowly crumbling world, but to live in it without bacon or wine? Now it's SERIOUS. Bacon: CNBC reports that bacon prices are set to soar this summer, prompting suggestions of a Strategic Bacon Reserve. It's a cascade of problems -- warming conditions (among other factors) mean shabby …

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Believing in climate change gets you votes

Here's good news if the phrase "President Bachmann" sends you into a twitching, frothing fit: For candidates on both sides of the aisle, the best vote-getting strategy is to take climate change seriously.  Republican voters don't really care whether you believe in climate change -- they were more likely to vote for a hypothetical candidate who made a green statement on climate (warming exists, humans caused it, and we need to take steps to end it) or a non-green statement. They just didn't like the wishy-washers who didn't state a position at all. So to win Republican votes, it suffices …

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Fox News takes credit for study that debunks climate skeptics

Fox News is patting itself on the back for "inspiring" a recent study showing that China's sulfur output has been masking the effects of global warming. It points to an interview that lead researcher Robert Kaufmann did with the BBC, where he said he looked into the issue because an old man told him Fox News said the planet was cooling. Hooray, Fox News got mentioned on a real news site! Break out the Confederate flag party hats! Too bad the rest of that article is about Kaufmann making that old man, and his Fox News overlords, look pretty silly indeed. …

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Warning: Climate change causes sun to jerk off

Have we considered the possibility that rising global temperatures are less about greenhouse gases, more about the sun really, REALLY enjoying heatin' stuff up? USA Today has! Forget solar storms, what we should really be worried about is solar onanism. UPDATE: USA Today is so proud of this image that they put a nice high-quality version on their site! Enjoy.

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How China accidentally geoengineered the climate

Between 2003 and 2007, China burned so much coal that it increased global consumption of the stuff 25 percent. That put so much sulfur into the air that it more or less literally (temporarily) blotted out the sun, masking some of the global warming that otherwise would have occurred during the first decade of the 21st century. Deliberately putting sulfur into the atmosphere has been proposed as a means of “geoengineering” Earth’s climate, in order to cool the planet temporarily while we figure out a way to get off all these carbon-rich fossil fuels. So, in a way, China’s gigantic …

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Critical List: Oil spills into Yellowstone River; Americans are driving less

42,000 gallons of Exxon oil spilled into the Yellowstone River in Montana over the weekend. Regulators had warned the company that the pipe wasn't safe. The river's particularly high, which isn't helping clean-up. Atmospheric pollution from China's coal use temporarily masked global warming: sulfur particulates reflected more light back into space, keeping the planet’s temperature from rising too fast. But over time the carbon dioxide released from the coal will push temperatures upwards. Coney Island's existential crisis: New York City wants to replace the boardwalk's unsustainable rainforest wood boards with concrete. Opponents complain that “Under the Concretewalk” doesn’t have the …