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Storms a brewin'

Global warming will spawn severe storms and tornados, reports NASA

We have known for a while that global warming is making our weather more extreme, especially extreme heat, drought, heavy rainfall, and flooding. Now we have more predictions: NASA scientists have developed a new climate model that indicates that the most violent severe storms and tornadoes may become more common as Earth's climate warms. Perhaps that is why we have been setting records for tornados lately. This is especially bad news for this country because, as the study notes: "The central/east U.S. experiences the most severe thunderstorms and tornadoes on Earth." The full study, "Will moist convection be stronger in …

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U.N. climate meeting ends with a whole lotta nothin’

We are psychic, if we do say so ourselves. As leaders from 158 countries gathered this week at a U.N.-convened meeting to discuss post-Kyoto Protocol climate targets, we claimed doubt that anything of substance would come out of it. And voila! Deadlock and vagueness abounded. The E.U. and developing nations pushed for an indication that industrialized countries should be guided by a goal of reducing emissions 25 to 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2020; countries including Canada, Japan, and Russia opposed such approaching-strong language, and the final version of negotiations stated that such numbers provide "useful initial parameters for …

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Taking the measure of measurement

Is climate change an artifact of computer models?

Electric Politics has an audio interview on measuring climate change that might be of interest to many here. Here's the intro: The main knock against anthropogenic climate change -- more or less unchanged since the 1980s -- is that a cabal of cunning computer modelers have managed to dupe, co-opt, bamboozle, or intimidate climate scientists into believing fantastic, yet unsubstantiated, allegations. Recently put forward by the redoubtable Freeman Dyson, this critique also, unfortunately, picks up a certain amount of support in the progressive community. To help dispel these arguments and the confusion they still cause, I turned to Dr. Chris …

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Eye on the storm

Thoughts on Chris Mooney’s Storm World

I recently finished Chris Mooney's great new book Storm World. There have been lots of reviews (see Chris's blog for a pretty complete list), so I won't write another one here. Instead, I thought I would highlight the part I particularly appreciated, and what I think needed more emphasis in the book. First, the high point: The book does a great job of detailing the turbulent interface between knowledge and ignorance where science operates. Science is a contact sport, and it is not for the faint of heart. New ideas, especially bold ones, have to survive in the crucible of …

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U.S. aims to map mineral-rich Arctic seafloor

Update on the race to despoil the Arctic: This week, U.S. Coast Guard researchers set out on their third venture since 2003 to map the mineral-rich Arctic seafloor. There's a lot to be learned about the watery depths; overall, maps of Mars are about 250 times better than maps of the ocean floor. The U.S. is eager to identify underwater mountains and caverns so we'll know just where to stick our drills when global warming finally gets to doing something useful for a change: if current trends continue, the Arctic could be ice-free in summer by 2040. Russia, Denmark, Norway, …

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Aspen, Colo., unveils its own carbon-offsetting program

Aspen, Colo., home of many insanely rich folk, has become the first municipality in the nation to sell its very own brand of carbon offsets. check out the offsets: <a href="

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Climate change could cause more flooding than currently predicted, says research

Do you like news of the "If you thought you were screwed, it's even worse!" variety? Then with no further ado: a new study in Nature suggests that climate change brings a higher risk of flooding than previously thought. Researchers say that current predictions overlook the fact that rising levels of carbon dioxide decrease plants' ability to suck up water from the ground and release the excess into the atmosphere. On the bright side, "It means that increases in drought due to climate change could be less severe as plants lose less water," says researcher Richard Betts. "On the other …

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Editorial vs. news

The Wall Street Journal contradicts itself on global warming

The Wall Street Journal is universally admired among journalists for its news and analysis; for its editorial page, not so much. A spectacular example of the latter's ability to mislead appeared yesterday, under the cute title Not So Hot, in which the anonymous editorializers adroitly attacked NASA, environmentalists, climate change models, and climatologists James Hansen and Gavin Schmidt over a statistically insignificant data correction. The misleading editorial was rewarded with great popularity, as the piece was the second-most emailed of the day, right after a feature on beer pong. But interestingly, two weeks ago the number-crunchers at the WSJ ran …

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China’s one-child policy reduces population, helps climate

Perhaps a wee bit sensitive about being vilified for its excessive impact on climate change, China has pointed out that its one-child policy, instituted in the late 1970s, has kept 300 million consumers off of the planet.

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The solar power you don't hear about

Solar thermal power deserves more attention, due to its lower cost and relative ease of storage

Solar thermal power is back! Solar thermal gets less attention than its sexier cousin -- high-tech photovoltaics -- but has two big advantages. First, it is much cheaper than PV. Second, it captures energy in a form that is much easier to store -- heat -- typically with mirrored surfaces that concentrate sunlight onto a receiver that heats a liquid (which is then used to make steam to drive a turbine). Back in the 1980s, Luz International was the sole commercial developer of U.S. solar thermal electric projects. The company built nine solar plants, totaling 355 MW of capacity, in …

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