The Week in Climate Change

02/11—02/18/2019

Sean C. Davis
Feb 18, 2019 · 6 min read
Photo courtesy of the NASA Earth Observatory: “An enormous dust cloud snaked over Australia in mid-February 2019, carried toward the southeast by strong, dry winds. The dust reddened the skies over Sydney and turned air quality ‘hazardous’ over parts of New South Wales.“

Science/Effects

[T]he study estimates that eight shops in Annapolis saw about 3,000 fewer visitors and up to $172,000 less in revenue in 2017 when flooding closed the nearby parking lot.
An analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists finds that flood-prone areas in Annapolis, where the US Naval Academy is located, could be almost constantly under water by 2070. The roughly 50 floods a year could reach 400 floods a year by 2050. The so-called “nuisance flood” days have increased 925% in 50 years, according to the NOAA.

Since 1970, the longest annual streak of below-normal winter temperatures has gotten shorter in nearly all cities analyzed. Winter cold streaks trended at least one day shorter in 91 percent of our 244 cities, while trending at least one day longer in just two percent of cities. The average trend across cities was a reduction of nearly five days, with 45 locations seeing their cold streaks shorten by at least a week. Cities around the country — including Las Vegas, Topeka, St. Louis, and Philadelphia — were among those seeing the cold fade the most quickly.

Studies suggest these increases are more likely to be mainly biological in origin. However, the exact cause remains unclear. Some researchers believe the spread of intense farming in Africa may be involved, in particular in tropical regions where conditions are becoming warmer and wetter because of climate change. Rising numbers of cattle — as well as wetter and warmer swamps — are producing more and more methane, it is argued.

Politics

So the proposals to retrofit buildings, retool transportation and build a clean-energy system are simply ways of tackling the problem where it starts. They are public-works projects because large capital projects — especially ones that, like highways, involve widespread public benefit — have always required public money. They are jobs programs, unless robots do the work, so the jobs might as well be good.

“Millennials have been hearing for 20 years [that climate change would be an issue for their generation to deal with.] And I would say, thanks, we’re here now. This is us taking over the issue that, decades ago, people said would be ours to deal with. This is what the next generation of the issue looks like.”

As they consider how to plan for and react to future weather events, the governor and fellow politically conservative members of the South Carolina Floodwater Commission aren’t quite ready to accept the general consensus among scientists that pollution and other manmade factors are largely to blame for climate change.

The deal allows Dominion to recover from ratepayers the full cost of the project, estimated at $2.4 billion to $5.7 billion, including financing costs and a profit. Lawmakers estimate the project will add $5 to the monthly bills of average households for the next 15 to 20 years.

“It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come,” said Dean Naujoks, the Potomac Riverkeeper. “In 2014, Dominion was saying, ‘We’re going to cap all of this ash in place and drain the ponds.’ That was the original plan. “The fact that we were able to slow down the process and start advocating for other solutions like recycling, to finally see it come to fruition, is a big win for Virginia waterways.”

Building infrastructure is a big priority in the current Congress, despite its endless bickering, so perhaps a border industrial park could rally legislators. They just have to think differently about how to solve the border issue, Castillo says. “Don’t think of it as a barrier. Think of it as an energy corridor, a water corridor. It can create great opportunity for both countries. It can create peace.”

Energy

Sonnen distinguished itself in the early home-storage market, with thousands of units deployed across Germany, and a notable presence elsewhere in Europe, the U.S. and Australia. Besides storing solar power for homeowners, sonnen aggregates its installations into controllable networks of grid resources.

Driving the news: Coal exports brought in a record $66 billion (in Australian dollars) in export value last year, according to data from the government’s Bureau of Statistics released earlier this month.

The data also shows that coal surpassed iron ore to become the biggest export in Australia, one of the world’s largest exporters of fossil fuels and other resources.

At its meeting Thursday, the TVA board voted to retire both Kentucky’s Paradise coal-fired power plant and the Bull Run coal plant near Knoxville, Tennessee.

The extraordinary political pressure on the TVA also drew attention to the source of the coal burned at the Kentucky plant. Energy Information Agency data show most of the coal shipped to the Paradise plant during the first nine months of 2018 came from Kentucky mines that are part of Murray Energy Corp., which is led by coal baron and Trump supporter Robert E. Murray. Murray has pushed for a government-ordered bailout of coal.

Activism

“It’s just during these strikes that I am convinced we can actually make a difference.”

They are kindred spirits, Internet-savvy teenage girls who can recite the results of the latest U.N. climate report and take pride in seeing through what Alexandria calls “the veil of money and B.S.” that seems to stall so many adults.

Together, they debate strategy and discuss going vegan. On their strike days, they trade tweets littered with heart emoji and cheer as the walkouts expand.

Other

But, as Wallace-Wells points out, 800 million people are already food insecure, and thousands of people drown in floods (and die of asthma, and heat stroke, and forest fires). For me, this frequent reminder of the current baseline was one of the scariest parts of the book. Time’s slippery slowness prevents us from ever fully internalizing how much has already been made worse by climate change, causing us to discount an awfully large amount of harm and destruction as just a normal, unfortunate part of life. Eventually, climate change will just be the deadly water we all swim in, perhaps without even really noticing how much the temperature has changed.

The Week in Climate Change

All of the climate news, science and activism you need to know about from the previous week— all in one place.

Sean C. Davis

Written by

Writer and stuff- politics, social issues, climate change, activism, etc.

The Week in Climate Change

All of the climate news, science and activism you need to know about from the previous week— all in one place.

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