March 15 2018

March 15 2018

The future of fruits and nuts, controlling emissions, climate migration in America, the Redwood genome

Grist reviews the growth and status of the Climate Solutions Caucus of the House of Representatives, a bipartisan caucus that Democrats can only join if they bring a Republican member. Now that it has grown to 70 members, some are suggesting that this is becoming a green-washing exercise for the Republican members rather than a serious effort to advance carbon-pricing legislation (many base these suggestions on the recent analysis of voting records in the 2017 National Environmental Scorecard produced by the League of Conservation Voters). However, the Citizen’s Climate Lobby notes that there is a lot of work being conducted “behind the scenes,” and the voting scores of the Republican members of the caucus show improvement. The New York Times profiles Debbie Dooley, a tea party Republican and Trump supporter who is an influential advocate for renewable energy and climate action.

The Washington Post reports on the challenge signatories are having in meeting their pledges under the Paris Accord. Deforestation is on the rise in Brazil, US emissions are creeping up for the first time after three years, and other countries are struggling to meet their pledges. Unfortunately, it is clear that the pledges made are too modest to achieve the Accord’s goals.

The Washington Post reports on the project to study the genome of redwoods and sequoias that will help management decisions enhance the genetic diversity of these forests. It’s a big job, as redwoods contain over 10 times as much DNA as humans. The Los Angeles Times reports on a new USGS study that concludes salt marshes in California will mostly disappear in the next 100 years as they are squeezed between a rising sea on one side and urban development on the other.

In a Union of Concerned Scientists blog post, Dr. Jeremy Richardson explains the real problems driving the decline of coal and the need for a just transition for coal miners and their communities (Jeremy knows his stuff, as there are many coal miners in his family). The post includes an excellent short video as well. Inside Climate News has a detailed article about the rise of climate denial, noting how a movement fostered by the oil industry now operates in open conflict with the industry while being highly influential in the Trump administration. In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Scott Pruitt makes clear that his Christian faith rather than science is driving his approach as EPA administrator.

The Washington Post reports on recent sea level rise science, including an analysis that concludes for every five years that we continue to put off strong action on climate change, the ocean could rise an additional eight inches by the year 2300. The article also notes that new measurements confirm an accelerating loss of ice in western Antarctica, thought to be the most vulnerable portion of the ice sheet.

Meanwhile, an article at Inside Climate News summarizes a new report that underscores the growing vulnerability of defense installations to sea level rise. The Center for Climate and Security reports that 200 domestic installations surveyed in a recent Defense Department assessment experienced flooding by storm surges, compared to about 30 in 2008. The San Francisco Chronicle reports on a recent study that concludes that due to land subsidence many parts of the Bay Area will experience a faster relative rate of sea level rise. This problem is particularly acute in areas that are built on fill that continues to settle, including San Francisco International Airport and Foster City.

Rolling Stone has an excellent article Welcome to the Age of Climate Migration that focuses on the realities of climate impacts in Houston, New Orleans, Miami, and Phoenix. This is a thoughtful (and sobering) analysis of the cost of climate disruption in these communities, which cannot even meet the current demands for infrastructure maintenance and improvements. The author also investigates the inevitable impacts of migration on cities with more moderate climates (i.e., Asheville, NC; Seattle, WA; Madison, WI).

Inside Climate News reviews how the northern polar jet stream appears to be changing as the arctic warms, and the implications of these changes. The New York Times reports on the very cold weather in Europe and parts of North America, colder than the temperatures at the north pole. These temperature distributions may be more likely because of the warming of the arctic.

KQED Science reviews a recent study that projects climate change will have major impacts on California’s agricultural production, and consequently on national food security (California produces over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts). The California Natural Resources Agency released a 2018 update to its Safeguarding California Plan. The Plan describes 69 recommendations across 11 sectors and more than 1,000 ongoing actions agencies are taking to protect communities, infrastructure, services, and the natural environment from climate change impacts.