I’m going to do all this reading and research anyway… might as well share what I learn!
NEWS
+
VIEWS
June 15 2021

climate tipping points underlie emergency declaration, recycled wastewater’s growing importance, the popemobile goes electric, buildings as batteries

An article in Grist examines the key rationale for the scientific conclusion that we are facing a climate emergency: the planet is approaching "climate tipping points," where small changes in global temperature can kick off reinforcing loops that ‘tip’ the climate into a profoundly different state – accelerating heat waves, permafrost thaw and coastal flooding. These effects can themselves then produce more warming. Examples include the slowing of the great Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (of which the Gulf Stream is a part), and the melting of ice in Greenland that lowers the elevation of the ice sheet, exposing it to warmer air that then accelerates melting even more. Another area of significant concern is the warming of permafrost and northern (or boreal) forest ecosystems, where higher temperatures allow for decay in soils that were perennially frozen, turning these ecosystems into producers of carbon dioxide and methane. Warmer temperatures also fuel fires in the boreal forests that produce carbon dioxide and soot that further heat the planet.

There are indications, however, that at least some of these cycles could be interrupted. For example, as boreal forests burn they are being replaced by a forest composed of different species that grow quickly and may eventually store more carbon than the original forest. Most importantly, we may reach a "social tipping point," where people conclude that fossil-fuel use is immoral and human society transitions more quickly than expected. In this context, Al Gore’s formulation of Dornbusch’s law is worth remembering: "Things take longer to happen than you think they will, but then they happen much faster than you thought they could…"

read more
May 31 2021

multi-year drought in the West, longer fire and hurricane season, importance of electric F-150 pickup, lithium mining, growth of offshore-wind industry

An article in the New York Times discusses the deep, multi-year drought in the Southwestern U.S. and the concomitant severe fire season that is threatening the region. In the first four months of 2021, the area burned in Arizona already equaled that burned in 2020. The author notes that climate change has altered precipitation patterns across the Southwest, drying out soil and vegetation. The Los Angeles Times argues that this is not a drought, but rather our new climate, stating "the years of steady and predictable water flow are over, and there is no sign of them coming back in our lifetimes. This is it. We have to build, and grow, and legislate, and consume for the world as it is, not as we may remember it." An op-ed in the New York Times compares the construction and filling of Lake Mead with its subsequent drying out, suggesting that the limits of human engineering are forcing their way into the consciousness of our society.

Inside Climate News describes the impact of the drought in California’s Central Valley. Particularly hard hit are poor communities in the Tulare and San Joaquin basins, where groundwater pumping to maintain agricultural production has lowered the water table, resulting in shallower drinking-water wells going dry. There is also more reliance on groundwater that is contaminated by nitrates and other pollutants.

California must adjust to the fire season beginning in May, given the Palisades Fire that erupted on May 14 in Southern California (possibly the result of arson). The New York Times notes that Californians should be bracing for a serious fire season. Last month was the driest April in Sacramento since official record keeping began in 1877, and the snowpack in the Sierras currently contains just 5% of historical norms. The AP reports that a giant sequoia in the path of last year’s Castle Fire continues to smolder this spring, another indicator of how dry the winter has been…

read more

IN BRIEF: PAST
CLIMATE NEWS

MORE MY TAKES
 

NEWS
+
VIEWS
I’m going to do all this reading and research anyway… might as well share what I learn!
June 15 2021

climate tipping points underlie emergency declaration, recycled wastewater’s growing importance, the popemobile goes electric, buildings as batteries

An article in Grist examines the key rationale for the scientific conclusion that we are facing a climate emergency: the planet is approaching "climate tipping points," where small changes in global temperature can kick off reinforcing loops that ‘tip’ the climate into a profoundly different state – accelerating heat waves, permafrost thaw and coastal flooding. These effects can themselves then produce more warming. Examples include the slowing of the great Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (of which the Gulf Stream is a part), and the melting of ice in Greenland that lowers the elevation of the ice sheet, exposing it to warmer air that then accelerates melting even more. Another area of significant concern is the warming of permafrost and northern (or boreal) forest ecosystems, where higher temperatures allow for decay in soils that were perennially frozen, turning these ecosystems into producers of carbon dioxide and methane. Warmer temperatures also fuel fires in the boreal forests that produce carbon dioxide and soot that further heat the planet.

There are indications, however, that at least some of these cycles could be interrupted. For example, as boreal forests burn they are being replaced by a forest composed of different species that grow quickly and may eventually store more carbon than the original forest. Most importantly, we may reach a "social tipping point," where people conclude that fossil-fuel use is immoral and human society transitions more quickly than expected. In this context, Al Gore’s formulation of Dornbusch’s law is worth remembering: "Things take longer to happen than you think they will, but then they happen much faster than you thought they could…"

read more
May 31 2021

multi-year drought in the West, longer fire and hurricane season, importance of electric F-150 pickup, lithium mining, growth of offshore-wind industry

An article in the New York Times discusses the deep, multi-year drought in the Southwestern U.S. and the concomitant severe fire season that is threatening the region. In the first four months of 2021, the area burned in Arizona already equaled that burned in 2020. The author notes that climate change has altered precipitation patterns across the Southwest, drying out soil and vegetation. The Los Angeles Times argues that this is not a drought, but rather our new climate, stating "the years of steady and predictable water flow are over, and there is no sign of them coming back in our lifetimes. This is it. We have to build, and grow, and legislate, and consume for the world as it is, not as we may remember it." An op-ed in the New York Times compares the construction and filling of Lake Mead with its subsequent drying out, suggesting that the limits of human engineering are forcing their way into the consciousness of our society.

Inside Climate News describes the impact of the drought in California’s Central Valley. Particularly hard hit are poor communities in the Tulare and San Joaquin basins, where groundwater pumping to maintain agricultural production has lowered the water table, resulting in shallower drinking-water wells going dry. There is also more reliance on groundwater that is contaminated by nitrates and other pollutants.

California must adjust to the fire season beginning in May, given the Palisades Fire that erupted on May 14 in Southern California (possibly the result of arson). The New York Times notes that Californians should be bracing for a serious fire season. Last month was the driest April in Sacramento since official record keeping began in 1877, and the snowpack in the Sierras currently contains just 5% of historical norms. The AP reports that a giant sequoia in the path of last year’s Castle Fire continues to smolder this spring, another indicator of how dry the winter has been…

read more

IN BRIEF: PAST
CLIMATE NEWS

MORE MY TAKES