I’m going to do all this reading and research anyway… might as well share what I learn!
NEWS
+
VIEWS
March 31 2021

solving the climate crisis pays for itself, the growth of offshore wind, reality of sea level rise strikes North Carolina, the enormous carbon footprint of food waste, University of Michigan divests from fossil fuels

The Guardian reports on a study that documents the pervasive and deadly impact of air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels. Globally, the death toll from fossil-fuel burning exceeds the combined total of people who die each year from malaria and smoking tobacco. These effects derive mainly from the impact of PM2.5 — the particles produced by combustion that are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller. These particles, once inhaled, lodge in the lungs and can cause a variety of health problems. An article in Grist argues that the Centers for Disease Control should add a code to its official list of causes of death that can be used to identify air-pollution fatalities, as one does not currently exist. In another article, the Guardian documents how the fossil-fuel industry understood the impacts of particulates and fossil-fuel combustion products. However, just like in the case of tobacco and climate change, the industry hid its knowledge and attempted to sow doubt in the public sphere about the health impacts. The costs to health from fossil fuels are so large that eliminating them by transitioning to renewable energy will more than pay for the costs associated with the transition (in other words, saving ourselves from the climate crisis pays for itself).

Yale e360 examines the growth of the offshore-wind industry in the U.S. Several large wind farms are under construction off the Atlantic coast from Rhode Island to Virginia, and these will begin generating large amounts of electricity in the next few years (a blog post from the Union of Concerned Scientists provides an update on the Vineyard Wind project in Massachusetts, one of the first major offshore projects that is set to be approved by the Biden Administration). As the industry has matured (particularly from experience in Northern Europe), costs have come down, and state policies for purchasing renewable electricity have contributed to solid projections of future demand. Thousands of jobs are being created, and this corps of workers will expand as the industry spreads south along the Atlantic coast, where strong winds and relatively shallow offshore waters combine to create excellent conditions for wind power…

read more
March 15 2021

possible slowdown of major Atlantic currents, major drought in western U.S. continues, emission-reduction commitments must be more ambitious, mob grazing, plugging abandoned oil and gas wells

The Washington Post reports on a major recent study of key indicators suggesting that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC, which includes the more famous Gulf Stream current) is slowing down. This change in physical oceanography has long been predicted by climate scientists and, if this trend continues, it will have profound implications for the climate of northern Europe (it will get colder) and the temperature and height of the sea along North America (these will go up). It could possibly also lead to stronger Atlantic hurricanes and less precipitation in already water-stressed parts of Africa. Since the AMOC has only been measured directly since 2004, this study relies on proxies for the current (such as the types of microscopic organisms found in ocean sediments of different ages). The study looked at 11 proxies, 9 of which are varying in a manner consistent with a slowing of the AMOC. In addition, the appearance over the last decade of a colder region south of Greenland is also consistent with a slowing of this major ocean current. It should be noted that some oceanographers are less convinced by proxy data, especially when used to make conclusions about relatively short-term phenomena, and are thus withholding judgement on whether the AMOC is slowing. The New York Times also examines this issue in an article that includes superb animations of the circulation in the Atlantic.

The California Water Blog notes that the state appears to be heading into a multi-year drought, as our current winter is shaping up to be a dry one (more in the Guardian). Drought conditions are also growing more extreme in the Colorado River basin, with drought contingency plans being activated as major water reservoirs are at less than half of capacity. Soils in the basin are so dry that, even with a large snowpack this year, river flows will still remain below normal (an article in the New Republic examines the very difficult negotiations facing the states that depend upon the Colorado River). The Washington Post notes that, despite individual wetter years, we remain in the grips of a major drought persisting across the last few decades (researchers recently concluded that “2000 to 2018 was the driest 19-year span since the late 1500s and the second driest since 800 CE”). Climate change is contributing to this with early spring snowmelt, hotter and drier summers and warming winters all acting to exacerbate drought conditions…

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!
March 31 2021

solving the climate crisis pays for itself, the growth of offshore wind, reality of sea level rise strikes North Carolina, the enormous carbon footprint of food waste, University of Michigan divests from fossil fuels

The Guardian reports on a study that documents the pervasive and deadly impact of air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels. Globally, the death toll from fossil-fuel burning exceeds the combined total of people who die each year from malaria and smoking tobacco. These effects derive mainly from the impact of PM2.5 — the particles produced by combustion that are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller. These particles, once inhaled, lodge in the lungs and can cause a variety of health problems. An article in Grist argues that the Centers for Disease Control should add a code to its official list of causes of death that can be used to identify air-pollution fatalities, as one does not currently exist. In another article, the Guardian documents how the fossil-fuel industry understood the impacts of particulates and fossil-fuel combustion products. However, just like in the case of tobacco and climate change, the industry hid its knowledge and attempted to sow doubt in the public sphere about the health impacts. The costs to health from fossil fuels are so large that eliminating them by transitioning to renewable energy will more than pay for the costs associated with the transition (in other words, saving ourselves from the climate crisis pays for itself).

Yale e360 examines the growth of the offshore-wind industry in the U.S. Several large wind farms are under construction off the Atlantic coast from Rhode Island to Virginia, and these will begin generating large amounts of electricity in the next few years (a blog post from the Union of Concerned Scientists provides an update on the Vineyard Wind project in Massachusetts, one of the first major offshore projects that is set to be approved by the Biden Administration). As the industry has matured (particularly from experience in Northern Europe), costs have come down, and state policies for purchasing renewable electricity have contributed to solid projections of future demand. Thousands of jobs are being created, and this corps of workers will expand as the industry spreads south along the Atlantic coast, where strong winds and relatively shallow offshore waters combine to create excellent conditions for wind power…

read more
March 15 2021

possible slowdown of major Atlantic currents, major drought in western U.S. continues, emission-reduction commitments must be more ambitious, mob grazing, plugging abandoned oil and gas wells

The Washington Post reports on a major recent study of key indicators suggesting that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC, which includes the more famous Gulf Stream current) is slowing down. This change in physical oceanography has long been predicted by climate scientists and, if this trend continues, it will have profound implications for the climate of northern Europe (it will get colder) and the temperature and height of the sea along North America (these will go up). It could possibly also lead to stronger Atlantic hurricanes and less precipitation in already water-stressed parts of Africa. Since the AMOC has only been measured directly since 2004, this study relies on proxies for the current (such as the types of microscopic organisms found in ocean sediments of different ages). The study looked at 11 proxies, 9 of which are varying in a manner consistent with a slowing of the AMOC. In addition, the appearance over the last decade of a colder region south of Greenland is also consistent with a slowing of this major ocean current. It should be noted that some oceanographers are less convinced by proxy data, especially when used to make conclusions about relatively short-term phenomena, and are thus withholding judgement on whether the AMOC is slowing. The New York Times also examines this issue in an article that includes superb animations of the circulation in the Atlantic.

The California Water Blog notes that the state appears to be heading into a multi-year drought, as our current winter is shaping up to be a dry one (more in the Guardian). Drought conditions are also growing more extreme in the Colorado River basin, with drought contingency plans being activated as major water reservoirs are at less than half of capacity. Soils in the basin are so dry that, even with a large snowpack this year, river flows will still remain below normal (an article in the New Republic examines the very difficult negotiations facing the states that depend upon the Colorado River). The Washington Post notes that, despite individual wetter years, we remain in the grips of a major drought persisting across the last few decades (researchers recently concluded that “2000 to 2018 was the driest 19-year span since the late 1500s and the second driest since 800 CE”). Climate change is contributing to this with early spring snowmelt, hotter and drier summers and warming winters all acting to exacerbate drought conditions…

read more

IN BRIEF: PAST
CLIMATE NEWS

MORE MY TAKES