Tag: climate change

Billion dollar weather disasters piling up in early 2017

Freezes, fires and tornadoes caused significant regional economic harm in Jan.-March

Temperatures were well above average across two-thirds of the U.S. in March.

By Bob Berwyn

Tornadoes, wildfires, and blizzards during the second-warmest winter on record for the U.S. killed 37 people and caused an estimated $5.8 billion dollars in damage, according to the latest monthly update from federal climate trackers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It was the first time there were five billion-dollar extreme weather events during the January to March period, the National Centers for Environmental Information said in the state of the climate report released Thursday. The March 6-8 tornado outbreak in the Midwest was the costliest, at $1.5 billion. The damage from California rainstorms Feb. 8-22 amounted to $1 billion, the report says. Continue reading “Billion dollar weather disasters piling up in early 2017”

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March 2017 ends up as 2d-warmest on record for Earth

U.S. and northeastern Eurasia were the hot spots for the month

Surface air temperature anomaly for March 2017 relative to the March average for the period 1981-2010. Source: ERA-Interim. (Credit: ECMWF, Copernicus Climate Change Service)

Staff Report

There was no let-up in the years-long global heatwave last month, as March ended up being the second-warmest ever, just 0.10 degrees Celsius behind the record warmth of March 2016. According the European Copernicus Climate Change Service, February and March 2017 showed most significant warm anomaly since April 2016, when the mega El Niño was fading away. Continue reading “March 2017 ends up as 2d-warmest on record for Earth”

Global warming is bad news for coffee lovers

It may get harder to find that perfect espresso in our globally warmer future. @bberwyn photo.

Study shows how coffee plants suffer even during short heatwaves

Staff report

Heatwaves are becoming more common in a world warmed by heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution, and at some point in the not-too-distant future, that could spell bad news for your morning cup of wake-me-up.

Scientists with Oregon State University’s College of Forestry have showed that, when Coffea arabica plants were subjected to short-duration heat waves, they became unable to produce flowers and fruit. That means no coffee beans, and no coffee to drink.

C. arabica is the globe’s dominant coffee-plant species, accounting for 65 percent of the commercial production of the nearly 20 billion pounds of coffee consumed globally each year. The plants grow in 80 countries in four continents in the tropics. Continue reading “Global warming is bad news for coffee lovers”

Arapahoe Basin to host après-ski climate panel talk

April 8 session to focus on ‘nuts & bolts’ of global warming impacts

Dylan Berwyn carves fresh powder in the Alleys at Arapahoe Basin several years ago. @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

In an era marked by political attacks on science and deliberate lies about climate change from the highest levels of the U.S. government, including the president and the head of the EPA, it’s more important than ever for Americans to inform themselves with the best possible information about the impacts of global warming.

Skiers have as much to lose as anyone. Glaciers are shrinking everywhere, overall there is less  snow and winters are getting shorter at both ends, but especially in the spring. In a groundbreaking 2013 study, the U.S. Geological study found a 20 percent decline in Rocky Mountain snow cover since 1980.

Another research paper published just this year in meticulous Swiss fashion documented that the snow season has shortened by 37 days since 1970, with a 25 percent decline in the average maximum snow depth across the entire Swiss Alps, at all elevations. The researchers were surprised to find the decline even at the higher mountain weather stations close to famous resorts like Zermatt and Davos.

Skiers need to be part of the solution, not the problem, and the first step is having science-based information to inform your actions. To that end, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is hosting an April 8 climate science apres ski session featuring researchers who focus on snow, water and climate. The idea is to  address some of the common questions people have about climate change from a nuts and bolts science perspective. The panel will be moderated by ski area chief Alan Henceroth and Lindsay Bourgoine from Protect Our Winters. Continue reading “Arapahoe Basin to host après-ski climate panel talk”

EPA chief Pruitt facing two separate ethics investigations

New EPA administrator Scott Pruitt wants to undo rules to reduce harmful greenhouse gas pollution from coal-fired power plants like Craig Station in Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Anti-environmental agency head may have violated EPA policies and lied to Congress under oath

By Bob Berwyn

There’s little question that Scott Pruitt is the worst possible person to lead the EPA. He’s been involved in more than a dozen lawsuits against the agency and he’s called for it to be abolished completely, so it’s no surprise that he’s a target for bitter criticism from conservation groups. But his troubles are about to get much bigger than indignant tweets.

The Sierra Club has filed a formal complaint with the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency demonstrating that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has violated the Agency’s Scientific Integrity Policy in multiple ways. The filing calls for an investigation into and resolution of Pruitt’s comments on carbon dioxide’s role in fueling the climate crisis.

He’s also now facing an ethics complaint by the Oklahoma Bar Association, which will look at whether Pruitt lied under oath to Congress. Continue reading “EPA chief Pruitt facing two separate ethics investigations”

Conservation advocates start building legal resistance to Trump’s environmental wrecking crew

A surface coal mine in Wyoming. PHOTO COURTESY BLM.

Lawsuit aims to maintain moratorium on federal coal leasing based partly on climate impacts

By Bob Berwyn

As Trump’s sputtering political bulldozer takes aim at public lands, the environment and the climate, conservation advocates are preparing to throw up a few legal roadblocks that could delay for years implementation of the administration’s anti-environmental agenda. The battles Trump has unleashed will begin a new era of uncertainty for American energy companies, even as the market-driven shift to renewable energy continues.

The first lawsuit against the Trump administration’s attack on the environment has already been filed in U.S. District Court in Montana, where Earthjustice attorneys, on behalf of citizen conservation groups and communities, including Native Americans, are seeking to block Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s decision to repeal a coal mining moratorium on public lands. Continue reading “Conservation advocates start building legal resistance to Trump’s environmental wrecking crew”

Rising sea level causing groundwater floods in Hawaii

Rising sea level is pushing groundwater up and causing problems in Honolulu and Waikiki, pictured in a 2001 LandSat image via NASA’s Earth Observatory.

Study documents cesspool inundations with possible discharges of effluent to the environment

Staff report

Sea level rise caused by global warming may not be as obvious along the rugged and often steep coast of Hawaii as it is in low-lying areas like Holland, but it’s nonetheless going to present huge challenges in the decades ahead.

Scientists with the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (UHM) say much of  urban Honolulu and Waikiki face a threat of groundwater inundation, which is flooding that happens when rising sea level pushes groundwater above the ground surface. Continue reading “Rising sea level causing groundwater floods in Hawaii”