March 2008 sets global land temperature for Earth

I am posting this news because the winter of 2007-8 has been colder than normal in the United States, and once again some people are confusing the weather with climate, and in an irritatingly parochial way confusing the United States with the world.

Low temperatures and heavy snow in the United States and Europe were more than offset by high temperatures in Asia. The area of snow coverage in North America and Europe was the most extensive on record. Nevertheless, warm temperatures in March in Europe led to rapid snow melt. In Europe snow coverage for March was the lowest on record — the change was extreme.

In the United States, “Only Rhode Island, New Mexico and Arizona were warmer than average, while near-average temperatures occurred in 39 other states. The monthly temperature for Alaska was the 17th warmest on record, with an average temperature 3.8°F above the 1971-2000 mean.”

Global Land Temperature Warmest On Record In March 2008. Science Daily.

Bush’s recent climate speech, annotated

President Bush recently gave a speech announcing a new and friendlier Administration policy on climate change, or at least it was presented that way.

Closer analysis shows the speech had a lot of problems.

The [Annotated] Climate Speech. By Andrew C. Revkin. New York Times.

Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post was not impressed either. White House watch: Bush’s Third Climate-Change Fake-Out.

Posted in Climate change, politics. Tags: , . Comments Off on Bush’s recent climate speech, annotated

Three polar bears wander into town hundreds of miles south of their normal range

Grizzly bears are showing up in the high arctic and polar bears wandering south of the Arctic Circle.

These 3 starving polar bears were shot when they discovered food in a village far inland.

Lost polar bears hit NWT town. Animals’ arrival hundreds of kilometres south of habitat seen as sign of climate change. By Katherine O’Neil. The Globe and Mail.

British Columbia pine beetle infestation impacting salmon runs

Pine beetle infestation impacting salmon runs. Derrick Penner, Vancouver Sun.

Just a reminder to those politicians and others who say we need a rapid plan to save the pines in Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, etc. The pine beetle infestation covers the pine forests from Alaska south to northern New Mexico. It will have varying impacts such as the salmon story above throughout the entire Rocky Mountains and many adjacent mountain ranges. No statewide or local program can save them, and in many places most are dead already.

Note: I am not speaking of pine in a generic sense (not to mean conifer). I mean lodgepole pine, white pine, whitebark pine, etc.

Giant Antarctic ice shelf breaks into the sea . . . more collapse to follow

Giant Antarctic ice shelf breaks into the sea. UK Guardian. By Claire Truscott and agencies

Photo of collapse from National Geographic News.

Glaciers Are Melting Faster Than Expected, UN Reports

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In a Warmer Yellowstone Park, a Shifting Environmental Balance

In a Warmer Yellowstone Park, a Shifting Environmental Balance By Jim Robbins. New York Times.

This is really about the spread in the Lamar Valley of what is usually regarded as a noxious weed (I certainly hate it) — the Canada thistle. It seems grizzly bears and pocket gophers love it, and the griz, ever in search of new sources of food, have learned to love Canada thistle. They eat it both fresh and stored (with the industrious pocket gophers mixed in for a little extra protein and fat).

With global warming, pythons! could squeeze lower third of USA

Pythons could squeeze lower third of USA. USA Today. By Elizabeth Weise

Corn Fuel = CO2 Emissions

The latest Science Magazine shows that certain biofuels (especially corn-based) make climate change even worse. They do not help fix it.

Story in New West. Corn Fuel = CO2 Emissions. By Richard Martin.

Posted in Climate change. Tags: , . Comments Off on Corn Fuel = CO2 Emissions

Energy saving seen most effective in CO2 cutting

People argue over coal versus wind, versus solar versus nuclear, but the least cost source of new energy is greater efficiciency of use. This isn’t really a brand new finding. It has been known since the 1970s. It may seem new to decision-makers, however, who out of ignorance or intent, choose to focus only on generating more energy.

Energy saving seen most effective in CO2 cutting. Reuters.

Climate Change Impacts More Than Glacier’s Glaciers

Grizzly found in polar bear country

A grizzly bear has been found in what is polar bear country, and he is thriving.

Folks may recall that about a year ago a hunter shot a grizzly/polar bear hybrid.

This may be yet another effect of the rapid warming at the poles.

Story in the Edmonton Journal. Ed Struzik. Grizzly found in polar bear country.

Posted in Bears, Climate change. Tags: , . Comments Off on Grizzly found in polar bear country

In Yellowstone, drought’s effects are both startling and subtle

Record Warm Summers Cause Extreme Ice Melt In Greenland

Record Warm Summers Cause Extreme Ice Melt In Greenland. Science Daily.

Despite debate about reducing CO2 emissions, I think it is politically impossible. Humans are not capable of organizing themselves to do it. Self interest, denial, nationalism, religion, and too many other human organizational factors are in the way. At any rate, reducing emission growth is not enough. Almost all the predictions have not been negative enough, with actual observations soon outrunning even the pessimistic side of the predictions.

The absolute amount of CO2 is the atmosphere must not only soon stop going up, it must be reduced from current levels. The only thing that could do this is some invention. There are some possibilities.

Otherwise, human civilization is doomed and maybe the species itself.

Posted in Climate change. Tags: . Comments Off on Record Warm Summers Cause Extreme Ice Melt In Greenland

Climate change threatens wolverines. Glacier NP is a refuge

As snow depth diminishes, the deep snows of the mountains become more crucial for wolverines because they need the snow in the  high bowls for denning.

With the coming of high powered snowmobiles much of this country has already been damaged. A five-year study of Glacier NP, where these machines are not allowed shows that its deep winters snows are a critical remnant of denning habitat.

Story in the Great Falls Tribune. By Eric Newhouse.

Critics hit bill on bark beetles. Senator Barrasso’s forest bill claims called ‘dishonest.’

Earlier I posted about Wyoming US Senator John Barrasso’s “Wyoming Forest and Watershed Restoration Act of 2007” which would allow the state of Wyoming to subcontract US Forest Service lands to timber companies with the notion that this would somehow stop the beetle epidemic that is sweeping the state (actually sweeping most of the Rocky Mountains states and Provinces).

It continues to get negative media coverage. Critics hit bill on bark beetles. Barrasso’s forest bill claims called ‘dishonest.’  Jackson Hole News and Guide. By Noah Brenner.

Barrasso’s move is, sadly enough, typical of a number important political and economic leaders. They use our growing situation of planetary distress as a great way to advance their personal objectives — all the morality of maggot.

Posted in Bison, Climate change, Logging, public lands management, Trees Forests. Tags: , . Comments Off on Critics hit bill on bark beetles. Senator Barrasso’s forest bill claims called ‘dishonest.’

Nation’s Largest Sitka Spruce Dies In Oregon Storm

The largest Sitka Spruce broke off in the latest severe storm to hit Oregon. This article tells of it and what happened with things that affect the environment during its 700 year life, e.g., it was a sapling when The Plague struck Europe.
Story. New West. By Joseph Friedrichs

Added. Related from the Oregonian. Big, wet storms may become new ‘normal’. Global warming – Faster-than-expected tropical expansion could bring more tempests to the Northwest By Michael Milstein.

Added. More on more rain in the Pacific Northwest. Climate change could mean more massive downpours. By Lisa Stiffler and Tom Paulson. Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporters.

Study: Climate change will endanger trout.

“. . . fish die-offs and fishing closures in Yellowstone and Montana as a probable sign that global warming is already affecting trout populations”

This is from today’s Jackson Hole News and Guide. Study: Climate change will endanger trout. By Corey Hatch.

First-ever ‘State Of The Carbon Cycle Report’ Finds Troubling Imbalance

Sadly many carbon sinks (natural processes that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere) appear to be turning into carbon sources. The effect of this is to increase the rate of increase of carbon dioxide in the air — a positive feedback, the kind of thing that causes system to spin out of control and change irreversibly. In other words, the the opposite of a thermostat, the well known simple negative feedback mechanical device installed to keep temperatures within a certain range.

“State of the Carbon Cycle Report” for North America not does have good news. Science Daily

Posted in Climate change. Tags: , . Comments Off on First-ever ‘State Of The Carbon Cycle Report’ Finds Troubling Imbalance

Professor: Fires in West will worsen

WASHINGTON — A Montana expert testified Thursday that climate change will increase and intensify wildfires, while members of Congress and U.S. Forest Service officials grappled with how to pay for the increased costs of fire suppression

Story: Professor: Fires in West will worsen. By Noelle Straub. Casper Star-Tribune Washington bureau.

This should be obvious, but it isn’t.

Some people will want to argue that we can’t say because global warming isn’t real. Regardless, the critical fact is this: conifers, especially pine, are already dead and are dying at unprecedented rates in the northern Rockies, B.C. and Alberta.

They are burning, and they are going to burn every summer that is not unusually wet. Thinning them is too late now, and often useless anyway, even if there was enough money.

This means that almost every summer is going to be awful smoky in Montana and other places that are downwind of large forest areas.

My advice to anyone with property in these areas is to unload it now before potential buyers figure this out. Move to a cleaner place like a city far from the forests.

This will not go down well, and one of those who will have to adjust to this new reality is Plum Creek Timber, which is trying to become mostly a real estate company that will sell land in “the fire plain.” Timber Giant Takes a Hit: Plum Creek’s Risky Businesses. By Myers Reece, Flathead Beacon (republished in New West).

CA fires not global warming related, but northern Rockies fires are

California fires get caught up in global warming debate. By Rocky Barker. The same scientist who attributes the back-to-back big fire seasons in Idaho and the Northern Rockies as signs of human-induced climate change says the fires in California are not.

Posted in Climate change, wildfire. Tags: , , . Comments Off on CA fires not global warming related, but northern Rockies fires are

California’s age of megafires: Drought, housing expansion, and oversupply of tinder make for bigger, hotter fires

California’s age of megafires. Drought, housing expansion, and oversupply of tinder make for bigger, hotter fires. By Daniel B. Wood. Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor.

Many factors behind the current California wildlfires are similar to those last summer in Idaho and Montana, except, of course, the sprawl into the “fire plain” is worse, and I haven’t head about a role of any invasive species like cheatgrass.

White House edits Center for Disease Control climate testimony

More political manipulation of science by the Bushies.

White House edits CDC climate testimony. By H. Josef Hebert. AP Writer

Global Warming Delusions at the Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal frequently runs articles that are skeptical about anthropogenic climate change or skeptical whether climate change will make much of a difference to anyone.

In years past, prestigious newspapers like the WSJ could just ignore their critics (as could the New York Times and the Washington Post)

Now scientists who represent another view, in this case the main stream view which business as usual hopes is not so, don’t have to confine their objections to obscure journals available only in hard copy at libraries.

Now climatologists can reply in a very frequently read blog.

Read: Global Warming Delusions at the Wall Street Journal. Real Climate.

More on “Convenient Untruths”

Global warming denialists have continued to try to make a big thing out of this U.K. court case about “An Inconvenient Truth.”

The Daily Kos has an article about the plaintiff in the lawsuit as well as many links about the case. There is also a link to Al Gore’s response.

“60 Minutes” to feature Idaho, all those forest fires and global warming

Rocky Barker wrote about this, this morning. It will be on TV this coming Sunday.

“60 Minutes” report on fires and global warming highlights Idaho. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

Convenient Untruths

Al Gore has obviously done a great deal to increase concern and interest in reducing the change in climate. While the polls show a large majority are now basically on his side, much of the pro and con derives from other political positions rather than any real scientific analysis before opinions of the average person are formed.

Recently an article was written that made sense to me saying that Republicans disbelieve Gore because he is the “un-Bush,” turning out to accurate in almost every case where Bush was not, from global warming to the outcome of invading Iraq.

Fewer and fewer scientists questions that climate change is largely human caused, but “the skeptics,” who have much more than just a cottage industry in sowing confusion on the issue, seize on just about anything to advance their defense of business as usual. Most recently, it has been a court case in the United Kingdom.

Real Climate looks at the court case, but more about the accuracy of the points in “An Inconvenient Truth.” Convenient Untruths. By Gavin Schmidt and Michael Mann.

Tim Lambert in his Deltoid blog is one of the few who seems to have actually read the court case. An ‘error’ is not the same thing as an error.

Idahoans must adapt as wildfire seasons become increasingly treacherous

This is hardly the first time this has been discussed, but this article goes into detail about what may be the new summer reality in Idaho and other Rocky Mountain states. I have found the good time for outdoor recreation is May and June, not July to mid-Sept (too much smoke). Folks will need to learn to enjoy the “shoulder seasons” (March-April) and (Oct-Nov) in addition to the winter. Of course, that is not feasible for many.

Idahoans must adapt as wildfire seasons become increasingly treacherous. By Heath Druzin and Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman

Of course, there is far more to the longer fire season than outdoor recreation, nor is the increasingly long fire season just a phenomenon of Idaho and Montana (the two major fire states in the West this year), but many other states in the U.S. and in other countries. Greece, is a good example, where unprecedented large wildfires have become a big political issue. Read: WWF in despair over Greek fire damage. Rare species of animals and plants lost in flames. Anger rises as developers move in on stricken area. UK Guardian.

It looks like in Greece anti-conservation forces are just as ready to take advantage of the fires as they are in the U.S.

Here is an article about the continued wildfires in the U.S. that are continuing outside of the West where the season is over. Officials see no quick end to the drought and wildfires in Eastern Kentucky. Associated Press

I would not expect many quick innovations. It’s clear the federal and state agencies are not about to change livestock grazing as usual. I don’t see a slow down in the building of homes in remote, expensive to defend locations. Invasive flammable weeds continue to spread. Timber companies will use the fires as an excuse to go in and log the wrong way because they have to make money, not lose money by conducting a fire reduction project such as cutting only the small, crowded trees.

Posted in Climate change, wildfire. Comments Off on Idahoans must adapt as wildfire seasons become increasingly treacherous

Senate Subcommittee considers Great Basin management

The Senate Public Lands and Forests Subcommittee is holding a hearing in Las Vegas today ~ Thursday, October 11 ~ to discuss threats to the Great Basin. From what I gather, fire and cheatgrass will be highlighted on the agenda. Subscription only article from E & E :

The Senate Public Lands and Forests Subcommittee looks at environmental threats facing rangelands and forests in the Great Basin at a field hearing Thursday in Las Vegas.

The Great Basin includes much of Nevada, western Utah, the lower third of Idaho, the southeastern corner of Oregon and a narrow strip of eastern California. It has been under assault recently by a combination of invasive species, wildfire, drought and climate change.

The hearing has the potential to alter the current momentum of the debate over how best to manage habitat in the West that continues to diminish ~ habitat that is critical to the almost listed pygmy rabbit, sage grouse, and a host of other species including pronghorn, a variety of beautiful birds, fish, and other wonderous plants and animals.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Climate change, invasive species, Las Vegas, public lands, public lands management, wildfire, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: . Comments Off on Senate Subcommittee considers Great Basin management

Global Warming, Western Ranching, and the Bovine Curtain

Global Warming, Western Ranching, and the Bovine Curtain. This is from the WWP blog linking to an opinion by George Wuerthner as to how cattle contribute mightily to global climate change.

Just like the old Iron Curtain that squelched any critical discussion of Communism’s failures, we in the West live behind a “Bovine Curtain.” The Bovine Curtain is—like the Iron Curtain—operated by the state, using taxpayer dollars to continuously broadcast propaganda about the virtues of ranching in the West and suppressing any negative or critical information. . . . Wuerthner.

Arctic Melt Unnerves the Experts

Arctic Melt Unnerves the Experts. By Andrew C. Revkin. New York Times.

The rate of melt was faster than almost all the model simulations had predicted. What about the near future?

The rapid melting north polar ice has already changed the climate there

There have been a lot of article about this summer’s all time low ice pack, but this article from the Scientific American tells even more.

Congress probing EPA approval of Uintah County coal-fired power plant

Salt Lake Tribune. Congress probing EPA approval of Uintah County coal-fired power plant. By Patty Henetz

This issue is that the Bush Administration is paying no attention to the recent Supreme Court ruling the carbon dioxide is a pollutant that the EPA should regulate.

Reuters. Calif. lawmaker chides EPA for approving coal plant.

. . . . earlier. EPA permit for new coal-fired unit makes no sense. Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

Posted in Climate change, politics. Comments Off on Congress probing EPA approval of Uintah County coal-fired power plant

Judge Orders Bush to Report on Global Warming

This dovetails nicely with the story previous about Mark Rey.

The Associated Press reports “The Bush administration violated federal law by missing deadlines to produce a study on the impact of global warming, now as much as two years overdue, and must issue a summary by March, a federal judge ruled. Judge Saundra B. Armstrong of Federal District Court in Oakland, Calif., said the United States government “unlawfully withheld action” required under the Global Change Research Act of 1990 to update a research plan and scientific assessment of climate change.”

Here is the story as told in Wired. Judge to Bush: Cough Up the Climate Change Reports.  By Brandon Klein.

Once again, they believe obeying the law is purely optional. . .  America’s lawless presidency.

Posted in Climate change, politics. Comments Off on Judge Orders Bush to Report on Global Warming

Newsweek Takes On Global Warming “Deniers”

Newsweek Takes On Global Warming “Deniers”. Blogged in Green Options.

I read the Newsweek article. It thought the most significant point made is that contrary to those who say global warming deiers are being marginalized and can’t get funding to pursue their studies, just the opposite is true.

If you have a Ph. D attached to your name and are willing to write a piece to tell the media that global warming is natural — not caused by human activities — money will flow to you.

The situation is very similar to the cigarette smoking and cancer controversy of 30 years ago when all the science pointed to cigarettes, but well funded counter “research” by the cigarette companies for years maintained public suspicion that smoking was not harmful. All the research and pro-tobacco op-eds were false.

Hot headed Idaho politics

Flamin’ Blame Game Western Watersheds Project has been taking some heat from Idaho state legislator Bert Brackett – not to mention his politicians in Washington. Here is Western Watersheds Project’s response.

And here is a picture of a sign erected in WWP’s honor near what remains of the Murphy Complex Fire.

Added Aug. 10. The Idaho Fires were recently a part of Greenfires’s diary on the Daily Kos. Idaho Burning.

It’s starve or sell for cattle ranches

The Salt Lake Tribute describes the stifling conditions ranchers are finding themselves in. The fire and drought are coming down hard right as the price of feed stretches just beyond many’s reach. This ought to give buy-outs a new breath.

While smaller operations engage in hard to swallow realities about the conditions on the land, Simplot stocks up:

Simplot's reserve
That’s retardant from the Murphy Complex fire effort along the road.

The parch conditions favor larger operations ~ especially controllers of the entire commodity chain like Simplot.

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Boise has the hottest month ever in July

Boise has the hottest month ever in July. By Heath Druzin and Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman. Do you think this might explain why the fires exploded in the country to the south of Boise?

Given this knowledge it’s fascinating to watch Larry Craig’s views on climate from video on the WWP blog. Craig walks tightrope to avoid Global Warming’s contribution to wildfire.

Research: Good pine nut years help grizzly bears

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50 Dirtiest U.S. Power Plants Named

While coal-fired power plants are notoriusly dirity, some are a lot worse than others. They are usually the older plants.

One that has long galled me is the old, but big, 4-corners power plant near the Four Corners area of Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado. It spews its pall over the scenic canyonlands country and the Grand Canyon, and as the article indicates, is a prime example of environmental racism because it was imposed on an area with a lot of poor Native Americans (along with still other coal plants, strip mines, and leaky natural gas wells).

Story. 50 Dirtiest Power Plants. ENS

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Majority leader Senator Harry Reid, now opposes Nevada coal plants!

“U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that he’ll do everything I can to stop construction of three major coal-fired power plants in his home state of Nevada and will push for more alternative energy development.”

Reid had seemed to be neutral to leaning toward the coal plants. They are being proposed not because Nevada has a lot or coal or water, it has neither,  but it has a lot of clean air. Power companies apparently think this clean air is being wasted.

This is welcome news in the fight against global warming, curbing the mercury pollution that Nevada sends to neighboring states (from open pit gold mines), and keeping Nevada’s wide open spaces places where you can see for miles and miles.

Story By Brendan Riley. Reid Opposes Coal-Fired Plants in Nevada. AP

Yellowstone grizzlies will feel the effects of rising temperatures

 “Just like their polar bear relatives in the Arctic, Yellowstone grizzlies are rapidly losing habitat as a result of global warming. . . .”

This story is columnist Joel Connelly’s at the Seattle Post Intelligencer, but I should add that failure to discuss or plan for the effects of climate change is one of the major arguments be used the grizzly bear delisting lawsuit that a number of conservation groups have filed.

Posted in Bears, Climate change, endangered species act. Comments Off on Yellowstone grizzlies will feel the effects of rising temperatures

Polar bears now avoiding sea ice for their den sites

This is from the blog Carnivore Conservation.

Polar bears in Alaska are increasingly denning on land because the sea ice is thinning, becoming too unstable for safe denning. This is according to a new study by U.S. Geological Survey’s researchers and published in Polar Biology . . .

Read the rest

Posted in Bears, Climate change. Comments Off on Polar bears now avoiding sea ice for their den sites

Warm water due to hot weather, not hot springs, killing Yellowstone Park trout

With the record high temperatures in the Rocky Mountain and Intermountain West, the temperatures of trout streams are soaring above, sometimes far above, that which kills trout.

It is plainly evident in Yellowstone Park. Heat kills fish in Yellowstone. Jackson Hole News and Guide. Yellowstone is more vulnerable than many mountain stream areas because the hot springs do raise the stream temperatures over what is common at the elevation and the Yellowstone is mostly a high plateau, not an area full of snow-capped peaks.

Trout and other fish are under heat stress in many other places too, with their mortality not getting in the news like it does in Yellowstone Park.

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Senate rejects coal-to-liquid fuel amendment

Most conservationists are celebrating the defeat of two amendments to the new energy bill that would have authorized $200 million in grants or $10 billion in direct loans for coal gasification/liquefaction projects.

Coal state senators are pushing this as a “clean” method of using the vast coal deposits, many believe use of coal, is not the solution to energy woes due to the high emission rate of of carbon dioxide when coal is used. Proponents of coal liquefaction in Montana and elsewhere have been saying the CO2 can be captured and injected into deep wells, where it will remain. Other doubt this, saying the carbon dioxide will leak out.

Coal mining also has severe environmental impacts, although federal law requires the reclamation of coal surface mines.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune. Senate rejects coal-liquids plans. By Noelle Straub.

Story in the Charleston Gazette. Senate rejects liquefied coal. Backers split over proposals; environmentalists hail votes. By Ken Ward Jr. Staff writer.

Here is a news release the Sierra Club just put out:

Senate Says Firm No to Liquid Coal. Vote Puts the Public Interest Ahead of Special Interests.

Statement of Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director

“In spite of Herculean efforts by the coal industry and its friends in Congress, the Senate today delivered a very important victory in the fight against global warming by decisively voting against jumpstarting a new massively expensive, massively polluting liquid coal industry–twice.

Senators showed that they understood that we need to leave behind the failed policies of the past–and past Congresses.

“At a time when we need to get on the path to achieving an 80 percent reduction in our global warming emissions by 2050–an achievable annual reduction of 2 percent–the level scientists tell us is necessary to avoid the most catastrophic effects of global warming, business as usual is no longer acceptable. Liquid coal produces nearly twice the global warming pollution as conventional fuel and Senators were right to turn their backs on it.

“Though Senators successfully blocked these damaging liquid coal provisions, they now need to turn their attention to breaking a filibuster led by Senator Domenici that is preventing a fair up or down vote on the Bingaman Renewable Electricity Standard amendment. Senators must also block attempts by Senators Levin, Bond, and Pryor to further weaken the CAFE compromise in the bill.

“We thank Senators for their leadership on this important vote and hope they will continue to make the changes necessary to make this bill one that we can truly be proud of.

Posted in Climate change, Coal. Comments Off on Senate rejects coal-to-liquid fuel amendment

Arctic spring’s ‘rapid advance’

Warming in the Arctic is proceeding at a dramatic rate. This article describes many changes and dangers. Spring is coming 6-8 days earlier.

Arctic spring’s ‘rapid advance BBC News.

and earlier

Arctic ice no barrier for plants. BBCNews

Posted in Climate change. Comments Off on Arctic spring’s ‘rapid advance’

Cut the corn: Energy bill should not put any money into corn ethanol

This is an editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune today.

Congress is currently considering a big energy bill. It could end up as bad as what the Republicans proposed (different from a bad Republican bill, but bad just the same).

There should be no subsidies for corn ethanol which takes your tax money instead of your pocket money as you fill up. Corn-based ethanol (alcohol) produces almost no NET energy and it has many negative side-effects such as soil erosion and an increase in the price of food.

Big wind farms and solar farms are going to have a huge effect on the land and wind turbines on birds (they will knock them out of the sky).

The quickest, cheapest method of addressing the energy problem is energy conservation technology. When conservation is done that way it is relatively painless.

Here is more from the Washington Post. On Capitol Hill, a Warmer Climate for Biofuels. By Steven Mufson. Washington Post Staff Writer. Biofuels mostly means ethanol made out of corn. They have a powerful lobby. Lots of rural towns are getting ethanol plants, which will provide years of employment in what amounts to running in circles as far as the production of more energy goes.

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Stephen Colbert analyzes the NASA director’s view on global warming, and related agencies

You may be amused.

I tell my students you will learn more of what’s going on by watching the “fake news” by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert than watching Fox News, CNN, etc.

Bush’s Climate-Change Feint

You’ve probably all heard that the President suddenly is interested in climate change and he even wants to have an international conference to set caps on emissions to establish “aspirational goals” on the emission of greenhouse gases.

Every week Washington Post’s Dam Froomkin writes a long and detailed column about the White House — White House Watch. Today he examined Mr. Bush’s apparent change of heart in excruciating detail. Bush’s Climate-Change Feint. By Dan Froomkin. Washington Post. Most of detail is near the end of this long piece. To sum it up, almost everyone is very skeptical of Bush making any real change.

NASA Administrator Questions Need to Fight Global Warming

NASA Administrator Questions Need to Fight Global Warming. By Marc Kaufman. Washington Post Staff Writer.

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin says that although global warming is changing Earth’s climate, he’s not convinced that is “a problem we must wrestle with.”

The NASA chief — whose agency has come under fire in Congress for cutting several programs designed to monitor climate change — also says it’s “rather arrogant” for people to take the position that today’s climate is the optimal one.

This is a unique new argument for not doing anything about global warming, and it is a silly one. Those who want to stop global warming are not acting out of hubris, but recognize that humanity and the rest of life on Earth is adapted for cooler temperatures than we have now and certainly lower ones than what we will see.

The fact that this Bush Administrator would make such a specious argument shows the politicization of yet another agency.

Instead of slowing down, CO2 is increasing at an increasing rate.

I guess it’s redundant to say this, but this very bad news. The headline is misleading because it’s not just a rise, but steepening rise.

Scientists report rise in levels of carbon dioxide. By Robert S. Boyd. McClatchy Newspapers

If we are lucky the rising rate is due to increased human use of fossil fuels, and/or increased deforestation in the topics. If we an unlikely, the change is the result of positive feedback mechanisms kicking in — natural mechanisms are spiraling out of control.

Update. More on this. Alarming Acceleration In Carbon Dioxide Emissions Worldwide. Science Daily.

Addition for skeptical Monte and those of similar views, read this from the Real Climate Blog, and here is a very good FAQ.

Rural Electrification Administration is an old, New Deal program that has become little more than program for polluters

The REA was created during the New Deal to bring electricity, light and hope to poor rural areas that private utilities did not find it worthwhile to electrify.

Many years later the agency is still around and uses your taxpayer money to subsidize the construction of polluting coal-fired power plants to areas that are now neither poor nor rural.

The REA should be abolished.

Story. U.S. loaning billions for carbon-spewing plants. By Steven Mufson.The Washington Post

Bush presents a minimal climate change plan

The President announced a plan to reduce reliance on foreign oil and reduce emissions, but almost all of it would take place after he has left office, and it is very modest.

In fact, one part of his plan might seek to reverse what states have already done on their own to tackle the climate change problem.

Critics aren’t convinced by Bush’s carbon plan. MSNBC.

Glaciers are gone; so why not rename Montana’s Glacier National Park?

Group wants to rename Glacier. By Bill Schneider. New West.

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Rocky Barker’s blog: Changing climate in Idaho

Barker writes about Idaho farming and the changing climate. He suggests legislation that would pay farmers for “sequestering or capturing carbon in the soil through new farming practices and by planting trees.”

I would suggest that one of the most cost effective measures would be to retire public grazing allotments in order to sequester carbon, because livestock-grazed range is usually a carbon source, rather than a desirable carbon sink because the cattle wipe out native plants, erode the carbon rich top soil, and indirectly promote range fires by opening the land for for invasion by flammable weeds like cheat grass.

Barker’s blog.

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It could be another big forest fire year in much of the West

Posted in Climate change, wildfire. Comments Off on It could be another big forest fire year in much of the West

Winter ticks invade Yukon elk herds

The Yukon Environment Department believes the infestation may be due to the warming climate. The winter tick doesn’t hurt elk much, but often greatly weakens moose.

Story Winter ticks invade Yukon elk herds. CBC News.

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Posted in Climate change, Elk, Moose, wildlife disease, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Winter ticks invade Yukon elk herds

Gannett Peak, WY may lose all its glaciers in 20 years

The highest mountain in Wyoming, Gannett Peak, in the Wind River Range is famous for its snowy top and its many glaciers, but they are melting fast.

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.

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Posted in Climate change, mountain ranges. Comments Off on Gannett Peak, WY may lose all its glaciers in 20 years

Climate change called a security threat

Story in the LA Times. Climate change called a security threat. By Karen Kaplan and Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer

It is a security threat. It’s a political threat too. You can trace Bush’s decline to the summer of 2005 when Katrina hit, although she only tipped over an edifiice that was already starting to crumble.

Does anyone want to take bets about the hurricane season this summer now that El Nino has dissipated. Will there be another Katrina and a similarly inept response?

How many forest fires in the West this summer? The heavy wood is very dry outside the Pacific Northwest?

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Step It Up Climate Action Day was a big success

I went to Pocatello’s. There were 150 to 200 people, a big crowd for the “Gate City.” I can assure folks that a lot of new conservation networks were formed.

National reports.

Rally for the Earth: Missoula’s Step It Up demonstration urges action against global warming. Bt Tyler Christenson. The Missoulian

Pocatello.

stepitup.jpg
A great afternoon with speeches, music, and lots of food and drink at Pocatello, Idaho

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“Step it up 2007” to be largest grassroots climate action to date. It’s set for April 14

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Step it Up 2007” is planning thousands of local events across the United States. There are 13 events planned in Idaho. Here where at I write, Pocatello, Idaho, the mayor will give a speech at the festivities.

This will be a significant political event even though Bush won’t listen and many politicians in Congress and the states won’t either. I can see it has already generated new activists, and they are networking.

Posted in Climate change, politics. Comments Off on “Step it up 2007” to be largest grassroots climate action to date. It’s set for April 14

Great Victory!! Supremes say EPA can legally limit emissions of carbon dioxide

In a huge blow to George Bush, the fossil fuel industry, and the backwards-looking US auto industry, the Supreme Court, in a much watched case, has ruled 5-4 that the Clean Air Act “clearly allows the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon dioxide as a form of air pollution.”

As we all know, CO2 is not a traditional pollutant. It is harmless to breathe. It is part of our basic biological processes and that of all almost all plants and animals. Unfortunately, the “carbon cycle” in nature, as it’s called, is out of whack. More carbon from combustion of fossil fuels is added to the system every year than is removed. Thus, it builds up in the atmosphere.

Court rules against Bush in global warming case. Reuters.

By James Vicini

. . . And this on the politics of Global Warming. From The Hill.com. The Hill is a non-partisan partially subscription magazine that covers events on Capitol Hill exclusively. GOP should catch up with constituents [on global warming]. By Mark Mellman. The Hill.

Groups say coal plant near Gillett, Wyoming, needn’t be so polluting

We hear about the wonders of  “clean coal” technology all the time, but we hear about the actual deployment of dirty coal technology in the everyday world.

We live in the everyday world.

Story in the Billings Gazette. By Matthew Brown. AP

Posted in Climate change, Coal. Comments Off on Groups say coal plant near Gillett, Wyoming, needn’t be so polluting

With Cellulosic Ethanol, There Is No Food Vs. Fuel Debate

I commented several times on the stupidity of corn-based ethanol as a substitute for gasoline. It’s a very inefficient process and provides fuel at the expense of food. Already ethanol is raising the cost of growing livestock.

However, cellulosic ethanol (alcohol made from the other parts of plants, not from the edible portion) has great promise.

With Cellulosic Ethanol, There Is No Food Vs. Fuel Debate. Science Daily.

‘Ethanol Binge’ Hikes Corn Prices

Demand for corn to make ethanol has now doubled corn prices in the U.S.

“The diversion of corn to fuel ethanol uses “is creating unintended consequences throughout the global food chain,” a Bloomberg analysis finds – not to mention increased use of pesticides and fossil fuels to grow all that corn. Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress has slapped a 54-cents-per-gallon tarrif on ethanol from Brazil – which is grown from sugarcane.”

Read the rest about this silliness in New West.

Gore’s testimony before Congress greeted warmly by some members, coolly by others

Al Gore has just finishing testifying before Congress on global warming.  He got mixed, but generally warm reception with a few strong dissenters among Republicans. Story in The Hill.com.

Gore’s testimony greeted warmly by some members, coolly by others. By Kelly McCormack

Gore’s actual testimony (YouTube).

Bush appointees “watered down” Greenhouse Science

The Bush administration ran a systematic campaign to play down the dangers of climate change, demanding hundreds of politically motivated changes to scientific reports and muzzling a pre-eminent expert on global warming, Congress was told yesterday.

Read the rest in The Guardian. March 20. “Bush Appointees ‘watered down’ Greenhouse Science.” By Suzanne Goldenberg and James Randerson.

Once again, another great expose’ by the new Congress.

Under the Influence of Ethanol

Ted Williams has written a very interesting article on ethanol. 

“America’s corn-based ethanol program carries high costs in fish, wildlife and tax dollars.”

Check out Under the Influence of Ethanol on Ted Williams’ Conservation Connection.

Posted in Climate change, Fish, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Under the Influence of Ethanol

Global warming and SE Idaho

The local paper had a big feature on the global warming issue today. The headline is a bit misleading. The article is an overview. It begins with the global-warming organization, I CAN, which evolved from a Bible study.

Group fights global warming. By John O’ Connell. Idaho State University.

Posted in Climate change. Comments Off on Global warming and SE Idaho

US Fish and Wildlife Service issues instructions to biologists in politically correct method of discussing climate change

This is related to the proposed listing of the polar bear, something that has a lot to do with climate change.

The New York Times got a copy of a USFWS memo, and it shows the DOI’s continuing subordination of science to Administration politics — employees need authorization to speak about the issue.

Here is the article in the NYT.

Asian pollution drift across Pacific causing stronger winter storms in Pacific Northwest

Several media outlets have this story today.

Here it is in Scientific American. Another Asian Export: Stronger Pacific Storms: the tiny particles spewed by Asian industry have been strengthening storms over the Pacific for the last decade. By David Biello

Posted in Climate change. Comments Off on Asian pollution drift across Pacific causing stronger winter storms in Pacific Northwest

Humans’ beef with livestock: a warmer planet

Humans’ beef with livestock: a warmer planet. American meat eaters are responsible for 1.5 more tons of carbon dioxide per person than vegetarians every year. By Brad Knickerbocker. Christian Science Monitor.

The livestock industry likes to laugh this one off. What’s so funny?

Global Warming Report: Less Winter in the West?

Global Warming Report: Less Winter in the West? By Dan Whipple. New West.

Whipple doesn’t talk about the effect this will have on wildlife. I think it may allow for more winter range for wildlife, with some notable expections such as Yellowstone Park where it will result in wet snow and ice that leaves elk unable to paw through to the grass underneath.

The changing climate may reduce summer range.

Added Feb. 12. Global Warming: Focus on Utah’s Climate. Salt Lake Tribune.

Posted in Climate change. Comments Off on Global Warming Report: Less Winter in the West?

Global warming ‘very likely’ man-made

A definitive report says that global warming is caused directly and indirectly by human activities. This report was known to have been in the works for quite a while and would have very negative conclusions. Today there are many stories about it.

I notice that the greatest warming in the United States is predicted for the Midwest and for Utah, western Colorado, southwestern Wyoming, and southern Idaho.

From Time Magazine. Global Warming ‘very likely’ man-made.

USA Today. Report says global warming very likely man-made, to continue ‘for centuries’

The Guardian (U.K.) Bush administration accused of doctoring scientists’ reports on climate change. By Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
· Inconvenient conclusions censored, hearing told
· Researchers warned not to talk about global warming

Discussion on the Real Climate blog.

Scientists Criticize White House Stance on Climate Change Findings

The Democrats have held their first of undoubtedly many oversight hearings on how the Bush Administration is, well, administering the laws. This is a basic role of Congress that was suppressed during the last 6 years of Republican congressional rule (the minority party in Congress can’t call hearings). Story in New York Times (you can google for many more accounts of what went on)

Republicans on the committee appear to also be distancing themselves from this increasing unpopular presidency.

Note: this is so odd. It is almost like the presidency was a separate government, rather than a separate part of the U.S. government.

Posted in Climate change. Comments Off on Scientists Criticize White House Stance on Climate Change Findings

Climate change likely to be worse than even forthcoming pessimistic report

WASHINGTON (AP) — Later this week in Paris, climate scientists will issue a dire forecast for the planet that warns of slowly rising sea levels and higher temperatures. But that may be the sugarcoated version. USA Today.

Now that even George Bush is conceding there is global warming, and a “conclusive” report to be out next week, many scientists think even that is not pessimistic enough because of the sudden increased melting of the Greenland ice cap and changes in Antarctica.

Serious people who are willing to read though some difficult material will find much more on climate change on the popular blog Real Climate, where climatetologists discuss the matter rather than radio talk show hosts.

Gore Sells Out Idaho’s 10,000 Seat Taco Bell Arena “Faster Than Elton John”…

This is from the Huffington Post on Al Gore’s talk in Boise.

This is perhaps a bit more balanced than the Idaho Statesman? Anyway that’s why blogs have grown. People want more news and all sides of the news. We were not getting it from the corporate media.

. . . and here is more Gore chants, Craig Rants. Boise Weekly.

Warnings of global warming. Al Gore brings his take on climate change to Boise today

This article in the Idaho Statesman by Rocky Barker is about Al Gore speaking to huge crowd in Boise today juxtaposed with weather events in Idaho over the last ten years and the views of some Idaho politicians.

Al Gore brings his take on climate change to Boise today. By Rocky Barker.

Related. CEOs ask Bush to back climate protection. By H. Josef Hebert. Associated Press Writer. Support for trying to do something about climate change is reaching new highs with mainstream business starting to get alarmed. There are rumors President Bush will propose some real moves in that direction in his State of the Union address, if only to try to save his failing presidency.

The Truth from Above

Google Earth is revolutionizing the way people see change on the Earth’s surface. In this case is it the massive amount of oil and gas development in Wyoming.

On your own or watching the short video at www.skytruth.org, it can revolutionize your view of cumulative environmental impacts.

For those of you that have seen “An Inconvenient Truth,” and the ponds that formed before the breakup of the big ice shelf in Antarctica, move your cursor to Greenland. Scroll to the highest elevations on the great interior ice field there. Zoom in. What do you see?

Picturing Landscape Change. The Truth from Above. By Richard Martin. New West.

Tickets to Al Gore’s speech in Boise are seriously sold out-

In terms of turnout for a speech of this nature, this is incredible in Idaho.

Inconvenient in Boise. Ridenbaugh Press. Randy Stapilus.

NOAA Reports 2006 Warmest Year On Record For U.S.

I am writing this at the coldest time of winter at Pocatello in SE Idaho, with a chance that temperatures will even dip below zero this weekend, something that has become a rarity, although 20 years ago it was common in the winter. One winter it got down to -38 degrees F.

The Eastern U.S. has essentially had no winter at all, and now a report is out that 2006 was the warmest in the U.S. since they have been keeping records.

Story from ScienceDaily.  

Posted in Climate change. Comments Off on NOAA Reports 2006 Warmest Year On Record For U.S.

High levels of carbon dioxide around Yellowstone thermal vents help scientists predict effects of our future atmosphere on plants

A number of the thermal vents in Yellowstone release high levels of carbon dioxide, the very gas that is building up in our atmosphere.

Carbon dixoide is a crucial element for photosynthesis, and some have argued that the growing levels of this gas will make the world greener, better. Unfortunately they tend to work for energy companies. Now scientists are checking out the plants that grow next to the vents. Preliminary evidence is that they photosynthesize less efficiently and lose more water to the air.

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. Park is a crystal ball for CO2 emissions. Yellowstone researchers study plants near vents for insight into future of life on earth. By Corey Hatch.

Posted in Climate change, national parks. Comments Off on High levels of carbon dioxide around Yellowstone thermal vents help scientists predict effects of our future atmosphere on plants

Bush Administration proposes listing the polar bear as a threatened species

Most listings nowadays, and in the past, have come from conservation groups forcing the species onto the “list,” but in an unusual move the Bush Administration has proposed listing the polar bear, which is suffering the effects of warming in the Arctic. That melts the ice the bears need to hunt from. The polar bear also suffers a huge load of toxic chemicals because the polar vortex concentrates and traps pollutants from the industrialized countries to the south.

Story in the Washington Post. By Juliet Eilperin. “U.S. Wants Polar Bears Listed as Threatened.

Added on Dec. 28. Here is more (including links to the proposal) from the Carnivore Conservation blog.

New Forest Plan Rule Nukes NEPA

Perhaps the most important environmental decisions the Forest Service makes is the 15-year (on the average) forest plans for each of national forests. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has always been at the core of the forest plans. NFMA, the National Forest Management Act, requires the forest plans and their updating, but it’s NEPA that guarantees they have to truly consider the public’s opinion (including the opinion of the timber industry, and extractive groups). It is also NEPA that guarantees that their data is accurate, reality-based, so there won’t be made-up figures to satisfy some local or state politician.

Now the Forest Services has issued a final rule that lets the Service ignore NEPA when amending or writing new forest management plans.

This means the Forest Plans won’t have any scientific analysis to support them, and they won’t apply until and if future decisions are made. It makes the Forest Service blind and renders the Forest Plans meaningless.

Was it happening is the standards of politicized intelligence gathering and interpretation that led the United States into Iraq to get those “terrible WMDs” will now be applied to the pride of American public lands, the National Forests.

Brodie Farquhar has the news in New West.

I imagine these new regulations will be struck down in court, but it shows the spirit corruption so typical of the old Congress and the hatred of science so typical of the Bush Administration lives on in the Department of Agriculture of which the Forest Service is part.

– – – – –

Related New Controls on Publishing Research Worry USGS Scientists. AP. International Herald Tribune. “The Bush administration is clamping down on scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey, who study everything from caribou mating to global warming, subjecting them to controls on research that might go against official policy.”

So information about grizzly bears, elk, and climate change is going to be subject to censorship by political commissars, just like in any totalitarian country, although I have not heard of despots censoring information about wildife before.

Related too. The A to Z Guide to Political Interference in Science. Union of Concerned Scientists

Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars, UN report warns

The excerpt below is from the report, dramatic data on the toll cattle are having on our climate and our future. . .

When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 per cent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 per cent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.

And it accounts for respectively 37 per cent of all human-induced methane (23 times as warming as CO2), which is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants, and 64 per cent of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain.

Read the full news release

Key Democrat says Arctic Refuge now safe from drilling due to defeat of Republicans

Jeff Bingaman, senator from New Mexico will be the new chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He says the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is now safe from drilling proposals. The oil industry’s political representatives can count the votes too, and they agree.

Story by James W. Brosnan. Albuquerque Tribune.

Changing weather patterns drive dramatic changes in Yellowstone Park wolf predation

‘ “I’m not looking at whether this is connected to global warming,” said Doug Smith, lead biologist and team leader of the Yellowstone wolf project. Yet wolf and prey behavior is different from what it was at the beginning of wolf reintroduction to the park in 1994, because the weather is different,” he said.’

Brodie Farquhar has really put together what Doug Smith has been saying for a number of winters about the plight of the bull elk, something totally different than back in 1995-6-7-8.

Read Farquhar’s article in the Jackson Hole Star Tribune.

This is important stuff, and not discussed widely in the wildlife management literature I have read. Wildlife managers, especially those in key positions, don’t consider all the variables. Often politics prevents them from doing so.

For example when you don’t consider these likely future changes, the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear looks plenty ready to be delisted as a threatened species. When you consider global warming and the spread of diseases like whirling disease and whitebark pine blister rust, the future of the Yellowstone Country bear looks grim.

When you look at many politicians, with their narrow focus of hanging onto power, and compare them to the wildlife managers I just criticized, it is all of us for whom the future looks grim.