You know the saying. “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” Unfortunately, it applies to climate change in Texas as well.
With a super-sized state, the impacts of climate change are bigger and badder than in the other 49. In fact, Texas experienced 75 weather and climate disasters between 1980 and 2015, each of which produced at least a billion dollars in losses (across the states in which they impacted), more than any other state. Here’s what global warming means for the Lone Star State. In other words, “Houston, we have a problem.”
In 2011, Texas experienced its hottest (until 2012) and driest summer on record, culminating in the worst single-year drought in recorded history. Water levels were at historical lows and as the land and plant life dried up, acres upon acres lit up with wildfires. The heat and extraordinarily dry weather of 2011 was part of a larger period of drought in the state that extended from 2010 to 2015, resulting in approximately $8.7 billion in agricultural losses. Sadly, it’s unlikely that was the end of the story. As the climate continues to warm, more multi-year droughts are expected with devastating impacts to the state’s agriculture sector and drinking water.
— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) July 2, 2016
The U.S., Canada and Mexico put climate change at the center of efforts to deepen the North American alliance, pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector, boost the development of clean power and build new cross-border transmission lines.
President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto completed a one-day summit in Ottawa Wednesday, where they unveiled a commitment to see half of the continent’s electricity generated by clean sources by 2025.
“For too long, we’ve heard that confronting climate change means destroying our economies,” Obama said in a speech to Parliament Wednesday after the summit concluded, praising efforts in Canada and the U.S. to cut emissions and drive growth. “This is the only planet we’ve got and this may be the last shot we’ve got to save it. And America and Canada are going to have to lead the way.”
The pledges, in what was was Obama’s final North American Leaders’ Summit, underscore a renewed push to strengthen an alliance that had been soured by the rejection of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline last year. The improved continental ties were fueled in part by the election of Trudeau’s pro-environment Liberal Party to power last year.
The leaders also announced changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement, “liberalizing” rules of origin for a range of products, while calling for action to address excess global steel supply and illicit financial flows that could benefit terror groups.
— Climate Reality (@ClimateReality) July 2, 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron has been urged to ratify the Paris climate agreement before leaving office.
Labour’s former climate change secretary Ed Miliband said “climate sceptics” might try to derail the deal if they gained positions of power following the EU referendum.
“I take David Cameron at his word that he cared about these issues – but we don’t know who’s going to succeed him.“He should ratify the agreement before he leaves office because we don’t want to end up with a climate change denier or sceptic as prime minister who tries to renegotiate the whole thing.
“It’s the biggest single issue facing our world; the biggest single issue facing my kids as to whether we step up on this. We have a massive, massive challenge and we’ve got to get on with it.
“The French have ratified [the Paris agreement] and as I understand it’s perfectly in our gift to get it done. There is a majority in the House of Commons for it – so we should get on and do it.”
Some politicians still refuse to recognize the reality of climate change. In the year 2016. It's a national embarrassment.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 2, 2016
Hillary Clinton's climate change plans avoid mentioning a carbon tax https://t.co/4aJZDdWGrx
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 2, 2016
The nation’s top scientific organizations have an important reminder for members of Congress: human caused climate change is real, its impacts are already being felt in the U.S., and only a significant slashing of greenhouse gas emissions will stave off the worst risks.
The 31 groups including the American Meteorological Society, the American Society of Plant Biologists, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)—organizations representing “millions of scientists,” according to the Associated Press—issued their statement in a letter (pdf ) to the lawmakers dated Tuesday.
Impacts in the U.S. include “extreme weather events, sea level rise, and increased risk of regional water scarcity, heat waves, wildfires, and the disturbance of biological systems,” the letter states. “The severity of climate change impacts is increasing and is expected to increase substantially in the coming decades,” it states.
The letter adds that “adaptation is necessary to address unavoidable consequences for human health and safety, food security, water availability, and national security, among others,” and concludes by offering to collaborate with the lawmakers as they “seek to address the challenges of our changing climate.”
The urgent statement, which comes in what may end up being the hottest year ever, reiterates the messages from a similar letter (pdf) sent back in 2009 by 18 leading scientific organizations to members of Congress—who continue to fail to take any substantive action on climate change.
“The reality of climate change is already upon us, and is affecting not only our lives but that of all life on earth,” stated Dr. Robin L. Chazdon, executive director of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, one of the signatory bodies. “We must do all that we can to mitigate these effects using scientific knowledge and mobilizing society for action. It is the responsibility of our politicians to move us forward in these actions.”
Putting a price on carbon via a carbon tax is one of the most cost-effective strategies for quickly fighting climate change.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 2, 2016
— 350 dot org (@350) July 1, 2016
A new study carried out by researchers from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), in collaboration with the Coordinator of Farmers and Ranchers of Spain (COAG) has explored various bioclimatic indices in grapevine regions of Spain that help establish the quantity of grapes produced and their quality. These two factors are essential to assess the competitiveness of vineyard production.
Results show that to deal with a foreseeable increase in temperature and a decrease in rainfall, new adaptation measures of crops to the new conditions will be necessary to keep competitiveness. According to researchers, these measures should be applied to crops of southern half of the peninsula. Besides, experts recommend individual actions of farmers supported with political actions.
Spain is the country with the largest surface area dedicated to grapevines with over 1 million of hectares. Besides, Spain is the second largest exporter of wine after Italy, and it has become the third-largest wine producer in Europe after France and Italy. Wine production in Spain dates back to the 1200s BC and it is an activity with remarkable economic and cultural impacts.
In this context, researchers from Research Centre for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks (CEIGRAM), a joint research centre of UPM, State Agency for Agricultural Insurance (ENESA) and Agromutua-MAVDA, are studying how to guarantee the competitiveness of this sector in a new context as a consequence of climate change projections for the coming years.
The climate of the regions defines the typicality of wines and grape production strategies. Because of this dependency, the consequences of climate change must be assessed in both grape quality and productive potential of the vineyard, since we know that climate change affect on the economic performance of the farm as well as the capacity of the wine sector to compete in the global market.
The climate change projections in 50 years time indicate increases in annual average temperatures, a decrease in precipitation and a large increase in heat waves and drought in the Iberian Peninsula.
What Brexit means for addressing climate change https://t.co/xV1jQpUIBz
— TIME.com (@TIME) July 1, 2016
Climate change is already reshuffling the UK’s wildlife calendar, and it’s likely this will continue into the future, according to new research published this week in the journal Nature.
The results suggest that seasonal events -such as the timing of flowering in plants and breeding in birds – are generally more sensitive to temperature change, than to changes in precipitation such as rain and snowfall. Plants and animals respond differently to temperature changes at different times of year.
Seasonal relationships between predators, such as insect-eating birds and plankton-eating fish, and their prey could be disrupted in the future. This could affect the breeding success and survival of these species, with possible consequences for UK biodiversity.
The analysis shows that, given these patterns in climate sensitivity, species in the middle of food webs, such as some insects and plankton species, which feed on plants but are themselves fed on by predators, are likely to change their seasonal “behaviour” the most in future.
The study was led by ecologists at the UK’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, working in collaboration with 17 other organisations – research institutes, non-governmental organisations and universities. The analysis involved more than 370,000 observations of seasonal events including long-term records, spanning the period 1960 to 2012, covering 812 marine, freshwater and dry-land plant and animal species from the UK, from plankton to plants, butterflies to birds and moths to mammals.
A self-described conservative North Carolina businessman has promised to spend at least $5 million through his political action committee to back five Republican congressional candidates who have supported taking action to curb climate change.
Even as his party’s presumptive presidential nominee denies the existence of global warming, the businessman, Jay Faison, and his ClearPath Action Fund will spend at least $2 million on digital media campaigns to defend Senate incumbents running in two of the tightest races in the country, Rob Portman in Ohio and Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, a recognition of the senators’ support for clean energy, Mr. Faison said Wednesday. The advertisements are expected to start running this week.
ClearPath is also spending several hundred thousand dollars on digital advertising campaigns to support Representatives Carlos Curbelo of Florida and Tom Reed and Elise Stefanik of New York, all Republicans running for re-election in similarly tight races.
“What we’re trying to do is prove to the party, through these races, that clean energy wins races, to build a political safe space for the Republican Party to talk about this,” Mr. Faison said in an interview. “It is difficult for a politician to consistently act in an area with no reward. We have their back.”
— Greenpeace USA (@greenpeaceusa) July 2, 2016
For millions of years the Adélie penguins have thrived within the natural ebb and flow of temperatures on the Antarctic continent. During colder periods, when glaciers would expand to cover the penguins’ preferred rocky breeding grounds, the species’ colonies would relocate. During warmer periods when glacier ice would melt, revealing the rocky earth, the penguin colonies would return to old nesting areas.
But this way of life may no longer be sustainable for these penguins, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Scientific Reports. Instead of being able to relocate with natural climate change as in eras past, Adélie penguins will begin to disappear in coming decades as sea temperatures rise.
By 2060, 30 percent of current Adélie colonies, or 20 percent of the overall population, may be in decline, researchers say. And approximately 60 percent of the colonies may be in decline by 2099.
It is only in recent decades that we know Adélie penguin population declines are associated with warming, which suggests that many regions of Antarctica have warmed too much and that further warming is no longer positive for the species,” lead author Megan Cimino, who earned her doctoral degree at the University of Delaware in May and is now a postdoctoral scholar at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, said in a press release. Dr. Cimino worked with a team of researchers from University of Delaware and other research institutions and was funded through NASA’s biodiversity program.
The team used a combination of methods, old and new, to gain a clearer picture of how climate change will effect the Adélie penguins, which have nesting grounds all over Antarctica, including on the West Antarctic Peninsula, one of the fastest warming regions on the planet.
The researchers used images from space to study to the habitat and populations of the penguins. By looking at satellite images from 1981 to 2010, scientists were able observe sea ice and bare rock locations and sea surface temperature – all factors that affect the species’ breeding patterns and habitat. The images also showed where the penguin populations were, and were not, during this time period.
— #BoycottKoch (@GoodbyeKoch) July 2, 2016
Does Exxon Mobil have a constitutional right to sow doubt about climate science? That’s the subject of a high-stakes legal battle playing out between dozens of state attorneys general, members of Congress, corporate executives, and activists.
Last fall, investigations by Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times revealed that the oil giant has decades of internal documents showing that its own scientists and executives knew fossil fuels contributed to climate change. Publicly, the company argued that the threats posed by global warming were far from certain, presumably as part of an effort to fight off regulations.
The revelations have sparked a barrage of legal actions. The attorney generals of Massachusetts, California, and New York launched investigations of Exxon, while Democratic AGs from other states have expressed their support. Some have drawn parallels to the tobacco industry’s deception on the dangers of smoking. Exxon has countered that the investigations are unconstitutional and has filed motions asking courts to block the subpoenas. “This…is about freedom of political speech,” the company recently argued in the Massachusetts case.
In March, US Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker served the company with a subpoena seeking records that he claimed might prove that Exxon had defrauded consumers and the government by “misrepresenting its knowledge” that its fossil fuels contribute to climate change. Walker specifically pointed to a state racketeering statute that prohibits obtaining money by false pretenses. He demanded any documents detailing Exxon’s knowledge of climate change and its strategies to address it, including research studies, publications, statements, and communications with outside groups. Exxon responded by filing a lawsuit against Walker to block the subpoena. Exxon prevailed on Wednesday, when Walker agreed to withdraw the subpoena.
Exxon received some unusual assistance in its victory in the Virgin Islands case. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a tea-party-aligned Republican, went so far as to formally intervene—that is, he asked the court to allow the state of Texas to become a party to the case. Exxon, he wrote, had a First Amendment right to withhold the documents Walker was seeking
— Climate Reality (@ClimateReality) July 2, 2016
When it comes to fundamental drivers of climate and weather across the Earth, it is hard to think of a region more important than the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool, an enormous area stretching across the Pacific and Indian oceans on both sides of the equator.
This is, basically, the biggest body of warm water there is. Indeed, the warm pool, which is fueled by the intense sunlight striking the equator and tropics, is defined as the area where the average surface ocean temperature is greater than about 82 degrees Fahrenheit all year round (a temperature, incidentally, that is well above the threshold level needed for tropical cyclone or hurricane formation).
The warm pool drives monsoons, tropical cyclones and much more. Its warm ocean surface is the home to deep atmospheric “convection,” or the rising of warm, moist air, which leads to atmospheric circulation and rainfall patterns that influence the entire planet.
And the warm pool is growing.
“It is about four or five times larger than Australia,” said Seung-Ki Min, a researcher at Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea and an author of a new study in Science Advances on the warm pool’s expansion. “It has been increasing about 32 percent over the last 60 years in size.”
The new study, which Min co-authored with Evan Weller of Pohang University as well as colleagues in China, Canada and Australia, proves for what is apparently the first time that this spatial expansion – which has implications for hurricane landfalls, rising seas (warm water expands and takes up more area) and much more – is caused by human-induced climate change.
— Nature Conservancy (@nature_org) July 2, 2016