November 2015

Much of my news comes from The Daily Climate, whose wonderful subscription service clues me in to what's going on each day. Another great source of stories (and commentaries) comes from my friend Jim Poyser, at Apocadocs.


November, 2015


  • Francis: World close to suicide over climate change: "Every year, the problems are more grave," the pontiff told the press Monday, adding that politicians have so far "done little" to address the situation. Recounting a meeting he had participated in that focused on what kind of world we are leaving our children, the pope said someone there had asked: "But are you sure that there will be children of this generation? We are at the limit," said Francis. "We are at the limit of a suicide, to say a strong word." But he added: "I am sure that almost all who are in Paris … have this awareness and want to do something."


  • AP FACT CHECK: Most GOP candidates flunk climate science:
    • Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, with an 87, had the lowest score among the Democrats, dinged for an exaggeration when he said global warming could make Earth uninhabitable. [ael: I'm moving his score back up!]
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  • U.S. senators vow to block climate aid, scrutinize Paris deal:
    • ael: U.S. senators are a greater danger to our planet than ISIS.
  • A 'New Deal' of sorts for religion: Science alone can't force behavior change. Religion needs to step up.
  • Britain Calls for Closing of Coal-Fired Power Plants by 2025: “It cannot be satisfactory for an advanced economy like the U.K. to be relying on polluting, carbon-intensive 50-year-old coal-fired power stations,” Amber Rudd, the minister for energy and climate change, said in a statement.
  • October 2015 becomes first month to cross key global warming boundary: The planet has not been only record warm this year, it's been so unusually mild that the temperature records themselves have set records of their own. This is the case with October 2015, according to new preliminary NASA data released Tuesday. The information shows that October 2015 was by far the warmest October on record, dating back to 1880. Not only that, but October also had the largest temperature departure from average of any month on record.
    • Importantly, this was also the first time that a single month exceeded the 1-degree Celsius temperature anomaly, surpassing the 0.97 degree Celsius temperature anomaly in January 2007. This is a symbolic milestone, but one that will be broken more frequently as the climate continues to warm due to increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the air because of human activities.
    • On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its October temperature data, and also found the month was the warmest such month on record, and broke the record for the largest monthly global temperature anomaly in 1,630 months of record-keeping. The agency said the month fell just short of the 1 degree Celsius anomaly, at 0.98 degrees Celsius above average, but nevertheless solidly beat the previous record monthly temperature anomaly, which was set in September.
  • El Niño Does Something It's Never Done Before. Watch Out, California.
    • This year’s intense jet stream pattern will bring much warmer than normal temperatures to the northeastern United States and eastern Canada.
    • The extraordinary surge of heat in the equatorial Pacific continues to push from the dateline towards the Americas. Temperatures anomalies are predicted to peak over the next month by a number of climate models, but the effects of the excess oceanic heat will continue to grow in the atmosphere into the winter months. 2015 is already crushing records as the warmest year on record but 2016 may be even warmer because the peak in atmospheric temperatures is months later than the peak in sea surface temperatures.
  • India’s Rising Tides and Temperatures
  • G20 spends four times more on fossil fuel output than on renewables, think tank says
  • Fact check: Republicans’ crazy debate claims about climate change and energy
  • Turnbull government accused of blocking US, Japan plan to reduce coal: The move has once again prompted claims that the government is risking Australia's international reputation on climate change.
  • Huge coal company misled investors on climate change risk, according to investigation: Just days after President Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, environmentalists were handed another victory Monday morning when New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released the results of an investigation that found one of the world’s largest coal companies had misled the public and its shareholders about the risks climate change could pose to its bottom line.
  • Ice, a big moderator of the Earth's climate, will change the Arctic and the planet when it leaves: By midcentury, the Arctic coastline and most of the Arctic Ocean will be devoid of sea ice for an additional 60 days each year, with some regions seeing closer to 100 days more of open water, according to a study released this week in the journal Nature Climate Change.


  • Mennonite Farmers Prepare to Leave Mexico, and Competition for Water: Underground reservoirs have been drained by thirsty crops, like corn, that are the mainstay of the Mennonites’ success, they say. Competition for groundwater — which officials have warned could run out in 20 years — has strained relations between the pacifist, Low German-speaking Mennonites and other farmers and, on occasion, incited violence.
    • The Mennonites began digging wells for irrigation in the 1980s, said Víctor Quintana Silveyra, a sociologist and politician in Chihuahua City who has studied local water use. As their population grew — they estimate their number at 60,000 — they used credit from Mennonite banks to buy land in the desert and to install irrigation systems. Since 2000, irrigated land in Chihuahua has doubled, to about 1.3 million acres, and farmers are pumping water at an “exploitative” rate, Mr. Quintana said.
    • Farmers said wells had to be dug three times deeper today than they were 20 years ago, a process some cannot afford. To slow extraction, the government in 2013 ruled that all new wells require a permit.




  • China Burns Much More Coal Than Reported, Complicating Climate Talks:
    • Even for a country of China’s size, the scale of the correction is immense. The sharp upward revision in official figures means that China has released much more carbon dioxide — almost a billion more tons a year according to initial calculations — than previously estimated.
  • Cyclone Chapala dumps years' worth of rain in Yemen, causing extensive damage: The first hurricane ever to hit Yemen in recorded history arrived early Tuesday morning when Tropical Cyclone Chapala hit the city of Mukallah, bringing with it unprecedented flooding in an area already suffering from a war-related humanitarian crisis. The storm may have already dumped a decades' [sic] worth of rainfall in some parts of this arid nation.
  • Justin Trudeau Is Bringing Stephen Harper’s Emissions Plan to the Paris Climate Talks:
  • As scientists worry about warming world, US public doesn't: However, fewer than one in four Americans are extremely or very worried about it, according the poll of 1,058 people. About one out of three Americans are moderately worried and the highest percentage of those polled — 38 percent — were not too worried or not at all worried.
    • Scientists, however, aren't communicating their worries well, figuring that issuing more reports and data will convince people, said climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe of Texas Tech, who reaches out to the evangelical Christian community. Success lies in finding common ground in humanity, she said. "More facts are not going to fix the problem," Hayhoe told a meeting of top climate scientists last week in Washington. "Nearly every human on the planet has the values they need to care about climate change. We just need to connect the dots."
    • Which airlines are best and worst for the climate?: airlines.jpg?w=638&h=405


  • Thad's birthday! Happy 14th, Thad — I hope that your world gets smart before it gets cooked…. Love, Dad.
  • Pacific islands make last-ditch plea to world before Paris climate change talks: ‘Unless the world acts decisively in coming weeks, the Pacific as we know it is doomed,’ says Fijian prime minister Frank Bainimarama
    • “The industrialised nations putting the welfare of the entire planet at risk so that their economic growth is assured and their citizens can continue to enjoy lives of comparative ease. All at the expense of those of us in low-lying areas of the Pacific and the rest of the world.”
    • The latest, the Suva Declaration, calls for an end to new coalmines and a more ambitious limit to global warming. The language has sharpened beyond Fiji – Kiribati president Anote Tong recently called Australia, previously venerated as a benevolent protector in the Pacific, “selfish” for its continued enthusiasm for burning vast amounts of fossil fuels. The cause for concern is clear – Nasa recently reported the world’s sea level has risen nearly 8cm since 1992, with the Pacific experiencing a more rapid increase than other oceans.
    • “Science is telling politicians in other countries what is happening. So why aren’t they listening? They have to look after their own people but they also have an obligation to the world. Imagine if a whole race, Tuvaluans, we have our own culture, our own ways, is made extinct overnight because we are hit by a cyclone.”
  • Senators urge Obama administration to include carbon costs in coal program:
    • [ael: internalize coal costs!]
  • Antarctica is actually gaining ice, says NASA. Is global warming over?: Not quite, scientists say. But new study results show the fallibility of current climate change measuring tools and challenges current theories about the causes of sea level rise.
    • "The good news is that Antarctica is not currently contributing to sea level rise, but is taking 0.23 millimeters per year away," said Dr. Zwally. "But this is also bad news,” he added. “If the 0.27 millimeters per year of sea level rise attributed to Antarctica in the IPCC report is not really coming from Antarctica, there must be some other contribution to sea level rise that is not accounted for."
  • New NASA data shows Brazil's drought deeper than thought:
  • The Pacific Ocean Becomes a Caldron
    • At the moment, the world’s largest ocean is a troublesome place, creating storms and causing problems for people and marine life across the Pacific Rim and beyond. A partial list includes the strong El Niño system that has formed along the Equator, and another unusually persistent zone of warm water that has been sitting off the North American coast, wryly called “the Blob.”
    • The warm water has also been linked to unprecedented harmful algal blooms along the coasts that have rendered shellfish toxic and shut down shellfish fisheries in Washington, Oregon and California. “A single clam can have enough toxins to kill a person,” said Vera L. Trainer, the manager of the marine biotoxin program at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. Officials also ordered the largest closure of the state’s Dungeness crab fishing. “It’s really worrisome,” Dr. Trainer added. “If this is a single event that then goes away and we can forget about it down the road, it’s O.K. If it’s a window into the future, it’s not a good future.”
  • Getting warmer: More Republicans are starting to take climate change seriously:
    • Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) is angling to turn herself into a Republican leader on climate change — at least in part to fight a 2016 reelection challenge from a climate-hawk Democrat. Last Sunday, Ayotte became the first GOP senator to express support for President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which will rein in CO2 emissions from electric utilities. On Wednesday, she released an ad touting that position and her other efforts to protect the environment. And on Thursday, she announced the formation of a new Senate Energy and Environment Working Group, which a spokesperson said will “talk about ways to build support for protecting the environment and climate and promoting cleaner energy production while also helping the economy.”

What went on: October, 2015

What went on: September, 2015

What went on: August, 2015

What went on: May, 2015

What went on: April, 2015

What went on: March, 2015

What went on: February, 2015

What went on: January, 2015

What went on: 2014

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