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Climate change issues, prevention, adaptation

Pro and Con

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Mar 25, 9:13am Top

Earth Hour tonight, March 25: we're invited to turn off lights 8:30-9:30 pm local time. Hopefully, this will be the year I remember!

Birds appreciate darkness at appropriate hours, and many species, of course, could use some respite from global warming.

Even Red-tailed Hawks are undergoing substantial changes in both migratory behavior and population size at least in part due to climate change,
with numbers down in south (not overwintering) and central/eastern Canada (possible decline in breeding population).


Paprocki, N., Oleyar, D., Brandes, D. et al. 2017. Combining Migration and Wintering Counts to Enhance Understanding of Population Change in a Generalist Raptor Species, the North American Red-tailed Hawk. The Condor. http://www.bioone.org/doi/10.1650/CONDOR-16-132.1

An increasing body of scientific evidence supports the idea that many avian species are changing their migratory behavior as a result of climate change, land-use change, or both. We assessed Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) population trends in 2 parts of the annual cycle (fall migration and winter) to better understand regional population trends and their relationship to changes in migration. We conducted 10 yr, 20 yr, and 30 yr trend analyses using pan–North American standardized fall migration counts and Christmas Bird Counts. We quantitatively compared trends in seasonal counts by latitude within the eastern and western migratory flyways. Our combined analysis of migration and wintering count data revealed flyway-specific patterns in count trends suggesting that Red-tailed Hawks are undergoing substantial changes in both migratory behavior and population size. Decreasing Red-tailed Hawk wintering and migration counts in southern regions and increasing winter counts in northern regions were consistent with other observations indicating changes in migratory strategy; an increasing number of Red-tailed Hawks do not migrate, or migrate shorter distances than they did in the past. Further, Red-tailed Hawk populations have been stable or increasing across much of North America. However, we found strong negative count trends at the northernmost migration sites on the eastern flyway, suggesting possible breeding-population declines in the central and eastern Canadian provinces. Our findings demonstrate the benefit of using appropriate data from multiple seasons of the annual cycle to provide insight into shifting avian migration strategies and population change.

Mar 26, 2:58pm Top

EPA chief: Trump to undo Obama plan to curb global warming

...EPA chief Scott Pruitt said the executive order to be signed Tuesday will undo the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, an environmental regulation that restricts greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants. The 2015 rule has been on hold since last year while a federal appeals court considers a challenge by coal-friendly Republican-led states and more than 100 companies...


Mar 26, 3:05pm Top

Thanks for starting this thread. I will follow closely, and many will no doubt appreciate I have little to nothing to add.

Edited: Mar 26, 5:45pm Top

Well, if you listen to the some of most strident voices, they'll tell you we're already doomed. Here's a fellow I used to be in touch with: one rather controversial Professor Emeritus of conservation biology at the University of Arizona. I'm too much of a dyed-in-the-wool humanist to walk all the way with him, and his ideological rigidity can be off-putting, but he's certainly worth reading for anyone interested in the worst-case analysis.


I don't buy that we're necessarily extinct, but I'm open to the possibility that civilization as we know it may not survive the rest of our lifetimes (in which event, of course, there would likely be implications for the length of some of our lifetimes). Keep in mind, too, that Guy is very much at the worst-case fringe. That said: Guy would take a look at the first extract, smirk, and remark wryly upon the OP paper's fixation with "charismatic megafauna."

Mar 26, 5:57pm Top

Melting the polar caps and Greenland as rising global temperatures are doing is going to have some pretty nasty consequences. Just speaking from a North American viewpoint if and when sea level risings push major population centers inland--depending on how fast it happens the more strain it will have logistically on the rest of the country and that could easily turn into an insupportable situation. IMO there's a pretty decent chance that one day in the not too distant future we're going to have our very own man made major refugee crisis and we won't have the means to deal with it. The other thing about the coastline is that's where our nuclear power plants tend to be located and as we've seen with Fukushima radioactive material and sea water don't mix well together.

And we see with the Dakota pipeline just where the United States government's and its politicians priorities are-- they're with corporations and wealth entities. If forced to act--they will react too late and likely not do enough and they won't take the blame--they'll shift it somehow. That's the entire republican party and the major part of the democratic party.

Edited: Mar 26, 9:33pm Top

Worth pairing with Guy's piece for perspective (though he'd not be pleased to hear me say it):

And here's a good exchange of ideas with the Radio Ecoshock crowd, who are on the whole (slightly) less gloomy.

ETA: And don't miss this earlier piece for a very interesting dissection of some oil industry hanky-panky:

Mar 26, 8:34pm Top

I believe that the leading universities that teach the issues have pretty much convinced students that at the least we have reached the point where it is irreversible. I spoke with one such student last summer and his area of study is along the lines of what Iriley suggests is necessary, though more particular. For instance, he gave one prospective thing that indicates to what extend all changes. He spoke of airplane wheels, which will all have to withstand a wider range of temperatures, particularly warmer runways...(if I recall correctly--If i don't, it think that's enought anyway to suggest the enormity of the problem)

Mar 27, 8:20am Top

The White House calls climate change research a ‘waste.’ Actually, it’s required by law
Chris Mooney | March 21, 2017

...Despite White House budget director Mick Mulvaney’s assertion Friday that studying climate change is a “waste of your money,” federal scientists are required, by a 1990 law, to do just that — and are carrying on for now, even under the cloud of budgetary uncertainty created by the Trump administration.

It’s no easy task. Trump’s “skinny” budget proposes to slash many climate-related programs at agencies like NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration but often doesn’t go into specifics — raising doubts about the implications for climate science programs across 13 government agencies and the production of an exhaustive report about the impact of climate change in the U.S. that is required by law.

“For each of these programs, real people live on the other side of the budget line item,” said Ali Zaidi, a Stanford energy researcher who previously served in a key role in Obama’s Office of Management and Budget overseeing funding for climate and environmental programs. “Students, small business, and sources of economic growth for communities count on this data. Now you’ve got folks waiting by the phone to learn whether they’ll be going to work tomorrow or whether the data that informs their livelihoods will still be available.”...


Mar 27, 12:58pm Top

The determination of the oil and gas people to pollute is seconded by practically every single republican lawmaker and sadly by too many democratic ones as well. The process of natural gas fracking calls for the contamination of untold billions of gallons of water---and as well has led to the contamination of countless numbers of fresh water sources. Only two states have banned fracking. New York and Vermont. I think some of the Canadian provinces have as well. The Dakota pipeline is an inevitable disaster waiting to happen. All pipelines eventually leak. It's unconscionable what they're doing. The Obama administration should have done much more to stop it. The Trump administration has greenlighted it. Business trumps health and safety.

Mar 27, 1:15pm Top

>9 lriley: 'The Obama administration should have done much more to stop it.' Why? That's not in their job description as they see it and as you point out at the beginning of your post.

I've borne witness to an interesting phenomenon here at LT near the end of the election run-up and in the first months after: an increasing intensity in Democrat infighting (and anti-Trump infighting, I shoud clarify because of course not all who 'failed' to vote Clinton were Democrats, but left of Democrat). It led to the disgusting phenomenon of Democrats bullying fecklessly (hah!); it led to Democrats acting undemocratically. If that is ever going to change as it should, those who voted happily for both Obama and then Clinton need to, I think, understand that they are as engaged in the oligarchic structure as any enormous pharmaceutical company, any insurance company, and arms producer, the 'defense' industry. That's not to say that there was no good reason to vote for Clinton, though I can only think of one--Planned Parenthood support/women's rights. But in the future Democrats have to stop allowing themselves the laziness necessary to support half-assed candidates who work for the same people and towards the same nefarious ends as the Republicans, who may range from insane to antihuman but can get along with any Democrat who supports, to use Iriley's example DAPL, as Obama obviously did.

Mar 27, 3:01pm Top

One of the most troubling ideas about climate change just found new evidence in its favor

...Publishing in Nature Scientific Reports, Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University and a group of colleagues at research institutes in the United States, Germany and the Netherlands find that at least in the spring and summer, the large scale flow of the atmosphere is indeed changing in such a way as to cause weather to get stuck more often.

The study, its authors write, “adds to the weight of evidence for a human influence on the occurrence of devastating events such as the 2003 European heat wave, the 2010 Pakistan flood and Russian heat wave, the 2011 Texas heat wave and recent floods in Europe.”...

...(John Fyfe of the Canadian Center for Climate Modeling and Analysis at Environment and Climate Change Canada), who testifies before Congress this week in a session that is expected to feature a rip-roaring debate about the severity of climate change, commented, “That’s going to be a fake debate. But this stuff is where the real debate is now.”


Edited: Mar 27, 5:44pm Top

> 4 charismatic fauna

Don't think that I'd include Red-Tailed Hawk in this category--Polar Bear, Condor, Panda, Elephant, Rhinoceros, Great Apes, maybe even Bald Eagle, but not a generalist hawk, much as we all enjoy seeing it, I suspect. But correct me if you think I'm wrong.

An old colleague of mine, a Rhodes scholar, active in international environmental conferences--i.e., very, very green, Kermit green--once answered me that yes he would sacrifice a grandchild if it would save an endangered species, even an amoeba. I didn't believe him. The good thing is that often, if you can save "charismatic megafauna", you can save many lesser species that share parts of its its habitat, e.g., rewilding of Yellowstone by re-introduction of wolves, apparently a/the keystone predator in that ecosystem.

Mar 27, 8:15pm Top

>12 margd: I agree in principle with the Rhodes feller. A scorpion is exotic to me. A red-tailed hawk is exotic. Both have charisma. I was raised in suburbs--non-human life is exotic. Weeds are exotic.

Mar 28, 8:07am Top

Though the forecast is not, it's heartening to see that US Geological Survey managed to post results of this modelling study. Interesting to see it appear the morning of The Donald's executive order on climate change programs:

Disappearing Beaches: Modeling Shoreline Change in Southern California

Using a newly-developed computer model called “CoSMoS-COAST” (Coastal Storm Modeling System – Coastal One-line Assimilated Simulation Tool) scientists predict that with limited human intervention, 31 to 67 percent of Southern California beaches may become completely eroded (up to existing coastal infrastructure or sea-cliffs) by the year 2100 under scenarios of sea-level rise of one to two meters.

“Beaches are perhaps the most iconic feature of California, and the potential for losing this identity is real. The effect of California losing its beaches is not just a matter of affecting the tourism economy. Losing the protecting swath of beach sand between us and the pounding surf exposes critical infrastructure, businesses and homes to damage. Beaches are natural resources, and it is likely that human management efforts must increase in order to preserve them,” said lead author of the study, Sean Vitousek, who was a post-doctoral fellow at the U.S. Geological Survey when he conducted this study. Vitousek is now a professor in the Department of Civil & Materials Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago...



Sean Vitousek et al. 2017. A model integrating longshore and cross-shore processes for predicting long-term shoreline response to climate change. Online. Journal of Geophysical Research. doi: 10.1002/2016JF004065 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016JF004065/epdf

We present a shoreline change model for coastal hazard assessment and management planning. The model, CoSMoS-COAST (Coastal One-line Assimilated Simulation Tool), is a transect-based, one-line model that predicts short-term and long-term shoreline response to climate change in the 21st
century. The proposed model represents a novel, modular synthesis of process-based models of coastline evolution due to longshore and cross-shore
transport by waves and sea-level rise. Additionally, the model uses an extended Kalman filter for data assimilation of historical shoreline positions to improve estimates of model parameters and thereby improve confidence in long-term predictions. We apply CoSMoS-COAST to simulate sandy shoreline evolution along 500 km of coastline in Southern California, which hosts complex mixtures of beach settings variably backed by dunes, bluffs, cliffs, estuaries, river mouths, and urban infrastructure, providing applicability of the model to virtually any coastal setting. Aided by data assimilation, the model is able to reproduce the
observed signal of seasonal shoreline change for the hindcast period of 1995-2010, showing excellent agreement between modeled and observed beach states. The skill of the model during the hindcast period improves confidence in the model’s predictive capability when applied to the forecast period (2010-2100) driven by GCM-projected wave and sea-level conditions. Predictions of shoreline change with limited human intervention indicate that
31% to 67% of Southern California beaches may become completely eroded by 2100 under sea-level rise scenarios of 0.93 to 2.0 m.

Edited: Mar 28, 10:15am Top

Live-streamed 10 AM ET (edit: tomorrow) morning:

Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method
Full Committee | 2318 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515 | Mar 29, 2017 10:00am to 12:00pm


Dr. Judith Curry, President, Climate Forecast Applications Network; Professor Emeritus, Georgia Institute of Technology

Dr. John Christy, Professor and Director, Earth System Science Center, NSSTC, University of Alabama at Huntsville; State Climatologist, Alabama

Dr. Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science, Pennsylvania State University; Director, Earth System Science Center (ESSC), Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Roger Pielke Jr., Professor, Environmental Studies Department, University of Colorado


Edited: Mar 28, 4:22pm Top

White House Takes Aim at Obama Era Climate Policy in New Executive Order
Mar 28 2017 | by Ali Vitali

The White House took a major swipe at President Barack Obama's climate change legacy on Tuesday with the signing of an executive order on energy independence.

The order asks the Environmental Protection Agency to review Obama's Clean Power Plan, which sought to reduce carbon pollution from power plants and is considered one of the past administration's signature pieces of climate policy. The plan's implementation was already put on hold by the Supreme Court in February of 2016....

...announced an end to the moratorium on coal production...

...A cadre of attorney generals from California, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, and the chief legal officers from Boulder, Chicago, New York city, Philadelphia, South Miami and Broward County have all vowed to oppose the plan.

"We won't hesitate to protect those we serve — including by aggressively opposing in court President Trump's actions that ignore both the law and the critical importance of confronting the very real threat of climate change," the officials wrote in a joint statement on Tuesday...



Trump signs order to roll back Obama’s climate moves

...some immediate effects. The order stops Interior’s moratorium on new coal-mining leases on federal land, something Obama instituted to study how to charge coal companies for the climate impacts of the fuel they mine on federal property.

It also stops policies asking federal agencies to consider climate change in environmental reviews, a government-wide accounting method for climate change regulations called the “social cost of carbon” and Obama executive orders on climate, like one asking that infrastructure be built to withstand a future climate affected by global warming....



BBC take:

Trump signs order undoing Obama climate change policies


Forbes analysis from a month ago:

Clean Power Plan Repeal Would Cost America $600 Billion, Cause 120,000 Premature Deaths

Mar 28, 10:34pm Top

>17 RickHarsch:...and what do you want to bet that this is just the beginning? Let's see, got some pesky federal scientific information that proves my product is harmful...just call the Donald and presto-chango - no such information exists and my product is just great.

Edited: Mar 29, 7:08am Top

Excellent, succinct overview with graphs projecting CO2-equivalent emissions for each Obama policy under Trump.
States and NGOs: break out the lawyers... Expect black armbands and pitchforks on Earth Day this year?

Trump’s Executive Order Pushes the U.S. Climate Pledge Further Out of Reach

During his first two months in office, President Donald J. Trump has rolled back key Obama-era greenhouse gas regulations. Without these rules in place, the United States is set to fall far short of its 2015 Paris Agreement pledge: to lower emissions by at least 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

Here is how some of President Barack Obama’s signature policies have fared so far under the Trump administration:

Cleaner power plants...
More efficient cars...
Fewer methane emissions...
Eco-friendlier appliances...
California: a climate battle brewing...



ETA: in 2007 Supreme Court opined on CO2 as pollutant, which EPA can regulate under the Clean Air Act.

MASSACHUSETTS v. EPA (No. 05-1120)

...Because greenhouse gases fit well within the (Clean Air) Act’s capacious definition of “air pollutant,” EPA has statutory authority to regulate emission of such gases from new motor vehicles. That definition—which includes “any air pollution agent … , including any physical, chemical, … substance … emitted into … the ambient air … ,” §7602(g) (emphasis added)—embraces all airborne compounds of whatever stripe. Moreover, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are undoubtedly “physical and chemical … substances.”...


Mar 29, 7:30am Top

>18 alco261: That's been going on a long time in a less sinister form. The opponents of the science, though, at least had to pay for their own science and fight it out to some degree.

Mar 29, 3:06pm Top

>15 margd: Today's hearing: Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method
(Chairman of House Science Committee disputes objectivity of premier science journal.)

House panel hearing becomes climate change sparring session

...(Dr. Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science, Pennsylvania State University; Director, Earth System Science Center (ESSC), Pennsylvania State University) sparred directly with (Rep Lamar Smith (R-TX) Chair of House Science Committee), highlighting a Friday article in Science magazine that criticized Smith for speaking at a conference for climate change skeptics. Science magazine is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“That is not known as an objective writer or magazine,” Smith said.

Mann replied, “Well, it is ‘Science’ magazine.”


Mar 29, 3:18pm Top

“That is not known as an objective writer or magazine,” Smith said.


Edited: Mar 29, 6:24pm Top

Lamar Smith is a classic example of a Texas republican. Many of his biggest donors come from the oil and gas industry. I kind of look at him as a cretin too but there are rea$on$ he does the things that he does and says the things that he says. He's got a nice little setup for himself and that's all that really matters to him.

By the way he takes a lot of money from the alcohol industry too but is dead set against marijuana legalization. Christian values. If you have the wherewithal to buy him--he'll be your friend.

Mar 30, 5:18am Top

Drought and War Heighten Threat of Not Just 1 Famine, but 4

...For the first time since anyone can remember, there is a very real possibility of four famines — in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen — breaking out at once, endangering more than 20 million lives.

...Aid officials say all the needed food and water exist on this planet in abundance — even within these hard-hit countries. But armed conflict that is often created by personal rivalries between a few men turns life upside down for millions, destroying markets and making the price of necessities go berserk...

...Scientists have been saying for years that climate change will increase the frequency of droughts. The hardest-hit countries, though, produce almost none of the carbon emissions that are widely believed to cause climate change.

South Sudan and Somalia, for instance, have relatively few vehicles and almost no industry. But their fields are drying up and their pastureland is vanishing, scientists say, partly because of the global effects of pollution. People in these countries suffer from other people’s driving, other people’s manufacturing and other people’s attachment to things like flat-screen TVs and iPads that most Somalis and South Sudanese will touch only in their dreams.

...Many more Africans may soon need (help). Sweltering days and poor rains so far this year have left Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania parched and on the edge of a major food crisis...


Mar 30, 8:13am Top


Mar 30, 12:41pm Top

People in these countries suffer from other people’s driving, other people’s manufacturing and other people’s attachment to things like flat-screen TVs and iPads that most Somalis and South Sudanese will touch only in their dreams.

Ya, well, Prez Trump is gonna help them by burning a few more mountains of coal and getting rid of vegetation higher than turf.

Aid officials say all the needed food and water exist on this planet in abundance — even within these hard-hit countries. But armed conflict that is often created by personal rivalries between a few men turns life upside down for millions, destroying markets and making the price of necessities go berserk...

If China is truly buying up Africa, they must have some interest in policing it. I'd welcome the Chinese overlords.

There was a segment on the Daily Show just a few days back with Helene Cooper about her new book, Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. It highlighted just how much of Africa's problem are the men, the patriarchy--not that that's in any way unique to Africa.

But since nobody is going to listen to "let's get rid of men in government (at least for a while)", it's back again to the Chinese.

Mar 31, 7:28am Top

At least the Chinese are addressing climate change, which is at least partly responsible for the drought. And by investing in Africa, hopefully they are contributing to an economy that will foster stability. We can only press our government to do likewise. Oh--and help out through the World Food Program and similar emergency efforts... Sad!

Mar 31, 9:22am Top

Excellent overview of legal and procedural obstacles to Trump's war on climate action, including "courts have held that federal decisions can be disqualified if they were driven by regulators who have an “unalterably closed mind” on an issue...Given the recent history of courts using Trump’s tweets against him—and Trump’s long history of calling global warming a “hoax” and a “con”—it will be interesting to see how this plays out."

How Trump’s Environmental Policy Is a Total Joke, Explained
If you read this story, you will officially know far more about environmental policy than anyone in the Trump administration.
Charles C. Mann | March 30, 2017 6:03 pm

Apr 4, 9:48am Top

(Americans) Swallowed By the Sea

Rising sea levels are submerging two American island communities. Their residents now face a choice, said reporters Carolyn Beeler and Molly Peterson: Stay and fight the ocean, or move away.

To stay or to go. It’s a wrenching question low-lying coastal communities around the world are beginning to reckon with as climate change starts to push up global sea levels. But it’s not just happening in far-away places like Bangladesh or the Maldives. It’s happening right here in the U.S.

On Tangier Island, Va., in the southern Chesapeake Bay, residents are facing the inundation of a place some local families have called home since the 1600s. They are determined to stay. On Isle de Jean Charles on the Louisiana Gulf Coast, a disappearing Native American community has made the opposite decision. They are the first community to receive federal money to relocate because of climate change...


Apr 4, 11:23am Top

>26 LolaWalser:. 'If China is truly buying up Africa, they must have some interest in policing it. I'd welcome the Chinese overlords.'

Yes, because Foreign Imperialism worked out so well for Africans in the past...

Apr 5, 9:08am Top

EPA Proposal Cuts Hundreds of Climate Change Employees
The budget blueprint also attempts to shift responsibility for many federal environmental laws to states
By Emily Holden, E&E News on April 4, 2017

A memo detailing how U.S. EPA would cut its budget by one-third shows that the agency would eliminate hundreds of employees working on climate change, including 20 lawyers who provide support for the Clean Power Plan...

...resident Trump has proposed halving the budget of EPA's Office of Research and Development. The memo shows that would mean eliminating $19.4 million of EPA's climate change research that is conducted in coordination with the U.S. Global Change Research Program and cutting 47 FTE. It would also mean getting rid of $10.6 million for the Science to Achieve Results grant program, which funds research at universities.

As previously reported, the proposal would eliminate the $69.7 million Climate Protection Program, which houses voluntary partnerships like Energy Star. It would cut 224 FTE from that program.

...In addition, the proposal would move money around at the Office of the General Counsel, nixing lawyers working on the Obama administration's climate standards for power plants, which Trump has moved to gut....


Apr 8, 4:57am Top

Global Temperature Spiral (see graphics at website)

Apr 13, 6:02am Top

EPA News Release
Regulatory Reform Underway at EPA | 04/11/2017

As a vital step of EPA’s implementation of President Trump’s Executive Order, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” EPA’s Regulatory Reform Task Force, led by the Office of Policy, submitted a Federal Register notice today to solicit public comments on EPA regulations...


Presidential Actions Related to Regulatory Reform

Executive Order 13777 (82 FR 12285, March 1, 2017) on Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda directs federal agencies to establish a Regulatory Reform Task Force (Task Force). One of the duties of the Task Force is to evaluate existing regulations and make recommendations to the agency head regarding their repeal, replacement, or modification. The EO requires EPA to submit a progress report to the Administrator by mid-May, 2017.

Executive Order 13771 (82 FR 9339, February 3, 2017) on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs directs all agencies to repeal two existing regulations for each new regulation issued in FY 2017 and thereafter. It further directs agencies that the “total incremental costs of all regulations should be no greater than zero” in FY 2017. For FY 2018 and beyond, the director of the Office of Management and Budget will provide agencies with a total amount of incremental costs that will be allowed.

Executive Order 13783 (82 FR 16093, March 31, 2017) on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, directs the EPA to review the Clean Power Plan, related rules and the NSPS for Oil and Gas, and all agencies to review existing regulations, orders, guidance documents and policies that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources. The Administrator must submit a plan for the review of existing regulations to OMB by mid-May, 2017. The Administrator must also submit a draft report detailing actions taken under the EO by late July 2017 and finalize the report by late September 2017.


How to Comment (by May 15)

You may submit comments in writing, using Email, Docket or mail. Submit comments to:

Email: Laws-Regs@epa.gov (The docket number for public input is EPA-HQ-OA-2017-0190)

Docket: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OA-2017-0190

Mail: Office of Policy Regulatory Reform, Mail Code 1803A, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20460 (The docket number for public input is EPA-HQ-OA-2017-0190)

Apr 13, 10:38am Top

Scott Pruitt's afraid of bunny-huggers? Lefties fomenting hatred? Reported hostility in the agency? Blades falling off wind turbines? Solar burns? Cyanobacteria?

Trump’s EPA is seeking a 24/7 security detail for its new leader
By Brady Dennis April 12, 2017

...Myron Ebell, who led the EPA transition for the Trump administration but has since returned to his role at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told E&E News this year that it would make sense for Pruitt to receive increased protection.

“I think it’s prudent given the continuing activities by the left to foment hatred and the reported hostility within the agency from some unprofessional activists,” Ebell said at the time.


Apr 14, 8:29am Top

Freshwater from melting glaciers on Greenland could disrupt the Gulf Stream, chilling Europe. It's already less salty, and some think that contributed to crash of cod in 1990s. Could be, too, that its failure could be last straw for juvenile European Eel, which depend on the Gulf Stream to sweep them from natal grounds in the Sargasso Sea. See map at

Young eels use magnetic ‘sixth sense’ to navigate
Ability explains how fish find ocean current


L.C. Naisbett-Jones et al. A magnetic map leads juvenile European eels to the Gulf Stream. Current Biology, April 13, 2017. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.03.015.
http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(17)30284-1 .

(OT, but interesting IMHO, American and European Eels' responses to earth's magnetic field may have contributed to speciation: "Given such sensitivity to magnetic map information, our results offer a plausible explanation for the complex migration ecology of North Atlantic Anguilla species, whereby juvenile European (Anguilla anguilla) and American (A. rostrata) eels arrive at rearing habitats on opposite sides of the Atlantic despite adults spawning in partial sympatry in the Sargasso Sea. Larvae of the two species could use magnetic maps to differentially orient swimming in the western Atlantic to position themselves in currents that favor transport toward either Europe or North America." )

Edited: Apr 14, 1:17pm Top

>35 margd: i found the eel news interesting. As a kid a friend of mine had a small pond in his front yard that had eels maybe of 4 lbs and over 2 feet long - we were terrified of them & their teeth. Weirdly his pond was fed by a very tiny creek that nearly dried up at times with no real river for miles and we are over 175 miles from the ocean here in the USA

Apr 14, 2:11pm Top

>36 DugsBooks: When young eels migrate into fresh water to mature, they can go overland if damp, I understand. For example, the "eel ladder" over the St Lawrence River's Moses Saunders Dam is a narrow trough lined with damp aquatic vegetation. The few eels (all female in the Great Lakes) that once made it to Lake Huron are thought to have slithered overland from Lake Simcoe, if I remember correctly. When I was a child on L Ontario, it was hard NOT to catch them on my worm, and my dad would be cross because they swallowed the worm so deeply that he'd have to cut the line to release the eel. We didn't eat them, thank goodness as they were probably chemically contaminated, or at least they were in following decades. They're rare/endangered now in Lake Ontario as they are in Europe and other waters. Too bad for today's kids... (You just reminded me of great children's book, Think of an Eel: Read and Wonder by Karen Wallace--thanks!)

Apr 18, 3:07pm Top

>33 margd:

@rycalder 25m25 minutes ago
ScottPruitt asked America how best to gut @EPA. 547/548 submissions from livid Americans demanding more protection, not less.

Edited: Apr 20, 7:26am Top

@altNOAA 5h5 hours ago
And... we officially have Subtropical Depression One. Yes, we know... it's still April.

(NOAA's National Hurricane Center issuing advisories for the Atlantic on Subtropical Depression One...SUBTROPICAL DEPRESSION MOVING NORTHWARD OVER THE OPEN ATLANTIC... ...EXPECTED TO MOVE NORTHWESTWARD LATER TODAY... )

Apr 20, 8:51am Top

Scientists have discovered vast systems of flowing water in Antarctica. And that worries them.
By Chelsea Harvey April 19

...rather than simply pooling where it melts in every case, liquid water may run for miles across the continent first — and that discovery comes with some worrying implications.

The major problem is that these drainage systems can carry meltwater from other parts of the ice sheet onto the continent’s vulnerable ice shelves. These are large, floating blocks of ice that jut out into the ocean from the edges of glaciers, helping to block and stabilize the flow of ice behind them. If these ice shelves weaken and break off, they can release a flood of ice into the ocean, raising sea levels in the process.

Now, the authors of the new research suggest that the transport of moving water onto and across Antarctica’s ice shelves could make them increasingly vulnerable to collapse as melt rates accelerate under future climate change.

When meltwater flows onto a shelf, it can run off into existing cracks in the ice, where it may freeze and expand, causing the cracks to widen, said Robin Bell, a glaciologist at Columbia University and co-author of the new research. Or the water might collect in a pool, where “it’s basically acting like an additional load on the ice shelf, which stresses it and causes it to fail,” she told The Washington Post....


Apr 20, 9:02am Top

Defense experts rightly consider climate change a threat to national security.

The Other Poison Gas Killing Syrians: Carbon Dioxide Emissions
If Trump and his cronies really cared about children killed by noxious gases, they wouldn’t be trying to spew ever more CO2 into the atmosphere.
Juan Cole | April 18, 2017

...The Syrian civil war has left more than 400,000 people dead, among them graveyards full of children and innocent noncombatants. About half the country’s 23 million people have been left homeless, and of those, 4 million have been driven abroad (some of them contributing to Europe’s refugee crisis and its consequent rightward political shift). The war occurred for many complex reasons, including social and political ones. The severest drought in recorded modern Syrian history in 2007–10, however, made its contribution.

The mega-drought drove 1.5 million farmers and farmworkers off the land to the seedy bidonvilles ringing cities such as Homs and Hama. In the northeast, 70 percent of the farm livestock died in those years. These displaced and dispossessed day laborers, who seldom found remunerative new work in Syria’s stagnant urban economy, joined in the demonstrations against the regime. Some were later drawn into the civil war as militiamen. Others in the end fled their country.

...A team of scientists writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year, however, found no natural explanation for how rapidly Syria has been drying out over the past century or for the withering severity of the latest drought. Human-caused climate change, which has raised the temperature of the planet 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, they concluded, made this Frankendrought as much as three times more likely to happen than if our coal plants, factories, and automobiles had left Mother Nature alone.

A new paper by Professor Michael Mann of Penn State and colleagues comes to the alarming conclusion that human-caused climate change is messing with the jet stream, the thin band of powerful gales in the upper atmosphere that blow from west to east and sometimes loop north or south. Mann and his team found that as the earth has heated up, the jet stream sometimes gets stuck in a particular pattern, fixing weather extremes such as droughts in place for longer....


Apr 21, 6:32am Top

Louisiana is losing land to rising sea levels and hurricanes, made worse by "management" of water and wetlands. LA governor declares state of emergency and asks Trump to declare LA coastal erosion a national emergency... Good luck with that?

Louisiana's Governor Declares State Of Emergency Over Disappearing Coastline
April 20, 2017 | Merrit Kennedy

...It's an effort to bring nationwide attention to the issue and speed up the federal permitting process for coastal restoration projects.

"Decades of saltwater intrusion, subsidence and rising sea levels have made the Louisiana coast the nation's most rapidly deteriorating shoreline," WWNO's Travis Lux tells our Newscast unit. "It loses the equivalent of one football field of land every hour."

More than half of the state's population lives on the coast, the declaration states. It adds that the pace of erosion is getting faster: "more than 1,800 square miles of land between 1932 and 2010, including 300 square miles of marshland between 2004 and 2008 alone."

(Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards) estimates that if no further action is taken, "2,250 square miles of coastal Louisiana is expected to be lost" in the next 50 years. He emphasized the importance of the land to industries such as energy, maritime transportation and trade.

...Now Edwards is asking President Trump to declare the erosion of Louisiana's coast a national emergency and "provide appropriate federal attention and cooperation" to assist the state. The emergency declaration also asks for Congress to "consider legislation to provide for means by which to expedite all federal permitting and environmental review."...



As La. Coast Recedes, Battle Rages Over Who Should Pay
April 16, 2014 | Debbie Elliot 2010

Historian John Barry pushed a lawsuit alleging that oil and gas companies destroyed land that once served as a buffer protecting New Orleans from hurricanes.

...You can see the water encroaching in Delacroix in St. Bernard Parish, less than an hour southeast of New Orleans. Here, a narrow crescent of land known locally as the "end of the world" is where the road abruptly comes to a dead end; in the distance, you see the tops of now-submerged trees...


Apr 21, 8:58am Top

>39 margd: And while it's expected to weaken, it's been upgraded to tropical storm. Say hello to Arlene everyone.

Apr 24, 3:42am Top

Excellent (but grim) talk by Col. Lawrence Wilkerson from February:
Colonel Wilkerson Keynote: National Security and Climate Change, Why They Are Connected

May 4, 12:53pm Top

Kids Suing Trump Hope the Courts Step Up on Climate Change

When the case does go to trial, Trump’s lawyers will face an interesting question: Deny science — which would mean misrepresenting facts before a judge — or accept the science the president himself rejects.

“It’s a losing case to argue against the science of climate change,” Burger says. From watching the Pruitt EPA’s early actions — including its decision, so far, not to undo the so-called endangerment finding, labeling climate change a public health threat — Burger suspects the Trump administration may already know this.

May 5, 5:34pm Top

Arctic Sea Ice Keeps Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel
Brian Kahn | May 3, 2017

The astounding transformation of the Arctic before our very eyes continues. Yet another month has passed with record low sea ice.

This April merely tied April 2016 for the lowest extent on record, but it’s hardly reason to celebrate. The Arctic was missing 394,000 square miles of ice, with each day setting a record low or within 36,000 square miles of setting one.

That’s a sickly sign of the changes hitting the region. Temperatures averaged up to 14°F above normal in part of the Arctic last month, fueling the melt season. Scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center said the rate of ice loss was about average.

But after hitting a record low maximum in March, there’s simply less sea ice to melt. That means even in an average month, records are more likely to be set.

One of the biggest issues for sea ice is its increasingly youthful appearance. Young ice is more susceptible to the vagaries of weather, whether it be warm air or water or storms that knock it around and break it up.

Ice older than five years in age now only comprises 5 percent of the Arctic’s ice pack. It accounted for 30 percent of all Arctic sea ice in 1984, but relentless warmth driven by rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has slowly squeezed it out of existence.

Young ice has sprung up in its place and now accounts for nearly 70 percent of all Arctic ice, up from just 35 percent just three decades ago.

A group of researchers flying over the region to measure ice thickness got a first hand view of the young ice.

“The group noted that the ice was unusually broken up and reduced to rubble, with few large multi-year floes, forcing the pilots to land on refrozen leads that at times were only 70 centimeters (28 inches) thick,” NSIDC said in their announcement about the April data. “Pilots remarked that they had never seen the ice look like this.”

Looking at where the older and middle-aged ice is paints a grim picture for the Arctic. A trail of third-year ice sits huddled between Greenland and the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. That location means it will likely ride ocean currents out of the Arctic, leaving the region with even less of an increasingly precious resource.

Maps at http://www.climatecentral.org/news/arctic-sea-ice-scraping-bottom-of-barrel-2141...

May 9, 11:31am Top

Russia brings out its big Arctic guns for show of strength
In its annual celebration of defeating Nazi Germany, Russia showcased military hardware designed for Arctic combat, as Moscow flexes its military muscle and vies for dominance in the North with Canada, the U.S. and Norway. Here’s a primer on what the Victory Day festivities mean

Associated Press and Reuters | May 09, 2017

... The Red Square Victory Day parade is a highly ritualized display and marked changes in its order are unusual

...One (change) was the first public showing of Tor and Pantsir mobile surface-to-air missiles that have been adapted for use in Russia’s Arctic forces, their white-and-black winter camouflage standing out amid the olive drab of other war machines...


May 10, 12:17pm Top

Thank you, Senators McCain, Collins, and Graham!

Republicans’ last-ditch effort to repeal Obama-era methane rule fails in the Senate
Sen. John McCain issues surprise vote against allowing resolution to move forward.
Mark Hand | May 10, 2017

The Senate failed to advance a resolution Wednesday morning that would have nullified a Bureau of Land Management methane waste prevention rule. Three Republicans — Sens. John McCain (AZ), Susan Collins (ME), and Lindsey Graham (SC) — sided with Democrats against allowing a vote on the resolution to proceed.

The vote marks a surprise defeat of congressional Republicans’ campaign to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to repeal a host of Obama-era regulations. The House passed a resolution in February to repeal the rule, but it was uncertain whether the Senate would approve the resolution before the deadline for using the CRA to repeal the rule expired.

...The vote represented a major defeat for the American Petroleum Institute (API), the powerful lobbying group for the oil and gas industries, which had strongly pushed for the repeal of the rule. The trade group called the BLM rule “redundant, technically flawed, and unnecessary.” The rule’s requirements “could impede U.S. energy production by shutting in a significant number of wells on federal lands,” the trade group said.

...The rule has widespread support in Colorado and across the West. In Colorado, 83% of residents supported the BLM rule, including a majority of support among Republican voters. Among seven Western states with significant amounts of public lands, the rule had overwhelming support among voters, according to a Colorado College poll.

...Between 2009 and 2015, oil and gas producers on public and Native American lands vented, flared, and leaked about 462 billion cubic feet of natural gas, the Bureau of Land Management said. The methane losses create many problems, including releasing harmful emissions, including methane, into the atmosphere, safety issues, if not properly handled, and waste of a valuable domestic energy resource, the agency said.


May 12, 8:51am Top

FWIW there are already news articles on the Dakota Access Pipeline leaking and now we have the tunnel roof at the Hanford Site--quite possibly the most radioactive site in the United States--having collapsed. They just dumped a bunch of dirt down on top of it and our department of energy guru Mr. Perry says it's all under control.

May 12, 9:12am Top

>50 lriley: Externalize costs, ignore cumulative impacts, never invest for longterm--the tragedy of the commons, never precautionary approach. (To borrow some of the jargon...)

Donald Trump’s climate stance casts shadow over Arctic Council meeting
Timothy Gardner | May 11, 2017

...The Arctic Council, which includes the United States, Russia, Canada and five other countries, meets every two years to tackle problems in the region, which is warming at a faster pace than any other part of the world.

(U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hosted foreign ministers from Arctic nations)...told the council that the Trump administration was reviewing how it will approach climate change but was not going to rush to make a decision. “We are appreciative that each of you has an important point of view,” said Tillerson, the former chief executive of Exxon Mobil. “We are going to make the right decision for the United States,” he said.

...Trump’s administration has already reversed Obama-era bans on offshore drilling in certain parts of the Arctic, a turn that could intensify competition for resources in the region with major oil producer Russia.

Russia has beefed up its military presence in the Arctic to levels not seen since the fall of the Soviet Union, as global interest in the region’s oil, gas and rare earth metals heats up.


Edited: May 16, 8:51am Top

India and China ‘on track to exceed Paris climate pledges’
Karl Mathiesen | 15/05/2017

Coal plant cancellations mean the world’s two largest countries are cutting emissions faster than predicted a year ago, outweighing the effect of US policy rollbacks

...Under the Paris accord, countries pledged to reduce emissions by an amount chosen by their own national government. Only a handful of these voluntary pledges are in line with the ultimate goal of the agreement – to keep the world from warming more than 2C. Current submissions by India, China and the US are all ranked as insufficient by CAT.

But Dr Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, said the changes in China and India “if continued and accelerated” meant it would be possible to stop the world warming more than 1.5C – the most ambitious goal of the Paris agreement and one seen as essential to saving coral reefs and low lying island nations. The US would need to adopt similarly ambitious policies, he added.

Höhne said there was a great deal of uncertainty over the effect Trump’s policies would actually have on emissions. In many cases the market was already leading the US toward emissions reductions. In others, state laws would effectively replace federal regulations as they were stripped away.


May 19, 12:22pm Top

Check out Figure 3.4. Monthly change in the total mass (in Gigatonnes) of the Greenland ice sheet (April 2002 - April 2016).

Freshwater melt from Greenland threatens the Gulf Stream's North Atlantic Current said to moderate climate in Great Britain and northern Europe.
Apparently the change in salinity already could be detected (in 1990s?).

May 19, 4:17pm Top

Trump wants to cut the Energy Star program – and, with it, billions in consumer savings
Jim Marston / March 8, 2017

...According to E&E News, Trump’s draft budget encourages the EPA to “begin developing legislative options and associated groundwork for transferring ownership and implementation of Energy Star to a non-governmental entity.”...

...the program has an 85 percent brand recognition rate PDF, a level most ad execs would kill for.

...One of the reasons it has worked so well is its credibility and objectivity.

...Over the years, being certified grew into a full-blown marketing advantage for companies with efficient products.

...Since its creation, Energy Star has saved consumers $430 billion PDF – $34 billion in 2015 alone – and prevented 2.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Customers like it. Manufacturers like it. And it works.

...So what happens if they go ahead and kill Energy Star? We’ll see higher electric bills, less competitive manufacturing, wasted energy, more pollution and more sick kids. Is that making America great again?


May 20, 8:15am Top

Arctic ‘Doomsday’ Vault, Meant To Protect Against Disasters, Gets Flooded After Permafrost Melts
20 May 2017, 7:38 am EDT By Luan Chan

The Svalbard global seed vault has met its match in global warming. Arctic permafrost was thawed and flooded the vault after a series of heat waves. ( Crop Trust )

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, more commonly known as the "Doomsday Vault," houses more than 800,000 important crop seeds, as well as several tree samples, that humanity would need in order to survive should a global natural or man-made disaster occur.

The vault itself is located 400 feet under the Arctic permafrost and is strong enough to survive even a nuclear holocaust, but the Norwegian government, who is in charge of the vault, did not take into consideration that the ice surrounding the stronghold would melt and flood the facility, which is exactly what just happened.

None of seeds stored in the vault seem to have been compromised...

...According to reports, the seeds within the Svalbard global seed vault have not been compromised. The water that flooded the vault from the thawed permafrost, however, froze inside the vault and workers had to be called in to pick at the ice.

Cary Fowler, who helped design the vault, said that some water from thawed permafrost enters the facility from the front entrance every year but it never comes close to the seed vault. This is because a 100-meter long tunnel, a downward slope, two pumping stations to remove water, and an uphill slope were constructed between the front entrance and the entrance to the seed vault.

"If there was a worst case scenario where there was so much water, or the pumping systems failed, that it made its way uphill to the seed vault, then it would encounter minus 18 degrees celsius and freeze again," Fowler explained.
Finding Solutions

As a result of this incident, the Norwegian government is taking action to ensure that it doesn't happen again and to further minimize the possibility of compromising the seeds stored in the vault, even against the effects of climate change....


May 21, 6:54am Top

Twila Moon. 2017. Saying goodbye to glaciers (perspective). Science, 12 May 2017: Vol. 356, Issue 6338, pp. 580-581
DOI: 10.1126/science.aam9625 . http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6338/580.full


Global glacier volume is shrinking. This loss of Earth's land ice is of international concern. Rising seas, to which melting ice is a key contributor, are expected to displace millions of people within the lifetime of many of today's children. But the problems of glacier loss do not stop at sea level rise; glaciers are also crucial water sources, integral parts of Earth's air and water circulation systems, nutrient and shelter suppliers for flora and fauna, and unique landscapes for contemplation or exploration.

What if all the ice on earth melted?

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