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2015 SkS Weekly News Roundup #15A

Posted on 8 April 2015 by John Hartz

Calif. continues to shatter temperature records

The dubious records keep piling up for California, a state wracked by four years of drought brought on by a pernicious weather pattern that has kept rains at bay and exacerbated by human-induced warming. Just one week after the state measured its lowest-ever snowpack, U.S. scientists have announced that the year so far has been the warmest on record, setting expectations for a long, hot, dry year ahead.

“2015 to date has been truly astonishingly warm in California, and we're breaking almost all the temperature records there are to break,” Daniel Swain, an atmospheric science PhD student at Stanford University, said in an email.

Calif. Continues to Shatter Temperature Records by Andrea Thompson, Climate Central, Apr 8, 2015

Climate change attacks: Western Canada to lose 70 percent of glaciers

Canada has always been a land of majesty, mystery and stand-up comedians. But come 2100 A.D., the Great White North will be a lot less icy: A new study predicts that Western Canada will lose 70 percent of its glaciers to climate change by the end of the century.

“Most of that is going to go, and most seems to be on its way out,” Garry Clarke, professor emeritus in the department of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences at the University of British Columbia, said in a telephone interview with The Washington Post.

Clarke is the lead author on the paper “Projected deglaciation of Western Canada in the twenty-first century,” published Monday in Nature Geoscience. The study used computer models to predict how planet Earth’s rising temperatures will affect the climate north of the 49th parallel.

Climate change attacks: Western Canada to lose 70 percent of glaciers, study says by Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post, Apr 7, 2-15

Climate-change deniers are in retreat

There is no denying it: Climate-change deniers are in retreat.

What began as a subtle shift away from the claim that man-made global warming is not a threat to the planet has lately turned into a stampede. The latest attempt to deny denial comes from the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, a powerful group that pushes for states to pass laws that are often drafted by industry. As my Post colleagues Tom Hamburger, Joby Warrick and Chris Mooney report, ALEC is not only insisting that it doesn’t deny climate change — it’s threatening to sue those who suggest otherwise.

The group, which suffered the highly visible defection of Google because of its global-warming stance and an exodus of other top corporate members, sent letters to Common Cause and the League of Conservation Voters instructing them to “remove all false or misleading material” alleging ALEC questions global-warming theory.

Climate-change deniers are in retreat Op-ed by Dana Milbank, Washington Post, Apr 6, 2015

Climate change: no room for debate?

Among the most contentious of issues in Washington right now is the issue of climate change. While both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate voted on an Amendment stating the “climate change is not a hoax,” that is pretty much the last thing the majority of both sides agree on.

On this week’s "TechKnow," we’ve looked at some of the disputes involved with the debate on climate change and how at least one city is dealing with the effects now.

Here’s a guide to some of issues involved.

Climate change: no room for debate? by Stephanie Becker, Al Jazeera America, Apr 6, 2015

Everybody needs a Climate Thing

In my response to Jonathan Franzen, I said that birds are his Climate Thing — that one angle at which climate has intersected with his interests and caught his attention. He now uses it as a proxy, a lens through which to view the entire issue. Everyone who writes or thinks about climate change for a living knows what a Climate Thing is and has encountered many on their travels. Some of them are, to put it kindly, eccentric.

In this post, I want to approach the notion of Climate Things from another angle. They are easy to mock, in many cases misleading or distorting, but I actually think they are key to understanding the sociopolitical challenges of climate mitigation. It may be that the only road to widespread mitigation is through Climate Things. Let me explain.

Everybody needs a Climate Thing by David Roberts, Grist, Apr 6, 2015

Global warming hiatus explained and it's not good news

You may have heard that global warming has 'paused' but it's only one part of a bigger picture and the search for understanding has equipped climate scientists with better tools than ever.

Global warming hiatus explained and it's not good news by Graham Readfearn, ABC Environment, Apr 8, 2015

How flood insurance could drive Americans from coasts

As salty waters ride the fossil fueled escalator of sea level rise into American streets and homes, rising flood risks may force coastal neighborhoods — if not entire cities — to be abandoned in the decades ahead. “You can’t build a seawall along the entire Eastern Seaboard,” Jessica Grannis, a climate adaptation specialist at Georgetown Climate Center, said.

The challenges of shoreline retreat loom large as the latest round of hiccupping reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program take effect this month.

After hurricanes Katrina and Sandy left the program more than $20 billion in arrears, lawmakers started phasing out longstanding reductions in flood insurance rates for millions of property owners. The falling insurance subsidies are increasing premiums for coastal homeowners, saving public funds and reducing incentives for building in areas vulnerable to rising seas.

But with more than 100 million Americans now living in coastal cities and counties, two climate change experts are urging more far-reaching reforms to the flood insurance program. In a new paper published by Environmental Law Reporter, they say the flood insurance program should be redesigned to actively push American communities away from vulnerable coastlines.

How Flood Insurance Could Drive Americans From Coasts by John Upton, Climate Central, Apr 7, 2015

In parched California, innovation, like water, has limits

California’s drought has not spared A. G. Kawamura.

A former state secretary of food and agriculture, Mr. Kawamura grows vegetables and strawberries south of Los Angeles in Orange County. He was relatively lucky, losing 15 percent of one green bean crop when his well went dry last June, two and a half weeks before harvest.

Still, the fields have remained fallow since then. “If I didn’t have another farm, I would be out of business.”

In Parched California, Innovation, Like Water, Has Limits by Eduardo Porter, New York Times, Apr 7, 2015

The global warming 'pause' is more politics than science

The so-called 'pause' in the rate of global warming is false and distracting. It is a politically engineered excuse to avoid taking action on climate change.

The global warming 'pause' is more politics than science by Dana Nuccitelli & Michael Mann, ABC Environment, Apr 8, 2015

There’s an emerging right-wing divide on climate denial. Here’s what it means (and doesn’t)

For as long as climate change has been a public agenda item — let’s date it back to 1988, when James Hansen testified to Congress — there has been a large faction within the public that refuses to accept it, composed primarily (not entirely, but primarily) of conservative white men.

It’s difficult to remember these days, but that faction did not always dominate the Republican Party. Establishment Republicans from George H.W. Bush to George W. Bush acknowledged that climate change is a real problem requiring a policy solution. John McCain put forward his own cap-and-trade plan when he ran against Obama in 2008.

But denial was always closer to the conservative heart than acceptance was. When the Tea Party swallowed the GOP in 2010, it eradicated the last shreds of accommodationism on climate. Since then, the party, at least the public face of the party, has been almost entirely dominated by old-school, unapologetic denial. The few remaining “moderates” in the party quickly fell in line and went silent (including courageous “maverick” John McCain).

There’s an emerging right-wing divide on climate denial. Here’s what it means (and doesn’t) by David Roberts, Grist, Apr 8, 2015

This conservative group is tired of being accused of climate denial — and is fighting back 

Facing a loss of high-profile corporate sponsors, a conservative state-level policy group — the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — threatened action in recent weeks against activist groups that accuse it of denying climate change.

Attorneys for ALEC sent letters to Common Cause and the League of Conservation Voters asking them to immediately “cease making false statements” and “remove all false or misleading material” suggesting that ALEC does not believe in global warming.

The activist groups refused the request, saying ALEC’s advocacy of legislation on climate issues and its public discussion of the topic support their claims. 

This conservative group is tired of being accused of climate denial — and is fighting back by Tom Hamburger, Joby Warrick and Chris Mooney, Washington Post, Apr 5, 2015

Washington Gov Puts Focus on Climate Goals, and Less on Debate 

In his office, Gov. Jay Inslee keeps a framed image of a stand of magenta paintbrush, an alpine meadow flower and a signature species in Washington, that he photographed while hiking with his wife in Olympic National Park. The magenta paintbrush is threatened by global warming, and the photograph is a reminder, Mr. Inslee said, of all the things that are at risk.

But then he paused and said, no, a beautiful blossom was not the point: The deeper reason he is pushing for tough new air-quality policies is to combat worsening health problems, like asthma in children, that are caused by pollution.

“It’s not the flowers,” he said. “It’s kids’ lungs.”

Washington Governor Puts Focus on Climate Goals, and Less on Debate by Kirk Johnson, New York Times, Apr 4, 2015

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