Sala Burning: Worst Fire in 40 Years Rages in Sweltering Sweden

Worst Fire On Record Raging in Heat Sweltered Sweden

(Sala Fire on August 5, 2014 as seen in this LANCE-MODIS satellite shot. For reference the fire front in this shot is about ten miles wide, the smoke plume, two hundred miles long. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

It’s been scorching hot in Sweden this summer.

Throughout June, July and into August, the Arctic country has seen day after day of record heat. Thermometers hitting the upper 70s, 80s, and even 90s have become a common event in a land famous for its cooling mists, Arctic lights, and frozen fjords.

By Wednesday of last week, the heat had reached a tipping point. Fire erupted across a ridge line just to the northwest of Sala, Sweden and about 120 kilometers north of Stockholm. The fire rapidly intensified, expanding as nearby towns fell under its shadow.

By Sunday, the blaze spread to encroach upon homes as an all-time high of 33 C (91 F) was recorded in Visby, Gotland even as tumultuous and oddly dry storm clouds brought with them more than 47,000 thousand lightning strikes, shattering Sweden’s all-time one-day lightning record and igniting numerous smaller fires throughout the nation.

On Monday, the situation reached a new extreme as numerous communities were threatened with black smoke billowing into streets and neighborhoods.

By today, more than 1,000 people were evacuated and one soul lost as the blaze expanded to cover a region encompassing 15,000 hectares — about equal to 21,000 football fields or 57 square miles. It is now the largest fire in at least 40 years to affect Sweden.

“I feel deeply concerned for the people who have been asked to leave their homes. I also understand that it is a very tough situation for all those struggling to fight the fire.” — King Carl Gustaf, on Tuesday, August 5

Forecast high temperatures Sweden

(Forecast high temperatures for Europe on Tuesday, August 5 show readings above 26 C [80] F extending well past the Arctic Circle in Sweden. Image source: WeatherOnline.)

Reports from the scene are of chaos with eyewitnesses comparing the event to a war zone. In Norberg, fires threatened to enter city neighborhoods as residents were obliged to stop seeking help from over 100 volunteers to defend their homes due to risk of loss of life. The decision to halt volunteer efforts came after 9 of the workers were trapped by encroaching flames.

The fires are extraordinarily energetic and appear to have engaged the basement layer. As with other recent Arctic fires in permafrost or near permafrost zones, areas well below the surface soil zone are involved, resulting in risk of a very intense, long time-scale event:

“It’s burning deep down into the ground and across large surfaces,” fireman chief Per Hultman said in an interview with Expressen. “It’s going to take months to extinguish.”

Norberg had not yet issued evacuation orders but officials there were advising the town’s 4,500 residents to pack their bags and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

Sala Fire Races Across a local hillside on Monday

(Sala Fire races across a local hillside on Sunday, August 3rd. Image source: Here.)

A large scale response to the blaze includes a small army of fire fighters from three Swedish regions, the Swedish military and aid from the European Union nations France and Italy.

By Tuesday afternoon local time, the situation remained extremely dangerous with the blaze still raging out of control even as clouds and light rain moved in, providing firefighters with some hope that the fire might lose some of its extreme intensity. However, current reports still indicate that the situation at the site of Sweden’s worst fire in 40 years remained very tenuous with concerns that a shift in the wind to the north might sweep the fire on into Norberg.

Conditions in Context: Human Warming Means More Arctic Fires

Under an ongoing and repressive regime of human-caused climate change fires like the Sala blaze are expected to proliferate and intensify as time moves forward. A combined set of conditions including a permafrost thaw line moving rapidly northward, increasing record heat, temperatures that are rising at a rate twice that of the global average, and deadwood multiplying invasive species are just a few of the ways climate change enhances fire risk. The thawing basement permafrost is particularly vulnerable to fire once it thaws and dries. It creates a peat-like pile, in most places scores of feet deep, that can burn for extended periods and re-ignite long extinguished surface fires. Near or north of the Arctic Circle, there are almost no land zones not under-girded by a thick permafrost layer. It represents a very large pile of potential fuel for fires as it thaws.

So, unfortunately for Sweden and for other Arctic nations, the fire situation is bound to worsen as warming continues to progress.

Links:

LANCE-MODIS

WeatherOnline

Emergency Crews Ready for Fire to Spread

One Dead, Hundreds Evacuated as Swedish Forest Fire Rages

One Dead as Swedish Fire Rages on

New Heat Record Sizzles and Strikes Sweden

Hat tip to Colorado Bob

Hat tip to John Lonningdal

 

 

 

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158 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Vegan Lynx and commented:
    I worry about the animals. Just heard that some people were forced to let their cat run into the woods, rather than being allowed to bring it with them to a shelter.

    Reply
    • Officials need to make arrangements for pets as well. Otherwise, people will risk their lives for their beloved companions, not to mention the fact that it’s just the right thing to do.

      Huge impacts to wildlife from fires as well. Though I was heartened by Australia’s response to support wildlife after the massive fires there a few years ago.

      Reply
      • It’s very frightening to see the live footage on tv. Fortunately, for me and my family, we live far away from Sala. But I’m very much concerned anyway.

        Reply
        • Glad you’re in a safe spot, CC. Hope you’re not feeling too scared.

          Have only seen spotty footage so far, but looks very intense to me from the satellite.

          You have any friends who live in the area?

        • Not really, but some relatives in and around Stockholm. It’s closer than I thought, but not that close.

    • I’m with Robert.

      Reply
  2. Norway and Sweden traditionally don’t have long spells of very warm weather but this spring and summer has been rather exceptional – heck even the winter had fires. And believe me, there is a lot of pristine forest that can burn in these countries.

    This July was the warmest ever recorded in Norway, and I just heard that the storms that has passed through our region has given us record lightning strikes as well. Airport in Bergen was even closed for 40 minutes because of lightning strikes an just insane amount of rain in a short time (it actually came into the terminal). Flash floods are getting more and more common, but so far not the crazy ones they have had in middle Europe.

    All this from +0.8C warming so far… I wonder how +2C and up will be later this century.

    I mean this isn’t something we can prepare for. I hear people saying “well they shouldn’t have built a house there” as its carried away in some flash flood. They don’t stop themselves asking, why is there a house there? Was it considered safe? If so, what has changed? And indeed why?

    People got to wake up man…

    Reply
  3. Anchusa

     /  August 5, 2014

    Is there any truth in the assertions I have been running into recently about geoengineering attempts. Shooting nano particles of aluminum oxide into the high atmosphere in an attempt to block heat from the sun- but also having the unfortunate effect of stalling rainfall -due to the extreme small size of the particles?

    Reply
    • I am not aware of any confirmed reports of alleged geo-engineering through aerial attempts at aersol management. That said, aerosol management is one of the proposed emergency responses to human-caused climate change.

      In my view, such measures, should they be used are a risky stop-gap that could result in dangerous knock-on effects.

      Government and private entity responses to climate change should focus primarily on mitigation, as it reduces or removes the source of the problem — greenhouse gas emissions.

      Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 5, 2014

        A small related note: ‘chemtrails’ are a myth. Total bunk.
        Don’t allow that nonsense to be a distraction.

        Best site re: debunking that b.s.:
        http://contrailscience.com/
        “The chemtrail conspiracy theory seems to frequently misidentify ordinary contrails as “chemtrails” – some kind of secret spraying program. This theory comes in many flavors, and there’s a large number of things people bring up as “evidence” to support this theory. I’ve tried to gather all the debunks of this evidence in one place here, for easy reference.”

        Reply
        • I’m pretty well aware of the chemtrail conspiracy theory. (Been observing condensation trails all my life). I consider it a distraction that takes interest away from real issues.

          There is a separate set of concerns RE geo-engineering that I’m more sympathetic to.

      • Burgundy

         /  August 6, 2014

        Trouble is there is no money to be made in mitigation. So all the emphasis will be on geoengineering.

        Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 6, 2014

        http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/07/14/3459950/switzerland-zurich-two-billion-green-bonds/
        ‘Switzerland’s Biggest Insurer Is Going To Double Its Investments In Green Bonds To $2 Billion’
        July 14, 2014

        The 75th biggest publicly traded company in the world as of 2013, Zurich had already intended to invest $1 billion. But now it’s upped that to $2 billion, citing the bonds’ growing appeal in Europe.

        Bonds are a type of debt instrument used to finance various projects and long-term investments, often used by governments. The bond issuer receives the money paid for the bond, and in return pays a regular interest rate to the bond purchaser, and eventually pays off the entire bond. Green bonds specifically were first developed by the World Bank in 2008 to fund projects specifically aimed at mitigating and adapting to climate change. They offer a level of risk and returns that’s in line with traditional debt of the same maturity and rating.

        In other less climate-friendly news, Zurich decided at the end of June to shutter its climate change office in the United States after six years of operation. The effort had been aimed at encouraging both U.S. policymakers and other members of the insurance industry to begin taking climate change seriously, and to shape policy accordingly. The office’s director, Lindene Patton, who helped write the federal government’s recent National Climate Assessment, was also tasked with developing insurance policies specifically for green goods, services, and projects like hybrid cars and utility-scale use of carbon capture and sequestration.

        E&E News reported those insurance plans may not have been popular enough on the markets to justify the office’s continued existence, and instead those plans will be folded into Zurich’s traditional line of business.
        That development suggests the ongoing failure of the U.S. to put a comprehensive price on carbon emissions — and the trouble Europe has had getting its own policies and cap-and-trade system running smoothly — is having a real effect on the markets. Without that price, there is simply no coherent or holistic market signal that there is money to be made by going green. This in turn could explain the failure of Zurich’s green insurance products to achieve lift-off.

        A price on carbon emissions would also up the economic benefits of the projects green bonds are meant to finance, making the bonds themselves a more attractive investment. Of course, whether the U.S. puts a price on carbon emissions or not, the risks climate change poses to the country, its economy, people, and infrastructure will only increase in the coming decades.

        Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 6, 2014

        http://www.environmentalleader.com/2014/08/04/report-climate-change-adaptation-offers-business-opportunities/
        ‘Report: Climate Change Offers Business Opportunities’
        August 4, 2014

        Global disasters related to the weather offer significant opportunities for companies positioned to help clients prepare for the consequences of climate change, according to a report by Environmental Business International.

        In its report, EBI looks at how service providers are positioning their companies to work in this sector and also at the challenges involved in pioneering adaptation work.

        Currently the climate change adaptation market is primarily in the investigational phase, and amounted to specialty service revenues of $700 million in the US in 2013. EBI forecasts a billion-dollar US industry by 2016 derived mostly from analysis, assessments, mapping and planning projects led by consulting and engineering firms, specialist climate change consultancies, and professional service firms. The global market for this is expected to be approximately $2 billion.

        However, once adaptation moves into the design, engineering and construction phases, EBI predicts the market will see higher growth driven by major projects like desalination plants, levees, sea walls, port reinforcements and similar projects. Long term, climate change adaptation projects will represent tens of billions of dollars annually, including design and construction.

        (entire article linked above)

        Reply
    • The chemtrails thing is a conspiracy myth – one might wonder if its planted “news” to confuse the public to draw attention away from the real reasons of global warming and climate change. It wouldn’t be the first time this tactic has been used. But I am sure they get help from a lot of people that easy look for either a conspiracy or some outside effect to why something is happening – its a classical trait of not being able to take responsibility for ones actions. But its probably very human too as all kids do it even if the vase is broken at their feet – we just get better at concealing this dishonesty when we grow up – Steven Novella has a great lecture on this:

      It is possible to train your skeptical brain, to control impulses and stop the thought train in ones head to question it as it keeps tricking you all the time (out of convenience and reward). This is why we often find the truth inconvenient as it isn’t always aligned to how we want the world to be, and tend to put on blinders for certain pieces of information. Problem is that there are some truths that cannot be avoided, like gravity, which no matter how you might hate its presence will certainly do its work if you decide to jump out a window in the 10th floor instead of using the stairs. We see much of the same with regards to the clearly demonstrable effect of CO2 as a greenhouse gas. There is no dispute among scientists that CO2 is a greenhouse effect, in fact its considered vital for life to exist on this planet at all. Remove it and it gets colder, add more of it and it gets warmer. Science has generally figured out how much warming we can expect now, but its a bit complicated still as there are many feedback effects that can both help it along or reduce it – many which are unpredictable. The only thing that is clearly predictable is that more CO2 leads to more warming from a pure physical fact. As a species that has literally built civilization on fossil fuel “slaves” this is very inconvenient. So its easy to see why some people would try to find any other explanation for the warming we have experienced or downplay the effect of warming.

      I listened to a discussion between the leader of “Future in our hands” and our transport minister in Norway (which these day have a right government, even some climate deniers) – and the minister couldn’t for all in her life understand how adding taxes to flying was a good thing for Norway that needs so much flying (since its a long country). She kept going on about that technology for flying had got better and better, cutting fuel consuption – which was also important for the companies as fuel costs was 1/3 (or more) of the cost of flying already. What was pointed out to her several times (but she failed to see) was that growth in aviation in Norway has enabled us to burn more fuel faster than any savings in technology – and the only way for Norway to reach our emission goals was to stop growth – and reverse it by taxing it so that people simply choose to fly less. The ministers non-skeptical impulse-brain was blabbering – as she kept on talking about the inconvenience it would have for both business and consumes. Ofc its inconvenient – nobody disputes that – but is it really worse than the effects of global warming as it is projected? A +3C warming (as easily reached by the end of this century) is incompatible with any civilization that can offer aviation in the way it is today. So this minister should start to learn to control her impulse brain and consider scientific facts about the physical limitations of our planet before she makes any statement on politics.

      Sorry for the rambling there, but its so easy for people to latch on to conspiracy theories when the truth is generally so much easier to see if you allow the skeptical part of the brain to work. It really should be a taught in schools – as the irony is that even stuff you will be taught in school about physics is still subject to impulse monkey brain kind of denial today.

      Reply
      • Good thoughts.

        I consider the chemtrail stuff a distraction as well, and possibly direct misinformation due to meddling by monetary interests.

        RE rate of warming. Paleoclimate shows we get about 6 C long term warming for each doubling of CO2, that CO2 ranged from about 170 to 1100 ppm over the past 400 million years, and that during hothouse events temperatures were as high as 14 C greater than today (likely due to instances of strong methane feedback).

        IMO, the models are still catching up to paleoclimate as they have yet to give full account of all the feedbacks. In addition, the 6 C number is a general guide as conditions during different eras may favor somewhat greater or somewhat lesser warming. But, overall, it is a good guide. It is worth noting, however, that in some instances the sensitivity appears closer to 7 C and in others closer to 5 C.

        Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 6, 2014

        The possibility that the chemtrail b.s. is a willful disinformation campaign shouldn’t be discarded. At the same time, giving too much attention to that possibility serves the same intended purpose, if in fact it is willful disinfo.

        Much better to stick to the important stuff.

        As Robert said above, “I consider it a distraction that takes interest away from real issues.’

        Reply
  4. My son (the ‘Forecaster’ warns’ me about climate change all the time. He’s married to a PhD in Climatology. I believe they know what they’re talking about.

    Reply
    • I agree with your son and bother my parents and family about the issue all the time.

      In my view, we ignore climate change at our own great peril. I would say ‘at our risk’ but that understates the problem.

      Reply
    • I know people who both teach and work in physics, and believe me they are worried about AGW. They surely see this from a physical perspective and how it will alter our planet in a major way. It worries me that some of them feel our efforts to fix this is futile as they also know that there is a lot of people that need to be aligned for us to turn this “fossil fuel ship”. With the amount of power that big corporations have today its very hard to see them prioritize the future health of the planet and its species over profit – it doesn’t seem in the nature of how we have organized society today with capitalism, free trade and banking. There is no system to keep the system within any boundaries, except the disruptive ones that come as a consequence of our ignorance. The effects of AGW will not discriminate whether the next flash flood takes out a big business or some poor family – but the elite in our society have enough funds and security to avoid the worst, hence their will for action will often be reflected in this.

      If there truly was a god around us, this would be a good time to set down some boundaries of accepted behaviour, but being an atheist, there is no god – we are responsible for our own actions – even though our instant reward monkey brain is trying desperately to comfort us that there is a reward around the corner if we just put on some blinders and deny reality a little bit longer. As a species I am not sure this evolutionary trait really helps us anymore, as our children will be affected by AGW, no matter how happy we are about sqeezing out that last drop of fossil fuel from the ground so we can get our instant reward one more time. At least our brains have evolved a way to look at ourselves and our actions – so I guess there is still some hope that more people will use this ability – simply take responsibility for our own actions.

      Reply
      • My son and daughter-in-law, together with their teams work tirelessly to get the ‘correct’ messages out. Indeed we have “climate change.” It is real, it has been coming for a long time, and it is here now. I fear what has been done to our lovely planet and to the the species upon this earth. I have great hope in my heart that somehow changes for the better are coming. I see them and will them. Soon enough? I do have prayer within me.

        Reply
      • The pure capitalist system, which increasingly bases profit on wholesale reduction of quality of life for most of its constituents, is on a slow burn to self destruct. The pure capitalist system, when linked to exploiting fossil fuels for profit, is on a fast burn to self destruct. Since current political systems are wedded to this model, they must change or we fail.

        Reply
  5. marianne

     /  August 5, 2014

    Neither mainstream norwegian newspapers or TV channels, including the official, make the connection to climate change very often, and the seriousness about the situation. There is just low murmur on the weather report at times that we must expect wetter and wilder weather. But that’s usually the unfortunate of the “discussion “.

    Reply
    • I’d think they’d be very concerned given that Scandinavia has seen a number of record wildfires over the past couple of years including an very troubling winter blaze this year.

      Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 5, 2014

        http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2014/07/19/animals-science-global-warming-climate-change-svalbard-norway/
        ‘Global Warming Boosting Reindeer on Norwegian Island—For Now’
        July 19, 2014

        On the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard (map), reindeer are bucking the trend followed by other animals affected by global warming: The population of reindeer is growing—even thriving—according to new research.

        The findings are the latest in a 30-year population study that’s focused on counting reindeer in the valley of Adventdalen on the island of Spitsbergen.

        …the plants that reindeer eat during the relatively short Arctic summer are available for longer periods as the region warms.

        “Having better food resources means the reindeer are in better condition and therefore more able to cope with the Arctic winter,” explained Codd.


        Barboza also stressed that reindeer populations often undergo boom-and-bust cycles for reasons that can be difficult to pin down, making such long-term studies important.

        The Svalbard study is also notable in that it focused on a specific group over a long period, he added. (Watch: “Walking With Reindeer.”)

        The researchers also tagged and counted individual reindeer, whereas most population studies rely on models, which tend to be less accurate.

        “These are rare sorts of data sets, and they’re becoming more and more valuable.”

        (entire article linked above)

        Reply
      • climatehawk1

         /  August 5, 2014

        On the other hand (re reindeer): http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/05/us-norway-reindeer-idUSKBN0G51CF20140805 (reindeer invading highway tunnel to escape heat)

        Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 6, 2014

        ” Norway has been forced to close a major highway in the Arctic after reindeer invaded a road tunnel seeking refuge from unusually high temperatures.”

        The good news in this bad news: the Norwegians are accommodating the reindeer, allowing them safe harbour in the tunnel.

        A few neat reindeer references popping up the past couple of weeks. Reindeer herders are credited with discovering the second Yamal ‘hole’ and third one, found in the Taymyr Peninsula.

        And:
        http://www.bbc.com/news/business-28547314
        ‘The reindeer herders battling an iron ore mine in Sweden’
        30 July 2014
        There are eight seasons in the Sami calendar. Each coincides with a stage in the life of their reindeer.

        A British company, Beowulf Mining, has been carrying out test drilling for iron ore in the area.
        It says analysis of samples from its proposed Kallak iron ore mine are encouraging – the ore extracted from deep beneath the ground appears to be of a high quality.

        Eventually, the company hopes to extract up to 10m tonnes of iron ore a year at the mine.

        “In the summer time we’re with the reindeer up in the mountains but in the winter we need to go down to the forest. The reindeer need to find food in nature so they need a big area to graze.
        “We take many things from the reindeer into our culture so I think if reindeer herding dies then our culture also dies.”

        The Kallak project has been the focus of angry demonstrations by Sami groups and environmental activists. They have used social media and networks of indigenous rights campaigners around the world to spread their message.

        Sweden believes that mining can be carried out responsibly and sustainably for future generations. But some observers are more sceptical.

        Journalist Arne Muller is the author of Dirty Billions, a book about the Swedish mining industry.

        He believes that when forced to decide between the wishes of mining companies and those of the Sami community, the authorities put profit first.

        “There was a very important decision from the Swedish government concerning the planned Ronnbacken nickel mine,” he explains.

        “A court said it was impossible to combine reindeer herding with starting the new mine – so the government had to choose.

        “It said the mine comes first because a new mine creates several hundred jobs, whereas reindeer herding is a question of 10, 20 or 30 jobs.

        However, Jenny Wik Karlsson, head lawyer for the Swedish Sami Association, believes Beowulf should abandon its plans for Kallak.

        Only that, she says, will ensure the survival of Sweden’s Sami and their reindeer herds.

        “I would say to Beowulf ‘just walk away,'” she tells me.

        “I would ask them to think – can the world afford to lose another unique culture?

        “That’s the big question. Is it worth it?

        (entire article linked above)

        Reply
    • I actually wrote to a write at NRK, the state channel, asking about this and why they so often failed to mention climate change and link this to the research around this and what we can expect from future warming. I got a reply that they do cover climate change but feel its not necessary to mention it in any article on an exceptional weather event. Surely any single event is not connected to climate change, but the trends of recurring events that previously was not there is a clear sign of change. Norway isn’t really that bad with regards to this, both the big weather sites YR and Storm acknowledge climate change from AGW and frequently have articles on this. Neither do they print “alternative theories” – so the message from them is pretty clear, although not in the “spoon feed the people” kind of way which is possibly what we need to get people to acknowledge the severity of this problem.

      There is constant news about “record this”, “record that” with regards to weather in Norway – I really hope that people are connecting the dots now – although I try to at least post some things in social networks (where I hardly get any replies as people don’t like to hear it).

      Reply
      • Not true. You can link weather to climate. In the case of the large meridonal flows and blocking patterns we are seeing recently, this is clearly the case. In the case of increasing numbers of heatwaves, clearly the case. New record high temps… And on and on…

        Your climate is your weather over a long period. Sure, you can’t link many weather events to climate change. But the most extreme events, in many cases, have a very strong climate change signal.

        Reply
  6. marianne

     /  August 5, 2014

    Hopefully…

    Reply
    • It’s really sad to see news media continue to drop the ball on such a critical interest. In my view, clear sign that media has become too consolidated lately.

      Failure to maintain public trust…

      In the US, we’ve had a bit more in the way of climate context. Not where it needs to be, though. And if course there are the junk media outlets that simply can’t cover climate change to save their lives as they would rather engage in witch hunts against scientists.

      Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 6, 2014

        “In my view, clear sign that media has become too consolidated lately.”

        Opinion piece from this past Sunday’s NYTimes;
        http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/03/opinion/sunday/evgeny-morozov-facebooks-gateway-drug.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0
        ‘Facebook’s Gateway Drug’
        By Evgeny Morozov AUG. 2, 2014

        SILICON VALLEY was once content to dominate the tech world. But recently, its leading companies have ventured deep into areas well outside its traditional bailiwick, most notably international development — promising to transform a field once dominated by national governments and international institutions into a permanent playground of hackathons and app-fueled disruption.

        To observe this venture humanitarianism in action, look no further than Internet.org, a coalition of Facebook, Samsung and several other large tech companies that promises to bring low-cost Internet access to people in underserviced parts of the world, via smartphones. It has organized “efficiency hackathons,” where developers build apps that work on older phones, and it has lobbied cell providers not to charge for “essential” data usage, like weather apps and Wikipedia.

        Leading the charge for Internet.org is Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg. His vision is ambitious: Facebook recently bought a small drone maker so that it can one day beam connectivity from the sky.

        The goal of providing universal, affordable Internet access is a laudatory one. But there’s more to the nonprofit-tinged “dot.org” agenda than meets the eye, and its subtext is indicative of a bigger problem with Silicon Valley “solutionism” — the belief that the tech industry could and should solve all of life’s problems.

        Begin with the fact that while something called “Internet.org” might presumably give the developing world access to the same content enjoyed elsewhere, it does so under very peculiar conditions. Aside from a handful of useful apps, it delivers only Facebook, and any services — from education to banking to health — that agree to make Facebook their middleman.

        An under-discussed aspect of the Internet.org strategy — which has already been tried in the Philippines, Paraguay and Tanzania — is the “pay-as-you-app” model, which charges users different rates for data consumed by different apps. Thus, while all apps are equal, some are more equal than others, in that Internet.org will subsidize them, while data consumed by other, “less equal” apps will be charged on an individual basis.

        ……

        While most folks may consider such thinking nefarious, Silicon Valley thinks it’s virtuous. As Mr. Zuckerberg put it in an essay on Internet.org earlier this year, one of its goals is to show “people why it’s rational and good for them to spend the limited money they have on the Internet.” But this model also shows something else: If you run a website or an app, it’s also rational for you to move them inside Facebook’s ecosystem, so that your audience will not have to pay to access it.

        When a journalist remarked that Internet.org sounded like a gateway drug, Mr. Zuckerberg retorted that he preferred to think about it as an “on-ramp to the Internet” — an on-ramp that would shunt an increasing amount of content through Facebook, giving it enormous influence over not just how its users got access to entertainment or news, but also how they received education, health, banking and other social services.

        ……

        Any emergent social movements concerned with matters of universal and affordable connectivity — as opposed to the corporatism of Silicon Valley — should not take this premise for granted. Nor should they fall for the pseudo-humanitarian rhetoric of rights espoused by technology companies. Whenever Mark Zuckerberg says that “connectivity is a human right,” as he put it in his Internet.org essay, you should think twice before agreeing. There is, after all, little joy in obtaining free access to an empty library, or browsing a bookstore with empty pockets — which is, in effect, what Internet.org offers, while holding out the promise of robust content, if users will pay, a few cents at a time, for the privilege.

        In this way, Facebook and Internet.org are following a well-trod path. As the World Bank has demonstrated, when development becomes just a means of making a buck, the losers will always be the people at the bottom. Thus, to Silicon Valley’s question of “Is Internet access a human right?” one could respond by turning the tables: What kind of “Internet,” and what kind of “access”?
        ……
        Evgeny Morozov is the author of “To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism.”

        (entire piece linked above)

        Reply
  7. doug

     /  August 5, 2014

    I don’t think we are going to get far enough, fast enough unless we get the billionaires and especially, the energy billionaires on board. It’s hard to do that though for some of the following reasons:

    1. They live in information bubbles, and only talk among themselves. Naturally they aren’t getting exposed often to the truth regarding global warming.

    2. As Upton Sinclair said, “It’s hard to get a man to understand something if their livelihood depends upon them not understanding it”.

    3. The ones that do understand the problem think their money will save them from it.

    4. They are Psychopaths to a certain extent.

    But I believe that the biggest issue to overcome is #1 above….These billionaires are living in (self imposed for the most part) information bubbles, and they simply do not believe global warming is man caused, and/or will be all that bad. After all, these people ARE human beings, and if they truly understood the issues (were forced to understand them) would react appropriately in my view. They have children and grand children, and obviously care about their futures.

    So, I believe what is needed is for us to “get in their faces” so to speak. I really believe there has been almost no real effort to “get at them”. If we thought creatively about how to engage with these people, I think we would be have some success.

    Do not underestimate the information bubbles that these people live in. They really “do not get it” for all of the reasons above.

    WE NEED TO MAKE THEM GET IT, AND CONFRONT THE REALITY OF THEIR POLICIES

    Reply
    • Or the public response is so strong that it renders their opinions irrelevant.

      Reply
    • Problem is that there is no way of “getting in their face” if its only supported by a minority. You need a majority – that’s when you get people marching against the Vietnam war – or rights to Afro-Americans. Besides some 350.org rallies I don’t see much of this – people simply do not care enough that this is a serious problem yet.

      When it truly becomes a major problem for the majority, people will rise… but by then its very likely too late to stop the AGW ball rolling uncontrolled.

      I believe one need to be creative about getting peoples attention in interesting and fun ways that makes a point but is still considered “cool” – just being radical and whining in the streets generally gets us nowhere – and certainly not civil disorder. Private choices and uttering them, can also make you look like a nutcase for some – and unless packaged into a real message showing the alternatives (that are better) – very few people will jump onto the bandwagon or be convinced that this is a good path.

      For example how do you convince a friend, or indeed a stranger that flying is bad – after all its one of our “habits” with the highest CO2 emissions. In Norway alone, flying emits just as much CO2 as cars in total. Surely we are trying hard to get people away from cars with high CO2 emissions, even onto electrical cars – but the aviation industry has no such goals – and certainly not to make us fly less. So how can you convince someone that they should stay at home more or consider alternative transport like trains? Its a tough call.

      Reply
      • The political actions have an impact and are an effective means to more rapidly advance an agenda that goes against vested interests. 350.org has been quite effective in their campaigns and would be more effective with more resources.

        The issue is timing. And it’s a rather glaring challenge that we need to act so swiftly do deal with climate change. Given that we are dealing with a resource curse situation (historically similar to slavery) the intensity of the political action will have to increase, not decrease.

        You may want to look at John Brown’s failed rebellion as an example. Though that rebellion to end slavery failed, his martyrdom cast a light on the ugliness of slavery that could not be ignored. It only took a few years for the resulting wave of public and political sentiment for abolition to ignite the war to end slavery.

        Do we need climate change martyrs? That depends on how ingrained denial has become in the political system. But I hate to say it, the way the political systems are running now, without direct action there is likely to be little or no positive change.

        Reply
        • But you might say that slavery ended really with a civil war. Do we need a civil war to end climate change denial and accept AGW in a way that there is any real action? And the problem is really worldwide so do we need a WW3 to end it?

          As I often say, the way to motivate people to change is to present them with a better alternative. Electrification of transport and reduction of CO2 emissions brings with it a lot of benefits that just needs to be taught to enough people. Not only does the air quality become better, but generally noise levels go down too – and geopolitical problems related to securing fossil fuels becomes less of a problem too. People just need to realize this and stop living in some fantasy Disneyland where oil is an endless supply and has no consequences when burning it. Does it really take +6C warming and planet-breaking eco-system collapse for people to notice? It doesn’t make sense.

        • I hope not. But broad economic conflict and the political tension that arises from it has historically been a trigger for war.

          My opinion is that the changes needed are best enacted peacefully and in a cooperative manner globally. The problem is that the various bad actors (and there are many of these) are staging every kind of unrelenting resistance to action, to the point of employing the worst of the ancient divide and conquer political strategies in addition to a number of rather ugly new ones.

          This behavior creates a false resiliency for fossil fuel use in nations and around the world and, worse, has become a level for increasing exploitation and abuse of broad groups of people by the interests involved in exploiting the resources themselves.

          If you were to define the action surrounding the Keystone Pipeline it has already often risen to the level of a low intensity conflict. This is just one example. Fracking and the conflict surrounding coal are others.

          Protest action is a means to address this problem while also avoiding direct violence. People who are critical of protesters often forget or overlook the situation that lead to the protest in the first place or that the protesters themselves are attempting to affect positive change without violence. This is not to say that all protests are good or worthwhile. But in the case of removing/reducing fossil fuel use, they are necessary given the immobility of the fossil fuel interests.

          At higher levels of coordination, I have recommended that nations interested in transitioning away from fossil fuels and dealing with climate change form a block. This would help facilitate trade between groups with common interests, help protect against meddling by outside influences, and help leverage action against bad actors.

          We are at the stage now where many nations are divided against the influence of bad actors internally, so progress advances for a time and then stops as the fossil fuel interest influence again takes hold. What makes the situation even more complex is that these influences hold great sections of economies captive, which increases their bargaining power and extends the reign of their belligerence.

          Eventually, some nations will emerge from under this yoke (some already have). And then the situation will be one of conflict between the fossil states and those seeking an economy based on non fossil energy. We already have very low level economic conflict between non fossil interest states (such as Denmark, France, and, to a lesser degree Germany) and those pushing natural gas and coal that wind and solar now stand to replace. In addition, you have various small nations for whom replacement of fossil energy with renewables has become a matter of existence. These include Bangladesh and a number of island nations. But other states such as Syria, Iran, India and many others teeter due to the failing rains and expanding droughts resulting from regional climate impacts.

          I’ve already stated that Russia’s hard push for Ukraine is likely influenced by a degree of food insecurity and falling agricultural production in Russia since at least 2010. But, globally, for 2014 the food system appears to have somewhat dodged a bullet. El Niño did not emerge this summer and that reduced harmful impacts to Asian agriculture. It was still a rough year, but not as rough as it could have been. But what happens when El Niño finally does come in 2015 or 2016 or 2017? If we lose 20% of the Indian monsoon when ENSO is slightly on the warm side, then what happens when it tips fully into the Equatorial warm phase?

          Eventually, more nations will make the connection between mitigation action and their continued existence. And what happens when those nations face off against the belligerence of other nations unwilling to undergo transition? Or, worse, who attempt to manipulate the crisis to their benefit?

          Unfortunately, it will be very difficult to avoid conflict. And if we do not transition, then it’s probably resource and migration wars all the way down the long slide into the abyss.

        • In any case, John, I must say I agree with your final points. It’s really not that tough once you remove all the drama.

  8. Wow, I didn’t know. Thank you for sharing. Coming from Southern California I get the devastation fire causes to not just the land, but the people.

    Reply
    • Yeah, you guys have had it quite rough this year. Noticed some monsoonal T boomers popping up over the past few days, though. A little help.

      You have major fires near you recently?

      Reply
  9. Bernard

     /  August 5, 2014

    These northern forests gain biomass extremely slowly compared to middle latitude temperate zones. But they do so with a lot of momentum once they’re established.

    The subsoil stockpile that’s burning there won’t be won back by renewed growth for many decades. There’s actually a real risk that the burnt areas will revert to bare rocks due to erosion from wind, rain and lack of snow. That fire isn’t just consuming composted leaves, there’s a dense matrix of roots in these forests, holding it all together.

    In 3 years the area should be either covered in a dense mat of saplings, or stone. Locals can force the former by planting seedlings. Same technique they used after the Mount St. Helens event.

    Reply
    • Good thoughts. Maybe some of the post volcanic eruption expertise could help with Arctic fire recovery?

      Reply
      • Bernard

         /  August 6, 2014

        It’s more of a logistics challenge, really. Setting up a seedling nursery and planting them is something that can be done by 3-5 people for an area like this. Reforestation in the Mt. St. Helens area was undertaken by a surprisingly small amount of people. The challenge was not the size but the accessibility of the terrain. The guy who ran the operation (Dick Ford) still gives lectures if I’m not mistaking.

        In this case you’d start with areas that are most prone to erosion and landslides. A lot of that burnt forest is on a slope. If the fire went deep enough the roots won’t keep it together and it’s going to give when heavy rains start in autumn, or winter drops a few feet of snow.

        You don’t need to replant the area with new pine seedlings, btw. They can spray seed mixes of fast-growing pioneer trees such as birch, perennial plants and grasses.

        Reply
        • Good thoughts… I think this might be something we want to develop, especially for the Arctic. There’s probably quite a bit of catastrophic change in store but it would help to have some measures that increase resiliency.

      • eleggua

         /  August 6, 2014

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svalbard_Global_Seed_Vault
        Svalbard Global Seed Vault

        …a secure seedbank on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near Longyearbyen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago, about 1,300 kilometres (810 mi) from the North Pole.

        Conservationist Cary Fowler, in association with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), started the vault to preserve a wide variety of plant seeds that are duplicate samples, or “spare” copies, of seeds held in gene banks worldwide. The seed vault is an attempt to insure against the loss of seeds in other genebanks during large-scale regional or global crises. The seed vault is managed under terms spelled out in a tripartite agreement between the Norwegian government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen).

        The Norwegian government entirely funded the vault’s approximately NOK 45 million (US$9 million) construction. Storing seeds in the vault is free to end users, with Norway and the Global Crop Diversity Trust paying for operational costs. Primary funding for the Trust comes from such organisations as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and from various governments worldwide.

        Approximately 1.5 million distinct seed samples of agricultural crops are thought to exist. The variety and volume of seeds stored will depend on the number of countries participating – the facility has a capacity to conserve 4.5 million.

        (photos of the entrance to the vault = shades of Oxymandias’ Antartic fortress from ‘Watchmen’.)

        Reply
  10. doug

     /  August 5, 2014

    Of course the billionaires have our politicians bought off. And that includes both major parties in the U.S. That’s why I think even with a pretty strong public response, we won’t get effective enough policy changes, unless most of the billionaires get on board. We need to creatively get at them. Occupy Wall Street was making some strides in that area. We need more of that.

    Reply
    • I think of the last time we had a similar situation and there was trouble so long as the monopoly system existed. We’re in the same situation now. Some of the monied interests may help, but as long as there’s money to be has from dumping ghg in the atmosphere and as long as a substantial block of these interests hold sway, there will be trouble. So the way the system of power has become non public focused is a huge part of the problem.

      Reply
    • Jacob

       /  August 5, 2014

      “We need to creatively get at them. Occupy Wall Street was making some strides in that area. We need more of that.”
      It’s sad that instead of supporting the “occupiers” too many people in the U.S. demonized them and many of those detractors of Occupy are themselves among the stepped on by the 1%.

      Reply
      • People need to know what the alternative is. Occupy is very hard for people to accept if it means that the system which enables them owning a home and having a salary to feed the family and entertainment needs, is supposedly not going to exist anymore. People don’t like disruptive change – but something they can see and adapt to. These kind of movements are then often seen as threats to ones own security and is easily demonized by the common man, just like any other radical movement. I highly doubt this is the way to go unless you want to solve the problem by bringing down civilization though civil unrest and chaos.

        People need an alternative to stretch towards, and if the “new world” is very far away from current capitalism, they need extremely good incentives to go along on any such a plan. (Note that when I say far away from capitalism I don’t necessary mean socialism – but anything that can be considered a better “deal” for the public and at the same time help solve the AGW predicament).

        Reply
        • Occupy was a threat to no-one but irresponsible billionaires. The only failure was that the sentiment put forward by the movement was somewhat marginalized in that it did not directly translate to new legislative representation of Occupy’s egalitarian values. In a world that increasingly ignores the plight of the common man, Occupy was a breath of fresh air. A nonviolent movement that made it impossible to ignore the fact that the current capitalist system was leaving more and more people behind.

  11. LJR

     /  August 5, 2014

    I was wondering what kind of ballpark figure might be assigned to CO2 released per square foot of burnt forest. If we plug in a figure of 100 pounds of burnt carbon per square foot then that would translate to about 300 pounds of CO2/ft^2. A 50,000 acre fire would produce 300 megatons of CO2. I think my math is right here. 40,000 * 300 = 12E6 pounds = 6000 tons per acre. 50,000 * 6000 = 300E6 tons. And this isn’t a particularly large fire compared to those in the NWT and Siberia.

    Three of these would produce nearly a gigaton of CO2.

    Have you encountered any estimates of CO2 release from these fires? If my numbers are even remotely plausible the quantity could be immense. A tree can easily weigh many tons and then there’s the sequestered carbon on the forest floor to consider.

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  August 5, 2014

      Great question and one that I wonder about myself. I did find this article which you may find interesting.
      http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=110580

      Reply
      • Good source, Griff. 300 Mt C for US only.

        It’s probably worth noting that a portion of this is natural carbon cycle, but as stores become sources it tends to get knocked off kilter.

        Reply
      • LJR

         /  August 5, 2014

        Thanks for the link. I read it but didn’t find any estimate on a per square foot basis. The study was primarily about the western US and my impression is that the fires in NWT and Siberia make the US fires look like, at most, a geriatric birthday cake.

        The other side of the equation is how fast other areas of previously burnt forest are rejuventating since the will be taking CO2 out of the air. The joker in this is how to figure in the peat and other carbon contained in the ground itself since that is “old” carbon vs: “new” carbon.

        And to make matters even hazier there is the issue of how much carbon is left behind as char due to oxygen starvation. That carbon is effectively sequestered for the long term.

        I realize that there may not be a sensible estimate due to all the interactions – just wondering how to get a grasp of the quantities involved.

        Perhaps 100 pounds of carbon per sq. ft. is on the high side. If an acre (a 200 foot square) had a tree every ten feet then that would come out as 400 trees per acre. If a tree weighs a ton (for convenience sake) then the carbon from trees would amount to 400 tons per acre and that’s about 1200 tons of CO2 vs: my estimate of 6000 tons per acre.

        But this estimate does not include the CO2 from deep burning.

        And 150000 acres (three of the Swedish size) is perhaps a tenth of the combined fires in NWT and Siberia. A 50,000 acre fire is not that big. There are 700 acres in a square mile so the Swedish fire is currently about 71 square miles. But that is a fire less than nine miles on a side. The fire scorched areas Robert has been reporting from NWT and Siberia are hundreds of miles square. A square of a hundred miles is 10,000 square miles. That’s a hundred times larger.

        Seems like life has been sucking CO2 out of the air and sequestering it in various ways for millions of years now in ways that are vulnerable to a relatively small overall temperature rise. Methane for instance. Or peat in permafrost. Life is, as Dawkins so colorfully put it, a “blind watchmaker” and has no long term view of anything. Methane has been stored in clathrates simply because the conditions have allowed it for many thousands of years. No committee sat around and contemplated the dangers of a few degrees rise in temperature. There is no such committee. And when tipping points come – well too bad about that.

        What’s most disturbing about the current predicament is the almost total lack of self-correcting feedback loops. Cold water from the Greenland glaciers is the only one that has come into view. The other feedbacks seem to be of the amplifying variety.

        Reply
      • Greg Smith

         /  August 6, 2014

        “Carbon loss from an unprecedented Arctic tundra wildfire”

        Nature 475, 489–492 (28 July 2011) Published online 27 July 2011
        “The Anaktuvuk River fire in 2007 burned 1,039 square kilometres of Alaska’s Arctic slope, making it the largest fire on record for the tundra biome and doubling the cumulative area burned since 1950. Here we report that tundra ecosystems lost 2,016 ± 435 g C m−2 in the fire, an amount two orders of magnitude larger than annual net C exchange in undisturbed tundra. Sixty per cent of this C loss was from soil organic matter, and radiocarbon dating of residual soil layers revealed that the maximum age of soil C lost was 50 years. Scaled to the entire burned area, the fire released approximately 2.1 teragrams of C to the atmosphere, an amount similar in magnitude to the annual net C sink for the entire Arctic tundra biome averaged over the last quarter of the twentieth century. “

        Reply
    • https://robertscribbler.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/amplifying-feedbacks-warming-tropics-found-to-now-release-2-gigatons-more-carbon-each-year/

      The tropics release two gigatons of carbon each year, primarily due to fires. I haven’t seen figures based on forest converted to carbon per square foot, but my bet is the amount is pretty substantial.

      The fire mechanism, decay, and the methane release mechanism are the primary emission sources for the Arctic. My sense is they haven’t quite gotten a handle on the total picture as yet.

      Reply
    • I know that this does not correlate to what is happening in Siberia, but it is interesting to speculate on the effect of fires on different types of habitats. This would be controversial, but I would say fire in the Australian bush would have to be close to CO2 neutral in a relatively short timeframe. Some Australian species won’t germinate without fires, also most of the trees don’t actually die. 1 year after our last fires and the bush is regenerating so fast its amazing.
      But before anyone runs around planting Eucalyptus trees, an Australian bush fire is a hell of a thing to live through. Because of the oils in the leaves, when the Aussie bush goes up, it virtually explodes. A view from my rooftop (2013). I now bush walk through the areas that were burn out then, they are coming back as green as ever.
      http://preppingforexile.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/fire.html

      Reply
      • There are certainly areas that are more burn resilient than others. Some areas that are preferential to burn. Some areas that recover well. And some areas where burn is part of a process that ultimately takes down the forested areas or taps older carbon stores.

        In general. Areas with quite a lot of basement biomass have the greatest carbon stores to potentially destabilize — rain forests and permafrost regions in particular.

        In general, the fires are associated with advancing drought, then the forests don’t recover and contribute their carbon store to the air.

        We had a recent report showing that the contribution from equatorial carbon stores was 2 gt C per year. A portion of this is due to slash and burn deforestation, a portion is due to desertification related to both climate change and other human activity.

        Reply
        • Yes, can’t disagree with that. If you have fire followed by drought it is a very tough environment for the biomass to bounce back from.

  12. Observation: Portland, OR, USA – Wildfire smoke visible – high overhead – wind W/NW – no known fires in that direction just Pacific Coast and the open Pacific.

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  August 5, 2014

      Oh there are fires in that direction, just over the water, in Siberia!

      Reply
    • Eric Thurston

       /  August 6, 2014

      I live in the southern tip of the Willamette valley in Oregon. For a few days this week the sunshine had a strange yellow cast to it. Kind of like twilight in mid-day, and the sun was orange when it set. I’m sure it was smoke in the air, probably from Eastern Oregon and Washington state fires.

      Robert, do you think that all the smoke in the atmosphere from these fires might increase ‘global dimming’ and perhaps have a short-term cooling effect on the planet, just like a big volcano burst?

      Reply
      • The primary cooling agent in volcanic eruption is sulfur dioxide injected into the stratosphere. The aerosol from these fires is primarily black and brown carbon. In trace amounts and in water droplets, this aerosol is a powerful warming agent. If it gets into the stratosphere, the warming is even worse.

        If the smoke clouds are dense enough to block out the sun, you end up with cooling. But given what we’ve seen thus far, the net effect is probably warming.

        In addition, the stuff has a profound effect over time on reducing ice albedo. You get the stuff raining out on sea ice and it’s a rather bad day.

        Reply
    • Correction: smoke over Portland was actually from the south and the many fires in southern Oregon, and ones at the Oregon/California border area. Variable winds have pushed the smoke plume in many directions.

      Reply
  13. Portland, OR – Pacific Northwest:
    ‘Will the Pacific Northwest be a Climate Refuge Under Global Warming?’
    “As global warming takes hold later in the century, where will be the best place in the lower 48 states to escape its worst effects?
    A compelling case can be made that the Pacific Northwest will be one of the best places to live as the earth warms. A potential climate refuge.
    Let’s analyze this important question…”
    http://prn.fm/will-pacific-northwest-climate-refuge-global-warming/

    Reply
    • Except for the nearby oceanic hydrogen sulfide gas source…

      Reply
    • LJR

       /  August 6, 2014

      The Pacific Northwest is a thin coastal band maybe three hundred miles long that only goes about 100 miles inland. Not a lot of room there for 300,000,000 people. Remember what happened during the dust bowl of the thirties? Lots of migration to California, the new land of opportunity. That was back when a gallon of gas was a few cents and there was no energy crisis.

      I think trying to figure out the “best” place to be and then getting there ahead of everyone else is a waste of time. What is “best” anyway? I think the “best” place to be is to be psychologically adaptable and able to take delight in the immediate pleasures of life. A love of nature and the ability to trek into the wilderness for a week or more with nothing more than a back pack would be a big plus. Learning just how little we need to survive and thrive – now that’s an education that will be perennially useful.

      A sense of wonder helps.

      Reply
      • I think the best place to be is on a world undergoing full-scale mitigation.

        There may be some areas that fair better as climate change begins to progress. But, in the end, there are no regions that are untouched. In addition, we base our assessments on models and paleoclimate. Well, the comparative paleo assessments we have are based on a world that was cooling down. Ours is warming, so there are likely to be differences. As for models, we can model well for some specific features, such as rainfall and drought, or overall temperature. But we can’t model for the whole climate response in a given region. So there are bound to be surprises.

        For example, Siberia was seen as the climate change land of plenty some years back. But that was before these record fires, before the earth there started exploding, and before anyone really thought about what Siberia looks like after many meters of sea level rise.

        Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 6, 2014

        Likely you’re familiar with Ernest Callenbach’s ‘Ecotopia’:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecotopia

        Reply
    • Climate change and access to fresh water were major reasons why I moved to Washington state several years ago. California and Nevada are toast.

      Reply
      • See, climate change migration now ongoing.

        Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 6, 2014

        http://www.cnbc.com/id/101884085
        ‘California drought: ‘May have to migrate people’
        31 Jul 2014

        Suffering in its third year of drought, more than 58 percent of the state is currently in “exceptional drought” stage, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor map.

        If the state continues on this path, there may have to be thoughts about moving people out, said Lynn Wilson, academic chair at Kaplan University and who serves on the climate change delegation in the United Nations.

        “Civilizations in the past have had to migrate out of areas of drought,” Wilson said. “We may have to migrate people out of California.”

        Wilson added that before that would happen, every option such as importing water to the state would likely occur— but “migration can’t be taken off the table.”

        (entire article linked above)

        Dig how she says, “We may have to migrate people out of California”, as if the UN are shepherds and we’re their sheep.

        Reply
        • You know, if we had listened to the UN in the first place we could have avoided some of this mess.

          They do quite a bit of scenarios/long range planning. This kind of information is just a resource for them to keep on hand.

          By itself, the UN might be able to help during worst case disasters and humanitarian nightmares. And the above is a case where they’re planning for such a potential — in which resources go to aid the movement of victims out of worst hit areas.

          There seems to be this tendency in the US to bash the UN which I find to be pretty counterproductive.

      • eleggua

         /  August 6, 2014

        http://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2014/07/research-explores-causality-climate-related-conflict-effectiveness-migration/
        ‘New Research Explores Causality of Climate-Related Conflict, Effectiveness of Migration’
        July 29, 2014

        Migration is an “extreme” form of climate adaptation, but it does pay off for some, write Md. Monirul Islam et al. in a new article in the journal Climatic Change. In a study analyzing two Bangladeshi fishing communities, one long-established, the other the result of migration, the authors examine the effects of climate-induced migration on livelihood vulnerability.

        Given an equal starting level, they determined the migrants were significantly more resilient 20 years after their resettlement than those that stayed put. “The migrant households are less exposed to climate shocks and stresses than their non-migrant counterparts,” they write, and they “enjoy higher incomes, better health and better access to water supply, health, and educational services.” But not all Bangladeshis can afford to resettle, as the opportunity cost of migration puts their livelihoods and their families’ well-being at risk. In order to alleviate this burden and safeguard their citizens, the authors suggest the government helps resettle people to “carefully chosen destinations that reduce exposure to the impacts of climate variability and change.”

        (more at link above)

        Reply
      • Mass migration to a concentrated area is going to be heaven for one parasitic species, the humble mosquito. Not good, now that Asian malaria has gone multiple drug resistant, its optimum transmission temperature is 25C. West Nile has already landed in Portland, OR.
        http://preppingforexile.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/disease.html
        Best bet is for mitigation prior to migrations really getting momentum. However, for the water situation in the South West of the US, that boat seems to have left the shore. Because of the climate lag even with mitigation, it is very unlikely the existing atmospheric pattern will change for some time.
        There is a good chance that that time-frame will be longer than the region can support 45 million people.

        Reply
      • Who’s this *we* she’s talking about anyway? And exactly *who* are to be migrated??? I can think of a lot of totalitarian pseudo-conservatives who would love to round up all the California liberals into FEMA camps, and resettle their conservative brethren elsewhere in the USA, in a house or condo confiscated from a liberal. Problem for these pseudo-cons is, and fortunately for the rest of us, is that they won’t ever gain power in this country.

        Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 6, 2014

        UN proved themselves during the GWBush/Cheney/Rumsfeld regime.

        Reply
    • And except for the inevitable subduction fault earthquake…😦

      Reply
  14. Greg Smith

     /  August 6, 2014

    I am a soils scientist by training. We use a rough figure of 1 inchd of soil generation/creation per 100 years for temperate zones. I don’t know a figure for the arctic but it would likely be many many generations before soils were returned once burned/eroded. I expect a moonscape there following those deep fires. Would love to see some ground truthed images from these arctic circle fires. Any links?

    Reply
    • I don’t get much from Siberia other than satellite shots and the trickle coming from Russian media.

      We need to get a camera team up to Canada for shots once the NWT fires burn down.

      Here’s a good recent article referencing the Anaktuvuk River fire recovery with good shots of burned earth after the event and a reference to resiliency trouble, in general, due to tundra/permafrost soil burn.

      http://frontierscientists.com/2013/09/tundra-recovery-after-anaktuvuk-fire/

      Reply
      • Greg Smith

         /  August 6, 2014

        Thank you Robert. Surprising how tussock grasses returned. Obviously the seed bank was not burned at shallow depth. Would not expect that if fires were burning deep into the tundra. Would be very interesting to see if below that there are surviving seeds that would return, in which case the new growth would be from before or near the beginning of the last ice age’s seed bank.

        Reply
  15. eleggua

     /  August 6, 2014

    “Would love to see some ground truthed images from these arctic circle fires. Any links?”

    How’s this one?

    “The massive Anaktuvuk fire scorched more than 1,000 square kilometers of tundra in northern Alaska. Researchers have found a correlation between warmer temperatures and larger, more damaging fires. Photo: Woods Hole Marine Biological Lab”

    Reply
  16. eleggua

     /  August 6, 2014

    (Pardon me if you’ve already seen this article.)

    http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/melting-and-refreezing-deep-greenland-ice-speeds-flow-sea-study-says
    ‘Melting and Refreezing of Deep Greenland Ice Speeds Flow to Sea, Study Says’
    June 12, 2014
    Findings May Shift Understanding of Ice Sheet Behavior

    Beneath the barren whiteness of Greenland, a mysterious world has popped into view. Using ice-penetrating radar, researchers have discovered ragged blocks of ice as tall as city skyscrapers and as wide as the island of Manhattan at the very bottom of the ice sheet, apparently formed as water beneath the ice refreezes and warps the surrounding ice upwards.

    The newly revealed forms may help scientists understand more about how ice sheets behave and how they will respond to a warming climate. The results are published in the latest issue of Nature Geoscience.

    “We see more of these features where the ice sheet starts to go fast,” said the study’s lead author, Robin Bell, a geophysicist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “We think the refreezing process uplifts, distorts and warms the ice above, making it softer and easier to flow.”

    (entire article linked above)

    Reply
  17. Colorado Bob

     /  August 6, 2014

    The mysterious craters in far northern Russia are just such an example. “There is nothing described in the scientific literature than can really, fully explain those craters,” says Grosse, who is headed to the Lena River Delta in Siberia this summer, which hosts a joint German-Russian research station. The most likely explanation for the newly discovered craters in Russia is an accumulation of methane over centuries or more that then burst out of the thawing ground sometime in the last few years. “High pressure built up and [the ground] literally popped open,” explains biogeochemist Kevin Schaefer of the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center. “If it is indeed caused by melting methane ice, we should expect to see more.”
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mysterious-craters-are-just-the-beginning-of-arctic-surprises/

    Reply
  18. ivice

     /  August 6, 2014

    We need to reduce our GHG Emissions by 80%- says the IPCC, at first thought, that seems butal and impossible. But taking into account- let’s say- a steady worldwide economic growth of about 5% (incl. China 8- 13%, India about the same rates), that means we have a doubling time of 70/5= 14 years.
    By returning to the consumption levels of 2001- we would be more than halfway there.
    It’s not impossible, but it needs to happen literally overnight.
    And majority of government and business leaders have to accept recession, as well as the public. But 50% worldwide, and overnight that’s pretty tough to implement and maintain.
    And another 30% let’s say through renewables.
    One could argue about the share of the two methods, but we need a clear, global and imminent commitment.

    Reply
    • I think we need to stop looking at this in terms of growth and start looking at this in terms of an emergency response. It’s pretty simple. We take resources away from fossil fuel based industrialization and put it towards renewables and efficiency. We plan a scaled shut down of fossil fuel based generation. We set up various means of atmospheric carbon capture.

      In the end this probably prevents more recession than it sets up. For it deflates a number of bubbles before they burst.

      In the end we’re looking at an entirely different economy. The resource constraints and shifting if resources during WW II did not result in overall paralytic recession. We need to look at response to climate change in that context.

      Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  August 6, 2014

        Yes, and if there was ever a time when we needed strong environmental leadership, and people who understand the need to transition to a steady-state or non-growing economy, it’s now. I suggest we start a movement to draft you for President of the United States😉

        Reply
      • Yes, an undeclared state of emergency exists at this very moment. It needs to be recognized.
        Many in the highest levels of government have to know this but refuse to alert the citizenry. The longer they remain silent, the worse the situation will get. And the more they become complicit which invites more silence.
        Except for some small pockets of non-commercial voices, main stream media can be written off as a positive force.
        We must continue to be voices of alarm.

        Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  August 6, 2014

      Unless benevolent aliens intervene on the Earth’s behalf, such a rapid transformation of our society’s bedrock institutions and growth-based economy doesn’t look to be in the cards near term; which is when it needs to happen to avert dangerous levels of ghg emissions and positive feedbacks.

      Reply
      • The precedent we have is emergency response which has tended to marginalized special interests and put the public good first.

        Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  August 6, 2014

        Yes, it’s about time “public” becomes a respectable word again. Add general welfare, compassion, etc.

        Reply
  19. Colorado Bob

     /  August 6, 2014

    First 100°F Temperature on Record in the Baltics

    The 37.8°C (100.0°F) temperature observed at Ventspils, Latvia on August 4th was the first time on record that a reading of 100°F has been measured in any of the Baltic nations (Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania). The heat wave has also affected Poland, Belarus, and Sweden where a massive forest fire, said to be the worst in the nation’s modern history, rages out of control.

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/weatherhistorian/comment.html?entrynum=293

    Reply
  20. Colorado Bob

     /  August 6, 2014

    Drought to force Iran to shut down agriculture

    A severe country wide water shortage across the Islamic Republic of Iran could result in the disappearance of the 3,000-year-old agriculture industry, an Iranian climate expert said.
    The drought will hit sooner or later, but it’s the anticipation that Iranians are learning to cope with. Iran is currently undergoing some tough economic times.

    “For the time being Iran’s limited water reserves are strategic and agriculture is not an economic priority sector any more,” Nasser Karami, Iranian physical climatologist who is an associate professor at the University of Bergen in Norway told Trend on July 31.

    Located in an arid zone, Iran is just one of the countries facing severe water problems, such severe droughts have plagued the country over the last 40 years. The drought of 1992-2002 caused a major blow to agriculture. There were quotas imposed for fresh water in several cities, including the capital Tehran.

    https://www.zawya.com/story/Drought_to_force_Iran_to_shut_down_agriculture-ZAWYA20140802062222/

    Reply
  21. I have never experienced heat like this in Sweden before. Last winter we had almost no snow and the mercury didn’t dip below 0°C in Stockholm. It usually goes down to -26°C some days each winter with deep snow on the ground for one to three months. And this heat is incredible. It has been months now of blistering hot temperatures and it just does not let up. I am originally from a very hot area in Africa so I am used to incredibly high temperatures but this heat is something else because we have polar day to the north when the sun does not set at all so the sun beats down almost constantly for months. I am not sure how much longer I can take.

    Reply
    • The 24 hour Arctic heatwave… No night for respite.

      Sounds like something from science fiction. We live it now.

      How long have you been in Sweden?

      Reply
      • 17 years now. And it has never been like this in all that time.

        Reply
        • In my 43 years now on this planet living in Norway, I have never experienced anything like this past year. It really is a clear sign of change and the effects of global warming. I feel more and more people around me notice that something is seriously changing these days.

          Today the news in Norway is a record flash rainfall in the southwest is causing some severe chaos:

          http://www.vg.no/nyheter/innenriks/vaer-og-uvaer/oversvoemmelse-skaper-kaos-i-rogaland/a/23268967/

          No doubt caused by the increased moisture in the air from global warming along with a pretty messed up jet stream allowing tropical like rainfall here which we very rarely have had before. This year they have been happening all over the place.

        • The storm track is starting to reinvigorate. This is very early and a rather unwelcome sign for autumn and winter on the horizon.

    • Griffin

       /  August 6, 2014

      Thank you for posting Janet. It is always amazing to hear from folks all over the world on Roberts blog. It is hard to hear of heat in Sweden and I wish you the best and hope for quick relief.

      Reply
  22. Apneaman

     /  August 6, 2014

    “Dig how she says, “We may have to migrate people out of California”, as if the UN are shepherds and we’re their sheep.”

    Better to leave yourself in the hands of the US government, like during Katrina, or Sandy, or Detroit. They are so competent and they care about you.

    Reply
    • eleggua

       /  August 6, 2014

      “Dig” as in “check out”. Not “dig” as in “like”.

      Reading her words ought to make one’s skin crawl.

      Reply
      • climatehawk1

         /  August 6, 2014

        Seems like unintentional and very inept phrasing to me. Just MHO.

        Reply
      • Apneaman

         /  August 7, 2014

        The UN has never had any power over America and it never will. Making it out as a threat was just a domestic political trick to get you to think “they” are looking out for you.

        Reply
  23. eleggua

     /  August 6, 2014

    I’m certain we’ve better things to discuss than my choice of words and/or grammar. =)

    Reply
  24. eleggua

     /  August 6, 2014

    For instance:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/wildfires/index.ssf/2014/08/northwest_wildfires_crews_batt_1.html
    ‘Northwest wildfires: Crews battle nearly 50 new fires as others grow’
    August 06, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    Reply
  25. eleggua

     /  August 6, 2014

    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/weather/double-trouble-hawaii-braces-hurricanes-iselle-julio-n173756
    ‘Double Trouble: Hawaii Braces for Hurricanes Iselle and Julio’
    August 6, 2014

    Two hurricanes are now taking aim at Hawaii.

    The first, Hurricane Iselle, packed 90 mph wind on Wednesday as it chugged west toward the islands, and forecasters said that while it was expected to weaken, it could still be hurricane strength at landfall on Thursday.

    The trailing system, Hurricane Julio, was upgraded from a tropical storm. It had winds of 75 mph, just strong enough to make the cut. While it could jog to the north, the projected path still had the storm hitting Hawaii on Sunday night.

    The two tropical systems are being steered west toward the islands by the underside of a high-pressure system in the Pacific Ocean. Tropical storm watches were posted for the Big Island of Hawaii and for Maui, just to the west.
    Hawaii hasn’t been hit by a tropical storm or hurricane at all since 1992. And the one-two punch would be unprecedented in the era of satellite hurricane tracking, said Kevin Roth, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.

    The closest similar occurrence was in the summer of 1982, when a weakened Tropical Depression Daniel struck Hawaii and was followed 10 days later by Tropical Storm Gilma.

    Reply
  26. eleggua

     /  August 6, 2014

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2749
    ‘Climate Change May Increase the Number of Hawaiian Hurricanes’
    By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:02 AM GMT on August 06, 2014

    …with two tropical storms potentially threatening the islands in the coming week, and Tropical Storm Flossie having passed with 100 miles of the islands in 2013, it is fair to ask, could climate change be increasing the odds of tropical storms and hurricanes affecting the Hawaiian Islands? A 2013 modeling study published in Nature Climate Change, “Projected increase in tropical cyclones near Hawaii”, found that global warming is expected to increase the incidence of tropical storms and hurricanes in Hawaii. Lead author Hiroyuki Murakami, from the International Pacific Research Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, commented in a press release accompanying the paper: “In our study, we looked at all tropical cyclones, which range in intensity from tropical storms to full-blown Category 5 hurricanes. From 1979 to 2003, both observational records and our model document that only every four years on average did a tropical cyclone come near Hawaii. Our projections for the end of this century show a two-to-three-fold increase for this region.”

    Reply
  27. Rains fell so hard that they reached rates of 3 to 4 inches per hour on Sunday, with some of the largest total rainfall amounts hitting 1.5 to 4.7 inches. The highest amount fell on Mt. Baldy in the San Gabriel Mountains to the east of Los Angeles. The locale saw a stunning 3.98 inches fall in one hour — a 1-in-500 year event for them, according to the NWS.

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/climate-context-on-socal-flash-foods-17858

    Reply
  28. eleggua

     /  August 6, 2014

    Found this piece in the comments on that ^^^article:

    http://www.solvingtornadoes.org/part-3-solutions
    ‘Thirsty Jet Stream: Part Three’
    New Approaches to Preventing Tornadoes
    Jim McGinn, Theoretical Scientist
    “Direct jet stream feed approach
    Another approach involves directly feeding moisture into the jet stream itself to, thereby, repair the breach in the wall structure of the jet stream so that it stops bleeding the energized swirling low pressure that powers tornadoes. ”

    Does that make any good sense to anyone with more knowledge of the subject than myself?

    Reply
    • Weather manipulation is a generally bad idea. The energy always ends up somewhere else.

      Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 6, 2014

        Agreed; bad idea. What I mean with my question though, does what he proposing actually make sense as something that would work if implemented?

        Reply
        • Probably not. But you never know until you run an experiment.

        • For example, it’s pretty easy to predict the outcome of something like cloud seeding for rain, but when you start getting into meso weather manipulation that’s another order of difficulty.

      • eleggua

         /  August 6, 2014

        Thanks. It seemed far-fetched.

        Hopefully such an experiment won’t occur. Likely some large-scale weather manipulations will be attempted, though. Not the sort of radical solutions I’d ‘vote’ for.

        Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 6, 2014

        Non-weather related example (not a perfect example).

        The introduction of cane toads in Queensland, Austraila, attempting to counteract plant pests (insects). 60k toads released in the 1930s = massive ongoing ecological nightmare in the 21st century.

        Reply
  29. Griffin

     /  August 6, 2014

    I would like to see a summary of the odds of seeing a 1-500 year rain event in SoCal in the same week as two tropical systems impact Hawaii. I can imagine a decimal point and a whole bunch of zero’s.

    Reply
    • climatehawk1

       /  August 6, 2014

      Less rare, but still … Naples, Florida, got 3.94 inches in an hour on Monday (4 August), which surpassed the wettest full day previously recorded in the month of August: http://www.weather.com/safety/floods/naples-florida-flash-flooding-20140804?hootPostID=de879b34d29271cfee816b48dc3f1e4a

      Reply
    • + Record fire in Sweden
      + Record heat in the Balkans
      + Methane explosions in Siberia

      + Fires in NWT that are now more than 7 times the average year.
      + Toledo water shut off
      +Methane Plume in the Laptev

      Sea ice in the Arctic only 4-7th lowest on record

      Just passed hottest quarter on record…

      And that’s just off the top of my head…

      Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  August 6, 2014

        Wow. And Mother Nature is just getting warmed up. Wait until the 7th inning😦 Nature Bats Last, as they say…

        Reply
      • Griffin

         /  August 6, 2014

        I am sure the folks on here can think of more too. I saw a post today that showed the Palmer drought severity index the factored temp and precip together showed California at its lowest point of drought since at least 1922. Then there is record rains in Japan that have caused deadly mudslides.

        Reply
    • It’s 10 C in the Chukchi at the 70 north line. That’s temperature over Arctic Ocean water…

      Reply
    • Fantastic post by NASA.

      Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 7, 2014

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2014/08/05/stunning-photos-of-pyrocumulus-clouds-captured-mid-flight-by-national-guard/
        On Monday, the National Weather Service in Medford, Ore. shared stunning images of pyrocumulus clouds over the Oregon Gulch wildfire. The photos were captured in-flight by the Oregon Air National Guard.

        Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 7, 2014

        http://mashable.com/2014/08/05/wildfire-clouds-pyrocumulus/
        ‘To Save Lives, Scientists Probe the Secrets of Towering Wildfire Clouds’

        “Very little is known about dynamics of large convective plumes from wildfires, including those that produce pyrocumulus clouds. Some fires develop these large, upright columns of rapidly ascending air. Some don’t,” he says. “The ones with the large concentrated updrafts are referred to as ‘plume dominated’ fires and tend to exhibit extreme fire behavior that can threaten life and property. They generate their own winds that can propel and accelerate the fire in very unpredictable ways. In other words, they take on a life of their own.”

        Instead of becoming a tornado chaser, Lareau and his colleagues are chasing fires. “We’re gathering observations of phenomena that have really never been quantitatively documented, and that is exciting. We’re making some interesting discoveries along the way,” Lareau says.

        Reply

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