Besieged by the Fires of Denial — Fort McMurray Blaze Grows to Overwhelm Anzac, Shuts off 640,000 Barrels per Day of Tar Sands Production

The simple fact of the matter, a fact that many invested in a destructive oil industry do not want to now face, is that a fire whose early-season extreme intensity was fueled by human-caused climate change is now doing what Canada would not. It is shutting down oil production in the tar sands — one of the highest carbon fuels on planet Earth.

Increases in fire frequency due to climate change

(Increases in fire frequency due to climate change as predicted by model runs are illustrated in the map above. According to a report at WeatherUnderground — “A large increase in fires over much of the globe is expected as we move through this century. Using fire models driven by output from sixteen climate models used in the 2007 IPCC report, researchers found that 38% of the planet should see increases in fire activity [due to climate change] over the next 30 years. This figure increases to 62% by the end of the century.” Image source: Climate Change and Disruptions to Global Fire Activity.)

There are other facts that need to be faced as well. One is the fact that Fort McMurray’s residents have had their lives put at risk by a new kind of fire that is now much more likely to occur. A kind of event that will tend to emerge with a rising frequency and intensity. One that is increasing the risk of harm to those living throughout Canada, throughout the Arctic and throughout much of the world.

It’s a tough truth to face. One that many Canadian politicians confronting the impossible task of balancing the demands of oil-based economic interests with the very clear need to mitigate climate change are having difficulty coming to grips with. But one that must be seriously looked at and not ignored by anyone concerned for the safety of those living in Fort McMurray or anywhere else. For unless the greenhouse gasses from the burning of fossil fuels like the tar sands stop hitting our atmosphere, then these kinds of events will just keep getting worse.

We are already starting to see terrible wildfire events of the kind we have never before experienced emerging in the Arctic and in sections of Northern North America. And with the world now 1 C warmer that 1880s averages, large Arctic wildfires are now ten times more likely to occur. In Alaska — a region that shares climate trends with Canada — the length of the fire season has grown by 40 percent since the 1950s.

Across the globe, the story is much the same. Heating of our atmosphere by burning fossil fuels is increasing fire frequency and intensity. A point that even conservative IPCC projections have been attempting to impress upon policy-makers since the early 1990s (see graphic above). And, in significant part, this rising danger has been contributed to by the tar sands fuels Fort McMurray’s energy industry was designed to extract.

Large Arctic Wildfires are No Longer Rare

(A study by Climate Central last year found that warming in Alaska had resulted in a lengthening of the fire season by 40 percent and that the pace of large fire generation had increased by tenfold [x10]. It’s worth noting that climate and foliage in Alberta, British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories are very similar to those in Alaska. And increasing fire intensity and frequency due to warming in Alaska is also impacting the Canadian fire regime as well. Image source: The Age of Alaskan Wildfires.)

Despite the risky and harmful policy choices driven by the fossil fuel industry in Canada, we should not be callous to the loss and dislocation many within the tar sands production zone are now enduring. It’s a tragedy. Plain and simple. Thousands of people have lost their homes and livelihoods. But we should not allow ourselves to be blinded to the reality of the situation simply due to the fact that it is an oil community, this time, suffering from the ravages of extreme climate conditions. For thousands of Canadians are now joining a growing pool of climate change refugees. Victims of and, some of them, contributors to a catastrophe born out of an oil-industry spread hubris and blindness. An event that shines a light on the continued and increasing risks posed by tar sands extraction and on the vulnerability of that harmful fuel’s economic underpinnings to the very climate forces it is now starting to set loose.

Rapidly Expanding Fire Forces Airport and the Anzac Community 31 Miles Away From Fort McMurray to Evacuate

Fort McMurray Fire approaches Airport

(Pyrocumulus — a storm cloud forming from the heat updraft of an intense fire. A word that will start to enter common usage as human-forced climate change makes powerful fires more and more common. Here we see a massive pyrocumulus approaching Anzac and the Fort McMurray Airport on Wednesday. Image source: Sean Amato’s Twitter Feed.)

Wednesday, as firefighters scrambled to protect the Fort McMurray city center and northern outliers, a massive fire besieging the city boiled and grew. Held back from its north-bound progress into neighborhoods along the Athabasca River, toward the barren tar sands extraction area, and into the water treatment plant by firefighting efforts, the fire swelled as it retreated. Turning to the south and east, it began to encroach upon the city’s airport even as one of its offshoots exploded toward the well-populated suburb of Anzac 30 miles to the south.

There, an emergency operations center had just set up after being forced to move from its downtown location when a rain of embers cast out from the pyrocumulus cloud looming over the city set its roof to smoldering. The new operations center was well away from the projected northbound path of the blaze. And officials had some reason to believe the recently-moved center would be safe. A southern evacuation center — housing hundreds of people now rendered homeless by the fire — was also set up in the area.

Anzac fire beneath towering pyrocumulus

(Fort McMurray Fire invades Anzac beneath a towering pyrocumulus Wednesday evening. Image source: Emily Metrz’s Twitter Feed.)

By Wednesday afternoon, the airport, the Anzac community, the newly moved emergency operations center, and the evacuation center all fell under the shadow of a swelling pyrocumulus. A great storm of smoke, ash and burning embers thrown up from the heat of the blaze beneath. All in this area were forced to evacuate (a good number for the second time in as many days) as the huge cloud grew and the fires advanced.

As night fell, smoke shrouded the airport — blocking it from view. And many firefighters already knew the community of Anzac would be lost.  Sean Amato tweeted this message Wednesday evening as the fire advanced — “Firefighter [says], ‘Anzac is f**cked. We can’t fight that. We have no bombers. Get out now.'”

Fort McMurray fire map May 5

(Thermal fire map provided by NASA on Thursday reveals the extraordinary extent of the fires and burn scars as of May 4 — covering around 10,000 hectares. By May 5, this zone had vastly expanded to 85,000 hectares. Image source: NASA’s Earth Observatory.)

By Thursday, a massive area stretching from the airport to Anzac had been abandoned to the fire. Greatly adding to the 10,000 hectares the huge blaze was estimated to have burned as of noon Wednesday by expanding the fire more than 8-fold to 85,000 hectares — an area six times the size of San Fransisco or more than 300 square miles.

Tar Sands Production Shut-in

At this point, fires had displaced so many workers and crippled so much infrastructure that tar sands production in the region came to a grinding halt. As of early Thursday morning more than 640,000 barrels per day of the climatologically volatile synthetic crude had halted. Representing more than 16 percent of Canada’s crude production, the fire-forced cuts were significant enough to drive oil prices in the global markets as high as 46 dollars a barrel in trading early Thursday. More production shut ins were likely with other major tar sands extractors scrambling to slash oil flows as the Fort McMurray blaze became ever-less predictable. Near Anzac, the southern extent of the fires threatened a 30,000 barrel per day Conoco Philips tar sands production facility in the Surmont region — forcing a production halt and the evacuation of all tar sands workers.

Fort McMurray Fire approaches Tar Sands May 5

(LANCE-MODIS satellite shot of Fort McMurray Fire on Thursday, May 5 shows the fire expanding toward tar sands extraction facilities. For reference, tar sands operations are pit mines plainly visible as brown, bald areas in the image above. Most of Fort McMurray is covered by the smoke plume. Bottom edge of frame is 60 miles. Image Source: LANCE-MODIS.)

By late Thursday afternoon, the passing MODIS satellite revealed a very large fire whose northern extent appears to have reached within 3-5 kilometers of the southern-most tar sands facilities. The western edge of the Fort McMurray fire expanding to feature a 10-15 kilometer front creeping along to the north and west. The southern and eastern edges of the blaze remaining obscured by what is now a very large smoke plume. One that is likely now visible in the skies over northern and central states of the US.

A Long Battle Ahead as Temperatures are Predicted to Remain Much Hotter Than Normal

A wind shift to the north along with the influx of cooler temperatures on Thursday may help firefighters gain some progress. Conditions over Fort McMurray today were cloudy with 10-15 mph winds out of the northwest and temperatures around 64 (F). However, little to no rain fell over the area as a front swept through this morning. Meanwhile, thermometer readings are expected to climb into the middle 80s again on Saturday with very dry conditions taking hold.

To this point, it is only May — not July when such extreme fire weather would typically be possible. Average temperatures for Fort McMurray tend toward the upper 50s or lower 60s this time of year. So even today’s readings of 64 F are warmer than usual with temperatures predicted to rocket to 20-25 F above average again by Saturday. Given this trend, and given the fact that it will grow still hotter and drier in the months ahead, it looks like Fort McMurray — a city in the grips of the hard climate consequences it helped to create — is in for a long, rough fight.

Links:

Climate Change and Disruptions to Global Fire Activity

The Age of Alaskan Wildfires

Here’s the Climate Context for the Fort McMurray Wildfire

The Impact of Climate Change on Wildfires

Raging Wildfire in Canada Fuels Oil Prices

Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center

Sean Amato’s Twitter Feed

New Evacuations in Fire-Stricken Fort McMurray

LANCE-MODIS

NASA’s Earth Observatory

Hat tip to Wharf Rat

Hat tip to TodaysGuestIs

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207 Comments

  1. Witchee

     /  May 5, 2016

    Climate refugees indeed. There will be more.
    And it is not just the north, or the west, that are under threat. We all are. Every time someone says that they are glad they live where these things are no threat, I point out to them that there are threats everywhere and no one is exempt, certainly not those of us in the midwest.
    Not only does the east coast have rising waters, but it has fire danger too. Interesting article from Rolling Stone, of all places. http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/will-americas-worst-wildfire-disaster-happen-in-new-jersey-20160420?page=2

    Reply
  2. Tom Dehen

     /  May 5, 2016

    Thank you, Robert Scribbler, for these well written articles. I am very grateful to you for the effort you are expending on our behalf.

    Reply
  3. climatehawk1

     /  May 5, 2016

    Retweeted.

    Reply
  4. Kevin Jones

     /  May 5, 2016

    An American who tells the truth. How refreshing! How tragically rare….. Thanks.

    Reply
  5. 21:09 UTC
    Zack Labe ‏@ZLabe 45m45 minutes ago

    Temperatures continue to remain significantly above normal today across northern Canada

    Reply
    • Thanks DT. The front running in from the Beaufort did take an edge off the heat in some regions. But the overall ridging and high temperature trend remains. Note the heat plume ahead of the front and just to the east of Alberta here.

      Reply
  6. Loni

     /  May 5, 2016

    You continue to impress, Sir. How you glean and gather so much information out of a dynamic and current situation is a talent indeed. It makes Robertscribbler the go to man and site for ‘Damage Report’.

    Admittedly a horrible event for all involved, (and my heart goes out to the victims, my place was surrounded by forest fires last summer…….”There for the Grace of God….”), but perhaps this will give us a chance to reassess the necessity of those tar sands operations.

    Reply
    • I feel like my head is about to explode🙂

      I hope those fires keep clear of your home, this year, Loni. And yeah, I agree with the sentiment about necessity. I think Fort McMurray would be a much safer, more beautiful, and ultimately more vibrant place without the tar sands. All this talk about rebuilding seems to be aimed at the industry. But we should aim it at people and at the vitality of our world itself. We should think about what it means to rebuild and about what we choose to rebuild says about our wisdom, our ability to see clearly what’s happening and why it’s happening.

      Reply
  7. ‘We understand what they’re feeling’: Syrian refugees in Calgary step up to help Fort McMurray fire evacuees

    -calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/we-understand

    Reply
    • Syrian refugees in Calgary. One climate refugee working to help another. Now that’s the spirit we need to get through this.

      Reply
    • George W. Hayduke

       /  May 6, 2016

      Here is a much scarier viewpoint of evacuation, here you can see the fire creating it’s own wind event and throwing embers (firebrands) across across the road, and at about halfway through the 3 minutes starting a spot fire on the left of the screen. When fire gets this big there is no way humans can stop it. It creates it’s own wind, vortexes, and lightning. It will take an act of nature or a long drawn out series of fire lines and backburns to control them.

      Reply
  8. Fort McMurray fire could cost insurers $9B, BMO predicts

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/fort-mcmurray-insurance-cost-1.3568113

    Reply
    • I wonder if this is the highest cost of any natural disaster in Canadian history. Would be surprised if these estimates do not significantly increase. The airport alone…

      Reply
      • Cate

         /  May 6, 2016

        The most recent ones that spring to mind: the great 1998 ice storm and the 2013 floods in Alberta. The computed total costs for these vary from one website to the next. Fort Mac will certainly be among the biggest, if not the biggest especially for the comparatively confined area it involves compared to the ice storm, which covered large tracts of land.

        Reply
  9. 🙂 Can anyone loan me some pliers — I think I’ll pull my teeth out, and my hair, and my …
    SUPPLY ON [sic] DEMAND — I wonder how the Saudis will react to this weirdness of FF business.

    Canadian oil surges as Fort McMurray fire knocks out more production

    Canadian heavy crude physical prices hit their strongest level since February on Thursday, as the raging wildfire in Fort McMurray shuttered nearly one-third of the nation’s oil sands production and closed key pipelines.

    The wildfire has forced numerous oil sands operators, including Suncor Energy Inc, Shell Canada and others to reduce production as workers were moved to safety…

    http://www.calgarysun.com/2016/05/05/canadian-oil-surges-as-fort-mcmurray-fire-knocks-out-more-production

    Reply
    • – Why Saudi Arabia Is Suddenly in Serious Trouble
      A major report is forcing Saudi Arabia to consider a future without its lifeblood: oil.

      Saudi Arabia is in serious trouble. The Binladin Group, the kingdom’s largest construction company, has terminated the employment of fifty thousand foreign workers. They have been issued exit visas, which they have refused to honor. These workers will not leave without being paid back wages. Angry with their employer, some of the workers set fire to seven of the company’s buses.

      Unrest is on the cards in the Kingdom. In April, King Salman fired the water and electricity minister Abdullah al-Hasin, who had come under criticism for high water rates, new rules over the digging of wells and cuts in energy subsidies…
      http://www.alternet.org/world/why-saudi-arabia-suddenly-serious-trouble

      Reply
    • Volatility of this kind is not good for the oil markets. Energy investors can see pretty clearly now how vulnerable fossil fuel assets are to extreme weather conditions related to climate change. This makes a good case for divestment.

      Reply
  10. – See. The MSM media ghouls always show up when casualties, damage, etc are at hand.
    But will they sully themselves by reporting the known and presumed precursors?
    – A great big NEGATIVE.

    Reply
    • At least BBC made the climate change link — despite the fact that Trudeau is deriding anyone who does. I’m glad to see that some journalists aren’t listening.

      Reply
    • Mulga Mumblebrain

       /  May 6, 2016

      Add Ashifa Kassam of the execrable Guardian to the disinformers. A lengthy article on these fires today, with NO mention of anthropogenic climate destabilisation. Indeed the hack makes these fires seems almost routine, as if little was out of the ordinary.

      Reply
      • My general experience with the Guardian is that it’s a good pub and has been on top of climate change from jump. I’m sorry if this reporter has failed to give proper context, though. And I think that’s certainly worthy of criticism. However, the Guardian has been top notch and if all the media had followed its model on climate change coverage, we’d be much better off.

        To this point, NYT and the Washington Post have been pretty decent. If I were running things there, though, I’d be pushing the climate issue front and center. Lots of front page issues happening that I do not see on the front page.

        Reply
  11. – !

    – “we’re going to make it better. Build it better”
    Leader of the Wildrose Party of Alberta and MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin #wrp #ableg #abpoli #ymm
    -Brian Jean

    Reply
  12. – Yunnanadapis folivorus and Rapid Cooling

    Six new fossil species form ‘snapshot’ of primates stressed by ancient climate change
    May 5, 2016

    In a study to be published this week in the journal Science, researchers describe unearthing a “mother lode” of a half-dozen fossil primate species in southern China.

    These primates eked out an existence just after the Eocene-Oligocene transition, some 34 million years ago. It was a time when drastic cooling made much of Asia inhospitable to primates, slashing their populations and rendering discoveries of such fossils especially rare.


    Beard said that if not for the intense global cooling of the Eocene-Oligocene transition, the main stage of primate evolution may have continued to be in Asia, rather than transitioning to Africa where Homo sapiens eventually emerged. Indeed, the team’s findings underscore a vulnerability to climate change shared by all primates.

    “This is the flip side of what people are worried about now,” he said. “The Eocene-Oligocene transition was the opposite of global warming—the whole world was already warm, then it cooled off. It’s kind of a mirror image. The point is that primates then, just like primates today, are more sensitive to a changing climate than other mammals.”
    http://phys.org/news/2016-05-fossil-species-snapshot-primates-stressed.html

    Reply
  13. Colorado Bob

     /  May 5, 2016

    When the Rains Disappear: Drought Grips Pacific Islands

    From the vantage point of a boat bobbing on the deep blue waters of Majuro Lagoon, the encircling shores of the Pacific coral atoll are normally verdant with tropical vegetation. But on a recent sailing excursion with friends, Angela Saunders was struck by how brown and withered the island looked.

    “The vibrant color of all the trees was gone,” Saunders, a Majuro-based program manager with the International Organization for Migration, wrote in an email. “It was like someone put dampers on the world.”
    It is a scene that is playing out across the hundreds of low-lying islands and atolls scattered across a vast swath of the western Pacific Ocean broadly known as Micronesia. One of the strongest El Niños on record has curtailed the rains that are the lifeblood of most of the region’s communities and ushered in an extreme drought that has left inhabitants in a precarious situation.

    Wells have become brackish or run dry; the rain barrels that perch on the corners of houses have little or no rainwater left in them. Water rationing is limited to a couple hours a day in some of the worst-hit communities, while expensive reverse-osmosis machines have been shipped out to the most far-flung atolls to make the seawater drinkable. Staple foods like breadfruit and bananas have shriveled on the trees, inedible.

    Link

    Reply
  14. Colorado Bob

     /  May 5, 2016

    With 85 wildfires in British Columbia, Alberta must wait: Forest Minister

    Link

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 6, 2016

      Another thing climate is killing , the definition of :
      “glacial pace”.

      Reply
      • rustj2015

         /  May 6, 2016

        That was the term used when glaciers were considered long-lived, ancient.
        For those who are reading here, the term is still appropriate when looking at what glaciers are doing in our time. It’s an update on our wetware. It means something like the opposite of what we thought it did. Like “democracy.”

        Reply
  15. Griffin

     /  May 5, 2016

    Outstanding post Robert. I actually found myself going back and forth from your blog to a map, I just couldn’t believe the distance involved. Simply incredible.
    On another note, have you noticed that in just this week alone, the massive cracks that have spread (from the original cracking area in the Beaufort) to clear across the Canadian Archipelago? We are very close (and it is the first week of May) to seeing the entire ice pack losing a solid coherence. If this keeps up, in a couple of weeks we will have nothing more than a group of floes in a loose formation that is waiting on the sunshine.

    Reply
    • Thanks Griff. The size of this thing is enormous. It’s like one of the big Arctic wildfires we’ve been watching over past years popping up in an urban area. One of the nightmare scenarios, but something we have a much higher risk of seeing now.

      The ground in this area is laden with bitumen which can’t really be helping the situation much. It’s a bit south of the contiguous permafrost zone — so at least permafrost thaw isn’t a big fuels issue.

      I have been watching the sea ice. And the gyre appears to have really spun up this year — as we’d tend to expect when El Nino winds down. It’s having a huge impact on the greatly weakened ice — starting to spin in round like floating bits in a whirlpool. The big highs forming over that region have also aided in the shoving of the weakened ice. We would call these cracks spectacular if the situation wasn’t so darn messed up.

      Reply
  16. Ryan in New England

     /  May 6, 2016

    I was just about to post a link about Arctic ice when I noticed Griffin had just commented on it. The Beaufort has a lot of open water! This year continues to be record breaking in the Arctic. Truly astonishing stuff.

    http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2016/05/beaufort-under-relentless-high-pressure.html#more

    Reply
    • Great post by Neven here. That high is absolutely brutal. Models show it continuing to reform — if interrupted by a small low over the next few days — through the rest of this week at least.

      Reply
  17. Colorado Bob

     /  May 6, 2016

    In some areas, “we now have year-round fire seasons,” Matt Jolly, a research ecologist for the United States Forest Service, recently told the Times.

    “You can say it couldn’t get worse,” Jolly added, but based on its own projections, the forest service expects that it will get worse. According to a Forest Service report published last April, “Climate change has led to fire seasons that are now on average 78 days longer than in 1970.” Over the last three decades, the area destroyed each year by forest fires has doubled, and the service’s scientists project that it’s likely to “double again by midcentury.” A group of scientists who analyzed lake cores from Alaska to obtain a record of forest fires over the last ten thousand years found that in recent decades, blazes were both unusually frequent and unusually severe. “This extreme combination suggests a transition to a unique regime of unprecedented fire activity,” they concluded.

    Link

    Reply
    • Thanks for this Bob. Hugely helpful. And an excellent bit of writing by Kolbert here. Makes it all the more clear that the media context blackout in most news sources is completely unconscionable. The way she looks at the consumption side of oil is highly relevant. However, I think we do need to realize that there’s a political game that’s being played here. A cynical one on the part of the fossil fuel giants who’ve basically managed to remove people’s energy choices. These are the kinds of dominance games that tend to come up in the context of words like ‘resource curse’ and ‘monopoly special interests.’ And it’s a set of issues that is at the heart of global dependence on fossil fuels. The industry has gamed the political and economic system to maximize profits, to maximize fossil fuel dependency, and to, whether it intended to or not, to maximize global harm caused by climate change and related fossil fuel pollution.

      The fact is that we could be 20 years ahead of where we are now on climate change mitigation without the deleterious influence of these industry powers and to lay the blame at the feet of the consumer — who has been encouraged by industry and by their government allies to consume and consume and consume — doesn’t look at the whole picture. In fact, it misses much of what’s really happened.

      Now it’s true that we can choose to take the path away from fossil fuels. But we will have to over-come the industry voices that are confusing the conversation even now to do so. So it’s not just as easy as saying — I was wrong and I choose not to consume this stuff. Where, even now, are the alternative options? Where are the incentives for social movement in the right direction provided by government? Where is the plan to get us all there in an orderly fashion and with the least disruption?

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  May 6, 2016

        Thanks, wild fire is another thing I’ve try to stay up with. As you well know.

        This one has resulted in such a low body count ( 0 ) so far because of 2 things.

        4 lane highways, and flat ground.

        4 examples , like this one, all were told to leave on very short notice.

        The Oakland fires year ago.

        The fire season in Italy, and Greece in August, 2007 was horrible. People fleeing on narrow 2 lane mountain roads The same pattern happened again with the .”Black Saturday Fire”, in Australia.
        The body counts were really high.
        You can’t go fast , you can’t see the fire, and if one person screws up , the line behind them stops.

        That’s why hundreds died .

        The only reason this was so low was because of infrastructure, and flat ground.

        Reply
  18. Andy in SD

     /  May 6, 2016

    Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said in a Thursday news conference that the blaze grew from 25,000 acres to 210,000 acres in just 24 hours, making the fire larger than the city of Chicago.

    https://weather.com/news/news/fort-mcmurray-alberta-canada-fire-updates

    Reply
    • Andy in SD

       /  May 6, 2016

      328 Square Miles

      Reply
      • Wow. That is just absolutely insane.

        Reply
      • Cate

         /  May 6, 2016

        There is so little information coming out of Fort Mac itself, apart from the odd video. “Damage is extensive,” said Notley tonight, with no updates on numbers of buildings burned and whether any of the gas plants have been affected.

        Reply
      • rustj2015

         /  May 6, 2016

        Could it be something in the air?

        Reply
  19. Andy in SD

     /  May 6, 2016

    Reply
  20. Andy in SD

     /  May 6, 2016

    Hey Robert,

    I’m jotting an email to your email address. I may have a scoop on something, wanted to share with you. It’ll be over in a hour or 2.

    Reply
  21. Reply
    • – I’m still impressed by the size of that shadow cast by that pyrocumulus rising out of the firestorm.

      Reply
  22. Matt M.
    ‏@EskimoJoe492

    Pilot sees storm and promptly nopes right outta there.

    Reply
  23. Colorado Bob

     /  May 6, 2016

    25,000 acres to 210,000 acres in just 24 hours,

    Years ago read the hypothesis ,
    You make prediction , and based on your hypothesis certain things will be observed.
    Over years of chasing this , I have never seen these numbers in just 24 hours .

    Nearly 1,000 percent in 24 hours.

    I sure hope that there not bitumen deposits near the surface , where these fires burn through meters of duff, and set them off.

    Reply
  24. Colorado Bob

     /  May 6, 2016

    Allow me to be a right wing bozo tonight .

    “This God’s punishment . for man’s rape of the the Earth.”

    Reply
  25. The Science Behind the Explosive McMurray Wildfire And How the Inferno Is Creating Its Own Weather

    Forecast outlooks from Environment Canada showed that large parts of Alberta had a high to extreme fire danger in the final few days of April and into the start of May. On Tuesday, the fire danger was “extreme” in the area of Fort McMurray.

    1.) It’s Been Dry
    2.) El Niño Contributes to Mild Start to the Year
    3.) Low Humidity and Strong Winds
    NOAA says that although the clouds produce no significant precipitation, they can produce localized strong winds which may impact the spread of the fire.

    Reply
  26. 0200 UTC | NA | USA | East Coast

    NWS New York NY ‏@NWSNewYorkNY 5h5 hours ago

    Coastal Flood Advisories remain in effect for many coastal locations tonight. See the graphic!

    Reply
  27. Reply
    • – Atmospheric “military chaff” ?
      NWS New York NY ‏@NWSNewYorkNY 19m19 minutes ago

      What is that on the radar? It is actually “military chaff”. Take a look!

      Reply
  28. Colorado Bob

     /  May 6, 2016

    Dave Matthews Band – So Much To Say

    Reply
  29. Colorado Bob

     /  May 6, 2016

    Once I was in very thick traffic south bound down the I-95 . Were all going 75 mph .

    I was scared to death/ then this came over the radio.

    I put my foot in the tank . And ran like Hell.

    Reply
    • 1972ish (?) and I was friends with a local BC band who opened for Commander Cody at the Pender Auditorium. Lots of Tequila and a bit coke if I recall properly were on hand in the dressing room. A lousy set of ears (We called him ‘Tin Ear’ ( A Pender hire, I think.) was at the sound board.
      Lots of fun that night…

      Reply
  30. – OFF TOPIC | but atomic/nuclear happenings are an long time interest of mine.

    Reply
  31. Colorado Bob

     /  May 6, 2016

    Life is a funny ole dog. The granny in the Outlaw Josey Wells. Didn’t pay $42.00 dollars a month to tell the world what she thought.

    Reply
  32. – Convoy being formed.
    I think, that one result of widespread denial by civil governments — and Exxon’s et al intentional withholding of life threatening climate studies — a very steep and belated learning curve is now being hastily forged by communities like Fort McMurray, Canada.

    – Very steep — and with a chance of it being Sisyphean, to wit: “(of a task) such that it can never be completed.” ‘of or relating to Sisyphus. 2. endless and unavailing, as labor or a task”

    (CNN) Sometime Friday morning, Canadian officials will give the signal and a convoy of hundreds of vehicles will roll south, through the battered city of Fort McMurray, as evacuees try to get away from the flames of a massive wildfire.
    Officials said the effort will involve 400 cars and a helicopter that will fly ahead to make sure the path is safe.
    On Thursday it wasn’t safe, and thousands of people who lived north of the city had to be flown over the fire that has torched 850 square kilometers (328 square miles).
    http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/05/americas/fort-mcmurray-fire-canada/

    Reply
    • They were stranded. Encircled by the flames with no safe path out. Good thing they had air evac.

      Reply
      • Cate

         /  May 6, 2016

        The convoy of 400 vehicles s going today (Friday) from the camps north of Fort Mac where some evacuees initially were housed. The RCMP, which is supervising the convoy, has warned that the route is still dangerous and subject to road closures.

        Here’s the thing about this: maybe it’s that I’m just living at a distance and we are not getting much of the local coverage, but the national coverage is basically conveying little to nothing of the nature, extent, and risks of the fires currently burning within the city and to the immediate north—where so much of the FF infrastructure is. How much of that, and how seriously, has been compromised or damaged?

        What we are allowed to see are worried faces of officials and tons of heavy equipment and personnel pouring into the city. Draw your own conclusions.

        Reply
        • Those fires could burn for weeks or months. I’ve seen it happen in these regions before. They burn hotter and activate a lot more of the soil carbon than before. If they hit rich bitumen layers, the added heat can cause it to smolder and this will generate hotspots. The refined fuels are another matter. It’s also worth noting that isolated permafrost zones are found in this area. Considering their southern extent, the thaw pressure there is very strong now with the added heat from climate change. So you’ve probably got these isolated permafrost carbon pools in the region as well. Include the added heat and dryness due to human forced warming and it’s a very volatile mix. As noted at the top of the paragraph — these fires could continue for weeks or, at worse, months in this region. This is a serious crisis and one that is not going to let up for a while.

  33. Colorado Bob

     /  May 6, 2016

    Get ready little lady, Hell is coming to breakfast.

    Reply
  34. – Meanwhile at another locale on a besieged planet:

    Reply
    • – Meanwhile at another locale in So Cal:
      Santa Barbara County earlier got hit with hail and very strong winds.

      Reply
      • NWS Los Angeles ‏@NWSLosAngeles 2h2 hours ago

        Radar storm total at intersection of Hwys 166 & 33 E of Cuyama. Green pixels 1 to 2 inches in less than 2 hrs. #cawx

        Reply
  35. Donald Trump targets Clinton on Coal:

    http://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2016-05-05/trump-returns-to-campaign-trail-targets-clinton-on-coal

    “Instead, Trump focused his attention on Clinton, criticizing, in particular, a remark she made in a March saying, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” Clinton said this week she’d made “a misstatement” while campaigning in the state.

    Trump, whose team had passed out signs that read, “Trump Digs Coal,” said that, if he’s elected, “We’re going to put the miners back to work.”

    “You’re going to be working your asses off,” he told the miners in the crowd.”

    There should be a word for “ashamed of being a human being”.

    Somebody needs to genetically engineer a truly intelligent species to save us, and do it fast.

    Reply
    • He’s a rotten, Mr Trump
      His heart’s an empty bag
      His brain is full of coal ash
      His hair looks like a hag

      Mr. Trump -ump

      The two words that best describe him are…

      And I quote —

      ‘Ignorant lunk.’

      Reply
      • Funny. 🙂

        Can you imagine how long it would take this invincibly ignorant guy to change his mind? Oh, my God. Things are getting so strange…

        We’re really out of time.

        Free online book – The Authoritarians by Bob Altemeyer:

        “Authoritarianism is something authoritarian followers and authoritarian
        leaders cook up between themselves. It happens when the followers submit too
        much to the leaders, trust them too much, and give them too much leeway to do
        whatever they want–which often is something undemocratic, tyrannical and
        brutal. In my day, authoritarian fascist and authoritarian communist dictatorships
        posed the biggest threats to democracies, and eventually lost to them in wars
        both hot and cold. But authoritarianism itself has not disappeared, and I’m going
        to present the case in this book that the greatest threat to American democracy
        today arises from a militant authoritarianism that has become a cancer upon the
        nation. ”

        http://members.shaw.ca/jeanaltemeyer/drbob/TheAuthoritarians.pdf

        Unfortunately we appear to be evolved to shelter in the social organizations of people we perceive to be strong leaders. What formerly had survival value – joining in, going along, being a follower – has now become a threat to our survival, with the climate change deniers. Another adult characteristic – the ability to ignore chronic problems and continue to work and function – is also no longer a survival trait.

        In the echo chamber of the corporate media, the Republicans debate issues – all of which are trivial, and some of which don’t even exist. When the Republicans fight with each other over complete nonsense it reminds me of the widespread flight from reality that occurred in Nazi Germany, under Hitler. The immigration issue – corporate news-speak for racism – what immigration issue? Lets build a wall to keep hard working honest people on their own side of the border? As strange as things are getting in the U.S., Mexico might want to station troops along that wall if they build it to keep the crazies out of Mexico.

        If we try to take flight from this reality, basic physics will kill us, I think. Ice melts, greenhouse gases absorb and re-emit infrared radiation, dark surfaces reflect less light energy than white ones. And methane hydrate, a form of water ice, sooner or later will dissociate if we keep heating it, with the potential to release on the order of a thousand times as much methane as currently exists in the atmosphere right now. Basic physics makes no allowance for fools.

        Sorry, preaching to the choir, again. Most of us on this site already know all of this, partly thanks to you, Robert. Things are getting so strange…

        Reply
      • What do you give the man that has everything, for his birthday?

        Answer:

        You give him nuclear weapons and the possible fate of a planet.

        Things are getting so strange…

        Reply
      • With apologies to Boaty, I kind of like the appellation Trumpy McTrumpface, myself. Seems to suit his personality.

        Reply
    • “Donald Trump targets Clinton…”
      Trump couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn if he we inside of it.
      Remember too that HRC has a track record on the world political stage and trenches. Trump is is just an aggressive real estate scam artist with no grasp of the hard realities of life as the rest of the world knows it.
      (Not an endorsement of HRC.)
      OUT

      Reply
      • – Watch out for casino don Mr. SA. The whole gambling compulsion ridden casino matrix is unsustainable, based on real, and perceived, ‘disposable income’ — and is extremely energy and fossil fuel dependent. Consumption of booze, beef and electricity are the stock and trade of daily casino commerce.

        – I did put up a red flag alert for him a number of months ago. It was in another context though, and had a few psychological and historical references of the type not in common use.
        My usage was too vague and understandably subject to misinterpretation.
        But that’s another story about something I’ve thought about, involving existential threats, long before I heard of Mr. SA.

        – Ps MSM did treat Trumps last visit with Mr. SA in Las vegas like it was a bona fide coronation. They really did — and it’s been non-stop Trump boosting since.

        – Watch out for casino don Mr. SA.

        Reply
  36. Reply
    • Good news, about PV solar. I hope it turns out that way.

      Most of the cost of solar thermal is in the heliostats, though, for solar power towers.

      Somebody needs to invent a low cost heliostat. Google had a project to do that, too bad they gave up on it.

      This paper has some interesting ideas, near the end of the paper. Using tensile forces as much as possible using guy wires, heliostat mirrors that unlatch in high winds to provide less wind resistance and then magnetically latch again when the wind dies down and ways of decreasing turbulence from wind are some of the ideas.

      Reply
      • A guy in the town I live in spent some time working on a heliostat design like that. Not sure why it didn’t pan out, but he is now using it for residential PV tracking systems. You can see what they look like here: http://www.solaflect.com/

        Reply
      • Hi climatehawk1-

        Yes, those look good, in your link. Tensile forces (wires) are maybe 10 times more efficient in their use of materials than compressive forces (posts), say proponents of tensile structures like Buckminster Fuller and those that followed him.

        It looks like your guy has reduced this principle to practice. He claims to have reduced steel usage by two thirds.

        Using the heliostats as solar trackers might be one way for him to get through the “valley of death” and make money on small scale projects without landing a big solar thermal contract. Tensile heliostats don’t have the same track record as existing more massive compressive heliostats, and may not be bankable. Solar thermal plants have to operate for tens of years just to pay off their loans, and lenders might view tensile heliostats as big risks.

        So, maybe there is nothing technically wrong with the tensile heliostat idea at all, it just doesn’t have enough real world experience in working solar plants to be bankable.

        It’s the sort of dilemma that federal loan guarantees can fix – you can’t get the loans without real world experience, but you can’t get real world experience without financing.

        Just guessing, but if he can’t beat photovoltaics, maybe he can join them, at least for a while, might be what he is thinking.

        Reply
      • His brochure for his heliostat says he has gotten two million dollars in grants from the federal Sunshot program, so far. So the DOE thinks this tensile heliostat idea might be worth a try, apparently.

        Reply
    • Greg

       /  May 6, 2016

      Yea DT and, importantly New Record Set for World’s Cheapest Solar, Now Undercutting Coal, Developers bid as little as 2.99 cents a kilowatt-hour to develop 800 megawatts of solar-power projects for the Dubai Electricity & Water Authority:
      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-03/solar-developers-undercut-coal-with-another-record-set-in-dubai

      Reply
  37. Reply
  38. Canada Prairies especially.
    May 05, 2016
    Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre Inc.
    National Wildland Fire Situation Report

    Grand Totals
    Fires Hectares
    BC 204 44,361.00
    YT 2 0.30
    AB 361 10,575.18
    NT 0 0.00
    SK 111 2,056.60
    MB 36 1,056.00
    http://www.ciffc.ca/firewire/current.php

    Reply
    • – And CC involved:
      – But everyone grows soybeans and corn. Is this just more livestock feed for the prolematic meat industry?

      How climate change could transform the Prairies’ iconic landscapes

      Golden wheat is on the provincial flags of both Alberta and Saskatchewan, but longer, hotter growing seasons are leading more Prairie farmers to turn to warm-weather crops like soybeans and corn.

      When Kendall Heise started farming about 20 years ago, he grew cool-season grains like wheat and canola — in the harsh climes of Manitoba, it wasn’t like he had much choice.

      This spring, he plans to also plant warm-season soybeans and corn.

      “We were, and still are, somewhat limited in what we can grow because of the cold climate,” says Heise. “But it’s changing … spring comes a little earlier and the fall a bit later and we are taking advantage of it.”

      Western Canada’s cold and short growing seasons have historically prevented farmers from planting crops like soybeans. But as temperatures have risen and growing seasons have grown longer, the extra days between the last and first frost have given farmers a chance to grow new, potentially more lucrative, crops. In a paper in 2011, Paul Bullock, a University of Manitoba professor, analyzed rainfall and temperature data from 12 Prairie weather stations and found that warming from the 1920s to 2000 has allowed farmers to plant more crops that are traditionally grown in the warmer U.S. states.

      But it isn’t just climate change that has played a role, he said. Crop breeding has helped make some soybean varieties do better in cooler conditions. “Same for corn,” he said. “These new varieties are hardier and do much better.”

      The same combination of warming and hardier breeds is behind the expansion of the soybean crop in Nova Scotia and PEI.

      https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2016/04/18/climate-change-could-transform-the-prairies-iconic-landscapes.html

      Reply
  39. Phil

     /  May 6, 2016

    Another bit of wisdom from the worst environment minister Australia has ever had.

    Greg Hunt: no definite link between coal from Adani mine and climate change

    http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/may/06/greg-hunt-argues-theres-no-definite-link-between-coal-and-climate-change?CMP=twt_a-environment_b-gdneco

    Reply
    • Mulga Mumblebrain

       /  May 6, 2016

      We at the Defarge Society (Free knitting lessons for new members) have a list of ‘persons’ who will be invited to explain their actions in exacerbating climate destabilisation and actively opposing efforts to prevent it, and I have nominated little ‘Rhyming Slang’ Hunt for an early appearance. It’s moments like these that good old-fashioned terms like ‘loathsome’ fail to satisfy.

      Reply
    • Just when you think the degree of intentional deception can’t get any worse …

      Reply
    • Damn. If only we could somehow connect them.🙂

      This, btw, is another old argument from the tobacco folks–science can’t show that a specific molecule from inhaled smoke triggered a specific lung cancer in a specific smoker, so there’s “no proof.”

      Reply
  40. Ryan in New England

     /  May 6, 2016

    Just want to turn the tables give you a hat tip, Robert😉 You’ve been doing a great job staying on top of this unfolding disaster, and have been providing a fantastic resource for putting these events in their current context. And thank you to all of the commenters as well. Everybody has been really awesome at posting updates and links about the evolving conditions. You all help to make this place what it is.

    And I also love all of the personal stories and history, Bob and Dt🙂

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  May 6, 2016

      X2!

      Reply
    • Cheers, Ryan. I really appreciate your clear-headed and kind comments. This crisis is a heavy lift and I think everyone has been doing a wonderful job getting pertinent information into the comments section. It reads like a professional emergency news ticker on the unfolding global climate disaster. Anyone in need of this information quick can come here and find it. The kind and entertaining comments provide a much needed levity. And Ryan here is my combination muse and Jiminey Cricket😉

      Reply
  41. Ryan in New England

     /  May 6, 2016

    A recent research paper delivered a dose of reality by declaring the oil majors have about 10 years to drastically alter their business models, selling off assets and investing heavily in renewables, or face “a nasty, brutish and short” end.

    Every little bit of news like this is encouraging. The writing is on the wall, fossil fuels must stop being burned. We urgently need new energy sources, and the power that oil companies once enjoyed is fading. The world is waking up, but will we change in time?

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/may/05/oil-firms-environment-energy-climate-change

    Reply
    • Thanks for posting that Ryan, and thanks again to Robert for keeping this blog going. I also really like Elizabeth Kolbert’s take on this posted above:

      “To raise environmental concerns in the midst of human tragedy is to risk the charge of insensitivity. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alluded to this danger at a recent news conference: “Any time we try to make a political argument out of one particular disaster, I think there’s a bit of a shortcut that can sometimes not have the desired outcome.” And certainly it would be wrong to blame the residents of Fort McMurray for the disaster that has befallen them. As Andrew Weaver, a Canadian climate scientist who is a Green Party member of British Columbia’s provincial legislature, noted, “The reality is we are all consumers of products that come from oil.”

      But to fail to acknowledge the connection is to risk another kind of offense. We are all consumers of oil, not to mention coal and natural gas, which means that we’ve all contributed to the latest inferno. We need to own up to our responsibility and then we need to do something about it. The fire next time is one that we’ve been warned about, and that we’ve all had a hand in starting.”

      It’s a really tricky one and I don’t think I’ve fully gotten my head around it. Yes, this is climate change in action, and yes this is what many of use have been yammering on about for so long, but we need to balance that out, and not start throwing blame around so that it lands on the victims, because we need to respond with compassion and support. We need to make sure that our blame goes to the Exxons for deliberately misleading everyone for so long, but the particular problem here is that the victims seem to largely identify with the Exxons of the world.

      Ft Mac will get rebuilt, and the Canadian government will spent a lot of money doing it, unfortunately. I really wish my govt would get its shit together and get building renewables and batteries and electrified infrastructure so our workers would identify with those things instead of with the oil sands.

      Reply
      • oh man, I wish there was an edit function! I’m happy to pay taxes to help the people of Ft Mac rebuild, actually, and I don’t mean that’s unfortunate, I think that sounds really inconsiderate if you snip that out of context.

        I’d just really rather the govt helps them rebuild with an option for jobs in a renewable energy industry.

        Reply
        • Two thumbs up Marcel.

          We need to help them rebuild the right way. Why not make Fort McMurray a clean energy and environmental restoration center? We could work to heal the land there as well as the airs. We should work to turn Mordor into Lothlorien.

      • A lot of people whose homes have burnt work in some way for the tar sands industry, which of course has helped worsen GHG concentration. These people, and people everywhere, need to do a lot of soul-searching, and we shouldn’t try to spare them.

        Reply
        • Jim —

          We should do everything we can to help them survive this disaster and to give them new homes afterwards. But we should also fight for them by trying to shut down the fossil fuel emissions that have caused this. Because some of them make a living working for the fossil fuel industry, they may fight us. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to save their lives. Eventually, many of them will realize that what they did was harmful and will work hard at other jobs — like emergency rescue and in repairing or constructing the wind, solar, and energy storage facilities we all so desperately need for an energy switch. In the climate fight, we should realize that the war isn’t against people, it’s a war for our own better natures to emerge. And, yes, there are some who will never change — but they are mainly involved in the preservation of corporate fossil fuel giants who need to go with we are to survive. Those are the false leaders we need to turn away from. The ones who lead us down this path in the first place.

          But in dealing with the crisis we should not fall to hatred. And we should do everything we can to help any victim of climate change — even as we try to open their eyes to the causes of all the harm that has come their way so that they may also be empowered to act. To act in a way that generates a permanent response — not just to symptoms, but to causes as well.

        • Very well said, Robert, absolutely agree. We must be compassionate and empathetic if we are going to change minds.

        • “His sense of duty was no less than yours, I deem. You wonder what his name is… where he came from. And if he was really evil at heart. What lies or threats led him on this long march from home. If he would not rather have stayed there… in peace. War will make corpses of us all.”

      • Cate

         /  May 6, 2016

        Marcel you hit the nail on the head, that the victims of Exxon identify completely with Exxon et al (“Big Oil”)—with its values of profit at any cost, its ecocidal project to trash the planet, its entire raison d’etre.

        We are all to blame for buying into Big Oil, and we will all become its victims, some to a worse and more harrowing extent than others.

        Fort Mac will rebuild, but in a very different time from the boom years, when oil topped $100 and everyone was rich beyond their wildest dreams. Those times were already gone before the fire because of the slump in oil prices. This catastrophe will set the town—and the oil-friendly ethos that drives it—back rather farther than some think.

        A lot of the workforce there is either transient or temporary. They are coming home to the east coast in droves. There will be much rethinking going on.

        But people are not stupid when it comes to knowing what side their bread is buttered on, and there is a very good chance that renewable energy could well be the new lease on life that Fort Mac will need. It could transform itself into the green energy capital of Canada.

        This is the kind of messaging we need now. And this is the time to talk about it.

        Reply
  42. Marnie

     /  May 6, 2016

    Robert, I’m worried that the tar sands areas might burn if the fire lands there. Can you tell me if that is a possibility? Or is it so barren it can’t burn?

    Reply
    • The concentration of bitumen within the sandy soil is very sparse. In some areas, it might be dense enough to burn and smolder — in a peat-like manner. This might result in an ongoing fire hazard for the area. But overall, it’s less flammable than brown coal. If there’s an explosion risk, it would involve the production facilities themselves and related pipeline infrastructure. The sands are more a hotspot risk.

      Reply
  43. Canada’s huge wildfires may release carbon locked in permafrost

    “This is carbon that the ecosystem has not seen for thousands of years and now it’s being released into the atmosphere,” says Turetsky. “We need to start thinking about permafrost and we need to start thinking about deep carbon and everything we can do to inhibit the progression of climate change.”

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/2087214-canadas-huge-wildfires-may-release-carbon-locked-in-permafrost/#.VyynQzKjnME.facebook

    Reply
    • Ah, yes. Hello. This is why the Arctic summer is so, so scary for me these days. There’s a huge pile of carbon there. It’s a new fuel. And all the added heat, everything that’s new with all this global warming we are witnessing, is pushing so much of it to burn. It’s like adding 1,000 billion tons of potential additional emissions on top of the fossil fuels now being burned. And each new ton of carbon hitting the air now has a net atmospheric carbon multiplying effect. Carbon burned today, in this way, is not equal to carbon burned yesterday. A ton of carbon burned today may have a net effect of producing 1.5 or 2 tons of atmospheric carbon long term. That’s why it’s so crucial to stop burning the carbon now. But cause the added effect now is far, far worse than before.

      Reply
  44. Griffin

     /  May 6, 2016

    View from the Atlantic City area this morning. Heavy rain? Nope. Tropical Storm? Nope. Steady onshore flow combined with an obvious increase in local sea level? Bingo.

    Reply
  45. Shawn Redmond

     /  May 6, 2016

    Labbats has stopped beer production at the Edmonton brewery to can water to help with the situation at Ft Mac. This is great at the same time it isn’t. Aluminum cans filled with drinking water absolutely great for the people concerned. The FF involved in the whole process is mind numbing. So this is it, as we try to get off FF the damage produced by CO2 will force us to use more FF to try and save those caught in the after math. Hell has come to breakfast! and it wants all the food!!!

    Reply
  46. Wharf Rat

     /  May 6, 2016

    Expanding tropics pushing high altitude clouds towards poles, NASA study finds
    http://phys.org/news/2016-05-tropics-high-altitude-clouds-poles.html

    Reply
    • John McCormick

       /  May 6, 2016

      Wharf rat, thanks for the link. Expanding tropics is worthy of a blog.

      Reply
    • Ouch. That’s bad news, Rat. Expanding troposphere in the polar zones causes all sorts of trouble.

      Reply
      • Is this another element of the latitudinal warming also taking place? Can they be succinctly tied together — or does it matter?

        Reply
        • The polar cell is getting crushed. That can generate all kinds of zonal nonsense. And we see that all over the place now.

  47. Greg

     /  May 6, 2016

    I made a deal with you
    What I desire is man’s red fire
    To make my dream come true….
    Looks like man’s red fire is vunerable to nature’s:
    http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/styles/full_width/public/thumbnails/image/ncc_050516_0956_0_10_ftmcmurray_labels_0.png?itok=5J2-btw2

    Reply
  48. Greg

     /  May 6, 2016

    RS, DT, CB and you must feel this way often:

    Reply
    • Greg

       /  May 6, 2016

      I often feel like this little girl on this blog while mama RS cleans the cots for the evacuees :

      Reply
      • What a great picture. Bless these souls who are helping out. Everyone should be pitching in now to help the victims.

        Reply
    • Tell me about it. I just got over wrestling with my internet connection for the past 3 hours and my primary lament is that there was work that needed doing and that I couldn’t get to my computer to do it.

      Reply
  49. Greg

     /  May 6, 2016

    These are the brave souls bringing fire fighting material into Fort Mcmurray:

    Reply
  50. Hey, Andy.
    How’s the humidity down your way?

    Reply
  51. Communities are saying, “NO”.

    350 dot org ‏@350 2h2 hours ago

    Gulf coast communities are saying “no new leases” and demanding an end to offshore drilling

    Reply
    • – Leave to MEM to to add perspective

      Michael E. Mann ‏@MichaelEMann 2h2 hours ago State College, PA

      West Virginia Coal Association (WVCA) endorses Donald Trump. In related news, so does the AAB (American Association of Brontosauruses).

      Reply
  52. Robert

     /  May 6, 2016

    Again the folowing is not necessarily for the posted comments section but I would very much appreciate it if you could explain or give your opinion as to why the current historically significant catastrophe unfolding in Alberta is given only the smallest headline
    way down past many other articles on the digital page of the NYT
    ‘-and The WashPo hasn’t had any coverage today.
    Other papers are downplaying it as well. Why?
    Also, in a similar vein, there are high sea-level (as a result of global warming, of course,, leading to a way-beyond-the-norm melting cryosphere, in turn causing sea levels to
    rise) floods–not from rain–in
    MIAMI BEACH AND ATLANTIC CITY TODAY and this is not even mentioned in The Times!
    This sea-level type flooding on the East Coast is a very ominous development, to put it mildly.
    One more observation, on a very important matter: INSECTS. I HAVE NOTICED DRASTICALLY FEWER INSECTS THIS SPRING.
    I drove roundtrip 400 miles on midwestern highways this week but had virtually no splats of “bug juice” on my windshield.
    Also, I have kept screenless windows open all night
    and from what I see while awake no insects come in from outdoors.
    Not a house fly, nor a moth, nothing.
    This prompted an experiment of sorts on my part:
    I took a bright light clipped to a broomstick to a local park at night. Nothing, except for a few gnats, drawn to the bright light in the surrounding darkness.
    I find this very disconcerting.
    Finally, I just want to say that your sheer output of relevant, vitally significant articles is astounding…
    and of course while all the while remaining a purveyor of the truth.

    Reply
    • These are good questions about news coverage Robert. I’ve asked myself these questions many times. Why does front page news on climate change hardly ever make it to the front page?

      As for the insects issue, I’m afraid I don’t know anything about it. A kind of troubling anectdote, though. I hope it’s not representative.

      Reply
      • Another good way, one I have used, to monitor, or document, any visible contents of the air at night time is to use a camera flash that is aimed more or less straight up (above yourhead) and click the shutter. Best in a darker location but sometimes a bit of ambient light helps illuminate.
        Anything not the black of night is the result.
        DT

        Reply
      • I have also used MacTac adhesive shelf paper, various spray on adhesive glues to monitor traffic dust, and wildfire ash fallout.

        Reply
    • Check NYT again. I did earlier today and there were four sizable stories about it. Comes the dawn? Probably not, but it’s nice to see the increased coverage.

      Reply
      • The NYT has certainly done better lately. And the Washington Post weather gang has really rocked it on climate change coverage. Glad to see them taking a better crack at it.

        Reply
    • Griffin

       /  May 6, 2016

      You are certainly not alone in noticing the loss of the insects. Although not much a news generator, it is a very disturbing trend.
      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2704973/Insect-population-45-just-35-years-Scientists-fear-drop-harm-planet-vital-role-play.html

      Reply
    • marcel_g

       /  May 7, 2016

      If this lack of insects is widespread and not just localized to the time of year ( I used to be a tree planter in northern Ontario, and the amount of bugs stuck on the front of our cars was crazy, depending on the week) that is very disconcerting.

      I hope it’s not due to widespread prevalence of neonics – I read that the Dutch banned them after finding that it didn’t take much to turn even their ditchwater into an effective insecticide.

      I don’t spend a lot of time outside the city any more, so that might be why I feel like there are no more clouds of bugs in the summer anymore.

      Reply
      • Two comments, neither dispositive, just my experience:

        1) Bugs so far seem normal in east central Vermont, though I’ve noticed some shifts over time. We used to get very small gnats (“no-see-ums”) only briefly, now their season seems to extend longer in spring. (Oh, hmm, as I re-read this, I’d have to say, many more ticks. I used to walk through the woods, but I don’t any more.

        2) I’ve observed for a while now that windshields no longer get obliterated by bug juice. I believe this is due to a change in the shape of autos, rather than the disappearance of bugs. Started happening with our first Prius purchase, which would have been around 2003. The angle of the windshield is steeper and distinctly different than on earlier autos. MHO.

        Reply
      • marcel_g

         /  May 9, 2016

        Aha, interesting about windshield shape, I hadn’t though of that. Still haven’t seen many bugs in Ottawa this year, but it has been an odd cold spring here.

        Also had what looked like a dead stilt sandpiper beside my front porch. Not sure I’ve ever seen one of these before, let alone downtown, doubt it’s connected but still odd.

        Reply
  53. Reblogged this on "OUR WORLD".

    Reply
  54. Genie

     /  May 6, 2016

    https://500px.com/photo/70878099/bluebell-path-by-david-mould
    I traded in my pink sunglasses, under a wake-up-spell
    …From the call of fairies burning in what were (
    just yesterday) bluebells.

    Reply
  55. – As smoke and ash from wildfires get our attention — and as many people and other living creatures suffer breathing it — it is important for all to know to monitor potential, or ongoing threats from air pollution and Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs)

    – How to read this May 6, 2016 Airnow air ‘quality’ map.

    – Gulf Coast – CODE ORANGE – TX region is being hit by high unhealthy levels of biotic tissue destroying Ozone (O3), with localized fossil fuel emissions as the usual driver.
    Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups: Health Message: Active children and adults, and people with lung disease, such as asthma, should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.
    PS I will likely go to my grave cursing the inherent callous cruelty of burdening the victims, the most sensitive among the citizenry, with reactive survival strategies.
    (Meanwhile the sources of their misery are allowed, or even prompted, in the interest of commerce — to continue.

    – Midwest – CODE YELLOW: Ozone

    In general, as concentrations of ground-level ozone increase, both the number of people affected and the seriousness of the health effects increase. Also, more people with lung disease visit doctors or emergency rooms and are admitted to the hospital. When ozone levels are very high, everyone should be concerned about ozone exposure. People who may be particularly sensitive to ozone include:
    People with lung diseases, such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema will generally experience more serious health effects at lower ozone levels.
    – Ozone can: Make your lungs more susceptible to infection, inflame and damage cells that line your lungs, reduce lung function, irritate your respiratory system.
    Active people of all ages who exercise or work vigorously outdoors have higher exposure to ozone than people who are less active.
    Some healthy people are more sensitive to ozone. They may experience health effects at lower ozone levels than the average person even though they have none of the risk factors listed above. There may be a genetic basis for this increased sensitivity. (airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=ozone_health.index

    Reply
    • Continued:

      – Florida – Gulf Coast east of TX – Ozone

      – Colorado – Denver – Rocky Mountain National Park – Utah locations – Ozone – New Mexico locations Pm10

      – Montana – CODE RED – Billings: Pm2.5

      Unhealthy – Health Message: People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion. [GET SOME N95 RESPIRATOR DUST MASKS]

      – S. California – Imperial Valley – SF Bay area – Central Valley – CODE YELLOW – CODE ORANGE: Pm2.5.

      CODE YELLOW: Moderate: Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.

      – What is particle pollution?

      Particle pollution comes from many different types of sources. Fine particles (2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller) include power plants, industrial processes, vehicle tailpipes, woodstoves, and wildfires. Coarse particles (between 2.5 and 10 micrometers) come from crushing and grinding operations, road dust, and some agricultural operations.
      Particle pollution is linked to a number of health problems, including coughing, wheezing, reduced lung function, asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes. It also is linked to early death. (airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=pubs.aqguidepart)

      OUT

      Reply
    • Thanks for the air quality update, DT. Let’s continue the good push for improvements.

      Reply
  56. Links a 2015 Rolling Stone piece:

    Svein T veitdal ‏@tveitdal 14h14 hours ago

    What Megablazes (like Oregon) Tell Us About the Fiery Future of Climate Change
    http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/what-megablazes-tell-us-about-the-fiery-future-of-climate-change-20150915

    Reply
    • Great article by Rolling Stone here. It seems that all-too-many people have already forgotten what happened last summer. And this fire is happening in May. It could just keep burning and burning. And Canada is going to get hit with more of these things. A lot more large fires will be igniting this summer. The conditions this year have just been insane. We will be covering these fires through to at least September. Long, long summer ahead.

      Reply
  57. Reply
    • NASA ‏@NASA May 5

      .@NASANPP sees massive Fort McMurray, Alberta wildfire day & night:

      Reply
  58. Reply
  59. I agree that no place on Earth is now going to be free from human-caused catastrophe. The Tar Sands Industrial Wasteland should burn completely to the ground. I feel sad for the non-humans, many of whom have lost their native habitat, that once was a thriving, healthy Boreal Forest.

    http://www.foranimals.org

    Reply
  60. Yogi the Bear

     /  May 7, 2016

    As harsh as it may sound and without forgetting the drama and trauma experienced by the people of Fort Mac (insurance money to the rescue), it is nature’s Karma here. We have been warned for years about global warming and its ugly consequences and there has been a lot of deniers (ironically enough, a lot of them in Alberta…) about this. Once again, one can not ignore the irony to see THE single place in this country (if not the world) with the most significant contribution to the increase of gaz warming release in the atmosphere go up in flames.

    Reply
  61. Kevin Jones

     /  May 7, 2016

    From AGU Blogosphere
    agu.org
    “Smoke from the Alberta wildfire drifted across Canada and then got caught up in the circulation around a strong upper low over Maryland, which routed it into Florida.”

    Reply
  1. Ring | feral poetess
  2. Fort McMurray and the Warming Arctic
  3. Incêndio de Fort McMurray Desliga 640.000 Barris por Dia da Produção das Areias Betuminosas – Aquecimento Global Descontrolado
  4. Trudeau, Canadian Media Mum as Threat From Climate Change Induced Wildfires Grows | robertscribbler

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