The Beast Growls — Warming-Induced Wildfire Again Doubles in Size, Burns Tar Sands Workers’ Camp

On Monday, strong southerly winds and freakishly hot temperatures near 80 degrees (F) combined to fan the still-raging Fort McMurray Fire in Alberta, Canada. The monstrous, climate change enhanced, blaze swelled. And by the end of the day it had expanded to cover more than 354,000 hectares, 1,360 square miles, or an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

In a little more than a week, a fire that emergency response personnel are calling ‘The Beast’ had once again doubled in size.

The Beast Growls

(The Fort McMurray Fire again exploded on Monday — invading tar sands facilities even as the eastern sections of the fire came to within 7 kilometers of the Saskatchewan border. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

As the fire expanded, it swept north and east. Casting off choking, dense smoke, the fire spiked air quality ratings to 38 (a 10 is considered dangerous), forcing emergency response personnel, workers, and those few people now inhabiting the blackened town of Fort McMurray to wear particulate filtration masks. The bad air quality caused some officials to speculate that the return of more than 80,000 residents to the town could be delayed. The evacuees had been forced from their homes by the fires during early May — a wave of climate change refugees that have now faced a three week period of dislocation. But any thought of residents returning was swiftly overwhelmed by the rapidly-expanding fire itself.

8,000 More Evacuations, Oil Worker Camp Burned

As the town of Fort McMurray choked in the smoke of resurgent fires, walls of flame moving north and east again threatened tar sands facilities. Firefighters scrambled to widen fire breaks as fires moving as fast as 40 kilometers per hour leapt defensive lines and entered some of the industrial sections.

Ironically-named Travis Fairweather, a wildfire information officer, described the completely untenable situation:

“Yesterday the fire was showing extreme behaviour and lots of smoke in the air. We had to pull the firefighters off the line because it was so dangerous out there.”

The entire industrial zone fell swiftly under threat and by late Monday more than 8,000 tar sands workers from a total of 19 camps had been ordered to evacuate. By Tuesday morning, the Blacksand Lodge — a temporary residence for oil workers manning tar sands facilities located 35 kilometers to the north of Fort McMurrary — had succumbed to the flames. A large facility, the Blacksand camp provided 665 residential units for workers. In total, it’s estimated that about 6,000 workers remain in tar sands facilities and emergency responders are coordinating to organize an air evacuation if necessary.

Fort McMurray fire extent May 16

(Fort McMurray Fire extent with hotspots as of early Monday on May 16. The region affected by the fire as of this time was truly vast — stretching nearly 50 miles long and 30 miles wide. Through late Wednesday, the massive blaze is likely to again claim more ground. Image source: Wildfire Today.)

Fire Situation to Remain Extreme on Tuesday and Wednesday

Southerly winds and far above average air temperatures are again expected to worsen fire conditions on Tuesday and Wednesday. Highs are predicted to hit near 80 in Fort McMurray on both days and dry conditions are expected to dominate. So continued rapid growth of the McMurray Fire over this period is likely. With fires now on three sides of the industrial zone and within sections of the tar sands facilites, we can expect a continued threat to the oil production zone over at least the next 48 hours.

Long range forecasts indicate that warmer than normal conditions are likely to continue over the next week. However, rainfall predicted on Thursday and Saturday could again slow the fire’s growth — giving firefighters another shot at containing this massive blaze. It’s worth noting, though, that the fire is now so large and intense that it will likely take weeks to months to extinguish.

Extreme Fires in the Context of Human-Caused Climate Change

Overall, more than 530,000 hectares have now burned throughout Canada. This total is more than 24 times the amount of land consumed in fires by this time last year. During the 20th Century, large May burn extents of the kind Canada is experiencing during 2016 were unheard of. For much of Canada — May tended to be a cool month featuring temperatures in the 40s, 50s and 60s (F). Not the 70s and 80s (F) that have tended to crop up so frequently this year. Fires tended to be sparse and small — if they ignited at all. But the heat, a growing number of dead trees, and a thawing zone of carbon-rich and flammable permafrost have all added to the fire danger. Evidence that a very rapid pace of warming and related damage to Canada’s forests is having an extraordinary and dangerous impact.

Over the coming seven days, abnormal 60-70 degree (F) temperatures are expected to expand throughout even the far northwestern regions of Canada — reaching all the way to where the Arctic Ocean meets the Mackenzie Delta and spiking fire hazards within that thawing permafrost zone. Such huge extents of extreme fire hazard over northern and far-northern regions that typically experience much, much cooler weather is a feature that is absolutely consistent with effects resulting from human-forced warming. A warming that continues to be made worse by the extraction of carbon-based fuels like those unearthed at the tar sands facilities now endangered by the very fires of climate change they helped to ignite.

Links:

Notely Addresses Extreme Conditions Facing Fort McMurray Firefighters

On a Scale of 1 to 10 Air Pollution, Fort McMurray is a 38

Map of Tar Sands Facilities Forced to Evacuate by Fort McMurray Fire

LANCE MODIS

Canada Interagency Fire Center

The Arsonists of Fort McMurray Have a Name

Wildfire Today

Hat tip to DT Lange

Hat tip to Colorado Bob

Hat tip to Greg

Hat tip to Redsky

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121 Comments

  1. Paul PNW

     /  May 17, 2016

    That’s crazy.

    These, and perhaps more so the recent arctic posts, are really starting to give me a bad dose of The Fear [for the future].

    Reply
  2. webej

     /  May 17, 2016

    The fire threatening the oil sands is uncanny — almost like somebody is trying to point something out to us.

    Reply
    • Reminds me of a great line from Linus in Peanuts: “I’m sure there’s a moral here, if only I could figure out what it is.” (After he built an enormous sand castle, only to see it flattened by torrential rain.)

      Reply
    • Loni

       /  May 17, 2016

      One can almost imagine the Gods on Mount Olympus to be fanning those flames.

      Reply
  3. Once a tree burns, it would be a quarter century of growth to produce a modest sized replacement under good environmental circumstances.

    With these megafires, chances of a recurrence in the same place in a human lifetime are slim.

    Sent from my iPad 🙏🏻

    >

    Reply
    • So the CO2 released from these fires would take 50 – 100 years to ‘sequest’ back into trees. If the trees grew back that is. I guess(?) if you include the top layer of soil etc, it could be thousands of years.

      Reply
  4. donesoverydone

     /  May 17, 2016

    Reblogged this on things I've read or intend to.

    Reply
  5. Cate

     /  May 17, 2016

    Fire fatigue is really kicking in now for the displaced population of Fort Mac. You can really hear it in all the Fort Mac FB groups—-there is a more strident note now, a desperation, in the prayers for rain, the frustration, the pleading for help, the grief. Classrooms across Canada are welcoming evacuee children as people send the kids “back home” with the grandparents until the city is open again. The uncertainty of it must be unbearable, especially in view of the fact that the status of Fort Mac was so elevated, so rosy and so assured, thanks to Big Oil.

    A bitter parable for our times. And it’s only May.

    Reply
    • You’ve got to feel sorry for them. No certainty at all on when they’ll be home. No likelihood at all that things will ever be normal again. Fort McMurray, sadly, is the start of the new normal when it comes to climate change — which is now capable of producing city-killing events. No-one should feel a sense of comfortable remoteness when watching this. Any one of us could be added to the growing numbers of climate change refugees at any time. I think of my family on the coast. Do they leave now and suffer dislocation now ahead of the storms and sea level rise? Or do they wait, living out a few more years of comfort before being forced to leave or fight a rising tide with everyone else?

      Storms, drought, floods, fires, food and water security disruption, increasing disease vectors. There’s really nowhere that’s secure to what’s coming.

      The proclaimed oil wealth was an illusion. That’s what we should take from the Fort McMurray Fire. All that promise was just a fascade covering up something pretty harmful to just about everyone.

      Reply
      • Syd Bridges

         /  May 17, 2016

        For many working people in Fort McMurray, this is a tragedy. They were just trying to make a living like the rest of us, and many probably believed that they were performing an essential task, ensuring the continuing supply of energy for the rest of the world. On the other hand, the big companies will be insured and, with the current price of crude oil, may not worry too much about a loss in production. Should the fire hit the production facilities, I wonder what would then happen. Is redevelopment worthwhile at the current price of crude and with the future for fossil fuels looking less bright? The companies certainly won’t figure in the disruption and lost careers if the place closes down. “Fend for yourselves” has always been the adage when mineral extraction ends somewhere.

        Reply
      • Loni

         /  May 17, 2016

        Robert, could the burning tundra account for the high air quality rating of 38?

        If your family has property that will be threatened by sea level rise, I would suggest considering the horrible thought of selling, (I say that, for I too have a beach house, which I have wrestled over the same issue), as they will probably get some money from the investment. In the coming not to distant future, EVERYONE will be selling beach front property because they will not be able to afford the flood insurance.

        Reply
        • I’ve been trying to. Some are pretty set in their ways. It’s threatening to make such a big change when you’re old. My grandmother is in her 90s. My grandfather the same and is completely mulish. My parents are planning to move in four and a half years. So that’s something. My best friend from childhood is buying a house on the water. …

      • The phrase “new normal” is starting to irritate me, because as I see it, there is no “normal’ to the current scene – we are in a state of major change / transition. The “new normal” won’t be established as “normal” until centuries after we have net zero carbon emissions

        Reply
        • It’s the new abnormal.

        • Good point, agree. Have seen “new abnormal” out there, that’s more appropriate, though I haven’t thought about it much yet. But you’re right, no such thing as a new normal any more–any apparently static situation will be only temporary. Same for any climate change “winners.”

      • PS – Not meant to be snarky – I have been using the phrase “new normal” myself until recently – when it donned on me that what we are in now is a state of ongoing change until the new stability sets in – as noted, some centuries after the end of rising CO2 levels

        Reply
      • The new abnormal -I like that!

        Reply
  6. What was the total area burnt last year ?

    Reply
    • 4 million hectares burned last year in Canada. The 25 year average is 1.4 million hectares for the entire fire season. So we’ve already burned through a third of an average year and it’s only May.

      Reply
  7. Spike

     /  May 17, 2016

    Green Party leader Elizabeth May has written a lengthy response to a backlash she received after placing the Fort McMurray wildfire in the context of climate change.

    “If we cannot talk about climate change when we are experiencing it, if there is a public taboo on truth, how do we recognize the urgent need for action? How do we take the steps to prevent future catastrophe?”

    http://www.straight.com/news/699076/green-party-leader-elizabeth-may-responds-criticism-its-too-soon-talk-climate-change-and#

    Reply
    • Exactly.

      We can’t effectively respond to emergencies if we don’t understand the causes. And the Fort McMurray Fire is a climate emergency. Defining it as anything else leaves Canada and its cities more vulnerable to future events that will surely follow and degrades the necessary energy transition that is the only real mitigation to a growing global disaster.

      Reply
      • I see it as pretty much the same as, “Let’s not talk guns after a bunch of people got shot yesterday–it’s too soon, and insensitive to the victims and their families.” That’s just a PR initiative aimed at trying to move the conversation away from a time when people are paying attention, to a time when they won’t be.

        Reply
        • It’s politically-motivated shaming that has no interest at all in either identifying causes or developing effective responses. If you’re interested in dealing with a problem, then the best time to talk about the issue is when people are paying attention. If leadership is to be effective, it deals with issues in a manner that informs the public as to underlying causes — not in a manner that degrades public understanding. The Green Party leader is absolutely in the right here.

      • Yes, it’s a deliberate tactic on the part of the corporate press, I think. If they can’t criticize the substance, they will criticize the style. You see similar stuff coming out of the corporate media in the U.S., especially on Fox News and the climate change denial think tanks.

        Who elected these corporate shills to be the arbiters of style and correctness, anyway?

        Reply
      • Ailsa

         /  May 18, 2016

        Yes, sing along to the Happy House, (all you fools!)…

        “There’s room for you if you say “I do”
        But don’t say no or you’ll have to go
        We’ve done no wrong with our blinkers on
        It’s safe and calm if you sing along, sing along, sing along

        This is the happy house, we’re happy here in the happy house”

        Reply
  8. climatehawk1

     /  May 17, 2016

    Retweeted.

    Reply
  9. Syd Bridges

     /  May 17, 2016

    I saw a report on the BBC website about the resurgence of this fire. It seemed to have disappeared from the MSM for a few days (no doubt, the hope was “out of sight. out of mind”) but now it’s back with a vengeance. With such crazy temperatures all the way to the Arctic Ocean it looks like we have reached a tipping point. The “hiatus,” pause,” or whatever other BS the deniers like to call it, is looking more and more like the last teetering of the stable Holocene climate, before the plunge into the Anthropocene unknown.

    Meanwhile, here in northern Colorado, we have just had an inch or so of snow, and now we are surrounded by fog with some light rain. The crazy (sorry to use the word twice in so short a time) jet stream is giving us Alberta’s weather and Alberta our weather. We are about 16 degrees south of Fort MacMurray.

    Looking at the ASMR-2 ice concentration map this morning-and for the last few weeks-it’s obvious that the Arctic ice is extraordinarily fragmented for this time of year. Meanwhile the South is flooding again. I haven’t looked at Asia recently, but things were not looking good for Siberia, China, India, or south-east Asia last time I checked. It all makes perfect sense, and it has all been accurately predicted. However, I’m very pleased to say that carbon criminals’ money has enriched many politicians and CEOs, so the really important people are not suffering.

    Reply
    • Southerly winds are now ripping up the ice over the ESAS. Some big polynyas opening up there. The central Arctic ice is behaving as if it’s paper-thin and very fragile. Its condition when compared to the land fast ice is pretty stunningly weak. And we know that land fast ice will be gone soon.

      I’ve got a growing concern about heavy rains hitting the eastern half of the US this summer. That dipole is just insane and we have a fully involved meridional flow developing. If we get a big block over Canada and Alaska, then all bets are off. Look out for June.

      Reply
      • Syd Bridges

         /  May 17, 2016

        Also whether we will see a blocking high over Greenland with a big melt season there and a wet summer for the UK. Perhaps David Cameron should stock up on Wellington boots, for his photo-ops-damn, I meant to write heart-felt support visits showing extreme concern and empathy-in flooded areas of the country this summer.

        Reply
      • Matt

         /  May 18, 2016

        The entire ice pack is under assault😦 Seems a lot of export risk also with the mobile ice pack!

        Reply
        • With so many large open water spaces in the high Arctic, the ice doesn’t have to go far to ‘export.’

      • Mark in New England

         /  May 18, 2016

        Robert, do you believe the northeastern or southeastern US will be hit hardest by these June rains you speak of? I want to plan when to do certain garden work. Thanks again for bringing the world of climate change news to all of us.

        Reply
  10. Ailsa

     /  May 17, 2016

    A wonderful suggestion I’ve had (from Stephan Harding at Schumacher College in UK) is to consider the current situation as an old tree in its final days, dying. And there are new seedlings – the new projects (fill in here those things that make your heart sing).

    The old tree will fall, its inevitable. It will crush some of the new projects, but some will survive. Get involved with a new project that speaks to you, and hope it will be one of the ones that survives the horrible crash.

    Nothing is certain. We live in extremely difficult times. Keep dreaming and working.

    Reply
    • Ailsa

       /  May 17, 2016

      My work involves producing local food, by the way, and teaching others to do the same. And working with excluded people. Neglected people have a natural resonance with neglected land and disrespected food crops, in my experience.

      Reply
      • Loni

         /  May 17, 2016

        Those are good positive thoughts, Ailsa, and to the point a short supporting story. I called my local planning dept. that put out a flyer stating that they were considering rezoning some waterfront property for development purposes. The meeting being set for later this month.

        I called them and said, “I hope you folks are aware that NASA just met with the insurance industry at their San Diego convention in April ’16 and told them that we can expect coastal flooding in the range 2 to 3 meters (if memory serves), by 2050-60. So you folks should think twice before investing a lot of money in studies, only to develop something that no one can afford to rent.”

        It took two calls to load up the recording machine, and when I hung up I thought that I’d NEVER hear back from them. Three day later I get a call from the city inviting me to a private meeting with the Director.

        Coal/oil are standing on clay legs at this point. We can bring this monster down, hopefully in time.

        Reply
      • Ailsa

         /  May 17, 2016

        Way to go Loni – make sure you’ve lots of concise, informed stuff for the ‘Director’ to consider

        Reply
  11. – USA – Florida
    Apparently May is not too early for 81 degree dew point temperatures in Florida.

    Reply
  12. Science education program teaches impacts of fossil fuels at their source

    In Colorado’s oil- and gas-producing counties, science teachers broach a thorny subject in their own backyard.

    You’d be surprised how many uses a horse catheter has. Just ask Tori Hellmann, a science teacher at Palisade High School, in western Colorado. In her classes this year, she’s using one to demonstrate fracking. She injects plaster of Paris through the catheter and into a plastic bottle of gelatin, busting the Jello apart.

    “So it kind of simulates the idea of fracking,” says Hellmann. “Not exactly, but it kind of gets the image across to the students so they can see that by using a fluid in a solid, you can get it to actually crack.”

    She says fossil fuels provide a good example of a local issue with a far-reaching impact.

    “The students in these communities can understand how their local environment is related to all these science and engineering processes, and then it also scales up, and we talked about global climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels as well,” Gardiner says. “So it’s a good example too of looking at something on a local scale that has a global impact.”

    That kind of curriculum can be tricky in places where jobs depend on the fossil fuel industry. Wyoming lawmakers, for example, recently battled over science standards in schools, fearing that too much climate change curriculum would damage the economy.

    https://www.hcn.org/articles/science-program-teaches-impacts-of-fossil-fuels-at-their-source

    Reply
  13. Amid Western drought, Oregon county to vote on Nestlé bottling public water

    Measure could set precedent making it harder for water-bottling companies to find new sources at a time when a drought in the west has triggered public anger

    A rural county along the Columbia river in Oregon will have an opportunity on Tuesday to be the first in the United States to reject a Nestlé water-bottling facility by popular ballot initiative.

    If successful, the measure could set a precedent making it much harder for Nestlé and other water-bottling companies to find new sources at a time when a long drought in the American west has triggered public anger at the very notion of private companies making money and creating extensive plastic bottle waste out of a badly needed resource.

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/may/17/nestle-bottled-water-oregon-measure-14-55

    Reply
    • June

       /  May 18, 2016

      Unfortunately, Nestle just won their battle here in Maine…corporate control of public water.
      The statement below by the CEO leaves me shaking my head in disgust.

      “In “Profound Loss for Maine’s Citizens,” Court OKs Sale of Town’s Water to Nestle”

      The contract gives Poland Spring – a subsidiary of Nestle Waters – leasing rights to withdraw up to 603,000 gallons of water per day at the same basic rate as Fryeburg residents.

      Some residents question the arrangement and mistrust the motives of Nestle SA, whose global CEO, Peter Brabeck, has repeatedly argued that water is not a human right, apart from the 6.6 gallons per day he says a person needs for hydration and basic hygiene. Water used for other purposes must have “a price,” he has said regularly, in order to spur necessary infrastructure investments needed to conserve a precious resource he predicts the planet will run short of long before oil.

      http://commondreams.org/news/2016/05/13/profound-loss-maines-citizens-court-oks-sale-towns-water-nestle

      Reply
      • Headline should read — self-serving prick uses imagined future scarcity to justify corporate abuse of public water supply.

        Reply
      • Cate

         /  May 18, 2016

        Not long now before Nestle is beating down Canada’s doors, demanding access to our water. So many Canadians have now swallowed the corporatist ideology that everything is for sale. So what will JT do?

        Reply
  14. Shawn Redmond

     /  May 17, 2016

    Having hitch hiked across Canada and bak to the east coast in the seventies and then took a summer off to do a driving vacation in ’06, the old fire sites were kind of shocking. Some on the Mackenzie highway were absolutely stunning in size, they were from the 50’s and 60’s according to the signs marking them. The regrowth was abysmal to say the least. Forests that would have been sixty to eighty feet at the time had regrown to a stunning 7 or 8 feet at best. In 5 or 6 decades! In good climatic conditions the areas up north now burning would be centuries regrowing. [Good conditions]. It’s a race to the bottom, get a good seat and enjoy the view on the ride down. Don’t stop looking for a way out the whole time. We need someone or some folks to have an epiphany. The only way that happens is to keep looking,
    keep talking and keep thinking critically. Thanks RS and all the regulars, my pc has been down for a few days so I have a lot of catching up to do.

    Reply
  15. Jay M

     /  May 18, 2016

    Heavy weather over parts of Texas and Florida today, it looks:

    Reply
    • 00:29 UTC

      Collin Gross ‏@CollinGrossWx 4h4 hours ago

      The severe thunderstorm that had a tornado warning before in St. Lucy County, Florida produced 6 inches of rain!

      Reply
  16. Reply
  17. Nasty bad fire day in Siberia, too. This image, showing Lake Baikal and areas east of there, is about 500 miles wide. Lots of big fires.

    http://go.nasa.gov/25aQjmz

    Reply
  18. Erik Sayle

     /  May 18, 2016

    Sounds very nice if it works and can scale quickly. This kind of research should be funded privately and publicly.
    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/540706/researcher-demonstrates-how-to-suck-carbon-from-the-air-make-stuff-from-it/

    Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  May 18, 2016

      Thanks Erik, I read about this back then, plus also there was a group producing atomic carbon and creating 2 dimensional carbon sheets, a massively valuable product that is expensive to produce especially in bulk production.
      A technology breakthrough, by the sounds of it a similar electrochemical process that hast the possibility of scaling well.
      Trouble was I didn’t bookmark or save them. So Thanks now saved
      The Captured/recycled Carbon Dioxide does not have to be stored as a gas or converted into fuel, there are other valuable products it can be turned into, so there is a place for the private sector and their beloved profits.
      However has the potential to reduce cost and profits once widely implemented

      Reply
    • There’s an increasing market for this kind of thing. Carbon negative materials are starting to show up in the Bolt, for example. Although these are based on carbon captured from fossil fuel burning. And if you look at the life cycle in that kind of carbon capture, it’s a less obvious value overall.

      The atmospheric carbon capture + renewables route provides the highest long term value when looking at the climate situation. And I’m glad to see there’s work being done in this area. We need to get a move on, though. Time’s a-wasting.

      Reply
    • mlparrish

       /  May 19, 2016

      The potential is staggering, in fact perhaps planet saving according to one writer. However, it is nanofiber. The nano part can have serious health implications. I do not know enough about the situation to know whether this particular type would be a health hazard or not, something for the experts to comment on. The amounts of the material that would have to be produced would be tremendous.

      Reply
  19. – Fort Mac — ‘fire jumped a critical firebreak’
    They should rethink/re-engineer their changed climate firebreaks.

    A massive wildfire raged near Fort McMurray, Alberta on Tuesday and threatened major oil sands production facilities, forcing the evacuation of thousands of workers and prolonging a shutdown that cut Canadian oil output by 1 million barrels a day.

    The fire jumped a critical firebreak late Monday where plants and trees had been removed to stop its spread, moving north of Fort McMurray into oil sand camp areas. Some 8,000 workers were evacuated in the heavily forested northern part of the province.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-canada-wildfire-enbridge-idUSKCN0Y71ZT

    Reply
    • Reply
    • For recovery efforts, keep in that Fort McMurray is a ‘company’ town backed by billions of dollars in cash and other assets.

      Reply
    • So according to the reports I’m looking at, we’re seeing 1.2 million barrels per day shut in and a total loss to Canada so far from oil production cuts and fire damages in the range of 10 billion dollars. Fire looks like it again grew in size over the last 24 hours. Very large smoke plume reminiscent of the large fires burning in Siberia.

      Edit: the fire grew by 57,000 hectares over the past day, reaching 423,000 hectares in total. Today is another big burn day with terrible fire conditions. Rain may arrive tomorrow.

      The fire now threatens two more tar sands worker lodges and the Suncor production facility. Officials say that the fossil fuel production facilities are more resilient to fires. But this fire, today, has grown very intense, is hurling burning embers far and wide, and has shown an uncanny ability to jump very large fire breaks.

      Reply
  20. Reply
  21. 06:08 UTC
    Eric Holthaus ‏@EricHolthaus 2h2 hours ago

    Weather models show Indian Ocean tropical system hugging coastline over next five days.
    A potential disaster.

    Reply
  22. 06:10 UTC

    Reply
  23. Greg

     /  May 18, 2016

    This I just had to share, from a local obituary in Richmond, VA near my home:
    “NOLAND, Mary Anne Alfriend. Faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Mary Anne Noland of Richmond chose, instead, to pass into the eternal love of God on Sunday”
    http://www.richmond.com/obituaries/article_c21b60bc-1153-5abd-b3c8-268cfd32eb57.html

    Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  May 18, 2016

      Now that’s funny! (not the death, of course) I would love a joke in my obituary.

      Reply
  24. Greg

     /  May 18, 2016

    A new study, published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that even members of the public who are “alarmed” about a warming planet show relatively low levels of public-sphere action, such as volunteering or protesting…people may be alarmed, but they could also be isolated or feeling despair — and if they don’t think they have the power to do anything, or aren’t in a social network that empowers them, then they simply won’t do something.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/05/16/why-even-people-who-are-very-alarmed-about-climate-change-often-take-little-action/

    Reply
    • This is one of the most important messages we could get out there — join an organized effort. Join 350.org or the Sierra Club or Greenpeace or NRDC or the like. Become a part of a large and growing political effort. Act, recruit, speak out.

      Reply
  25. Greg

     /  May 18, 2016

    Sue ’em! “Youth around the country and internationally are bringing their governments to court to secure their rights to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate. Today, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court called Massachusetts to task and underscored the need to take significant action now, so youth are not unfairly consigned to a disproportionately bleak future should we fail to address the most important and time sensitive issue of our time.” This win follows two other recent landmark wins in youth-led lawsuits against the federal government and the state of Washington.
    https://ecowatch.com/2016/05/17/mass-climate-change-lawsuit/

    Reply
  26. Greg

     /  May 18, 2016

    For the residents of Ft. Mcmurray this gov’t created satellite viewer allows one to see if their home was destroyed or not:
    https://cdn.albertamapservices.ca/FortMcMurray/Viewer/?TermsOfUseRequired=true&Viewer=FortMcMurray

    Reply
  27. Greg

     /  May 18, 2016

    According to the National Weather Service, Vero Beach, Florida, today, had received 7.78 inches of rain by 5 p.m.EST, breaking the daily record for the city by more than 6 inches – the previous daily record was 1.38 inches back in 1945. The 7.78 inches also breaks the record for any day in May, which was set at 5.5 inches on May 9,1979. Those new records undoubtedly got even higher as the rain continued into the evening. Ft. Mcmurray must weep to hear that.
    https://weather.com/storms/severe/news/florida-severe-storms-impacts-0

    Reply
  28. Ryan in New England

     /  May 18, 2016

    I can’t believe (although I kind of do) that this fire has completely fallen off the MSM radar, since the climax of Ft McMurray coming under siege by the flames. It’s mid-May and the far North is experiencing a monster conflagration that would be noteworthy in the Southern U.S., and as far as everybody is concerned, that’s just fine and normal!? This IS climate change. Right here in our faces. And this event is happening around one of our most carbon intensive energy sources on the planet, as if God him/herself is trying to send us a message to get our sh*t together.

    The fire and crazy warmth spreading all the way to the Arctic shores has me wondering…could fires, as a result of greater warming than anticipated, be the event that triggers large releases of carbon from the permafrost regions? Everyone expects the permafrost to thaw and release CO2/methane, but what if the environment changes so rapidly and drastically that the permafrost ends up going up in flames in long lasting blazes?

    Reply
    • Cate

       /  May 18, 2016

      Ryan, here in Canada, our national broadcaster the CBC simply stopped reporting on the Fort Mac fire after the initial panic of the evacuation. It was completely ignored for several days. People said they thought it was either under control or out. This is as you know an object lesson in the immense power of what the media does NOT report, who makes the choices about what makes the news, and why.

      Reply
  29. Spike

     /  May 18, 2016

    Every single month since 2000 has exceeded Hadcrut 1961-1990 baseline.

    Reply
    • Greg

       /  May 18, 2016

      Another excellent graph this month to visibly show the change in global temperature. Thanks.

      Reply
  30. terrasapien

     /  May 18, 2016

    No one has ever seen god, although you’ll find many who have
    metaphorically, and many more still who will use the claim to have,
    terminate and describe anything which they do not understand, yet know
    there must be some deeper wisdom there . . . so I’ll leave it up to
    . . . god. MMMkay :_)

    Yet, to suggest that this huge mass of spinning iron, rock, water, and
    air, this blue orb suspended by the laws of physics in larger systems
    itself has no self awareness, no conscience, even on some level that
    us meat puppets can’t conceptualize, can’t understand. It’s just a
    dumbshit hunk of spinning space dust, and has no relation what-so-ever
    to the dazzlingly complex, beautiful web of intertwined living systems
    which evolved over every surface of itself.

    To cut blast dig and slurp out the fluids of the planet, fracking and
    cracking ancient rock formations underground which have sat still for
    billions of years (in some cases) when the life force of the Earth
    seeped down over time into the skin of the planet, and left spaces
    filled with their biological waste product, methane.

    We continue to burn the Earth down, continue to pooh-pooh any and
    everyone who seeks to ascribe the wondrous, one of a kind Earth as
    having any means of self defense, as do pretty much every living thing
    we’ve managed to observe closely enough. Nope. Earth = dumb hunk of
    rock and we need to pulverize and burn it into our air until we
    can’t.

    I think people get shocked into cognitive dissonance whenever they
    find their thoughts drifting into the horror of what we’ve done, what
    we’re still doing on an upward acceleration curve, and where this is
    going as the system takes on dimentions humans have never seen before
    in our geologically short time here.

    May we indeed live in interesting times.

    Reply
    • Cate

       /  May 18, 2016

      I have a hunch that the planet—and the cosmos—may be alive and self-aware in ways that are totally beyond our ability to conceive or comprehend or the capacity of our puny science to detect or measure.

      Ref: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio….” and “The universe is not only queerer than we imagine, it is queerer than we can imagine.”

      I find comfort in this idea.😀

      Reply
      • Cate…You have just echoed a worldview (or should I say, a universal view)…that keeps me sane when surrounded by insanity…

        Reply
      • June

         /  May 18, 2016

        One of my favorite books was Guy Murchie’s Seven Mysteries of Life, describing the intelligence inherent in the interconnected and finely balanced (until humans came along) earth systems in an absolutely beautiful writing style.

        Reply
  31. Salt resistant rice offers hopes for farmers clinging to disappearing islands…
    http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/05/18/478251064/salt-resistant-rice-offers-hope-for-farmers-clinging-to-disappearing-islands
    Ghoramara used to be home to 40,000 people. Today, most have been forced to leave. They’ve become climate refugees. Tarek and his family are among the 3,500 people who remain.

    Reply
  32. Wharf Rat

     /  May 18, 2016

    Massive landslides triggered by torrential rains have buried homes in three villages in central Sri Lanka

    Massive landslides triggered by torrential rains crashed down onto three villages in the central hills of Sri Lanka, and more than 200 families were missing Wednesday and feared buried under the mud and debris, the Sri Lankan Red Cross said….

    The same rains that unleashed the mudslides have also caused severe flooding in cities including Colombo, the capital, where tens of thousands of homes were at least partially inundated. Schools were closed due to the bad weather.

    Sri Lanka’s disaster management center had reported 11 deaths from lightning strikes and smaller landslides elsewhere in the Indian Ocean island nation on Monday and Tuesday. Nearly 135,000 people across the country have been displaced and were being housed in temporary shelters.

    http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2016-05-18/200-families-feared-buried-by-mudslides-in-sri-lanka

    Reply
  33. I find this particularly disturbing…at the NY Times:
    “Australia to lay off leading scientist on sea level rise”
    http://www.wptv.com/news/region-indian-river-county/vero-beach/record-rainfall-floods-vero-beach-neighborhoods-and-roads-slams-tow-truck-companies

    Reply
  34. Wharf Rat

     /  May 18, 2016

    How Portugal went 107 hours on only renewable energy (+video)

    For 107 hours, Portugal powered all of its electricity from biofuels, hydropower plants, wind turbines, solar panels, and geothermal heat.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2016/0517/How-Portugal-went-107-hours-on-only-renewable-energy-video

    Reply
  35. Greg

     /  May 18, 2016

    Only 14 pounds for the core of the Fat Man dropped on Nagasaki. Only a gram (1/30th of an ounce) of that was converted into explosive energy equal to 21,000 tons of TNT. No one, no one now denies the complex physics of nuclear fission and its consequences. Yet they deny the simple physics of carbon and heat absorption.

    Reply
    • – How true, but the only things truly complex was figuring out the timing of the detonation various facets of the explosive lens, the operation of the neutron initiator, etc.
      As they say. “Timing is everything.” — whether music, sports, or the manipulation of physical forces.
      Anyways, it’s fun to speculate and mull over the many aspects of man’s attempts to ‘play god’ without getting their hands burned.

      – So who’s standing in front of the Quonset hut. My family lived in one via the USN back in 1954.

      Reply
      • ‘The bomb design to be used at Trinity Site actually involved two explosions. First a conventional explosion involving 5,300 pounds of TNT would compress the 15 pound plutonium core into a critical mass, then, a tiny fraction of a second later, a nuclear explosion would occur from a chain reaction in the plutonium. The scientists were sure the TNT would explode, but the plutonium explosion was just a theory. If the chain reaction failed to occur, the TNT would blow the very rare and dangerous plutonium all over the countryside.’

        http://olive-drab.com/od_nuclear_trinity.php

        Reply
      • – Then there was the brute extraction/excavation of fissile material from the Congo area and NA Navajo land. Navajo land and people still suffer as a result.

        Reply
  36. Greg

     /  May 18, 2016

    An interview with Trevor Houser, Sec. Clinton’s Energy Advisor. Some insights into strategy, thinking on climate change and contrasts with Republicans, 2012 and 2008.

    http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/trevor-houser-interview

    Reply
  37. Greg

     /  May 18, 2016

    More on the floods you told us about above Wharf Rat. One of the deadliest weather-related disaster of 2016 is unfolding in Sri Lanka, where heavy rains from Tropical Cyclone One have triggered flash floods and landslides that have killed at least 34 people and left 134 missing.
    https://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/deadly-rains-from-tropical-cyclone-one-kill-34-in-sri-lanka-leave-134

    Reply
  38. Greg

     /  May 18, 2016

    The beast lapping at the oil fields:The AFD petroleum facility, located roughly five kilometres northwest of Noralta Lodge outside of Fort McMurray, is pictured on Tuesday afternoon. (Name withheld by request)

    Reply
  39. Greg

     /  May 18, 2016

    Reply
  40. Greg

     /  May 18, 2016

    The map shows the active fire areas surrounding Fort McMurray. The green dots represent oilsands camps while the yellow areas mark Fort McMurray neighbourhoods. (Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo)

    Reply
  41. Greg

     /  May 18, 2016

    The fire destroyed all 665 units at Blacksand Executive Lodge, which provided temporary housing for workers in nearby oil facilities, on Tuesday morning.

    Reply
  42. Colorado Bob

     /  May 18, 2016

    Chile’s Record Toxic Tides May Have Roots in Dirty Fish Farming

    Images of death have been arriving from southern Chile for weeks, each one seemingly more apocalyptic than the last. First there were thousands of dead salmon in aquaculture cages. Then there were rafts of dead sardines floating along the coast. Next, beached clams covered miles of shoreline. Then there were die-offs of jellyfish, birds, and even mammals.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/05/160517-chile-red-tide-fishermen-protest-chiloe/?google_editors_picks=true

    Reply
    • – No doubt.
      Many of these occurrences are location specific due to localized environmental conditions.
      I reported on the ‘thousands of dead salmon in aquaculture cages’ a number of days ago — and have expected something like the above.

      It boggles the mind that we keep finding ways to ‘dig our own grave.’ — mostly in our pursuit of ‘commerce’.
      OUT

      Reply
      • Bad practices of this kind contribute to the problem. The larger context of warming sets the stage for generally more extensive algae blooms of this kind.

        It’s like if you smoke your base risk of lung cancer increases. Add in a week of sniffing toxic chemical fumes and the risk is compounded. The base chance for cancer (in this case red tides) is already higher. The bad practice adds risk on top of risk.

        Reply
      • “The bad practice adds risk on top of risk.”
        No doubt.

        Reply
      • – Smoking raises hell with one’s arteries too.
        I know from past personal experience.
        It’s bad news — and is marketed by the same tobacco/fossil fuel matrix.

        Reply
        • What kills me is the fact that they use the same language.

          For example, this meme that’s endlessly repeated in the media these days — ‘no single extreme weather event can be proven to have been caused by climate change’ — is the same wording used by tobacco industry lawyers in an attempt to cast doubt on smoking’s link to rising cancer rates. They claimed that no single instance of cancer could be proven to be caused by smoking. But that wasn’t the issue. The issue was that smoking made cancer far more likely. The same with fossil fuel based warming — it generates conditions that produce a much greater likelihood of damaging events like red tides, severe storms, and wildfires. In addition, you can absolutely prove that rising sea levels and glacial melt is directly caused by human forced warming. And you can also prove how much added latent heat is being added to CAPE indexes and how much the hydrological cycle has been altered by warming (7 percent increase in evaporation and precipitation for each 1 C increase in temperature). So there’s more evidence linking climate change to extreme events than the incontrovertible evidence linking smoking to cancer…

      • “meme that’s endlessly repeated… ‘no single extreme weather event can be proven to have been caused by climate change.”
        And, like it’s the final word too — “There’s nothing more to consider here… just go shopping and keep driving”.

        Reply
  43. Jonathan Erdman ‏@wxjerdman 7m7 minutes ago

    At least 3 #Pakistan locations have reached 50˚C (122˚F) today. Peak of 51˚C (123.8˚F) at Sibi. (HT @bloggerhead20)

    Reply
  44. Reply
    • Reply
      • – Lots of nuggets in the 1.usa.gov link:
        The April temperature for the mid-troposphere (roughly 2 miles to 6 miles above the surface) was the second highest for April in the 1979–2016 record, at 1.13°F above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by UAH. It was also second highest on record, at 1.08°F above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by RSS. After removing the influence of temperatures above 6 miles in altitude, the University of Washington, using data analyzed by the UAH and RSS, calculated temperature departures from the 1981–2010 average to be 1.39°F and 1.28°F, respectively, both second highest in the record. All analyses rank April 1998 as the warmest April in the satellite record.

        Reply
  45. – Portugal!

    Portugal runs for four days straight on renewable energy alone

    Zero emission milestone reached as country is powered by just wind, solar and hydro-generated electricity for 107 hours

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/18/portugal-runs-for-four-days-straight-on-renewable-energy-alone

    Reply
  46. – WaPo

    Climate change doubters really aren’t going to like this study

    Researchers have designed an inventive test suggesting that the arguments commonly used by climate change contrarians don’t add up, not only according to climate scientists (we know what they think already) but also in the view of unbiased experts from other fields.

    The trick? Disguising the data — and its interpretation — as if it was part of an argument about something else entirely.

    “What we find is that whatever so called climate skeptics say about [climate] data just doesn’t characterize the data adequately,” said Stephan Lewandowsky, the new study’s lead author and a psychologist at the University of Bristol. “It’s as simple as that. It’s judged to be misleading, false, and just incorrect basically,” by independent experts from fields like economics and statistics, he said.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/05/18/climate-change-doubters-really-really-arent-going-to-like-this-study/?postshare=8901463575635151&tid=ss_tw

    Reply
  47. Reply
  48. Put pedestrians first to tackle air pollution in this dirty mega-city

    London is one of the most polluted cities in Europe. We cannot keep this under wraps if we are to address the problem (Johnson ‘buried’ study linking toxic air and deprived schools, 17 May).

    The dangerously high pollution levels in the city are harmful to everyone – they’re associated with asthma, premature births, lung cancer and heart disease. For children though, the risk is even higher. Their exposure to air pollution is much greater than adults’, and studies show that they absorb pollutants and retain them in the body for longer.

    London as a whole is a dirty mega-city choked by traffic which is shrouding our children’s schools in dangerous levels of air pollution. We simply cannot afford to ignore this, we need to combat it. By putting walking first we can reduce congestion and pollution and keep people safe.
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/18/put-pedestrians-first-to-tackle-air-pollution-in-this-dirty-mega-city

    Reply
  1. Ocieplenie ziemskiej atmosfery przyspiesza (aktualizacja: 16.05.2016) | Blog exignoranta

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