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The National Security Threat that Inflicted 400 Billion in Damages This Year

Back in the 1990s, the U.S. Navy asked Congress to address the issue of rising sea levels at the Norfolk Naval Base. The Navy wanted to raise the piers, which were becoming vulnerable to flooding due to rising waters. For various reasons, including climate change denial, Congress has delayed funding for elevating the base’s 12 piers beyond the present and near term projected reach of ongoing sea level rise. Only four so far have been lifted.

According to former Norfolk Naval Base Commander Joe Bouchard, “Washington went bonkers” when it failed to recognize and address an obvious problem — sea level rise.

Up and down the U.S. coastline, the story is much the same. But it’s not just a case of Navy Base piers. It’s a case that every coastal city in the U.S. now faces rising seas threatening homes, real estate, infrastructure. And at the same time that seas are rising, the strongest storms are growing stronger and fire seasons that once ran through a few months of the year in places like California are now a year-round affair.

(A ribbon-thin rise of land separates the Norfolk Naval Base from flooding due to climate change driven sea level rise. Flooded bases not a national security threat? See related article by Vox. Image source: Wikipedia.)

This is the very definition of climate change as a threat to the security, not just to the world’s largest naval base, but to most if not all of the United States.

So how bonkers is Donald Trump and the climate change denying GOP now? How nuts is it that Trump yesterday made the anti-factual determination, in bald defiance of a plethora of U.S. military leaders, that “climate change is not a national security threat?”

Increasingly Destructive Hurricanes are Putting a Growing Number of People and Structures at Risk

This year, the U.S. has experienced not one, not two, not three, not four, but at least five major weather disasters that were made much worse by human-caused climate change. Three of them — hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey all roared out of a warming ocean. They all formed in a hotter atmosphere loaded up with a higher level of moisture. These factors gave them more fuel to feed on. They unarguably increased their peak potential intensity. Scientific studies have found that Harvey alone was three times more likely to form due to human-caused climate change. That its rainfall was considerably enhanced in a warmer atmosphere.

The storms ran in to land on a higher ramp. Seas, like those at the Naval Base and in so many other places, have risen by a foot or more from the Gulf Coast to New England and on into the Caribbean because the Earth has, indeed, warmed. And this made storm surge impacts worse.

You could go on and on with the list of climate change related factors that compounded this year’s disasters. About the climate zones moving north. About hot blobs in the ocean and bigger blocks in the atmosphere. About enhanced convection and ice cliff instability. About ridiculously resilient ridges and persistent troughs. But it’s just a simple fact that the storms were worse than they would have been. That climate change made them more likely (in some cases far more likely) to occur in the first place. In total, and in large part due to the nefarious influence of fossil fuel burning on the world’s weather, these three storms alone have inflicted 368 billion dollars in damages.

That’s billion with a capital B. A level of harm often attributed to warfare but one that can instead be put at the feet of weather indiscriminately weaponized by fossil fuel burning. For the Atlantic Hurricane season this year, at a time when global temperatures are 1.1 to 1.2 C hotter than 1880s averages, was the most destructive ever recorded. These climate change enhanced storms left whole island nations and entire regions in ruins. In many cases it will take months, years, or even a decade or more to fully recover.

Wildfires are Increasing and Wildfire Season is Getting Longer in the Western U.S.

But in the grim tally of climate change related damages during 2017, we don’t stop at just hurricanes. For California, during 2017 experienced its worst fire season on record. One in which 11,306 structures have so far been damaged or destroyed. We say so far because what is likely to become the largest fire in California history — the Thomas Fire — is still burning.

11,306 structures would be enough to make a decent sized city. All gone due to a fire season that is now year round. Due to western heating, drying and temperature extremes that are increasingly forced to well outside the normal range. Total damages this year for California are presently estimated at more than 13 billion dollars. That’s nothing to shake a stick at. But this damage total is likely to continue to climb as the tally of losses is counted.

(Abnormally above average temperatures and below average precipitation contributed to fire danger in California during December. This odd heat and drought was driven, in no small part, by climate change. Image source: NOAA.)

As with hurricanes, the presently more intense fires are linked in numerous ways to a warming climate. Warmer temperatures increase the rate of evaporation and the intensity of precipitation in the most extreme events. Such variance increases the rate at which vegetation grows during wet season and the rate at which it dries during times when the rains depart. This adds more ready fuels for fires. In addition, northward movement of the Arctic sea ice contributes to an overall warmer and drier pattern for the U.S. West. This pattern, helps to produce stronger high pressure systems that, in turn, strengthen the fire-fanning Santa Ana winds.

This year, December, which is typically a wet month for the U.S. West, especially during La Nina (which we are presently experiencing) has been incredibly dry. This dryness helped to fuel the Thomas Fire. But the dryness didn’t happen in a vacuum. It was associated with a major climate change related influx of heat into the Arctic linked to climate change driven polar amplification.

Failure to Recognize Climate Change Leaves U.S. Citizens Vulnerable to Harm

Anyone following the increasingly clear evidence of how Trump campaign officials coordinated with Russia to disrupt the 2016 elections and how ardently Trump is attempting to cover the whole thing up could draw the reasonable conclusion that Trump cares more about his own personal advancement than the safety and security of the American people. Trump’s, and by extension, the GOP’s climate change denial, can be seen through the same morally relativistic lens. Wealthy fossil fuel donors have for a long time now held an unreasonable influence over persons in higher office. The denial of climate change for both the Republican Congress and the Presidency is, in other words, well-funded.

(GOP funding by fossil fuel donors just keeps going up and up in lockstep with GOP climate change denial and anti-environmental policy. Image source: InsideClimate News.)

Such denial may line the pocketbooks of republican politicians and wealthy oil, gas, and ailing coal companies. But it places the American people, their homes, their livelihoods, beneath the blade of a falling ax. So when Trump says climate change is a hoax, forces government websites to shut down, scrubs words related to climate change from government communications, opposes alternative clean energy, and tells the Department of Defense not to treat climate change as a national security threat, he is culpable and a contributor to a very clear, present, and growing danger.

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76 Comments

  1. kassy

     /  December 19, 2017

    The death of an Alaskan glacier

    Rick Brown owns an adventure tour company called Adventure Sixty North in Seward, Alaska, a small town on an inlet of the Kenai Peninsula. They offer guided hikes and kayaking tours of the surrounding country, including ice hikes on the Exit Glacier.

    In this video, Brown talks very simply and powerfully about the changes that he’s witnessed in the glacier and in Alaska in his long career as a guide…like that the Exit Glacier is currently retreating 10 to 15 feet per day.

    Normally I think the park will tell you that it retreats about 150 feet per year. Right now they’re looking at 10 to 15 feet per day. You’re seeing the big crevasses that used to be blue up on top of the compression zones now down in the toe of the glacier just falling over. Something that normally would take hundreds of years we’re seeing probably in a matter of a year or two.

    more + the video on:

    https://kottke.org/17/12/the-death-of-an-alaskan-glacier

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  2. Jim

     /  December 19, 2017

    BHP mining, one of the world’s largest coal mining companies, is planning on leaving the World Coal Association, and may leave the US Chamber of Commerce as well, over their lobbying for Trump to pull out of the Paris Accord.

    Change is in the air !

    http://ieefa.org/bhp-biggest-miner-quitting-global-coal-lobby/

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  3. entropicman

     /  December 19, 2017

    Proverbs 12:15

    “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
    But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.”

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  4. eleggua

     /  December 19, 2017

    Press release from UPS.

    ‘UPS Pre-Orders 125 Tesla Electric Trucks’
    12/19/17

    https://pressroom.ups.com/pressroom/ContentDetailsViewer.page?ConceptType=PressReleases&id=1513688472411-396

    “UPS …today announced it has placed a reservation for 125 of Tesla’s new fully-electric Semi tractors. The new tractors will join UPS’s extensive alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicle fleet, comprised of trucks and tractors propelled by electricity, natural gas, propane and other non-traditional fuels…..

    UPS has provided Tesla real-world UPS trucking lane information as part of the company’s evaluation of the vehicle’s expected performance for the UPS duty cycle. UPS frequently partners with suppliers of emerging vehicle technologies to help them develop solutions that prove ready for stringent UPS use-cases….

    UPS’s preorder of Tesla vehicles complements and advances the company’s overall commitment to reduce its absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from global ground operations 12 percent by 2025, a goal developed using a methodology approved by the Science Based Targets initiative.

    UPS has established a goal for 25 percent of the electricity it consumes to come from renewable energy sources by 2025. In addition, by 2020 UPS plans that one in four new vehicles purchased annually will be an alternative fuel or advanced technology vehicle, up from 16 percent in 2016. The company also set a new goal that by 2025, 40 percent of all ground fuel will be from sources other than conventional gasoline and diesel, an increase from 19.6 percent in 2016.

    The company operates one of the largest private alternative fuel and advanced technology fleets in the U.S., and more than 8,500 vehicles throughout the world. This includes all-electric, hybrid electric, hydraulic hybrid, ethanol, compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), propane, and renewable natural gas (RNG)/biomethane…..”

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  5. eleggua

     /  December 19, 2017

    ‘Can the Tesla Semi perform? UPS, PepsiCo and other truck fleet owners want to find out
    12.19.17

    http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-tesla-truck-orders-20171219-story.html

    …Orders are trickling in for the sleek vehicle, unveiled in mid-November. On Tuesday, UPS said wants 125. Last week, PepsiCo ordered 100. Budweiser parent Anheuser-Busch reserved 40. Sysco, the big food distributor wants 50. Wal-Mart ordered 15.

    That’s peanuts compared with the 940,000 heavy-duty semi trucks sold around the world each year, 238,000 of them in the U.S. — and the Tesla truck won’t be available until 2019 at least.

    But it’s a strong start for a new entry in the semi market. And it proves that major freight operators, intent on cutting costs without degrading service wherever possible, are taking the Tesla Semi seriously….

    Trucking is anything but environmentally friendly. Current-generation semis get around 6 to 8 miles to the gallon. Diesel engines, like all internal combustion engines, spew fumes that contribute to global warming.

    …many competitors want what Tesla’s after. They include Nikola, a Salt Lake City company building a fuel-cell electric version of a semi that is expected to hit the market around the same time as the Tesla truck. Everyone from Daimler to Volvo to diesel-engine maker Cummins is entering the field.

    Chinese company BYD is building electric trucks at its U.S. plant in Lancaster. There’s even a Los Angeles start-up, Thor, run by two former Stanford grad students, attempting to build and sell an electric semi.

    PepsiCo made clear the Tesla Semi is only one of several alternative energy vehicles it is experimenting with.

    “The Tesla semi truck represents one part of our broader strategy, offering us a unique opportunity for us to explore electrification,” the company said in an emailed statement. “Our PepsiCo vehicle fleet is currently comprised of several different fuel-efficient models, including electric vehicle box trucks, compressed natural gas tractors and advanced diesel technology from some of the leading manufacturers around the world.”

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    • eleggua

       /  December 19, 2017

      Article from 2016 re: the Nikola semi.

      ‘Nikola, ‘Tesla of Trucks,’ Now Faces Off with Actual Tesla Trucks’
      July 21, 2016

      https://www.trucks.com/2016/07/21/nikola-tesla-trucks/

      “The so-called Tesla of Trucks is about to go head-to-head with the actual Tesla of Trucks.
      Nikola Motor, which is readying a hybrid electric big-rig, and uses Nikola Tesla’s first name as its own, welcomed the competition. But its chief executive also questioned the strategy of Elon Musk, the founder and chief executive of Tesla Motors….

      Trevor Milton, chief executive of Nikola, told Trucks.com that Musk’s announcement can only help his company.

      “This brings legitimacy to Nikola Motor,” Milton said. “It brings people to the company and says this is a legitimate market and a legitimate idea.”

      Milton said engineers have designed the Nikola One truck from the ground up, something he feels puts his company 15 years ahead of his competition because traditional truck-builders can’t simply put a hybrid engine into an existing chassis.

      The company hopes to have a commercial vehicle on the road sometime in 2019.

      Milton said he’s skeptical about some of Musk’s claims. Development likely will take several years rather than several months from the early stages to completion, Milton said, so he’s not sure how it’ll be unveiled next year.

      He’s also questions the technology considering an all-electric motor under load will have a restrictively short range. Instead, he’s betting Tesla will develop a smaller, urban-centric short-haul vehicle to “run around town.”

      “It’d be impossible to run an electric truck over the road without some sort of generator on board,” Milton said.

      If Tesla were to put a full megawatt battery in the truck, 11 times the size of what goes into its more than the P90D sports sedan, there still would be only get enough power to go four or five hours, far below what is needed for long-haul trucking, Milton said….

      …Milton said even if Tesla were to get a truck on the market next year, there’s enough market share to go around. The same is true if the industry’s largest companies develop electric trucks in the near futures.

      “The market’s huge, it’s massive,” he said. “There are going to be a lot of people forced to get into this because they have shareholders and they want to raise capital.”

      “This is good news for us,” he said “It’s going to be easier to raise money and build our company and it brings legitimacy to the industry. We’re going to be the leader in electric trucks for 10 or 20 years, hopefully longer. We have our money, we have our trucks, we have no debt.”

      Milton said last month Nikola has secured about 7,000 deposits of $1,500 for the hybrid truck — which he values at about $330,000 each — totaling about $2.3 billion in pre-orders. By the time Nikola One is unveiled, the company will have a valuation of about $3.5 billion, he predicted Thursday.”

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      • eleggua

         /  December 19, 2017

        “The company says the concept has 1,200 miles of range and twice the horsepower of conventional diesel trucks. “

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  6. Hey Robert, an interesting article I ran across on Reddit you might find interesting – The link between declining plant nutritional quality and atmospheric CO2. https://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2017/09/13/food-nutrients-carbon-dioxide-000511

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  7. coloradobob

     /  December 20, 2017

    Climate Change Has Doubled Snowfall in Alaskan Mountains
    New research shows that the Alaska Range receives an average of 18 feet of snow per year—that’s more than double the average of eight feet per year from 1600-1840.

    For the current study, the researchers analyzed two ice core samples collected at 13,000 feet from Mount Hunter in Denali National Park.

    The authors suggest that warmer waters from the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans caused a strengthening of the “Aleutian Low” pressure system with its northward flow of warm, moist air, driving most of the snowfall increases.

    “It is now glaringly clear from our ice core record that modern snowfall rates in Alaska are much higher than natural rates before the Industrial Revolution,” said Dominic Winski, a research assistant at Dartmouth and the lead author of the report. “This increase in precipitation is also apparent in weather station data from the past 50 years, but ice cores show the scale of the change well above natural conditions.”

    https://www.ecowatch.com/alaska-mountains-snow-2518637276.html

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    • All that moisture trucking north along with the heat. Snow will turn to rain if we don’t tamp that warming down. If it gets to that point at scale, there will be hell to pay.

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      • coloradobob

         /  December 20, 2017

        Dec. 11, 2017 –

        (KTUU) When Alaska makes national news for snow, something very wild just happened.

        This week, it was a snow storm that dumped an impressive ten inches in one hour.

        “I’ve heard people say it snowed 6 inches an hour, and I’m like, yeah right,” Mark Hanson said, standing next to his snow plow. “But we had an hour and a half where our avalanche tech measured 15 inches of snow. So yeah, that was pretty wild.”

        Hanson has worked in Thompson Pass for the Department of Transportation for more than 20 years. He says he’s never seen anything like that snowfall.

        http://wwlp.com/2017/12/11/alaska-sets-snowfall-record/

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        • Jibes with the increasing rainfall extremes we’ve seen lately as well. Amazing what can happen with all that added evaporation, moisture, and related convection. It just took a little more than 1 C of warming to do this. Add in the collision between hot moving north and cold moving south, the increased propensity for dipole formation, and that atmospheric condenser 😉 is really kicked into higher gear.

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  8. aalasti

     /  December 20, 2017

    All if course very true, but no one who thinks differently is reading what you or others of like mind have written! (Other than perhaps the WattsUp types.)

    Aryt

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  9. wharf rat

     /  December 20, 2017

    Robert:
    Could you write up a rebuttal to this? TIA

    Rat

    Are California Coastal Wildfires Connected With Global Warming: The Evidence Says No
    http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2017/12/are-california-coastal-wildfires.html

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    • Actually, not sure if I want to go directly after Cliff Mass. Here’s a guy who’s a climate scientist who’s been claiming for years now that there’s no link between human caused climate change and present extreme weather events at the more local level. He notes that human climate change is real, but is part of the slow warming school that thinks impacts won’t show up until later in the Century. He’s also one of those attacking liberal attempts to advance climate policy. Which seemed a bit odd to me.

      Recently, he attempted to debunk climate change related influences in the RRR, for example, or in increasingly extreme rainfall events.

      Climate change attribution studies have kind of caught him off guard. It was easier for him to isolate climate meta analysts like myself who were using observation to point at how synoptic trends, long term variables, and systemic changes were making local weather and individual events more extreme due to warming. But once models started supporting physical evidence, then the game got a bit tighter for him.

      Now he’s going after evidence that western wildfires were influenced by climate change. Which is a bit funny considering the fact that one of the papers he uses for support identifies a long term climate signal in wildfires for the majority of California (although the paper does not identify a signal for some regions).

      In my view, there are a number of variables that this particular paper misses. In particular, the long term warming trend for the west increases the temporal span of the hot, dry periods. And so long as fuels are present, this increases fire risk on its own. Evaporation intensity, increasing with climate change, is also a factor. As it was this year when very wet soils which should have retained moisture through summer failed to do so due to the increased intensity of drying coupled with warmer than normal conditions well into fall.

      Ironically, the climate change signal is pretty strong for December considering the fact that you have typically wet conditions for this month, considering the fact that persistent ridging is again in place, considering the fact that you have much warmer than normal conditions consistent with climate change, and considering the fact that downstream variables like polar amplification are well in play.

      Not too sure if my direct response to Cliff would be helpful or not. Perhaps it would be better for me to do a larger piece on the climate change related variables at play and leave out a confrontation that could get a bit personal.

      Any thoughts in this regard would be appreciated.

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      • So here’s a good article on the subject as a counter point:

        https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/547712/

        IMO, the factors at play include La Niña (variability), record hot summer carry over (climate change), extreme ridge (polar amplification/climate change), movement of Santa Ana season into December (climate change). La Niña does not show typical preference for December fires, so this is less of a factor for me.

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      • Vaughn Anderson

         /  December 20, 2017

        I have read Cliff Mass’ blog for quite a few years. He does an excellent job analyzing Pacific Northwest weather and in my opinion his focus is more on the local weather than world climate in general. Also in my opinion the weather here only for the past 3 or 4 years has been different enough to be able say that we can attribute the differences to human caused climate change. We have had winter weather conditions similar to the RRR develop in the 1960 -1990 timeframe that resemble the RRR but only lasted a couple months or so. So, I understand why he is cautious. However, I think he will come around and will eventually agree that human caused climate change is a huge and continuing problem.

        Having said that, I think it would be much more effective to call his attention to the radical weather and climate changes taking place elsewhere. I don’t think confronting him would be effective. We want him as an ally; I think he will come around as the evidence mounts. Maybe a little gentle prodding would help. Maybe invite him to read this blog if he doesn’t do so already?

        Anyhow that is just MHO.

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        • Thanks Vaughn. Much appreciated.

          Will forge ahead with a general broad scope western fire article.

          I think we should be fair and say that though my focus here is to fingerprint climate change signals through observation and meta-analysis, climate change is not the only signal in the west coast fires. What makes it notable is that there is a signal for climate change, it’s emerging, it’s getting stronger, and, in some cases, it becomes a dominant feature.

          I would argue that during the 60s through 90s there was probably a climate change signal as well (at 0.3 to 0.7 C warming). But that signal was mostly muted by natural variability and Chris would have been then right to say that it was more difficult to detect. But probably not completely undetectable in the more extreme and notable instances. For example, even then, instances of more extreme precipitation were on the rise. Even then, snowpacks were starting to decline. Even then, western wildfire frequency was on the rise beyond the context of the 19th and 20th Centuries. It was there. Just not so loud as it is today.

          Hansen’s climate dice were loaded. But not so loaded as they are now. And nowhere near as loaded as it will be if we keep burning fossil fuels into the future.

          Today’s signal is not as loud as it would be under BAU by 2100. So we’re kind of on this inclining scale. If Chris is just hyperfocused on Seattle, then it will be tougher for him to detect the signal using that single data point. But even taking in Seattle and its regional environment — including forest fires, mountain snows, sea surface temperature, air temperature (night time air temperature), sea level, and record extreme heat and rainfall events — you’ll probably be able to find a rather decent signal at present.

          In my view, today’s signal is quite discernible for the west coast as a whole in a number of different measures and in scales where the extreme ranges continue to dilate. I think that anyone living on the west coast and paying attention to the weather would recognize conditions that are outside the normal boundaries for the 20th Century. Temperature, rainfall patterns, snowfall, drought, storms, and fire have been altered in varying respects and more and more often enter never before seen extremes. If this was happening only rarely, we could more confidently say that natural variability is still the stronger signal. But the far greater frequency of a number of extreme events coupled with the movement of climate zones and with temperatures in general that are well outside of normal ranges belies established 20th century variability.

          Cliff is right to say that under BAU the weather will be even more extreme by 2100. But that does not exclude the fact that we are seeing a detectable signal now. One that at times flares up to rather strong significance that is well outside the context we are used to.

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        • Vaughn Anderson

           /  December 21, 2017

          Robert, thanks for explaining; I do agree with your position. You are doing very important work. In fact I think this quote from Margaret Mead defines your blog quite well:
          “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead quotes from BrainyQuote.com.

          Please accept this as a compliment.

          Also speaking of fires my grandparents experienced a large fire burning only a few miles from where I live now on September 10, 1902. Fire and wind conditions were similar to the Thomas fire in California burning now as the Yacolt Burn Fire burned about 500,000 acres in the Northern Oregon and Southwest Washington Cascades and foothills between September 8 and September 12, 1902. I remember my grandmother telling me it was so dark due to the smoke for one day “you could not see your hand in front of your face at noon.”
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yacolt_Burn

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      • Jim

         /  December 21, 2017

        Robert and Vaughn, Saw this article in my Nature news feed this morning and thought it might be pertinent to this discussion string.

        Personally it matters little to me if a particular event can be attributed to climate change, or if its intensity can be. When we look at the overall bigger picture, it’s clear we’re headed into dreadful territory.

        Having said that, for people not looking at the larger picture, being able to link a particular event – like the California fires – to climate change might be what it takes to move more people to action.

        https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-017-08808-y?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20171222&spMailingID=55620177&spUserID=MjEwNTYyMDkzNTYxS0&spJobID=1303752819&spReportId=MTMwMzc1MjgxOQS2

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        • Your weather averaged over 30 years is your climate. If your climate has changed, your weather has changed. Understanding the influence of climate change in single events is simply a matter of being able to see the climate influences on weather better. We couldn’t really prove it for a single event before. We’re getting to the point where we can start to do that.

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  10. coloradobob

     /  December 20, 2017

    The massive Thomas Fire is now the second-largest California wildfire on record, as it reaches 55 percent containment while continuing to burn into a third week across Ventura and Santa Barbara counties on Tuesday.

    Thousands remain evacuated from their homes ahead of the Christmas holiday. The stubborn blaze has been half contained since Monday and burned 750 acres overnight — slowing its usual pace — to cover 272,000 acres by Tuesday evening, Cal Fire said. It is second in size only to 2003’s Cedar Fire in San Diego, which charred 273,246 acres.

    http://ktla.com/2017/12/19/favorable-conditions-slow-271750-acre-thomas-fires-pace-but-dangerous-winds-are-expected-to-return/

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  11. Just for fun
    https://www.desmogblog.com/2017/12/19/12-year-old-bet-global-warming-about-pay-out

    A climate change modeler who bet two Russian solar physicists $10,000 that the world would get warmer appears to have easily won the 2005 wager with less than two weeks to go.
    British scientist James Annan says he is “confident” that he has won his bet with the Russian pair Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev.
    Agreed 12 years ago, Annan bet the Russians that the six years between 2012 and 2017 would be warmer than the six years between 1998 and 2003.

    Annan was sure that human emissions of carbon dioxide, mainly from fossil fuel burning, would see temperatures climb.
    The two Russian scientists looked at forecasts of a drop in the amount of energy coming from the sun, and put their money on this keeping temperatures down.

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    • He won, even though he let them cherry pick a time in which a very strong El Nino occurred. The loading on the dice is that strong.

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    • Genomik

       /  December 20, 2017

      David Brin, a scientist and scifi futurists recommends wagering against Republicants instead of debating. Since they utilize fake news its hard to win debates but if you wager over objective facts like rain or temp its hard for them to refute.

      I’ve done this often when debating GOP friends or others who take a hard line. It really works, it sort of either shuts them down and they have to say some reason why they
      won’t put their money were their mouth is” or if they accept the wager, particularly if its about Climate Change, you can win some money to share with the good side.

      http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2017/08/bet-on-it-name-exception-challenge-and.html

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  12. coloradobob

     /  December 20, 2017

    No, you did not imagine it — Tuesday was hot in Sydney, with Penrith in the city’s west hitting its hottest December temperature on record.

    The gauge hit 44.1 degrees Celsius in Penrith, the highest ever recorded for the first month of summer.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-19/nsw-hot-weather-boils-with-penrith-record/9273888

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  13. coloradobob

     /  December 20, 2017

    A 12-Year-Old Bet on Global Warming Is About to Pay Out

    A climate change modeler who bet two Russian solar physicists $10,000 that the world would get warmer appears to have easily won the 2005 wager with less than two weeks to go.

    British scientist James Annan says he is “confident” that he has won his bet with the Russian pair Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev.

    Agreed 12 years ago, Annan bet the Russians that the six years between 2012 and 2017 would be warmer than the six years between 1998 and 2003.

    Both sides of the bet agreed to use temperature data from the U.S. National Climatic Data Center, which has since been renamed the National Centers for Environmental Information.

    https://www.desmogblog.com/2017/12/19/12-year-old-bet-global-warming-about-pay-out

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    • What’s interesting about this bet is the fact that he even let the Russians cherry pick. 1998 to 2003 was time that included a very strong El Nino. But the loading on the climate dice is now so strong that it didn’t matter.

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  14. coloradobob

     /  December 20, 2017

    As permafrost thaws, Western Alaska village cemeteries sink into swampland

    Climate change is thawing the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta’s permafrost, and it’s doing more than cracking foundations, sinking roads and accelerating erosion. In villages like Kong, communities have stopped burying their dead because, as the permafrost melts, the oldest part of their cemetery is sinking. Digging graves in the soggy ground was just making it worse.

    Tribal administrator Roland Andrew guided a reporter through the cemetery. The white crosses stick out of the sunken ground at odd angles, some of them almost completely submerged in the brackish water. “After we dug down 6 feet, it created a lake around it,” Andrew said. The swamp appeared about 10 or 15 years ago and then expanded, swallowing the graves around it.

    https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/rural-alaska/2017/12/19/as-permafrost-thaws-western-alaska-village-cemeteries-sink-into-swampland/#_

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  15. coloradobob

     /  December 20, 2017

    Antarctic expedition to uncover impacts of global warming

    “We plan to spend nine and a half weeks down in the outer Ross Sea to drill six geological drill sites-each of which could be up to a kilometre below the sea floor,” says Dr McKay.

    “We want to understand how the ocean and the ice sheets interact. So what happens when you put warm water next to the ice sheets? Do they melt? If so, how quickly do they melt? And what’s the impact of that melt on the oceans?”

    By drilling down so deeply into the sea floor, the team will be able to get a glimpse into the past-up to 20 million years ago-and “greenhouse worlds” that contained the same level of carbon dioxide currently in our atmosphere.

    “Using these geological records to see what the planetary response was to the current carbon dioxide levels means we can better understand what the scale of change could be for us, and what the earth is capable of in a warmer world,” says Dr Mckay.

    http://www.voxy.co.nz/national/5/300740

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  16. eleggua

     /  December 20, 2017

    ‘The Thomas fire is now the second largest in modern California history’
    12.19.2017

    http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-thomas-fire-winds-return-20171219-story.html

    “…The fire, which began near Santa Paula in the foothills above Thomas Aquinas College on Dec. 4, has burned through 272,000 acres as of Tuesday evening, making it the second-largest wildfire in modern California history….

    The Thomas fire was 55% contained, and fire officials do not anticipate full containment until Jan. 8, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection….

    Forecasters predict a new blast of Santa Barbara’s notorious sundowner winds, which blow down the canyons to the coast, late Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning. The winds could create crucial fire conditions for the western side of the blaze in southern Santa Barbara County.
    Northerly gusts will likely exceed 40 mph, with isolated gusts of up to 60 mph possible, according to the National Weather Service.

    The Santa Barbara County side of the fire will be affected by the strong winds first, on Wednesday afternoon and evening. Winds will then pick up on the Ventura County side Wednesday night and Thursday morning, said Joe Sirard, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

    While winds pick up in Ventura County, they will decrease in Santa Barbara County, he said.

    “It is a very large fire, so you’re going to have different wind effects over different parts of the fire,” Sirard said.

    High fire danger will exist in Los Angeles County this week as well, he said.

    The winds should die down a bit Friday, Sirard said, but another round will return Saturday night and Sunday…”

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  17. Andy_in_SD

     /  December 20, 2017

    From 1960 to 2017, the Alpine snow season shortened by 38 days—starting an average of 12 days later and ending 26 days earlier than normal. Europe experienced its warmest-ever winter in the 2015–16 season, with snow cover in the southern French Alps just 20% of its typical depth.

    http://time.com/italy-alps-climate-change/?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=time.com&utm_campaign=ideal-media-internal-recirculation&utm_term=68739&utm_content=2158577

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    • Andy_in_SD

       /  December 20, 2017

      Skiing in the Alps. Not quite what one remembers from old postcards, from perhaps the 70’s?

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      • And some are saying we won’t see the weather change until 2100. This is weather changed folks. BAU weather change at 4-7 C + by 2100 is so outlandish it’s practically unimaginable.

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    • eleggua

       /  December 20, 2017

      And the walls come tumbling down…

      ‘Landslides as a geomorphological proxy for climate change: A record from the Dolomites (northern Italy)’
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169555X09003900

      “Abstract

      This study investigates the relationships between climate changes and hillslope evolution in the Dolomites (eastern Alps, Italy), during the Late Quaternary, with particular attention paid to landslide processes. The basic premise is that modifications in landslide frequency may be interpreted as changes in the hydrological conditions of slopes, which are in turn controlled by climate….

      …As the records show, in the study areas, slope instability processes can be considered geomorphological indicators of climatic changes and to a certain extent reliable proxies of environmental evolution.”

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  18. Shawn Redmond

     /  December 20, 2017

    What you see is not what others see. We inhabit parallel worlds of perception, bounded by our interests and experience. What is obvious to some is invisible to others. I might find myself standing, transfixed, by the roadside, watching a sparrowhawk hunting among the bushes, astonished that other people could ignore it. But they might just as well be wondering how I could have failed to notice the new V6 Pentastar Sahara that just drove past.

    As the psychologist Richard Wiseman points out: “At any one moment, your eyes and brain only have the processing power to look at a very small part of your surroundings … your brain quickly identifies what it considers to be the most significant aspects of your surroundings, and focuses almost all of its attention on these elements.” Everything else remains unseen.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/20/selective-blindness-lethal-natural-world-open-eyes-environment-ecosystem

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    • Hyperfocus is a threat response. It can also be detrimental to survival if one is not careful to pull back and consider the context. Denial is a form of hyperfocus type threat response in which the threat is too difficult to comprehend so those suffering from it instead freeze. This is different from intentional denial as a form of exploitation of the natural threat response of others. But the freeze form of denial is akin to panic.

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  19. Erik Frederiksen

     /  December 20, 2017

    The cost to move the first village in the US to be moved due to global warming impacts is estimated to be $180 million for around 600 people.

    The US alone has 1,400 cities and towns threatened by sea level rise . . .

    For decades we knew that New Orleans was sinking, the protective delta is eroding, sea level is rising and maximum storm strength may be increasing. All those affect optimal levee design, yet Katrina still killed 1,836 people.

    The world’s superpower failed to adapt to these changing coastal circumstances which doesn’t bode well for our collective ability to respond efficiently to the much larger changes coming.

    Regarding mitigation, since the IPCC first report around 1990 we’ve increased emissions by around 60 percent.

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    • So I just want to add this one anecdote to the conversation in the form of a rhetorical —

      Why is the U.S. so bad at responding to and recovering from some forms of weather and climate disaster?

      We do good at fire defense, for example. But when it comes to some cities and regions getting wrecked by hurricanes and movement or protection of towns from sea level rise, we have a lot to learn.

      For example, after devastation by Irma, the Dutch and the French already have St Maarten back on its feet. Not so much for Puerto Rico.

      Maybe it’s that disaster capitalism thing where the vultures flock in and make everything take ten times longer and cost ten times as much. Or maybe we are just generally bad at seeing our way through a recovery of this kind. Or maybe it’s that prejudice and inequality means that some regions are favored when it comes to response while others are sacrificed. Or maybe it’s a combination.

      Whatever the case, it’s clear that we’re not very good at this. That we will have to get better. And that our cultural morality, how we think of those who are victims and how we confront or abet corruption, plays a direct part in our resiliency or lack thereof.

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      • Erik Frederiksen

         /  December 20, 2017

        There was an article a year or two ago in the NY Times about that first village I spoke of. There’s 31 like it which the US government has deemed are at imminent risk of destruction, yet the villages can’t get money from the gov’t to move.

        People living in cities like Houston, New Orleans, Miami, NYC and Boston should take notice, ’cause like these poor Alaskan villages, they’ll be “doing things on their own.”

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        • The question of abandonment to the more extreme and harsh elements is very real and very clear here. Is this a sign of how little a political system lassoed by money and harmful influences (enabled by republicans) at the federal level cares for its people?

          Like

        • Erik Frederiksen

           /  December 20, 2017

          The recent tax giveaway to the wealthy is another indication of what the government in the US thinks of the working class.

          Like

        • kassy

           /  December 21, 2017

          Some stuff never changes:

          Like

        • eleggua

           /  December 21, 2017

          Like

  20. Bob

     /  December 20, 2017

    Climate Denial Crock of the Week has a good article on the predictions of planet cooling compared to factual warming including the James Annan bet. If you can stomach the videos of the deniers here is the url.
    https://climatecrocks.com/2017/12/19/how-are-climate-deniers-predictions-doing/#more-51716

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  21. coloradobob

     /  December 20, 2017

    How a severe drought in Sicily in 1893 created the Mafia

    https://qz.com/1161015/how-a-severe-drought-in-sicily-in-1893-created-the-mafia/

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    • Extreme conditions drive people to extremes and enable bad actors in exploiting others. This is just one of many reasons why the Pentagon disagrees with Trump and calls climate change a threat multiplier.

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  22. coloradobob

     /  December 20, 2017

    The Water Will Come: A Must-Read Book on Sea Level Rise
    Dr. Jeff Masters · December 20, 2017

    https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/water-will-come-must-read-book-sea-level-rise

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    • coloradobob

       /  December 20, 2017

      As one of the experts he interviews puts it, “Sea-level rise is like aging. You can’t stop it. You can only do it better or worse.”

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      • Well, you can stop some of it. I guess if you age well you can survive to 80, 90, or 100. If you confront aging badly, you might not make it to 50. With sea level rise, we might limit it to 10, 20, or 30 feet coming more slowly over the course of many centuries (and as little as 2-5 feet per century) and we might preserve our communities by scaled and planned draw backs from the coastline and through various protections. If we handle sea level rise badly by continuing to burn fossil fuels and by failing to plan for the rise, we get more than 200 feet of sea level rise coming much more rapidly, perhaps as fast as 10 feet per century or more, we don’t plan to move communities and the protections that are erected aren’t adequate to the challenge. So you end up with a lost civilization scenario in which ultimately billions are displaced. Pretty dramatic difference between two potential future paths from the present starting point.

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  23. coloradobob

     /  December 20, 2017

    Researchers measured more than 63,000 seedlings in a region where 52 wildfires have burned during the past 30 years. They found decreases in regeneration after early 21st century wildfires, when conditions were hotter and drier than in previous years.

    “We often talk about climate change and how it will affect us in the future, but the truth is we are already seeing those changes,” said Camille Stevens-Rumann, assistant professor in the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship at CSU, in the press release. “Disturbances like wildfires are a catalyst for change. In many places, forests are not coming back after fires.”

    “What we’ve found is dramatic, even in the relatively short 23-year study period,” she added.

    http://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/2017/12/20/colorado-state-university-study-finds-link-between-climate-change-lower-forest-resilience/955992001/

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  24. coloradobob

     /  December 20, 2017

    The FINANCIAL — Preliminary sigma estimates for insured global losses resulting from natural and man-made disasters in 2017 are around USD 136 billion, well-above the annual average of the previous 10 years, and the third highest since sigma records began in 1970.

    Total economic losses soared in 2017 to USD 306 billion from USD 188 billion in 2016. The accumulation of economic and insured losses ramped up in the second half of the year, due primarily to the three hurricanes – Harvey, Irma and Maria – that hit the US and the Caribbean, and wildfires in California. Globally, more than 11 000 people have died or gone missing in disaster events in 2017, similar to 2016.

    https://finchannel.com/business/insurance-news/70514-global-insured-losses-of-usd-136-billion-are-third-highest-on-sigma-records

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  25. Genomik

     /  December 20, 2017

    As the fire in Ventura County is about to become the largest in California history other weird weather is happening in the state. This December is on track to be the 4th driest in state history.

    https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/12/20/despite-overnight-rain-in-bay-area-december-tracking-to-be-one-of-driest-on-record/

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  26. Jeremy in Wales

     /  December 20, 2017

    It is the winter solstice tomorrow (21/12/17), the longest night of the winter has begun in the north. So happy Yuletide to you all.

    Ever wondered why the earliest sunset of the year is not on the shortest day?
    “Solar noon – the time midway between sunrise and sunset is when the sun reaches its highest point for the day, but the exact time of solar noon, as measured by Earth’s spin, shifts.
    A clock ticks off exactly 24 hours from one noon to the next but actual days – as measured by the spin of the Earth – are rarely exactly 24 hours long.
    If the Earth’s spin is measured from one solar noon to the next, then one finds that around the time of the December solstice, the time period between consecutive solar noons is actually 30 seconds longer than 24 hours.
    Therefore two weeks before the solstice, for example – the sun reaches its ‘noontime’ position at 11:52 a.m. local standard time.
    Two weeks later – on the winter solstice – the sun reached that noontime position at 11:59 a.m. – seven minutes later.
    The later clock time for solar noon also means a later clock time for sunrise and sunset. The result? Earlier sunsets before the winter solstice and increasingly later sunrises for a few weeks after the winter solstice.
    The exact date of earliest sunset varies with latitude but the sequence is always the same.
    For the Northern Hemisphere the earliest sunset occurs in early December and the latest sunrise in happens in early January. This year earliest sunset was on 13 December and the latest sunrise on 31 December.”

    So we move back to summer ,although it seems that California does not have a winter now although La Nina has gifted us in the UK a winter once again but for how much longer?

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    • Happy Solstice..Amazing how many different People knew exactly what the sun would be doing on Solstice

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    • Vaughn Anderson

       /  December 21, 2017

      The earth actually rotates on its axis every 23 hours 56 minutes and 4.09 seconds. The other 3 minutes 55.01 seconds comes from the average change in angle as we orbit the barycenter of our solar system and a few other factors. The length of a day is the composite function of these factors. So, roughly every 365 days we spin around 366 times. Because we are closer to the center os the solar system (closest approach now is about January 3 which progresses around the calendar once every approximately 22,000 years) we are moving slightly faster so the time of day that the sun is above the horizon is moving later faster than the days are getting shorter starting on about December 9. So, for the northern hemisphere the earliest sunset is around December 9 and likewise the latest sunrise is about January 4. This also makes winter our shortest season and fall the second shortest. Spring is longer and summer is longest. The differences are a day or two from the shortest to longest.

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  27. Responding to the doomer back-link below. The mission here is to make it. And we can make it by pulling together. Join in, use your voice. Save civilization and so many things in the natural world along with it.

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  28. Robert, we hear in various reports about how rain in the Arctic is quite detrimental to the remaining ice. Has anyone quantified the effects of rain on ice as compared, say, to no rain at the same temperatures?

    The climate deniers appear to champion adaption over amelioration. What they seem to have missed is that migration is the main tool of adaption. Since a lot of the climate deniers may also be opposed to immigration, they need to explain how that will work out.

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  1. The beginning for me in Winnemucca, Nevada – Winnemucca the whole sorted story—and why civilization will probably not make it

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