Global warming made real

Over the last month, we have had a full taste of global warming. We are breathing it. It’s no longer just some abstract event impacting people in some far away third world country like Bangladesh or  even heat waves and droughts in Australia, on the other side of the planet.

Scientists (perhaps now fired by the current administration in Washington D.C) have been warning for decades that the effects of global warming will be much larger, more frequent storms. With the oceans being heated up, the normal storms will get even greater strength. And that is exactly what is happening with Irma and Harvey. There are still thousands of people, maybe tens of thousands, that have never recovered from Sandy or Katrina, or any of the other storms we now have forgotten in the last ten years.

In the western U.S. a heavy drought with intense heat has laid in from California to British Columbia. Hundreds of fires are raging across the west, destroying Southern Oregon forests, the north side of the Columbia Gorge, the Cascades and into central British Columbia. Many of these fires are being described as the largest ever witnessed in these areas. Thousands have been displaced while the smoke from these fires are being breathed by millions for weeks on end, including us here on the Olympic Peninsula. The outcome of that will be greater lung cancers in years to come.

Snow packs in this heat continue to melt and rise. I drove north from San Francisco to Seattle last week, driving through Arizona desert like temperatures of 112 degrees F.  in Redding California. It was over 100 at the summit of Shasta’s I5 pass.

If this kind of heat continues, it will make farming in California very difficult. Along with the physical stress of trying to expect humans to farm in  112 heat, is the question of whether there will be snow pack for drinking and agriculture in 20 years. California produces a huge amount of our vegetables. Adapting farming for this kind of scenario is going to cost all of us a lot more at the grocery store.

The Americans who have willfully ignored the warnings of scientists now are part of the refugee pool in Houston and much of Southern Texas’ coast. We can look at that outcome and say, well, you asked for it by continuing to elect politicians that want to tell you that all is well.  But this country is not red or blue. It’s purple everywhere, with people supporting each side in elections, or no side at all.  Unfortunately, the neighbors of these ignorant climate change deniers  voted for people who wanted us to pay attention, had their candidates lose and also find themselves in the same, literal and physical boat.

This emerging crisis needs leadership. We unfortunately now find ourselves turning to local and state politics as the Presidency and Congress seem, for reasons harder and harder to comprehend, to willfully want to ignore the alarm bells of climate change. What is it going to take? A hurricane to level Washington D.C.?

Locally we need to continue to talk about where Port Townsend is going to get it’s water if drought continues for decades and snow packs continue to recede.  I don’t hear much about that issue at all.

Time to get serious and act as if every decision by our local and state governments is going to have to take global warming into consideration. Now.

Sudden Oak Disease Arrives in Washington State – KUOW

Very disturbing news given that the disease can attack rhododendrons, Douglas firs, and western larches. 

A Disease That’s Felled Forests in California and Oregon Shows up in Washington http://www.opb.org/news/article/a-disease-thats-felled-forests-in-california-and-oregon-shows-up-in-washington/

It’s a sunny spring morning at the Bloedel Reserve, a public garden on Puget Sound’s Bainbridge Island. Roads lead to paths lined with blossoming bushes and trees. Darren Strenge, the reserve’s plant health manager, is showing me the rhododendron glen. That’s where a gardener first spotted a problem back in 2015: a plant that wasn’t healthy…. Strenge took a sample and sent it into a lab. The answer came back: the plant had the pathogen that causes sudden oak death. The disease has decimated forests in California and infected forests in southwestern Oregon. And now it’s made a return to Western Washington, where rhododendrons, Douglas firs, and western larches are most susceptible. It has the potential for such disastrous effects that agencies, scientists, and citizens are working together to try to keep it under control. Eilís O’Neill reports. (KUOW/EarthFix)

I am an Arctic researcher. Donald Trump is deleting my citations – Guardian

Very disturbing news about what is happening to our base of science from the incredibly malicious Trump Administration. We saw similar  wanton destruction of science to validate a political point of view from the Harper Administration in Canada about three years ago. We can only hope that they are simply deleting web pages and not the actual data, which, in case I have to remind anyone, is data that we, the taxpayers, paid for. It is not theirs to delete. Perhaps a lawsuit is in order?

Just over 1% of US Arctic waters have been surveyed to modern standards. In truth, some of the maps we use today haven’t been updated since the second world war. Navigating uncharted waters can prove difficult, but it comes with the territory of working in such a remote part of the world.

Over the past two months though, I’ve been navigating a different type of uncharted territory: the deleting of what little data we have by the Trump administration.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/28/arctic-researcher-donald-trump-deleting-my-citations

Sea Ice at Poles Exhibiting “Crazy” behavior – Scientific American

It does not matter one iota whether Donald Trump’s regime believes in global warming or not. It’s happening, now, and far faster than our scientists hoped. Often these kinds of changes grow exponential, and there are some signs that it may be true. Trump is not going to ignore it, he will have to deal with it, no matter what he calls it. And so will we. Port Townsend is already having to deal with emergency jetty and break water repairs to have them last the winter. These costs are millions of dollars at a moment in time when our taxing authority has been limited due to Tim Eyman’s misguided initiatives.

“There are some really crazy things going on,” said Mark Serreze, director of the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado, saying temperatures in parts of the Arctic were 20 degrees Celsius (36°F) above normal some days in November.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/polar-sea-ice-the-size-of-india-reportedly-vanishes-in-record-heat/?linkId=32081414

Perils of Climate Change Could Swamp Coastal Real Estate – NY Times

It really doesn’t matter in some ways what the Trump administration does or does not do on the issue of global warming and sea level rise. The planet is going to react to CO2 regardless of what we do. It has existed without politics for billions of years. It doesn’t care who we elect, it works on chemical, geological and biological factors. While it would be nice to have an administration that took it seriously and provided funding to help communities mitigate the effects of what we continue to do globally, this article points out that the real estate market and insurance companies, along with the effected communities, are already  dealing with the issue. People that live on the coast and  own property there, are on the front of the wave, so to speak. They will pay the costs first. It will only get worse, as we are too far along with global warming to reverse all the trends even if we stopped using fossil fuel tomorrow. The lag time of the effect is longer than one lifetime.

That’s why I’m pushing the notion that we should continue to focus on the local, state and regional levels to make meaningful changes, while we wait out the Trump administration. Your personal decisions will matter more than ever. What you eat, what you decide to drive, will be part of how we craft this part of the US to survive four years of inaction at the federal level. If you own property at sea level, you should be pondering what you are going to do. Don’t expect help from the Feds. America has voted in an administration that does not even believe your problem exists. No amount of deregulation is going to help you. As Roger Miller said, “You can’t roller skate in an buffalo herd.”

Real estate agents looking to sell coastal properties usually focus on one thing: how close the home is to the water’s edge. But buyers are increasingly asking instead how far back it is from the waterline. How many feet above sea level? Is it fortified against storm surges? Does it have emergency power and sump pumps? Rising sea levels are changing the way people think about waterfront real estate. Though demand remains strong and developers continue to build near the water in many coastal cities, homeowners across the nation are slowly growing wary of buying property in areas most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Ian Urbina reports. (NY Times)

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/11/24/science/global-warming-coastal-real-estate.html

Youth Activists Demand Tougher Limits On Climate Pollution – KNKX

The first news we’ve posted from the new KNKX (formerly KPLU!). So happy that they were able to stay independent. I’ve stopped all donations to KUOW this year to protest their underhanded way of attempting to buy out the competition, and their endless repetitive news stories. As to this news, all I can say is, “Go Kids! Don’t Stop! It’s your future.”

The Washington kids who filed suit against the state Department of Ecology to get tougher limits on carbon pollution say current policies don’t go far enough. Together with their backers, they’ve unveiled more aggressive legislation they say would protect their constitutional right to clean air.  In April, a King County Superior Court judge ordered the state Department of Ecology to issue an emissions reduction rule by the end of the year and to consult with the young plaintiffs about the latest science before making recommendations to the legislature in 2017.  This was after eight youngsters filed suit in cooperation with the national group, Our Children’s Trust, which has brought similar cases across the country. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

http://knkx.org/post/youth-activists-demand-tougher-limits-climate-pollution

From mountain forests to city parks, trees are stressed and dying – Seattle Times

While this story highlights problems in Seattle, the article also points to problems statewide. Climate change is here, and we are going to have to roll with it’s  its punches. A small thought out of this article, is for those of you with birch trees (I’m one of them ). Hold off on any tree trimming until later in the fall. The birch beetles noted in this article are active until about August (so the historical data tells us). I’m unclear as to whether they are going to be active longer into the year, but I’m planning on doing my annual trimming after the leaves fall. Trimming causes stress to the tree, which is what the borers are looking for.

The killing effects of the long, hot drought of 2015 are showing up in dying tree tops, thinning needles, burgeoning beetles and an unprecedented number of dead trees in city parks.

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/from-mountain-forests-to-city-parks-trees-are-stressed-and-dying/

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