(Update 10/28/12–Here is the latest story from The New York Times on the progress of the storm. The National Atmospheric and Oceanic Adminstration link below continues to note the course of the storm.)
There is a giant storm headed for east coast of the United States and for inland areas of the nation as well. Some are calling this storm a “Frankenstorm.”
(Above–A recent satellite image of Hurricane Sandy and the eastern half of the United States.)
From Bloomberg Businessweek—
The superstorm expected to develop from Hurricane Sandy probably will mean that millions of people lose power for a week as airplanes are grounded and coastal areas are flooded by tidal surge and rain. The system, dubbed “Frankenstorm” by the National Weather Service, will grow out of Sandy and two other storms rushing eastward across the U.S….Because of the large size of the system and the slow motion, it’s going to be a long-lasting event, two to three days of impacts for a lot of people,” said James Franklin, branch chief at the National Hurricane Center. “The kinds of things we are looking at ultimately would be wind damage, widespread power outages, heavy rainfall, inland flooding and again, somebody is going to get a significant surge event out of this.” Sandy is expected to be so large it will cover the eastern third of the United States, said Louis Uccellini, director of the National Centers for Environmental Protection in College Park, Maryland. …’
A candidate for Congress in Rhode Island has asked that supporters take down his campaign yard signs so they don’t become projectiles in the storm.
Does this storm have anything to do with global warming?
“Hurricanes are expected to dump 20% more rain in their cores by the year 2100, according to modeling studies (Knutson et al., 2010). This occurs since a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, which can then condense into heavier rains. Furthermore, the condensation process releases heat energy (latent heat), which invigorates the storm, making its updrafts stronger and creating even more rain. We may already be seeing an increase in rainfall from hurricanes due to a warmer atmosphere. A 2010 study by Kunkel et al. “Recent increases in U.S. heavy precipitation associated with tropical cyclones”, found that although there is no evidence for a long-term increase in North American mainland land-falling tropical cyclones (which include both hurricanes and tropical storms), the number of heavy precipitation events, defined as 1-in-5-year events, more than doubled between 1994 – 2008, compared to the long-term average from 1895 – 2008. As I discussed in a 2011 post “Tropical Storm Lee’s flood in Binghamton: was global warming the final straw?”, an increase in heavy precipitation events in the 21st Century due to climate change is going to be a big problem for a flood control system designed for the 20th Century’s climate.”
What is our response to climate change as a nation?
The issue did not come at all in the Presidential debates.
Also, our weather satellites are aging and breaking down and we don’t have all the information we need to track weather systems.
“The United States is facing a year or more without crucial satellites that provide invaluable data for predicting storm tracks, a result of years of mismanagement, lack of financing and delays in launching replacements, according to several recent official reviews.”
Hopefully the storm will weaken and people in the path of the storm will be well-prepared and safe.
Drought And Heat Go On And On In The United States—We’ll Ignore The Causes And Ignore The People Who Are Impacted
Many places in the United States are dealing with drought conditions.
It is very dry out there in our great nation.
Changes in the climate are messing with some of America’s infrastructure. Roads and railroad tracks are buckling.
Does all this have anything to do with global warming?
Many people think this is the case.
New Scientist magazine reported recently that the severe 2011 Texas drought was made much more likely to occur by a warming planet.
Still–President Obama says very little on climate change, and Mitt Romney–despite previously saying he believed in climate change—now says he has no idea if human beings are heating up the planet.
Many farmers who are suffering from the drought want help from the federal government.
What these farmers feel about government help for others I’m not certain.
Though I bet some of them at least are not strongly in favor of government help for others besides themselves.
No worries though about any ideological inconsistencies from our nation’s farmers.
Congress was unable to agree on a drought relief bill before going on a recess and so farmers will not be getting any relief for the time being at least.
So the drought and the heat will likely go as we refuse to take a serious look at what may be causing the unusually severe weather, and as we allow farmers to keep on taking the hits.
That’s how we do things in the United States of America
Climate Change May Raise The Prospects Of East African Drought And Famine—American Conservatives Do Not Care
A recent article in New Scientist said that changing weather patterns have increased the chance for recurring drought in East Africa.
(Above–Oxfam photo of a family gathering firewood in drought-stricken Kenya in 2011.)
“Last year’s drought occurred because both of the region’s rainy seasons failed. We already know that the trigger for the failure of the “short rains”, between October and December 2010, was La Niña – a cyclical meteorological event caused by a pulse of cool water rising to the surface of the eastern Pacific Ocean. But efforts to work out why the “long rains” that occur between March and May fail have drawn a blank – until now.
Bradfield Lyon and David DeWitt of Columbia University in New York examined records of the long rains and found that they have been much more likely to fail since 1999. That year also marked a sharp rise in sea-surface temperatures in the western tropical Pacific Ocean, while further east the ocean cooled.”
The story goes on to very clearly state that the reasons for the prospect of recurring drought in East Africa are by no means the definite result of man-made climate change. The article says that studies are now ongoing to see if the droughts are naturally occurring, are influenced by human activity, or are caused by some combination of these two factors.
(It should also be noted that some of the problems of famine in Somalia have been caused by Islamic insurgent groups stopping shipments of food.)
The thing is that here in the United States one of the two major political parties won’t even allow all the needed research to take place, and won’t even consider the prospect that man-made climate change is for real.
And if a bunch of people in Africa die so we don’t have to change our lives in any way, or so we can retain the ideological purity of the Republican Party—Then I guess that is the way it goes.
A recent Oxfam report says that global response to the 2011 famine drought in East Africa was very slow in starting, and that many lives were lost as a consequence.
Here is how to make a donation to Oxfam for famine relief. I just made a small donation as it seemed the thing to do to back up my post.
Another thing we can all do in the United States is to ask our political leaders to at least be open to the prospect of climate change, and to support the necessary research to determine the facts.
We are not the only people in the world. What we do impacts others.
The United States Department of Agriculture has updated the map it issues to help gardeners across the nation determine what they can plant.
Because the nation is getting warmer, people are now able to plant various flowers and trees in parts of the country that before would have not been hospitable to such a wide range of plantings.
Above you see the map. Here is the link to the USDA site that has facts on how to use the map, and also has specific information for each of the states.
The Chicago Sun-Times has a story about how this warming is being acknowledged in the ways everyday people are planting their gardens.
From this story—-
“Vaughn Speer, an 87-year-old master gardener in Ames, Iowa, said he has seen redbud trees, one of the earliest blooming trees, a little farther north in recent years. “They always said redbuds don’t go beyond U.S. Highway 30,” he said, “but I’m seeing them near Roland,” 10 miles to the north….“It is great that the federal government is catching up with what the plants themselves have known for years now: The globe is warming and it is greatly influencing plants (and animals),” Stanford University biology professor Terry Root wrote in an email.”
Do folks who think global warming is a scam believe that these map changes are a government plot? Is it better to deny even the prospect of warming than to at least admit the possibility, and to prepare for what might be on the way?
Folks on the right can go on creating an alternate reality about just about everything. I’m certain that press bashing will by itself change the facts in just the same way the idea that the rain will follow the plow made arid places wet.
(Below–The Eastern Redbud Tree. You might be seeing more of them in Iowa before long.)
Where In Houston Can You Recycle Your Christmas Tree?—As Admirable Act As Recycling Your Tree Is, America Refuses To Address Climate Change
Christmas Day is over.
While you may be more tired of your relatives than you are of your Christmas Tree, it is the tree that you will have to ditch.
The City of Houston offers Christmas Tree recycling services.
This is just one of the many ways that government helps everyday people.
The City of Houston has also been nice enough to make available the flier you see at the top of the post.
Free materials for bloggers to use is indeed a fine city service.
Every year, Houstonians discard thousands of used Christmas trees that could be recycled into useable items. The COH is encouraging residents to recycle their Christmas trees to give them a new lease on life and make the recycling of Christmas trees a family tradition.
Please remove tinsel, lights, ornaments, plastic tree stands and plastic water bowls from the trees. The recycled trees will be converted into mulch, which will in turn help save landfill space and help preserve the environment.
That is very helpful information.
Of course–as good a deed as recycling your tree may be and as good as it make you feel–this does not change the fact that climate change is real, and may well be due to human activity on the Earth.
The problem is that Republicans, and the wealthy interests that own the Republican Party, won’t even allow us to collect the data that would help resolve this issue.
That is a problem for somebody else far away.
Our pious nation lives the Christmas spirit of consumption all year round.
Here is a website that has a lot of information about Christmas tree recycling and, also, offers a list of links from around the nation about where you can recycle your tree.
Water Use Restrictions In Houston—Chair Of Council Water Committee Opposes Enforcement Even During A Drought
( Above—Houston this past Sunday.)
Here is what the city is requiring of folks—
As you may be aware, due to persistent drought conditions and declining combined reservoir storage, Stage Two Water Conservation Measures went into effect for the City of Houston earlier this month. Customers must follow the irrigation limit and schedule which was originally voluntary during the Stage One measure, i.e., limit irrigation to the hours between 12:01 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. or between 8:00 p.m. and midnight on no more than two days per week in conformity with the following schedule:
• Sundays and Thursdays for customers with even‐numbered addresses
• Saturdays and Wednesdays for customers with odd‐numbered addresses
So far people have not quite been fully on board with the water restrictions that the city has imposed.
Houston also has a problem of water main breaks caused by the drought conditions.
I wonder where any money will come from to address this infrastructure issue as the drought continues. I think this would be a good use for some of the Renew Houston money given that the public was misled on the cost of this initiative.
Houston Republican City Councilman Mike Sullivan does not think we should be ticketing homeowners for water issues.
“I don’t think we can penalize and cite homeowners when we’re behind in fixing our water leaks and also talking to business and industry about reducing water consumption,” said Councilman Mike Sullivan, chairman of the Council’s Water Resource Management Committee.
I guess we should only obey the law when it suits us to do so.
How long will we be “talking to business and industry about reducing water consumption?” The drought has been going on for many weeks and months already.
Aren’t you glad that the chair of the so-called Water Resource Mangement Resource Committee is going around saying we should not enforce water use restrictions during a drought.
While this idea is not under consideration in Houston, some water policy experts suggest that the best way to limit water use during a drought is to raise the price of water.
There is no way to know for certain that the current drought has anything to do with global warming.However, it is a possibility.
The water use restrictions are likely going to be with us in Houston for some weeks and months to come. Let us make an effort to comply.
(Below—Discovery Green Park on Sunday 8/21. Parched grass and no crowds.)
(Above–The sea is all around us.)
Is this complete proof that global warming is taking place and causing the seas to rise?
You can’t prove it for 100%.
Any bit of doubt allows corporate intrests–and the Republican Party that corporate interests own–to avoid discussing this issue in any serious fashion.
I know— The EPA website is socialist plot to take away our SUV’s and make us all drive Yugos.
“The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…” With an annual budget of about $6.9 billion (FY 2010), we are the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities.”
If we would just cut all funding for the NSF, than the problem of global warming and rising sea levels would go away.
“The rate of sea level rise along the U.S. Atlantic coast is greater now than at any time in the past 2,000 years–and has shown a consistent link between changes in global mean surface temperature and sea level…. The team found that sea level was relatively stable from 200 BC to 1,000 AD. Then in the 11th century, sea level rose by about half a millimeter each year for 400 years, linked with a warm climate period known as the Medieval Climate Anomaly. Then there was a second period of stable sea level during a cooler period called the Little Ice Age. It persisted until the late 19th century. Since the late 19th century, sea level has risen by more than 2 millimeters per year on average, the steepest rate for more than 2,100 years.”
Of course, as is often the case, it is not just conservatives that are the problem when it comes to the inability to have a serious discussion over important national issues.
As it is with so many issues before us in our nation, everyday people are going to have to decide to take the lead and are going to have to pressure political and corporate leaders for more action.
At the moment, we seem unable to even discuss the matter because the Republican Party takes opposition to the idea of climate change as a matter of faith.
But the fact is that faith is faith and science is science. The two are separate for someone who has confidence in their faith and hope for our future.
Some snow is expected in Houston this upcoming Thursday night/Friday morning.
(Update 2/4/11–We got ice rather than snow.)
(Above–A 20 inch snowstorm hit Houston in 1895. This picture was taken at the intersection of Travis and Prairie in Houston.)
At least one inch of snow is possible in Houston. Though just how much snow we get, and if we get any ice, will be determined by the course of the storm.
While that might not be big news in much of the country, it rarely snows in Houston.
While the bad weather in Houston will pass soon enough, it is good opportunity to learn more about snow and winter weather.
What is snow? Here are basic facts about snow from Clouds R Us.com–
“Snow forms if the air in a cloud is below freezing. The water vapour then turns to ice instead of rain and the tiny ice crystals stick together until they form snowflakes. When they get heavy enough to fall, they drop out of the clouds. At this point though, we still don’t know whether they will end up as rain or remain as snow. This depends on the temperature of the air they travel through on the way down to the ground. If it gets warmer, they turn into rain, but if the air stays close to freezing all the way down, then the snowflakes will make it without melting and so fall as snow. If this occurs in a mountain area, it is possible for snow to be falling on the mountaintop while lower down in the valley the air is warmer and so it is raining instead.”
The National Snow & Ice Data Center has plenty of information about–yes–snow and ice.
Snowcrystals.com will tell you all need to know about snowflakes.
No matter where you are, please be careful on the roads.
And no matter what anybody says, don’t believe the false logic that winter weather in a warm place means that global warming is not true.
In fact, 2010 was the warmest year on Earth so far recorded. 2010 was part of trend that has gone on for some time now.
(Below–Picture I took at Houston Ship Channel during December 4, 2009 snowfall. Photo copyright Neil Aquino.)
2010 was also the 34th consecutive year that the global average temperature was higher than the 20th century global average.
People can go on debating global warming. Maybe it is so that warming has not been proved 100%. Maybe warming has only been proved to an 80% or 90% certainty.
The real political issue is that the American right won’t accept global warming because of ideological issues and because of economic concerns. The facts don’t matter.
Conservatives, and the corporations that own conservative politicians, don’t want Al Gore and the environmental groups to be proven right. They don’t want any taxes and regulations that might be wisely applied if global warming is indeed real.
These are folks willing to put the future at risk so that they can score political points in the here and now, and so that often quite prosperous industrial concerns can avoid regulation.
For at least this moment in time, no real debate on the question appears possible in our nation.
Nothing about this is surprising.
Nothing about this is surprising.
In our nation, the retention of tax cuts for the most wealthy that is backed by most Republicans–And, sadly, by our President,–will add billions of dollars to the budget deficit. This despite the fact that we hear so much about deficit from Republicans.
Nothing about this is surprising.
Here is the question—-What are you going to do about all this?
Will you talk to friends and family about your beliefs, write a letter to the editor, start a blog, run for office, donate to candidates and causes you support, and whatever else it is you feel you can do to make the most of your beliefs and abilities?
There is little I can tell you on these issues that you don’t already know.
What are going to do about all this?
Are we going to get outworked by Tea Party/Republican Party folks like we were in 2010? Or are we going to move ahead and make progress in the time we have on this Earth?
Please meet Extinct. Extinct is the newest contributor to my blogging efforts.
In the picture above, you see Extinct reading about a time when his kind ruled the Earth.
The book Extinct is reading is Prehistoric Life—The Definitive Visual History of Life on Earth by DK Publishing.
It would be difficult to understate the lack of concern Extinct has at the moment for the future of the human condition.
Says Extinct–“It is one thing to be wiped out in a world not of your own making, it is another thing to have the tools and knowledge to do the right thing and yet to choose another course.”
It could just be that Extinct is upset about an article he read in the New York Times this morning about the unexpectedly fast melting of the Greenland ice cap.
Says Extinct— ” If Woolly Mammoths had had a “House of Mammoths” were we could have addressed issues of concern, I’m certain that we could have put our differences aside to explore just what it was that was making us all die. Why can’t human beings see that the threat of global warming is not an issue inherent to one political party of the other?”
I could not have expressed these concerns any better than Extinct has here in his first post at Texas Liberal.
(Above–Drawing of a narwhal.)
A small device is attached the narwhals. When they dive , data is recorded. The narwhals in this study live in Baffin Bay up in the Arctic.
The data shows that the water is warmer than was thought, and that the ice is more thin than had been known.
American conservatives might argue that narwhals don’t believe in God and that they don’t live in the “heartland” with “Real Americans.”
All true. Narwhals never attend church and there are likely no narwhals in Nebraska or Kansas.
On the other hand, narwhals are like many “Real Americans” in that they are willing to work for less than a livable wage without offering any objection at all.
In fact, narwhals are the perfect employee for the American conservative movement. They are willing to work for absolutely no wages.
While I understand our current political realities, I’m not certain at the bottom line why being a Republican would make one a doubter of climate change.
There is a video going around of Republican U.S. Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois essentially saying that global warming won’t do great harm to the world because God made a promise to Noah that He would not destroy the Earth. Mr. Shimkus may end up with a powerful committee Chair in the next Congress that will have oversight on climate issues.
I’ve no interest in being dismissive of people’s religious beliefs, but I just don’t see how this kind of thing will serve as a helpful environmental policy in the years ahead.
People are at some point going to have decide what kind of future we are going to have in this world. The facts are more clear everyday. We can keep on denying the facts for ideological reasons or we can move ahead.
A great book to learn about all types of whales and dolphins is the National Audubon Society’s Guide To Marine Mammals Of The World.
The world is getting warmer and warmer.
Above is a NOAA graphic illustrating the warming world.
“While year-to-year changes in temperature often reflect natural climatic variations such as El Niño/La Niña events, changes in average temperature from decade-to-decade reveal long-term trends such as global warming. Each of the last three decades has been much warmer than the decade before. At the time, the 1980s was the hottest decade on record. In the 1990s, every year was warmer than the average of the previous decade. The 2000s were warmer still. The temperature increase of one degree Fahrenheit over the past 50 years may seem small, but it has already altered our planet,” said Deke Arndt, co-editor of the report and chief of the Climate Monitoring Branch of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. “Glaciers and sea ice are melting, heavy rainfall is intensifying and heat waves are more common. And, as the new report tells us, there is now evidence that over 90 percent of warming over the past 50 years has gone into our ocean.”..More and more, Americans are witnessing the impacts of climate change in their own backyards, including sea-level rise, longer growing seasons, changes in river flows, increases in heavy downpours, earlier snowmelt and extended ice-free seasons in our waters.”
Many people think this is all a scam.
It is not a scam.
The Obama administration is making a new effort to protect barrier islands and other coastal resources in the Gulf of Mexico area. Mississippi and Louisiana seem to be a specific focus of this program.
(Above–A picture of Ship Island off the Mississippi coast. In the background you see Fort Massachusetts. The federal government controlled the island in the Civil war and used the island as a prison for Confederate soldiers. Black combat units were also trained on Ship Island. Here are facts about Ship Island.)
From the Associated Press article on the Obama Gulf Coast effort—
“Since the 1930s, the Mississippi River delta has been slowly falling apart and eroding due to levee construction, oil drilling hurricane damage and other factors. Louisiana has lost about 2,100 square miles of coast and loses about 25 square miles a year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey…With sea levels on the rise due to global warming, experts warn that much of south Louisiana and Mississippi are at risk of being lost for good.”
This sure is interesting. You’d think that the good God-fearing folks down in Mississippi and Louisiana would oppose federal dollars to help remedy the effects of the great scam of global warming.
Here is a recent New York Times story about how people crazy enough to think that evolution is not real, are now adding global warming to their list of hoaxes.
I’m out of patience with this stuff. People are free to believe what they wish. Freedom of religion is a principle our nation is founded upon. But schools and public debates are places for facts. They are not places for ideologically-driven lies.
Maybe a referendum should be held in Mississippi and Louisiana to be sure that folks in these places believe in global warming. We don’t want to be wasting taxpayer dollars.
Here is a Times of London story about the possible impact of global warming on people and animal life across the globe.
Here is more from the Associated Press story—
“Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said the report “clearly demonstrates a positive shift in direction, but must be coupled with aggressive action on the ground — turning dirt. There is no time for delay.”
You are reading this correctly—Republican Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana wants some swift federal action to help address a problem in his state.
Here is how Governor Jindal felt about federal money last year–
“Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Friday that he will decline stimulus money specifically targeted at expanding state unemployment insurance coverage, becoming the first state executive to officially refuse any part of the federal government’s payout to states.”
Here is the White House press release about this federal help that the people of Mississippi and Louisiana will no doubt be glad to take.
From the release–
“Ultimately, successful implementation of the shared vision depends on access to the best available science in a form that is useful for management decisions. The Working Group will assess current capacities and identify gaps in science so the Federal-State vision will be implemented based on the best information.”
I put the term “best available science” in bold so that nobody would miss what is being said. The Feds are coming down South to cram global warming down the throats of the people. Time for a tea party!
Is Republican Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi going to tolerate this federal intrusion?
From Think Progress, here is a portion of Mr. Barbour’s record on the environment from when he was a corporate lobbyist–
“Back at his lobbying firm in early 2001, Barbour was hired “to help apply pressure in all the right places.” He convinced President Bush to break his campaign promise to reduce global warming pollution from power plants. Barbour’s memo “Bush-Cheney Energy Policy & CO2” belittled global warming as a “radical fringe issue,” and called the regulation of carbon dioxide pollution “eco-extremism.” He urged the President Bush to avoid making decisions informed by science, which would “trump good energy policy, which the country has lacked for eight years.”
Here is the full report on Mr. Barbour’s record on the environment.
The federal government has dominion over the states. In this case, the federal government is going to provide help for Mississippi and Louisiana no matter if they like it or not.
(Below–Fort Livingston on Grand Terre Island off the coast of Louisiana. This fort, named after a political figure from New York, was built by the federal government and fell back into federal hands after the fall of New Orleans in the Civil war. Here are some facts about Grand Terre Island.)