Extreme Weather Events Escalating Around the World

The HawkkeyDavis Channel on YouTube does an excellent job of compiling extreme weather events from around the world at regular intervals during the year. Here’s the end-of-the-year compilation for 2013. As the video’s description notes, this is not viewing for the faint of heart; all kinds of extreme weather events are escalating both in frequency and in severity. Is there any doubt at all, folks, that it’s time to tax our climate-destabilizing carbon emissions with a straight-forward, bureaucracy-free, revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend? I don’t think so. To find out how you can be part of the change, go to CitizensClimateLobby.org or (in Canada) CitizensClimateLobby.ca.



global average surface temp*

graphic: I Heart Climate Scientists
graphic: I Heart Climate Scientists

Climate Change: Our Weather On Steroids

Climate change increases the frequency and severity of severe weather events. Is this really the legacy we want to leave for our children?

This video was taken from a Shell/Dairy Queen in Diamond Illinois on November 17, 2013. One of the security cameras captured a business and a house across the street being swept away in the tornado in seconds. This was somebody’s life, wiped out in the blink of an eye. What if it was yours?



The best cure I know for climate trauma is Citizens Climate Lobby, which empowers people to create the political will for a stable climate and also empowers individuals to have breakthroughs in exercising their personal and political power.

extreme weather events

Climate Denial Is Not Affordable

While dirty energy continues to rake in record profits, the rest of us are going to be paying a higher and higher price for our governments’ inaction on climate change. Up here in Canada recently we’ve had the worst flooding on record in both Calgary and Toronto. And in Colorado the Black Forest wildfire has cost insurers $292.8 million and ruined a record 486 structures, making it the second-most costly fire in the state’s history. So what did you hear about addressing climate change being too expensive? Only fossil fools believe that.


colorado's expensive fires*

Read more on Bloomberg.com

We Could Have Stopped Climate Chaos But We Were Too Damned Cheap

What a beautiful Friday morning in my part of the world. The sky is blue and clear on a minus 16 degree C March 1st day.  I’m watching two pileated woodpeckers enjoy the suet in the bird feeder just outside the window. They certainly are impressive birds, especially close up! I took this picture earlier in the year:

pileated woodpeckers

Meanwhile, this week in climate news, thirty eight leading U.S. national security experts released a letter urging action on international climate change initiatives. Their press release reads:

Today, Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) launched their newest open letter, signed by 38 Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, on the national security threats of climate change at a bipartisan panel event on Capitol Hill.

In the midst of sequestration’s looming budget cuts and White House promises of Executive Action on climate change, should Congress fail to act, the letter’s signatories stress the urgent need for action to prevent disastrous impacts on U.S. national security interests. Mobilizing public and private support for international mitigation and adaptation projects in vulnerable communities must be a priority, the letter states.

R. James Woolsey, former Director of Central Intelligence, and Wayne Gilchrest, former Congressman (R-MD) and Co-founder of the Congressional Climate Change Caucus, spoke at the event to highlight the critical threats that climate change presents.

“If we have difficulty figuring out how to deal with immigration today, look at the prospects for the glacial retreats in the Andes. The glaciers are not doing well… If that starts to go away, we will have millions upon millions of southern neighbors hungry, thirsty, with crops failing and looking for some place in the world they can go,” Woolsey said.

Gilchrest said, “As we saw the military in Sandy, we saw the military in Katrina… we’ll see them in Pakistan – one of those countries that may be more hard-hit by climate change than almost any other country in the immediate term.”

The signatories to PSA’s letter join the State Department, Defense Department, National Intelligence Council, and many other security voices in emphasizing the serious national security implications of climate change.

Signatories including seventeen former Senators and Congress members, nine retired generals and admirals, both the Chair and Vice Chair of the 9/11 Commission, and Cabinet and Cabinet-level officials from the Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush (41), Clinton, and Bush (43) administrations.

This initiative builds upon PSA’s 2009 statement “Climate Change Threatens All Americans” ( www.psaonline.org/climate ), which served to publicly identify climate change as an issue of bipartisan concern among national security experts.

According to their website:

PSA is a nonprofit founded by former U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton (D-IN) and former U.S. Senator Warren Rudman (R-NH) to advance bipartisanship on today’s critical national security and foreign policy challenges. Leveraging the leadership of its distinguished  Advisory Board , PSA has unique credibility and access to forge common ground and fashion thoughtful, fact-based policy that promotes America’s national interests

Click here to read the full letter, The Cost of Inaction.


This week as well, the Climate Reality Project released a catchy video about the price we are all paying for carbon pollution:



In other climate news, a report was released that was written by NERA for the U.S. National Association of Manufacturers. It purports to provide “a quantitative estimate of how much [the Boxer/Sanders] scheme would hurt the U.S. economy.” However, like many papers from free-market ideologues and think tanks, the report ignores the costs of climate change as well as the benefits of clean energy, and thus leads to the wrong conclusion. Interestingly, a previous report written by NERA admits that a carbon tax could be efficient in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

As a fellow Citizen Climate Lobby volunteer wrote in response to the NAM report:

A comparison of the costs of damages from emissions in a continued fossil fuel economy versus the cost of ramping up clean energy, efficiency and conservation to create a clean energy economy was done by DARA Climate Vulnerability Monitor, finding that “Economic losses dwarf the modest costs of tackling climate change.”

In addition to the $1.2 trillion loss in forgone prosperity by our failure to act on climate change, there is also the risk of unimaginable catastrophe.

A recent report for the World Bank details the costs and risks of continuing climate disruption.  The carbon fuel economy is propelling us toward : “shock to agricultural production…and pressure on water resources which would cascade into effects on economic development by reducing a population’s work capacity …and risk crossing critical social system thresholds..[where] adaptation actions would likely become much less effective or even collapse.”

Even though I’ve been immersed in the climate conversation for years, it is still hard for me to comprehend that the current reality is that some individuals and groups argue (and apparently believe) that climate inaction is an option because we are worried about how taking action on climate change might impact the economy. That’s pure insanity! To rephrase the great American author Kurt Vonnegut (I  know, it’s pretty nervy of me), who was referring to saving the earth,  “We could have stopped climate chaos but we were too damned cheap.”



I’m going to unplug from the computer now, and spend some time outside on this gorgeous March day. I also plan to find some to read Food Not Lawns by Heather Jo Flores, which arrived in my mailbox yesterday. Hope you enjoy your Friday, too – let’s not let the crazies stop the rest of us from enjoying this amazing world we’re so privileged to be a part of!

graphic: 350.org
graphic: 350.org

How Republicans (& Canadian Conservatives) Can Answer Obama’s Challenge To ‘Reduce The Threat Of Climate Change’

obama's state of the union.2013

Today’s blog post is courtesy of Citizens Climate Lobby:

In his State of the Union address, the President said, ‘If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations [from climate change], I will.’  Republicans who wish to avoid more regulations should embrace the free-market approach of a revenue-neutral tax on carbon.

Saying that “for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change,’ President Obama used his State of the Union address to reaffirm his commitment to actions that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change,” said Obama. But with prospects appearing dim for legislation to price carbon, the President quickly added, “But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.”

While the President did not spell out “the executive actions we can take,” many observers assume the centerpiece of that plan will be to use the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA has already formulated rules for new power plants that will virtually rule out construction of coal-fired facilities. The President now intends to regulate emissions from existing power plants, a move that may require the closing of many coal-fired plants and produce howls of protest from GOP lawmakers.

Republican efforts to block such regulations are likely to be a waste of time and energy, given the Supreme Court has already ruled that the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases as pollutants.

Rather than curse the darkness, the GOP could light a solar-powered lamp. They can unleash the power of the marketplace to speed the transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean sources of energy. The mechanism to motivate that transition is a consumer-friendly tax on carbon that gives revenue back to households.

A number of conservative economists have endorsed this approach.

Art Laffer, President Reagan’s economic advisor has said, “By eliminating subsidies for all fuel types and making all fuel types accountable for their costs, free enterprise will make clear the best fuels for our future. Reduce taxes on something we want more of – income –and tax something we arguably want less of – carbon pollution. It’s a win-win.”

Greg Mankiw, economic advisor to President George W. Bush and presidential candidate Mitt Romney, also supports a revenue-neutral carbon tax, saying, “Economists have long understood that the key to smart environmental policy is aligning private incentives with true social costs and benefits.  That means putting a price on carbon emissions, so households and firms will have good reason to reduce their use of fossil fuels and to develop alternative energy sources.”

The concept behind the carbon tax is simple: Polluter pays. There are many costs to society not reflected in the price of fossil fuels. These include the health costs of respiratory problems induced by air pollution, military costs to secure the shipment of oil from the Middle East, and costs to repair damage from weather-related disasters that are becoming more frequent and destructive because of global warming. A tax on carbon begins to take these costs into account, ultimately making clean energy the cheaper and preferable option.

What would a simple and effective carbon tax policy look like?

  •   Start with a tax on coal, oil and gas of $15 per ton on CO2 that each fuel will emit when burned. The result at the gas pump would be an additional 13 cents per gallon.
  • Increase the tax by $10 a ton each year.
  • Implement the tax at the fuel’s first point of sale – the mine, wellhead or port of entry.
  • Take the revenue from the carbon tax, divide it equally among everyone in the U.S.,  and return it to consumers, preferably as monthly or quarterly “dividends.”
  •  To protect American businesses from unfair foreign competition, apply border tariffs on goods coming in from countries that do not have comparable carbon pricing.

The tax, which is imposed upstream at the first point of sale, will eventually be passed down to consumers. By returning revenue to households, we protect consumers from the economic impact of rising energy costs associated with the carbon tax. At the same time, these rising costs influence consumer choices, like making their homes more energy efficient or purchasing vehicles that are more fuel-efficient.

By motivating clean-energy investments in the private sector, federal subsidies to spur the development of solar, wind and other technologies will eventually be unnecessary. Yet another reason Republicans should want to embrace a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

The provision of border tariffs in such legislation does far more than protect American businesses. Republicans often reject national policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the argument that our efforts will make no difference if other countries aren’t doing the same. Senator Rubio’s stance, reported in a BuzzFeed interview Feb. 5, is typical:

“Anything we would do on that would have a real impact on the economy but probably, if it’s only us doing it, would have a very negligible impact on the environment. The United States is a country, not a planet. If you did all these things they’re talking about, what impact would it really have?”

A border tariff would negate that argument. If companies doing business with the U.S. must pay a duty on carbon, trading partners like China and India will prefer that the revenue is deposited in their own treasuries rather than given to the United States. Carbon tariffs, thereby, become a strong incentive for other countries to follow the U.S. lead and implement their own carbon tax.

The President has made it clear that, one way or another, America will “respond to the threat of climate change.” The question is whether that response is through expansion of government regulations or through the power of the marketplace. Republicans, who abhor the former, should embrace the latter with a revenue-neutral tax on carbon.

Stop the phony ‘debate’ about climate science

Republicans would find it easier to discuss climate solutions if they accepted the conclusion of nearly every scientific study done on global warming: It’s happening, and human activity is the primary cause.

Senator Rubio, like a number of his colleagues, continually casts doubt on climate science with statements like this:

“Well, first of all, the climate’s always changing. That’s not the fundamental question. The fundamental question is whether man-made activity is what’s contributing most to it. And I understand that people say there’s a significant scientific consensus on that issue. But I’ve actually seen reasonable debate on that principle.”

Reasonable debate? Let’s direct the senator’s attention to the following pie chart:


Jim Powell, who was a member of National Science Board for 12 years,[1] conducted a search of peer-reviewed climate change articles from 1991 to 2012. Of the 13,950 articles he reviewed, only 24 “clearly reject global warming or endorse a cause other than CO2 emissions for observed warming.”

The visual representation of Powell’s study should end all discussion. We must waste no more time debating the existence and cause of climate change. Attention must now focus on solutions.

Disasters awaken public to climate reality

At the beginning of the year, the U.S. government confirmed what most Americans already knew: 2012 was the hottest year our nation has ever experienced, shattering the previous record set in 1998 by a full degree.  That record heat contributed to a host of disasters that awakened many to the harsh consequences of a warming climate.

It started last year with wildfires in the West. Trees, ravaged by drought and insects thriving in warmer temperatures, became kindling for infernos that consumed more than 9 million acres across the U.S. In one horrific episode, a wall of flame swept into Colorado Springs and reduced 346 homes to ashes.

Then came the drought. At its peak last summer, 65 percent of the U.S. was experiencing moderate or worse drought conditions. The impact on the agricultural sector has been devastating, as corn crops withered and grass used to feed cattle fell into short supply. Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. estimated the drought reduced U.S. gross domestic product between 0.5 and 1 percent. Damage estimates range between $75 billion and $150 billion. Dust storms across the Great Plains conjure images of the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s.

More and more Americans became aware that something was wrong last spring when record-breaking high temperatures in early March gave way to scorching heat in the summer. Jaw-dropping images of the record ice loss in the Arctic (at left) provided further evidence that our world is heating up.

Climate change really hit home, however, with the arrival in late October of Superstorm Sandy, which inflicted damage in excess of $60 billion. Recovery and cleanup efforts continue months after the storm roared ashore. The influence of global warming was evident in Sandy’s intensity, size and path.

Hurricanes, floods, droughts, heat waves, and wildfires are all naturally-occurring phenomena that happened long before the current rise in global temperatures. What’s different is that our weather is now “juiced” – much like a baseball player on steroids – by a warmer climate, increasing the odds that severe weather will strike with greater intensity. Climate Central has an excellent series of short videos – “Extreme Weather 101” – explaining the impact of climate change on drought, heat waves, snowfall and rainfall.

If this is what our world looks like with barely 1 degree Celsius of warming in the past century, what hellish future awaits us if average global temperatures climb 4 degrees C or   6 degrees C (11 degrees Fahrenheit), as a number of studies have predicted?

The longer we delay action to address climate change, the more difficult and costly it will be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to levels that prevent us from breaching the 2 degress C threshold of global warming considered manageable by most scientists. Despite the toxic atmosphere in Washington, Democrats and Republicans must work together to enact legislation that will put a price on carbon, one that will speed the transition from fossil fuels to clean sources of energy.

arctic ice. 1980 and 2012

[1] First appointed by President Reagan and then by President George H.W. Bush.

Will The Bizarre Weather In Ottawa Wake Up The Climate Zombies In Parliament?

harper.kentclimate fail


Paul Beckwith is a part-time professor and PhD student of abrupt climate change in the Department of Geography at the University of Ottawa.  He recently wrote this paragraph in response to a shift of 40 degrees Celsius in two days in Ottawa:

Not a typical January in Ottawa. 10 degrees C for several days one week; -30 the next; followed by 10 the one after that. Why?

Normally the high altitude jet streams that circle the planet are predominantly from west to east with little waviness. Weather is cold and dry northward of the jets (Arctic air sourced) and warm and wet southward (moist tropics and ocean sourced). Now, and moving forward, the jets are extremely wavy and as the crests and troughs of the waves sweep by us each week we experience the massive swings in temperature. The extreme jet waviness is due to a very large reduction in the equator-to-Arctic temperature gradient caused by an exponentially declining Arctic reflectivity from sea-ice and snow cover collapses (which causes great amplification of Arctic temperatures). Additional amplification is occurring due to rapidly rising methane concentrations sourced from sea-floor sediments and terrestrial permafrost.

Observed changes will accelerate as late summer sea-ice completely vanishes from Arctic within a few years. Largest human impacts will be food supply shortages and increases in severity, frequency, and duration of extreme weather events.

Here Professor Beckwith explains it in one minute and thirteen seconds:



More links:

Paul Beckwith’s Blog : Time To Leave Fantasy Island: Climate 2.0 Is Here

Well, Mr. Harper?  Well, Mr. Kent?  Gonna wake up from your Big Oil-induced stupor?

harper's oily decisions

Hurricane Sandy Reminds Us We’re All Paying The Price For Politically-Created Climate Of Doubt

Image credit: Earth – The Operator’s Manual

The PBS Frontline program “Climate of Doubt” masterfully exposed the strategies and tactics that climate denialists have used to delay, if not undermine meaningful action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing climate change in the US. Perhaps the #1 strategy they have pursued involves denying the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming.

The number one strategy this shadowy, well-financed group has pursued involves denying the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming.  As Myron Ebell of the right-wing think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) put it,

We felt that if you concede the science is settled and that there’s a consensus…the moral high ground has been ceded to the alarmists.”

Republican Congressman from Wisconsin and climate denialist James Sensenbrenner explained the importance of the public awareness of the scientific consensus:

JOHN HOCKENBERRY:Do you think this will ever be settled scientifically, if 97 percent consensus doesn’t settle it for you?

Rep. JAMES SENSENBRENNER:Well, I — you know, I think that it’s up to the scientists and their supporters to convince the public that this is the right thing to do. And the supporters of that side of the argument in the Congress have been a huge flop.

Driving the climate denialism movement are some of the same people who over the last four decades have greatly benefited from the reversal of the “New Deal” and astronomically rising economic inequality. Thanks to what political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson describe as “Winner-Take-All Politics” financial markets were deregulated leading to the Great Recession of 2007/2008, while environmental deregulation and inaction on climate science led to aggravated droughts and hurricanes, which climate scientists like NASA’s James Hansen has been warning of for many years:
“My projections about increasing global temperature have been proved true. But I failed to fully explore how quickly that average rise would drive an increase in extreme weather. In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.” Dr. James Hansen, Washington Post, Aug. 3, 2012
I don’t know about you, but I’m really hoping that Fred Singer, Myron Ebell, and James Sensenbrenner, and James Inhofe and the rest of the “free-market conservatives” all have sea-front homes on the U.S. East Coast. What complete a**h%%*&s!!
source: 350.org

Summer of Drought & Climate Science Doesn’t Budge Senate Deniers

via 350.org


Virtually all of America’s corn and soy farms are now in drought disaster areas. Food prices globally are already rising as a result.  This is what the very beginning of climate change looks and tastes like. We can’t afford this kind of change – we need serious action on climate change now.

There’s lots of action on the climate change front this week, including in Washington DC where Senate hearings on climate change started this week. To no one’s surprise, climate denier (and fossil-fuel funded) Senator James Inhofe railed against the science and the scientists (aka “climate alarmists), declaring at one point that “the global warming movement has completely collapsed.”  During Sen. Inhofe’s diatribe against climate “alarmists,” the National Academy of Sciences, NOAA, NASA and, by extension, Galileo, it was the hottest day ever recorded in his home state of Oklahoma.

The hearings are being live-streamed here. Common Dreams gives a good overview of yesterday’s presentation by climate scientists in Scientists Tell Senate Panel:  Climate Change Is Here And Disaster Costs Will Be Huge.  George Monbiot weighs in on Inhofe’s entrenched inanity in Dance With The One Who Brung You, where he asserts that the environment is being trashed because of a failure to reform campaign finance. Truly, these politicians need to wear their sponsors on their clothes, like athletes, so that citizens can identify clearly whose interests they are protecting.

I’m listening to the hearings while I write this, and it’s fascinating in a disturbing kind of way (like watching a car crash in slow motion) to hear Inhofe and Sessions carry on about the “proof” that the planet isn’t warming, and claiming that the National Academy of Sciences is some kind of lobby group for special interests. Oh, the irony!

Here’s some Canadian nonsense. PM Stephen Harper, whose government has been awarded more “Colossal Fossil” awards at international climate talks than any other government, asserted this week that Canadian youth, who are among the most vocal critics of this government’s climate policies, are “misinformed” about global warming talks. *sigh*

On the upside, here’s some interesting developments:

Investment Shift For Algae Biofuels To See Market Grow 43.1% Annually

Public Willing To Pay More For Green Energie

To wrap up, this one’s for Prime Minister Harper, Senator Inhofe and Senator Sessions, and all those conservative politicians out there suffering from Anti-Science Syndrome (ASS):

Photo: I got it from Facebook, but can’t identify the source