Climate Change News

Oceans getting hotter than anybody realized

By John Upton – Climate Central – October 5, 2014

The RV Kaharoa motored out of Wellington, New Zealand on Saturday, loaded with more than 100 scientific instruments, each eventually destined for a watery grave. Crewmembers will spend the next two months dropping the 50-pound devices, called Argo floats, into the seas between New Zealand and Mauritius, off the coast of Madagascar. There, the instruments will sink and drift, then measure temperature, salinity and pressure as they resurface to beam the data to a satellite. The battery-powered floats will repeat that process every 10 days — until they conk out, after four years or more, and become ocean junk. Under an international program begun in 2000, and that started producing useful global data in 2005, the world’s warming and acidifying seas have been invisibly filled with thousands of these bobbing instruments. They are gathering and transmitting data that’s providing scientists with the clearest-ever pictures of the hitherto-unfathomed extent of ocean warming. About 90 percent of global warming is ending up not on land, but in the oceans. For full story, click here.

Fish failing to adapt to rising carbon dioxide levels in ocean

By Oliver Milman – The Guardian – October 5, 2014

Rising carbon dioxide levels in oceans adversely change the behaviour of fish through generations, raising the possibility that marine species may never fully adapt to their changed environment, research has found. The study, published in Nature Climate Change, found that elevated CO2 levels affected fish regardless of whether their parents had also experienced the same environment. For full story, click here.

Sea Level Rise Making Floods Routine for Coastal Cities

By John Upton – Climate Central – October 8, 2014

Coastal American cities are sinking into saturated new realities, new analysis has confirmed. Sea level rise has given a boost to high tides, which are regularly overtopping streets, floorboards and other low-lying areas that had long existed in relatively dehydrated harmony with nearby waterfronts. The trend is projected to worsen sharply in the coming years. A new report, released by the Union of Concerned Scientists late on Tuesday, forecasts that by 2030, at least 180 floods will strike during high tides every year in Annapolis, Md. In some cases, such flooding will occur twice in a single day, since tides come in and out about two times daily. By 2045, that’s also expected be the case in Washington, D.C., Atlantic City, N.J. and 14 other East Coast and Gulf Coast locations out of 52 analyzed by the Union of Concerned Scientists. For full story, click here.

Big Oil’s heirs join call for action as climate summit opens

By Joby Warrick and Steven Mufson – The Washington Post – September 21, 2014 – Video

For 140 years, the Rockefellers were the oil industry’s first family, scions of a business empire that spawned companies called Exxon, Mobil, Amoco and Chevron. So it was no trivial matter when a group of Rockefeller heirs decided recently to begin severing financial ties to fossil fuels. On Monday, the foundation, known as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, will formally announce plans to begin divesting itself of fossil-fuel stocks, citing concerns about climate change. For full story and to view video, click here.

Report offers ideas for a Boston beset by rising seas

By Casey Ross – The Boston Globe – September 30, 2014

By the end of this century, the romance of Venice might be a lot closer to Boston than you’d expect — like just off Storrow Drive. A report scheduled to be released Tuesday about preparing Boston for climate change suggests that building canals through the Back Bay neighborhood would help it withstand water levels that could rise as much as 7 feet by 2100. Some roads and public alleys, such as Clarendon Street, could be turned into narrow waterways, the report suggests, allowing the neighborhood to absorb the rising sea with clever engineering projects that double as public amenities. The canal system was among the more imaginative solutions offered by some of the city’s leading planning, architecture, and engineering firms in a report compiled by the local chapter of the Urban Land Institute. For full story, click here.

Tipping Points and Climate Change: Revisiting the Day After Tomorrow

By Katy Maher – Center for Climate and Energy Solutions  – September 18, 2014  

It has been 10 years since the movie The Day After Tomorrow offered a highly embellished vision of a climate “tipping point” in which polar ice sheets melt, shut down the Gulf Stream, and plunge Europe and much of the U.S. into a deep freeze. While most of The Day After Tomorrow is safely in the realm of science fiction, there is real science to back up concerns that tipping points in the climate system could cause potentially irreversible, and in some cases drastic, changes in our climate. For full blog post, click here.

Obama Administration Launches Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture

By Secretary of State John Kerry, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Dr. Rajiv "Raj" Shah, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development–  USDA Blob –  September 24, 2014

From record droughts in Kansas to deadly wildfires in California, the United States is feeling the effects of climate change. These same conditions have a dire impact across the developing world, especially for poor, rural smallholder farmers whose very lives are threatened every time the rains arrive late, the floods rush in, or the temperature soars. By 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach nine billion people. Feeding them will require at least a 60 percent increase in agricultural production. There is no greater challenge to meeting this need than climate change. It poses a range of unprecedented threats to the livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people and to the very planet that sustains us. In order to ensure that hundreds of millions of people are not born into a debilitating cycle of under-nutrition and hunger, we must address the urgent threat that climate change poses. For full blog post, click here.

Researchers: 2013 carbon emissions jumped more than ever

By Timothy Cama – The Hill – September 22, 2014

The world emitted more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere last year than any year before, according to a series of new studies. Human activity, mainly burning fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal, emitted 39.8 billion tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide last year, 2.3 percent more than 2012, according to the studies published Sunday in Nature Geoscience and Nature Climate Change. For full story, click here.

New report adds info, urgency to accelerate low-carbon economy

By Aimee Witteman – The McKnight Foundation Blog – September 9, 2014

A few years ago, after 10 or so years spent in small towns and big cities on the west and east coasts, my husband and I returned to our Midwest roots.  Among other things, including being closer to family, we chose to make Minnesota our home because of the low unemployment, easy access to the outdoors, vibrant local food scene, and thriving arts and music — many of the attributes that make Minnesota’s cities and towns consistently named some of the top places to live in the country.

Adding to that list, Minnesota is increasingly being recognized for its regional and national leadership in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and promoting a resilient low-carbon economy. Today, renewables like solar and wind make up almost 20% of Minnesota’s annual electricity generation, a nearly four-fold increase since 2000. For full blog post, click here.