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On Human Strength and Climate Change: Thoughts on Chavez Day

It’s now officially Chavez Day in the State of California, in honor of his birthday on March 31st. Someone suggested that I write a blog connecting Chavez Day with how climate change will affect farms and farmworkers, and that’s what I set out to do. Science tells us that climate change will indeed wreak increasing havoc on the agricultural industry — heat waves that can and do kill people, as well as crops and livestock; water shortages and/or floods; new plant diseases and pests; and seasonal changes that will affect crop viability. But as I commenced writing and remembered that long-forgotten day it dawned that there may be a more important point about what Chavez represents applied to climate change. Read More

Categories: Global Warming  

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The Ocean’s Cooling Effect: An Air Conditioner for the Planet

The tropical Pacific Ocean has been acting as a type of air conditioner for the planet during the past decade and a half by slowing the rate of global warming. Recent research suggests that the “speed bump” is in large part due to cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures. Read More

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A Conspiracy Theory Researcher Falls Victim to Conspiracy Theories: Intimidated Journal to Retract Lewandowsky Paper

A social science journal will soon retract a paper not because the research is flawed but because the journal fears being exposed to legal risks under antiquated (and since corrected) British libel law, according to Desmogblog and the paper’s lead author. Such a retraction would reflect badly on the journal and may set a terrible precedent. Papers should be withdrawn based on significant concerns with the quality of the research, not based on threats.
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What Are We Doing with our Planet’s Land? A Report from Berlin

I’m in Berlin at the Global Land Project conference, a biennial gathering of about 1000 scientists who study how we Earthlings use our world. I gave a talk on beef compared to other meats in the informal “Pecha Kucha” format, which requires you to use only 20 slides, each displayed for only 20 seconds. It was fun, but the big excitement has been hearing new ideas presented by researchers from all over the world.
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The New 400ppm World: CO2 Measurements at Mauna Loa Continue to Climb

The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million for the first time in human history at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii in May last year. That same level has been reached again in the last few days. This year we’ve hit the target in March, two months earlier, and it will stay above 400ppm for longer. At that rate, it will only be a handful of years until we are living in an atmosphere permanently above 400 ppm. While 400 ppm is a somewhat arbitrary marker, humans did not exist the last time atmospheric CO2 was at that level. Read More

Categories: Global Warming  

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Grid Security and Renewable Energy: Too Much Information, or Not Enough?

Grid authorities have been pushed to address physical attacks on the grid by recent reports of grid insecurity, most of which are not public. Detailed information about electric grid infrastructure is classified for homeland security. Read More

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Four Climate Change Facts To Keep the Senate Up All Night

Tonight more than two dozen Members of Congress from the Senate Climate Action Task Force will be holding the Senate floor to discuss global warming. A number of them are expected to participate throughout the night. Here are some startling climate facts that keep me up at night: Read More

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A Tipping Point for Palm Oil, Deforestation, and Peat?

History is happening all the time, but usually without us realizing it. Only rarely do we experience a change so dramatic that we know that what’s happening today will be remembered fifty or a hundred years in the future. The kind of thing that you’ll tell your grandchildren about. This is especially the case for so-called “tipping points,” celebrated in both scientific and popular writing. Usually, you only realize that something was a tipping point after you’re well past it. But sometimes…

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Many World Heritage Sites are Predicted to Fall Victim to Climate Change

Hot on the heels of news that recent extreme rainfall has caused walls to collapse at ancient Pompeii in Italy, comes a new study showing that hundreds of other iconic places listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites are threatened by sea level rise. Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, Mont Saint Michel in France, Leptis Magna in Libya and the Tower of London are all identified as vulnerable to rising sea levels. Read More

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What’s the Big Idea in President Obama’s Budget? Building Resilience to Climate Consequences.

To Washington insiders, the release of the president’s budget is a rather ho-hum event. Congress has all but abandoned any adherence to the official budget process, but President Obama this week did submit to Congress a proposed budget as required. Although this budget does not have the force of law, it does give him the chance to recommend important initiatives. His proposal for a Resilience Fund should be a conversation starter. Read More

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