Sunday, March 10, 2013

AP: Recent heat spike unlike anything in 11,000 Gimleteye

We can say, definitively: The Miami Herald publisher has come out of his hidey-hole on climate change, with today's report and editorial on wastewater and flooding issues.

There's credit to share for the decades in which the Herald relegated coverage of climate change to its perceived "balance", giving far more weight than warranted to the right wing, radical influence on global warming debate. Past publishers, included.

A legacy of that mistake slips through in today's Herald OPED page where the writer/s acknowledge the many years that wastewater rates were held down, below the national average. What the Herald omits is to also note that wastewater rates were held down by the exact same forces that suppressed solutions to Miami-Dade County's rampant environmental and water quality problems: former county commissioner Natacha Seijas, the builder lobby / Growth Machine she served, and Herald publishers who never swerved from tipping the scale their direction.

Climate change deniers like US Senator Marco Rubio are on quicksand, now, as evidenced by a recent AP report confirming -- again -- that the world is warming faster than it has in more than 10,000 years of recorded climate changes. The impact will be frightful.

Senator Rubio and his co-horts in the radical right are now falling back on a position that there is nothing government can do to stop global warming. They also point to China and India. They are right, to a point. I just returned from India and Burma and bring news that the entire Asia subcontinent is shrouded in smog. There, severe drought and low water levels are licking at poor populations like flames of a growing fire.

If climate change is a runaway train headed to a cliff, and it is, then the first thing reasonable people would do would be to stop it.

If Republicans were smart, they would be role-playing out climate change, and tracking backwards to a set of rational policies to move our economy into a fossil free future decades from now.

The Democrats and Obama administration are not even close, tracking a suite of policies that are a mish-mash of technological hopes and wasted energy, like wind power. Billions are being churned. The nation's utilities are silent because they figured out they can profit mightily from the confusion; paid richly to follow wrong-headed investments. Wind, in particular, is problematic. It is not only highly subsidized, it is by nature inefficient and its spinning rotor blades drain public attention from the real policy changes that need to be designed, processed through economic analyses, and vetted: reform of the power grid to maximize energy conservation.

The long-term planning we require hinges on massively reforming the way consumers are charged for electricity. One way or another, the nation's utilities will be forced with change.

With its current strategy, the Republicans could cede control of the House to Democrats, because of climate change.

In contrast to the Democrat's do-anything and everything approach, the Republicans should enlist its likely allies: the nation's top venture capital entrepreneurs. With utility engineers, they could be tasked to devise a blueprint for what is coming with sea level rise and food supply interruptions. They could map out a suite of solutions that the nation's utilities are unwilling to do, because it means fundamentally re-arranging their business models.

This blog has expressed sharp opposition to new nuclear at Turkey Point; for exactly the same reasons as the Herald expressed today in its alarm over infrastructure investments that fly in the face of climate change reality. Turkey Point nuclear will be an isolated island, while the rest of South Florida is surrendered to rising seas. It is the location, at Turkey Point, that I oppose: not nuclear.

We need a massive new focus on nuclear: smaller facilities distributed away from vulnerable coastlines and regions, like South Florida. We need to resolve the decades' standing problem of spent fuel storage; Congress should be locked in the capitol until it agrees on an answer.

All that needs to be done could be accomplished with rationale, smart leadership. The problem is that scarcity breeds panic; and at a very subtle level, panic began to define the strategies of the economic elites in the 2000's

Panic, as the undercurrent of the economy, manifests as the selfish, greed masked as Ayn Rand-style virtues. We do have angels of our better natures; one hopes they emerge soon. Click, 'read more' for the recent AP story on the new science of rising temperatures ...

Updated 2:26 pm, Friday, March 8, 2013
Chart shows world temperatures going back 11,000 years Photo: AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a story March 7 about research showing how the world has warmed dramatically, The Associated Press erroneously reported what one scientist said. Jeff Severinghaus of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said a bigger jump in temperatures may have occurred 12,000 years ago, not that temperatures were warmer at that time.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Recent heat spike unlike anything in 11,000 years

Study: In just a century, globe shifted from one of coldest decades in 11,000 years to warmest


AP Science Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new study looking at 11,000 years of climate temperatures shows the world in the middle of a dramatic U-turn, lurching from near-record cooling to a heat spike.

Research released Thursday in the journal Science uses fossils of tiny marine organisms to reconstruct global temperatures back to the end of the last ice age. It shows how the globe for several thousands of years was cooling until an unprecedented reversal in the 20th century.

Scientists say it is further evidence that modern-day global warming isn't natural, but the result of rising carbon dioxide emissions that have rapidly grown since the Industrial Revolution began roughly 250 years ago.

The decade of 1900 to 1910 was one of the coolest in the past 11,300 years — cooler than 95 percent of the other years, the marine fossil data suggest. Yet 100 years later, the decade of 2000 to 2010 was one of the warmest, said study lead author Shaun Marcott of Oregon State University. Global thermometer records only go back to 1880, and those show the last decade was the hottest for this more recent time period.

"In 100 years, we've gone from the cold end of the spectrum to the warm end of the spectrum," Marcott said. "We've never seen something this rapid. Even in the ice age the global temperature never changed this quickly."

Using fossils from all over the world, Marcott presents the longest continuous record of Earth's average temperature. One of his co-authors last year used the same method to look even farther back. This study fills in the crucial post-ice age time during early human civilization.

Marcott's data indicates that it took 4,000 years for the world to warm about 1.25 degrees from the end of the ice age to about 7,000 years ago. The same fossil-based data suggest a similar level of warming occurring in just one generation: from the 1920s to the 1940s. Actual thermometer records don't show the rise from the 1920s to the 1940s was quite that big and Marcott said for such recent time periods it is better to use actual thermometer readings than his proxies.

Before this study, continuous temperature record reconstruction only went back about 2,000 years. The temperature trend produces a line shaped like a "hockey stick" with a sudden spike after what had been a fairly steady line. That data came from tree rings, ice cores and lake sediments.

Marcott wanted to go farther back, to the end of the last ice age in more detail by using the same marine fossil method his colleague used. That period also coincides with a "really important time for the history of our planet," said Smithsonian Institution research anthropologist Torben Rick. That's the time when people started to first domesticate animals and start agriculture, which is connected to the end of the ice age.

Marcott's research finds the climate had been gently warming out of the ice age with a slow cooling that started about 6,000 years ago.

Then the cooling reversed with a vengeance.

The study shows the recent heat spike "has no precedent as far back as we can go with any confidence, 11,000 years arguably," said Pennsylvania State University professor Michael Mann, who wrote the original hockey stick study but wasn't part of this research. He said scientists may have to go back 125,000 years to find warmer temperatures potentially rivaling today's.

However, another outside scientist, Jeff Severinghaus of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography thinks temperatures may have changed even more dramatically 12,000 years ago, at least in Greenland, based on research by some of his colleagues.

Several outside scientists praised the methods Marcott used, but said it might be a bit too oriented toward the Northern Hemisphere.

Marcott said the general downward trend of temperatures that reversed 100 years ago seemed to indicate the Earth was heading either toward another ice age or little ice age from about 1550 to 1850. Or it was continuing to cool naturally until greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels changed everything.

The reason the globe warmed after the ice age and then started cooling about 6,000 years ago has to do with the tilt of the Earth and its distance from the sun, said Marcott and Severinghaus. Distance and angle in the summer matter because of heat absorption and reflection and ground cover.

"We have, through human emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, indefinitely delayed the onset of the next ice age and are now heading into an unknown future where humans control the thermostat of the planet," said Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University, responding in an email.




Read more:


Youbetcha' said...

Perhaps the spent fuel could be stored in government facilities like local city halls, the county commission offices, the state and federal capitols.

I also think that fpl headquarters deserves the wonderful opportunity to house some spent fuel in response to their public relations campaign with the film of train hitting the storage facility and of course, for their executives sharing that "my family lives next to Turkey Point, just like yours does". They must not love the family much, or maybe the question should be asked, "where do you live, not your family?"

Anonymous said...

As a WASD employee, I can tell you that your declaration that "wastewater rates were held former Commissioner Natacha Seijas" does not square with the record.

Seijas, as Chair of our Committee, incorporated a Maintenance Index (Water and Sewerage Maintenance U.S. City Average) to adjust rates periodically. Every year, there was to be an adjustment based on this Index. There was a 6% increase in April of 2010.

Our brilliant Mayor, then Commissioner, Gimenez, had the Index struck from the budget during the FY 2010-2011 budget hearing. Seijas was never afraid to make the tough decisions for our department. Your buddy Gimenez is a wimp.

Gimleteye said...

Dear Commenter, first of all; Mayor Gimenez is hardly my buddy. He keeps finding new ways to disappoint. The bottom line w/ Seijas: she knew perfectly well that whatever metric she used to justify her positions on water rates, they fell FAR below what was necessary to comply with the 1994 EPA settlement agreement and other environmental protections for our drinking water aquifer and natural resources. For her harangues and tormenting environmentalists for caring about manatees, she will not be forgotten. Seijas was the leader of the unreformable majority for many, many years. Her record on behalf of the Great Destroyers is clearly visible.

Anonymous said...

Nothing like a lawsuit to get things moving.

Anonymous said...

The unions are such idiots for supporting Seijas. She doesn't stand a chance of reviving her role as political pit bull.

Malagodi said...

Let us not quibble about nuclear power. From my look at the history of the nuclear power industry, it is hard for me embrace some Gatesian future clean nuke tech as a way to preserve our Euro-Industrial lifestyle. Something's got to give, and my guess is that it's our behavior.

But anyway, having just attended the South Florida Climate Action Plan workshop day at the Boca UU, I can say that the operative word is mitigation. That is, the engineers and scientists who make policy recommendations to the political leadership are busy with the primary task of determining how bad it is likely to be [they've agreed on a 9 to 24 inch SLR by 2060; quite the spread] and what areas can be saved. Virtually no time at all was spent in addressing how to effect national or international industrial and energy policy which is the cause of the problem. And when I questioned as to whether there was any discussion of a rational, phased retreat from unsustainable areas with compensation for those affected, it was bluntly noted that that subject was not on the table at this time.

Turkey Point nuclear will not be built. Everybody knows it, including FPL, but if we'll keep paying them to study it, why not take the money. No new north/south expressway will be built outside of the UDB by MDX, but if we'll give some contractor $6.5 million to study it, why not?

Enormous storage ponds somehow dug in the Everglades to hold potable water seems like a dubious plan to me, but hey, I'm no engineer.

I also noted the Herald has finally shown some trace of neural activity on this. Too late to matter really, but there it is. What matters is that now we will see enormous sums going to contractors!, doled out in overstuffed deals through the very same political process that has put so many poor and working-class people at risk in housing that should not have been built where it is in the first place.

Will there be any assistance for them when it comes to 'reclaiming' their property? It's not on the table.