01 Sep

President wants more icebreakers in Arctic

One of the things I noticed while researching Arctic Rising was that the US was not able to do much force-projection or borders patrolling, search and rescue, etc with the current fleet, ranking the US below much, much smaller nations with Arctic borders. Looks like someone is paying attention finally:

President Obama on Tuesday will propose speeding the acquisition and building of new Coast Guard icebreakers that can operate year-round in the nation’s polar regions, part of an effort to close the gap between the United States and other nations, especially Russia, in a global competition to gain a foothold in the rapidly changing Arctic.

(Via Obama to Call for More Icebreakers in Arctic as U.S. Seeks Foothold – The New York Times.)

13 Jul

Miami is slowly flooding, and will eventually be our newest Venice

I basically assume Miami is the newest Venice at the start of Hurricane Fever due to this:

“What makes Miami exceptionally vulnerable to climate change is its unique geology. The city – and its satellite towns and resorts – is built on a dome of porous limestone which is soaking up the rising seawater, slowly filling up the city’s foundations and then bubbling up through drains and pipes. Sewage is being forced upwards and fresh water polluted. Miami’s low topography only adds to these problems. There is little land out here that rises more than six feet above sea level. Many condos and apartment blocks open straight on the edge of the sea. Of the total of 4.2 million US citizens who live at an elevation of four feet or less, 2.4 million of them live in south Florida.”

(Via Miami, the great world city, is drowning while the powers that be look away | World news | The Observer.)

16 Jun

Cold War-style spy games come to the Arctic

Hmmmm… sounds familiar.

“In early March, a mysterious ship the size of a large passenger ferry left a Romanian wharf, glided through the narrow strait that separates Europe from Asia and plotted a course toward Scandinavia. After a two-year refitting, the $250 million ship will begin its mission: to snoop on Russia’s activities in the Arctic.

‘There is a demand from our political leadership to describe what is going on in this region,’ said Norway’s military intelligence chief, Lt. Gen. Kjell Grandhagen.

As climate change eats away at the sea ice covering the North Pole, Arctic nations — the U.S., Canada, the Nordic countries and Russia— are fishing for secrets in East-West spy games echoing Cold War rivalries. The military dimension remains important but this time there’s an economic aspect, too: getting a leg up in the competition for potential oil and gas resources, along with new shipping lanes and fishing waters.”

(Via Cold War-style spy games return to melting Arctic – Toledo Blade.)

10 Jun

National Geographic Atlas is struggling to keep up with redrawing Arctic Ice on map

The world of Arctic Rising is breathing down our necks:

“The shrinking of the Arctic ice sheet in the upcoming 10th edition of the National Geographic Atlas of the World is one of the most striking changes in the publication’s history, geographers say.

The reduction in multiyear ice—commonly defined as ice that has survived for two summers—is so noticeable compared with previous editions that National Geographic Geographer Juan José Valdés calls it ‘the biggest visible change other than the breakup of the U.S.S.R.'”

(Via Shrinking Arctic Ice Prompts Drastic Change in National Geographic Atlas.)

Hat tip to Elizabeth Bear on twitter for the link:

15 Jan

Imagine if for every space launch, there was a moon hoaxer on TV. That’s where we are now for climate news


There’s the image.

“To me, one of the most fascinating aspects of climate change denial is how deniers essentially never publish in legitimate journals, but instead rely on talk shows, grossly error-laden op-eds, and hugely out-of-date claims (that were never right to start with).

In 2012, National Science Board member James Lawrence Powell investigated peer-reviewed literature published about climate change and found that out of 13,950 articles, 13,926 supported the reality of global warming. Despite a lot of sound and fury from the denial machine, deniers have not really been able to come up with a coherent argument against a consensus.”

(Via Climate change: Another study shows they don’t publish actual papers..)

The media’s allowing denialists on every single show about climate change makes it seem like that pie is 50/50. It’s really fucked up people’s ability to understand just how strong the consensus is.

If 99 out of 100 doctors said you have cancer, do you refuse to treat?

How about 13,926 out of 13,950?

Imagine if every time a picture of a space launch happened, or video of probes on another planet happened, a flat earth theorist or moon landing hoax believer was on the news to refute that it was really happening, imagine that. That is the current state of news reporting on global warming.

And the stakes are way, way higher on this.

It’s a disgrace.

01 Jan

AP is suddenly realizing other nations are racing to claim resources in the Arctic as it warms up

What’s particularly rich about this is that the Republican senator of Alaska never once mentions *why* all these resources in the Arctic are suddenly available…

“The U.S. is racing to keep pace with stepped-up activity in the once sleepy Arctic frontier, but it is far from being in the lead.

Nations across the world are hurrying to stake claims to the Arctic’s resources, which might be home to 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its untapped natural gas. There are emerging fisheries and hidden minerals. Cruise liners filled with tourists are sailing the Arctic’s frigid waters in increasing numbers. Cargo traffic along the Northern Sea Route, one of two shortcuts across the top of the Earth in summer, is on the rise.

The U.S., which takes over the two-year rotating chairmanship of the eight-nation Arctic Council in 2015, has not ignored the Arctic, but critics say the U.S. is lagging behind the other seven: Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Canada and Denmark, through the semiautonomous territory of Greenland.”

(Via America Is Losing The Competition For The Arctic – Business Insider.)

17 Jul

Reuters has climate change deniers at the top

Reuters supplies most of the news that newspapers just reprint, so this has tremendous second order impacts. An ex-reporter there takes a look at the inside environs of Reuters:

“In April last year, Paul Ingrassia (then deputy editor-in-chief) and I met and had a chat at a company function. He told me he was a climate change sceptic. Not a rabid sceptic, just someone who wanted to see more evidence mankind was changing the global climate.

Progressively, getting any climate change-themed story published got harder. It was a lottery. Some desk editors happily subbed and pushed the button. Others agonised and asked a million questions. Debate on some story ideas generated endless bureaucracy by editors frightened to take a decision, reflecting a different type of climate within Reuters – the climate of fear.

By mid-October, I was informed that climate change just wasn’t a big story for the present, but that it would be if there was a significant shift in global policy, such as the US introducing an emissions cap-and-trade system.

Very soon after that conversation I was told my climate change role was abolished. I was asked to take over the regional shipping role and that I had less than a week to decide.”

(Via Climate change | THE BARON.)

This is why we need fewer newspapers just reprinting Reuters and providing actual news.

01 Jul

Miami set to end up underwater at this rate

Rolling Stones has a very detailed look at why Miami has a lot of challenges ahead due to global warming:

“Of course, South Florida is not the only place that will be devastated by sea-level rise. London, Boston, New York and Shanghai are all vulnerable, as are low-lying underdeveloped nations like Bangladesh. But South Florida is uniquely screwed, in part because about 75 percent of the 5.5 million people in South Florida live along the coast. And unlike many cities, where the wealth congregates in the hills, southern Florida’s most valuable real estate is right on the water. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development lists Miami as the number-one most vulnerable city worldwide in terms of property damage, with more than $416 billion in assets at risk to storm-related flooding and sea-level rise.

South Florida has two big problems. The first is its remarkably flat topography. Half the area that surrounds Miami is less than five feet above sea level. Its highest natural elevation, a limestone ridge that runs from Palm Beach to just south of the city, averages a scant 12 feet. With just three feet of sea-level rise, more than a third of southern Florida will vanish; at six feet, more than half will be gone; if the seas rise 12 feet, South Florida will be little more than an isolated archipelago surrounded by abandoned buildings and crumbling overpasses. And the waters won’t just come in from the east – because the region is so flat, rising seas will come in nearly as fast from the west too, through the Everglades.”

(Via Rolling Stone Mobile – Politics – Politics: Why the City of Miami Is Doomed to Drown.)

19 Jun

$20 Billion Storm Protection Plan demonstrates there’s no escaping the cost of global warming

A lot of people say we can’t work to prevent climate change or switch to alternative fuels because it’s too expensive.

Well, with the damage in heavy weather starting to come due, and with needed investments like this, we’re going to have to start paying the piper. Either we pay to save ourselves from the effects of change, or we try to mitigate it. There is no free lunch.

“Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg outlined a far-reaching plan on Tuesday to protect New York City from the threat of rising sea levels and powerful storm surges by building an extensive network of flood walls, levees and bulkheads along its 520 miles of coast.

The mayor said the plan would initially cost about $20 billion, and eventually far more. The city would spend the money on fortifying infrastructure like the power grid, renovating buildings to withstand hurricanes and defending the shore, according to a 438-page report on the proposals.”

(Via Bloomberg Outlines $20 Billion Storm Protection Plan – NYTimes.com.)

18 Jun

More floods coming as world warms further

More floods are coming. Of interest is that the Flood Insurance Program is paid for by governments. No private industry is able to backstop flood insurance, so the government steps in to allow us to continue building near water that rises.

“Yesterday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published a landmark investigation on the connections between climate change, population growth and sea-level rise. The study concludes that the amount of the U.S. at risk for floods could increase 45% by 2100, doubling the number of flood-prone properties covered by the National Flood Insurance program and exacting a strenuous toll on the country’s Flood Insurance Program.”

(Via Massive Floods Are Coming. We Are Not Prepared..)

Reason Magazine has a pretty good, and I believe accurate, rant on this:

The flood insurance program was created by Congress in 1968 to fill a void: because of the risk, few carriers provided flood insurance. Now, private insurers offer flood insurance in a partnership with the government — but taxpayers shoulder all the risk. It has turned out to be a bad bet. The program is $18 billion in debt, a sum the government acknowledges probably will never be paid back by premiums, and it is likely to need a new multibillion-dollar infusion to pay claims from Hurricane Sandy. It is long past time for the government to stop subsidizing home and business owners who live and build in dangerous flood zones.

Homeowners and businesses should be responsible for purchasing their own flood insurance on the private market, if they can find it. If they can’t, then the market is telling them that where they live is too dangerous. [emphasis added] If they choose to live in harm’s way, they should bear the cost of that risk — not the taxpayers. Government’s primary role is ensuring the safety of its citizens, so the government’s subsidizing of risky behavior is completely backward.