Category: Climate Change



 

Published on Mar 25, 2014

Fishermen approve groundwater diversion plan
A federation of fishermen in Fukushima prefecture has approved a plan to divert groundwater away from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and into the sea.
The government and the plant’s operator –Tokyo Electric Power Company — developed the scheme as a measure to manage the increasing volume of radioactive water at the plant.
Every day, about 400 tons of groundwater flows into the reactor buildings and becomes contaminated when it mixes with water used to cool the melted nuclear fuel.
Under the plan, groundwater will be brought above ground with pumps and released into the sea, bypassing the reactor buildings.
The government and TEPCO estimated the method would reduce the volume of contaminated water by about 100 tons per day. They asked local fishermen to consider the plan.
The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations gave its approval and conveyed the decision to the government and TEPCO officials at a meeting in Iwaki city on Tuesday.
Fisheries co-operatives in Iwaki and Soma cities had already approved of the plan.

Abe vows to take lead for better nuclear security
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to play a key role in promoting nuclear security. He says Japan learned a lot from the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
He made the remarks at a plenary session of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, the Netherlands, on Monday. 53 leaders are taking part.
Abe said Japan will continue its efforts domestically and internationally to strengthen measures for nuclear security. He said the country will advance nonproliferation and disarmament worldwide and work towards the abolishment of nuclear weapons.

Reactor maker execs to serve decommissioning body
The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says it will appoint senior industry officials to a new division tasked with decommissioning.
Tokyo Electric Power Company will launch the internal division, separate to its power generating business, on April 1st.
The new body will specialize in decommissioning the nuclear plant and dealing with a massive buildup of contaminated water.
TEPCO says senior officials from Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, Toshiba and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will work as executives to advise the body’s top official.
The 3 makers are helping to deal with problems at the troubled plant, such as developing robots to operate in high radioactivity and removing spent nuclear fuel.
TEPCO hopes that by inviting the personnel, the new body can make better use of their expertise.
TEPCO and the Japanese government plan to start removing fuel from the most damaged reactors in 6 years at the earliest.

TEPCO restarts water treatment system
Engineers at Tokyo Electric Power Company have restarted a key water treatment system at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Two of the 3 lines of the Advanced Liquid Processing System, or ALPS, were suspended on Monday after workers found water leaking from one of the storage tanks.
The workers changed the packing on a side hatch of the tank. They resumed operation of the 2 lines on Tuesday afternoon after confirming that no water was leaking.

Inside Source: Gov’t officials are withholding Fukushima radiation data — Levels much higher than expected — Releasing numbers would “have a huge impact” — Over 2,000 millisieverts per year where residents are being encouraged to return
http://enenews.com/inside-source-govt…

Radioactive water from Fukushima nears Pacific
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/video/…

Radiation Alert! Northern Plains Radiation Higher Than Fukushima
http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/…

Radiation Expert: 5 types of plutonium were released from WIPP; Officials not informing public — Caldicott: “I predict that facility will never be able to be used again”; Inhaling a millionth of a gram of plutonium will induce lung cancer
http://enenews.com/radiation-expert-5…

Navy to test Treasure Island homes for radiation
http://www.sfgate.com/politics/articl…

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Friday 14 March 2014 14.28 EDT

Natural and social scientists develop new model of how ‘perfect storm’ of crises could unravel global system
This NASA Earth Observatory released on

This Nasa Earth Observatory image shows a storm system circling around an area of extreme low pressure in 2010, which many scientists attribute to climate change. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.

Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.” Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to “precipitous collapse – often lasting centuries – have been quite common.”

The research project is based on a new cross-disciplinary ‘Human And Nature DYnamical’ (HANDY) model, led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharri of the US National Science Foundation-supported National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, in association with a team of natural and social scientists. The study based on the HANDY model has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Elsevier journal, Ecological Economics.

It finds that according to the historical record even advanced, complex civilisations are susceptible to collapse, raising questions about the sustainability of modern civilisation:

“The fall of the Roman Empire, and the equally (if not more) advanced Han, Mauryan, and Gupta Empires, as well as so many advanced Mesopotamian Empires, are all testimony to the fact that advanced, sophisticated, complex, and creative civilizations can be both fragile and impermanent.”

By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy.

These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: “the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity”; and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or “Commoners”) [poor]” These social phenomena have played “a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse,” in all such cases over “the last five thousand years.”

Currently, high levels of economic stratification are linked directly to overconsumption of resources, with “Elites” based largely in industrialised countries responsible for both:

“… accumulated surplus is not evenly distributed throughout society, but rather has been controlled by an elite. The mass of the population, while producing the wealth, is only allocated a small portion of it by elites, usually at or just above subsistence levels.”

The study challenges those who argue that technology will resolve these challenges by increasing efficiency:

“Technological change can raise the efficiency of resource use, but it also tends to raise both per capita resource consumption and the scale of resource extraction, so that, absent policy effects, the increases in consumption often compensate for the increased efficiency of resource use.”

Productivity increases in agriculture and industry over the last two centuries has come from “increased (rather than decreased) resource throughput,” despite dramatic efficiency gains over the same period.

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The Washington Times

By Jessica Chasmar

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Enlarge Photo

Photo by: Matt Brown

**FILE** Smoke rises from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal burning power plant in in Colstrip, Mont., on July 1, 2013. Colstrip is kind of plant called on by President Barack Obama‘s climate change plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. On Feb. 24, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the unanimous federal appeals court ruling that upheld the Environmental Protection Agency‘s unprecedented regulations, aimed at reducing the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. The case comes to the court amid Obama‘s increasing use of his executive authority to act on environmental and other matters when Congress doesn’t, or won’t. (Associated Press)

A co-founder of Greenpeace told a Senate panel on Tuesday that there is no scientific evidence to back claims that humans are the “dominant cause” of climate change.

Patrick Moore, a Canadian ecologist who was a member of Greenpeace from 1971-86, told members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee environmental groups like Greenpeace use faulty computer models and scare tactics in further promoting a political agenda, Fox News reported.

“There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years,” Mr. Moore said. “Today, we live in an unusually cold period in the history of life on earth and there is no reason to believe that a warmer climate would be anything but beneficial for humans and the majority of other species.

“It is important to recognize, in the face of dire predictions about a [two degrees Celsius] rise in global average temperature, that humans are a tropical species,” he continued. “We evolved at the equator in a climate where freezing weather did not exist. The only reasons we can survive these cold climates are fire, clothing, and housing.

 

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Geoengineering side effects could be potentially disastrous, research shows

Comparison of five proposed methods shows they are ineffective, alter weather systems or could not be safely stopped
Geoengineering techniques need more study, says science coalition

Geoengineering the planet’s climate: even when applied on a massive scale, the most that could be expected is a temperature drop of about 8%, new research shows. Photograph: Nasa/REUTERS

Large-scale human engineering of the Earth’s climate to prevent catastrophic global warming would not only be ineffective but would have severe unintended side effects and could not be safely stopped, a comparison of five proposed methods has concluded.

Science academies around the world as well as some climate activists have called for more research into geoengineering techniques, such as reflecting sunlight from space, adding vast quantities of lime or iron filings to the oceans, pumping deep cold nutrient-rich waters to the surface of oceans and irrigating vast areas of the north African and Australian deserts to grow millions of trees. Each method has been shown to potentially reduce temperature on a planetary scale.

But researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany, modelled these five potential methods and concluded that geoengineering could add chaos to complex and not fully understood weather systems. Even when applied on a massive scale, the most that could be expected, they say, is a temperature drop of about 8%.

The potential side effects would be potentially disastrous, say the scientists, writing in Nature Communications. Ocean upwelling, or the bringing up of deep cold waters, would cool surface water temperatures and reduce sea ice melting, but would unbalance the global heat budget, while adding iron filings or lime would affect the oxygen levels in the oceans. Reflecting the sun’s rays into space would alter rainfall patterns and reforesting the deserts could change wind patterns and could even reduce tree growth in other regions.

In addition, say the scientists, two of the five methods considered could not be safely stopped. “We find that, if solar radiation management or ocean upwelling is discontinued then rapid warming occurs. If the other methods are discontinued, less dramatic changes occur. Essentially all of the CO2 that was taken up remains in the ocean.”

 

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LiveScience

 

 

 

Diagram of geoengineering ideas
A diagram of the geoengineering projects people have proposed to combat climate change. The laws surrounding such projects are still uncertain.
Credit: Diagram by Kathleen Smith/LLNL

 

Current schemes to minimize the havoc caused by global warming by purposefully manipulating Earth’s climate are likely to either be relatively useless or actually make things worse, researchers say in a new study.

 

The dramatic increase in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution is expected to cause rising global sea levels, more-extreme weather and other disruptions to regional and local climates. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat, so as levels of the gas rise, the planet overall warms.

 

In addition to efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, some have suggested artificially manipulating the world’s climate in a last-ditch effort to prevent catastrophic climate change. These strategies, considered radical in some circles, are known as geoengineering or climate engineering.

 

 

Many scientists have investigated and questioned how effective individual geoengineering methods could be. However, there have been few attempts to compare and contrast the various methods, which range from fertilizing the ocean so that marine organisms suck up excess carbon dioxide to shooting aerosols into the atmosphere to reflect some of the sun’s incoming rays back into space. [8 Ways Global Warming is Already Changing the World]

 

Now, researchers using a 3D computer model of the Earth have tested the potential benefits and drawbacks of five different geoengineering technologies.

 

Will it work?

 

The scientists found that even when several technologies were combined, geoengineering would be unable to prevent average surface temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above current temperatures by the year 2100. This is, the current limit that international negotiations are focused on. They were unable to do so even when each technology was deployed continuously and at scales as large as currently deemed possible.

 

“The potential of most climate engineering methods, even when optimistic deployment scenarios were assumed, were much lower than I had expected,” said study author Andreas Oschlies, an earth system modeler at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany.

 

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International Law Encourages Use of Geoengineering Weather Modification

 

 

Derrick Broze

According to a new study due to be published in 2014, Geoengineering field research is not only allowed, it is encouraged.

The study was authored by Jesse Reynolds at Tilburg Law School in the Netherlands. Reynolds researched the legal status of geoengineering research by analyzing international documents and treaties.

Geo-engineering is the science of manipulating the climate for the stated purpose of fighting mad made climate change. These include Solar Radiation Management (SRM), the practice of spraying aerosols into the sky in an attempt to deflect the Sun’s rays and combat climate change.

According to a recent congressional report:

“The term “geoengineering” describes this array of technologies that aim, through large-scale and deliberate modifications of the Earth’s energy balance, to reduce temperatures and counteract anthropogenic climate change. Most of these technologies are at the conceptual and research stages, and their effectiveness at reducing global temperatures has yet to be proven. Moreover, very few studies have been published that document the cost, environmental effects, socio-political impacts, and legal implications of geoengineering. If geoengineering technologies were to be deployed, they are expected to have the potential to cause significant transboundary effects.

In general, geoengineering technologies are categorized as either a carbon dioxide removal (CDR) method or a solar radiation management (SRM) method. CDR methods address the warming effects of greenhouse gases by removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. CDR methods include ocean fertilization, and carbon capture and sequestration. SRM methods address climate change by increasing the reflectivity of the Earth’s atmosphere or surface.

Aerosol injection and space-based reflectors are examples of SRM methods. SRM methods do not remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, but can be deployed faster with relatively immediate global cooling results compared to CDR methods.“
Reynolds’ study will be published in the Journal of Energy, Climate and the Environment around the same time that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presents its Fifth Assessment Report. The study continues the calls for an international body to regulate the controversial weather modification techniques.

Some believe the answer is international agreement for international tests but low-risk domestic research should continue to assist in the overall decision of what to do with geoengineering.

One of the many dangers of manipulating the weather are the loss of blue skies. According to a report by the New Scientist, Ben Kravitz of the Carnegie Institution for Science has shown that releasing sulphate aerosols high in the atmosphere would scatter sunlight into the atmosphere. He says this could decrease the amount of sunlight that hits the ground by 20% and make the sky appear more hazy.

 

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Yale University

 

09 Jan 2014: Report

Solar Geoengineering: Weighing
Costs of Blocking the Sun’s Rays

With prominent scientists now calling for experiments to test whether pumping sulfates into the atmosphere could safely counteract global warming, critics worry that the world community may be moving a step closer to deploying this controversial technology.

by nicola jones

In 1991, Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted in one of the largest volcanic blasts of the 20th century. It spat up to 20 million tons of sulfur into the upper atmosphere, shielding the earth from the sun’s rays and causing global temperatures to drop by nearly half a degree Celsius in a single year. That’s more than half of the amount the planet has warmed

Studies have shown that such a strategy would be powerful, feasible, fast-acting, and cheap.

due to climate change in 130 years.

Now some scientists are thinking about replicating Mount Pinatubo’s dramatic cooling power by intentionally spewing sulfates into the atmosphere to counteract global warming. Studies have shown that such a strategy would be powerful, feasible, fast-acting, and cheap, capable in principle of reversing all of the expected worst-case warming over the next century or longer, all the while increasing plant productivity. Harvard University physicist David Keith, one of the world’s most vocal advocates of serious research into such a scheme, calls it “a cheap tool that could green the world.” In the face of anticipated rapid climate change, Keith contends that the smart move is to intensively study both the positive and negative effects of using a small fleet of jets to inject

“Mount

Arlan Naeg/AFP/Getty Images
The 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption lowered temperatures nearly half a degree Celsius.

sulfate aerosols high into the atmosphere to block a portion of the sun’s rays.

Yet even Keith acknowledges that there are serious concerns about solar geoengineering, both in terms of the environment and politics. Growing discussion about experimentation with solar radiation management has touched off an emotional debate, with proponents saying the technique may be needed to avert climate catastrophe and opponents warning that deployment could lead to international conflicts and unintended environmental consequences — and that experimentation would create a slippery slope that would inevitably lead to deployment. University of Chicago geophysicist Raymond Pierrehumbert has called the scheme “barking mad.” Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki has dismissed it as “insane.” Protestors have stopped even harmless, small-scale field experiments that aim to explore the idea. And Keith has received a couple of death threats from the fringe of the environmentalist community.

Clearly, there are good reasons for concern. Solar geoengineering would likely make the planet drier, potentially disrupting monsoons in places like India and creating drought in parts of the tropics. The technique could help eat away the protective ozone shield of our planet, and it would cause air pollution. It would also do nothing to counteract the problem of ocean

Some worry that solar geoengineering would hand politicians an easy reason to avoid emissions reductions.

acidification, which occurs when the seas absorb high levels of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Some worry that solar geoengineering would hand politicians an easy reason to avoid reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And if the impacts of climate change worsen and nations cannot agree on what scheme to deploy, or at what temperature the planet’s thermostat should be set, then conflict or even war could result as countries unilaterally begin programs to inject sulfates into the atmosphere. “My greatest concern is societal disruption and conflict between countries,” says Alan Robock, a climatologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

As Keith himself summarizes, “Solar geoengineering is an extraordinarily powerful tool. But it is also dangerous.”

Studies have shown that solar radiation management could be accomplished and that it would cool the planet. Last fall, Keith published a book, A Case for Climate Engineering, that lays out the practicalities of such a scheme. A fleet of ten Gulfstream jets could be used to annually inject 25,000 tons of sulfur — as finely dispersed sulfuric acid, for example — into the lower stratosphere. That would be ramped up to a million tons of sulfur per year by 2070, in order to counter about half of the world’s warming from greenhouse gases. The idea is to combine such a scheme with emissions cuts, and keep it running for about twice as long as it takes for CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere to level out.

Under Keith’s projections, a world that would have warmed 2 degrees C by century’s end would instead warm 1 degree C. Keith says his “moderate, temporary” plan would help to avoid many of the problems associated with full-throttle solar geoengineering schemes that aim to counteract all of the planet’s warming, while reducing the cost of adapting to rapid climate change. He estimates this scheme would cost about $700 million annually — less than 1 percent of what is currently spent on clean energy development. If such relatively modest cost projections prove to be accurate, some individual countries could deploy solar geoengineering technologies without international agreement.

‘The thing that’s surprising is the degree to which it’s being taken more seriously,’ says one scientist.

The idea of solar geoengineering dates back at least to the 1970s; researchers have toyed with a range of ideas, including deploying giant mirrors to deflect solar energy back into space, or spraying salt water into the air to make more reflective clouds. In recent years the notion of spraying sulfates into the stratosphere has moved to the forefront. “Back in 2000 we just thought of it as a ‘what if’ thought experiment,” says atmospheric scientist Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science, who did some of the first global climate modeling work on the concept. “In the last years, the thing that’s surprising is the degree to which it’s being taken more seriously in the policy world.”

In 2010, the first major cost estimates of sulfate-spewing schemes were produced. ‎ In 2012, China listed geoengineering among its earth science research priorities. Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s summary statement for policymakers controversially mentioned geoengineering for the first time in the panel’s 25-year history. And the National Academy of Sciences is working on a geoengineering report, funded in part by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

Solar geoengineering cannot precisely counteract global warming. Carbon dioxide warms the planet fairly evenly, while sunshine is patchy: There’s more in the daytime, in the summer, and closer to the equator. Back in the 1990s, Caldeira was convinced that these differences would make geoengineering ineffective. “So we did these simulations, and much to our surprise it did a pretty good job,” he says. The reason is that a third factor has a bigger impact on climate than either CO2 or sunlight: polar ice. If you cool the planet enough to keep that ice, says Caldeira, then this dominates the climate response.

 

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Geoengineering could bring severe drought to the tropics, research shows

Study models impact on global rainfall when artificial volcanic eruptions are created in a bid to reverse climate change
Layers of Volcanic Dust in the Earth's Atmosphere following eruption of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines

A view from the space shuttle Atlantis of three layers of volcanic dust in the Earth’s atmosphere, following the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. Photograph: ISS/NASA/Corbis

Reversing climate change via huge artificial volcanic eruptions could bring severe droughts to large regions of the tropics, according to new scientific research.

The controversial idea of geoengineering – deliberately changing the Earth’s climate – is being seriously discussed as a last-ditch way of avoiding dangerous global warming if efforts to slash greenhouse gas emissions fail.

But the new work shows that a leading contender – pumping sulphate particles into the stratosphere to block sunlight – could have side-effects just as serious as the effects of warming itself. Furthermore, the impacts would be different around the world, raising the prospect of conflicts between nations that might benefit and those suffering more damage.

“There are a lot of issues regarding governance – who controls the thermostat – because the impacts of geoengineering will not be uniform everywhere,” said Dr Andrew Charlton-Perez, at the University of Reading and a member of the research team.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, is the first to convincingly model what happens to rainfall if sulphates were deployed on a huge scale.

While the computer models showed that big temperature rises could be completely avoided, it also showed cuts in rain of up to one-third in South America, Asia and Africa. The consequent droughts would affect billions of people and also fragile tropical rainforests that act as a major store of carbon. “We would see changes happening so quickly that there would be little time for people to adapt,” said Charlton-Perez.

Another member of the research team, Professor Ellie Highwood, said: “On the evidence of this research, stratospheric aerosol geoengineering is not providing world leaders with any easy answers to the problem of climate change.”

 

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File:Boomstronken.jpg

Description  :  Boomstronken; foto door Fruggo, juni 2003.

Attribution: Fruggo from nl

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

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New Research Shows Tree Roots Regulate CO2, Keep Climate Stable

Climate News Network | February 19, 2014 8:30 am

The argument, put forward by a team from Oxford and Sheffield Universities in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, begins with temperature. Warmer climates mean more vigorous tree growth and more leaf litter, and more organic content in the soil. So the tree’s roots grow more vigorously, said Dr. Christopher Doughty of Oxford and colleagues.

They get into the bedrock, and break up the rock into its constituent minerals. Once that happens, the rock starts to weather, combining with carbon dioxide. This weathering draws carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and in the process cools the planet down a little. So mountain ecosystems—mountain forests are usually wet and on conspicuous layers of rock—are in effect part of the global thermostat, preventing catastrophic overheating.

The tree is more than just a sink for carbon, it is an agency for chemical weathering that removes carbon from the air and locks it up in carbonate rock.

That mountain weathering and forest growth are part of the climate system has never been in much doubt: the questions have always been about how big a forest’s role might be, and how to calculate its contribution.

Keeping climate stable

U.S. scientists recently studied the rainy slopes of New Zealand’s Southern Alps to begin to put a value on mountain ecosystem processes. Dr. Doughty and his colleagues measured tree roots at varying altitudes in the tropical rain forests of Peru, from the Amazon lowlands to 3,000 meters of altitude in the higher Andes.

They measured the growth to 30 cm below the surface every three months and did so for a period of years. They recorded the thickness of the soil’s organic layer, and they matched their observations with local temperatures, and began to calculate the rate at which tree roots might turn Andean granite into soil.

Then they scaled up the process, and extended it through long periods of time. Their conclusion: that forests served to moderate temperatures in a much hotter world 65 million years ago.

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New maps show how habitats may shift with climate change

This map shows how marine habitat ranges will shift likely in a segment of the Northern Hemisphere. The length of the black arrows indicates the velocity of temperature change, and the color schemes correspond with the nature of the habitat migration, as follows. SINK: Migrations terminate due to some barrier, such as coastlines. SOURCE: Migrations do not terminate. CORRIDOR: Many migrations passing through. DIVERGENCE: Fewer migrations end than start. CONVERGENCE: More migrations start than end. Credit: Michael Burrows and Jorge Garcia Molinosor (Credit: Michael Burrows and Jorge Garcia Molinosor)

This map shows how marine habitat ranges will shift likely in a segment of the Northern Hemisphere. The length of the black arrows indicates the velocity of temperature change, and the color schemes correspond with the nature of the habitat migration, as follows. SINK: Migrations terminate due to some barrier, such as coastlines. SOURCE: Migrations do not terminate. CORRIDOR: Many migrations passing through. DIVERGENCE: Fewer migrations end than start. CONVERGENCE: More migrations start than end. Credit: Michael Burrows and Jorge Garcia Molinosor

As regional temperatures shift with climate change, many plants and animals will need to relocate to make sure they stay in the range of temperatures they’re used to.

For some species, this shift will mean a fairly direct adjustment toward higher latitudes to stay with cooler temperatures, but for many others, the path will take twists and turns due to differences in the rate at which temperatures change around the world, scientists say.

Now, a team of 21 international researchers has identified potential paths of these twists and turns by mapping out climate velocities— the speed and intensity with which climate change occurs in a given region — averaged from 50 years of satellite data from 1960 through 2009, and projected for the duration of the 21st century.

MSN Weather: What causes global warming?
MSN Weather: How global warming can make cold snaps even worse

“We are taking physical data that we have had for a long time and representing them in a way that is more relevant to other disciplines, like ecology,” said co-author Michael Burrows, a researcher at the Scottish Marine Institute. “This is a relatively simple approach to understanding how climate is going to influence ocean and land systems.”

Where species come and go

The resulting maps indicate regions likely to experience an influx or exodus of new species, or behave as a corridor or, conversely, a barrier, to migration. Barriers, such as coastlines or mountain ranges, could cause local extinctions if they prevent species from relocating, the team says.  [Maps: Habitat Shifts Due to Climate Change]

“For example, because those environments are not adjacent to or directly connected to a warmer place, those species from warmer places won’t be able to get there very easily,” Burrows told Live Science. “They might still get there in other ways, like on the bottoms of ships, but they won’t get there as easily.”

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President Barack Obama, left, speaks during a roundtable with community leaders including California Gov. Jerry Brown, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., at San Luis Water Facility in Firebaugh, Calif., Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, regarding the ongoing drought. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, AP / AP

President Barack Obama, left, speaks during a roundtable with community leaders including California Gov. Jerry Brown, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., at San Luis Water Facility in Firebaugh, Calif., Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, regarding the ongoing drought. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, AP
SFGate

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Obama Uses Backdrop of California Drought to Pitch $1 Billion Climate-Change Fund

Rep. Nunes calls it “ludicrous,” considering the state’s drought-resistant irrigation system is neutered by “excessive regulations and lawsuits by environmental extremists.”

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

“The changing climate means drought, fire, storms, and floods will be costlier and harsher,” Obama said while surveying a farm in Los Banos, accompanied by Gov. Jerry Brown, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.).

The administration announced a series of actions anchored in the departments of Agriculture and Interior intended to combat the longstanding economic effects of the drought in the nation’s breadbasket, including $5 million in additional assistance to California through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program that “helps farmers and ranchers implement conservation practices that conserve scarce water resources, reduce wind erosion on drought-impacted fields and improve livestock access to water” and $5 million in targeted Emergency Watershed Protection Program assistance to the most drought-impacted areas of California “to protect vulnerable soils.”

The White House also announced that $60 million has been made available through the USDA’s Emergency Food Assistance Program to food banks in California and 600 summer meal sites would be established in drought stricken areas. The USDA is “making $3 million in grants available to help rural communities that are experiencing a significant decline in the quality or quantity of drinking water due to the drought obtain or maintain water sources of sufficient quantity and quality.”

 

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Obama to Announce Aid for Drought-Stricken California

FRESNO, Calif. — President Obama arrived in the heart of California’s parched farmland on Friday afternoon to offer tens of millions of dollars in federal assistance to the state, where the lack of rain and snow this winter has left it grappling with the severest drought in its modern history.

Meeting with farmers and ranchers here in Fresno — where electronic signs along highways flash entreatingly to drivers, “Serious drought. Help save water” — Mr. Obama was expected to pledge $183 million from existing federal funds into drought relief programs for California. Though the announcement, made earlier in the day by the White House, won cautious support in this region, Mr. Obama also pressed ahead with the more difficult task of enlisting rural America in his campaign on climate change by linking it to the drought.

The president was accompanied on his tour by the state’s top Democrats, a show of solidarity that underscored the emerging partisan battle over the management of the drought in the nation’s most populous state and the source of half of the country’s fruits and vegetables.

Seated at the center of a horseshoe table at a water district building where he met with community leaders, Mr. Obama spoke of the difficulties of dealing with the drought in the face of California’s intricate water politics, which has traditionally cleaved along regional lines and which has often become mired in epic court battles.

“Water has been seen as a zero sum game: agriculture against urban, north against south,” he said. “We’re going to have to figure out how to play a different game.”

“We can’t afford years of litigation and no real action,” he added.

Mr. Obama also spoke of climate change, drawing links to the drought as well as hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. Mr. Obama was expected to announce that he intends to ask Congress for $1 billion in new funding for a “climate resiliency” program to help communities invest in research, development and new infrastructure to prepare for climate disasters.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency a month ago. But many communities had already imposed water restrictions, and more than a dozen remain at risk of running out of water within a couple of months. For the first time in its 54-year history, the State Water Project, the main municipal water distribution system, said it is unable to provide water to local agencies, including farmers.

Water scarcity has forced cattle ranchers to sell portions of their herds. Farmers have left hundreds of thousands of acres of agricultural land go fallow.

Democrats and Republicans have been dueling with separate drought bills. Much of that rivalry has focused on the Central Valley — not only because it is California’s breadbasket, but it also represents, in an overwhelmingly Democratic state, a rare battleground between Republicans and conservative Democrats.

Ryan Jacobsen, executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau and a Fresno Irrigation District board member, said that Mr. Obama’s announcement was “a great start, though it won’t fix long-term issues.” The Central Valley, he said, needs major upgrades in water infrastructure and needs the federal authorities to release more water from the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta, north of here.

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KTVB.COM

Farmers: Obama’s drought relief efforts lacking

Associated Press

Posted on February 14, 2014 at 7:03 PM

Updated today at 7:06 PM

 

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Farmers in California’s drought-stricken Central Valley said the financial assistance President Barack Obama delivered on his visit Friday does not get to the heart of California’s long-term water problems.

Amid one of the driest years in the state’s recorded history, Obama came to the Fresno area to announce $100 million in livestock-disaster aid, $60 million to support food banks and another $13 million toward things such as conservation and helping rural communities that could soon run out of drinking water.

Obama told reporters in the rural town of Firebaugh, where he met with community leaders, that he wasn’t about to wade into California water politics. Yet the president gently warned California’s leaders to find common ground rather than thinking of water as a “zero-sum game.”

“We’re going to have to figure out how to play a different game,” Obama said. “If the politics are structured in such a way where everybody is fighting each other and trying to get as much as they can, my suspicion is that we’re not going to make much progress.”

In his three-hour visit to the Central Valley, Obama also toured a farm in Los Banos to see the drought’s impact firsthand.

Another farmer, Sarah Woolf, a partner with Clark Brothers Farming, said anything will help, but the federal government needs to better manage the state’s water supplies so farmers have enough during future droughts like the current one.

“Throwing money at it is not going to solve the problem long-term,” she said.

The Central Valley produces nearly one-third of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, and Fresno County leads the nation in agriculture. Ryan Jacobsen, executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, estimated that 25 percent of the county’s irrigated land will go unplanted this year.

The drought has caused Democrats and Republicans in Congress to propose dueling emergency bills. Led by Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, the House passed one that would free up water for farmers by rolling back environmental protections and stop the restoration of a dried-up stretch of the San Joaquin River that once had salmon runs.

Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer proposed their own version that pours $300 million into drought-relief projects without changing environmental laws. The bill would allow more flexibility to move water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to farms in the south and speed up environmental reviews of water projects.

 

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Earth Watch Report  -  Flooding

Residents wade along a flooded road near Egham, west of London, on Feb. 12. Flooded communities in Britain faced a fresh battering from storms and high winds.

Storm With 106-mph Gusts Hits Flooded Britain

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February 12 2014 05:31 AM Flood United Kingdom England, [Statewide] Damage level Details

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Description
As forecasters warn of snow, high winds and more rain into Wednesday, some 1,000 properties have been evacuated in the south of England. The 124 flood warnings across England and Wales include 14 severe warnings in Berkshire and Surrey and two in Somerset. Along the Thames Valley, warnings are in place from north of Oxford to the outskirts of London, with Chertsey, Colnbrook, Datchet and Wraysbury among the worst affected.

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Updated: Wednesday, 12 February, 2014 at 17:47 UTC
Description
Britain’s weather service says it sees the tentacles of climate change in a spate of storms and floods battering the country, but has stopped short of saying warming directly caused the extreme storms. The latest round of bad weather hit Britain’s west coast Wednesday with winds gusting at more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) an hour. The Met Office said in a paper published this week that “there is no definitive answer” on the role played by climate change in the recent weather and floods. But it said there is “an increasing body of evidence that extreme daily rainfall rates are becoming more intense,” probably due to a warming world. Met Office chief scientist Julia Slingo told the BBC that “all the evidence suggests there is a link to climate change.” The Met office study discusses evidence of increasingly extreme weather events and changes in the jet stream, but it does not say global warming caused the flooding. To do that, scientists take months, sometimes years, to conduct detailed computer simulations — and the report said such research was needed in this case. England had its wettest January since records were first kept almost 250 years ago, and the country has been lashed by wind and rain since December. Resulting floods have drenched the southwestern coast of England, the low-lying Somerset Levels and the Thames Valley, west of London, where hundreds of properties have been swamped as the river burst its banks this week. The Met Office issued a highest-level red warning of “exceptionally strong winds” Wednesday for west Wales and northwest England. It said a gust of 106 mph (170 kph) was recorded at Aberdaron in northwestern Wales. The Met Office said gusts could cause widespread structural damage and loss of power. Railway operator Network Rail said the main west coast train line would close for about two hours Wednesday evening because of the wind.

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The Star.com

World

Scientists link Britain’s extreme weather to climate change

“All the evidence suggests there is a link to climate change,” Britain’s weather service says as high winds batter the country’s west coast.

LONDON—Britain’s weather service says it sees the tentacles of climate change in a spate of storms and floods battering the country, but has stopped short of saying warming directly caused the extreme storms.

The latest round of bad weather hit Britain’s west coast Wednesday with winds gusting at more than 160 km/h.

The Met Office said in a paper published this week that “there is no definitive answer” on the role played by climate change in the recent weather and floods.

But it said there is “an increasing body of evidence that extreme daily rainfall rates are becoming more intense,” probably due to a warming world.

Met Office chief scientist Julia Slingo told the BBC that “all the evidence suggests there is a link to climate change.”

Read More Here

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As flooding batters Britain, politicians point fingers

With national election looming in 2015, the government appears to be playing defence: PM David Cameron says “money no object” in relief effort.

Nigel Farage, leader of the U.K. Independence Party, tours flooded properties and roads as he visits Chertsey on Feb. 11. The Environment Agency continues to issue severe flood warnings for a number of areas on the river Thames.

View 4 photos

Christopher Furlong / GETTY IMAGES

Nigel Farage, leader of the U.K. Independence Party, tours flooded properties and roads as he visits Chertsey on Feb. 11. The Environment Agency continues to issue severe flood warnings for a number of areas on the river Thames.

Jennifer Quinn News reporter, Published on Tue Feb 11 2014

Forget the weather, or climate change, or the wettest January in 2½ centuries. In Britain, politicians appear to be blaming terrible floods, devastating swaths of the English countryside, on each other.

And with a national election looming in 2015, the government appears to be playing defence: when it comes to the relief effort, Prime Minister David Cameron said Tuesday, “money is no object.”

The leader of Britain’s coalition government called a rare press conference to address the response to the floods, perhaps seeking to become the voice of reason in a national conversation dominated by duelling factions, such as the (Conservative) community minister accusing the (Labour) chair of the Environment Agency of ineptitude.

On the weekend, Eric Pickles, the minister for communities and local government — and a former chair of the Conservative Party — said that ministers “thought we were dealing with experts” when they took the advice of the Environment Agency, which leads on issues of flooding.

Agency chair Chris Smith — a former Labour cabinet minister who sits in the House of Lords as an independent — shot back, telling the BBC that his team knows “100 times more about flood management than any politician ever does.”

And into that fray stepped Cameron on Tuesday. He returned to Downing St. after a visit to the battered southwest coast of the U.K. to announce that £2.4 billion ($4.36 billion) would be spent on Britain’s flood defences and pledging whatever is necessary to help beleaguered residents recover.

“Whatever money is needed for it,” Cameron said, “it will be spent. We will take whatever steps necessary.”

Read More Here

Related Stories

Is global warming a myth?

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Storm With 106-mph Gusts Hits Flooded Britain

Storm With 106-mph Gusts Hits Flooded Britain

By Jill Lawless and Seth Borenstein

February 13, 2014 2:44PM Gusts of more than 100 miles per hour lashed western Britain’s coast, while severe flood warnings remained in place for much of the south and west of the country. Britain’s weather agency says “there is no definitive answer” on the role played by climate change in the recent weather and floods, but evidence suggests there is a link.

Britain’s weather service says it sees the tentacles of climate change in a spate of storms and floods battering the country, but has stopped short of saying that global warming directly caused the extreme conditions.The latest round of bad weather slammed into Britain’s west coast on Wednesday with torrential rain and winds gusting up to 106 mph (170 kph). Trucks were toppled, trees were felled and a major chunk of the railway was closed.

The Web site of rail operator Virgin Trains greeted visitors with the words: “Do Not Travel.”

England, which has been lashed by wind and rain since December, had its wettest January since records began in 1766.

The resulting floods have drenched the southwestern coast of England, the low-lying Somerset Levels and the Thames Valley west of London, where hundreds of properties have been swamped after the Thames burst its banks.

Britain’s Met Office, the nation’s weather agency, said in a paper published this week that “there is no definitive answer” on the role played by climate change in the recent weather and floods. But it said there is “an increasing body of evidence that extreme daily rainfall rates are becoming more intense,” probably due to a warming world.

Met Office chief scientist Julia Slingo told the BBC that “all the evidence suggests there is a link to climate change.”

Read More Here

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ENS

Nuclear power plants world-wide, in operation, as of 18 January 2013

Number of reactors in operation, worldwide

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WashingtonsBlog

Former NRC Commissioner: Trying To Solve Global Warming By Building Nuclear Power Plants Is Like Trying To Solve Global Hunger By Serving Everyone Caviar

And Nuclear Pumps Out a Lot of Carbon Dioxide

It is well-documented that nuclear energy is very expensive and bad for the environment.

Former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Peter Bradford notes:

If asked whether we should increase our reliance on caviar to fight world hunger, most people would laugh. Relying on an overly expensive commodity to perform an essential task spends too much money for too little benefit, while foreclosing more-promising approaches.

That is nuclear power’s fundamental flaw in the search for plentiful energy without climate repercussions, though reactors are also more dangerous than caviar unless you’re a sturgeon.

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Nuclear power is so much more expensive than alternative ways of providing energy that the world can only increase its nuclear reliance through massive government subsidy—like the $8 billion loan guarantee offered by the federal government to a two-reactor project in Georgia approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission earlier this year.

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Many more such direct government subsidies will be needed to scale up nuclear power to any great extent.

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John Rowe, former chief executive of Exelon Corp., an energy company that relies heavily on nuclear power, recently said, “At today’s [natural] gas prices, a new nuclear power plant is out of the money by a factor of two.” He added, “It’s not something where you can go sharpen the pencil and play. It’s economically wrong.” His successor, Christopher Crane, recently said gas prices would have to increase roughly fivefold for nuclear to be competitive in the U.S.

***

Countries that choose power supplies through democratic, transparent and market-based methods aren’t building new reactors.

Indeed, nuclear is not only crazily expensive, but it also pumps out a huge amount of carbon dioxide during construction, and crowds out development of clean energy.

Nuclear may also provide a lower return on energy invested than renewable forms of alternative energy. In other words, it might take more energy to create nuclear energy than other forms of power … which is worse for the environment.

Read More Here

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ENS

Number of reactors in operation, worldwide, 2013-01-18 (IAEA 2013, modified)

Nuclear Power Plants July 2012

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ENS

Number of reactors under construction

Number of reactors under construction, 2013-01-18 (IAEA 2013, modified)

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ENS

Nuclear share in electricity generation
Nuclear share in electricity generation, 2011 (IAEA 2012, modified)

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WashingtonsBlog

Nuclear Power Is Expensive and Bad for the Environment … It’s Being Pushed Because It Is Good For Making Bombs

Since the 1980s, the U.S. Has Secretly Helped Japan Build Up Its Nuclear Weapons Program … Pretending It Was “Nuclear Energy” and “Space Exploration” …

As demonstrated below, nuclear energy is expensive and bad for the environment.

The real reason it is being pushed is because it is good for helping countries like Japan and the U.S. build nuclear weapons.

Nuclear Energy Is Expensive

Forbes points out:

Nuclear power is no longer an economically viable source of new energy in the United States, the freshly-retired CEO of Exelon, America’s largest producer of nuclear power [who also served on the president’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future], said in Chicago Thursday.

And it won’t become economically viable, he said, for the forseeable future.

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“I’m the nuclear guy,” Rowe said. “And you won’t get better results with nuclear. It just isn’t economic, and it’s not economic within a foreseeable time frame.”

U.S. News and World Report notes:

After the Fukushima power plant disaster in Japan last year, the rising costs of nuclear energy could deliver a knockout punch to its future use in the United States, according to a researcher at the Vermont Law School Institute for Energy and the Environment.

“From my point of view, the fundamental nature of [nuclear] technology suggests that the future will be as clouded as the past,” says Mark Cooper, the author of the report. New safety regulations enacted or being considered by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission would push the cost of nuclear energy too high to be economically competitive.

The disaster insurance for nuclear power plants in the United States is currently underwritten by the federal government, Cooper says. Without that safeguard, “nuclear power is neither affordable nor worth the risk. If the owners and operators of nuclear reactors had to face the full liability of a Fukushima-style nuclear accident or go head-to-head with alternatives in a truly competitive marketplace, unfettered by subsidies, no one would have built a nuclear reactor in the past, no one would build one today, and anyone who owns a reactor would exit the nuclear business as quickly as possible.”

Alternet reports:

An authoritative study by the investment bank Lazard Ltd. found that wind beat nuclear and that nuclear essentially tied with solar. But wind and solar, being simple and safe, are coming on line faster. Another advantage wind and solar have is that capacity can be added bit by bit; a wind farm can have more or less turbines without scuttling the whole project. As economies of scale are created within the alternative energy supply chains and the construction process becomes more efficient, prices continue to drop. Meanwhile, the cost of stalled nukes moves upward.

AP noted last year:

Nuclear power is a viable source for cheap energy only if it goes uninsured.

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Governments that use nuclear energy are torn between the benefit of low-cost electricity and the risk of a nuclear catastrophe, which could total trillions of dollars and even bankrupt a country.

The bottom line is that it’s a gamble: Governments are hoping to dodge a one-off disaster while they accumulate small gains over the long-term.

The cost of a worst-case nuclear accident at a plant in Germany, for example, has been estimated to total as much as €7.6 trillion ($11 trillion), while the mandatory reactor insurance is only €2.5 billion.

“The €2.5 billion will be just enough to buy the stamps for the letters of condolence,” said Olav Hohmeyer, an economist at the University of Flensburg who is also a member of the German government’s environmental advisory body.

The situation in the U.S., Japan, China, France and other countries is similar.

***

“Around the globe, nuclear risks — be it damages to power plants or the liability risks resulting from radiation accidents — are covered by the state. The private insurance industry is barely liable,” said Torsten Jeworrek, a board member at Munich Re, one of the world’s biggest reinsurance companies.

***

In financial terms, nuclear incidents can be so devastating that the cost of full insurance would be so high as to make nuclear energy more expensive than fossil fuels.

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Ultimately, the decision to keep insurance on nuclear plants to a minimum is a way of supporting the industry.

“Capping the insurance was a clear decision to provide a non-negligible subsidy to the technology,” Klaus Toepfer, a former German environment minister and longtime head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said.

See this and this.

This is an ongoing battle, not ancient history. As Harvey Wasserman reports:

The only two US reactor projects now technically under construction are on the brink of death for financial reasons.

If they go under, there will almost certainly be no new reactors built here.

***

Georgia’s double-reactor Vogtle project has been sold on the basis of federal loan guarantees. Last year President Obama promised the Southern Company, parent to Georgia Power, $8.33 billion in financing from an $18.5 billion fund that had been established at the Department of Energy by George W. Bush. Until last week most industry observers had assumed the guarantees were a done deal. But the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade group, has publicly complained that the Office of Management and Budget may be requiring terms that are unacceptable to the builders.

***

The climate for loan guarantees has changed since this one was promised. The $535 million collapse of Solyndra prompted a rash of angry Congressional hearings and cast a long shadow over the whole range of loan guarantees for energy projects. Though the Vogtle deal comes from a separate fund, skepticism over stalled negotiations is rising.

So is resistance among Georgia ratepayers. To fund the new Vogtle reactors, Southern is forcing “construction work in progress” rate hikes that require consumers to pay for the new nukes as they’re being built. Southern is free of liability, even if the reactors are not completed. Thus it behooves the company to build them essentially forever, collecting payment whether they open or not.

All that would collapse should the loan guarantee package fail.

Bad for the Environment

Alternet points out:

Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic analysis at the Vermont Law School … found that the states that invested heavily in nuclear power had worse track records on efficiency and developing renewables than those that did not have large nuclear programs. In other words, investing in nuclear technology crowded out developing clean energy.

Many experts also say that the “energy return on investment” from nuclear power is lower than many other forms of energy. In other words, non-nuclear energy sources produce more energy for a given input.

And decentralizing energy production and storage is the real solution for the environment … not building more centralized nuclear plants.

Read More Here

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By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 4:06 PM GMT on January 27, 2014 +14

The intense winter of 2013 – 2014 over the Eastern U.S. adds another remarkable cold blast to its resume this week, as a new outbreak of Arctic air surges southwards from Canada. Temperatures of -24°F and colder were common in northern Minnesota on Monday morning, and strong winds were bringing dangerous below-zero wind chills to 23 states. The core of the cold air will thrust southeastward on Monday and Tuesday, and more than half of the contiguous U.S. will experience temperatures 15°F – 30°F below normal. This cold blast will be just as widespread as the cold wave three weeks ago, but about 5° warmer. In Chicago, where the winter of 2013 – 2014 ranked as the 13th coldest winter on record for the period December 1 – January 25, the temperature fell below zero at 6 am CST Monday morning, and may remain below zero until late morning on Wednesday, a period of up to 50 consecutive hours. This would rank near 4th place for the longest stretch of below-zero temperatures on record. The 36 consecutive hours Chicago was below zero three weeks ago was not quite a top-ten below zero streak.


Figure 1. Blizzard conditions in Woodbury, MN on Sunday, January 26, 2014. Image credit: Wunderphotographer 26mileman.

Nasty ice storm for the Deep South
An area of low pressure will track along the Gulf Coast over the next two days, moving east-northeast to a position off the coast of South Carolina on Tuesday night. With cold air firmly entrenched over the deep south, a significant winter storm is expected from Southern Louisiana to Eastern North Carolina. The anti-fun starts in New Orleans Monday night, when rain will change over to freezing rain. Ice accumulations of 1/4″ – 1/2″ are possible along a swath from Southeast Louisiana through Southern Mississippi, Southern Alabama, the Northwest Florida Panhandle, Southern Georgia, Southern South Carolina, and Eastern North Carolina though Wednesday morning. Snows of 2 – 4″ are possible just to the north of the freezing rain swath. This storm has the potential to cause significant damage to trees and power lines, resulting in widespread power outages. Travel will be very dangerous in the areas affected by the heaviest freezing rain and snow.

Read More Here

To view local information, select area of interest and click on the image below.
National Weather Outlook

Recent U.S. Snowfall and Snow Depth Maps

Snowfall maps are available for the most recent 1, 2, 3 and 7-day period by state or for the entire Contiguous U.S. Current snow depth maps are also available. (Posted accumulations may underestimate actual accumulations due to missing observations.)

Period: Region:

National Current Snow Depth
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Potentially Major Winter Storm to Bring Snow, Ice to Gulf Coast, Georgia and Carolinas

By Nick Wiltgen Published: Jan 27, 2014, 0:43 PM EST weather.com

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Winter Storm Ahead for South?

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  • Winter Storm Ahead for South?Winter Storm Ahead for South?
  • Snow and Ice for the Deep SouthSnow and Ice for the Deep South
  • ANOTHER Arctic Blast on the WayANOTHER Arctic Blast on the Way

We are watching for a potentially major winter storm to affect a long swath of the Deep South this week – including places better known for their beaches, balmy breezes and hurricanes. This will include some of the areas affected by Winter Storm Kronos just last week – but it includes millions of people farther east as well.

Background

Winter Storm Alerts

Winter Storm Alerts

The threat stems from the combination of a bitterly cold arctic air mass plunging southward behind a sharp cold front, while moisture streams northward from the Gulf Coast. As the moisture crosses into the cold air behind the front, a swath of frozen and freezing precipitation is likely to break out.

(FORECAST: Arctic Blast This Week)

The National Weather Service has issued winter storm watches, warnings and advisories from southeast Texas eastward along the Gulf Coast through Georgia, the southern half of South Carolina, eastern North Carolina and far southeast Virginia. For Charleston, S.C. and Savannah, Ga., it’s the first winter storm watch issued for those two cities since Feb. 11, 2010. For Houston, it’s the second time with a winter storm watch in just five days.

Let’s step through the forecast and get into the details and uncertainties.

Long Stretch of Ice and Snow

Background

Tuesday Forecast

Tuesday Forecast
Background

Tuesday Night Forecast

Tuesday Night Forecast
Background

Wednesday Forecast

Wednesday Forecast

The latest blast of arctic air, already bursting south into the Midwest, will reach the Deep South Monday night. Temperatures should be at or below freezing by Tuesday morning along the Gulf Coast from Houston to Pensacola, Fla., as well as portions of the Carolina coast.

As Tuesday wears on, a broad zone of rising air will develop across the entire Gulf Coast (except for southwest Florida) and the Atlantic Coast of the Southeast, along and behind the arctic cold front. This will allow an elongated area of precipitation to develop from South Texas all the way to the Carolinas.

Since much of this precipitation will be falling over areas where near-ground temperatures will hover below freezing, the result will be a mess of wintry precipitation.

Exactly which form the precipitation takes will depend on temperatures several thousand feet aloft. In some areas, the entire atmosphere will be below freezing, and those areas will be vulnerable to snow. In areas closer to the Gulf Coast, there is likely to be a layer of above-freezing air above the ground, setting the stage for sleet and/or freezing rain.

But model projections disagree on exactly how far south the all-snow scenario will get – not just Tuesday, but for the duration of the storm. For that matter, it is not entirely clear just how far north (inland) the wintry precipitation will fall. More on that later.

By Tuesday night, as an upper-air disturbance moves into the western Gulf of Mexico and a separate area of weak low pressure develops off the Carolina coast, we expect areas of heavier precipitation to break out from the central Gulf Coast to the Carolinas. This will bring the potential for heavier snowfall and/or ice accumulation in these areas, again depending on the precise vertical temperature profile in the atmosphere.

Precipitation should end west of the Florida Panhandle by Wednesday morning, but Wednesday will see precipitation lingering from central and northern Florida to southeast Virginia. While wintry precipitation will probably stay north of the Florida/Georgia border (though not by far), leaving the Florida Peninsula just wet, there could be additional snow and ice accumulations from south Georgia northeastward.

Where, How Much, and How Bad?

Background

Snowfall Forecast

Snowfall Forecast
Background

Significant Icing

Significant Icing

Forecasting snow and ice accumulations in the Deep South is, as you might expect, always tricky.

There are two main factors contributing to the uncertainty this time:

  • How far south will the entire atmosphere be below freezing, allowing for pure snow?
  • How far inland will the precipitation fall?

Computer models continue to differ on the exact placement of the heaviest snow and ice accumulations.

This does appear to be a fairly moisture-loaded system for areas along the coasts, so snow and ice accumulations could be quite heavy, particularly from central and south Georgia to the eastern Carolinas.

Greatest Icing Threat: Right now, it appears the most significant icing is possible from southeast Louisiana to south Alabama, south Georgia and coastal South Carolina. This could lead to falling limbs, trees, and significant power outages.

Read More Here

Powhatan, Va.

Hartselle, Alabama

The Weather Channel Meteorologist Mike Seidel snapped this picture from Powhatan, Virginia on Thursday, January 17, 2013.

Bristol, Virginia

Hartselle, Alabama

A Food City employee uses an umbrella to stay dry as she goes to work during a heavy snowfall Thursday afternoon in Bristol, Va. as shoppers make a last-minute trip to the grocery store. (AP Photo/The Bristol Herald-Courier,Andre Teague)

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