Climate news that has caught our attention.

firefighters working on perimeter of bobcat wildfire in california

Credit: @LACoFDPIO

2020: The Year of the Converging Crises. Is it our collective imagination or has something truly changed? Here’s an excerpt from Rolling Stone: “…I’ll never unsee the images I’ve seen coming out of the West the past few months: hellish skies over major cities like San Francisco and Portland, people stranded in rings of fire and rescued by airlift. I can’t imagine what it must do to your psyche to not just see the images but to breathe the air, to lose your voice to the smoke and the ash. To know the fires are far too close and not know if there’s anywhere to run to. At the same time that California burns, the Gulf Coast drowns — battered with so much rain and wind that it barely registers as news. Hurricane Laura devastated Louisiana and Texas in early September as a massive Category 4 storm nearly 15 years to the date after Katrina scarred our collective psyche. About two weeks later, Hurricane Sally sauntered onto the shore, which means we skipped from the middle of the alphabet to near the end in just two weeks…”

The Climate Science Behind This Year’s Wildfires and Powerful Storms. If you missed it, the 60 Minutes episode from last Sunday examined the impact of warming on this year’s weather extremes: “At least 31 have died in the largest wildfires in California history. The east is defending itself against twice the usual number of tropical cyclones. And what may be the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth came in August in the United States. It’s a torrid 2020 and it was forecast 32 years ago. In the 1980’s, a NASA scientist named James Hansen discovered that climate change, driven by carbon emissions, was upon us. His graphs, of three decades ago, accurately traced the global rise in temperature to the year 2020. Last week, we had a lot of questions for Hansen. Are these disasters climate change? Do things get worse? Is it too late to do anything? But before we get to the causes, let us show you the effects…”

new orleans katrina flooding

Trump Team Delaying Work on Major Climate Report. E&E News has the story: “The Trump administration is slow-walking a mandatory climate report by not seeking out scientists to work on it, says one of the authors of the last National Climate Assessment. Donald Wuebbles, a climate scientist at the University of Illinois who co-led the first volume of the fourth National Climate Assessment, said the Trump administration is late in putting out a call in the Federal Register for researchers to produce the fifth version. “It’s not being approved to go out, so therefore they’re just sitting on it. And I don’t know if it’s NOAA or the White House, but somebody’s sitting on it, so that’s just holding up getting up the NCA 5 going,” Wuebbles said. By law, Congress and the White House are supposed to receive a report no less than every four years on the state of climate change and its impacts on humanity and the natural world...”

Exxon’s Plan for Surging Carbon Emissions Revealed in Leaked Document. Bloomberg Green reports: “Exxon Mobil Corp. has been planning to increase annual carbon-dioxide emissions by as much as the output of the entire nation of Greece, an analysis of internal documents reviewed by Bloomberg shows, setting one of the largest corporate emitters against international efforts to slow the pace of warming. The drive to expand both fossil-fuel production and planet-warming pollution comes at a time when some of Exxon’s rivals, such as BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, are moving to curb oil and zero-out emissions. Exxon’s own assessment of its $210 billion investment strategy shows yearly emissions rising 17% by 2025, according to the internal documents…”

Which Places Should We Protect First to Stop Climate Change? This Interactive Map Tells You. The only way to reduce warming is to reduce emissions, slow deforestation, create new ways for agriculture to sequester carbon, etc. That said, here’s an excerpt from an interesting post at Mental Floss: “Right now, a little over 15 percent of the world’s land comprises national parks and other protected areas that people aren’t allowed to develop. In order to save the planet from the progressively devastating effects of climate change and habitat loss, that number will have to be a lot higher—around 50 percent, according to a new analysis published in Science Advances. Researchers from RESOLVE, the University of Minnesota, Arizona State University, and Globaïa spent the past two years pinpointing a “Global Safety Net” of the most important regions we must preserve not only to slow climate change but also to safeguard Earth’s plant and animal species…”

Map credit: “A look at the Global Safety Net’s online map application.” RESOLVE.

Tuesday’s Debate: A Milestone in the History of Climate Politics. Kudos to Chris Wallace (who has gotten beaten up by the left and the right for his moderating skills) for at least bringing up the topic. Here’s an excerpt from a Politico Analysis: “…But while Trump’s 90-minute tornado of unfiltered insults and right-wing red meat suggested that he’s happy to run as an enemy of cities, the news media, and racial sensitivity, he clearly would prefer not to be seen as an enemy of the climate. That is a milestone in the history of climate politics. Global warming has been dismissed for years as a niche concern for the tree-hugging fringe, but not only has it become the kind of mainstream issue that even a moderator from Fox News deemed worthy of prime time, it has become the kind of hot-button issue that even a Republican president who used to call it a hoax manufactured in China feels the need to dissemble about. If hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue, political lies are the tribute that unpopularity pays to popularity—and 2020 polling has found that climate science and climate action are both popular…”

Getting Warmer: Trump Concedes Human Role in Climate Change. Details via Associated Press: “President Donald Trump publicly acknowledged that humans bear some blame for climate change, but scientists say the president still isn’t dealing with the reality of our primary role. Pressed repeatedly in Tuesday night’s debate, Trump gave one of his fullest accountings yet of what scientists say is an escalating climate crisis threatening every aspect of life. Pushed by moderator Chris Wallace, and at one point by rival Joe Biden, Trump also pushed back on scientific findings that his environmental rollbacks would increase climate-damaging pollution...”

Graphic credit: Westerhold et al CENOGRID.

Climate Change Receives Unexpected Attention at the First Presidential Debate. Scientific American weighs in: “…Trump still denied the impacts of global warming, but he dropped his mockery of climate science, and he aimed his attacks about the Green New Deal at a conventional target: its cost. Trump also wove climate into his recurring critique of Biden as a career politician who talks about problems but doesn’t fix them. “So why didn’t he do it for 47 years? You were vice president. Why didn’t you get the world—China sends up real dirt into the air. Russia does, India does, they all do,” Trump said, shortly after disparaging the Paris climate agreement between China, India, Russia and more than 190 other countries…”

Three Out of Four Americans Want to Know More About Presidential Candidates’ Plans to Tackle Global Warming: Poll. The Independent has details: “Three in four Americans want to know more about presidential candidates’ plans to fight global warming, according to data compiled by Yale University. With just over a month to go until election day, an average of 76 percent of US adults expressed interest in news stories about the plans that President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden intend to deploy in response to the climate crisis. Maps were published last week based on a survey gauging Americans’ interest in climate news by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. The data was compiled from a national survey of more than 5,700 respondents this summer…”

Map credit: George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

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