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Science: Drought in California Might Cause Earthquakes



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Via Takepart:

California’s drought has reached epic proportions. Nearly 60 percent of the state is in exceptional drought—the most severe category—and farmers are depleting groundwater reserves at record rates as wildfires break out north and south.

Now there’s something else to worry about: drought-triggered earthquakes.

If you want to sink a well in California and pump out as much water as you can, there historically hasn’t been a lot to stop you. Unlike other Western states, California has never regulated groundwater withdrawals. As a result, over the last 150 years, Californians have pumped nearly 160 cubic kilometers of groundwater from the Central Valley, the state’s agricultural heartland. That’s enough water to fill Lake Powell, Lake Mead, and all the Colorado River reservoirs downstream—twice, with some left over.

(For more on how California may run out of groundwater in 60 years, see the video above for an update to the documentary Last Call at the Oasis, produced by Participant Media, TakePart’s parent company.)

Groundwater withdrawal in the Central Valley was accelerating even before the current drought began in 2011. As much as 20 cubic kilometers of Central Valley groundwater may have been pumped out in just the last three years, according to one estimate. That’s about 12 percent of the last 150 years’ total depletion. 

With less water in the aquifer beneath it to hold it up, the soil throughout the Central Valley is sinking. In some places, the land is dropping as much as a foot a year, damaging roads and other infrastructure and exposing communities to increased flood risk.

But the missing water wasn’t just holding up the soil; it may have been holding the earth down as well. A study published earlier this year in the journal Nature suggested that the more water gets pumped out of the ground in the Central Valley, the greater the chance of earthquakes on the nearby San Andreas Fault.

It’s no surprise that groundwater pumping can set off earthquakes. A May 2011 quake in Lorca, Spain, which killed nine people and caused extensive damage to historic buildings, is thought to have been sparked by overdrafting of the local aquifer.

The rest here.

But now for some good news: As the revered climate models predict a wetter California in the future. . .

In fact, the most recent computer projections suggest that as the world warms, California should get wetter, not drier, in the winter, when the state gets the bulk of its precipitation. 

So global warming should help prevent earthquakes in California. More carbon dioxide to save the Sunshine State!

Science: Ants Might Save the Planet From Global Warming



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From the Times of India:

Ants may be cooling the Earth by helping trap carbon dioxide from the environment, a new study has claimed. 

A long-term experiment tracking the ants’ effects on soil suggests they cooled Earth’s climate as their numbers grew. 

“Ants are changing the environment,” said lead study author Ronald Dorn, from the Arizona State University in Tempe. 

Certain ant species “weather” minerals in order to secrete calcium carbonate — better known as limestone. The process traps and removes a tiny bit of carbon dioxide gas from the atmosphere, Dorn said. 

This ant limestone factory is a small-scale version of the massive planetary-cooling process that takes place in the oceans, known as carbon sequestration, ‘Live Science’ reported. 

Dorn discovered that ants were powerful weathering agents by tracking the breakdown of basalt sand. 

The rest here.

And the best news? Science has, in the past, suggested that global warming is increasing ant populations. The ants that we’ve created will save us!

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Obama’s Proposed EPA Plan Triggers Protests in Pittsburgh



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Via the Pittsburgh Tribune:

The national debate over regulating carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants reached its loudest and most contentious point on Thursday at a Downtown corner.

During a lunchtime break from testimony on proposed federal rules, hundreds of protesters fresh from a clean-air rally with Mayor Bill Peduto confronted thousands of union workers marching through what Allegheny County Labor Council President Jack Shea told them is a “union city.”

The collision of opinions outside the William S. Moorhead Federal Building was more boisterous and tense than what Environmental Protection Agency workers heard inside during 11 hours of testimony that will continue on Friday.

Inside, 200 people spoke of balancing job and energy concerns with stopping climate change.

On Liberty Avenue just after noon, shouts of “Move to China!” from union marchers in green camo shirts met responses of “No planet, no jobs!” from sign-waving environmentalists.

“It’s really emotional because I understand the fear they have (about their jobs),” said Gretchen Dahlkemper-Alfonso, 30, of Philadelphia, who is national field manager for the Moms Clean Air Force and daughter of former U.S. Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Erie.

“But all I want to do is protect my children,” she said. “It’s emotional for me. I’m no stranger of going to the emergency room with my daughter on days when the air quality is bad.”

The 45-minute confrontation ended peacefully despite the arrests of 14 union organizers, including United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts for obstruction.

The rest here.

No, Global Warming Won’t Bring Back Smallpox



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Phew. One fewer thing for the alarmists to be alarmed about. Via Gizmodo:

Could the frozen bodies of smallpox victims in Siberia, now thawing because of climate change, re-release the virus into the environment and thus start a global pandemic?

There has apparently been speculation about this for more than a decade. “In the past,” the BBC explains, “some researchers and news outlets speculated that smallpox in the frozen graves of former victims might remain in suspended animation, ready to begin a new cycle of infection should those bodies ever be dug up and unthawed [sic]. Scientists have attempted to excavate corpses in frozen graves in Alaska and Siberia that contain the remains of smallpox victims, however none of the bodies contained viable viruses.” . . . 

This terrifying possibility — a plot straight out of a future horror film — is all but immediately quashed, however, by Michael Lane of the CDC. Lane previously worked on smallpox eradication programs from 1970 to 1981 and he, for one, is not worried. “No one feels there’s a serious chance that global warming will melt the permafrost and unleash an epidemic,” he quips.

The whole thing here.

Japan Is Betting Big on Hydrogen for Future Fuel Needs



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Bloomberg:

The hydrogen market in Japan is set to expand to 1 trillion yen ($9.8 billion) by 2030 and 8 trillion yen by 2050, according to a government report.

“Hydrogen energy has the potential for wide applications, not just fuel cell vehicles and fuel cells for homes,” the government-affiliated New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization said in a report. “It also has the potential for areas such as transportation and power generation.”

Japan has the largest number of applications for patents related to fuel cells, according to the report.

The U.S. is investing some money in hydrogen, but not nearly as much as Japan.

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White House Tries to Make an Economic Case to Fight Climate Change — With No Real Numbers



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Via the Wall Street Journal:

The White House is trying to put a price on delaying action on climate change.

Aiming to create a sense of urgency around its actions to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the White House is issuing a report Tuesday that argues that the longer the delay, the more future generations will bear costs.

The report doesn’t put a dollar amount on what the administration says is the price of inaction. Instead, it employs a pair of economic models to predict its magnitude.

Critics of climate action argue that the upfront costs to cut carbon emissions are greater than the administration predicts. They are also skeptical of predictions of how much climate change will cost future generations.

The White House report finds that economic costs to address climate change rise by 40% in each decade in which there is a delay in enacting policies to cut carbon emissions.

It also finds that for each 1 degree Celsius rise in global temperature, the global gross domestic product takes an increasingly larger hit. In other words, it says, an increase of between 3 and 4 degrees creates more economic damage than an increase of between 2 and 3 degrees.

“If we do nothing this year, we save money this year,” said Jim Stock, leader author of the report and a staff member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers until earlier this month. “But the trouble is, by doing nothing this year, it costs us more in the future.”

Summary: The White House doesn’t know how much more it will cost to delay this fight against climate change, nor does it know if what it wants to spend money on today will be effective, but it’s positive that it will cost “more in the future.”

This isn’t economics, it’s economics denialism.

John Kerry Traveling to India to Talk Climate Change



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Via the Wall Street Journal, as “the world burns,” John Kerry heads to India for global-warming talks. Good luck with that.

Rolling Stone: ‘Climate Change Is Real, and Sharknadoes Are the Proof’



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From Rolling Stone’s “10 Biting Lessons We Learned from Sharknado 2: The Second One“:

3. Climate change is real, and sharknadoes are the proof.
Along with rich character work and intricate worldbuilding, scathing political commentary on the perils of anthropogenic climate change is a constant in both of the Sharknado films. In this installment, we see New York City at the center of wild weather patterns – tropical storms moving in from one direction, unseasonal summer blizzards from the other. In addition to creating optimal conditions for a sharknado, these unstable climatic conditions recall the snowstorm that followed Hurricane Sandy in 2012, further devastating the New York metropolitan area. Or maybe it’s just a crass and thoughtless way for the movie to explain why half the time there’s an outdoor scene, there’s snow on the sidewalks and you can see the actors’ breath even though it takes place in July. Either way!

It’s hard to know when the alarmists are joking and when they are serious. You be the judge.

Science: Your Solar Panels Are Facing the Wrong Direction



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Oops. The Telegraph reports:

Thousands of people have spent vast sums of money installing eco-friendly solar panels but most will have probably had them fitted facing the wrong way, according to energy experts.

The solar power industry is being urged to reconsider its approach to installing panels after one of the UK’s leading experts, Professor Ralph Gottshalg of Loughborough University says too many solar panels are facing in the wrong direction.

Professor Gottshalg said Germany has too many solar panels which means that its grid is disrupted on sunny Summer lunchtimes with a flood of solar power so cheap it has to be almost given away.

He is urging to the UK to follow Germany’s recent policy of putting panels on east-west facing roofs to smooth the supply of power during the day and prevent spikes of power at midday.

Conventional wisdom in the northern hemisphere is to face solar panels south so they get the most exposure to sunlight during the day.

Architects and installers, as a rule, use this approach all the time particularly on home solar panel installations.

In November, American research revealed that panels facing west may actually get more energy from the sun, and at more convenient times.

The study was carried out by the Pecan Street Research Institute, who studied homes with solar panels in Austin, Texas.

The rest here.

Greenpeace vs. Federal Coal Leases



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The Hill reports:

A report released Monday by Greenpeace said that the environmental harm from the federal government’s coal leasing program dwarfs the fees that mining companies pay, and called for a moratorium on the leases.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) leases mining rights on federal property to private companies. The program has generated 2.2 billion tons of coal during the Obama administration alone.

Each ton of coal from the program costs $22 to $237 in environmental damage, Greenpeace said, a total based upon the federal government’s estimates of the social cost of carbon. But during the Obama administration, BLM has effectively sold the coal for $1.03 a ton.

“The federal coal leasing program is undermining efforts to address climate change by selling our coal at subsidized rates,” Kelly Mitchell, director of Greenpeace’s energy program, said in a statement.

“Instead of giving away our coal for one dollar a ton, Interior Secretary [Sally] Jewell should establish a moratorium on new coal leases and pursue comprehensive reform of the federal coal leasing program.”

Or BLM can find tortoises or some other animal threatened by coal mining to shut down the industry.

The rest here.

Sea-Level Hypocrisy, Boston Edition



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It’s funny how global warming produces so many “chilling” headlines. Here’s the latest from Think Progress:

Chilling Map Shows Boston With A 7.5-Foot Coastal Flood

Flooding from sea level rise is threatening to wash away many of Boston’s historical buildings and archaeological sites, according to WGBH News.

In 2012, the city was spared when Hurricane Sandy turned west and slammed into New York instead. But the close call sparked a May conference of experts and stakeholders to consider what would have happened if Sandy had hit Boston. What they discovered was that historic sites like Faneuil Hall and the Blackstone Block of colonial streets — which sit within the city’s 100-year tidal flood zone — would already have been flooded three times since Sandy if storms had hit during high tide instead of low. A May report by the Union of Concerned Scientists noted both sites as some of the most at-risk in the entire country thanks to increased flooding from climate change and sea level rise.

But if this flooding is such a concern, why is Boston proposing two new 600-foot towers to be built in this flood zone? Via the Boston Globe:

Standing before a jam-packed meeting room Wednesday, developer Donald J. Chiofaro lifted the veil on his plan for one of the city’s largest development sites, showing a pair of angular skyscrapers that would redefine the downtown waterfront.

The towers — one clad in glass, the other in terra cotta — would rise to 600 feet along Atlantic Avenue and infuse modern architecture into a corner of the city dominated by structures built many decades ago.

“It’s not often the city finds itself with the opportunity for a transformative moment,” Chiorfaro said. “But that moment is now before us.”

If you’re to believe Think Progress then, the map they link to shows a 7.5-foot flood would put the area around Atlantic Avenue under water:

If global warming is really a threat, then Boston should never let this project get off the ground. Until Boston acts to restrict development, I suggest Think Progress take a chill pill and dial-down their “chilling” reporting on global warming.

When’s the National Recall for Senators?



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Washington’s Affordable Care Act is broken: It’s increased insurance rates by 49 percent, cost cancer patients their coverage, and deterred employer job creation.

Yet Washington’s pols are convinced they know how to run General Motors.

Thursday it was the Senate’s turn to embarrass GM CEO Mary Barra and her fellow Total Recall cast members. But the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance embarrassed itself instead.

“How in the world, in the aftermath of (the recalls), did Michael Milliken keep his job?” demanded Democratic chairwoman Claire McCaskill about GM’s chief legal counsel. After her Obamacare vote, how does McCaskill still have hers?

“If GM is really serious about changing its culture . . . a place to start is with your legal department,” huffed Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal, who, like McCaskill, stands to benefit if their trial-lawyer campaign benefactors win millions in GM recall suits. Talk about a corrupt culture.

The corrupt-GM-culture claim, however, is a ruse. As I have pointed out here, GM hardly had a culture of cover-up, as the pols and their media mouthpieces claim. GM may have produced uncompetitive products like the Chevy Cobalt, but it recalled them when necessary. The Cobalt ignition-switch failure was an aberration — but only because its chief engineer did an end run around company protocol. In the same year as that snafu, GM recalled its best-selling Silverado pickup four times.

We await the senators’ recall of Obamacare.

Australia Ends Its Carbon Tax Scheme



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Via News Corp Australia:

TONY Abbott’s great big election promise to dump what he called the great big carbon tax was finally delivered this morning after a Government ordeal of frustration and embarrassment.

Mr Abbott did not wait long to share the news, releasing a statement titled “The Carbon Tax is gone!”.

“This is great news for Australian families and for our nation’s small businesses,” he said.

“At the election, the Coalition made a pledge: to scrap the carbon tax, stop the boats, get the Budget under control and build the roads of the 21st century. All these commitments were designed to help families.

“We are honouring our commitments to you and building a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia.”

He said it would save the average family $550 a year and the first benefits would be seen in coming power bills.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Abbott had “embarrassed Australians” and that “history will judge Tony Abbott harshly for refusing to believe that action is needed on climate change.”

The rest here.

Global Warming Strikes Australia. Bonus: Al Gore Was There



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Via meteorologist Joe Bastardi:

Al Gore is at it again. He was just in Australia (he should hire Weatherbell.com to help him avoid the “Gore effect” – Brisbane recorded its coldest temperature in 103 years during his stay) and told BBC, “This [climate change] is the biggest crisis our civilization faces.”

Gore’s consistency is amazing. Maybe we can combat global warming simply by flying Al Gore around the planet? Kind of like how Superman turned back time by flying really, really fast around the Earth:

 

 

Study: People Who Worry About Global Warming Use More Electricity



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Of course they do. Via The Telegraph:

People who claim to worry about climate change use more electricity than those who do not, a Government study has found.

Those who say they are concerned about the prospect of climate change consume more energy than those who say it is “too far into the future to worry about,” the study commissioned by the Department for Energy and Climate Change found.

That is in part due to age, as people over 65 are more frugal with electricity but much less concerned about global warming.

However, even when pensioners are discounted, there is only a “weak trend” to show that people who profess to care about climate change do much to cut their energy use.

The findings were based on the Household Electricity Survey, which closely monitored the electricity use and views of 250 families over a year. The report, by experts from Loughborough University and Cambridge Architectural Research, was commissioned and published by DECC.

The rest here.

Global Warming Strikes Sailor Looking for Northwest Passage



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Hilarious. Via Marc Morano:

​Mariner trying to sail Northwest Passage rescued by Coast Guard after sailboat gets stuck in sea ice near Barrow

 

Obama Touts Oil Boom He Discouraged



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Planet Gore, meet Planet Obama. Following the president’s daily schedule is like tracking an alternate universe. Divorced from Washington, the president flits about the country — consuming a gallon of fuel a second aboard Air Force One — while delivering a message that America’s economy is growing thanks to his green investments.

His remarks in Austin, Texas, last week were typical.

“Think about the progress we’ve made,” he said before thunderous applause (and not just from the White House press corps).  “A lot of this was because of the resilience and hard work of the American people. But some of it had to do with decisions we made to build our economy on a new foundation. For the first time in nearly 20 years, we produce more oil here at home than we buy from abroad. The world’s largest oil and gas producer isn’t Russia; it’s not Saudi Arabia — it’s the United States of America. At the same time, we’ve reduced our total carbon pollution over the past eight years more than any country on Earth. We’ve tripled the amount of electricity we generate from wind.”

Never mind that Obama applauds an oil boom that defies his claim that the economy is being built on a new, renewable energy foundation. What’s really shameless is taking credit for a carbon revolution that his administration has actively opposed.

From Bakken oil field pioneer Harold Hamm’s 2011 account of his visit to the White House (as told to the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore):

When it was Mr. Hamm’s turn to talk briefly with President Obama, “I told him of the revolution in the oil and gas industry and how we have the capacity to produce enough oil to enable America to replace OPEC. I wanted to make sure he knew about this.”

The president’s reaction? “He turned to me and said, ‘Oil and gas will be important for the next few years. But we need to go on to green and alternative energy. [Energy] Secretary [Steven] Chu has assured me that within five years, we can have a battery developed that will make a car with the equivalent of 130 miles per gallon.’” Mr. Hamm holds his head in his hands and says, “Even if you believed that, why would you want to stop oil and gas development? It was pretty disappointing.”

Washington keeps “sticking a regulatory boot at our necks and then turns around and asks: ‘Why aren’t you creating more jobs,’” he says. He roils at the Interior Department delays of months and sometimes years to get permits for drilling. “These delays kill projects,” he says.

“We produce more oil here at home than we buy from abroad,” says the president. We?

The Booming Business in Drought-Stricken NoCal: Lawn Painting



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I like it. Via NBC Los Angeles:

 

No Keystone XL Decision Until After Election Day



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Good news for at-risk Dems as they can say they’re for it, but the president doesn’t have to act anytime soon. From the Washington Post:

The Nebraska Supreme Court will announce as soon as Thursday that it will hear oral arguments in the case over the Keystone XL pipeline’s route in early September, effectively postponing any final federal decision on the controversial project until after the midterm elections.

In April, the State Department announced that it would not issue a determination on whether the pipeline was in the nation’s interest until Nebraska resolved whether the project’s path through the state complied with state law. A group of landowners is challenging the decision by Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) to sign legislation designed to speed the project by approving its route and letting the company use the power of eminent domain in negotiating right of way for the project.

Court officials confirmed Monday that it will hear arguments in the case,Thompson v. Heineman, in the first week of September. Under that schedule, a final ruling would not come out until October at the earliest, though it could take some months longer than that.

A administration official familiar with the State Department’s decision-making process, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said it is “highly unlikely that a decision will be made before the mid-term election” given the court’s schedule.

The rest here.

Do Cyborgs Care about Global Warming?



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Because if this guy’s prediction comes true, they better. Via Business Insider:

“Today there’s no legislation regarding how much intelligence a machine can have, how interconnected it can be. If that continues, look at the exponential trend. We will reach the singularity in the timeframe most experts predict. From that point on you’re going to see that the top species will no longer be humans, but machines.”

These are the words of Louis Del Monte, physicist, entrepreneur, and author of “The Artificial Intelligence Revolution.” Del Monte spoke to us over the phone about his thoughts surrounding artificial intelligence and the singularity, an indeterminate point in the future when machine intelligence will outmatch not only your own intelligence, but the world’s combined human intelligence too.

The average estimate for when this will happen is 2040, though Del Monte says it might be as late as 2045. Either way, it’s a timeframe of within three decades.

I’ll go out on a limb here and predict we won’t have a cyborg problem by 2045. Or 2145, for that matter. 

And there’s nothing in the article to suggest that Del Monte might be off by a few years — or centuries. But because he wrote a book and has a science degree, his ideas are given credibility. This robot-alarmism isn’t that much different from the climate-alarmism we’re currently enduring: a scary, titillating headline designed for clicks but nothing more than that.

Or maybe I’m wrong and we’ll soon face the dual threat of cyborgs and global warming. I bet their solutions to it will be smarter than the IPCC’s.

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