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#StopKinderMorgan – Standing Up for Our Precious Coast – #welovethiscoast #OrcasNotTankers


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What Hurricane Harvey says about risk, climate and resilience

People know the climate is changing, but they don’t know how serious it is. Over 70 percent of Americans agree that the climate is changing, but less than half of us believe it will affect us personally.
Greenbiz by Andrew Dessler, Daniel Cohan and Katharine Hayhoe 
 
Flooded boat dock in clear lake during Hurricane Harvey. ShutterstockEric V. Overton

Hurricane Harvey has taught us many lessons, but the most valuable may be the oldest lesson of all, one we humans have been learning — and forgetting — since the dawn of time: how much we all have to lose when climate and weather disasters strike.

The risks we face from disasters depend on three factors: hazard; exposure; and vulnerability. In the case of Harvey, the hazard was the hurricane with its associated winds, storm surge and, most of all, rain. Houston is one of North America’s biggest metro areas, exposing 6.6 million people to this hazard. Finally, there’s our vulnerability to heavy rainfall events, in this case exacerbated by the city’s rapid expansion that has paved over former grasslands, overloaded critical infrastructure, challenged urban planning and limited evacuation routes. These three factors explain the immense costs associated with tragedies such as Hurricane Harvey.

As atmospheric scientists in Texas, we already know the hazards are real. Once the effects of Harvey have been added up, Texas and Louisiana will have been hit by more billion-plus dollar flooding events since 1980 than any other states.

We also know that many of these hazards are intensifying. In a warmer world, heavy precipitation is on the rise, which increases the amount of rain associated with a given storm. Sea level is rising, worsening the risks of coastal flooding and storm surge. At the cutting edge of climate research, scientists are also exploring how human-induced change may affect storm intensity and the winds that steer the hurricanes.

This is why catastrophes such as Harvey — in which every extra inch of rain can lead to additional damage and harm — highlight exactly how and why climate change matters to each and every one of us.

Sensible response?

People know the climate is changing, but they don’t know how serious it is. Over 70 percent of Americans agree that the climate is changing, but less than half of us believe it will affect us personally.

Why? Perhaps because the image we associate most often with a changing climate is not the devastation left by a flood in our own state but rather a polar bear perched on a chunk of melting ice or an African farmer bearing silent witness to the impacts of a disaster that’s taken place on the other side of the world.

As tragedy unfolds, we must focus on the immediate response. But in the weeks and months that follow, we need to remember that, despite our air conditioners, our insurance and the politicized discourse that suggests that the science is somehow a matter of opinion rather than fact, we are incredibly vulnerable to natural disasters — disasters that are increasingly being amplified in a warming world.

 

Finding safety in Texas: Society as a whole needs to recognize the growing risk of extreme weather events from a changing climate. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

What sensible, pragmatic, bipartisan steps can we take to increase our resilience to risks that a disaster such as Hurricane Harvey represents? This question must be asked, because the current administration has proposed cutting the budget of the National Weather Service and other agencies that study and forecast weather and climate disasters and has rescinded regulations designed to address rising sea levels when constructing infrastructure.

First and foremost, we should reduce our exposure and build resilience to the hazards we already face today. We can’t continue building in places that we know will flood. We need to build and modernize infrastructure to make our water management systems more resilient to both floods and droughts. We must continue to invest in the weather forecasting systems that provided advance warning and in the public services that build community resilience and provide disaster response.

Ultimately, though, even these practical steps may not be enough. In a changing climate, building capacity and resilience to cope with today’s risks leave us unprepared for future extremes. That’s why, in order to reduce the risk of disasters both here and abroad, we need to minimize the climate change that is turbocharging these events. And that means reducing our emissions of the heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

Changing the risk equation

Here again Texas can lead the way. We’re already No. 1 in wind power production by state, thanks to targeted investments that boosted the power grid connecting cities with windy regions. And we’ve only begun to tap our abundant solar resources.

The innovations that energy companies have pioneered to build offshore oil platforms can inform the development of, and investment in, offshore wind turbines and their knowledge of producing petrochemicals could be applied to more sustainably produced biofuels.

There will always be those who claim that the costs of moving to cleaner energy sources and reducing carbon emissions are too high. But the U.S. has improved air quality in ways in which the benefits greatly exceed the costs and replaced ozone-depleting chemicals, all while the economy has grown.

Today, wind and solar power prices are now competitive with fossil fuels across Texas. Across the country, these industries already employ far more people than coal mining. Electric cars soon may be as affordable as gasoline ones and be charged in ways that help balance the fluctuations in wind and solar power. Only someone profoundly pessimistic would bet against the ability of American ingenuity to repower our economy.

Hurricane Harvey exemplifies the risks we all face — and a more dangerous future if we don’t take actions now. More people and vulnerable infrastructure exposed to more frequent and intense hazards equals even greater risk for us in the future. The time to rethink the equation is now.

This story first appeared on:
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Vanguard names climate risk as defining investment theme

The Vanguard Group, a major American investment management company, revealed details of its voting record for the last six months — details which showed that the firm, for the first time, defied management to vote in favor of enhanced climate disclosures in a number of key shareholder votes, including at oil giant ExxonMobil.
Greenbiz by Madeleine Cuff
shutterstock_110425607

You’ll be forgiven for missing it. You may have been enjoying what now seems to have been the last gasp of summer — having a long weekend on the beach or snatching the last couple of days with the children before they headed back to school.

But late last week, as offices across the country stood quiet, came the clearest sign yet that the global investment community is waking up to smell the, ahem, climate risk coffee.

The Vanguard Group, a major American investment management company, revealed details of its voting record for the last six months — details which showed that the firm, for the first time, defied management to vote in favor of enhanced climate disclosures in a number of key shareholder votes, including at oil giant ExxonMobil.

Vanguard said the voting record reflects its intention to take more “public positions on select governance topics,” naming climate risk and gender diversity as the two defining themes of its investment approach in the coming years.

It’s hard to overstate the financial muscle of Vanguard and what this move towards a more progressive climate stance could spell. It boasts more than $4.4 trillion in assets under management. It owns at least 5 percent of 468 components of the S&P 500. As of May, it was the world’s second-largest fund company, beaten only by BlackRock.

A warning from Vanguard that climate risk is now one of its top priorities should make board members at companies of all stripes sit up and take notice. The firm holds much of its assets in large index-tracking funds and views itself as a de facto permanent investor in the world’s largest companies, a situation that has made it traditionally cautious of public spats with board management, preferring to try to nudge company governance in public.

A public vote against management on any issue, let alone climate change, carries serious heft from a firm such as Vanguard — more so than an activist investor, however large. Not least because in many cases — including Exxon — it owns enough of the company to hold the deciding vote.

In the United States, where Vanguard is based, climate is a politically and ideologically divisive topic. But Vanguard is at pains to stress the increased focus is not for political or ideological reasons, but because it threatens the long-term economic value of a company. “Regardless of one’s perspective on climate, there’s no doubt that changes in global regulation, energy consumption and consumer preferences will have a significant economic impact on companies, particularly in the energy, industrial and utilities sectors,” said Glenn Booraem, Vanguard’s investment stewardship officer.

That was backed up by fresh warnings from fellow investment giant Schroders, which this week warned industries such as construction, steel and commodity chemicals could see up to 80 percent of their profits wiped out if carbon prices rise to the levels needed to hit Paris Agreement goals.

Vanguard’s stance follows similar positions outlined in recent months by its investment rivals, in what is emerging as a major shift of asset managers in favor of greater disclosure. Investment giant BlackRock offered explicit warnings to companies earlier this year that it will vote against management if its concerns over climate risk are consistently ignored.

Aviva revealed to BusinessGreen back in November that it will vote against reports issued by high-carbon firms that fail to apply the climate risk disclosure guidance at their annual meetings.

And while the work of the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate Risk (TCFD) is not explicitly mentioned by Vanguard, Booraem makes clear in its Investment Stewardship annual report that greater transparency is urgently needed to correct potential market failures on this topic.

“Our concern is fundamentally that in the absence of clear disclosure and informed board oversight, the market lacks insight into the material risks of investing in that firm,” he said. “It’s of paramount importance to us that the market is able to reflect risk and opportunity in stock prices, particularly for our index funds, which don’t get to select the stocks they own.”

Vanguard makes it clear its fresh focus on climate risk will not mean an end to its preference for more private engagement, but it does spell the end of the road for companies that fail to listen and take action to their concerns. And faced with not just Vanguard, but also fellow asset managers such as BlackRock and Aviva all adopting similar stances, it soon may be untenable for companies to refuse climate disclosure proposals from shareholders out of hand, even without the TCFD’s voluntary guidelines adopted by governments as mandatory requirements.

A new dawn is breaking on the investment world as firm by firm, asset managers accept the real, credible threat of climate risk to the financial system. For board executives, it’s time to put down the holiday reading and start work on the climate risk factors threatening future profits — before investors force the issue.

See article here…….


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China to ban sale of fossil fuel cars in electric vehicle push

 

China will set a deadline for automakers to end sales of fossil-fuel powered vehicles, a move aimed at pushing companies to speed efforts in developing electric vehicles for the world’s biggest auto market.

Xin Guobin, the vice minister of industry and information technology, said the government is working with other regulators on a timetable to end production and sales. The move will have a profound impact on the environment and growth of China’s auto industry, Xin said at an auto forum in Tianjin on Saturday.

A ban on combustion-engine vehicles will help push both local and global automakers to shift toward electric vehicles, a carrot-and-stick approach that could boost sales of energy-efficient cars and trucks and reduce air pollution while serving the strategic goal of cutting oil imports. The government offers generous subsidies to makers of new-energy vehicles. It also plans to require automakers to earn enough credits or buy them from competitors with a surplus under a new cap-and-trade program for fuel economy and emissions.

Honda Motor Co. will launch an electric car for the China market in 2018, China Chief Operating Officer Yasuhide Mizuno said at the same forum. The Japanese carmaker is developing the vehicle with Chinese joint ventures of Guangqi Honda Automobile Co. and Dongfeng Honda Automobile Co. and will create a new brand with them, he said.

Internet entrepreneur William Li’s Nio will start selling ES8, a sport-utility vehicle powered only with batteries, in mid-December. The startup is working with state-owned Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group, which also is in a venture with Volkswagen AG to introduce an electric SUV next year.

China, seeking to meet its promise to cap its carbon emissions by 2030, is the latest country to unveil plans to phase out vehicles running on fossil fuels. The U.K. said in July it will ban sales of diesel- and gasoline-fueled cars by 2040, two weeks after France announced a similar plan to reduce air pollution and meet targets to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

See article here……

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-11/vw-ceo-vows-to-offer-electric-version-of-all-300-models-by-2030


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Activists in B.C. gear up for ‘the next Standing Rock’ with tiny house protest

Plan to build 10 houses on Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline route

“We’re standing in the way of the pipelines,” said Manuel. “We’re occupying and claiming back our traditions and establishing our traditional villages.”

By Brandi Morin, CBC News Posted: Sep 07, 2017

Kanahus Manuel is leading a group of activists and volunteers in a unique project to block the expansion of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline on Indigenous territory.

Kanahus Manuel is leading a group of activists and volunteers in a unique project to block the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline on Indigenous territory. (Carrie Cervantes)

An activist from the Neskonlith band of the Secwepemc people in British Columbia is preparing for what she believes is the next Standing Rock, with a unique project aiming to block the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline on Indigenous territory.

Kanahus Manuel is leading a growing group of activists and supporters from the Secwepemc tribes in B.C. opposed to the pipeline expansion who are constructing tiny houses to place in its path.

“We’re standing in the way of the pipelines,” said Manuel. “We’re occupying and claiming back our traditions and establishing our traditional villages.”

The building of the first tiny house began earlier this week near Kamloops, B.C. Manuel, the daughter of the late political leader and activist Arthur Manuel, is spearheading the “Tiny House Warriors” project.

Tiny house warriors

Work has begun on the Tiny House Warriors project, a protest against the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline. Activists expect to build 10 homes which will lie on the route of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. (Greenpeace)

Ten tiny houses will be built and placed strategically along the 518-kilometre stretch of the Trans Mountain pipeline route that runs through Secwepemc territory, to assert Secwepemc law and jurisdiction and block access to this pipeline, Manuel said.

She was a constant at the Standing Rock protests in North Dakota, which saw hundreds of activists and self-described water protectors from around the globe come together to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline expansion, arguing it threatened the Missouri River.

She views the protest against the Kinder Morgan pipeline as another Standing Rock starting to unfold.

“It’s going to take everyone to protect our lands and waters. We have the whole world watching because of Standing Rock,” Manuel said.

“Many people from Standing Rock want to come and help fight this — we have a lot of support. And we have a new generation that wants change. It’s coming from the youth and the young people. It’s their future.”

Consent never given for pipeline: Manuel

​Secwepemc territory covers a vast area of unceded land in which the pipeline would threaten Indigenous lands, wildlife and waterways, she said, and consent was never given for the Kinder Morgan expansion.

Ida Manuel

Ida Manuel painting a banner for the ‘Tiny House Warriors’ project. (Greenpeace)

“We, the Secwepemc, have never ceded, surrendered, or given up our sovereign title and rights over the land, waters and resources within Secwepemcul’ecw [traditional Secwepemc territory],” Manuel said.

“We collectively hold title and governance regarding Secwepemcul’ecw and the collective consent of the Secwepemc is required for any access to our lands, waters and resources.”

CBC has contacted Kinder Morgan to request comment.

Trans Mountain announced Wednesday it has finalized agreements with six contractors to build portions of the pipeline expansion, which will carry crude oil from a terminal near Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C. Construction is set to begin later this month.

At a community gathering in Secwepemc territory in June, a declaration was signed to move forward with tiny house building project as the best action to take against the pipeline expansion.

The houses will be outfitted with solar power and efforts will be made to use recycled materials, to minimize environmental impacts.

The houses will be moved and placed strategically along the route of pipeline construction.

“People will be living there. We plan to utilize the spaces for language camps, traditional tattooing,” said Manuel.

The Secwepemc Nation is made up of 17 bands. Manuel said three of the bands have signed some sort of agreement with Kinder Morgan, but it’s hard to find out exactly which bands those are because the deals were not made public.

But Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson supports the tiny house blockade.

“Neskonlith opposes the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline because of the damage we know it would bring,” said Wilson.

“Issues of bitumen being piped across waterways should be everyone’s concerns. We’ve seen with Mount Polley [the site of a 2014 tailings pond breach] that our governments aren’t ready to deal with a spill and the effects are left for us to deal with for years or decades. We won’t let that happen again.”

Manuel estimates that each tiny home will cost under $5,000 and expects all 10 to be finished before the end of September. Greenpeace Canada is sponsoring the first one.

“The Secwepemc Tiny House Warriors are creating community and building homes for their people,” said Mike Hudema, a climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace Canada.

“This is why we stand with them — the rightful defenders of their lands and waters — in this peaceful and courageous act of defiance. Every step of the way, we will continue to oppose Kinder Morgan and the financial institutions bankrolling this climate-killing, Indigenous rights-bulldozing pipeline.”

Ultimately, Manuel said the tiny house protest is a peaceful act of resistance. Its goal is building something “beautiful that models hope, possibility and solutions to the world,” she said.

“We invite anyone and everyone to join us.”

See article here……..


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Are resident orcas moving on?

Southern resident orcas are one of the most highly studied whale populations in the world.  Every individual has a name and is photographed for an annual census that has been conducted for over 40 years by the Centre for Whale Research. We know their family trees, when they were born, who they favour spending time with, and even their individual personality traits.  What we don’t know is where they are.

Southern resident killer whales. Photo: Rachael Merrett

Southern resident orcas are one of the most highly studied whale populations in the world.  Every individual has a name and is photographed for an annual census that has been conducted for over 40 years by the Centre for Whale Research. We know their family trees, when they were born, who they favour spending time with, and even their individual personality traits.  What we don’t know is where they are.

Research on the southern residents began in 1976 when the capture of wild killer whales for aquariums from the waters off the Pacific Northwest officially ended. Dr. Michael Bigg, a scientist for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, coined the term ‘residents’ to describe this family of whales as they were seen year after year in the inland waters of south Vancouver Island and Washington from spring until the end of fall, as they fed on the abundant runs of chinook salmon heading towards the Fraser River.

Since 2013 sightings of the resident killer whales within the Salish Sea have become scarce.  Historically, years with low resident sightings correspond with low chinook salmon returns to the Fraser River. According to the Albion Test Fishery, 2013 was one of the two worst years on record for chinook salmon returns to the Fraser River (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Graph sourced from the Center for Whale Research. The graph demonstrates the cumulative catch per unit effort (CPUE) of Fraser River chinook salmon as of July 1 for each of the years beginning in 1988, with the dashed line representing an adjustment for the late start in the fishery opening using 2012 as the reference year for a late start. Click on image to enlarge.


J-pod – one of 3 pods that make up the resident orca population – has historically been the pod that is seen most often in the Salish Sea during the summer. However, in 2013 they were only seen 45 times by the Center for Whale Research from April to the end of September, a period of time when they tend to feed on chinook salmon heading to the Fraser River. Compare this to 2004 when chinook salmon returns were higher: J-pod was seen 150 times in that time span.

Figure 2: Graph sourced from the Center for Whale Research. The graph depicts the number of sightings of J-pod from 2004 to 2016 in their core summer habitat from April through September. Sightings for 2016 only cover April, May and June. Solid coloured bars illustrate sightings of the entire pod while striped bars represent sightings with only parts of the pods present. Click on image to enlarge.

Another record low year for Fraser River chinook returns occurred in 2016 and that year southern residents were only seen five times in the month of June. This season, once again, we are seeing record low returns of chinook salmon and the southern residents were only reported in the area once in the month of June. This illustrates a stark contrast when compared to previous years where J-pod was seen 20-30 times in the same month.

Not only are the whales not returning to the Salish Sea as much as they historically have, the pods are now fragmenting into smaller groups.  Prior to 2013, this had never been recorded by the Centre for Whale Research.  When a pod came in, everyone who belonged to that family was present.  But in 2013, they started to see the pods break up into smaller groups.  Experts are hypothesizing that there is no longer enough food to feed the entire pod, so the families have to separate in order to find the nutrition they need to survive.  The question remains as to whether the families are finding enough food somewhere else.  From their visibly poor body conditions, that seems unlikely.

Killer whales are very social animals who maintain strong family bonds.  They thrive on physical contact and vocalize to each other almost constantly.

Figure 3: Graph sourced from the Center for Whale Research. The graph depicts the number of times J-pod was seen in their core summer habitat in the month of June from 2004 to 2016. Click on image to enlarge.

Centre for Whale Research staff are reporting that they are concerned that the breakup of the pods could pose a health risk to the population that likely cannot be measured. They note that long term starvation in humans can cause a variety of emotional disorders, including withdrawal from social activity, decreased sex drive and apathy.  These conditions are also often seen in humans when there is a breakdown in community.  It is fair to say that similar conditions could occur in orca populations.  Not only are the whales starving, their families are fracturing, compounding the emotional and mental health threats that can be onset by both starvation and social structure breakdown.

Not only are the whales starving, their families are fracturing, compounding the emotional and mental health threats that can be onset by both starvation and social structure breakdown.

How Does 2017 look?

Not good.

Sightings records were collected from the Centre for Whale Research, Orca Network and from Victoria whale watching reports.  Combined, there have been just 27 sightings of the southern residents in the Salish Sea from April 1st to August 31st.  Interesting to note is that most of these sightings were of L-pod, or in most cases just part of L-pod, contrasting to historical trends of J-pod being seen most often in the area.  Another important observation has been that only the K-14 matriline has been seen in local waters this summer.

Figure 4: Data collected from sightings reports from Centre for Whale Research, Orca Network and Victoria whale watching reports. A majority of the sightings reports only documented partial pod presence. Created by Rachael Merrett, GSA. Click on image to enlarge.

If the whales are not here, where are they?

We have contacted the Marine Education and Research Society and Stubb’s Island Whale Watching to see if the southern residents have been spotted in northern areas of British Columbia. They have not had any sightings of the southern residents in Johnstone Strait or Queen Charlotte Strait in 2017. We have not been able to find any other reported sightings of the southern residents from anywhere else along the BC coastline.  Are they in offshore areas of the Pacific Northwest? Could they be looking for food in Alaska? Nobody at this point has the answers to these questions.

What does this mean?

Photo: Rachael Merrett

Without sightings of the families, it is impossible to track their health and any births or deaths that may have occurred.  This is critical information that needs to be gathered so that we know what is happening within the population.  For example, we do know that J-22 or Oreo was very pregnant in May of this year.  Researchers are anxious to know if her pregnancy was carried to term, and if so, what is the condition of mother and calf.

Another concern is regarding fragmentation of the pods and the complete lack of superpod events where all three pods are present in the same area at the same time. This  may lead to a breakdown in community cohesion and overall population familiarity.  Southern residents used to regularly gather together in superpods where they would be seen mating, socializing, and foraging with members of all three pods.  This no longer happens.

Will the fragmentation of the pods and lack of time spent together affect reproduction? Will the potential breakdown in social structure influence their health and/or mortality rates?

Researchers will not be able to collect and analyze any data on the southern residents if we don’t know where they are.

Another concern is whether or not their absence from the Salish Sea will be permanent as this will affect protection and recovery efforts being implemented by both Canadian and U.S. governments, researchers and NGO’s. If the whales no longer use the Salish Sea as their core summer habitat, where are they spending their summers? If somewhere else, recovery measures will need to be adjusted. The status of chinook salmon populations who spawn in the Fraser  River appear to be playing a key role in determining whether the southern residents will continue to be absent from the Salish Sea in the future. If Fraser River chinook stocks are protected and allowed to recover, we will likely see the return of the southern residents to the local waters that we know they have used consistently for decades, especially if we are also reducing the other threats to this population

What can we do?

Photo: Rachael Merrett

We are working to push the government to take meaningful action to protect the resident orcas and we’ll need your help at key times to increase that pressure.  Stay informed about new developments pertaining to the southern resident killer whales by joining the Orca Action Team – we’ll keep you updated and let you know when you need to take action.  You can also help the whales by donating to our Orcas Can’t Wait Fund– your donations will be matched until the end of summer to double the impact, and help us be there to help the orcas.

You can read more about the threats to the southern residents in our blogs:

No Salmon = No Orca »
Drowning in Noise »
Toxic Waters – Toxic Food »

See article here………..



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Hurricane scientists have never seen an image like this before

For the first time in modern history, three hurricanes in the Atlantic are lined up in the most dangerous of ways, according to Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center.

msn.com by Molly Rubin September 7, 2017

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) had issued advisories on Hurricane Irma (currently located north of the Dominican Republic), Hurricane Jose (700 miles east of the Lesser Antilles), and Hurricane Katia (over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico).

The Atlantic experienced three simultaneous hurricanes in 2010, with Igor, Julia, and Karl all swirling in the basin at the same time. Julia never threatened land, so the NHC didn’t issue a warning for North America. This is the first time that three hurricanes have the potential to make landfall at the same time.

What climate change creates

The rising strength and potential impact of the hurricanes in the Atlantic basin has weather experts concerned, as global temperatures continuing to hit record highs. Global warming, which isn’t necessarily causing the formation of hurricanes, is almost certainly magnifying their intensity and potential for destruction.

Climate change is making hurricanes more powerful for longer periods of time. They need the energy from the warm, humid air above tropical oceans to keep up their strength. A hurricane begins as a tropical storm, when winds coming from different directions converge. Warm air rises around the storm’s center and cools, and the moisture condenses to form clouds and rain. Condensation releases latent heat, which powers hurricanes. If the layer of warm water isn’t at least 200 feet deep, a tropical storm could die before gaining hurricane strength.

The potential for destruction is also greater because warmer temperatures mean the air can hold more moisture, so hurricanes produce more rain, causing more floods. Rising sea levels also lead to greater and greater surges after a storm.

Other factors also have impact

It’s important to note that just because there are three hurricanes in the Atlantic basin right now, doesn’t mean climate change has made 2017 a particularly bad year in terms of the total number of storms. Scientists caution there is a relatively low amount of hurricane data available (only a handful of storms happen each year), so it’s difficult to make broad observations.

Dr. Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center, told The New York Times warming waters, along with a relative lack of sudden wind shift, have created optimal hurricane conditions this season.

Some environmentalists think it is a “moral duty” to talk about the role climate change plays in making these three hurricanes so intense. Global warming is a long-term threat, yet research has shown that short-term concerns are what really motivate humans. And the scientific community feels it’s a conversation we should be having when storms strike.

The sooner we start the conversation, the more people will see global warming as having a direct impact on natural disasters. Only then can start the next one: how to actually do something about it.

See article here……


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Irma won’t “Wake Up” Climate Change-Denying Republicans. Their whole ideology is on the line.

As one of the most powerful storms ever recorded bore down on the continental United States, with much of Florida under evacuation order, President Donald Trump was focused on a matter of grave urgency.
 
An infrared image taken on Sept. 7, 2017, by Suomi NPP, a weather satellite operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Intercept by Naomi Klein September 11 2017

He gathered his cabinet at Camp David and said there was no time to waste. With Hurricane Irma set to potentially devastate huge swaths of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, now was the time, he said, to rush through massive … tax cuts.

Yes, that’s right. He wasn’t focused on getting massive aid to those most affected. He wasn’t focused on massive change to our energy and transit systems to lower greenhouse gas emissions so that Irma-like storms do not become a thrice-annual occurrence. His mind was on massive changes to the tax code — which, despite Trump’s claims that he is driven by a desire to give the middle class relief, would in fact hand corporations the biggest tax cut in decades and the very wealthy a sizable break as well.

Some have speculated that seeing the reality of climate change hit so close to home this summer — Houston underwater, Los Angeles licked by flames, and now southern states getting battered by Irma — might be some kind of wake-up call for climate change-denying Republicans.

US President Donald Trump speaks about Hurricane Irma watched by First Lady Melania Trump upon return to the White House in Washington, DC on September 10, 2017.<br /><br /><br /> Trump returned to Washington after spending the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump speaks about Hurricane Irma, as first lady Melania Trump looks on, upon return to the White House in Washington on Sept. 10, 2017. Trump returned after spending the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat.

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

As Trump’s address to his cabinet makes clear, however, Irma only makes him want to double down on his reckless economic agenda. Flanked by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, he explained that they were going to discuss “dramatic tax cuts and tax reform. And I think now with what’s happened with the hurricane, I’m gonna ask for a speed up.”Some have pointed out that this is a classic example of what I have called the “shock doctrine” — using disasters as cover to push through radical, pro-corporate policies. And it is a textbook case to be sure, especially because when Trump made his remarks, Irma was at the very height of its potential threat.

But Trump’s timing is even more revealing for what it shows about what’s really driving climate change denial on the right. It’s not a rejection of the science, but a rejection of the consequences of the science. Put simply, if the science is true, then the whole economic project that has dominated American power structures since Ronald Reagan was president is out the window, and the deniers know it.

Because if climate change is driving the kinds of catastrophes we are seeing right now — and it is — then it doesn’t just mean Trump has to apologize and admit he was wrong when he called it a Chinese hoax. It means that he also needs to junk his whole tax plan, because we’re going to need that tax money (and more) to pay for a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. And it also means he’s going to have to junk his deregulatory plan, because if we are going to change how we power our lives, we’re going to need all kinds of regulations to manage and enforce it. And, of course, this is not just about Trump — it’s about all the climate-denying Republican governors whose states are currently being pounded. All of them would have to junk an entire twisted worldview holding that the market is always right, regulation is always wrong, private is good and public is bad, and taxes that support public services are the worst of all.

Here is what we need to understand in a hurry: Climate change, especially at this late date, can only be dealt with through collective action that sharply curtails the behavior of corporations, such as Exxon Mobil and Goldman Sachs (both so lavishly represented at Trump’s cabinet meeting). Climate action demands investments in the public sphere — in new energy grids, public transit and light rail, and energy efficiency — on a scale not seen since World War II. And that can only happen by raising taxes on the wealthy and on corporations, the very people Trump is determined to shower with the most generous tax cuts, loopholes, and regulatory breaks.

In short, climate change detonates the ideological scaffolding on which contemporary conservatism rests. To admit that the climate crisis is real is to admit the end of their political and economic project. That’s why the right is in rebellion against the physical world (which is what prompted hundreds of thousands of scientists around the world to participate in the March for Science in April 2017, collectively defending a principle that really shouldn’t need defending: that knowing as much as possible about our world is a good thing). Yet there is a logical reason why science has become such a battle zone: because it is revealing again and again that pro-corporate business as usual leads to a species-threatening catastrophe.

And this isn’t only about the right — it’s also about the center. What mainstream liberals have been saying about climate change for decades is that we simply need to tweak the existing system here and there and everything will be fine. You can have Goldman Sachs capitalism plus solar panels. But at this stage, the challenge we are up against is much deeper than that.

Lowering our emissions quickly enough to avoid catastrophic warming requires confronting the centrality of ever-expanding consumption in how we measure economic progress. It requires remaking our economy in fundamental ways, including battling the systemic economic and racial inequalities that turn disasters like Harvey and Katrina into human catastrophes. In one sense, then, the members of Trump’s cabinet — with their desperate need to deny the reality of global warming, or belittle its implications — understand something that is fundamentally true: To avert climate chaos, we need to challenge the free-market fundamentalism that has conquered the world since the 1980s.

Trump and his fellow climate change-deniers (and climate change-minimizers) see this challenge to their worldview as a crisis so existential, they are unwilling to let the possibility enter their brains. That’s understandable. Global warming really does have radical progressive implications. If it’s real — and it manifestly is — then the oligarch class cannot continue to run riot without rules.

As the reality of climate disruption shows its menacing face, more and more people will come to understand its obvious political and economic implications. In the meantime, we need to stop waiting for disasters to “wake up” hardcore deniers. The dream they are in is just too damn good, too comfortable, and too profitable. But as Trump uses overlapping disasters of Harvey, Irma, North Korea, and whatever other hell he can exploit to smuggle through his cruel economic agenda, the rest of us should be wide awake to the reality that stopping him, and the worldview he represents, is a matter of humanity’s collective survival.

Partially adapted from “No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need.”

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