October 2012

Flooding Costs October 1, 2012 : 10:32 AM

A new report from Swiss Re finds that the financial impact of flooding has doubled in the past decade – climate is a major driver:

“Flood losses are increasing at an alarming rate while the insurability of floods provides unique challenges for the industry, according Swiss Re's latest report, "Flood – an underestimated risk: Inspect, inform, insure".” …

“No other natural catastrophe impacts as many people as flooding with an estimated 500 million people affected every year. Insured flood losses are also increasing significantly; 1970's annual claims were between USD 1–2 billion, whereas insured flood losses amounted to USD 15 billion in 2011. Recent flood events in Thailand, Australia and the Philippines have shown that floods are now rivalling earthquakes and hurricanes in terms of economic losses.” …

“Population growth, demographic change, a higher concentration of assets in exposed areas, greater vulnerability of insured objects and climate change are all contributing to the increasing costs of flood damage. The rising costs of floods are creating challenges for the insurance industry and the economic viability of flood insurance is currently an issue under scrutiny.”


Climate and GDP October 2, 2012 : 3:21 PM

For anyone who doubts the economic impact of extreme weather:

“The U.S. economy grew even more slowly than originally thought in the second quarter of 2012, according to new data from the Commerce Department. One culprit? The severe heat and drought that has dented crop production in the Midwest this summer.”

“The overall economy grew at a disappointing 1.3 percent annual pace in the April through June period, down from the government’s previous estimate of 1.7 percent growth. Roughly half of that decline came from a sharp fall in farm inventories. Crop production declined $12 billion over the quarter, data showed, “due to this summer’s severe heat and drought.”

Source: Washington Post Wonk Blog


Debate Coverage October 3, 2012 : 12:48 PM

I’ll be hosting coverage of Wednesday night’s Presidential debate on Current TV along with Jennifer Granholm, Eliot Spitzer, Cenk Uygur and John Fugelsang. Be sure to tune in.


Just a Sailboat October 4, 2012 : 8:50 PM

Arctic melting allows a crew to navigate a sailboat through the Arctic:

“Every winter, like clockwork, the sea ice that covers the Arctic thickens and grows. And then every summer, the Earth tilts its Northern Pole toward the sun and some of that ice melts away.”

“But not all of it. Even in the summer months, many of the northern channels and passages that connect the Atlantic to the Pacific are blocked off by ice. For centuries European explorers searched for a passage unsuccessfully, until 1906 when an expedition led by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen made it across. Since then, better boat and navigation technology have enabled more regular crossings, but the most northern routes have remained off-limits for all but the strongest, diesel-powered, extra-fortified, ice- breaking boats.”

“Until this year, when three men made the complete Northwest crossing through the M'Clure strait (the northernmost of the direct routes) in the Belzebub II -- a sailboat with no fortification. Previously, the only boats that had made it through M'Clure were ice-breakers, and none had been able to complete the pass through Viscount Melville Sound after shooting through M'Clure. Usually only either the sound or the straight are open to boats, but not both at once.”

Source: The Atlantic


The Ozone Crisis October 5, 2012 : 4:10 PM

Twenty-five years ago, the world came together to solve the ozone crisis in the form of the Montreal Protocol. Today, we must unite again to solve the climate crisis.

Read more here.


$1.2 Trillion October 6, 2012 : 7:48 PM

Climate change is already costing us lives and dollars:

“Climate change is already contributing to the deaths of nearly 400,000 people a year and costing the world more than $1.2 trillion, wiping 1.6% annually from global GDP, according to a new study.”

“The impacts are being felt most keenly in developing countries, according to the research, where damage to agricultural production from extreme weather linked to climate change is contributing to deaths from malnutrition, poverty and their associated diseases.”

Source: The Guardian


What will the cost of the climate crisis be? October 7, 2012 : 6:02 PM


“More than 100 million people will die and global economic growth will be cut by 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030 if the world fails to tackle climate change, a report commissioned by 20 governments said on Wednesday.”

“As global average temperatures rise due to greenhouse gas emissions, the effects on the planet, such as melting ice caps, extreme weather, drought and rising sea levels, will threaten populations and livelihoods, said the report conducted by humanitarian organization DARA. “

Source: Reuters


Our Media October 9, 2012 : 8:12 AM

A new study demonstrates newspapers in the United States are misleading their readers on the climate crisis:

“America is unique when it comes to giving a platform to climate deniers and skeptics.”

“According to a new analysis of data released last year, American newspapers are far more likely to publish uncontested claims from climate deniers, many of whom challenge whether the planet is warming at all and are “almost exclusively found” in the U.S. media. The study was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.”

Source: Climate Progress


Disappearing Reef October 11, 2012 : 7:35 PM

Over 27 years, more than half the coral cover of the Great Barrier Reef has disappeared:

“Coral cover in the Great Barrier Reef has dropped by more than half over the last 27 years, according to scientists, a result of increased storms, bleaching and predation by population explosions of a starfish which sucks away the coral's nutrients.”

“At present rates of decline, the coral cover will halve again within a decade, though scientists said the reef could recover if the crown-of-thorns starfish can be brought under control and, longer term, global carbon dioxide emissions are reduced.”

"This latest study provides compelling evidence that the cumulative impacts of storms, crown-of-thorns starfish (Cots) and two bleaching events have had a devastating effect on the reef over the last three decades," said John Gunn, chief executive of the Australian Institute of Marine Science.”

Source: The Guardian


The Drought Continues October 12, 2012 : 6:39 PM

Almost two thirds of the country is experiencing drought:

“The latest weekly Drought Monitor update set another grim record. The brutal U.S. drought expanded to 65.45% of the contiguous U.S. — the highest ever in the Monitor’s 12-year history. The previous record was 64.8% — set just last week.”

Source Climate Progress


Meteorologists Speak Out October 14, 2012 : 5:20 PM

Meteorologists are demanding Congress create a commission to confront extreme weather:

“A coalition of meteorology leaders asked Congress today to create the first-ever U.S. Weather Commission to confront the costs of weather on the U.S. economy and its toll on human lives.”

“The University Center for Atmospheric Research, which helped to convene the Congressional briefing, says the commission “would advise federal policymakers on setting priorities for improving forecasts and creating a more weather-proof nation.”

“More specifically, the commission would educate Congress on the appropriate satellite and radar investments, research priorities, and the needs of key sectors, UCAR says.”

Source: Capital Weather Gang


Climate Migration October 16, 2012 : 11:39 AM

An entire country plans on moving due to the climate crisis:

“The people of Kiribati are going to have to move. Slightly more than 100,000 people live in this country, a chain of 33 atolls in the South Pacific, about as many as live in a small American city like Erie, Pennsylvania, or Flint, Michigan. The islands lie low in the ocean, and as climate change drives the sea level higher, fewer people are going to have the option of living there. The country’s president, Anote Tong, considered surrounding the islands with sea walls or building floating platforms for his constituents to move to. But both those options are expensive, and the country’s cabinet is now backing Tong’s new plan: buy land elsewhere.”

Source: Good


Great Lakes Threat October 23, 2012 : 8:44 PM

Aging pipelines could threaten the environment of the Great Lakes:

“A report released on Thursday by the National Wildlife Federation questions the safety of a network of oil pipelines operated by Enbridge that run through the Great Lakes region.”

“The group contends that Enbridge’s pipelines in the area are especially susceptible to spills because of their age and the company’s recent history of accidents — creating a situation the environmental group said could be disastrous for the fragile ecosystems in Lake Michigan.”

“The report was prompted in part by Enbridge’s recent plans to expand its enormous Lakehead System of pipelines, which carry oil and other products from Canada to the United States. In particular, the environmentalgroup focused on Enbridge’s Line 5, which cuts across the Straits of Mackinac, where Lake Michigan meets Lake Huron, and whose pumping capacity the company wants to increase by 50,000 barrels a day.”

Source: New York Times


The Real Cost of Coal October 25, 2012 : 10:23 PM

These photos show coal’s true cost:

“Writer Steve Hawk and photographer Ami Vitale traveled to the mountains of West Virginia, small-town Michigan, and a reservation in Nevada to match human faces and stories with the cost of coal.”

Source: Grist


The Drought's Effect Continues October 26, 2012 : 4:40 PM

The massive drought is now affecting our wheat crop:

“During the past week, drought conditions have improved slightly across the U.S., but the majority of the lower 48 states continue to suffer from what is proving to be a widespread and pernicious drought event, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor statistics, released on Thursday. The drought put a major dent in the U.S. corn and soybean crop, and now it is delaying the emergence of winter wheat, which is grown in some of the hardest-hit drought states, such as Nebraska.”

Source: Climate Central


Making Clean Energy Toxic October 27, 2012 : 4:49 PM

The Koch Brothers have made making clean energy toxic in Washington a political goal:

“The wind energy industry faces a lame duck fight in the House of Representatives over extending the expiring production tax credit. The tax credit has broad bipartisan support, and considering that 81 percent ofU.S. wind projects are installed in Republican districts, GOP lawmakers have a good reason to support it.”

“But with Koch Industries and fossil fuel groups mobilizing to defeat the credit, its future after 2012 is uncertain. The American Energy Alliance, which has Koch ties, told Politico Pro this week that it aims to make the credit a toxic issue for House Republicans: (Article requires subscription access):”

“Our goal is to make the PTC so toxic that it makes it impossible for John Boehner to sit at a table with Harry Reid and say, ‘Yeah, I can bend on this one,’” said Benjamin Cole, spokesman for the American Energy Alliance.”

Source: Climate Progress


Statement on Hurricane Sandy October 30, 2012 : 1:21 PM

This week, our nation has anxiously watched as Hurricane Sandy lashed the East Coast and caused widespread damage--affecting millions. Now more than ever, our neighbors need our help. Please consider donating or volunteering for your local aid organizations.

The images of Sandy’s flooding brought back memories of a similar--albeit smaller scale-- event in Nashville just two years ago. There, unprecedented rainfall caused widespread flooding, wreaking havoc and submerging sections of my hometown. For me, the Nashville flood was a milestone. For many, Hurricane Sandy may prove to be a similar event: a time when the climate crisis—which is often sequestered to the far reaches of our everyday awareness became a reality.

While the storm that drenched Nashville was not a tropical cyclone like Hurricane Sandy, both storms were strengthened by the climate crisis. Scientists tell us that by continually dumping 90 million tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere every single day, we are altering the environment in which all storms develop. As the oceans and atmosphere continue to warm, storms are becoming more energetic and powerful. Hurricane Sandy, and the Nashville flood, were reminders of just that. Other climate-related catastrophes around the world have carried the same message to hundreds of millions.

Sandy was also affected by other symptoms of the climate crisis. As the hurricane approached the East Coast, it gathered strength from abnormally warm coastal waters. At the same time, Sandy's storm surge was worsened by a century of sea level rise. Scientists tell us that if we do not reduce our emissions, these problems will only grow worse.

Hurricane Sandy is a disturbing sign of things to come. We must heed this warning and act quickly to solve the climate crisis. Dirty energy makes dirty weather.