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NOAA: Assessing the U.S. Climate in September 2017

"Since June 2017, six additional weather and climate events impacted the nation that had direct, total costs exceeding $1 billion. These new events included the western U.S. wildfires, the Northern Plains drought, a severe weather event in the Midwest, and major Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. This brings the year-to-date total to 15 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters, tying 2011 for the record number of events during January–September. The record number of billion-dollar disasters for a calendar year is 16 events set in 2011. Cost estimates associated with the 2017 hurricanes will be available in January 2018."

"The September nationally averaged temperature was 66.3°F, 1.4°F above the 20th century average, and ranked among the warmest third of the historical record. Near-record warmth was observed in parts of the Great Lakes and Northeast. The year-to-date U.S. average temperature was the third warmest on record at 57.7°F, 2.7°F above average. Only January–September of 2012 and 2016 were warmer. Above-average temperatures spanned the nation for the first nine months of the year."

The idea that climate scientists are in it for the cash has deep ideological roots

"This brings us back to the notion that cancer doctors might have a personal interest in not finding a cure. Proponents of public choice – including those who worked with Buchanan - have made just those claims.

In 1992, two academics from the Center for the Study of Public Choice at George Mason University (a centre established and led by Buchanan), wrote a book called The Economics of Smoking. In the book, economist Robert Tollison argued that the “anti-cancer bureaucracy will face weaker incentives to find and develop effective treatments of and cures for cancer, as well as facing incentives to magnify the risks of cancer”.

“A cure for cancer would put many cancer bureaucrats out of work,” Tollison wrote.

So the argument goes that these anti-cancer “bureaucrats” were not so much motivated to protect people from painful and deadly conditions linked to smoking, such as cancer and heart disease. Instead, they might work a bit less stringently to find a cure in return for a wage.

Analysis Irma and Harvey lay the costs of climate change denial at Trump’s door
The president’s dismissal of scientific research is doing nothing to protect the livelihoods of ordinary Americans
Read more
There’s an irony in this accusation of people acting in their self-interest. Before and after writing that book chapter, Tollison was paid consultancy fees by the tobacco industry.

In the archives of tobacco documents released as part of US litigation, you can find a 1989 invoice sent to the Tobacco Institute for Tollison’s work on a “media tour”.

In 1993, the archives reveal, Tollison and his GMU colleague Robert Wagner, who co-wrote The Economics of Smoking, pitched to the tobacco industry a report attacking the World Health Organization, which would cost $20,000."

End-of-Summer Arctic Sea Ice Extent Is Eighth Lowest on Record

"Arctic sea ice appeared to have reached its yearly lowest extent on Sept. 13, NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder have reported. Analysis of satellite data by NSIDC and NASA showed that at 1.79 million square miles (4.64 million square kilometers), this year’s Arctic sea ice minimum extent is the eighth lowest in the consistent long-term satellite record, which began in 1978."

"Arctic sea ice appears to have reached a record low wintertime maximum extent for 2017, according to scientists at the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. Observations indicate that on Sept. 13, 2017 ice extent shrunk to the eighth lowest in the satellite record, at 4.64 million square miles, or 1.79 million square miles."

"Arctic sea ice, the layer of frozen seawater covering much of the Arctic Ocean and neighboring seas, is often referred to as the planet’s air conditioner: its white surface bounces solar energy back to space, cooling the globe. The sea ice cap changes with the season, growing in the autumn and winter and shrinking in the spring and summer. Its minimum summertime extent, which typically occurs in September, has been decreasing, overall, at a rapid pace since the late 1970s due to warming temperatures."

Coastal real estate industry resists forecasts of sea-level rise and polices based on them

"These studies warn that Florida, the Carolinas and other southeastern states face the nation’s fastest-growing rates of sea level rise and coastal erosion — as much as 3 feet by the year 2100, depending on how quickly Antarctic ice sheets melt. In a recent report, researchers for Zillow estimated that nearly 2 million U.S. homes could be literally underwater by 2100, if worst-case projections become reality.

This is not good news for people who market and build waterfront houses. But real estate lobbyists aren’t going down without a fight. Some are teaming up with climate change skeptics and small government advocates to block public release of sea-level rise predictions and ensure that coastal planning is not based on them."

The great nutrient collapse

"Irakli Loladze is a mathematician by training, but he was in a biology lab when he encountered the puzzle that would change his life. It was in 1998, and Loladze was studying for his Ph.D. at Arizona State University. Against a backdrop of glass containers glowing with bright green algae, a biologist told Loladze and a half-dozen other graduate students that scientists had discovered something mysterious about zooplankton."

"Zooplankton are microscopic animals that float in the world’s oceans and lakes, and for food they rely on algae, which are essentially tiny plants. Scientists found that they could make algae grow faster by shining more light onto them—increasing the food supply for the zooplankton, which should have flourished. But it didn’t work out that way. When the researchers shined more light on the algae, the algae grew faster, and the tiny animals had lots and lots to eat—but at a certain point they started struggling to survive. This was a paradox. More food should lead to more growth. How could more algae be a problem?"

Trump Rescinded Obama’s Flood-Risk Rule Weeks Before Hurricane Harvey Hit

"Donald Trump signed away Obama-era flood standards just weeks before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, in a bid to get infrastructure projects approved more quickly."

"The rule, signed by former President Barack Obama in 2015, had not yet come into effect but aimed to make infrastructure more resilient to the effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels and flooding."

"Those who backed Obama's rule believed they would make people safer by putting roads, bridges and other infrastructure on safer ground, NPR reported. But Trump rescinded the rule several weeks ago in an attempt to speed up the time it takes for infrastructure projects to be approved."

Hurricane Harvey: Houston’s flooding made worse by unchecked urban development and wetland destruction — Quartz

"In recent days, the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey has raised water levels in some parts of the watershed high enough to completely cover a Cadillac. The vanished wetlands wouldn’t have prevented flooding, but they would have made it less painful, experts say."

"The Harvey-wrought devastation is just the latest example of the consequences of Houston’s gung-ho approach to development. The city, the largest in the US with no zoning laws, is a case study in limiting government regulations and favoring growth—often at the expense of the environment. As water swamps many of its neighborhoods, it’s now also a cautionary tale of sidelining science and plain common sense. Given the Trump administration’s assault on environmental protections, it’s one that Americans elsewhere should pay attention to."

Hurricane Harvey: Why Is It So Extreme?

"Hurricane Harvey is drowning southeastern Texas for the fourth day, putting a vast area under feet of water. Experts say Harvey has been stuck longer in one place than any tropical storm in memory. That is just one of the hurricane’s extremes; the storm is off the charts by many measures. Scientific American wanted to learn why, and we asked meteorologist Jeff Masters for help."

Houston fears climate change will cause catastrophic flooding: ‘It’s not if, it’s when’

"Friday June 17, 2017 - Near the Gulf coast, Houston is also at annual risk from hurricanes: it is now into the start of the 2017 season, which runs from June to November. Ike, the last hurricane to hit the Houston region, caused $34bn in damage and killed 112 people across several states in September 2008."

"There is little hope the situation is going to get better any time soon. Earlier this month, days after Donald Trump announced the US will withdraw from the Paris accord on climate change, a new report warned that rare US floods will become the norm if emissions are not cut."

The Nitrogen Problem: Why Global Warming Is Making It Worse

"It t is a painful lesson of our time that the things we depend on to make our lives more comfortable can also kill us. Our addiction to fossils fuels is the obvious example, as we come to terms with the slow motion catastrophe of climate change. But we are addicted to nitrogen, too, in the fertilizers that feed us, and it now appears that the combination of climate change and nitrogen pollution is multiplying the possibilities for wrecking the world around us."

"A new study in Science projects that climate change will increase the amount of nitrogen ending up in U.S. rivers and other waterways by 19 percent on average over the remainder of the century — and much more in hard-hit areas, notably the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin (up 24 percent) and the Northeast (up 28 percent). That’s not counting likely increases in nitrogen inputs from more intensive agriculture, or from increased human population."

We Have Less Than 5% Chance of Avoiding ‘Dangerous’ Global Warming

"Our chances of keeping warming under dangerous levels by the end of this century are increasingly slim, according to two new studies published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change."

"The first study took a statistical approach to examine likely warming scenarios by 2100, finding a less than five percent chance of holding warming below two degrees C and a less than one percent chance of keeping it under 1.5 degrees."