January 20

Cold Weather Tales – Southern Hemisphere Sizzles – Preparing for Climate Change’s Immediate Impacts

My Father’s Advice: Embrace The Cold

I am continually amazed by my 91-year old father, who came of age in Germany at the end of WWII. We’ve recorded hundreds of radio interviews and recently he surprised me with a story I hadn’t heard before.

Growing up there was no TV, radio was mostly Nazi propaganda. During winter all they had was sport. He walked or rode his bike 5 miles to school and for fun his friends played ice hockey on a nearby lake. They encouraged the “larger boys” to head out on the ice, and if it held they would all skate their hearts out. He attributes embracing winter to living 9 decades.

The ice is now plenty thick on nearby lakes, and with colder than average temperatures into next week we are making up for lost time with pond hockey. I see at least 7-8 more subzero nights by the end of January. An inch of powder is possible Friday night, maybe a few more inches Sunday into Monday, but the pattern isn’t ripe for mega-snows anytime soon.

We’re picking up 2 minutes of daylight every day; some 33 minutes since December 21.



No More Sudden Thaws Brewing. Did it really get up to 42F yesterday? Today will feel 60 degrees colder, and with a persistent ridge of high pressure over western Canada, long range models are prolonging a fetch of air direct from the Yukon into early February, although I still don’t expect a rerun of February 2021.


8 to 14 Day Outlook
NOAA CPC
3 to 4 Week Outlook
NOAA CPC

Argentine Towns Sizzle Amid “Hottest Days in History”. Reuters has an update on heat down under; here’s an excerpt: “…“Practically all of Argentina and also neighboring countries such as Uruguay, southern Brazil and Paraguay are experiencing the hottest days in history,” said Cindy Fernandez, meteorologist at the official National Meteorological Service. Many towns have posted their highest temperatures since records began, with some zones heating up to 45 degrees Celsius (113°F), according to the weather service. “In Argentina, from the center of Patagonia to the north of the country, thermal values are being recorded that are reaching or exceeding 40 degrees,” Fernandez said. The heat and a prolonged drought have hit the grains-producing country’s crops, though there is hope that an expected drop in temperature next week will bring a period of rainfall to cool both plants and people…”


NOAA

How Cold is Minnesota? Pretty darned cold, thank you. But it’s not the coldest state in the lower 48 states, according to an illuminating post at Minnpost: “One measure of coldness is the mean temperature over time: an average of all the temperature readings across the state over time. By this metric, Minnesota is cold, but not the coldest state. The state’s average annual recorded temperature between 1901 and 2000, a time period that allows easy comparison with other states, was is 40.1 degrees Fahrenheit. That puts Minnesota tied for second in the lower 48, along with Maine. North Dakota is the coldest in the contiguous U.S., at 39.7 degrees on average. Alaska’s data only go back to 1925, but it undeniably ranks coldest among all U.S. states, at an annual average of 26 degrees between 1925 and 2000...”


Climate Stories…

ExxonMobil

Exxon Sets a 2050 Goal for Net Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The New York Times (paywall) reports: “Exxon Mobil, under increasing pressure from investors to address climate change, announced on Tuesday that it had the “ambition” to reach zero net greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by 2050. The oil company, the largest in the United States, still remains behind several of its major competitors in its public climate commitments. Exxon said it had identified 150 modifications of its exploration and production practices to help reach its goals, including electrification of operations with energy from renewable sources. Initial steps will include elimination of the flaring and venting of methane, a byproduct of drilling that is a powerful greenhouse gas...”


Inspired by King’s Words, Experts Say the Fight for Climate Justice Anywhere is a Fight for Climate Justice Everywhere. A post at Inside Climate News explains: “…Terms like “environmental racism” or “environmental justice” were not yet part of the national lexicon when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis on April 4, 1968. And while insider records reveal that the nation’s oil and gas lobby was being briefed that same year on the dangers of rising greenhouse gas emissions, the term “global warming” wasn’t credited with being coined until 1975, seven years after the civil rights leader’s death. Yet leading climate scientists, theologians or environmental and climate justice activists today find much meaning and inspiration from what King wrote, said or did. In advance of this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Inside Climate News reached out to scientists, theologians, ministers and environmental and climate justice advocates to reflect on King’s legacy, as seen through a climate and environmental justice lens more than a half a century after King’s death...”


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Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Race to Cut Carbon Emissions Splits U.S. States on Nuclear. My take, for what it’s worth, if we want carbon-free baseline power for the near term, until renewables can reach critical mass, we need nuclear. Here’s an excerpt from a story at AP News: “As climate change pushes states in the U.S. to dramatically cut their use of fossil fuels, many are coming to the conclusion that solar, wind and other renewable power sources might not be enough to keep the lights on. Nuclear power is emerging as an answer to fill the gap as states transition away from coal, oil and natural gas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stave off the worst effects of a warming planet. The renewed interest in nuclear comes as companies, including one started by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, are developing smaller, cheaper reactors that could supplement the power grid in communities across the U.S. Nuclear power comes with its own set of potential problems, especially radioactive waste that can remain dangerous for thousands of years. But supporters say the risks can be minimized and that the energy source will be essential to stabilize power supplies as the world tries to move away from carbon dioxide-emitting fossil fuels…”


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NOAA

How to Prepare for Climate Change’s Most Immediate Impacts. Remediation, adaptation and preparation are all called for, according to a post at WIRED.com (paywall). Here’s an excerpt: “…Climate change is here, now, today. Even if we all became carbon zero overnight—an impossibility—the climate would still keep changing. And while it’s important to keep fighting, lobbying, and making lifestyle changes to reduce the impacts of climate change, it’s also important to admit that our planet has irrevocably changed and each of us needs to learn how to adapt. The biggest challenge of learning to live in a new climate is that there’s so much uncertainty about what’s going to happen, to whom, and when. “Climate change will cause mass migrations and economic disruptions,” says John Ramey, the founder of The Prepared, a website focused on prepping. “What will happen when millions of homes are lost, people move, food and water is scarce, and whole economic sectors fail?” Nobody knows the answer to that question, much less whether it’s guaranteed that will all happen, but here’s a hint: Even a fraction of that is gonna be bad, and you’re gonna be glad that you read and took the advice in this article...”


Climate Change Harms Kids ‘From Preconception Into Adolescence,’ Studies Show: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Climate change is harming fetuses, babies, and infants worldwide, six new studies published in a special issue of Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology show. Increased heat was linked to premature birth, increased hospital admissions for young children, and fast weight gain for babies which can lead to higher obesity risk. Studies also found air pollution caused by fossil fuel combustion was linked to reduced fertility, and fetal exposure to wildfire smoke doubled the risk of severe birth defects. “From the very beginning, from preconception, through early childhood into adolescence, we’re starting to see important impacts of climate hazards on health,” said Prof. Gregory Wellenius, who edited the issue. “These extreme events are going to become even more likely and more severe with continued climate change [and this research shows] why they’re important to us, not in the future, but today.” (The Guardian, The Hill).


NASA’s data on rising temperatures over the decades.
Illustration: NASA/NOAA

The World Was Cooler in 2021 Than 2022. That’s Not Good News. WIRED.com explains why; here’s a clip: “…Today’s findings are all the more alarming precisely because 2021 managed to overcome these cooling effects and still tally the sixth-highest temperature. And while global temperatures were cooler in 2021 than the year before, last year 1.8 billion people lived in places that experienced their hottest temperatures ever recorded, according to a report released today by Berkeley Earth. This includes Asian countries like China and North and South Korea, African nations like Nigeria and Liberia, and in the Middle East places like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. “We talk a lot about global average temperatures, but no one lives in the global average,” says Zeke Hausfather, a research scientist at Berkeley Earth. “In fact most of the globe, two-thirds of it, is ocean, and no one lives in the ocean—or very few people at least. And land areas, on average, are warming much faster than the rest of the world…”


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NASA

The Climate Conversation No One Wants. Here’s an excerpt from an Op Ed at Foreign Policy: “…Even if all Glasgow pledges are fulfilled, we are still facing a temperature overshoot of approximately 2 degrees Celsius. In the more likely scenario of not all pledges being fulfilled, warming will be more: perhaps 3 degrees Celsius. This would be catastrophic in nearly every sense for large parts of humanity, especially the poorest and most vulnerable who are suffering first and worst from escalating climate impacts. Extreme weather events are becoming much more frequent, and no one will be totally immune, as we saw with Europe’s 2021 floods and Colorado’s recent fires. Remember this word: overshoot. It will gain increasing importance as the herculean difficulty of reducing emissions to net zero and removing vast stores of carbon from the atmosphere become clearer. On top of this, there is a still greater challenge: moving to net-negative emissions thereafter, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says will also be needed…”


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Colorado Department of Agriculture

Be Ready to Change: Climate Change and Farming. Another Op Ed at Lancaster Farming caught my eye; here’s a clip: “…Farms have to be ready to change. What exactly this means for your farm I’m not sure, in part because scientists are still trying to work all that out. Cover crops will probably be in the mix somehow. But recent reporting has indicated that two of agriculture’s most-heralded climate strategies — carbon sequestration and cell-culture meat — may be far less practical than their proponents have claimed. Still, the United States is hoping to innovate its way out of a climate crisis. If predictions are to be believed, that might be our only option besides annihilating our standard of living. It’s worth remembering, though, that a given industry is only responsible for its sliver of the solution. It’s not on farmers to cut the emissions of airplanes or power plants, and it’s not vegetable growers’ job to deal with cow belches. My point is not so much to promote specific solutions as to encourage a state of mind that will make adjustments possible...”

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