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Arlington Vision 2020 Committee/Mass. Climate Action Network (MCAN) Chapter

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This page includes content from the Climate Change News blog, which is maintained daily by David Landskov, and content from our old SA blog archives.

  • Trump EPA Offers Weakened CO2 Rule Replacement

    Climate Change News Aug 21, 2018 | 19:25 pm

    Trump EPA Offers Weakened CO2 Rule Replacement The Trump administration released a plan today to regulate carbon dioxide emissions at power plants, undercutting a much broader effort by former President Obama to slash planet-warming gases. The EPA proposal would give states wide latitude for determining how to cut greenhouse gases from the power sector, a key contributor in the U.S. to climate change.  The proposed rule is far narrower than the Obama plan, which sought to cut emissions across the power sector rather than only at individual plants. On the campaign trail in 2016, President Trump promised to repeal Obama's rule, called the Clean Power Plan.  His administration stopped short of that today and is instead offering a weakened alternative to avoid a potentially damaging defeat in court. The move could satisfy a number of electric utilities that urged the administration to establish relaxed climate regulations rather than jettison them altogether. Under the Trump plan EPA aims to make power plants more efficient to meet emissions goals.  It would allow the facilities to make upgrades without triggering requirements under New Source Review.  That regulatory program requires facilities to undergo additional permitting and add pollution controls when upgrades would create significantly more emissions. Democratic state attorneys general and environmental groups are sure to sue the Trump administration over the proposal, on the grounds that it doesn't adequately address greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal. The legal limbo could stall the regulations from taking effect. The plan will be open for public comment, and EPA said it plans to[…]

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  • A Koch-Fueled Attack on Electric Buses Picks up Speed

    Climate Change News Aug 21, 2018 | 19:24 pm

    A Koch-Fueled Attack on Electric Buses Picks up Speed Electric buses are replacing existing diesel-fueled fleets at an accelerating rate, and the transition to battery-powered buses is outpacing even the most optimistic projections.  In this light, it should come as little surprise that commentators and organizations with ties to the Koch network and the oil industry are attacking a transportation option that yields fewer fossil fuel profits and cleaner, healthier air for people and planet.A string of recent commentaries published in the conservative Washington Examiner have relied on a handful of critical reports about the rollout of electric buses in individual municipalities, which the commentators use to portray electric buses, as a class, as uneconomical and unreliable.Despite these efforts by Koch affiliates and oil industry consultants, the electrification of bus transit is firmly underway.   These high tech buses are already being widely deployed throughout China, which, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), is adding about 9,500 electric buses every five weeks.  As China leads the way and North American and European municipalities follow suit, analysts expect this momentum to accelerate and predict 80 percent of the global municipal bus fleet to be electric by 2040.That is bad news for the oil industry.  Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts that switching from internal combustion engine transport to electric vehicles will displace 7.3 million barrels of oil a day.According to Bloomberg, this year electric buses already will lower diesel consumption by 233,000 barrels a day.Read more at A Koch-Fueled Attack on Electric Buses Picks up Speed

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  • Summer Rainfall Declines ‘Primary Driver’ of Surge in US Wildfires

    Climate Change News Aug 21, 2018 | 17:51 pm

    Summer Rainfall Declines ‘Primary Driver’ of Surge in US Wildfires Sharp declines in summer rainfall could be a “primary driver” of the record-breaking wildfires ripping across the western US, research shows. Using satellite data, the study finds that there have been “previously unnoted” declines in summer rainfall across close to a third of forests in the western US over the past four decades.  These declines are “strongly correlated” with wildfire increases, the study finds. It is likely that climate change has played a role in the diminishing rains, the lead author tells Carbon Brief.  However, it is still not clear to what extent global warming – over natural climate variability – is to blame. The findings suggest that the role of declining rainfall in worsening wildfires has been previously “overlooked” in comparison to other major drivers such as rising temperatures, the author adds. Read more at Summer Rainfall Declines ‘Primary Driver’ of Surge in US Wildfires

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  • Near 2 Million Acres on Fire in the United States

    Climate Change News Aug 21, 2018 | 04:10 am

    Near 2 Million Acres on Fire in the United States The West Coast of the United States is shrouded in smoke from the 110 large fires (this does not include smaller fires within each complex of fires) that have erupted across the region during this fire season. Over 1.9 million acres are or have been ablaze.  Six new large fires were reported in Idaho, Nevada, and Oregon over the weekend and eight large fires have been contained including the Ferguson Fire near Yosemite National Park in California. The weather concerns in the area include warmer than average temperatures that will continue in the west with diurnal winds and marginal overnight humidity recoveries.  Isolated storms will be possible along and west of the Continental Divide in Montana and Wyoming.  These storms could also bring more lightning strikes and more blazes to the area with increasingly dry conditions.  A breezy easterly flow will blow across the western half of Montana and possibly northern Idaho that could possibly allow fires to spread farther.  With the center of the high pressure area located mostly over southern California, the normal wind flow will be suppressed and the rain that might come to this area will be contained mainly in areas near the Mexican Border certainly not helping firefighting efforts.  Further north, low pressure will bring cooler temperatures and possibly isolated storms to the Pacific Northwest. National Preparedness Level is at the highest level of 5.  This level includes national mobilization heavily committed to fighting active fires and taking measure to support these geographic areas that[…]

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  • Monday 20

    Climate Change News Aug 21, 2018 | 03:50 am

    Monday 20

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  • As the Arctic Heats Up, Summer Weather Is Lingering in Place

    Climate Change News Aug 20, 2018 | 21:33 pm

    As the Arctic Heats Up, Summer Weather Is Lingering in Place Climate change is causing major planetary atmospheric circulation systems like the jet stream to slow down — stalling summer weather patterns across Europe, North America, and parts of Asia, according to a new analysis published in the journal Nature Communications.  As a result, rains are turning into floods, sunny days into long-lasting heat waves, and dry conditions into wildfires. “While it might not sound so bad to have more prolonged sunny episodes in summer, this is in fact a major climate risk,” the scientists, led by Dim Coumou of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), said in a statement.  “We have rising temperatures due to human-caused global warming, which intensifies heat waves and heavy rainfall, and on top of that we could get dynamical changes that make weather extremes even stronger – this is quite worrying.” In the coming decades, this disruption of global atmospheric circulation systems could cause “very extreme extremes,” particularly in major agricultural regions, the study concludes. In the Northern hemisphere, the difference in temperature between the Arctic and the Equator has historically been the driving force behind the air streams that shift weather patterns eastward across continents.  But the Arctic has been warming two to four times faster than the rest of the globe, causing this temperature gap to narrow.  As The Guardian’s Jonathan Watts explains, “as this ramp flattens, winds struggle to build up sufficient energy and speed to push around pressure systems in the area between them.” A prime example of this[…]

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  • New Rechargeable Battery Could Accelerate EV Adoption

    Climate Change News Aug 20, 2018 | 05:31 am

    New Rechargeable Battery Could Accelerate EV Adoption Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a new rechargeable technology for batteries that could have double the power output compared to today’s most-widely used batteries, without catching fire or taking up additional space.  This new tech could drastically extend the range of the electric vehicles or the time between cell phone charges. The lithium ion battery, the current standard for battery technology, became the norm in the early 1990s, when it was found that such technology was more stable than the rechargeable lithium metal batteries tested in the 1980s.  Those early lithium metal batteries used liquid electrolytes, and in the battery environment, the lithium traveling between the electrodes formed “metal whiskers”, the so-called dendrites that can create a short circuit and cause the batteries to catch fire and even explode. Now the University of Michigan researchers say that their battery breakthrough—using a ceramic, solid-state electrolyte in lithium metal batteries—solves the short-circuiting and poor durability issues with those batteries, in what could be a game-changer and a roadmap to what could be the next generation of rechargeable batteries. The current widely used lithium ion batteries use graphite to prevent the forming of the metal whiskers, but energy density and capacity with graphite is much lower than the energy density in lithium metal in a solid-state battery, the scientists say in the research funded by the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy and the Department of Energy.  Current lithium ion batteries max out with a total energy density at around 600 watt-hours[…]

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  • Sunday 19

    Climate Change News Aug 20, 2018 | 05:25 am

    Sunday 19

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  • Amid Fires and Hurricanes, Price of Climate Change Begins to Hit Home

    Climate Change News Aug 19, 2018 | 05:40 am

    Amid Fires and Hurricanes, Price of Climate Change Begins to Hit Home Climate change, which many skeptics argue is more bark than bite, is starting to demonstrate an impact on economies – and perceptions. Climate change is starting to pack an economic punch. In California this summer, severe wildfires have intensified a political brawl over who should shoulder the liability.  Utility companies, which carry most of the risk if their equipment starts a fire, charge that they could go bankrupt if the legislature doesn’t alleviate their legal liability.  Insurance companies, which would have to shoulder the risk, argue that climate risk is still manageable. And as hurricane season begins for the United States, low-lying Miami is beginning to see the value of flood-prone coastal properties grow more slowly than real estate on higher ground. The links between these natural disasters and climate change are complicated and nuanced.  Further clouding the discussion, many conservative politicians still argue there’s no such link.  On Sunday, before touring northern California’s deadly Carr fire, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told a local California TV station that the wildfire “has nothing to do with climate change.  This has to do with active forest management.” Slowly, despite the ongoing political debates over climate change’s causes and effects, the economic impacts are beginning to hit home in certain communities.  For example:  Flood-prone coastal properties in five Southeastern states have lost $7.4 billion in potential value since 2005 because they appreciated at a slower rate than coastal real estate at higher elevations, according to one study released last month. So far, the[…]

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  • Research Highlight:  Climate Model Predicts Faster Warming for the North Atlantic Ocean

    Climate Change News Aug 19, 2018 | 04:56 am

    Research Highlight:  Climate Model Predicts Faster Warming for the North Atlantic Ocean As aerosol emissions decline, heat uptake in the North Atlantic could increase dramatically. Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have predicted faster rates of warming than previously predicted for the North Atlantic Ocean in a recent paper published in the Journal of Climate.  This warming could disrupt major oceanic cycles and have worldwide impacts on climate systems. The researchers modeled scenarios based on possible future greenhouse gas and aerosol emission rates.  One likely scenario focuses on future decline in aerosols and continued increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.  Aerosols are minute particles suspended in the atmosphere.  Some scatter sunlight, thereby actually acting as cooling agents. The aerosol cooling effect is about 50 percent of the warming effect of anthropogenic carbon dioxide at present.  Aerosols released from human activities are pollutants, however, and their health concerns have triggered worldwide efforts to curb emissions.  An aerosol decline could spark an interesting catch-22:  Because of their cooling effect, this decline would accelerate ocean warming that is already being caused by increasing carbon dioxide emissions–most notably initiating major warming in the North Atlantic....Increased rates of warming in the North Atlantic could impact a key oceanic cycle, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC.  An important part of the Earth’s climate system, the AMOC is a large system of ocean currents – such as the Gulf Stream – that pulls warmer water from the tropics toward the North Atlantic where it cools, sinks into the deep ocean, and flows southward[…]

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