Climate Change Weekly Roundup: 07/16/12

Publication – Science Daily
Date: July 10, 2012

Climate Change May Lead to Fewer but More Violent Thunderstorms

A researcher from Tel Aviv University predicts that for every one degree Celsius of warming, there will be approximately a 10 percent increase in lightning activity.

This warming could have negative consequences in the form of flash floods, wild fires, or damage to power lines and other infrastructure, Professor Colin Price, Head of the Department of Geophysics, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at Tel Aviv University told Science Daily.

According to the article, “In an ongoing project to determine the impact of climate change on the world’s lightning and thunderstorm patterns, he and his colleagues have run computer climate models and studied real-life examples of climate change, such as the El Nino cycle in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, to determine how changing weather conditions impact storms.”

Areas like the Mediterranean and the Southern United States could particularly be impacted by an increase in lightning activity as those areas have a high potential of becoming warmer and drier as global warming progresses, according to the 2007 United Nations report on climate change.

Publication – Washington Post
Date: July 12, 2012

Worst drought in at least 12 years in continental U.S.

According to the article, “Drought conditions now cover about 61 percent of the Lower 48, the most extensive area in 12 years of records. Another 19 percent of the country is on the brink of drought. 80 percent of the country is classified as at least abnormally dry in the latest U.S. Drought Monitor.”

In a weeks time,  the Drought Monitor reported a 5 percent rise in drought in the United States, according to The Post. U.S. drought coverage has worsened for eight consecutive weeks, climbing from 34 percent on May 15 to 61 percent as of July 10.

The entirety of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Missouri is experiencing drought; and Colorado and Arkansas have the country’s worst drought conditions. About 70 percent of these states are suffering extreme to exceptional drought.

Implications of the droughts have already been felt with wildfires in Colorado and nearby states.

“During the past 3 weeks, the year-to-date acreage burned by wildfires increased from 1.1 million to 3.1 million,” the Drought Monitor reported to The Post.

In addition, the drought is having devastating impacts on agriculture in the heartland.

“In the 18 primary corn-growing states, 30 percent of the crop is now in poor or very poor condition, up from 22 percent the previous week,” reported the Drought Monitor. “In addition, fully half of the nation’s pastures and ranges are in poor or very poor condition, up from 28 percent in mid-June.”

Publication – Science Daily
Date: July 13, 2012

Nuclear Weapons’ Surprising Contribution to Climate Science

Key Cold War research laboratories and the science used to track radioactivity and model nuclear bomb blasts have today been repurposed by climate scientists to demonstrate a connection between nuclear weapons testing and climate change, according to Science Daily.

In his article for The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists entitled, “Entangled histories: Climate science and nuclear weapons research,” University of Michigan historian Paul Edwards states that climate science and nuclear weapons testing have a long and surprisingly intimate relationship.

According to the article, “In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, for example, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization tracked the radioactive plume emanating from damaged Japanese nuclear reactors via a global network of monitoring stations designed to measure airborne radionuclides. That network is a direct descendant of systems and computer models created to trace the fallout from weapons tests, Edwards explains.”

However, according to Science Daily, ways of tracking radiation, such as tracing radioactive carbon as it cycles through the atmosphere, the oceans, and the biosphere, has been crucial to understanding anthropogenic climate change.

Publication – Environmental News Network
Date: July 13, 2012

Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz Supports Carbon Tax

Former Secretary of State George Shultz is calling for a carbon tax to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and oil consumption, according to an interview released by Stanford University.

Shultz is heading up the Hoover Institution’s Task Force on Energy Policy will calls for boosting energy efficiency, reducing dependence on oil exports to improve national security, and putting a price on carbon, according to ENN. While the last of those objectives has been an anathema to many Republicans of late, Shultz said his party could eventually support a carbon tax.

“We have to have a system where all forms of energy bear their full costs,” Shultz said. “For some, their costs are the costs of producing the energy, but many other forms of energy produce side effects, like pollution, that are a cost of society. The producers don’t bear that cost, society does. There has to be a way to level the playing field and cause those forms of energy to bear their true costs. That means putting a price on carbon.”

“We’ve studied a variety of ways to do that, and to me the most appealing way is a revenue-neutral carbon tax. That is, you distribute all the revenue from the carbon tax in some fashion back to taxpayers, so there is no fiscal drag on the economy. British Columbia has a revenue-neutral carbon tax. They started low and increased the tax over five years to a much higher level, so people could adjust. The revenue is distributed mostly to individuals, so it’s popular.”

Have you seen breaking climate change news or discussion that should be included in our next “Roundup?”  Let us know!