“2014 Breaks Heat Record, Challenging Global Warming Skeptics” – New York Times, 16 January 2015

Climate change skeptics might no longer have a leg to stand on, as it has now been reported that 2014 has been the hottest year since weather patterns were first recorded in 1880.

The previous warmest year was 2010; the 10 hottest years on record have taken place after 1997, generating intense heat waves across the western US coast and extreme cold fronts across the eastern US coast. This is further proof that climate change is spurred by human activity and will have a disastrous impact on the Earth.

Moreover, 2014 didn’t have a prominent El Niño — or the warming of the Pacific Ocean that sends excessive heat into the atmosphere — which is odd. It’s easy to imagine that now the effects of climate change have gotten to the point where the world doesn’t need an extra push to reach excessively hot temperatures.

Climate skeptics assert that global warming stopped in 1998, the year of the last extremely strong El Niño. That year was also the warmest year on record in the 20th century. The hottest years have occurred after 1998, in 2005, 2010, and 2014; climate skeptics’ insistence is unjustified at this point.

Human activity continues to take a toll on our environment, causing temperatures to increase, killing flora and fauna, and making sea levels increase. Records for 2014 have been released from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and a Japan-based agency. A British group is also slated to issue their findings in a few weeks.

Interestingly, satellite temperature readings indicate that 2014 wasn’t the hottest year, though they do reveal that last year was very close. Satellites study atmospheric temperatures and not temperatures on the surface of the earth, which accounts for the disparity.

Though climate change seems to be old news at this point, any headway on the matter has been recent. Last year, 300,000 marched in New York City in hopes to mobilize the issue; and last month, almost 200 nations met in Lima, Peru to discuss a global accord to combat the effects of climate change.

(From New York Times)

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

January 19, 2015

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“Pentagon unveils plan for military’s response to climate change” – Los Angeles Times, 13 October 2014

In addition to its climactic effects — growing temperatures and increasingly volatile natural disasters — global warming will soon also test global stability, and test the US military’s ability to handle new demands, including food and water deficits, widespread disease, and conflicts over supplies.

Last month, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel presented a plan for the US military to combat the probable outcomes of climate change in what the Pentagon calls, “2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap.” According to the report, the US Military faces more challenges, such as, “Coastal military installations that are vulnerable to flooding will need to be altered; humanitarian assistance missions will be more frequent in the face of more intense natural disasters; weapons and other critical military equipment will need to work under more severe weather conditions.”

Hagel has also assessed the situation with representatives from Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, and Trinidad and Tobago; and took part in the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas, which brought together 34 nations for two days. The UN is sponsoring another event in Peru in December to further discuss the effects of climate change. Hagel strongly believes that all the nations of the Americas should take part in the upcoming event, since climate change can incite more epidemics than just Ebola, and strengthen terrorism.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

October 15, 2014

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“Climate change is here, action needed now, says new White House report” – CNN, 6 May 2014

The White House released a new climate change report in early May, as part of President Obama’s attempt to ready the US for the effects of climate change. Obama has made climate change awareness a cornerstone of his second-term, primarily by taking it upon himself by using executive action to implement his Climate Action Plan. The White House report details reasons why Obama wants the US to take precautionary measures against our growing sea levels and progressively unpredictable weather.

However, Obama has been butting heads with conservatives, the fossil fuel industry, and their allies over the debate of whether or not climate change is indeed real, and if carbon emissions from power plants, factories, and cars—or human activity—are the biggest culprits. Conservatives view the report as a means for Obama to push his own agenda, which they believe would damage the economy, and place the burden on middle-income families.

While polling shows that Americans believe that climate change is a result of human activities, they are less concerned about environmental issues than they are about the economy, for instance.

A Gallup poll from March produced interesting results: 34% of those surveyed believe climate change is a “serious threat” to the earth, while 64% didn’t believe that. Over 60% believed climate change is currently happening or going to happen.

The report clarifies the approach of counteracting climate change into two strategies: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation calls for curbing the effects of climate change by reducing the cause; adaptation calls for preparing for the consequences that are currently or likely to occur. The report also analyzes the US by region, pinpointing specific impacts to each region.

The report identifies three major concerns: rising sea levels, increased droughts, and a longer fire season. The report foresees sea levels growing by one to four feet by the end of the century. Those living on tropical islands and on the coast will be the hardest hit. Miami, for example, is spending hundred of millions of dollars to prevent massive flooding. The Great Plains, too, will suffer from prolonged droughts and heat waves, which is likely to cause more wildfires and endanger agricultural and residential areas.

The report upholds regulations that limit carbon emissions, and encourages investing in programs that stop climate change in its tracks.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

May 24, 2014

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“Climate Change Will Cause More Energy Breakdowns, U.S. Warns” – New York Times, 11 July 2013

The US’s energy system — oil wells, hydroelectric dams, nuclear power plants — is becoming more and more defenseless to the effects of climate change; a prime example were the blackouts experienced during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The condition of our energy system will only worsen, as the world endures harsher storms, climbing temperatures and drier seasons.

At the beginning of this year, the NOAA reported that 2012 was the hottest year on record for the lower 48 states. The effects are seen from power plants, which are either shutting down or downsizing, to barges transporting oil and coal, which can’t make it through waterways due to low water levels.

Last year’s record-high temperatures led way to a record-setting drought, affecting large portions of the Southwest and Midwest, and leaving litter water available to cool fossil fuel plants and generate hydroelectric power. Almost 60% of the nation’s coal plants can be found in parts of the US with possible water deficiencies spurred by climate change.

The US Department of Energy predicts that air conditioning demand on the west coast will necessitate an additional 34 gigawatts of electricity production by 2050 — equal to building 100 new power plants — and will come with a hefty price tag of over $40 billion.

Steps towards reducing the emissions that have greatly reshaped our climate are much needed, but won’t be felt for a long time. The increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have shifted our climate into total disarray, the last 150 years of rising emissions built into our energy system.

In the meantime, states and the federal government should begin efforts to reinforce their cities against the increasingly relentless weather.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

July 18, 2013

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