Link between tornadoes and climate change
Recent bad weather in the US, for example the tornado which mashed Joplin, Missouri, has led to many many stories speculating about the link between the intense tornado season and climate change. Joe Romm at Climate Progress takes a measured view:
1. When discussing extreme weather and climate, tornadoes should not be conflated with the other extreme weather events for which the connection is considerably more straightforward and better documented, including deluges, droughts, and heat waves.
2. Just because the tornado-warming link is more tenuous doesn’t mean that the subject of global warming should be avoided entirely when talking about tornadoes.
Joe Romm’s substantive post Tornadoes, extreme weather, and climate change is well worth a read and has lots of comments and links about extreme weather in general as well as tornadoes.
Hot … and Wet
Tamino at Open Mind tells us that there is about 4% more water vapor worldwide in the atmosphere than a few decades ago.
It’s a direct result of global warming: warmer air tends to hold more water vapor. It’s also one of the main feedbacks in global warming, since water vapor is also a greenhouse gas, so increased water vapor due to global warming will amplify global warming.
He then split up the map of the US into a grid pattern and charted the precipitation from 1900 to the present for each grid. The increase in precipitation in the north-east and mid-west is quite noticeable.
Colombia’s rain goes under the radar
I must say I was completely ignorant of the surfeit of rain in Colombia, affecting 3.4 million people and 1,030 out of the total 1,120 municipalities throughout the country. Since April 2010 452 people have died from the floods. For perspective, the country’s population is 44.7 million.
I found out courtesy of a post at Climate progress. Joe Romm says we are going to see more of this with global warming and it highlights the need developing countries have for adaptation assistance.
The law of the jungle
The destruction of the Amazon rainforest proceeds apace. One of the reasons is that forest activists are likely to be shot for their troubles.
Brazilian activist Joao Claudio Ribeiro da Silva has long said that he could be shot at any time. Now it’s happened to him and his wife, Maria do Espírito Santo. No-one knows who did it, but they’d received death threats from loggers and cattle ranchers because of their attempts to defend the Amazon.
The task of controlling the place seems beyond the Brazilian government, so the law of the jungle applies.
The use of cars appears to have peaked in 2004 in cities all around the developed world. The reasons given may be summarised as follows:
“the phenomenon of peak car use appears to have set in to the cities of the developed world,” due to a combination of technological limits; growth in transit and re-urbanisation; aging populations and the emerging culture of urbanism; and rising fuel prices.
All fine and good, but the reasons given appear not to be based on actual research.
Green energy costs are lower than officially estimated
That’s what we are told, according to new University of Melbourne research, commissioned by the the government’s own Garnaut climate change review.
“Massively overestimated”, to quote the exact phrase.
The implication seems to be that we could skip using gas as an interim technology and go straight to renewables. Marn said they would take note.
Is natural gas cleaner than coal?
Climate Progress revisits this topic.
A recent study by Robert Howarth of Cornell University found that shale gas was potentially as big a contributor to climate change as coal, taking into account fugitive methane emissions during mining. Now the National Energy Technology Laboratory have done a study showing that the greenhouse effect of gas is about half coal.
The case is not straight forward, however, and Joe Romm’s verdict is:
It looks like Howarth’s claim that natural gas vehicles may not have lower lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum-fueled vehicles may hold up. It would be good to see industry provide more data and a credible independent group do a more comprehensive analysis.
He suggests a National Academy of Sciences review.
I think I commented last time that shale gas mining processes may be very different from coal seam gas in Australia. Certainly we have far less fracking.
No man is an island, but…
Here’s the poem.
Climate Progress looks at the record Mississippi floods
and suggests the bell is tolling.