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Posts Tagged ‘climate’

Hurricane Sandy dealt a major blow to the New York City metro area. The website, Manhattan Past, notes the historic landscape pattern inherent in the city’s modern day evacuation routes. Landscape memory, recording the history of the landfill that created the Manhattan of today. Yesterday’s newfound real estate, today’s and tomorrow’s flood inundation zone, thanks to climate change.

Another key map comes from the Angela Fritz’s WunderBlog on the Weather Underground site. Record warm Atlantic waters fueled Sandy.

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Somehow I missed the new Plant Hardiness Zone Map issued by the U.S.D.A. earlier this year! But now there is word that we, perhaps, should disregard the re-issued and updated map. Our climate is changing so rapidly that the zones published in 2012 are already off by 1/2 to a full zone, depending on your location. It’s the winter minimum lows that are throwing things off, according to Nir Krakauer, professor at the City University of New York, referenced by the New York Times. Professor Krakauer has an online calculator for the additional warming that may affect your location. Syracuse is apparently 1.3 degrees Celsius warmer than the hardiness map indicates.

Plant Hardiness Map of the Northeastern U.S. 2012

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Wondering how bad the current drought in the U.S. is? This Weather Channel post provides the comparisons in a succinct way. Even more succinctly – be thankful for better agricultural practices!

Things are tough all over!

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Edel Rodriguez’s illustration from Rolling Stone

An article in the Sunday NY Times titled “We’re All Climate-Change Idiots” explores the well-worn territory of climate change denial, but it also adds a few details from psychological research into the phenomenon.  The article hints at four strategies:

1. appeal to interest in technological solutions – even climate change deniers perk up at the mention of techno fixes;

2. public health appeals seem to get traction (asthma, etc.);

3. instant feedback, like the letters I get from National Grid telling me how much energy I consume compared to my neighbors, that brings out a sense of competition for behavioral changes; and

4. making changes that people are hardly aware of – like Rutgers changing the default printing on university printers to double-sided.

Are there any landscape and/or land use parallels to these suggestions? I think we can come up with a few – but, frankly, it feels like tinkering around at the edges. I have a hard time investing mental energy into it, especially after just reading Bill McKibben’s article in Rolling Stone. If you haven’t read it yet, you must. In “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” McKibben very simply communicates the enormity of the problem using just 3 numbers. Powerful writing, but the result is a feeling of powerlessness. Hum, what’s a person to do with that? Oh, yes, back to the denial stance! The liberal denial, that is. (See the four points listed above.)

 

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From Al Gore’s blogging gig, an image of the future – and the present. Interesting to compare it to this map – especially the blue swath through Tennessee and Mississippi. The Northeast and these two southern states look like future “best bets.”

1,000 counties in 26 states declared as disaster areas

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Justin Gillis, of the NY Times Green blog, is encouraging readers to watch the PBS 3-part documentary titled, EARTH: The Operators’ Manual, which is being broadcast by stations across the country this week. The part that caught my attention is where Gillis says that the series is not gloomy!

The host of the miniseries is Richard B. Alley, a climate scientist at Penn State with a gift for talking about his field in terms that ordinary people can understand. The basic idea is to lay out the problem of climate change in the first episode and then talk about how to fix it in the others.

Several points distinguish this documentary series, created with financial support from the National Science Foundation, from others on the subject. For starters, it is not gloomy! While Dr. Alley certainly conveys the sobering facts about rising emissions of carbon dioxide and what it could mean for the planet, he does it with a light touch and from interesting locales rather than beating people over the head with portents of doom.

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Jim Robbins, author of a forthcoming book called The Man Who Planted Trees, has an op-ed in today’s New York Times that alerts readers to the mounting threats to trees and the reasons why the planet needs them more than ever. The lines below caught my attention, especially the repercussions from the Texas drought that I discussed in a post last summer.

North America’s ancient alpine bristlecone forests are falling victim to a voracious beetle and an Asian fungus. In Texas, a prolonged drought killed more than five million urban shade trees last year and an additional half-billion trees in parks and forests. [Emphasis added.] In the Amazon, two severe droughts have killed billions more.

The common factor has been hotter, drier weather.

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