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People’s Climate March to Take Place in Oklahoma

People's Climate MarchUnited Nations leaders are preparing to have an emergency climate summit on Sept. 23rd in New York City. The summit was called by UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon. The goal of the summit is to reach a global climate deal and develop emission reduction commitments.

Before the summit people are gearing up to march to bring awareness to climate change. The People’s Climate March will take place on Sept. 21st with the main march in New York City. The march is expected to be the largest demonstration for climate action in history.

“Everything our children depend on for survival — clean air, adequate water, food security, peace and stability, and protection from extreme weather events — is threatened by rapidly approaching tipping points that, if reached, will spin the life-support systems of this planet irrevocably out of control,” said Linda Hutchins-Knowles, in an article about why she is marching.

Other marches are planned all over the world, including Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Miami.

The Oklahoma City march begins at 2:00 p.m. on the east lawn of municipal building at 201 N. Hudson, at Park Avenue. The march will be one mile. Concerned citizens will speak about climate change and its impacts on the planet.

The Tulsa march begins at 3:00 p.m. It will start at the River Parks East Trail at the 41st Street Plaza. The event will include speakers, information booths, and kite making.

The Miami march begins at 4:00 p.m. at Northeastern A&M College at 200 I St. NE. The march will be apart of the 16th annual National Environment Conference at Tar Creek.

You can register for the Tulsa event online: http://tioga.sierraclub.org/oars-activity/pages/activity.jsf?activity=64715 Registration is required by Sept. 21st.

Register for the Oklahoma City event at this address: http://tioga.sierraclub.org/oars-activity/pages/activity.jsf?activity=64677 Registration is required by Sept. 21st.

For information on registering for the Miami event, call 918-542-9399.

Participants are encouraged to walk, bike, or carpool to the events to reduce their carbon footprint. Signs are also encouraged.

For more information on the People’s Climate March visit http://peoplesclimate.org or http://oklahoma2.sierraclub.org

Twelve States Suing the EPA Over Federal Clean Power Plan

power plant

Photo Credit: Matthew D. Wilson (LtPowers)

Twelve states, including Oklahoma, have joined together to sue the EPA over President Barack Obama’s plan to cut carbon emissions 30 percent nationally by 2030. The plan largely focuses on reducing our reliance on coal-fired power plants.

Power plants account for nearly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Currently, there are limits on how much arsenic, mercury, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particle pollution power plants can emit. However, there are currently no national limits on carbon pollution.

“By 2030, the steady and responsible steps EPA is taking will:

· Cut carbon emission from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels, which is equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the United States for one year; 
· Cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent as a co-benefit;
· Avoid up to 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed work or school days—providing up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits; and 
· Shrink electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system.”    – read more 

Oklahoma State Attorney General Scott Pruitt told The Oklahoman, “I believe the EPA does not possess authority under Section 111(d) to take the action they took (in June).”

However, EPA spokeswoman Jennifer Colaizzi told The Oklahoman“history has shown that EPA writes solid rules and they stand up in court — the courts have reaffirmed our science and reasoning time and time again.”

This is not the first time Pruitt has gone up against the EPA. He unsuccessfully tried to stop the regional haze rule.

Climate Change and Tornadoes

Photo Credit: Ks0stm

Photo Credit: Ks0stm

Next month will be the anniversary of the massive tornado outbreak that killed 26 people in Oklahoma. A quick drive through Moore and you will see the cleanup and rebuilding is still underway.

Last night tragedy struck Oklahoma again, as a tornado outbreak killed at least 16 people in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Iowa. With the threat of tornadoes still looming in the southern states, people are asking what impact climate change has on these storms. This is not an easy question to answer.

Last year after the deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma, Scientific American asked climate scientist, Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., if climate change could be causing more tornadoes:

“The main climate change connection is via the basic instability of the low-level air that creates the convection and thunderstorms in the first place. Warmer and moister conditions are the key for unstable air. The oceans are warmer because of climate change.

The climate change effect is probably only a 5 to 10 percent effect in terms of the instability and subsequent rainfall, but it translates into up to a 33 percent effect in terms of damage. (It is highly nonlinear, for 10 percent it is 1.1 to the power of three = 1.33.) So there is a chain of events, and climate change mainly affects the first link: the basic buoyancy of the air is increased. Whether that translates into a supercell storm and one with a tornado is largely chance weather.”

Harold Brooks, research meteorologist at NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., talked to Accuweather about this issue.

“As the planet warms with more greenhouse gases, we really don’t have very strong evidence as to what will happen with severe thunderstorms… 

As the planet warms, the moisture content of the atmosphere will also increase. And that’s the basic fuel that drives thunderstorms. It’s where the storms get their energy from… as we warm the planet that will increase the energy available for producing storms… The other primary ingredient, the shear that organizes the storm, is likely going to decrease.”

There is currently not enough evidence to prove a link between tornadoes and climate change. However, there are links between climate change and extreme weather.

“The rise in natural catastrophe losses is primarily due to socio-economic factors. In many countries, populations are rising, and more and more people moving into exposed areas. At the same time, greater prosperity is leading to higher property values. Nevertheless, it would seem that the only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change. The view that weather extremes are more frequent and intense due to global warming coincides with the current state of scientific knowledge as set out in the Fourth IPCC Assessment Report.” – read more

More research is being done all the time to look at how climate change is impacting our weather and one thing is clear, we are entering uncharted territory.

Record Cold Weather and Global Warming

The last couple of days have brought the polar vortex to the United States causing the worst winter weather outbreak in two decades, shattering many records. The weather closed roads, schools, paralyzed air travel and is to blame for at least 16 deaths. Some parts of Minnesota were as cold as 25 degrees below zero.

winter storm

Oklahoma had it’s share of cold weather as well. The lowest actual air temperature recorded was -12 degrees in Nowata. That temperature was not quite low enough to break the record low temperature. It did however, tied for the 7th lowest temperature ever record on January 6th for the state. The record is still a tie between Arnett and Hooker for -16 degrees back in 1912 and 1971. And many likely remember our record setting weather back in February 2011, with actual temperatures as low as -31.

With this record cold weather many have been asking “where is global warming?” Well it’s right here. The term global warming has confused many to believe it only causes warmer temperatures.

Climate change skeptics have been claiming that this cold weather proves there is no climate change. Fox New’s Stuart Varney said on Jan. 2,  “Looks to me like we’re looking at global cooling. Forget this global warming. That’s just my opinion.”

So what exactly is global warming? It’s an increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere. This increase is believed by scientists to be caused by an increase of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other pollutants in our atmosphere.

Climate scientist however will tell you that climate change doesn’t mean non-stop summer. We still have winter, which is still colder than summer due to the earth having a tilted axis. Another thing we must understand is that climate and weather are different.

“Weather is what’s happening outside the door right now; today a snowstorm or a thunderstorm is approaching,” the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) says. “Climate, on the other hand, is the pattern of weather measured over decades.”

The current cold weather is caused by the polar vortex. Normally the polar vortex is confined to the Arctic but climate change may explain some of the reasons it is coming south.

“As the Arctic region warms faster than most other places, however, the Arctic sea ice melts more rapidly and for longer periods each year, and is unable to replenish itself in the briefer, warmer winter season. This can destabilize the polar vortex and raises the barometric pressure within it.

For two winter seasons (2009/2010 and 2010/2011), the polar vortex was notably unstable. In addition, another measurement of barometric pressure—the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)—was in negative mode, weakening part of the barometric pressure “fence” around the polar vortex. This instability allows the cold Artic air to break free and flow southward, where it collides with warmer, moisture-laden air. This collision can produce severe winter weather in some regions and leave milder conditions in other parts of the northern hemisphere.”- UCS

The changes we are seeing in the climate will continue to bring many different kinds of extreme weather, from heat waves to massive snow storms.

Photo Credit-  Some rights reserved by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

U.N. IPCC Report Shows Near Certainty on Climate Change

Ice capsThe latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report shows that human activity has caused at least half of climate change in the last half-century. U.N. said they are 95% certain of this. This is a large spike in confidence, in 2007 scientist were 90% certain and in 2001 it was 66%.

“It should serve as yet another wake-up call that our activities today will have a profound impact on society not only for us but for many generations to come,” Michel Jarraud, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization, which co-sponsored the IPCC.

Even with this increase in certainty of man-made climate change, some still deny it. Sen. James Inhofe issued this statement following the release of the IPCC report.

“Today’s release of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Summary for Policymakers proves that the UN is more interested in advancing a political agenda than scientific integrity. The IPCC glossed over the ongoing fifteen-year pause in temperature increases and did nothing to suggest that their predictions might be wrong.  With climate change regulations expecting to cost the U.S. economy millions of jobs and between $300 billion and $400 billion in lost GDP a year, we can’t afford to act on politically charged media alarmism.  Let’s not forget the article published in the New York Times in 1975 that reported ‘a major cooling of the planet’ was ‘widely considered inevitable.’  To me, this all appears to be business as usual.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had some strong words for climate change deniers in a statement released about the report.

“This is yet another wakeup call: Those who deny the science or choose excuses over action are playing with fire.

Once again, the science grows clearer, the case grows more compelling, and the costs of inaction grow beyond anything that anyone with conscience or common sense should be willing to even contemplate.

Boil down the IPCC report and here’s what you find: Climate change is real, it’s happening now, human beings are the cause of this transformation, and only action by human beings can save the world from its worst impacts.”

One of the most concerning finds in the report is that it could be too late to make any real difference anytime soon.

“Many aspects of climate change will persist for centuries even if concentrations of greenhouse gases are stabilized. This represents a multicentury commitment created by human activities today.”

Oklahoma has had many extreme weather events since the 1950’s that climate change likely played a role in. We have seen a dramatic increase in extreme weather, especially record heat and heavier precipitation events, all over the world. While it’s difficult to know the exact role of climate change in individual weather events, like the Moore EF-5 tornado in May or the current drought, patterns do show that climate change does play a role in extreme weather.

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Photo Credit- Some rights reserved by NASA Goddard Photo and Video