Marit Jentoft-Nilsen and Robert Simmon
Atmospheric carbon dioxide has been monitored since 1958 at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory in Hawaii. Values cycle up and down due to the amount of green vegetation available to convert CO2 to O2 by photosynthesis. Plants of the northern hemisphere reach maturity in June-August and reduce the level of CO2 from the previous month. Decomposition and respiration returns carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in the fall and winter. This is known as the fast carbon cycle. The carbon cycle of earth is discussed fully here.
The mean value of CO2 for May 2019 set the highest level in 61 yrs. This chart shows the monthly values plotted for the recent 5 years.
The full record for the Mauna Loa Observatory clearly shows the seasonal and long-term trends. The long-term rate is increasing evidenced by the greater steepness of the plot. More charts and analysis are available at this link.
Opinions of people in the United States about climate change range widely. Yale and George Mason Universities surveyed >22,000 people between 2008 and 2018 for the Climate Change in the American Mind project. The survey reveals a lot about beliefs, perceptions, support, and behavior across the country. You can compare your opinions with others in your state, congressional district, metro area, and county.
Funding for the study was provided by the Skoll Global Threats Fund, the Energy Foundation, the 11th Hour Project, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, the MacArthur Foundation, the Overlook Foundation and the Endeavor Foundation.
70% of the respondents agree global warming is happening
49% agree that most scientists think it is happening
70% believe it will harm future generations
41% say it is now harming them personally
79% think schools should teach about climate change
70% say environmental protection is more important than economic growth
The study presents the data in an interactive map of the U.S. Continue reading below where you will find a video tutorial I made showing how to easily use the interactive features of the map. If you prefer to explore on your own, click the map image below to go directly to the study.
How is electricity generated where you live? That question was addressed in a New York Times story by Nadja Popovich on 24 Dec 2018. Electricity is made from several energy sources including coal, natural gas, petroleum, nuclear, water flow, wind, solar, and biomass. The mixture of sources for each state is quite different and depends on the availability and cost of resources for that state.
The article looked at the range of time from 2001 to 2017. The mixture of energy sources has varied over time for each state and for the United States as a whole. Here we see the sources charted for the United States. Note the increase trend of natural gas and the decrease of coal. Nuclear and hydroelectric have remained constant. Wind grew to 6%. Solar in yellow is barely visible in the lower right. Click image for detail.
New York Times | Nadja Popovich and Josh Williams | 24 Dec 2018
A story on 16 Dec 2016 from the NASA Earth Observatory site said the Antarctic and Arctic sea ice amounts for November 2016 were both at record lows for that month. The Arctic is in the process of refreezing the surface sea ice as it goes into the winter months. The Antarctic is in the process of melting the sea ice as it goes into the summer months. A chart from the story shows the total amount of sea ice north and south from 1 Jan 1979 to 14 Dec 2016. There has been gradual decline in the total. For 2016, the total is significantly less for the last months of the year. An animated version of this chart is in the linked article.
Sea ice forms from water already in the oceans. Changes to the total does not alter sea level. Melting of land based ice drains into the oceans and does raise sea level. The decrease in total sea ice is due to shifting winds and warmer temperatures of the water. The underlying reasons and prognosis for future effects is an area of intense scientific study.
Show me more…
The Arctic and Antarctic regions have reached their respective 2016 maximum and minimum polar ice extents. See the blue graph lines. The Arctic winter ice maximum extent was the smallest on record. The Antarctic summer ice minimum was slightly less than the recent 30 year average.
Show me more…
There was much anticipation about the recent encyclical from Pope Francis on climate change. You can see and read the document at this link. No doubt you have seen and heard the news about it with some analysis of what is contained in it. I offer my impressions of the broad picture described in the 184 page document.
I’ve written a lot about climate change. It is one of the most important challenges faced by mankind. It will force us to deal with issues we already know about and some that we have yet to encounter. It will not go away if we ignore it.
Whether the encyclical is accepted by the world of Catholic leaders and followers will only be known by our actions in the future. There was a flurry of attention for a few days. Like many stories today, the attention has faded. I hope its messages are not forgotten.
Each chapter of the encyclical addresses aspects of the climate change problem I feel are very important. The document does not lay out a prescription for what humanity should do. It does serve as a reminder of our responsibilities to the Earth and to those less fortunate who do not have the means to help themselves easily. We all need reminders and guidance in those areas.
Show me more…
Remember the record snowfall this winter in Boston and surroundings? It seemed endless. The record total for Boston was 108.6 inches. This image is from early February.
Charles Krupa | Associated Press
This map from NOAA shows liquid precipitation over the region for the recent 180 days since late November 2014. There are widespread locations with 20 inches. One in yellow near Boston had over 25 inches.
Show me more…