Climate Change

In 2017 we experienced another record warm winter with very little precipitation, frozen or otherwise, early in 2018. Spring came several weeks early to Innsbrook, although even that was difficult to mark as we never really had a winter. View this dynamic map at https://nyti.ms/2m36XjG to see just how early spring came to the rest of the US, including Missouri.

For several years on a separate Phenology Log website page at https://ibknature.com/phenology-log/ we have recorded how shifts in our local weather are impacting the seasonal cycles of the flora and fauna we so much enjoy at Innsbrook. As example, those of you with property on an Innsbrook lake already know how dry seasons or flash floods adversely impact our recreational water level and water quality. Ticks come out earlier to attach themselves to our pets, or us. Storms seem to be more ferocious dumping much-needed rain all at one time that just erodes and runs off the landscape instead of soaking in.  There are many other changes we have noted in the phenology log.

More recently we blogged about the sadness and distress we feel from the Trump administration’s attempts to decimate the EPA, defund research of climate change, and remove hard-fought for protections of the environment. Executive orders have rolled back years of environmental progress in the clean power plan, carbon and methane emissions, coal mining, surface mining, fuel efficiency standards, mining on federal lands, and pipelines to carry dirty tar sand oil. We placed a few black bows on our trees as a simple act of bearing witness to these policies which we hope future generations can forgive us for.

But what do you think; do you believe what the vast majority of the world’s scientists do that man-made climate (and ocean) change is real and happening now? Take our poll and we will report the results back in future newsletters.

Climate Change Chronicles

To help us bear witness we recently started collecting news and information about climate change from across the planet, Midwest and here at Innsbrook. Help us build our “Climate Change Chronicles” with your submissions to info@ibknature.com.

2018

October

  • The strongest hurricane in decades strikes the Florida Gulf Coast. It surprised even the experts by how quickly it intensified over warm gulf waters into a near Category 5 storm. Climate change models predict that as oceans warm, hurricanes will become more powerful in both wind velocity and rainfall moisture. And indeed, Florida gulf waters are running nearly 5 degrees warmer than the historic average. How tragic that people lost their lives and homes in southeastern states whose governments restrict the use of the words climate change or planning for the consequences.
  • A new report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change should shock all. It warns us that much sooner than originally expected, now by 2040, the globe will be suffering severe consequences of a warming atmosphere and oceans. With the temperatures projected to rise by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit from preindustrial values a die off of the world’s coral reefs will occur along with more wildfires, flooding, food shortages, harm to wildlife, deaths from heat waves and disease, and migrating human populations all are expected. The report calls on the nations of the world to quickly decarbonize their economies, primarily by getting rid of coal. The good news is that is possible, if only we had the political courage for the benefit of our children and grandchildren. The economic cost for not taking action are projected to exceed $50 trillion, in addition to the impact on human health.

September

  • A new study reviews last year’s record number of major Atlantic hurricanes, six in all, and claims that warmer ocean waters were partially to blame. Waters averaged .7 degrees warmer than normal for 2017. Not only are waters getting warmer, but warmer water is going down deeper into the world’s oceans. NOAA climate models and researchers predict this trend will continue with perhaps as many of 5-8 major hurricanes annually by the turn of the century.
  • In Missouri this month we experienced several weeks with near record high temperatures following last year that also saw record highs this same month. The number of days with highs over 90 degrees hit a record this year in St. Louis, over 50 compared to a historical average closer to 30 days. The count of hot days has grown by some 40% since 1968!
  • Massively wide and wet Hurricane Florence stalls out over the Carolinas and dumps feet of rain in many locations with loss of life, property, and wildlife. Climate change scientists have warned us that a warming atmosphere with warmer oceans will create a new generation of hurricanes that hold more moisture and move slower, exactly what Florence did.
  • The Trump administration rolls back existing regulations on the emissions of green house gases, this time methane released from the production of oil and gas.

August

  • Over 2 million acres of forests are burning at one time in the western USA this summer, due largely to drought conditions, to make this year one of the worst on record. The total burn in 2018’s extra-long fire season is expected to exceed 8 million acres at the cost of $2B.
  • The White House announces plans to scrap planned fuel-efficiency improvement standards and replace the nation’s clean power plan enacted under Obama.

July

  • EPA Chief Scott Pruitt resigns after numerous scandals including the use of a special phone booth installed in his office where it was reported he could have private conversations with the polluting industries the EPA was supposed to be regulating.
  • Temperatures in northern and southern European cities reach all time record highs. Towns as far north as the Arctic Circle report temps in the 90s. Droughts plaque pastoral areas as livestock herds and agricultural areas suffer across the European continent and Ireland.

May

  • It felt like we enjoyed one month of mild Spring after the Winter and before Summer heat came early to Innsbrook.

March

  • The EPA is reported to have wanted a debate about climate change, but President Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly killed the effort.
  • Despite nearly universal agreement that carbon dioxide emissions must be slowed, it was reported by the International Energy Agency that they increased by about 1.5% in 2017. A sliver of good news is that the US reduced its emissions in 2017 due to increase use of natural gas that replaces coal and more renewables such as wind and solar. The bad news is that China, which now manufactures so much of what we consume in the US, saw its emissions rise by nearly 2%. It seems we may have just outsourced our pollution to the developing world.

February

  • The NYT reports on satellite data showing that melting ice sheets are speeding up the rise in sea levels. Sea levels could be 2 feet higher by the end of this century.

2017

December 

  • The year of 2017 ends and will soon be reported to be the second warmest on record for surface temperatures, right after 2016 which was the record.

November

  • Over the Thanksgiving holiday we experienced record highs at Innsbrook.

October

  • The EPA scraps the Clean Power Plan that was to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. Pruitt says the war on coal is over.
  • Fall weather and the turning of leaves seems stalled out with more record heat in the Midwest, including Innsbrook,
  • A 10th storm in the Atlantic becomes a hurricane, the first time in a hundred years.
  • California burns from a weather bomb of hurricane force winds and dry land.
  • The EPA blocks its scientists from talking about climate change.
  • New research suggests that ocean levels could rise much higher and faster than originally thought.

August

  • The Alaskan arctic tundra and permafrost is reported to be thawing at an alarming rate. It threatens to release vast new amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, accelerating climate change past a tipping point of no return. A buildup of methane under the thawing Russian tundra exploded creating a hole in the ground that looked like a meteor strike.
  • Harvard Researchers have released a report that show Exxon Mobil intentionally misled the public and its own shareholders on the risks of climate change. Exxon had conducted its own climate research for decades acknowledging man-made climate change due to the burning of fossil fuels was real. However, publicly, Exxon funded research and published advertorials which challenged the science of climate change.
  • Th US experiences two massive hurricanes. One of them is the most severe hurricane to ever traverse the Atlantic outside of the Caribbean. They strike Houston and Florida, leaving widespread devastation behind. Houston has now suffered through three 500-year floods in the last three years. The lack of zoning and sprawl into wetlands of Texas made a natural disaster a man-made one. The poor and elderly are hit the hardest, paying the price for climate change, typically living and working in the most vulnerable locations.
  • Climate scientists agree that hurricanes are becoming more frequent, stronger and wetter because of climate change. Warmer oceans produce more energy to feed hurricanes. Warmer atmospheric temperatures hold more moisture. It’s said to be pretty basic science. Meanwhile, the Trump administration and other climate deniers revoke Obama rules that required infrastructure investments consider the effects of climate change.

June

  • President Trump removes the US from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and becomes an outcast to the 200 who are participating.

March

  • The first day of Spring feels more like summer with a high of 86 degrees.

February

  • A record dry winter with only 1 inch of snow reported so far this winter.
  • Daffodils are blooming 3 weeks early due to the warm February

January

  • Worms and flies have appeared for the first time in January we ever recall seeing them.
  • 2016 was reported to be the third year in a row to set a record for highest global average surface temperature.  Nine of the top 10 years for extreme rain events in the US occurred in the last 10 years.

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