Climate Change

In 2017 we experienced another record warm winter with very little precipitation, frozen or otherwise, early into 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.

In 2018 we went from another mild winter, with little snow that our lakes and ground water needed, to summer-like temperatures in just a few weeks time, with another very short spring. Likewise, in the fall we went from summer to winter also in just a few weeks. Strange weather indeed.

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

December

  • The melting of Greenland’s ice sheet is reported to be accelerating and if it continues it alone may raise ocean levels by a foot by 2050. The melting has been triggered by warmer weather patterns above Greenland. Given current trends, Arctic temperatures are expected to rise by 4 degrees Celsius by 2050.
  • In Europe representatives from over 200 countries have gathered as part of the 2015 Paris climate accord to find ways to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees C above preindustrial levels to avoid a disastrous tipping point in the planet’s climate. The United Nations Secretary General warns attendees that they must act boldly to avoid catastrophic climate-created disruptions, famine, refugees, and disorder. The U.S. is singled out as a nation that is experiencing the impact and cost of climate change but whose political leadership refuses to listen to the warning of so many scientists as well as increasing numbers of economists, political, and religious leaders.
  • The EPA announces its intent to roll back regulations to make it easier to build new coal plants by easing restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions. The same day researchers announce that global carbon emissions are accelerating, not lowering, and are expected to increase by nearly 3% this year alone.
  • The United Nations reports that most industrial countries, including the US, are not doing enough to reduce their carbon emissions which are contributing to climate change, and that more drastic action will be needed in the future because of a failure to act now when we still have time.
  • While much of North America, including Missouri, experiences severe winter weather so early in the fall, down under Australia is experiencing record drought, heat, and wildfires in one part of the country and record torrential rainfall and flooding elsewhere.

November

  • The St. Louis region experiences more strange weather with a tornado warning and blizzard warning all on the same day.
  • The fourth congressional-mandated National Climate Assessment Report was released this week by the Trump administration on the Black Friday of our nation’s Thanksgiving holiday break. It warns that our country is already and will continue to face increasing climate-related catastrophes that will have grave impact on our public health, safety, environment, infrastructure, economy, agriculture, national security, and marginalized low-income communities.  The report, prepared by over 13 federal departments and agencies, states that “the evidence of human-caused climate change is overwhelming and continues to strengthen, that the impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country and that climate-related threats to American’s physical, social, and economic wellbeing are rising.” The President responds by rejecting the findings of his own experts.
  • Devastating record fires in California kill many dozens, destroy thousands of homes, and displace tens of thousands. At one time over 1,000 people are reported missing. The wildfires were fed by much drier than usual vegetation this year due to a combination of warmer temperatures and reduced rainfall along the west coast.
  • Innsbrook receives over 9 inches of wet snow, the most in over 25 years to occur this early in November. Does all this winter weather so early mean man-made climate change is a hoax? Check out this Inside Climate News article on how a warming arctic can change the jet stream to actually cause colder winters in North America.
  • Another species suffers due to overfishing in ocean habitats that are more fragile due to warmer temperatures and pollution.  The population of New England shrimp is so low that fishing for it has now been banned.
  • Missouri experiences freaky fall weather this year with record low temperatures and early snowfalls for mid November. The fall was very short as it has gone from summer heat to winter snows in just a few weeks time. This follows a short spring earlier in the year where we went from winter to summer also in a few weeks time.
  • Climate scientists at Princeton University reported that the planet’s oceans are retaining 60% more heat that expected as the Earth warms. Faster warming means the oceans will expand and sea levels rise faster, coral reefs will die off, ice sheets will melt, weather patterns will change, and hurricanes/typhoons  become more massive. The health of our oceans are ever so important as a carbon sink as they are thought to absorb more than 25% of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by humans.
  • The World Wildlife Fund issued a report saying that there has been a decline of over 50% in global wildlife populations in the past 40 years, due mostly to human activity such as habitat loss and climate change. As an example, our environmental impact on the planet’s ecosystems has been so extensive that the majority of  seabirds are estimated to have absorbed plastics in their stomachs.

October

  • The strongest pacific storm, a “super” typhoon, in 80 years strikes and devastates the US territory of Mariana Islands.
  • The Nature Conservancy reports that in the past 30 years nearly half of the world’s coral reefs have died and the rest are in danger of being lost by 2100. Warming oceans and more powerful storms due to climate change are a key reason cited for their decline.
  • A lawsuit from the New York Attorney General claims that Exxon Mobil had engaged in a long-term fraudulent scheme to deceive investors, analysts, and the public by claiming climate change was not real, all while internally keeping a second set of books and plans which acknowledged that it was likely happening.
  • The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued a report urging that the federal government begin researching and planning for how to take carbon out of the atmosphere, saying that we were running out of time to stop new carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere.
  • The NWS predicts that another winter is expected to be warmer than normal, a lot like the last few which have been warm with little snowfall in Missouri. The biggest factor in the forecast is an El Nino created by warmer Pacific Ocean water temperatures.
  • 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 warns 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.
  • Environmental educator, author, and founder of 350.org Bill McKibben pens a national Op-Ed where he details how common it has become that he and others in the environmental movement receive death threats.

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!
  • The drought over much of Missouri, especially the northern half, this past summer has severely hurt crop production levels and hurt farmers. As the plains and land of the Midwest have become dryer, climate scientists have found that tornadic activity is moving further east across the Mississippi River.
  • 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.
  • Temperatures in some parts of Europe reach 105-110 record highs in heat waves that are becoming more frequent. Severe droughts are being experienced in central Europe.
  • 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.
  • A draft report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program references 13 federal agencies that conclude the U.S, is already feeling the negative impact of climate change, in contrast to President Trump which has called climate change a hoax.

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 last year, 2016 which was the record. It is the third warmest for overall global temperatures. The six warmest years on record have all occurred since 2010.

November

  • Over the Thanksgiving holiday we experienced record highs at Innsbrook.
  • Carbon emissions from fossil fuels are expected to set a record this year increasing by 2% from last year.
  • The National Climate Assessment report affirms that climate change is real and being driven almost entirely by human actions and warns that sea levels could rise by as much as 8 feet by 2100.

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.
  • First leaf budding across the Midwest, and most notably Missouri, are 2-3 weeks early than their 30-year average.
  • The National Park Service says the Washington Cherry Trees that line the Tidal Basin will peak in mid-March this year, some three weeks earlier than historic averages.

February

  • The month closes with it being the second warmest February in the U.S.
  • 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
  • Record temperatures in Australia, as high as 113 degrees F,  that were expected to occur only once every 500 years are now projected to occur 10 times as often.

January

  • Worms and flies have appeared for the first time in January at Innsbrook that 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.
  • In 2016 Greenhouse gases increased more quickly than they have in nearly 3 decades of reporting. Between 1990 and 2016 global emissions were up nearly 40%.
  • 2016 is reported by the U.S. NOAA as being the hottest year on record. During the year there were record number of extreme weather events from droughts to flash flooding. Global sea levels continued to rise and glaciers shrank.

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