Climate Letter #1101

How the jet stream works—all the basics clearly explained and illustrated, including the development of cold snaps.  Current cold spells may be frequent and may seem harsh, but “aren’t as cold as they would be in a climate unaltered by greenhouse gases.”
–This is a good day to look at the Climate Reanalyzer from the University of Maine, starting at this link:
http://cci-reanalyzer.org/wx/DailySummary/#t2   Notice the flow of very warm air that has swung northward over the Atlantic waters, then around Greenland and headed right on through the North Pole.  You can then follow the light blue color line all the way back south to Chicago, which has had the same 24-hour average temperature as the Pole itself.  (Remember that the maps on this site change every day.)  The jet stream helped make this happen by not preventing air that has been warmed by the Atlantic from moving all the way north, as it likes to do.  The Pacific also brings warm air northward but that movement gets stuck because the Bering Strait is so narrow.  Drop down to the world map on the lower part of this page to compare how the two oceans differ in this respect.  The two air movements do tend to converge in a kind of pincer right around the Pole, and the effect, which is regular, is to squeeze the cold air southward in broad paths that mainly form over the land area of the two major continents.  (This entire website is full of fascinating material, quite addictive for studying.)
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The IPCC wants to change the way scientists communicate with the public.  I think they especially have in mind the American public, where the subject has unfortunately become politicized in such a way that knowledge of the science is brushed off as something of secondary importance.  There is a link to the handbook they plan to use.  My view is that the public has a way of believing things when they hear it from someone they already admire, but in this case preferably not a political person, if that can be arranged.
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What should the Democratic party be saying and doing about climate change and climate policy?  Here is an article from the Huffington Post that wonders why the party is doing so little about an issue that is primed for success with voters.  For the moment all they really need to do is to promise that the US will get back into the Paris Agreement with full support for what the rest of the world is aiming at, and will do our share of the heavy lifting, but without getting too far ahead.  The federal government should also be positioned to support any bolder initiatives that arise from lower levels of government or private associations.  That should not frighten anybody, and should appeal to Independents who are turned off by the extreme positions on both environment and climate adopted by the newly formulated Trump/Republican Party.  It would also provide a stable base from which more active policies could later evolve, the need for which I believe will soon become apparent to almost everyone.
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Even Bjorn Lomborg thinks Trump has gone too far to the right.  Professor Lomborg has never quite made the grade as a denier but otherwise has earned a reputation as an outspoken softy when it comes to climate change mitigation.  He has hopes that an easy, non-disruptive solution will come along and doesn’t want to see barriers erected for bad reasons.
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Bill Gates is also looking for advanced ways to clean up the planet, mainly with large-scale processes using high technology, putting his money on “direct air capture” research.  This story from the Guardian describes the work and goes on to discuss the weaknesses of such ideas, including a message from Kevin Anderson.  Kevin is known as an advocate of making sharp reductions in the current consumption of energy as the surest path to saving the planet, but hardly anyone agrees with doing anything that painful.
Carl
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