Paper: Your money or your life? The carbon-development paradox #ActOnClimate

Click here to read the paper. Here’s the abstract:

The relationship between human health and well-being, energy use and carbon emissions is a foremost concern in sustainable development. If past advances in well-being have been accomplished only through increases in energy use, there may be significant trade-offs between achieving universal human development and mitigating climate change. We test the explanatory power of economic, dietary and modern energy factors in accounting for past improvements in life expectancy, using a simple novel method, functional dynamic decomposition. We elucidate the paradox that a strong correlation between emissions and human development at one point in time does not imply that their dynamics are coupled in the long term. Increases in primary energy and carbon emissions can account for only a quarter of improvements in life expectancy, but are closely tied to growth in income. Facing this carbon-development paradox requires prioritizing human well-being over economic growth.

From Research In Hyperspeed To Canceled Expeditions, Academic Scientists Adjust To A New Pace Under #Coronavirus — #Colorado Public Radio #COVID19

Fort Collins weather station on the CSU campus via the Colorado Climate Center.

From Colorado Public Radio (Grace Hood):

COVID-19 has launched an unprecedented scope of businesses requiring remote work. However, some jobs just can’t be done remotely.

In Colorado’s academic world, there’s a class of workers deemed essential and required to continue work on college campuses. At Colorado State University in Fort Collins, there’s the expected, like a group of virologists work on the Foothills campus on a COVID-19 vaccine.

But researchers at the Colorado Climate Center are also still hard at work maintaining a 130-year weather record in Fort Collins.

“Actually the first thing I notice is it’s dead here on campus,” said Zach Schwalbe, a Climate Center researcher who records in-person temperature and cloud cover measurements many mornings…

University of Colorado Boulder ice core scientist Bruce Vaughn had to cancel his summer research trip to Greenland. He said it was a no brainer.

“We decided that taking 30 scientists from 12 different countries all over the world to get to Greenland, and then sequestering them in a remote location living in close quarters with limited medical supplies and lack of ability to evacuate, may not be the best idea,” Vaughn said…

If there’s one silver lining to all the delayed and canceled plans, Vaughn at CU Boulder said it could be this: Researchers with months at home and no distractions may begin whittling away at their stack of half- and unwritten papers.

“I think we’ll probably see a splurge in publishing in the next few months,” Vaughn laughs.

Cranes Foraging — Platte Basin Timelapse

Click on the image to go to the article.

Here’s another great article from Platte Basin Timelapse (Sierra Harris). Here’s an excerpt:

Sandhill cranes migrate north in the spring from their wintering grounds, located in Texas, eastern New Mexico, northern Mexico, and occasionally from southeastern Arizona. The migration path they use is known as the Central Flyway, in which south-central Nebraska’s Platte River Valley is the pinch in its hourglass shape. This small area is known for its critical habitat needed for sandhill crane survival.

Each spring, between late February and mid-April, about 500,000 sandhill cranes arrive to the Platte River Valley to utilize its abundant resources. This stretch of the central Platte is one of the most important staging areas in North America for millions of migrating waterfowl, including about 80 percent of the world’s population of sandhill cranes.

Sandhill cranes fly approximately 300 to 500 miles a day, and some migrate a total of more than 10,000 miles annually. They use the 80-mile section of the central Platte to rest and refuel before they continue their journey north to breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic, western Alaska, and northeastern Siberia. Cranes roost in the shallow, wide river channel from dusk till dawn for up to six weeks. After their night of rest, flocks disperse to adjacent cornfields and wet meadows to refuel during the day.

Sandhill cranes. Photo: Scott Helfrich/Audubon Photography Awards

@CityofDurango completes work above #Whitewater Park — The Durango Herald

From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo):

Dangerous rapid prompts improvement project

Tweaks have been made to the Whitewater Park, which flows along Santa Rita Park, as early as the 1980s. But a full-scale $2.6 million project to enhance the park and build a series of rapids began in 2014 and was finished in 2018.

In summer 2016, the city’s Utilities Department spent $1 million on a separate project just upstream of the Whitewater Park to build several new features to divert more water into the city’s water intake for municipal use.

It’s these features some people in the boating community say pose too great a risk for running the Animas River at high water…

In early March, the city started an estimated $113,000 project to make the rapid safer, work that was recently completed, [Jarrod] Biggs said.

The city has said a permanent solution, which would grout the bottom of the river to hold the boulders in place, has been rejected by the Army Corps of Engineers and Colorado Parks, citing concerns to wildlife.

As a result, it’s likely the city will have to get in the river every few years to tweak the features so they remain safe.

Lake Nighthorse and Durango March 2016 photo via Greg Hobbs.

A Weighty Issue: Why Are Some Snowfalls Heavier Than Others? — Westword #snowpack #runoff

Photo via Snowflakes Bentley (Wilson A. Bentley)

From Westword (Andy Stein):

Snowflakes are not created equal (though all snowflakes are arguably very pretty). Many factors determine how big snowflakes can get…and how much energy you’ll exert when you finally go outside to shovel that snow.

Snowflakes start as little ice particles that form on dust or pollen in the air, creating an ice crystal. Then gravity takes over and the ice crystal begins to fall; as it does, water vapor starts to freeze on it, ultimately forming the six-armed flake that lands on the ground. The different shapes of snowflakes result from atmospheric conditions present at the time. A crystal might begin to grow arms in one way, and then minutes or even just seconds later, slight changes in temperature or humidity can cause the crystal to grow in another way.

Certain atmospheric conditions exist at different times of the year, and those conditions are what ultimately decide whether those flakes comprise a snowfall that will be light and fluffy or heavy and wet. Springtime snowstorms have a higher water content than wintertime snowstorms. Meteorologists track that by snow ratio, or snow-to-water ratio: how much water you get from melting down a column of snow.

The snow ratio is not a constant number; it changes storm by storm. Some storms might have a 5:1 ratio, which means that if five inches of snow accumulation were to melt, one inch of water would result. But some storms have a 20:1 ratio, and it would take twenty inches of snow to create an inch of water. Most snows in Colorado fall somewhere within the 8:1 to 20:1 range.

A 20:1 snow ratio results from limited atmospheric moisture and very cold temperatures. When there is not a lot of moisture in the atmosphere and the air is very cold, the ice crystals freeze into snowflakes that are really very tiny ice balls. When they bump into each other, they essentially just bounce around rather than sticking together.

In order for a storm to have a low ratio, such as 5:1, temperatures need to hover at or above freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit). When the air temperature is warmer, the snowflakes don’t freeze as firmly as they do at colder temperatures. As snowflakes fall through the sky, they bump into each other and stick to one another, forming large-looking snowflakes.

Snow with a high ratio usually sticks to roads quicker (because it’s colder out), doesn’t stick to power lines and is easy to shovel; such storms usually occur in December, January or February. Snow with a low ratio typically lands in October, November, March and April. Such snow makes everything super-wet before it starts to stick, and then it will stick to trees and power lines as well as roads and sidewalks.

Depending on moisture content, snow can weigh from 1 pound per cubic foot to over 20 pounds per cubic foot, like the snow that landed March 19, resulting in some very heavy lifting for anyone who shoveled.

Colorado snowpack basin-filled map March 27, 2020 via the NRCS.

How one Swedish teenager armed with a homemade sign ignited a crusade and became the leader of a movement — Rolling Stone #schoolstrike4climate #ActOnCLimate

Here’s an in-depth look at Greta Thunberg and the #schoolstrike4climate movement that she inspired. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

“It seems like the people in power have given up,” says Thunberg, taking her hat off and pushing back her mussed up brown-blond hair. She remains on message despite the tourists and teens taking her picture and mugging behind us. “They say it’s too hard — it’s too much of a challenge. But that’s what we are doing here. We have not given up because this is a matter of life and death for countless people.”

It was my second encounter with Greta in three weeks. Back in January, before the Coronavirus brought the world to its knees, forcing Greta to move her Friday protests online, she was in Davos, Switzerland, for the annual conference of the World Economic Forum, where billionaires helo into the Swiss resort town and talk about solving the world’s problems without making their lives any harder. Thunberg had appeared last year and made her now iconic

“Our House Is on Fire” speech, in which she declared the climate crisis to be the mortal threat to our planet. Solve it or all the other causes — feminism, human rights, and economic justice — would not matter.

“Either we choose to go on as a civilization or we don’t,” said Thunberg with cold precision. “That is as black or white as it gets. There are no gray areas when it comes to survival.”

The speech made Thunberg the unlikely and reluctant hero of the climate crisis. She crossed the ocean in a sailboat — she doesn’t fly for environmental reasons — to speak before the United Nations. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year, conjuring the manic jealousy of Donald Trump, who called the honor “so ridiculous” and suggested she go to the movies and chill out.

In Davos, the illuminati prattled on about planting a trillion trees, even as we are still clear-cutting actual trees from the Amazon all the way to Thunberg’s beloved Sweden. This did not amuse nor placate the hoodie-wearing Greta. She seemed irritated and perhaps a little sick; she canceled an appearance the day before because she wasn’t feeling well. She was in no mood for flattery and nonsense. So when Time editor Edward Felsenthal asked her how she dealt with all the haters, Greta didn’t even try to answer diplomatically.

“I would like to say something that I think people need to know more than how I deal with haters,” she answered, before launching into details from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report. She mentioned that if we are to have even a 67 percent chance of limiting global temperature change to under 1.5 C, the point where catastrophic changes begin, we have less than 420 gigatons of CO2 that we can emit before we pass the no-going-back line. Thunberg stated that, at the current rate, we have eight years to change everything.

Thunberg’s face was controlled fury. This was the persona: an adolescent iron-willed truth teller. The Davos one-percenters clapped and rattled their Rolexes. It has become a disconcerting pattern for Thunberg appearances that would be repeated at the European Commission: Greta tells the adults they are fools and their plans are lame and shortsighted. They still give her a standing ovation. A few minutes later, she was gone and the audience dispersed into a fleet of black BMWs and Mercedes, belching diesel into the Alpine sky…

Screenshot of Rolling Stone Special Edition March 2020. [Click image to go to the article.]
Greta Thunberg illustration by Shepard Fairey.
Based on a photograph by Markus Schreiber/AP Images/Shutterstock
“The phrase ‘A little child shall lead them’ has come to mind more than once,” Al Gore tells me in Davos, before sharing his favorite Greta moment. It was at the U.N. summit last fall. “She said to the assembled world leaders, ‘You say you understand the science, but I don’t believe you. Because if you did and then you continue to act as you do, that would mean you’re evil. And I don’t believe that.’” Gore shook his head in wonderment. “Wow.” He then gives a history lesson: “There have been other times in human history when the moment a morally-based social movement reached the tipping point was the moment when the younger generation made it their own. Here we are.”

Greta read all she could and sometimes went online and battled with climate deniers, oft exclaiming triumphantly, “He blocked me,” to her parents. She eventually wrote an essay on the climate crisis for a Swedish newspaper. Eco-activists contacted her, and Greta mentioned the inspiration she took from the school strikes after the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting, and suggested a climate version. The activists showed little interest. Greta didn’t care and slowly broke out of her cocoon.

“I thought what the Parkland students did was so brave,” says Thunberg. “Of course, it was not the only thing that got me out of that feeling. I did it because I was tired of sitting and waiting. I tried to get others to join me, but no one was interested and no one wanted to do that. So I said, ‘I’m going to do this alone if no one else wants to do it.’ ”

So in August 2018, Greta and her father bicycled down to the Swedish Parliament, across the cobblestone street from where Greta and I now stand. She propped up the first Skolstrejk för klimatet sign, which she’d made from scrap wood. Greta also wrote up an information sheet with climate data and a hint of the defiant humor that eventually led her to make her Twitter profile read, “A teenager working on her anger management problem,” after Trump told her to chill out. Her bio was simple:

“Because you grown-ups don’t give a damn about my future, neither do I. My name is Greta, I am in ninth grade, and I am going on strike from school for the climate.”


Greta’s rise was the activist version of a perfect storm. Her ascension from bullied Swedish student to global climate icon has been driven by both a loss and a regaining of hope. It is not a coincidence that her ascent happened immediately in the aftermath of the election of Trump. It’s impossible to see a Greta-like phenomena emerging during the Obama-driven run up to the Paris climate talks, when it actually looked like nations of the world were getting their shit together to deal with global warming. It became obvious after Trump and the Paris implosion that 30 years of rhetoric and meetings had created very little except more talk.

And then you had the natural disasters. California could not stop burning. Floods ravaged Europe. We now watch glaciers melt and collapse in real time. The dawn of 2020 brought the Australian calamity, with images of scorched earth, koalas and kangaroos burned alive, and the death of a way of life.

The irony of the Greta Age is that we now have options, but refuse to take them. Clean-energy technology has evolved to a point where old arguments that fossil fuels remain the cheapest way to create energy are now obviously nonsense. The cost of clean energy is no longer a barrier to change. Over the past decade, it became an obvious truth: Burning fossil fuels no longer made economic sense anywhere, anytime. What remains is the power and influence of the energy conglomerate superpowers to maintain the status quo. No politician has the courage to face them down. By 2018, it became even clearer that politicians could not be trusted. Talk was wasted. Companies would continue to put profits before nature. We were on our own.
And that’s when Greta came along…

“I have been on the road and visited numerous places and met people from all over the globe,” says Greta. “I can say that it looks nearly the same everywhere I have been: The climate crisis is ignored by people in charge, despite the science being crystal clear. We don’t want to hear one more politician say that this is important but afterward do nothing to change it. We don’t want more empty words from people pretending to take our future seriously.”
She pauses, and her face goes grim. “It shouldn’t be up to us children and teenagers to make people wake up around the world. The ones in charge should be ashamed.”

Below is a gallery of photos from the climate strike on September 20, 2019 in Denver.