A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall

26th Street, Baltimore, MD. Landslide aftermath.

Yesterday, May 1st, 2014, a huge amount of rain fell in Baltimore and caused a 120 year old retaining wall to collapse, sending cars, streetlights and sidewalk tumbling 75 feet down onto CSX rails. Thankfully no one was hurt, although houses on the block were evacuated. As the debris was being cleared up and more stories and videos of the collapse emerged, I was left with one burning question. Where did all this rain come from? Was it a freak occurrence, or should we be expecting more of the same?

Apparently Baltimore was …read more

UN Climate Panel: Poor Will Suffer More from Climate Change

bangladesh flooding 1 (Photo credit: Peter Casier)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN panel, met in Japan earlier this week and released the second of three parts of a report to be published this year on the effects of climate change. The report attempts to discover the affects of climate change on human society in the coming decades. After September’s section of the report found climate change to be “the greatest challenge of our time,” what additional findings would the second part of the report offer?

The report found that unless we act to reduce carbon emissions …read more

The Weather Outside Is Frightful

Jet streams flow from west to east in the upper portion of the troposphere. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been impossible to ignore talk of the polar vortex in recent weeks. Freezing temperatures, snowfall, accidents.. It’s enough to make you want to stay inside and hibernate this winter! If you’re wondering about the story behind the extreme weather, read on:

What is the Polar Vortex?

The polar vortex is a “large pocket of very cold air that generally sits over both the North and South Poles”. It is usually sequestered in this area by the encircling jet stream, keeping the …read more

Things That Made Us Go “Hmmm…” in 2013

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2013 is coming to a close, and as another year passes us by, we pause to reflect, in the words of C+C Music Factory, on some of the things that made us go “Hmmm….” Following, in no particular order, is that list:

Winter 2013 in Zaatari refugee camp (Photo credit: Oxfam International)

1. Snow covers the ground in Egypt for the first time in 100 years. It was not only the worst snow storm to hit the Middle East in 50 years, but the snow and near freezing temperatures threatened thousands of Syrian refugees who lacked adequate shelter.

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To Avoid Serious Damages of Climate Change We Need Intergovernmental Cooperation NOW!

Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 relative to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On September 27th the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the first part of their report, called AR5, on “the current state of scientific knowledge relevant to climate change.” More than 840 scientists convened in Stockholm to complete the report, and came to the conclusion that not only is climate change definitely happening, but that they are 95% sure that humans are the ones who should be held responsible. Additional sections of the report, to be released in 2014, will investigate …read more

Taking the Reigns: How Much Evidence Is Enough to Ignite Change?

On Wednesday, the journal of Environmental Science and Technology published a study that found high levels of radioactivity, salts and metals in the water and sediments downstream from a fracking wastewater plant on Blacklick Creek in western Pennsylvania. Sediment in the creek contained Radium in concentrations 200 times above normal, which are above radioactive waste disposal threshold regulations and pose potential environmental risks. As reported in Bloomberg:

“The absolute levels that we found are much higher than what you allow in the U.S. for any place to dump radioactive material,” Avner Vengosh, a professor at the Nicholas School of …read more

Fire Threatens Water?

As a national parks enthusiast, I try to visit a new park at least every couple years. We visited Yosemite for the first time two weeks ago – yes, right around the time the Rim Fire broke out. At the time, the only signs of the blaze came from a road closer to the park’s Northwest entrance.

PHOTO: Hiking at White Wolf, miles from threatened sequoias at Tuolumne Grove

As the week went on, murmurs throughout the park began to increase, as did the smoke billowing into the sky that was visible from some of the park’s more …read more

What Jurassic Park Teaches Us About the Environment

 

This week my favorite movie of all time is being released in 3D: Jurassic Park. While you might not have realized it during your first viewing, Jurassic Park is a cautionary tale about man’s belief that we have control over our nature. Both the book and the movie are an incredible examination of the way science gives us a false sense that we are beyond the limits of our natural environment. The break down of John Hammond’s grand experiment was due to this philosophical flaw so eloquently laid out by Ian Malcolm:

“When a hunter goes out in the …read more

C.I.A. Report Recognizes Climate Change as a National Security Risk

“The U.S. intelligence community is expected to provide indicators and warnings of a wide variety of security threats…”

This phrase begins the report summary, commissioned by the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies and conducted by the National Research Council, to explain why the United States is now evaluating one of the last things typically linked to national security: global warming.

The National Research Council found a very apparent national security link climate change, however. Erratic weather events like Hurricane Sandy provide a picture of what a warming climate can do to disrupt water supplies, food markets, …read more

Frankenstorm and Climate Change: Better Friends than We Think?

While reporters everywhere donned heavy-duty ponchos to cover the devastation taking place in the wrath of Sandy/the powerful nor’easter that became Frankenstorm earlier this week, scientists saturated the news with a different kind of story: a debate about how closely the Frankenstorm is tied to Climate Change.

The wealth of blogs and news sites covering the science of the storm left the collective verdict somewhere out at sea, but there’s one thing they seem to all agree on: climate change has and will enhance a hurricane’s intensity.

Popular Science asked Andrew Freedman, a spokesperson for a non-profit dedicated to climate …read more