climate change

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The numbers and reports about the Earth's temperature are fairly grim.  By the most recent accounts, there's little chance we can avoid having temperatures rise sharply this century. 

But that doesn't mean we should not try.  BF Nagy is all for the effort, and he takes a practical and positive approach for people to follow, in his book The Clean Energy Age: A Guide to Beating Climate Change

Nagy says he doesn't want to shame or scold, just make some progress in arresting the change. 

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Sea levels are rising with global warming, and it should surprise no one to hear that the situation may increase tsunami risk

A study involving researchers from several countries looked at how much tsunami risk might increase as low-lying areas get even lower relative to sea level. 

The study focused on Macau, a Chinese territory, but it could potentially have implications for many low-lying coastal areas. 

Picture of a drought affected landscape
CSIRO

There is much that is wonderful about living in the West.  Lack of humidity, for example. 

But that's an indicator of a basic fact of life: there's not much precipitation in this part of the country, at least south of Eugene, and so not much water for all the people and nature. 

Marc Reisner covered the topic in  great depth in his monumental work Cadillac Desert, first published in 1986.  He covered the history: dams and diversions, rivers and reclamation, and the underlying issue: too much demand for too little water. 

Drought has only made the book truer over time.  Lawrie Mott, Reisner's widow, is a scientist and the writer of additional material for later editions of the book. 

NASA

Climate change has been mentioned many times over this summer's fire season.  It is among the reasons the season was so long, intense, and smoky. 

But outside forest boundaries, climate change will begin costing people more and more money; up to $15,000 a year, says a report from Natural Resource Economics in Eugene. 

Free-Photos/Pixabay

The climate news just gets grimmer all the time.  Nature continues to add insult to injury

Example: the recent study that shows the increase in temperature becomes more pronounced during droughts... which also appear to be more frequent as the planet heats up. 

Felicia Chiang is a doctoral candidate in civil engineering at the University of California-Irvine. 

Bru-nO/Pixabay

Humans have been drinking wine for a very long time.  And we've generally figured out which grapes grow best in certain climates. 

Trouble is, the climates are more variable than they used to be.  That's created a problem for winemakers, and a career for Greg Jones

Dr. Jones is regarded as one of the top wine climatologists in the world, and he left Southern Oregon University for Linfield College last year. 

Joe Parks, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26554249

It doesn't take much of change in temperature to turn winter snow into winter rain.  Just ask a ski resort operator. 

Changing climate could make it hard for winter sports enthusiasts to get out and play.  We've already had a number of winters with little snowpack; Mount Ashland Ski Area never opened at all just a few winters ago. 

The group Protect Our Winters brings together winter sports fans and providers to work for climate action. 

Michael Jastremski/Wikimedia

The North Pacific High has nothing to do with cannabis.  But it has plenty to do with lots of living creatures, movable and not. 

The weather system shows up from time to time, alternately stressing and helping creatures in different parts of the west.  The North Pacific High is getting more variable with climate change, though. 

And scientists, including Bryan Black at the Marine Science Institute of the University of Texas, believe the variability could create a synchronicity, a real boom-and-bust cycle for some species.  Emphasis on bust. 

K.salo.85, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29973096

Biochar is gaining ground as a way to sequester carbon in the ground. 

Is it as simple as burying charcoal in the ground?  Not quite... charcoal and biochar are a little different, and we invited several guests to help us understand the differences and the process. 

Johannes Lehmann at Cornell University is well-versed in biochar; he joins us by phone. 

And we welcome Kelpie Wilson of Wilson Biochar into the studio, along with a rep from Oregon Biochar Solutions in White City. 

Ratha Grimes/Wikimedia

Coral is more than a pretty color, it is an ecosystem that represents a tiny fraction of the planet, but a huge proportion of its marine life. 

Oregon State University's marine science efforts include studies of coral, even though the closest reef is thousands of miles from Oregon. 

OSU is a partner in the creation of the documentary film "Saving Atlantis," which puts the steep decline of coral in our warming oceans into perspective.  Justin Smith is producer and co-director of the movie; Rebecca Vega-Thurber is the primary investigator. 

Ansgar Walk, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=757797

It makes sense in principle: icebergs and ice sheets in the polar regions melt, and add water to the oceans. 

So the oceans rise.  But HOW?  That's the question researched in great detail by Dave Sutherland in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Oregon. 

His research focuses not just on the melting, but where the water goes, horizontally and vertically.  Sutherland's work takes him to Greenland and Alaska, among other places. 

Robert Lawton, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1243835

Drought and wet years tend to alternate in our part of the world.  We get used to a winter with little snow followed by one with above-average snowpack. 

But computer climate models show the situation getting worse as the planet warms, with something like a "precipitation whiplash" effect: deep and prolonged droughts followed by deluges. 

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We're urged to "think globally, act locally," but climate change is still a massive thing to wrap our minds around. 

How DO we express our concerns at the local level in ways that make a difference?  Mary DeMocker, co-founder of the Eugene chapter of 350.org, has a few ideas for you.  She is the author of The Parents’ Guide to Climate Revolution: 100 Ways to Build a Fossil Free Future, Raise Empowered Kids, and Still Get a Good Night's Sleep

You might tell from the title that the book is both serious and lighthearted. 

Wikimedia Commons

Who would you blame for climate change?  And more to the point, if you could sue someone over it, who would that be? 

Oregon is the source of lawsuits filed on behalf of children, meant to provoke government action on climate change.  But that's just one legal approach. 

"Attribution science" looks to pinpoint responsibility for climate change.  And so it involves both scientists--like the Union of Concerned Scientists--and lawyers, like those at Client Earth. 

Wikimedia/Public Domain

Human contributions to global warming get a thorough examination in William T. Vollman's two-book series "Carbon Ideologies." 

Volume 1, out now, is called No Immediate Danger, and its primary focus is nuclear energy.  Which adds almost nothing in the way of greenhouse gases, but has its own considerable set of concerns. 

The author traveled far and wide and even put himself in some danger to research the books. 

L.S. Mills research photos by Jaco and Lindsey Barnard

The snowpack numbers tell us that streams may flow a little more slowly in the coming dry season.  But there are other things to consider when there's less snow (besides fewer days of skiing), like the effects on animals. 

An animal that has evolved to blend in with snow will stick out like a snowy thumb on a bare landscape. 

Scientists at the University of Montana looked into this, to see how rapidly evolution might progress in the face of climate change.  Hares in brown and white are the study animals; Scott Mills is the scientist. 

Billy Wilson / Flickr

If we want to reduce carbon in the atmosphere to slow or even reverse climate change, we need to cut way down on emissions.  And many scientists say even that will not be enough; we'll actually have to suck some of the carbon dioxide that already exists out of the air. 

So what does that mean, planting jillions of trees?  Giant vacuums? 

Christopher Field at Stanford University is well-versed in atmospheric carbon and the ideas about reducing it. 

U.S. Army Corp of Engineers

Humboldt County can be a wet place, but there's plenty more to come as sea levels continue to rise. 

The Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment, in the works for several years, was completed last month. 

It details the ways and areas in which the North Coast is especially prone to problems from higher sea levels.  Now the next question: how best to act on the information. 

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Cap and trade.  Simple phrase, but a loaded one in political circles. 

The idea is a cap on carbon emissions, payments by emitters going above a certain amount, and a market to trade the permits. 

California already has a cap and trade law; the Oregon Legislature will take up a similar concept in the legislative session starting next week, over the objections of several legislators. 

State Senator Michael Dembrow is one of the cap-and-trade sponsors, and he chairs a committee that will consider the bill. 

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Just the TERM "climate change" produces a range of reactions.  And a range of actions, too. 

Consider the Oregon Stewardship Tour, set up by Citizens' Climate Lobby. 

The tour visits cities around Oregon's vast Second Congressional District to talk about ways to address carbon through economic means... carbon pricing and market-based solutions. 

Brian Ettling is co-founder of the Southern Oregon chapter of CCL; Jim Walls is the executive director of the Lake County Resources Initiative

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