AC Alert for November 8, 2011 Can Somebody Get the Electricity Back On?

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AC Alert for November 8, 2011 Can Somebody Get the Electricity Back On? #Sustainability #ESG #CSR #SRI #Accountability
Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - 12:00pm


The most frequently heard phrase in the Northeastern United States over the past week: "Can somebody please get the electricity back on!" As a result of a freak heavy wet snowstorm which pummeled inland areas of New Jersey, New York and especially Connecticut, millions of customers were in the dark for many days as utilities were clearly overmatched by Mother Nature.

Then again, the “Snow-tober” storm was just the latest in a series of bizarre weather extremes which have struck many areas of the country and the world since the year began. Tornadoes, flooding, exceptional drought, heat, tropical cyclones and lots of snow: We've seen it all this year and there's still eight more weeks to go! Consider these weather extremes, all in 2011:

  • An incredible lake-effect snowband dumping 8" of snow in just 1 hour and a record-setting 26" of snow in just one day in South Bend, Indiana.

  • A massive snowstorm setting the record for one day snow in Hartford, Connecticut: 24" in just 1 day.

  • Late January snow which pushed New York City to a record snowy January (36").

  • A pre-Groundhog Day blizzard from the Southern Plains to the Midwest, which produced Chicago's 3rd heaviest snowstorm on record (21.2").

  • In April at least 178 confirmed tornadoes in 10 states with 308 deaths: A record number of tornadoes for any individual outbreak.

  • Record springtime flooding in at least 23 locations from southern Illinois to Mississippi.

  • 85% of Texas classified in "exceptional drought" this summer, the direst category in the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor.  At the time, 250 Texas counties had burn bans. (The National Climatic Data Center's August "State of the Climate" report said that, according to one drought index, parts of Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas are experiencing drought of greater intensity than those of the 1930s and 1950s.)

  • Extreme heat in the south and southwest, partially fueled by the exceptional drought. (Source: The Weather Channel)

So, just what is causing these unprecedented extremes in our weather? There are several schools of thought. Some believe that Global Warming is responsible and that the extremes we have seen this year will only get worse as the world's waters continue to warm.

Other people believe that the extremes we are seeing are just part of the usual cycles of weather, pointing to historical data. Complicating the entire issue is the fact that some Global Warming proponents have presented clumsy arguments, thereby giving opponents fodder for criticism. In fact, the last two years have seen the debate over the existence of human-caused climate change -- or any climate change -- challenged by doubters. Some poor science conducted by believers, followed by extensive media reporting has resulted in weak support for the global warming theorists among Americans, despite the extremes of this year.

Where do we go from here? Your AC editors may not have all the answers -- but we do have a very useful information resource on the subject: Global Warming and Climate Change, one of the editors’ Hot Topics to monitor. Information is added daily, and this subject promises to get more and more explosive as we tally the extremes of this highly unusual year. Take a look at these recent excerpts from this section of AC and you will get a better sense of the differences in opinion which exist today:

Top climate scientists predict grim future of more extreme weather, higher costs
(Source: The Washington Post) For a world already weary of weather catastrophes, the latest warning from top climate scientists paints a grim future: More floods, more heat waves, more droughts and greater costs to deal with them. A draft summary of an international scientific report obtained by the Associated Press says the extremes caused by global warming could eventually grow so severe that some locations become “increasingly marginal as places to live.”

Global warming actually may result in fewer weather extremes
(Source: AG Week) It is very unlikely global warming will cause increased extreme weather according to Tom Harris is executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition in Ottawa, Canada. Harris states that if the world warms because of increasing greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures at high latitudes are forecast to rise the most, reducing the difference between arctic and tropical temperatures. Since this differential drives weather, weaker mid latitude cyclones will occur in a warmer world, and so less extremes in weather, not more.

Climate change making country's water problems worse: expert
(Source: Reuters) Climate change and population growth in the United States will make having enough fresh water more challenging in the coming years, according to Robert Glennon, a professor at Arizona State University and the author of "Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It.”

Chu criticizes climate change naysayers
(Source: Business Week) U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has criticized attempts to "muddy the waters" on climate change science. He said the debate in the U.S. reminds him of what he "heard as a young person growing up about how cigarette smoking was not really bad for your health."

Biggest jump ever seen in global warming gases
(Source: USA Today) The global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago.

U.S. Carbon Emissions Fall Seven Percent in Four Years
(Source: Environment News Service) Carbon emissions from coal use in the United States dropped 10 percent over the four years between 2007 and 2011, and emissions from oil use dropped 11 percent during that time, according to a new report from the nonprofit Earth Policy Institute. In contrast, carbon emissions from natural gas use increased by six percent. The net effect of these trends was that U.S. carbon emissions have fallen by seven percent in four years.



Climate change deniers may be washed away by rising seas
(Source: Kansas City Star) The economic losses and the mitigation costs associated with the effects of global warming over the next few decades will be overwhelming according to a study released by Florida Atlantic University. For example, it will cost a medium-sized town like Pompano Beach hundreds of millions just to salvage its water and sewage systems.

Since this special Hot Topic Section was begun in April 2008 and more than 1,600 articles, commentaries and reports have been posted for our readers since then.  It is obvious that there is a major difference of opinion among the experts about the effect of Global Warming on our climate. This indecision is no doubt one of the reasons that a majority of the American public apparently is yet to believe in the problems of climate change and global warming. It's also obvious from just this sampling of recent news articles and commentary that world governments are thus far unable to agree on a course of action.

In view of the extreme importance of this subject, AC will continue to focus on potentially one of the greatest issues world society faces through this Hot Topic Section. No doubt there is a lot more to come and Accountability Central will be here to keep you informed. 

This is just a sampling of the information in our Alert. Go here for the full text of this alert, and more information on Sustainability, and other Accountability related topics.

Keywords: Environment & Climate Change | Accountability-Central | CSR | ESG | SRI | Sustainability