U.S. Climate Report Warns of Damaged Environment and Shrinking Economy

The nation’s farm belt is likely to be among the hardest-hit regions, and farmers in particular will see their bottom lines threatened.

“Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on rangelands and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the U.S.,” the report says. “Expect increases in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality and changes in extreme events in the United States and abroad.”

By 2050, the scientists forecast, changes in rainfall and hotter temperatures will reduce the agricultural productivity of the Midwest to levels last seen in the 1980s.

Climate change 'will inflict substantial damages on US lives'

Climate change is already harming Americans’ lives with “substantial damages” set to occur as global temperatures threaten to surge beyond internationally agreed limits, a major US government report has warned.

The influence of climate change is being felt across the US with increases in disastrous wildfires in the west, flooding on the east coast, soil loss in the midwest and coastal erosion in Alaska, according to the US National Climate Assessment.

The draft outlined that “impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country, and that climate-related threats to Americans’ physical, social, and economic wellbeing are rising”. Climate change-related risks “will continue to grow without additional action”, it added.

OPPD's Craig Moody: November 2018 Board Meeting Summary

[OPPD Board member Moody] ended [his] comments with the following:

I’m proud of the way in which we’ve approached totally rewriting this SD, and I believe it is a marked improvement over the previous version. I’m proud of the fact that we’re talking about carbon emissions and much, much more, and our conversations are thoughtful, and tough, and mixed with equal parts practicality and future thinking.

But we must continue to wrestle with the challenges we face. For it’s not an understatement to say that we have an opportunity to solve one of the world’s biggest, most complicated challenges. We can play a leading role in helping humanity transition to an economy that is economically and reliably fueled by clean, non-emitting fuel sources. It is the challenge of our lifetimes, and I can think of no better organization and no better people to tackle the challenge…and I look forward to working together with my fellow board members, with OPPD’s management team, and with all of OPPD’s exceptional people to embrace the opportunity and solve the problem.

Lancaster County needs fair, balanced wind ordinance

Each project generates tax revenue to fund essential functions such as schools, police and emergency services. This revenue offers a way for counties to limit the tax burden on residents while still funding critical services. In 2017, the nameplate capacity tax on wind farms generated $3,065,623 in revenue for Nebraska counties, with $1,862,959 going to local schools, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office. There are few other options for counties to generate money without raising taxes.

Wind projects also bring employment opportunities during their construction, and long-term careers for technicians that will maintain the projects post-construction.

Climate-heating greenhouse gases at record levels, says UN

The main greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change have all reached record levels, the UN’s meteorology experts have reported.

Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are now far above pre-industrial levels, with no sign of a reversal of the upward trend, a World Meteorological Organization report says.

“The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5m years ago, when the temperature was 2-3C warmer and sea level was 10-20 metres higher than now,” said the WMO secretary general, Petteri Taalas.

“The science is clear. Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gases, climate change will have increasingly destructive and irreversible impacts on life on Earth. The window of opportunity for action is almost closed.”

Outdated Electricity Market Rules Hinder Wind, Solar Deployment

Although record-low costs and consumer demand are driving growth in U.S. wind and solar energy, outdated wholesale market rules are preventing the two technologies from further reducing prices for consumers, according to a new report, “Customer-Focused and Clean: Power Markets for the Future,” from the nonprofit Wind Solar Alliance (WSA).

Sweeping changes in the electricity generation mix over the last 10 years are driving fundamental changes in the nation’s electricity grid, with wind and solar generating capacity having increased approximately 500%. Yet, market rules designed with other resources in mind fail to take advantage of these new resources’ excellent reliability capabilities, the report says.

Most regional transmission organizations’ rules were written before renewables made up a meaningful portion of the generation fleet, the report points out. Characteristics such as “inertia” and “spinning reserve” reflect attributes of certain generators and are not actual reliability services. The actual services such as frequency stabilization and regulation, ramping, voltage regulation, disturbance ride-through, and 10- or 30-minute reserves can be provided as well or better by modern wind, solar, storage and demand response resources, according to WSA.

Big Oil v the planet is the fight of our lives.

The world’s leading scientists issued a report warning of total planetary dystopia unless we take immediate steps to seriously reduce carbon emissions. Then, oil and gas corporations dumped millions of dollars into the 2018 elections to defeat the major initiatives that could have slightly reduced fossil fuel use.

Though you may not know it from the cable TV coverage, this was one of the most significant – and the most terrifying – stories of the midterms. For those who actually care about the survival of the human race, the key questions now should be obvious: is there any reason to hope that we will retreat from “drill baby drill” and enact a sane set of climate policies? Or is our country – and, by extension, our species – just going to give up?

Madison County approves updated wind regulations

Following all the talk, commissioners voted 3-0 to approve the updated regulations, which are more stringent than the original regulations enacted more than 10 years ago.

In addition, the county’s moratorium on accepting wind farm applications has been allowed to expire.

That means that Madison County is again open for business for possible wind farm construction and operation although, realistically, it isn’t likely there will by any construction for a couple of years — if at all.

No, Wind Farms Don’t Kill 75% of Birds Nearby — Birds Just Don’t Hang Out Around Turbines

Deniers are crowing over a new study in Nature that’s supposedly claiming wind turbines are killing three-fourths of birds in the areas around them. Obviously that’s absurd, so what the flock is going on? 

This new myth took flight with a Daily MailOnline story with a headline claiming “Wind farms are the 'new apex predators': Blades kill off 75 percent of buzzards, hawks and kites that live nearby, study shows.” The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) quickly posted the Mail story on its site, Watts Up With That? (WUWT) lazily copied GWPF’s copy of the Mail, and JoNova excerpted it

The problem is that the study did not, at all, in any way or at any point, show that wind turbine blades “kill off 75 percent of buzzards, hawks and kites.” While it mentions once, in passing, that turbines can kill birds and bats by direct impact, the study has no tally of bird corpses or anything dealing with avian mortality at the study site. 

What the study instead showed is that there were four times fewer birds flying around the 20-year-old wind farms than there were flying around adjacent plots of land without turbines. Per the study author in a press release, turbines act like predators “not in the sense of killing [birds], but by reducing the presence of raptors in those areas.”

Your Children’s Yellowstone Will Be Radically Different

Some elk now stay in valleys outside the park, nibbling lawns and alfalfa fields, Dr. Hansen said. And where they go, wolves follow. “It is a very interesting mix of land-use change and climate change, possibly leading to quite dramatic shifts in migration and to thousands of elk on private land,” he said.

Drier summers also mean that fires are a greater threat. The conditions that gave rise to the fires of 1988, when a third of the park burned, could become common.

By the end of the century, “the weather like the summer of ’88 will likely be there all the time rather than being the very rare exception,” said Monica G. Turner of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “As the climate is warming, we are getting fires that are happening more often. We are starting to have the young forests burn again before they have had a chance to recover.”