FOURTH NATIONAL CLIMATE ASSESSMENT


 

Summary Findings

These Summary Findings represent a high-level synthesis of the material in the underlying report. The findings consolidate Key Messages and supporting evidence from 16 national-level topic chapters, 10 regional chapters, and 2 chapters that focus on societal response strategies (mitigation and adaptation). Unless otherwise noted, qualitative statements regarding future conditions in these Summary Findings are broadly applicable across the range of different levels of future climate change and associated impacts considered in this report.

1. Communities

Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.

The impacts of climate change are already being felt in communities across the country. More frequent and intense extreme weather and climate-related events, as well as changes in average climate conditions, are expected to continue to damage infrastructure, ecosystems, and social systems that provide essential benefits to communities. Future climate change is expected to further disrupt many areas of life, exacerbating existing challenges to prosperity posed by aging and deteriorating infrastructure, stressed ecosystems, and economic inequality. Impacts within and across regions will not be distributed equally. People who are already vulnerable, including lower-income and other marginalized communities, have lower capacity to prepare for and cope with extreme weather and climate-related events and are expected to experience greater impacts. Prioritizing adaptation actions for the most vulnerable populations would contribute to a more equitable future within and across communities. Global action to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions can substantially reduce climate-related risks and increase opportunities for these populations in the longer term.

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The Hunt for Sky’s “Detergent” Begins in Antarctica Nicky Phillips, Nature magazine November 24, 2018


The Hunt for Sky's "Detergent" Begins in Antarctica
Credit: Getty Images

To understand how the sky cleanses itself, a team of Australian and US researchers is heading to Antarctica to track down the atmosphere’s main detergent. By drilling deep into polar ice, the scientists hope to determine how the sky’s capacity to scrub away some ozone-depleting chemicals and potent greenhouse gases has changed since the Industrial Revolution—information that could help to improve global-warming projections.

The first members of the project travelled to Law Dome, their drilling site in East Antarctica, this week. There, they hope to capture the first historical data on concentrations of the dominant atmospheric detergent, the hydroxyl radical. This highly reactive molecule, made of an oxygen atom bonded to a hydrogen atom, breaks down about 40 gases in the air. They include methane and hydrofluorocarbons, but not the most prevalent greenhouse gas—carbon dioxide.

Although studies of other atmospheric gases have been used to infer the abundance of hydroxyl over the past four decades, atmospheric chemists still refer to the chemical as ‘the great unknown’.

“We have been more or less in the dark when it comes to how hydroxyl has evolved from pre-industrial times to present day,” says Apostolos Voulgarakis, an environmental scientist at Imperial College London. “This new research endeavour can provide unprecedented information on hydroxyl variations in the deeper past, which is exciting.”

Risky business

Over two and a half months, the team will drill at least two ice cores—three if time allows—down to depths of about 230 metres. They will then melt the cores to extract bubbles of air that were trapped as the ice froze. The samples will represent the atmosphere back to about 1880, before emissions of greenhouse gases from human activity started to increase.

Hydroxyl radicals form naturally in the atmosphere in a reaction involving ultraviolet rays, ozone and water vapour. But because the radicals last about a second before they react with other gases and break them down, as a proxy, the team will instead measure the tiny fraction of carbon monoxide that contains the carbon-14 isotope.

Carbon-14 in carbon monoxide is produced in the atmosphere by cosmic rays at a known rate, and is almost entirely removed by hydroxyl. Because of this, scientists can use the trend in its abundance to infer the trend of the radical, says David Etheridge, an atmospheric chemist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Aspendale, Australia, and a co-leader of the drilling project.

But measuring levels of carbon monoxide that contain carbon-14 is tricky, because there are only a few kilograms of it in the atmosphere, says Etheridge. “And we’re trying to measure a bit of that over the last 150 years in the Antarctic ice.”

There is also a risk that the ice cores will become contaminated with external sources of carbon-14 from cosmic rays. This high-energy radiation cannot penetrate the ice, but the moment the cores are removed, they are at risk of exposure. This would interfere with the signal the team is trying to measure, says co-leader Vasilii Petrenko, an ice-core scientist at the University of Rochester in New York. To avoid that risk, the researchers will melt the ice and extract the air on-site.

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‘America’s straightest arrow’: Robert Mueller silent as urgency mounts – David Taylor in New York Sat 24 Nov 2018 06.00 GMTLast modified on Sat 24 Nov 2018 12.13 GMT


Amid concern over the future of his inquiry, the special counsel lauded for integrity has kept his customary low profile
Robert Mueller’s office has remained seemingly impervious to leaks.
Robert Mueller’s office has remained seemingly impervious to leaks. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

Robert Swan Mueller III wears a $35 Casio watch with the face on the inside of his left wrist, in the style of an infantryman trying to avoid giving away his position with a glint of sunshine off the glass.

Covert and careful, Mueller is still moving with stealth in Washington DC, 50 years after he was shot and wounded in Vietnam as a first lieutenant in the US Marines.

For 18 months now, the former long-serving director of the FBI has been the calm centre of a gathering storm which may be about to break over Donald Trump’s White House.

During an exhausting period of perpetual leaks across DC, the office of Special Counsel Mueller has stood apart, seemingly impervious and water-tight.

While Mueller has cast a shadow over Trump for 18 months now, he has been almost entirely silent since he was brought out of retirement as a special counsel tasked with picking up the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election, and “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump”.

Mueller’s silence has led to intense scrutiny of his personal appearance – that watch, steely hair parted on the left with scrupulous accuracy, his pin-striped Brooks Brothers suits, the white Oxford button-down collar shirts, always paired with dull geometric print ties. A study in methodical caution.

Robert De Niro has played him with predictable menace on Saturday Night Live, looming like a predator from every shady character’s worst nightmare.

Trump, of course, has had a lot to say about Mueller – denouncing his work as an all-caps “WITCH HUNT”, calling him “highly conflicted” and declaring last week that his team was not only “a disgrace to our Nation” but had gone “absolutely nuts”.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin talk during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang last year.
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Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin talk during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang last year. Photograph: Jorge Silva/AFP/Getty Images

In attempting to discredit Mueller, Trump has implied that the lifelong Republican is a partisan stooge of Barack Obama. In fact, since the 1980s, Mueller has been appointed to public positions – as prosecutor and investigator – by five consecutive presidents, one of them called Reagan and two of them called Bush.

He was inherited by Obama as director of the FBI, and was so widely admired that when his term limit of 10 years in the job approached, the Senate voted 100-0 to change the law so that he could stay on for two more years.

Garrett Graff, author of The Threat Matrix: Inside Robert Mueller’s FBI and the War on Global Terror, interviewed Mueller for about 12 hours for the 2011 book. He said: “He is probably America’s straightest arrow, very by-the-book, very professional.”

The word integrity seems to be almost sewn into the fabric of his pin-striped suits. “It’s why [Deputy Attorney General] Rod Rosenstein brought him into this role of special counsel,” Graff said, “because he is probably the one person in Washington that you could never accuse of having a partisan agenda – he’s always seen things with a very strong moral compass, instilled in him by his father, and really sees the world with a pretty black and white, right or wrong vision.”

Following a period of self-imposed public inactivity during November’s midterm elections, there is a new urgency surrounding the investigation.

Trump has fired the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and installed Matthew Whitaker, a political ally who many fear will move to shut Mueller down; Trump has huddled with lawyers and has submitted his written answers on questions from Mueller’s team about possible collusion between his campaign and Russia; Paul Manafort, the convicted former Trump campaign chairman, is co-operating with the special counsel and by 26 November could be unveiled as a star witness in a new criminal case aimed squarely at Trump world. Could Donald Trump Jr or the longtime Trump aide Roger Stone be next?

Yet as rage, speculation and tension mount, Mueller keeps his profile low.

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Five things to watch as Congress braces for end-of-the-year shutdown fight = Jordain Carney 11/24/18 06:00 AM EST


Congress is barreling toward a looming deadline to prevent a partial government shutdown.

Negotiators say they don’t want to kick the funding fight to next year, but lawmakers will have just 10 scheduled work days to strike a deal by the Dec. 7 deadline.

Significant political clashes are shadowing the funding battle.

Republicans are losing power in the House, and want to finish the bill while they have the majority.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is locked in a battle for the speakership, which could make it tougher for her to compromise.

Here are five areas to watch.

Border wall

The fight over Trump’s signature issue is the biggest threat to government funding.

The House’s homeland security bill would provide $5 billion for the border including funding for technology and new fencing, compared to $1.6 billion in the Senate’s version of the legislation— the same amount the administration got for the 2018 fiscal year.

Senate Republicans are hoping they can negotiate a boost for the administration. But they are also managing expectations.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said he told Trump during a recent meeting that he wanted to fund the government. He said he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) want to avoid a shutdown and Trump “seemed” to agree with them.

But they’ve yet to settle on a figure with Democrats. Shelby said Republicans didn’t discuss numbers with Trump and predicted negotiating would begin in earnest after the Thanksgiving recess.

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400 Wealthiest Americans- Editors Pick | Oct. 3, 2018 7:00am The Definitive Ranking Of The Wealthiest Americans Edited by Luisa Kroll and Kerry A. Dolan


Seemingly as inevitable as death and taxes, the rich once again have grown richer. For the first time since 1994, there is a new No. 1, as Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos breaks Bill Gates’ 24-year run at the top. Bezos is also the first person to appear in the ranks with a fortune of more than $100 billion—he clocked in at $160 billion, thanks to an astonishing one-year gain of $78.5 billion. The minimum net worth to join this exclusive club hit an all-time high of $2.1 billion while the average net worth for a Forbes 400 member rose half a billion to a record $7.2 billion. At these lofty highs, more than a third of the nation’s billionaires, a record 204, weren’t wealthy enough to crack the club. Even still, 15 newcomers climbed into the ranks, including Ripple’s Chris Larsen, the first member of the 400 to make a fortune from crypto-currency; Drew Houston, CEO of newly public online file-sharing firm Dropbox; and In-N-Out heiress Lynsi Snyder, now the youngest woman on the Forbes 400 at age 36. For more list highlights and the methodology, click here.

A Government Climate Study Contradicts the President – ADAM ROGERS SCIENCE 11.23.1806:58 PM


Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

Shhhh. Someone in the Federal government wants to keep a secret. Someone—though no one is saying who—does not want you to know that the Federal government is panicked about climate change.

They should be. A new government report—1,600 pages, two and a half years of work, hundreds of authors, 13 participating agencies—warns that by the end of the century, unchecked climate change could cause tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of billions of dollars in losses and damage. All the evidence points to human emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide as the cause. “There is clear and compelling evidence that global average temperature is much higher and is rising more rapidly than anything modern society has experienced, and this warming trend can only be explained by human activities,” David Easterling of NOAA, director of NCA4’s technical support unit, said on a Friday conference call with journalists. “After mid-century, how much the climate changes will depend primarily on release of greenhouse gases.”

The new report is volume two of the 4th National Climate Assessment (volume I, focusing on climate change science, came out in 2017). It’s the result of a 1990 law mandating a quadrennial US version of the climate reports published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (like one published last month, which says the worst effects of climate change might hit as soon as 2040—realsoon, y’all). NCA4 was supposed to come out in December. About a week ago, the feds informed its authors it might be coming out a wee bit earlier. On Wednesday, the press release went out: They were publishing the report on November 23, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, busiest shopping day of the year.

It is the most Friday-News-Dumpiest of all possible Friday News Dumps.

On the conference call, a spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration repeatedly asked journalists on the line to ask about the report’s substance, and to refer questions about its timing to Michael Kuperberg, the executive director of the US Global Change Research Program. (He has not yet answered my email.) Another call participant explained the timing this way: “There are two major international climate related conferences taking place in early December,” David Reidmiller, director of the National Climate Assessment, said. “We wanted to get the NCA out into the public sufficiently in advance of those meetings to ensure the community had time to review them.”

No one would answer why Black Friday was a better option for publishing NCA4 (and a related big report on carbon in North America) than, say, three days later, on Monday of the following week. Maybe the government just thought it’d be nice to offer a Black Friday discount on the apocalypse. “This is a report that has not been altered in any way based on any political views or ideological perspectives. It is the report the authors put together and the most conclusive and authoritative report in the world, frankly, about how climate change is going to affect a particular country. I’m very happy about that,” Andrew Light, a senior fellow at World Resources International who worked on NCA4’s chapter on mitigation, tells me. “The message this administration is sending out by putting it out on Friday is perfectly clear—that this is not an administration that is engaging on this issue, and they do not, frankly, have an interest in helping other communities to engage and prepare on this issue. And that’s a tragedy.”

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How tech companies deceive you into giving up your data and privacy | Finn Lützow-Holm Myrstad – TED Published on Nov 21, 2018


Have you ever actually read the terms and conditions for the apps you use? Finn Lützow-Holm Myrstad and his team at the Norwegian Consumer Council have, and it took them nearly a day and a half to read the terms of all the apps on an average phone. In a talk about the alarming ways tech companies deceive their users, Myrstad shares insights about the personal information you’ve agreed to let companies collect — and how they use your data at a scale you could never imagine. Check out more TED Talks: http://www.ted.com The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more.

Why Don’t We Ever Call White Extremists Terrorists? (HBO) – VICE News Published on Nov 21, 2018


Counting all the shootings and bombings, there have been at least 10 acts of terror carried out by White American men in 2018 alone. But for some reason, we don’t call these guys terrorists. If we listen to the President, terrorism is a word exclusively reserved for Muslims and immigrants. Earlier this month, Trump was back on the stump with a similar refrain: “We will keep the criminals, drug dealers, terrorists the hell out of our country.” He even released a comprehensive strategy for fighting terrorism that’s mostly about the border and the Middle East. However, if we look at the data, it turns out that Trump’s set his eyes on the wrong target. White men are responsible for 71% of extremist-related deaths in America over the last ten years. So if the President is truly going to fulfill his promise of protecting us from terror, he should really be protecting us from the men who look like him. Produced by Alexander Stockton

Thousands Of Fire Evacuees To Spend The Holiday Without Homes Elise HuNovember 21, 20185:00 AM 23 MINUTES AWAY`


A holiday mug is seen among the wreckage of what was once someone’s kitchen in Paradise, California. Elise Hu/NPR

Evacuee Roxanne Peters had planned to prepare food tomorrow, for Thanksgiving dinner.

“I was celebrating at two different houses. We were invited to two different places, and I was cooking, you know, potluck,” she said.

Both those homes burned to the ground in the historic Camp Fire. The scale of the fire’s destruction is so spread out that very little of the towns of Paradise, Magalia and Concow remain. So far, the fire scorched 230 square miles — an area the size of Chicago.

“I’ll be giving thanks this year that we made it out alive,” Peters says.

So many evacuees have fled to nearby Chico, prompting local businesses to try and give them a place to exhale.

“When you see them come in they have ash on their clothes. Or their face has soot on it. Because you don’t know what they were doing,” says Breanna Fischer, manager the Buffalo Wild Wings near the disaster recovery center. It’s brought a stream of customers with different stories of survival.

The restaurant is usually closed on Thanksgiving Day. But tomorrow, she and the other managers decided not just to stay open, but to host a free feast for hundreds of fire survivors.

“It’s all on us. This is a family event, basically,” Fischer said.

Inside the giant walk-in freezers in the back, forty giant turkeys are lined up, waiting to be deep-fried in the kitchen’s seven fryers.

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