December 8 2012
by: Doyle Rice
Unseasonable warmth across the country this week likely has sealed the deal: 2012 will go down as the warmest year in U.S. history, according to data released Thursday by the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.
"We are very certain of this," reports climate center scientist Jake Crouch.
So far this year, the USA has had a national average temperature of 57.1 degrees, 3.3 degrees above the long-term average and a full degree above the previous warmest January-November period, which was in 1934.
U.S. weather records date back to 1895. The warmest full year on record was 1998.
A total of 18 states in the central and northeastern USA have had record warmth this year and an additional 24 states are seeing a Top 10 warm year. No states are seeing a cooler-than-average year.
December 8 2012
by: Kari Lydersen
On Thursday the Chicago City Council passed Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed 2013 budget, which—although it doesn’t include widespread layoffs and service cuts like last year’s—continues the trend of shrinking the city's government. Union analysts and other critics fear a harsh impact on residents who depend on public agencies for services and jobs.
There was never any doubt the budget would pass: Chicago’s city council has long been known as a rubber-stamp body. The vote was 46-3 with one city councilman absent. What was notable was that three councilmen did vote against the budget and one, Robert Fioretti, spoke in strident terms about how cuts and privatization could hurt regular people. Last year’s budget passed unanimously despite deep job cuts, the closure of six union-staffed mental-health clinics, the privatization of primary-care clinics and other public-service cuts.
“We may not be generating the headlines of the parking meters,” Fioretti said, referring to the debacle in which former Mayor Richard M. Daley leased the city’s meters to a private company, "but we are eliminating middle-class jobs. For what result? What do we say to our constituents who are sold out, to the dedicated employees of mental health centers, to the police officers who are not seeing vacancies filled? ... This helps the city in the long run how?”
November 28 2012
by: Joe Romm
A new study, “Comparing climate projections to observations up to 2011,” confirms that climate change is happening as fast — and in some cases faster — than climate models had projected. The news release explains:
The rate of sea-level rise in the past decades is greater than projected by the latest assessments of the IPCC, while global temperature increases in good agreement with its best estimates. This is shown by a study now published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and his colleagues compare climate projections to actual observations from 1990 up to 2011. That sea level is rising faster than expected could mean that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) sea-level rise projections for the future may be biased low as well, their results suggest.
As Dr. Rahmstorf notes, “the new findings highlight that the IPCC is far from being alarmist and in fact in some cases rather underestimates possible risks.”
The oceans are rising 60 per cent faster than the IPCC’s latest best estimates, according to the new research. The researchers compared those estimates to satellite data of observed sea-level rise. ” Satellites have a much better coverage of the globe than tide gauges and are able to measure much more accurately by using radar waves and their reflection from the sea surface,” explains Anny Cazenave from LEGOS. While the IPCC projected sea-level rise to be at a rate of 2 mm per year, satellite data recorded a rate of 3.2 mm per year.
November 28 2012
by: Tracey Parece
Hostess is officially closed, and more than 18,000 have lost their jobs just in time for the holidays. It's a sad situation that has many people concerned, not only for the former employees of the company, but also by the prospect of a future without Twinkies and Wonder Bread.
The news of the closing made headlines on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, 2012. As the company's employees should be enjoying the holiday, they are instead facing unemployment. However, as Hostess officially closes, there have been reports that some employees are not too upset about losing their jobs. According to the Inquisitr, the declining wages and worsening conditions at the company's bakeries have made the official closing of Hostess bittersweet for 46-year-old Kenneth Johnson who said, "I'd rather go work somewhere else or draw unemployment."
Hostess officially closes with store shelves laid bare of their products. A rush on their sweet snack cakes from Ding Dongs to Twinkies began at the first sign of trouble when the company started by closing just three of their bakeries.
The products that disappeared rapidly from stores reappeared just as rapidly on eBay with insane markups. People are seeking millions of dollars for what may be the last Twinkies on Earth as Hostess officially closes this week. How much would you pay for a box of Twinkies?
November 17 2012
by: Louis Goddard
Changes in the world climate could cause almost all indigenous Arabica plants — crucial to the commercial production of coffee — to become extinct by 2080, according to researchers at Britain's Royal Botanic Gardens. Writing in a study published in the journal PLOS ONE earlier this week, the scientists describe a number of potential scenarios based on simulations of climate change in key areas, particularly southern Ethiopia. While the most conservative model shows a 38 percent reduction in suitable 'bioclimatic space' over the next 68 years, others veer close to 100 percent, and the researchers emphasize that additional factors, such as deforestation, have yet to be considered.
Arabica is not the only plant used in coffee production — the beans of the Robusta strain, which generally contain more caffeine, are popular in southeastern Europe and are used regularly in instant coffee. Still, as The Telegraph points out, Arabica accounts for roughly 70 percent of the global market, including virtually all fresh coffee sold in US chains such as Starbucks. According to the research paper, even if extinction is avoided, shifts in the location of the plants are likely to alter the taste of the resulting product, as are moves towards more tightly regulated cultivation, with farmers using watering and cooling equipment in an attempt to retain a suitable environment for their crop.
November 17 2012
by: Quinn Davis
If ignorance is bliss, its cousin denial is a stubborn and sometimes frantic attempt to stay there. We’ve all heard parents and grandparents start novel-length speeches with, “When I was your age…” For them, the ignorance is gone, and so is the denial. They know the significance of April 15 and savor that one week off instead of spending their summers with no more teachers and no more books. But before all that, they too stepped into denial. The limbo of the adult world, denial let them dip their toes into careers and parenthood all while pretending that it was still okay to stay out late with their friends drinking cheap beer in seedy bars. Fortunately for me, my denial hasn’t been crushed yet by the real world. Since graduating college, I’ve slowed my dissolve into “real life” by changing career paths and spending most of my time in college again. But there’s one nemesis the lives of my adult relatives couldn’t prepare me for: the imminent death of my youth by the hands of technology. Many of us have started to deal with the idea of friending our mothers on Facebook. And we’ve been busy censoring the content we share lest that photo of you dressed as a Breathalyzer for Halloween challenges the wholesome image you sell to potential employers. I’m fine and well with all of this, even though it enforces my denial, meaning I’m pushed even further from bliss. The most oppressive part comes when I have to edit my goofy self down to an acceptable and dull representation of what it means to be a young professional. Take my e-mail address, for example. After college, my school-given address made of initials and numbers had to be replaced. Instead of choosing a sensible email@example.com like so many of my peers, I went with quinn.d.uplets, a bastardized version of my nickname, Quintuplets. For a while, the goofy moniker worked fine; people guffawed or rolled their eyes once they realized the dorkiness behind the address. But soon after, I found myself repeating the address over the phone to interviewees and interviewers. It’s U-P-L-E-G-S? Quinnduplegs? Uplegs? What? Have you ever thought of having an easier address? One that’s, you know, normal? Well sure, I’ve thought of it. But I’ve also thought of what it would represent: that I may no longer “stick it to the man” by refusing to succumb to adulthood. That the qualities I’ve always thought of as endearing and unique are now just annoying and inconvenient. Maybe they always were, but it didn’t matter before. The pieces of myself that live on the Internet are obviously just representations of my fruitless struggle to get back to ignorant bliss. But until the real world wins, I’m perfectly happy using them to decorate my quaint little place in limbo.