The following information is presented to create awareness of energy issues, climate change science and impacts. Communities that understand and prepare for ongoing energy and climate changes will be more prosperous and enjoy a better quality of life. Our climate literacy outreach efforts are endorsed by scientists at Indiana University, IUPUI, Purdue University, Butler University and Ball State University. See below.
The Science of 350
Simply put, 350 parts per million is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. Atmospheric CO2 is currently at about 414 ppm, which exceeds the safe limit and is why we are seeing climate impacts across the country and around the world. Climate scientists urge a return to 350 ppm as soon as possible because the longer we remain above 350, the greater the risk for disastrous and irreversible climate impacts. To view current atmospheric CO2 levels, go to NOAA Global Monitoring Division. To learn more about the science of 350, go to 350.org.
Irreversible Climate Change
America’s pre-eminent climate scientist, Dr. James Hanson, explains why exploiting Canada’s tar sands means game over for climate change. Read article Posted May 2012
The International Energy Agency warns the world is headed for irreversible climate change in 5 years if fossil fuel infrastructure is not rapidly changed. The world ‘will lose forever’ the chance to avoid dangerous climate change. Read article. Posted November 2011
As the Permafrost warms, scientists try to gauge risk to climate. If a substantial amount of stored carbon is released into the atmosphere in the form of methane (20 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide), it would dramatically intensify planetary warming, possibly triggering irreversible climate change. Read article. Posted December 2011
Atmospheric CO2 reaches 400 ppm
In May 2013, the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide reached an alarming new high: 400 ppm. There hasn’t been this much heat-trapping CO2 in the atmosphere for at least 3 million years; that’s about 2.8 million years before humans evolved. The “normal” range during the last 800,000 years has been 180 -280 ppm, and more recently during the 8,000 years prior to the Industrial Revolution, CO2 remained fairly stable around 280 ppm. Scientists have warned that the maximum safe level to avoid the risk of irreversible climate change is 350 ppm CO2. So what can we expect at 400 ppm CO2? Well, back in the Pliocene when CO2 levels were around 400 ppm, geologic research reveals that the climate was far warmer than today, the world’s ice caps were smaller and sea level was about 60 or 80 feet higher. Read more. Posted June 2013
Are you curious about the basic science of global warming? Bill Nye explains the science of climate change and the link between extreme weather and pollution from fossil fuels in a 5-minute YouTube, Climate 101. It takes a couple of jabs at climate denyers, but the science is sound.
Purdue Climate Change Research Center has collaborated with Indiana universities to synthesize the latest research on how climate change is affecting Indiana: Indiana’s Past & Future Climate Key finding projects extremely hot summers with up to 39 days above 95 degrees for Central Indiana by mid century.
Hoosier’s Health Key findings project increased heat stroke from extreme heat, increased respiratory illnesses from poor air quality, increased risks from “tropical” diseases like West Nile and Zika as populations of the insects that spread these viruses grow, and increased rates of anxiety/depression as a result of coping with the loss of people/property after severe weather events.
Urban Green Spaces We love the trees in our yards and in public spaces! They add beauty, enhance our connection to nature and add value to our properties and community. Trees provide shade which helps to cool and reduce our energy costs and consumption. They provide habitat for birds and other wildlife, moderate wind and diffuse noise from traffic. Environmentally, trees are also very important because they reduce soil erosion and run off which leads to a cleaner supply of water. Trees absorb carbon dioxide in the air counteracting the global greenhouse effect and they produce oxygen and filter airborne particles helping to reduce air pollution. But climate change is impacting the habitat for our trees and landscaping. Some trees are less likely to survive these changes.
Indiana’s Future Forests Over the next century, rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns across the Midwest will likely have widespread consequences for Indiana’s forests. Expected changes include shifts in the distributions and abundance of trees, understory plants and wildlife, as well as changes in the environmental, economic and cultural benefits these forests provide.
Agriculture Warmer overnight temperatures during the last decade have contributed to reduced corn yields. More frequent heat stress and increasing water deficits are projected to significanly reduce corn and soybean yields. By mid-century, warmer winters may no longer meet the winter chilling required for bud emergence for some varieties of apples, peaches and grapes. Increased heat stress on livestock is expected to reduce animal feed intake, productivity and fertility.
Aquatic Ecosystems Increasing temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns will impact Indiana’s lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands. Warmer temperatures combined with chemical runoff from lawns and farms will lead to more algal blooms, reduced water clarity, and depleted oxygen levels.
Energy A warmer climate will cut Indiana’s winter energy consumption, but increase summer cooling costs by as much as $100 million annually. See video recap
CLIMATE IMPACTS & SIGNS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
These extreme weather events are consistent with a warming planet due to increased concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere.
In an open letter to Governor Pence, 22 climate scientists from several Indiana universities have come together to offer their collective expertise on climate change to address the important challenges presented by a changing climate and to explore opportunities to develop mitigation and adaptation strategies in Indiana. Posted October 2015 .
Expect more 1,000-year floods. Climate change contributed to the historic floods in South Carolina were many areas received more than 20″ of rain in a few days. Sea level in Charleston has risen by about a foot making coastal flooding more severe during high tide or a storm with high winds, according to NOAA. Heavy rains and coastal flooding caused extensive infrastructure damage to homes, businesses, roads, bridges and dams, and at least 12 deaths. Michael Mann, climate scientist at Penn State University said it was another example of ‘weather on steroids’ in which climate change worsened the impact of extreme weather. Jennifer Francis, climate scientist at Rutgers University said that a warmer-than-normal ocean provided extra moisture and energy to fuel the storm. This was a 1,000-year event which means there is a 0.1% chance of it occurring naturally. However, it was the sixth 1-in-1,000 year rain event in the U.S. since 2010. Other 1,000-year events include the Tennessee floods in May 2010, the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and New England drenching during Hurricane Irene in 2011, the Colorado floods in 2013, the deluge in Baltimore in August 2014, and the flooding earlier this year in Nebraska, according to Bowen. Having so many is unprecedented and concerning according to meteorologist Steve Bowen of Aon Benfield, a global reinsurance firm. Climate change is increasing the odds for storms of this magnitude. USAToday – Weather.com – Washington Post – Posted October 2015 .
Press Conference video on the Arctic Methane Emergency at UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru. The video calls attention to the dramatic warming from the release of trapped arctic methane. Posted December 2014 .UN Climate Change Conference presentation of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Synthesis Report provides an overview of the key points of the report. Posted December 2014 .Just in time for the climate conference next month, scientists met in Denmark this week to hash out the IPCC Synthesis Report which summarizes the causes, impacts, and solutions of climate change. New in this report, they worked out the “carbon budget,” which is the maximum amount of CO2 the world could emit and still hold global temperature increases less than 2oC above pre-industrial levels. The report also for the first time recognizes that unrestricted use of fossil fuels should be phased out by 2100 if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change, and that most of the world’s electricity must be produced from low-carbon sources by 2050. In stronger language than before, the report attempts to tell the story of what happens if we fail to act, and what can happen if we do. “Science has spoken,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side.” This report will be used by policymakers to craft a new global treaty. See report. Posted November 2014 .As you would expect, the increase in extreme weather and the consequent destruction of personal property and infrastructure will take a huge toll on the economy. A bipartisan team of America’s top business leaders recently released a report quantifying the staggering economic impact of climate change. They are calling on business leaders to change the conversation on climate and engage with the political sector to move on public policy. They believe businesses should incorporate climate change into their everyday business decisions and disclose their level of climate risks. A huge thanks to Ball State Professor John Vann for sharing this info. This video is a must see, a very sobering call to action from business giants. Watch the Risky Business press conference. Explore the report. Posted July 2014
In addition to the impact on weather and our economy, climate change also affects national security. Recent reports from the Center for Naval Analyses Military Advisory Board and the Department of Defense find that climate change is a catalyst for conflict, a ‘threat multiplier’ and a growing threat to U.S. national security. So, there are many important and urgent reasons to go green and reduce your carbon footprint. Posted July 2014 .
The Third National Climate Assessment released in May summarizes projected climate impacts in the U.S. and confirms climate change is affecting Americans in every region. According to the report, the Midwest can expect rising public health risks due to increased heat wave intensity and frequency, increased humidity, degraded air and water quality; more flooding due to heavy rainfall affecting transportation, agriculture, human health, and infrastructure; changing forest composition; decreasing agricultural yield in the long run; and increased risks to the Great Lakes. The report findings underscore the urgent need for action. Read USGCRP reportRead NASA article. Posted June 2014
The IPCC’s most recent report, Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability says the effects of climate change are occurring on all continents and across the oceans, and warns that the risks from climate change impacts will be difficult to manage with high levels of warming from carbon pollution. The report was prepared by 309 scientists from 70 countries with assistance from 436 contributing authors and 1,729 expert and government reviewers. We’ll have more on this report in the coming months. Read IPCC report. Read New York Times article. Posted May 2014 .
In 2013, the midwest experienced cooler than average temperatures. On the U.S. temperature map below, shades of blue indicate cooler than average temperatures and shades of red indicate temperatures above average. This map is for March to May of 2013, but it’s roughly typical of the whole year. If you don’t believe in climate change you might be saying, “Aha, I told you climate change is a hoax!” Or if you believe climate change is a serious problem; it would be tempting and even natural to let your guard down a little and think it’s not as bad as you thought. Read more.
But in both cases, you’d be wrong. To assess climate change you have to look at the whole planet. According to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, the globally averaged annual combined land and ocean surface temperature was 1.12F above the 20th century average. On the global land and ocean temperature map for Jan-Dec 2013, shades of red indicate temperatures above average, and shades of blue indicate cooler than average temps. You can see a narrow band of blue in the Midwest reflecting a cooler than average year. But by and large, the rest of the planet experienced warmer than average temperatures. In fact, 2013 tied with 2003 as the fourth warmest year since records began in 1880. 2013 also marked the 37th consecutive year with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last colder-than-average year was 1976. Read more. Download pdfPosted January 2014
A Stanford University survey found that most Hoosiers want action on global warming. The survey found that 79% of Hoosiers believe global warming has been happening, 73% believe government should limit greenhouse gasses from U.S. businesses, and 83% favors tax breaks to produce renewable energy. In fact, the survey found most Americans get it. Americans have seen enough heat waves, droughts, storms, torrential downpours, floods, tornadoes, superstorms, wildfires, mudslides, blizzards and arctic blasts take its toll on human health and welfare. Read more about Indiana. Read about survey in other states. Posted November 2013 .
Global heating appears to be hiding out in the Pacific Ocean. The recent slowdown in global warming has led some skeptics to renew their claims that carbon emissions are not causing a century-long rise in Earth’s surface temperatures. However, a new study published in ‘Science’ adds support to the idea that the oceans are taking up some of the excess heat, at least for the moment. Waters in the eastern tropical regions of the Pacific have been notably cooler in recent years, owing to the effects of one of the world’s biggest ocean circulatory systems, the Pacific decadal oscillation. Read Grist article. Read Nature articleRead Science Daily article. Read Earth Institute Columbia University article. Posted September 2013
Polar ice melting faster than expected. A new study published in ‘Science’ found the ice in Greenland is melting five times faster than in the early 90s, contributing to rising seas. Read more Posted November 2012. .
This funny YouTube video draws the connection between the melting Arctic ice, climate change’s “scary new math” and extreme weather. See video.
Climate change has some “scary new math”: three simple numbers that add up to a global catastrophe, and that make clear who the real enemy is. The international community has recognized that global temperature increase should not exceed 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and that to do this requires deep cuts in global emissions. In order to keep global warming below 2C, scientists estimate that global emissions cannot exceed 565 Gigatons CO2. However, the burning of the world’s proven oil, coal and gas reserves would release five times as much – 2,795 gigatons CO2. Read more. Posted Aug 2012
The American Meteorological Society (weather) ramps up past statements to join their colleagues in climatology. The AMS issued an official statement that “… many of the observed changes [in weather] are beyond what can be explained by the natural variability of the climate. It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide. The most important of these over the long term is CO2, whose concentration in the atmosphere is rising principally as a result of fossil-fuel combustion and deforestation.” Read more. Posted Aug 2012
Learn from the past to avoid making the same mistakes. Study shows deforestation and climate change caused the collapse of the sophisticated Mayan civilization. Read more. Posted Aug 2012
HOT summers, wildfires and drought are anomalies no longer. They are the visible products of climate change, and more can be expected, says America’s pre-eminent climate scientist, James Hansen. He also explains economic implications and climate tipping points. One solution may appeal to conservatives. Visit the Economist to view video or read article. Posted August 2012
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, global temperatures for May 2012 were the second warmest on record. As you can see on the map, most of the world experienced higher than normal temps. Global land surface temperatures were a record, all-time high for May. Posted July 2012
A study conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication found that a large majority of Americans believe that global warming made several high-profile extreme weather events worse, including the unusually warm winter of December 2011 and January 2012 (72%), record high summer temperatures in the U.S. in 2011 (70%), the drought in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 (69%), record snowfall in the U.S. in 2010 and 2011 (61%), the Mississippi River floods in the spring of 2011 (63%), and Hurricane Irene (59%). The study also found that 82 percent of Americans report that they personally experienced one or more types of extreme weather or a natural disaster in the past year. Read more. Posted May 2012
March 2012 was the warmest March on record in the United States since 1895. More than 15,000 cities and towns across the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. set high temperature records. Posted April 2012
U.N. Panel finds climate change behind some extreme weather events related to climate change. It is likely that greenhouse gas emissions related to human activity have already led to more record-high temperatures and fewer record lows, as well as to greater coastal flooding and to more extremes of precipitation, the report said. Read article. Posted November 2011
A prominent physicist and skeptic of global warming spent two years trying to find out whether mainstream climate scientists were wrong. In the end, he determined they were right: Temperatures really are rising rapidly. What’s different is who is behind the study. One-quarter of the $600,000 to do the research came from the Charles Koch Foundation, whose founder is a major funder of skeptic groups and the tea party. Journal GazetteGardian Posted November 2011
The slow-moving storm system that toppeled stage with its winds at the Indiana State Fair, killing five people, was the same one that dropped record rains over parts of the nation’s eastern half, washing out roads in New Jersey and forcing a small hospital in Ohio to move patients. Nearly 8 inches of rain fell on New York City’s Kennedy Airport and nearly 5 in Philadelphia, setting city records for any day. At Seabrook Farms, N.J., the daily total was nearly 11 inches. Staten Island got 2 months of rain in just one day. Two men rescued as water pours in elevator. Rains caused enormous sink hole. Its lazy pace and higher atmospheric moisture content were what caused the exceptional rainfall amounts, said Dave Scheibe, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, N.J. Read more. Posted Aug 2011
Indiana records hottest and driest July. The heat dome that engulfed the central U.S.during July made it among the driest and hottest on record for some parts of the state. Read more at WISHTV. Posted Aug 2011.
Portions of Iowa and Illinois report 14 inches of rain, and more expected. Storms have been going over the same areas again and again. Runoff is causing flash flooding in several locations. Motorists are reminded to not drive through standing water. If Des Moines reaches 90 degrees or more today it would be the 14th day in a row. It’s already likely to be the warmest July statewide since 1955. Read article Posted July 2011
It’s getting hot, hot, hot! According to NOAA, 2010 was tied with 2005 as the hottest year on record. In fact, nine of the 10 warmest years occurred since 2000. The first half of 2011 is already the 11th warmest on record. In a new study published in the journal Climate Change, American scientists warn of permanent, unprecedented heat. If the amount of warming pollution continues to increase, the world could permanently shift into a new, permanent heat regime in which the coolest warm-season of the 21st century is hotter than the hottest warm-season of the late 20th century. Read more. Posted July 2011.
According to “Four Degrees and Beyond”, published on November 29, 2010 by the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A global warming of 4 degrees Celcius (7.2F) or more is likely this century. Some of the impacts of 4C warming might include an average sea level rise of 2 m; displacement of up to tens of millions of people; permanent absence of summer sea ice in the Arctic; loss of most of the world’s tropical coral reefs; yield decreases in some crops and complete failure of others. The world will need to commit to an “early peak” of fossil fuel use and “departure from a business-as-usual emissions pathway” if maximum warming is to be kept below 4C. You can read the abstracts of each contribution here. Posted December 2010
NASA has confirmed that the first six months of 2010 have set a global temperature record and the National Snow and Ice Data Center shows the Arctic ice extent in June was the lowest in the satellite data record and continues to decline at a rapid pace. Arctic sea ice reflects sunlight, keeping the polar regions cool and moderating global climate.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists 2009 report, if our dependence on fossil fuels continues unabated, summers in Indianapolis are projected to experience more than 80 days above 90oF and 28 days above 100oF.
According to a new study conducted at the Purdue Climate Change Research Center, hot weather extremes across much of the U.S. could increase significantly sooner than previously expected. The researchers used multiple precise climate models using middle-of-the-road assumptions about population growth and fossil fuel use. The study will be published in an upcoming issue of Geophysical Research Letters. In the meantime, here’s the manuscript.
The National Academy of Sciences report on Climate Stabilization Targets makes clear the long-term impact of 21st Century carbon emissions. This 4-page brief provides a scientific evaluation of the implications of various target levels of atmospheric CO2. Certain levels of CO2 would lock the Earth’s climate into very large impacts for hundreds of years. Lower targets could avoid such changes. See also National Academies Press.
The climate impacts report prepared by the U.S. Global Change Research Program summarizes climate impacts that are happening now and are projected to occur in the future depending on actions we take today. The report describes climate changes by region and provides an overview of Climate Impacts in the Midwest .
To help you navigate the extensive USGCRP website, we have provided a summary with links to the appropriate web pages for your convenience. CGI Summary of Impacts Report .
Poison Ivy and Climate Change According to the Wall Street Journal, research indicates that poison ivy has gotten much nastier, faster growth, hardier plants due to rising ambient carbon dioxide levels. Leaf size and nasty oil content are way up thanks to a 33% increase in CO2 in only 50 years…
National Security and the Threat of Climate Change, 2007 This report explores ways projected climate change is a threat multiplier in already fragile regions, exacerbating conditions that lead to failed states — the breeding grounds for extremism and terrorism.
The Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force this week released a report outlining the Task Force’s advancement so far and recommending key components to include in a national strategy on climate change adaptation. The Task Force has already found that:
• Climate change is affecting, and will continue to affect, nearly every aspect of our society and the environment. Some of the impacts are increased severity of floods, droughts, and heat waves, increased wildfires, and sea level rise.
• Climate change impacts are pervasive, wide-ranging and affect the core systems of our society: transportation, ecosystems, agriculture, business, infrastructure, water, and energy, among others.
• Climate change already is affecting the ability of Federal agencies to fulfill their missions.
As a result of these changes, the Task Force notes that U.S. government interests, missions and operations must adapt to climate change and build resilience. The report also states that it is imperative that adaptation to climate change and building resilience both help to manage climate change risks to human well-being and ecosystems and take advantage of the opportunities created by climate change.
The Task Force is made up of the representatives from the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and more the 20 other Federal Agencies.Commerce Department Proposes Establishment of NOAA Climate Service
Individuals and decision-makers across widely diverse sectors – from agriculture to energy to transportation – increasingly are asking NOAA for information about climate change in order to make the best choices for their families, communities and businesses. To meet the rising tide of these requests, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced the intent to create a NOAA Climate Service line office dedicated to bringing together the agency’s strong climate science and service delivery capabilities. Read article. Go to new site climate.gov
The Debate is Over Among Climate Science Experts
A 2009 University of Illinois study shows a consensus among active publishers on climate change. Doran and Kendall Zimmerman conclude “..the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes.” Read more...
Stolen emails don’t change the fact that nearly every major scientific institution and professional society around the world has concluded that human activity is the main cause of global warming; that 2010 is on track to be the warmest year on record and that this decade will be the warmest on record.