Saving Green

We’re all environmentalists – some of us just don’t know it yet. On Earth Day 2014 America’s air and water is dramatically cleaner than it was 40 years ago. But greenhouse gases continue to spike at an alarming rate, worldwide.

Who cares? As I gently remind my friends on the right: conservatism shouldn’t be a la carte. It should apply to the very thing that sustains us, the amazing gift we’ve been loaned. We’re all stewards of God’s Creation.

I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like to save money. Skeptics may perk up when they realize clean energy options will eventually put more green in their wallets. Solar power is catching on as innovation causes prices to fall dramatically, but that’s just the beginning.

Last year I traded in 2 gas-powered cars for a Tesla Model S, an all electric vehicle that I charge up every night in my garage. It has a range of 200 miles and is continually connected to the Internet, allowing streaming media on a super-sized iPad-like center console. Software upgrades are sent automatically, making it the rough equivalent of an iPhone on wheels. I’m a car nut, and I can safely say this is the most fun I’ve had in a vehicle in 40 years. The best part: I’m saving $600/year on insurance and my electricity rates have yet to blip upward. The dream is to drive for free, powered by the sun. Some day soon.

Enjoy a flawless blue sky today. A free lawn watering is still on tap for late Wednesday and Thursday; maybe half an inch of water for your garden. Clouds thicken Saturday; a cold rain reaches southern Minnesota Sunday, but the storm track may keep moisture just south of MSP early next week. The risk of slush next Monday has diminished just a bit.

Insert deep sigh here.

Cooling Trend. After peaking in the upper 50s to near 60F Tuesday afternoon temperatures drop off into the 40s to near 50F, according to ECMWF guuidance. The best chance of rain comes late Wednesday into Thursday; drier air pushing in for Friday and Saturday. Latest guidance keeps most of the moisture to our south Sunday and Monday; a very slow warming trend set for next week. Graphic: Weatherspark.

Future Radar. NOAA’s 12km NAM guidance shows heavy showers and a few embedded T-storms pushing across the Upper Midwest into the Great Lakes as the eastern USA dries out; waves of moderate to heavy rain sweeping into the Pacific Northwest. 84-hour loop: HAMweather.

7-Day Rainfall Amounts. As much as 5″ of rain may soak the Pacific Northwest over the next week as a series of impulses push inland. Heavy showers and T-storms may drop some 2-3″ amounts from near Kansas City to Little Rock, with as much as 1″ for portions of southern MInnesota Wednesday and Thursday. Source: NOAA.

Burning Restrictions In Effect For All of Minnesota. Until we get to statewide spring green-up conditions will remain ripe for spotty brushfires. Here’s a video and story excerpt from “In a quicker than anticipated time frame, burning permit restrictions for Minnesota now cover the entire state. According to the Minnesota DNR, burning permits are now required for anyone in the state wanting to burn small amounts of dry leaves, plant clippings, brush, and untreated, unpainted wood as long as weather conditions do not pose an immediate fire hazard...”

Slowest Start To U.S. Tornado Season On Record. It’s a little premature to get too complacent about a lack of major tornado outbreaks (93 so far nationwide, less than a quarter of “average”, to date). That’s the topic of today’s edition of Climate Matters: “WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over this years tornado stats. So far, we’ve been extremely lucky to see only 93 tornadoes. But in all things weather, it can change on a dime. Peak tornado months are May followed closely by June. So don’t write off tornado season yet, this could be just the beginning.”

Quietest Start To Tornado Season In 60+ Years? So says NOAA SPC. Details from the Storm Prediction Center here.

Experts: Civilians Not Ready For EMP-Caused Blackout. No kidding. has the details; here’s the introduction: “The catastrophic effects of an electromagnetic pulse-caused blackout could be preventable, but experts warn the civilian world is still not ready. Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both congressional advisory boards, said the technology to avoid disaster from electromagnetic pulses exists, and upgrading the nation’s electrical grid is financially viable. “The problem is not the technology,” Pry said. “We know how to protect against it. It’s not the money, it doesn’t cost that much. The problem is the politics. It always seems to be the politics that gets in the way….”

Photo credit above: Wikipedia. “They’re Testing: The government testing electromagnetic pulses uses a simulator hanging over an airborne command post.”

Space Weather Prediction Center. Here is NOAA SWPC’s new (beta) web site with a host of resources and tracking tools to keep an eye on the greatest potential source of dangerous EMP-like CME’s or coronal mass ejections, capable of bringing down communication systems and portions of the grid.

“Fukushima Radiation Killing Our Children, Government Hides Truth, Says Former Mayor” Not sure what to make of this one, but the fact that authorities are telling locals that it’s safe to come home seems questionable, under the circumstances. Another Chernobyl? I sure hope that’s just an exaggeration. Here’s a clip from “…According to Idogawa there are about two million people residing in the prefecture who are reporting “all sorts of medical issues,” but the government insists these conditions are unrelated to the Fukushima accident. Idogawa wants their denial in writing. “I demanded that the authorities substantiate their claim in writing but they ignored my request.” Once again, Idogawa alludes to the nuclear tragedy that hit Ukraine on April 26, 1986, pleading that the Japanese people “never forget Chernobyl.” Yet few people seem to be heeding the former government official’s warning. “They believe what the government says, while in reality radiation is still there. This is killing children. They die of heart conditions, asthma, leukemia, thyroiditis… Lots of kids are extremely exhausted after school; others are simply unable to attend PE classes. But the authorities still hide the truth from us, and I don’t know why….”

Poll: Big Bang A Question For Most Americans. Here’s an excerpt of a story from Associated Press: “…On some, there’s broad acceptance. Just 4 percent doubt that smoking causes cancer, 6 percent question whether mental illness is a medical condition that affects the brain and 8 percent are skeptical there’s a genetic code inside our cells. More — 15 percent — have doubts about the safety and efficacy of childhood vaccines. About 4 in 10 say they are not too confident or outright disbelieve that the Earth is warming, mostly a result of man-made heat-trapping gases, that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old or that life on Earth evolved through a process of natural selection, though most were at least somewhat confident in each of those concepts. But a narrow majority — 51 percent — questions the Big Bang theory.…”

Image credit here.

The Brain Injury That Made Me A Math Genius. Amazing, but apparently true. Salon has the remarkable story – here’s a clip: “…Because of a traumatic brain injury, the result of a brutal physical attack, I’ve been able to see these patterns for over a decade. This change in my perception was really a change in my brain function, the result of the injury and the extraordinary and mostly positive way my brain healed. All of a sudden, the patterns were just . . . there, and I realize now that my injury was a rare gift. I’m lucky to have survived, but for me, the real miracle—what really saved me—was being introduced to and almost overwhelmed by the mathematical grace of the universe…”

68 F. high on Monday in the Twin Cities.

61 F. average high on April 21.

51 F. high on April 21, 2013.

.20″ rain fell early Monday; scattered thundershowers reported across the metro area.

TODAY: Sunny, still mosquito-free. Winds: NW 10. High: near 60

TUESDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase. Low: 43

WEDNESDAY: Showers arrive, windy. SE 15-25. High: near 50

THURSDAY: Rain, heavy at times. Raw and very soggy. Wake-up: 45. High: 48

FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, few sprinkles. Wake-up: 40. High: 49

SATURDAY: More clouds than sun, cool. Wake-up: 35. High: 51

SUNDAY: Cold rain far southern Minnesota. Wake-up: 39. High: 47

MONDAY: Patchy clouds, few sprinkles. Wake-up: 34. High: 45

* lone boat on the water courtesy of WeatherNation TV meteorologist Todd Nelson, who snapped this photo at Maynards in Excelsior as the ice was coming off Lake Minnetonka Monday morning.

Climate Stories….

Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can not eat money.” – Costa Rican saying

NOAA Releases Arctic Action Plan. Details from NOAA: “Earlier this year, President Obama released a plan for moving forward on his national strategy to advance U.S. security and stewardship interests in the Arctic. Today, in keeping with the goals and tenets of his strategy, NOAA unveils its Arctic Action Plan—a document that provides NOAA scientists, stakeholders and partners a roadmap to make shared progress in monitoring, understanding, and protecting this vast, valuable, and vulnerable region. Climate change is making the Arctic a greener, warmer, and increasingly accessible place for economic opportunity. However, climate impacts such as sea ice loss and rising ocean acidification are straining coastal community resilience and sound resource stewardship. Impacts are also being studied outside the Arctic, as NOAA scientists and colleagues work to better understand the region’s influence on global weather and climate patterns…”

Ancient Tundra Discovered Under Greenland Ice Sheet. Extreme melting is leading to some interesting discoveries, under the ice. Here’s a video clip and explanation from The Wall Street Journal: “A team of scientists have found organic soil that has been frozen to the bottom of the Greenland Ice Sheet for 2.7 million years, providing strong evidence that the ice sheet has survived many periods of global warming.” WSJ’s Niki Blasina reports. Photo: Joshua Brown, University of Vermont.

Column: Get Past Fake Debate On Global Warming. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from The Wasau Daily Herald: “… It is obvious now that no amount of scientific evidence and no degree of consensus among climate experts can shake the true denialist. It’s as if there are two parallel universes. For the denialists there is the universe created by Fox News and the Heartland Institute, and news from that world is reported Charles Krauthammer, Rush Limbaugh, and many others. In this world climate models don’t work, global warming has stopped, but if there is warming it is from natural causes, there is no scientific consensus, but if there is, tens of thousands of scientists from different countries and diverse fields are all conspiring together to create the greatest hoax the world has ever seen…”