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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

No on California Prop 23: It’s getting HOT out here! 113 °F in Los Angeles, September 28, 2010

by Joseph Romm, Climate Progress, September 28, 2010


Los Angeles Bakes as Temperature Breaks All-Time Record

National Weather Service Thermometer Stopped Working

Temperatures hit an all-time high this week across much of Southern California – according to records that date back 133 years.  Capital Climate has the details.
UPDATE:  Meteorologist Jeff Masters notes “a station in the foothills at 1260′ elevation near Beverly Hills owned by the Los Angeles Fire Department hit 119 °F yesterday–the hottest temperature ever measured in the Los Angeles area, tying the 119 °F reading from Woodland Hills on July 22, 2006.”

Weather historian Christopher C. Burt has a great post at Weather Underground, “The Remarkable Summer of 2010,” which concludes, “it is probable that no warmer summer in the Northern Hemisphere has ever been experienced by so many people in world history.”  He reprints this graph
No to Proposition 23!For climate deniers and big oil interests, this is an unfortunate coincidence.  In the midst of the hottest year on record, they are the main supporters of Prop 23, a controversial ballot measure that would effectively repeal the California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, “AB 32”.  CAP’s Jorge Madrid has the story.

Of course, a single day of record temperatures — even the all-time record — does not by itself prove global warming.  However, a week like this gives us a forewarning about times to come, especially since NOAA and NASA reported 2010 is the hottest year on record so far and Burt reports “The year 2010 now has the most national extreme heat records for a single year–seventeen” [while "No nations set record for their coldest temperature in history in 2010"] and in June and July alone, the U.S. set 1480 temperature records.

Burt has more U.S. records:
U.S. cities setting record warmest summer (June – August) temperatures
In the U.S.A., the following cities recorded their hottest meteorological summer on record (the most remarkable being the figure for Central Park in New York City where records go back to 1869 at the same location):

New York City (Central Park): 77.8° (old record 77.3° summer of 1966)
Washington D.C. National Airport: 81.3° (old record 80.0° summer of 1943)
Dulles Airport, VA: 77.8° (old record 76.8° summer of 2007)
Richmond, VA: 81.3° (old record 80.0° summer of 1994)
Atlantic City, NJ: 77.5° (old record 75.8° summer of 2005)
Philadelphia, PA: 79.6° (old record 78.9° summer of 1995)
Trenton, NJ: 77.7° (old record 76.5° summer of 1898)
Wilmington, DE: 77.8° (old record 77.7° summer of 1900)
Baltimore, MD: 79.2° (old record 79.1° summer of 1943)
Norfolk, VA: 81.1° (old record 80.0° summer of 1994)
Tampa, FL: 84.5° (previous record 84.2° in 1998)
Lakeland, FL: 84.6° (previous record 84.4° in 1987)
St. Petersburg, FL: 85.6° (old record 84.6° in 1987)
Asheville, NC: 75.4° (old record 75.1° in 1952)
Greenville, SC: 81.0° (old record 80.2° in 1952)
Definitive climate science tells us that global warming is real, and one of its chief effects will be staggeringly high temperature rise, especially over land — some 10 °F over much of the United States.
If we allow prop 23 to succeed, big oil refineries in the state could to continue to spew greenhouse gases without strict regulation.  Even worse, a victory for big oil in California could mean certain death for greenhouse gas regulation for the rest of the nation.

Dramatic increases in temperature pose immediate threats to all Californians:
Every year, California is ravaged by wildfires that cost the state nearly $800 million.
From 2001 to 2007, wildfires burned a total of more than 4 million acres and released an estimated 277 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, equivalent to adding an estimated 50 million more cars onto California’s highways for one year – according to Thomas Bonnicksen, professor of forestry from Texas A&M University.
Extreme heat dries up grassland and brush on California hillsides, making them a spark away from disaster. If average statewide temperatures rise to the medium warming range (5.5-8 °F), the risk of large wildfires in California is expected to increase about 20% by mid-century and 50% by the end of the century.

The state’s most vulnerable residents – particularly children, the disabled, and seniors – experience increased risk for heat related deaths and illness during heat waves, which claims more than 690 lives per year according to the Center for Disease Control.  Add to this the countless Californian’s who make their living outside of a climate controlled environment – including agricultural and construction workers whose workplace can become a deadly hazard in triple digit temperatures.

Likewise, rising temperatures wreak havoc on the state’s already burdened electricity grid.Large scale power failures caused by heat damage and overloading of the grid are a serious threat to all Californian’s health and businesses.  Power interruptions are estimated to cost the United States between $80 and $135 billion annually according to a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

A twist of irony
California’s oftentimes unyielding sun could be harnessed to produce electricity, which can power the machines that keep us cool and comfortable during heat waves.

California is already the nation’s leader in solar power, and has the largest clean energy economy of the 50 states.  This leadership is a result of state policies providing financial incentives for clean energy development, renewable energy and energy efficiency standards.

Passing Proposition 23 would reverse California’s progress in solar and other forms of clean energy. The initiative would suspend the crucial price signal and market for carbon pollution that makes clean energy more profitable than dirty energy, and it would also threaten 72 other planned and existing state policies that are linked to it along with billions of dollars in direct investment in clean tech by the state and local governments.

Not only will Prop 23 make it harder to fight global warming, it will obstruct our goal to harness the sun for clean energy.

Prop 23 is a lose-lose scenario.

Guest blogger Jorge Madrid is a Research Analyst at CAP.  Joseph Romm assisted with this post.

h/t HuffPost for the banner headlines.

Here are five things you can do to win this fight:

  1. Visit the “No on 23″ website, learn the facts & sign up:
  2. Educate yourself on how California’s climate & energy laws have created companies & jobs:
  3. Tell your friends by email, on Facebook, at work, & everywhere else.
  4. Participate in the debate. Write letters to the editor and post comments on blogs & websites.
  5. Contribute (click here). The other side’s leader, right-wing California Assemblyman Dan Logue, has publicly said he expects the oil companies to spend $50 million.

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