climate change

NASA

Colorado’s climate changes have health researchers in the state concerned about the impact it will have on people with compromised respiratory systems, seniors, children and others.

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In the 1970s, Texas utility companies funded research that showed that burning fossil fuels harms the environment.

Yet as The Texas Observer reports, despite awareness of the damage their activities were causing, electric utilities spent the next three decades publicly denying the results of their own studies, and attempting to undermine climate science.

Midwesterners are used to extreme weather. We take pride in enduring everything from torrential downpours to the most desiccating drought.

Climate change is expected to increase the frequency of these fluctuations between drought and flood, though, according to new research published by scientists at the University of Kansas, and this "weather whiplash" will deteriorate the quality of drinking water.

Farmers and ranchers, with their livelihoods intimately tied to weather and the environment, may not be able to depend on research conducted by the government to help them adapt to climate change if the Trump Administration follows through on campaign promises to shift federal resources away from studying the climate.

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Some High Plains states are proposing bills that would allow climate change denial to be taught in public schools, under the rubric of “academic freedom,” reports Vice.

There have always been Americans worried about some pending religious, social or natural cataclysm. But, the business of catering to those fears, and helping people prepare to survive the next big calamity, has changed substantially in the age of Donald Trump.

And that change is evident on a particular county road in Kansas, near the center of the continental United States.  Here, what looks like a grassy mound is protected by barbed wire fence and a heavily armed guard. A massive concrete entrance frames big, heavy steel blast doors.

Flickr Creative Commons

Last month was the hottest February on record in Texas, topping every February since record-keeping began in the 19th century, reports The Texas Observer.

This should come as no surprise to West Texans, as some Panhandle counties approached temperatures of 100 degrees in the dead of winter. All-time records were set at weather stations across the state, and this winter is on pace to be the hottest ever in the Lone Star State.

LA Dawson / Creative Commons

While concerns continue to mount about climate change, and the skimpy winter the High Plains has received this year, there's one group of High Plains residents who are excited about the unseasonably warm weather: rattlesnakes.

Nebraska planning ahead for climate change

Feb 15, 2017
N.A.S.A.

Average annual temperatures in Nebraska are expected to increase by 8 or 9 degrees by 2075, according to one of the lead authors of a University of Nebraska-Lincoln report on climate change impacts in Nebraska.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Perhaps no one is as aware of the climate and its impact on the earth than a farmer.

The New York Times recently featured one such farmer in north central Kansas, Doug Palen, a fourth-generation farmer who the Times reports has choked through the harshest drought to hit the Great Plains in a century, punctuated by freakish snowstorms and suffocating gales of dust.

Pixabay / Creative Commons

Last year shattered the record for the earth’s hottest year, according to a report from the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

As Scientific American reports, 2016 exceeded 2015 as the hottest year since reliable records began in the 19th century. Researchers found that last year was almost .4 degrees warmer on average than the previous year.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

A scientists’ union, out of concern for employees of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has established a hotline for them to use to report political meddling.

Abby Livingston / Texas Tribune

When Donald Trump tapped former Texas Governor Rick Perry to head the Department of Energy, environmental advocates cried foul.

American Wind Energy Association

Colorado could take center stage on the topic of climate change under a Donald Trump Environmental Protection Agency.

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When it comes to greenhouse gases, there’s one frequent contributor that may not have crossed your mind: belching cows.

theenergycollective.com

When Americans think of reducing emissions, our first thought usually has to do with factories pumping out black smoke. But, as the Energy Collective notes, agriculture is actually responsible for between 14 and 18 percent of overall greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

And here on the High Plains, farmers and ranchers can all do their part to reduce America’s carbon footprint.

George Frey / Getty Images

High Plains energy producers who oppose curbing greenhouse gases can rejoice this week, their candidate has won.

Buddhika Weerasinghe / Getty Images

Greenhouse gas emissions have reached a new height, UPI reports.

The last few years have witnessed growing support for an effort to combat climate change. Even so, a new World Meteorological Organization report finds rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. The report noted that, since 1990, there has been a 37 percent increase in the warming impact on the climate because of greenhouse gases like CO2, methane and nitrous oxide.

Eddie Seal / Bloomberg News

Texas is the most productive state for wind power—by far. The Lone Star State pumps out 18,000 megawatts of energy a year, reports the MIT Technology Review. And that’s not counting an additional 5,500 megawatts of possible further capacity, which is equal to California’s entire installed wind capacity.

AP photo

Last year was the hottest planet Earth has experienced since humans began keeping records over a century and a half ago. Before 2015, the warmest year on record was . . . 2014. And this year is on pace to be—once again—the hottest ever. As The Guardian put it this week, “we’re living in astonishingly hot times.”

Scotty J. Ferrell / Congressional Quarterly/The Guardian/Getty

In 1999, the federal government found big tobacco companies guilty of racketeering under the US’s RICO law, traditionally used to go after organized crime syndicates. The Feds found that big tobacco had knowingly funneled money to fake research groups whose job it was to disseminate “science” claiming that smoking wasn’t, in fact, bad for you.

Andrew Cullen / Reuters

Everyone knows that CO2 emissions are wreaking havoc on our atmosphere, leading to climate change. But there’s another gas causing even more trouble, and it gets less attention because it’s colorless and odorless. That gas is methane, and it’s a climate change powerhouse. In fact, methane is more than 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Candace Krebs / Ag Journal Online

The mild winter on the High Plains has changed to a dry and windy spring of unusual warmth. And the weather is wreaking havoc in various ways. For example, reports Ag Journal, a huge wildfire flared up across portions of northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas last week. And wheat stripe rust was discovered in eastern Colorado, much earlier than expected. Stripe rust is a disease that can threaten wheat yields.

Valerie Mosley / Colorodoan

The debate over climate change has resulted in simmering tensions across the US for years. And this week the issue led to a showdown in the Colorado legislature, reports the Coloradoan. The tussle between Democrats and Republicans occurred over whether to pay for efforts to curb carbon emissions.

Fort Morgan Times

Colorado saw a late snowstorm this week that shut down airports. But Colorado Plains Medical Center in Fort Morgan has already treated its first rattlesnake bite of the year, reports the Fort Morgan Times.

Last weekend a 12-year-old boy was bitten by a young rattlesnake in the basement of his grandparents' house in Orchard. Colorado Plains treated the patient with antivenin, and he was flown to a Denver hospital for further treatment.

US Library of Congress / Prints and Photographs

While many GOP lawmakers don’t trust science, some of them certainly believe in magic, notes Quartz.com. Texas representative Pete Sessions and six of his Republican colleagues in the House have proposed a resolution recognizing magic as a “rare and valuable art form.”

Mose Buchele / KUT news

A lot of Texas residents are wondering what happened to winter, according to Austin member station KUT. While it’s true that we’ve had plenty of nice days to go outside in February, the weather has had other impacts as well. In Austin, the famous bats under the Congress Avenue Bridge have been out and about. Normally they aren’t seen until summertime. 

Thomas Bougher / Texas Tribune

Texas has lost its bid to block the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, reports The Texas Tribune. A federal appeals court has denied the Lone Star State’s request to put a stay on the environmental emissions legislation. The judge’s ruling leaves the controversial climate change rules in place as a legal challenge continues to make its way through the courts.

fpat / Creative Commons

It was a comparatively mild year weatherwise for Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle, reports Amarillo.com. Globally, 2015 was by far the hottest year in 136 years of recordkeeping. The worldwide temperature exceeded the 20th century average by 1.62 degrees. However, in Amarillo the temperature never rose above 100 degrees. That hasn’t happened since 2002.

Making Energy from Waste: The Other Natural Gas

Jan 11, 2016
Rebecca Jacobson / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Every day, a facility on the outskirts of Grand Junction, Colorado takes in 8 million gallons of what people have flushed down their toilets and washed down their sinks. The water coming out the other end of the Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant is cleaner than the Colorado River it flows into. The organic solids strained from that water are now serving a new purpose - producing fuel for city vehicles.

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