High Plains Public Radio

climate change

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.

2015: The Hottest Year on Record

Dec 30, 2015
Billy Wilson / Creative Commons

Despite recent blizzards on the High Plains, 2015 will be the hottest year on record, according to The New York Times. The sweltering year was capped off with temperatures on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that were far above average across much of the United States.

Colorado Farm Bureau / Creative Commons

Climate change could pose a danger to the food supply in Colorado—and across the world, according to Colorado Public Radio. CPR’s report comes on the heels of a new study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The three-year investigation says the water supply in Colorado will likely be impacted by the earth’s changing climate.

Food Coprporations Lobby for Climate Change Action

Dec 7, 2015
Issouf Sanogo / AFP/Getty Images

The Paris climate talks seem a world away from the High Plains.

Nasa HQ Photo / Flickr Creative Commons

Texas Congressman Lamar Smith recently rejected the notion that he doesn’t believe in human-caused climate change, reports The Texas Observer. The chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology instead insisted he’s merely a “semi-skeptic.” Smith said he doesn’t know how much effect people are having on the climate. “I think the human component may actually be a small fraction of the contributing forces on climate change,” he said.

University of Michigan

What a difference a few months can make in the realm of public opinion. According to The Rural Blog, and The Guardian, the number of Americans who now accept global warming as fact rests at 70%, up 7 points from July.

Flood waters from the Brazos River encroach upon a home in the Horseshoe Bend neighborhood, Friday, May 29, 2015, in Weatherford, Texas.Credit Brandon Wade / APEdit | Remove

Texas Observer

The Texas Observer has reported on a new study which found that greenhouse gas emissions could cost Texas billions if left unchecked. The report, by the Risky Business Project, studied many factors, including rising energy costs and heat-related deaths. Texas is expected to be most affected by extreme heat and rising sea levels. Hot temperatures could have a debilitating effect on agriculture, and the encroaching ocean will lead to significant property damage.

Recent rains might have pushed the drought out of our minds, but climate scientists say the hot, dry weather is a glimpse into the future, and Oklahoma is a good place to study what adaptations will work.

A Kansas-based study comparing results on almost 30 years of winter wheat trials across the state points researchers to say global warming will cut wheat yields. Wheat demand is expected to increase by 60 percent by 2050 to meet population demands. A lead author of the study says one way of adapting the world to warming temperatures maybe be to shift wheat farming more toward the poles.

Under a clean power plan proposed by the federal government, states can develop their own strategies to limit carbon emissions. If they don’t, the feds will do it for them. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says he plans to sue the Environmental Protection Agency over its plan for Texas.

How The Oceans Have Dried Texas Out

Mar 17, 2015

Climate patterns from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans have magnified the Texas drought, but that could be changing. A word of caution, the next drought could be worse.

Ohio State University / http://agcrops.osu.edu/corn

Climate change could double losses to crops and property by the year 2100 according to a recent report from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office. When farmers lose more crops, it costs taxpayers more to subsidize their crop insurance.

Willard Drake Johnson / USGS Photographic Library, http://libraryphoto.cr.usgs.gov/

When explorer Stephen Long led his expedition across the western Great Plains in 1819-1820, it was during a period of widespread drought.  With only a single reference point in time, he concluded the area “is almost wholly unfit for cultivation, and of course uninhabitable by a people depending upon agriculture for their subsistence”.  He also marked the region on his maps as the “Great American Desert”, a label used by other map makers for decades to come.

epa.gov

The Regional Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency says climate change is already happening in Kansas and the entire region.  Kansas Public Radio’s Bryan Thompson reported Administrator Karl Brooks says the best way to minimize climate change is to implement the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

nbcnews.com

If you ask Dale Artho about climate change, and the predictions scientists are making, he’ll say there’s no point in discussing the doomsday prophecies.  It’s already happened in Vega, Texas.  He can give you details. 

USDA: Prairie Heating and Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (PHACE) Experiment

Most climate models paint a bleak picture for the Great Plains a century from now: It will likely be warmer and the air will be richer with carbon dioxide. Though scientists don’t yet know how exactly the climate will change, new studies show it could be a boon to some invasive plant species.  

A growing problem

Looking to help farmers adapt to climate change, the U.S Department of Agriculture is setting up seven new research hubs, including a handful that will cover the Great Plains and Midwest.

The new research centers, anchored in different regions, are tasked with charting how climate change poses risks to farming, ranching and forestry. Then they are to devise strategies to adapt.

Good News on the Colorado Drought Front

Jan 6, 2014
http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

Drought conditions have been downgraded for portions of eastern Colorado.  

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