Category Archives: Climate Change

CLIMATE: The United States forsaken opportunities and responsibilities

By: Ricardo A. Alvarez (305)931-0871; 19530 NE 18th Ct, Miami, FL 33179-3656

Last April 24, 2017 the United Kingdom satisfied all its energy needs without using a single ounce of coal to generate power. All of its power was generated by renewables, natural gas and nuclear.

Just a week later on April 30 Germany, the 4th largest economy in the world,  provided  85% of its considerable needs by generating power from renewable sources.

A week ago China, the 2nd largest world economy and the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, inaugurated the largest floating solar power plant in the world: a 40 megawatt facility floating on a man-made lake covering the site of an abandoned coal mine.

These are examples of how three of the leading economies in the world are meeting their commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate and their obligations to guard the welfare of their people and our planet Earth. These are examples of what leaders do.

In this context it is also important to note that China has committed to generating at least 20% of their immense power needs from renewable sources by 2030, investing $360 billion to do it while generating 13 million NEW JOBS in the process, which will offset by a large margin those jobs lost as a result of closing obsolete and high polluting coal-fired power plants and coal mines. Truly a smart and forward thinking approach to climate change mitigation.

In addition China is not just talking about doing this things, the country is actually doing what its leaders said they would do. Just in 2015 China installed more than 105,000 power-generating wind turbines and more than 29 million commercial solar power panels. These numbers are not new, China began this gargantuan effort a few years back altering the supply and demand equation in such a way, that it has made renewable energy from solar and wind sources highly competitive with energy derived from fossil fuels. In turn this has driven demand for renewable power even higher, which is already making it cheaper that non-renewable.

In its process of working to meet its commitments, China has also created millions of jobs and a strong niche in the manufacturing of photovoltaic cells, solar panels, and wind turbines, demonstrating with facts that investing in climate change mitigation and renewable energy is good for business and the economy.

In contrast, today 1 June 2017, the current U.S. administration announced it will withdraw from the Paris Agreement giving as a reason the need to protect our economy and jobs, which would suffer, or so the President claims, should the United States reduces emissions of greenhouse gases and invests more on the production of renewable energy. This despite the factual examples summarized before.

The United States will join Nicaragua and Syria as the only countries that will not be parties to the PARIS Agreement on Climate. However in defense on Nicaragua and Syria let us consider the following: Syria has for the past few years undergone a horrible civil war where Syrian citizens have been displaced by the million, and also attacked with outlawed chemical weapons.  It is clear that under its current circumstances Syria is not focusing on climate change or the Paris Agreement. Nicaragua, on the other hand, did not sign the agreement because it considered it not strong enough, but the country has committed  to generating 90% of its power needs from renewable sources by 2020. By 2015 Nicaragua had already achieved more that 60% renewable power generation (from hydroelectric, biomass, geothermal and wind) compared to less than 15% in the United States.

In taking this action, and several others taken or proposed since Mr. Trump took office, the current administration is not only derelict of its sworn duty to safeguard the welfare of the people, but it is forsaking its responsibility to create jobs and generate business opportunities to underpin our economy. Not to mention that by rejecting facts, reason, and science, which clearly show the exacerbating influence of human activity on our planet’s climate, the President and current administration have chosen to deny the United States a critical opportunity to lead for the benefit of the people and humankind, electing instead to continue to move toward decline.

Two for the season: Hurricane Blanca is here!

The 2015 East Pacific hurricane season is off with a bang: two hurricanes in less than three weeks since it ‘officially’ started on 15 May.

Historically the East Pacific sub-basin has been a region of active cyclogenesis, where 58 tropical cyclones were generated over the past four years, 20 of them in 2014.

GOES WEST infrared satellite image [courtesy of NOAA] of 3 June showing Hurricane BLANCA and Tropical Storm ANDRES off the coast of Mexico
GOES WEST infrared satellite image [courtesy of NOAA] of 3 June showing Hurricane BLANCA and Tropical Storm ANDRES off the coast of Mexico
It would appear the 2015 season may be a continuation of this pattern of activity. Today, Wednesday 3 June, we find that Tropical Depression #2 strengthened rapidly during the night and it is now Hurricane BLANCA, the second named tropical cyclone of a season that is barely 19 days old. Farther west there is ANDRES now downgraded to tropical storm strength.

Projected track for Hurricane BLANCA [courtesy of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory]
Projected track for Hurricane BLANCA [courtesy of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory]
Hurricane BLANCA is moving generally NNW in a favorable ocean-atmosphere environment with good possibility of strengthening to major hurricane intensity in the next 24-48 hours as it aims for Baja California Sur in Mexico.

To the south and southeast of BLANCA there are numerous cells of stormy weather off the coast of Central America and Panama, and farther to the east there are tropical waves, rain cells and other disturbed weather over northern South America and far over the Atlantic along ‘Hurricane Alley’, the Eastern Atlantic south of the Cape Verde Islands and over equatorial Africa. So there is plenty of fuel for future potential cyclonic development in the Eastern Pacific. We will have to keep an eye of what happens in  this region.

GOES EAST infrared satellite image [courtesy of NOAA] of 3 June showing Hurricane BLANCA, TROPICAL WAVES AND OTHER DISTURBED WEATHER CELLS OFF THE COASTAL OF pANAMA AND cENTRAL aMERICA AND IN THE cENTRAL cARIBBEAN
GOES EAST infrared satellite image [courtesy of NOAA] of 3 June showing Hurricane BLANCA, tropical waves and other disturbed weather off the coast of Central America, Panama and in the central Caribbean
Elsewhere, there is a large cell of stormy weather over the Central Caribbean that is already affecting Cuba and the Florida Straights with plenty of rain.  Farther east over the Eastern Atlantic and Equatorial Africa the ‘tropical wave assembly line’ is already active.

Infrared satellite image of 3 June showing tropical waves riding along 'Hurricane Alley' and over Equatorial Africa
Infrared satellite image of 3 June showing tropical waves riding along ‘Hurricane Alley’ and over Equatorial Africa

There is also a large and still disorganized, but menacing looking, region of disturbed weather over the Central Pacific ocean, which merits observation and follow-up over the next day or so as it is showing some signs of potential cyclonic development.

Infrared satellite image of 3 June showing a still disorganized but large and menacing rtegion of disturbed weather over the Central Pacific ocean, which is being investigated for signs of potential cyclonic development
Infrared satellite image of 3 June showing a still disorganized but large and menacing region of disturbed weather over the Central Pacific ocean, which is being investigated for signs of potential cyclonic development

This is what is happening today in the northern tropics worldwide. There are several months left while the Sun is over the northern hemisphere and the world oceans store all of that heat energy, which may contribute to cyclogenesis. On the other hand there are a developing El Niño over the Pacific,  global warming and other potential triggers and contributors to cyclogenesis to contend with.

So, to all interests in vulnerable island nations and coastal regions worldwide I say, be prepared, remain alert, MITIGATE!