Environment Forum

Urban Weather Stations, Bee Conservation and Green Roofs

Stuart Gaffin is a climate researcher at Columbia University and a regular contributor with his blog “Exhausted Earth”. Thomson Reuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone.

It seems that every few months I appreciate a new environmental benefit to green roofs. Two that have recently impressed me are: (i) the realization that green roofs are ideal new locations for urban weather stations (as opposed to traditional asphalt roofs with their extreme temperature biases); and (ii) a burgeoning urban beekeeping movement may be a new synergy to tap into with green roofs.

Siting weather stations in urban areas has always been a tricky endeavor. Issues like security and extreme localized heat sources (e.g. asphalt, vehicles, heating and air conditioning sources) are primary concerns. For these reasons, the National Weather Service stations are usually sited in urban parks or airports. Nevertheless many urban weather stations are still located on rooftops, but they can be suspect because of the temperature biases of dark roof membranes which can easily reach 176 degrees F (80 C). Green roofs completely remove the temperature biases of rooftops as they are essentially meadows in the sky! You can look at some of the comparative temperature data at my station ‘dashboards’ (see research stations on right-hand side).

If the number of such green roof weather station locations grow, this will improve data on true micro-climate variations within cities. A recent publication of mine about this is at this link

And then there is the growing interest in urban beekeeping that is perhaps part of the urban agriculture movement here and here. A number of city-dwellers love the idea of keeping hives and harvesting honey, etc.

The Continuing Mysteries of the Ice Ages

Stuart Gaffin is a climate researcher at Columbia University and a regular contributor with his blog “Exhausted Earth”. Thomson Reuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone.

Understanding the ice age cycles that have occurred on the Earth during the past million years is — without question — one of the great scientific puzzles of all time.

By ‘great’ I mean not only the importance for many current environmental issues, like climate change and the massive greenhouse gas increases, but great in the sense that solving the mysteries of their occurrence requires breakthroughs from so many different fields of science.

Wall Street Journal of Atmospheric Sciences: Reply to Jenkins

Stuart Gaffin is a climate researcher at Columbia University and a regular contributor with his blog “Exhausted Earth”; this is a reply to a blog by Holman Jenkins, a Wall Street Journal columnist and member of the WSJ editorial board. Thomson Reuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone.

Mr. Jenkins replies that the clarification of his perplexing column is reiteration of his original sentence “…We don’t really have the slightest idea how an increase in the atmosphere’s component of CO2 is impacting our climate, though the most plausible indication is that the impact is too small to untangle from natural variability…”

He still doesn’t say where his ‘most plausible indication’ comes from except for his reference to some unnamed : “ … many scientists who have pursued empirical results [that] show the human contribution [has] been …maddeningly elusive or indeterminate.”

Wall Street Journal of Atmospheric Sciences

Stuart Gaffin is a climate researcher at Columbia University and a regular contributor with his blog “Exhausted Earth”. Thomson Reuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial page occupies a uniquely obnoxious place in commentary on global warming. Over the many years that I have read with trepidation what they write, I have yet to see accurate presentation of the science issues.

They have fed their readers so much misinformation and confusion one can only conclude they consider complete fabrication fair play in the discussion.

American Museum of Natural History Exhibit on Climate Change

Stuart Gaffin is a climate researcher at Columbia University and a regular contributor with his blog “Exhausted Earth”. ThomsonReuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone.

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City is running a new exhibit on Climate Change. Prior to seeing the exhibit I had read one of the few reviews of it in the New York Times, which was very harsh and essentially described it as a version of ‘apocalypse now.’ Without having seen the exhibit, the review made me shake my head in disappointment that the Museum may have really overdone it and perhaps blown it.

However I just spent 3 hours going through the exhibit carefully and want to report that the NY Times review is incredibly misleading and even arrogant. It’s the kind of review I would have expected from the conservative Weekly Standard. The exhibit does not at all make one ” … feel like an agnostic attending church and listening to sermons about damnation …”

Citi mulls moving (coal) mountains after Bank of America acts

Now that Bank of America is cutting back on lending to mountain top removal mining companies, citing the environmental costs, rival Citigroup is weighing its options.

“Bank of America’s announcement has just been released so Citi will study the content,” the bank said on Friday. Citi and Bank of America were prime targets of Rainforest Action Network and others for their support of mountaintop removal mining for coal in Appalachia. Cutting the top off a mountain is a cheap and efficient way to get coal — and environmental groups call it an ecological disaster.

“We are continuing to learn about this issue through engaging and listening to a variety of stakeholders, including our clients. Today we met with a number of industry, scientific, and community experts to listen and learn from their perspectives. Citi has a long history of engaging in dialogue with our stakeholders on this and other critical environmental issues,” the bank said.

Being on the Level About Sea Level

Stuart Gaffin is a climate researcher at Columbia University and a regular contributor with his blog “Exhausted Earth”. ThomsonReuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone

Bjorn Lomborg is a Danish political scientist who makes a semi-career (if not career) out of countering claims about global warming.  His brand of writing tends to throw major counter claims out there on quite big climate issues, in short pithy sound-bites, often without data, letting the reader try and figure it out.

A recent Lomborg editorial is an example and has many claims in it that one needs to take time to carefully analyze. Here I will just react to one of Lomborg’s deceptive suggestions that sea level has suddenly stopped rising:

Republicans On Buckminster Fuller

Stuart Gaffin is a climate researcher at Columbia University and a regular contributor with his blog “Exhausted Earth”. ThomsonReuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone.

HOU02:NOBEL:HOUSTON,TEXAS,18OCT96 - Robert Curl of Rice University in Houston, holds a “buckyball,” the third molecular form of carbon during a press conference at Rice University in Houston October 9. Curl was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Richard Smalley (Rice University ) and Harry Kroto (University of Sussex, England) early October 9. NOBEL SCIENCEI finally made it over to the Whitney Museum  retrospective on Buckminster Fuller before it closed (see my June 13th post about Fuller). Just before I did, however, I happened to come across a diatribe against him in the July 7 Weekly Standard , in response to the exhibit. This is a conservative commentary magazine that is a favorite of the Bush White House.

Highlights of the Weekly Standard piece include: “…Buckminster Fuller had been thankfully dormant for the past quarter century … one of the arch cranks of the sixties … You had to be either a drug-crazed hippie or a philosophical adherent of Flower Power to take Bucky seriously… a college dropout …Fuller was … the intellectual as confidence man …” (Wait didn’t they just mock him for being a college dropout?)

Republican VP Who Scoffs At Greenhouse Gas Effect — Sound Familiar?

Stuart Gaffin is a climate researcher at Columbia University and a regular contributor with his blog “Exhausted Earth”. ThomsonReuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone.

US Republican vice-presidential candidate Alaska Governor Sarah Palin shakes hands as she campaigns in O’Fallon, Missouri August 31, 2008. REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)I am not a Republican. However, early in John McCain’s campaign for the presidency, I would often say to friends and family-who know I am not a Republican-that if I did vote solely on the one issue I research most, climate change, I would probably vote for McCain.

He came across to me as the candidate who most respected the science and gravity of the issue (perhaps even as much as Al Gore I thought … why else take such a big political risk with his party?) and was prepared to lead America in a new direction. That was then, this is now.

Hot Air From Weathermen

Stuart Gaffin is a climate researcher at Columbia University and a regular contributor with his blog “Exhausted Earth”. ThomsonReuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone.

A general view of a chemical factory during dawn in Xiangfan, Hubei province, November 28, 2007. Rapidly growing China is emerging as the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from factories, farms and vehicles blamed for climate change. REUTERS/StringerOften when seeing anti-environmental commentary about global warming in the media, I feel like the first question I would like to ask these commentators is: “Why do you deny that carbon dioxide (CO2), which is increasing in an unprecedented way in the atmosphere, is a greenhouse gas?”

If they were to start their answer: “I don’t deny it …” I would think “Good, we’ve made some progress.” However, as I think would often be the case, if they start their answer: “Because …” we should be ready to pounce on the ensuing nonsense.

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