Climate Change and extreme weather events made headlines throughout 2017. Major Hurricanes swept the Gulf Coast and Caribbean; while drought and historic wildfires scorched landscapes not only from Southern California north to British Columbia but in Europe setting large swaths of Spain and Portugal ablaze.
Extreme Weather Events
This years’ hurricane season hit North America and the Caribbean hard. The 8 hurricanes that struck between August 9 and September 29, included Harvey, Jose, Irma and Maria and were all storms that exceeded Category 3 intensity.
The extensive destruction along the Texas coast and through the islands of the Caribbean will take years to repair. Nine trillion galleons of water fell on Houston, that’s enough to fill the Houston Astrodome 3,2000 times. (photo – New York Times) See our article: What Produced the Catastrophic Houston Flood? Plus: How do Marine Animals Survive a Hurricane?
For years climate scientists have been predicting that the warming atmosphere and ocean temperatures makes extreme weather events, especially storms and droughts, more likely.
While Houston drowned, California continued its historic drought, leading to fires through the wine country north of San Francisco and then to the historic fires encircling, embattled Los Angeles. The Thomas Fire north of the city is now considered the most destructive fire in state history and yet it is only 65% contained. Already, it has scorched 272,800 acres, destroyed over 1,000 homes and is threatening thousands more. (photo – Santa Barbara Fire Department)
On the Road to Hell!
California’s Governor Jerry Brown warns that a warming climate “has us on the road to hell” and has called the recent wildfires the “new normal.”
Up the Pacific Coast and Across the Atlantic
The extreme fires were not limited to California but extended up the Pacific coast into Canada. Portugal has been experiencing its driest September in 87 years, creating extreme conditions for major fires that swept through northern Portugal and into Galicia in N.W. Spain, resulting in 39 deaths. This was in addition to 62 people killed by a wildfire in central Portugal in June.
Political Events Just as Stormy!
Leading the list of extreme political events was none other than Donald Trump’s pledge to abandon the Paris Accord on Climate Change. This was of little surprise after his frequent campaign statements blasting climate change science as “stupid” and “fake news.” Trump’s decision was made in the face of opposition from well… just about everyone… including daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner and the nearly 200 countries that have ratified the treaty.
Now that Syria has signed, the U.S. is the world’s only country that is not part of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. (photo – DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Richard Branson who has about the same amount of money as Trump and knows a thing or two about business was directly in the line of his own extreme weather event when his Necker Island in the British Virgin Island was swept by the Category 5+ winds of Hurricane Irma. Although his home was devastated, Branson rode out the storm with friends in a shelter. See our article: Branson to Trump “Climate Change is Real”
“We’re Still In”
Governor Brown of California and hundreds of other business and political leaders were present at the recent COP23 Climate Action Conference in Bonn, Germany. As Michael Bloomberg the past mayor of New York said, “We’re here because it’s in our national security interests to deal with climate change.” Plus the Pope chimed in saying: Don’t be Stupid.” See our article: COP23 Report Card from Bonn
Clean Energy Makes Waves in 2017
Wind power and solar energy made giant strides around the world over the last year. We have seen offshore wind turbines and even floating wind turbines but now China has floated the world’s largest floating solar energy array.
Appropriately, the 40 megawatt solar power plant rides the waves above a giant flooded coal mine. Can’t send a clearer message to President Trump than that! Located on water, the plant has 2 advantages, it doesn’t take additional space and the water is a natural coolant, reducing costs. China is reducing its dependency on coal and is now calling itself a “green superpower.”
Tesla Turns on the Power!
Blue Ocean reported on the progress that Tesla has made over the last twelve months from delivering electric cars to providing electrical power to hurricane damaged Puerto Rico and installing the world’s largest electrical storage system in South Australia. In the same article we reported on the new electric models that Volkswagen and Volvo are bringing to the market. In fact Volvo announced that by 2019 all of their models would have electric motors, while Volkswagen announced that by 2025 they will spend 20 billion euros introducing 80 new electric vehicle models.
An interesting story came out of Germany that demonstrated how competitive clean energy prices have become. Recently electricity from German wind farms alone, temporarily, produced 50% of the country’s entire energy requirements. So much energy was in the grid that for a short period energy costs went negative, meaning that customers were being paid to use energy. This occurring in the world’s fourth largest economy and a leader in the clean energy revolution.
Related Clean Energy News:
Booming Clean Energy Investment: Goldman Sachs
Even Goldman Sach’s latest analysis is that falling prices for wind and solar energy will spur even greater investments reaching $3 trillion over the next twenty years.
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
How To Get More Ocean-Hearted Intel Delivered To Your Inbox!
We believe ocean lovers can change the world. If you care about the health of the ocean and want to do something about it, then connect with the Blue Ocean tribe: Our growing community of ocean change-makers is turning ocean lovers into ocean leaders. It starts with you. Join us!