People in the U.S. are taking the climate crisis more seriously than ever before, a new survey indicates.
The latest Climate Change in the American Mind survey from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found that an all-time high of 76 percent of U.S. respondents think global warming is happening. Further, for the first time, more than half say that they have personally experienced its impacts.
"After a brutal year of record heatwaves, fires, floods, and storms... Americans are increasingly convinced global warming is real, human-caused, and dangerous — right here, right now," program director Anthony Leiserowitz told HuffPost.
NEW REPORT: Our latest Climate Change in the American Mind survey finds U.S. worry about #climate at an all-time high. And for the first time, a majority of Americans report that they have personally experienced the impacts of climate change:\nhttp://ow.ly/c7P750GQj2F\u00a0pic.twitter.com/scdcBAKIih— Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (@Yale Program on Climate Change Communication) 1637249414
The survey is the latest in a series of surveys conducted by the Yale program since 2008. Researchers asked 1,006 U.S. adults about their thoughts and opinions related to the climate crisis between September 10 and 20 of 2021. The results were published Thursday.
For several of the questions, an all-time high number of respondents answered that they were convinced of the reality of climate change and concerned about its dangers. Among these record responses, the survey found that
- 57 percent of respondents were "very" or "extremely" sure global warming is happening.
- 59 percent knew most scientists think global warming is happening.
- 70 percent were at least "somewhat worried" about global warming.
- 55 percent thought that global warming was harming people in the U.S. "right now" and 52 percent said they had personally experienced it.
- 50 percent thought that global warming would harm them personally in the future and 68 percent thought it would harm people in the U.S. generally.
- 69 percent thought they had a personal responsibility to help reduce global warming.
Some key questions did not garner such high response numbers. For example, respondents still think the scientific consensus around the climate crisis is less robust than it really is, with only 24 percent understanding that more than 90 percent of scientists think that global warming is happening due to human activity. Further, while more than three quarters know climate change is happening, only 60 percent of respondents understand that global warming is caused by human activity, while 27 percent still think it is due to natural causes.
There is a growing awareness that the extreme weather events of recent years are caused by the climate crisis, with an all-time high of 70 percent of people believing that global warming is impacting U.S. weather right now. Around three-fourths of respondents believe that global warming is impacting extreme heat, wildfires, drought, air pollution, sea level rise, flooding, hurricanes and water shortages.
While the new survey overall suggests that U.S. adults have a fairly accurate and robust understanding of what is happening and what is at stake, other surveys have shown that there is a stark political divide when it comes to U.S. attitudes towards the climate crisis. Another survey from the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of Democrats think human activity is responsible for a "great deal" of climate change, while only 22 percent of Republicans believe the same, as HuffPost noted.
- Majority of Americans Want Climate Education in Schools - EcoWatch ›
- Climate Change Is Causing Us 'Eco-Anxiety' - EcoWatch ›
- Washington Becomes First State to Hold Climate Assembly ... ›
Not to be outdone by the climate-fueled disasters broiling and incinerating the West, parts of the Mid-Atlantic have been deluged by torrential rain this week.
As much as 10 inches of rain fell in less than 4 hours in southeastern Pennsylvania on Monday, prompting "widespread and life-threatening flash flooding," according to the National Weather Service. Extreme precipitation is a clear signal of human-caused climate change — warmer air can hold more moisture and can thus dump more water when it rains.
As of Tuesday morning, New York City saw rain on 9 of the 13 days so far in July for a total of 8.49 inches, and Boston's month has been even wetter with 8.9 inches. Meanwhile, more than 14,000 firefighters across the Western U.S. are battling to contain blazes in sweltering heat.
Both extreme heat and wildfires are also clear signals of climate change.
Numerous fires in the Pacific Northwest threaten Native American lands, including in what is now north-central Washington where residents of Nespelem on the Colville Indian Agency were ordered to leave because of "imminent and life-threatening" danger from five wildfires ignited by dozens of lightning strikes Monday night.
For a deeper dive:
See what kind of financial incentives are available for Garden State homeowners who go solar.
If you're looking for information about New Jersey solar tax credit and incentive programs, you've come to the right place. According to the latest data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), electricity prices in New Jersey are about 30% higher than the U.S. average. However, this also means that the kilowatt-hours produced by solar panels will save you about 30% more, and the state offers many financial incentives that improve your return on investment.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports that by the end of Q2 2021, New Jersey had an installed solar capacity of 3,739 MW, which is enough to meet the electricity needs of over 579,000 homes. The NJ solar industry has already received over $11 billion in total investment, and there are 470 solar companies providing more than 5,300 jobs in the state.
New Jersey gets modest sunshine compared to states like Texas and California, but it has favorable laws and incentives for solar power. This has helped the Garden State become one of the best states for solar in the nation.
In this article, we'll take a look at the full array of New Jersey solar incentives. If you'd like to see right away how much a solar installation would cost for your home, you can use this tool or fill out the form below to get a free, no-obligation quote from a pre-screened New Jersey installer.
New Jersey Solar Tax Credits and Solar Rebates
When you consider New Jersey solar incentives and electricity prices, it's possible to get a solar payback period of less than six years. This is great for an investment that has a service life of 25 years or more and is covered by manufacturer warranties for the majority of that period. The following chart summarizes all the benefits available when going solar in New Jersey:
New Jersey Solar Incentive
New Jersey Net Metering Programs
Net metering is required by law in NJ, which means you get credits for surplus solar energy that gets exported to the grid. These credits can be used to pay power bills.
Transition Renewable Energy Certificates
You earn one TREC for every 1,000 kWh generated by your solar panels, and each TREC sells for $91.20 (as of November 2021).
New Jersey Solar Tax Exemptions
Solar panels are exempt from the 7% sales tax in NJ, and your home value increase after installing solar is exempt from property taxes.
Additional incentives and low-interest financing programs may be available, depending on where you live in New Jersey.
New Jersey Net Metering Programs
Net metering is a simple concept, and it makes solar power much more valuable for homes. When your solar panels are producing more electricity than what your home is consuming, the difference gets fed back into the grid. Thanks to New Jersey's net metering regulations, electricity providers must give you full retail value credit for surplus solar energy, which gets subtracted from your electric bills.
- As a quick example, assume your solar panel system produces 1,000 kWh of energy during a month, but you only consume 600 kWh. The other 400 kWh is exported to the grid.
- Thanks to net metering, you'll receive the full value of that 400 kWh. In states without this benefit, electricity companies decide how to compensate you for surplus solar power, and many of them only give partial credit.
Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) and PSE&G currently have the two largest net metering programs in New Jersey. If there is a month where your solar generation is higher than your electricity consumption, credits are rolled over to the next billing period. Once per year, accumulated credits in your favor are compensated at wholesale price (not retail price) and the balance resets to zero.
Transition Renewable Energy Certificates
In New Jersey, solar panels not only give you power bill savings. You can also accumulate Transition Renewable Energy Certificates based on how much electricity is generated.
- For every megawatt-hour (1,000 kWh) of solar generation, you get one TREC.
- Electric utilities and other companies with a legal obligation to support renewable energy will purchase TRECs as part of their compliance efforts.
- As of November 2021, each TREC sells for $91.20.
If a solar energy system in New Jersey produces over 10,000 kWh per year, you get an additional 10 TRECs. With an electricity tariff of 16 cents/kWh, you would save $1,600 per year. However, you also get $912 for the 10 TRECs, and your total economic benefit is $2,512 per year.
New Jersey Solar Tax Exemptions
There are two main tax incentives for New Jersey homeowners going solar: a property tax exemption and state sales tax exemption.
- Solar panels are exempt from increased property taxes. If a home has an assessed property value of $400,000, and solar panels increase this to $420,000, the owner will still be taxed on $400,000.
- Solar panels are exempt from New Jersey's 7% sales tax, which immediately makes them more affordable. For example, if the sales price of your home solar system is $15,000, you're saving $1,050 right away.
Solar Rebates and Other Local Incentives
In addition to the incentive programs described above, additional benefits such as solar rebates may be available in some New Jersey municipalities. Before installing solar panels, make sure you're not missing out on any incentives available in your area.
New Jersey has also enacted laws that enable PACE financing in the state. PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy, and these programs give you low-interest loans for solar panels and other clean energy upgrades. As of the end of 2021, there are a few PACE programs under development in New Jersey, but the options are still limited.
Federal Solar Tax Credit
The 26% federal solar tax credit is a nationwide benefit, and you can combine it with New Jersey solar incentives to improve your ROI. The official name of this incentive is the Investment Tax Credit or ITC. The credit is set to reduce to 22% in 2023 and will not be continued thereafter unless Congress approves an extension.
You can read our federal solar tax credit guide for more information on how this credit works.
Any top solar company will be able to help you identify and apply for financial incentives available in your area. To get connected to a certified installer near you, you can use this tool or fill out the form below.
FAQ: New Jersey Solar Incentives
Is solar really free in NJ?
No, New Jersey doesn't have any official programs that offer free solar panels. However, solar panels can achieve a payback period of fewer than six years in the state, while lasting for 25 years or more. In other words, you have free electricity for many years after recovering your initial investment.
With a low-interest loan, you can go solar for $0 upfront, then use electricity savings to pay off the loan. Strictly speaking, this doesn't make solar panels free, but they are essentially paying for themselves.
Is solar good in New Jersey?
Yes, solar is good in New Jersey. New Jersey has above-average electricity prices and many incentive programs for solar power, and this improves your return on investment when going solar. Although there are sunnier places in the U.S., New Jersey gets enough sunshine to make solar panels cost-effective.
Can you sell power back to the grid in NJ?
Yes, you sell power back to the grid in NJ. New Jersey has one of the best net metering programs in the U.S., where you get full credit for solar electricity that gets exported to the grid. Unused credit can be rolled over to the next month, and you get paid for accumulated credit once per year.
All electricity sent to the grid is credited at retail price, except for accumulated annual credits, which are paid at wholesale prices (the price paid by electricity providers when purchasing energy from power generators).Leonardo David is an electromechanical engineer, MBA, energy consultant and technical writer. His energy-efficiency and solar consulting experience covers sectors including banking, textile manufacturing, plastics processing, pharmaceutics, education, food processing, fast food, real estate and retail. He has also been writing articles about energy and engineering topics since 2015.
The scientific community's level of certainty on humans' causation of climate change is now on par with its agreement on evolution and plate tectonics.
A review of scientific literature, published in Environmental Research Letters, found just 28 papers linked to climate skepticism in its trawl of more than 88,000.
The findings support the IPCC's declaration in August that the science of human influence on the heating atmosphere is "unequivocal," and refute the concerted disinformation campaign by fossil fuel interests seeking to sow doubt and uncertainty about their products' causation of the crisis — the impacts of which are visible around the world.
A UN report released Tuesday warned all of Africa's glaciers could vanish in the next two decades. Africa is responsible for just 4% of greenhouse gas pollution, but the continent and its people are exceptionally vulnerable to the ravages of the climate crisis. Climate change accelerates glacier melt, intensifies droughts, and worsens extreme precipitation events like those that cause flash flooding.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday: the governor of California expanded a drought emergency to cover the entire state; Indian officials said flooding caused by torrential rain has killed at least 22 people in Uttarakhand state; and a separate UN report said climate change exacerbated the worst flooding to hit South Sudan in almost 60 years.
For a deeper dive:
Scientific consensus: The Guardian; African glaciers: AP, The New York Times, Reuters, The Hill, Axios, CNN, USA Today, The Independent; Newsom declares drought emergency across California: CAL Matters, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Axios, CNN, USA Today; India: AP; South Sudan: Reuters; Climate Signals background: Glacier and ice sheet melt; Drought; Extreme precipitation increase
- Majority of Americans Want Climate Education in Schools - EcoWatch ›
- 182: Total Number of Climate Deniers in Congress - EcoWatch ›
NOAA found that the average temperature of meteorological summer - June, July, and August - was 2.6°F (1.45°C) above the 20th century average, a troubling sign as global temperatures continue to increase faster than previously thought.
All seven of the warmest years on record have been the last seven years, and 19 of the 20 warmest years have occurred since 2000. More than 18% of the contiguous U.S. experienced record heat this summer, and several states, including California, Nevada, Utah and Oregon had their hottest temperatures on record.
No state reported temperatures that fell below average. The record heat coincided with extreme weather across the country, including extreme heat, wildfires, drought and flooding.
As reported by The Washington Post:
Over 2 million acres have burned so far this year in California, and about 15,000 firefighters are currently battling active blazes. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the country remains at "Preparedness Level 5" — the highest level of wildfire activity. Such activity includes "large, complex wildland fire incidents, which have the potential to exhaust national wildland firefighting resources."
Research has established a clear link between climate change and a sharp rise in the areas burned in California in the past several decades, as increasing temperatures dry out vegetation.
The high temperatures have also intensified severe drought conditions. Drought currently covers 94 percent of the West, according to the Federal Drought Monitor. Nearly 60 percent of the region is in extreme to exceptional drought.
For a deeper dive:
CNN, Gizmodo, Los Angeles Times, The Hill, The New York Times, The Washington Post; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves, 2021 Western wildfire season, Drought, Extreme precipitation increase, 2021 Atlantic hurricane season
- July 2021 Hottest Month Ever Recorded, Says NOAA - EcoWatch ›
- NOAA Names 2020 Second-Hottest Year on Record; NASA Says It ... ›
- Extreme heat waves in a warming world don't just break records ... ›
- The Top 10 Extreme Weather and Climate Events of 2020 - EcoWatch ›
By Lorena Gonzalez and Nate Shelter
World leaders are gathering in New York this week and next for the UN General Assembly meeting (UNGA76) and Climate Week. The two major events come at a critical moment for climate action.
The world is facing an emergency. Nearly every person on the planet felt the impacts of climate change this summer — from devastating flooding in China, Uganda, Nigeria, the United States and Western Europe; to extreme heatwaves and droughts across Africa and the Americas; to record wildfires in the United States, Canada, Russia and the Arctic; and heavy monsoon rains in India and the Philippines. The toll on people's lives and livelihoods keeps growing.
Meanwhile, the newest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world's most authoritative scientific body on climate change, shows that these impacts are just the beginning. They will seem mild compared to what we will face if we do not act. The report finds that the world still has a narrow path to limit average global warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) — the limit scientists say is necessary for avoiding the worst effects of climate change — but it will require rapid, transformational change this decade.
Governments and businesses — especially world's major emitters — must urgently step up their commitments to meet this challenge, and then rapidly move from commitments to action. Coming just six weeks before UN climate negotiations in Glasgow (COP26), where countries need to make major progress on climate action, UNGA and Climate Week are important opportunities for leaders to show their ambition on climate change.
Here are five critical areas we are watching for signs of progress:
1. Stronger National Climate Plans (NDCs)
UNGA presents a prime opportunity for major emitters to step up with more ambitious plans to reduce their emissions by 2030. This year, all countries are expected to submit updated national climate plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), under the Paris Agreement. So far, 116 countries representing roughly half of global emissions have submitted updated plans. Yet only about half of these (67 countries), reflect higher ambition than their original plans submitted in 2015, and altogether these efforts are not nearly enough to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C.
Major emitters that have not yet announced new and more ambitious targets need to come forward by COP26 with serious offers to curb their emissions by 2030. At the G20 ministerial meeting in July, the G20 countries committed to submit new or updated NDCs by COP26. UNGA is a prime opportunity to come forward with those targets. A new paper by WRI and Climate Analytics finds that if all G20 countries set ambitious 2030 emissions-reduction targets and commit to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century, global temperature rise could be limited to 1.7 degrees C, keeping the 1.5 degrees C goal within reach.
The spotlight shines especially bright on China, the world's largest emitter, which has not yet announced a stronger emissions-reduction target for 2030. In order to get on track for its carbon neutrality pledge by 2060, it's imperative that China announces a more stringent NDC and stops international finance for coal, as South Korea and Japan (the other two major financiers of international coal) recently committed to do.
Other major emitters that need to step up include India, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which have yet to submit their updated NDCs, and Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Russia and Indonesia, which made no headway or backslid with the updated 2030 targets they submitted.
Vulnerable nations — many of which have submitted strong climate plans — are urging major emitters to take concrete, near-term action on climate change. Ensuring that major emitters raise their ambition by COP26 is one of the top priorities of the Allied for Climate Transformations 2025 (ACT2025) consortium, a group of organizations from vulnerable nations that are informing and influencing the COP26 negotiations. ACT2025 will soon release an Alliance Statement further crystalizing what must be delivered for COP26 to be both ambitious and just.
2. More Climate Finance From Wealthy Nations
A major issue to watch at UNGA is whether rich countries step up with new climate finance and other types of development assistance for developing countries. By COP26, developed countries need to show how they will meet and build upon their over-due commitment to jointly mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing nations. Addressing the climate finance gap is vital to COP26's success and to restoring trust with developing nations.
Indeed, the $100 billion annually is only a fraction of what vulnerable countries really need to decarbonize and build resilience to climate impacts, so it should be seen as a floor for climate finance. Developed countries should commit to deliver a minimum of $500 billion total over the 2020-2024 period, and should establish a more ambitious target to be agreed prior to 2025, to support developing countries.
The United States, especially, has not been contributing its fair share toward the global climate finance goal. Other rich countries lagging on contributions will also need to step up, including Italy, Canada, Australia, Spain and others. Will they do so during Climate Week?
Developed countries should also announce new pledges on finance for climate adaptation, especially for the Adaptation Fund, to ensure a balance of funding between mitigation and adaptation. Adaptation accounts for just 21% of overall climate finance. And developed countries need to improve access to climate finance and ensure it reaches the local level, which is a top priority for developing countries.
We will also watch for announcements on moratoriums for international financing for fossil fuels, including coal financing. At the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, its members reaffirmed their commitment to end unabated international coal finance by the end of 2021 and confirmed earlier pledges to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2025.
3. Creating More Equitable Food Systems
Alongside this year's General Assembly, the UN will host the world's first-ever Food Systems Summit to address inequities and inefficiencies in the food system and identify food-related solutions to fight climate change and achieve other development goals.
Countries and others should come forward with investments to produce food more sustainably; protect remaining ecosystems from agricultural expansion; reduce demand for land-intensive agriculture, such as by cutting food loss and waste; and restore degraded landscapes into productivity. By meeting these goals simultaneously, we can feed a growing world population while mitigating climate change, ensuring farmers and herders can adapt to the impacts of climate change, and lifting millions out of poverty.
4. Action From Non-State Actors
In addition to action from national governments, we'll need increased ambition from non-state actors, too, such as cities, businesses and more.
At Climate Week, a group of mayors will issue a call to action urging national and subregional governments, companies and financial institutions to urgently ramp up policies and investments to support forest conservation, restoration and sustainable forest management. They are issuing their declaration through the Cities4Forests initiative, a coalition of 73 major cities committed to greater forest action. Evidence shows that city residents depend deeply on forests — even those that are far away — for clean air and water, reducing heat islands and flooding, and sequestering carbon.
WRI will join partners in launching a major new cities program named UrbanShift, aimed at transforming cities through inclusive, low-carbon development. The program will engage with more than 23 cities across nine countries, advancing local solutions to challenges like climate risks, gender inequity, urban sprawl and more.
Businesses should also be stepping up in this moment between UNGA and COP. There is big momentum: Nearly 2,000 businesses have committed or set science-based targets to reduce their emissions. And over 250 asset owners, asset managers and banks — together responsible for assets over $80 trillion — have committed to transition their portfolios to net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest, under the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. They have agreed to use science-based guidelines to reach net zero emissions, cover all emission scopes, include 2030 interim targets and commit to transparent reporting and accounting.
Businesses should also use their influence to push national governments to take more ambitious climate action. Most immediately, U.S. businesses should publicly support the reconciliation package being considered by the U.S. Congress, which presents one of the best opportunities to meet U.S. climate goals — the CEOs of 12 environment and sustainability groups recently called on businesses to do just that.
5. Reducing Non-CO2 Gases
We are also expecting the United States and Europe to announce a major new global pledge to reduce methane emissions by nearly a third by 2030. Other countries will be invited to sign onto the pledge. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, with a warming potential 87 times that of carbon dioxide over 20 years. Reducing methane emissions is vital to addressing climate change.
The Urgency of Action During Climate Week and UNGA76
We stand at a pivotal moment. The climate impacts we are seeing today will seem mild compared to future years if we do not act. We need to make rapid, radical shifts in the ways we use and make energy, produce food, manage land, and move people and goods around. The good news is that doing so will create a healthier, safer, more prosperous world. It will create much-needed jobs and economic benefits — and prevent a calamitous future.
As COP26 quickly approaches, now is the time for governments, businesses and other stakeholders to act with the ambition this moment calls for. World leaders should use the global stage at UNGA76 and Climate Week to show their citizens and peers that they recognize the urgency of the crisis. Their actions will determine our collective fate.
Reposted with permission from World Resources Institute.
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Nearly one-third of all Americans live in a county hit by an extreme weather disaster in the past three months, with far more living in places that have endured a multiday heatwave, a Washington Post analysis revealed.
Climate change, caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, is supercharging heatwaves, hurricanes, wildfires fueled by drought, and extreme precipitation that causes flooding. Those phenomena have killed at least 388 people in the U.S. since June.
The unprecedented summer of climate-fueled tragedy has hit people who previously considered themselves immune to climate risk and has overwhelmed seasoned survivors of such disasters who say this is the worst summer they've experienced — it also comes as Democrats in Washington work to enact legislation that would address its root causes. The political window for such action, however, is closing.
With the midterms looming, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, linchpin vote connected with multiple coal firms, called for a "strategic pause" on that legislation last week. Meanwhile, the rest of the party barnstorms the country to raise support for the bill. "It sounds like a lot of money... but it is what we spend in five years fighting forest fires," Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), hardly a liberal firebrand himself, told constituents in Clear Creek.
Bernie Sanders is also traveling the country, and the White House is driving the message with senior advisor and former Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond promoting action on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday and President Biden directly tying the devastation wrought by Ida to climate change and the need to take decisive action.
"Super storms are going to come and they're going to come more ferociously," Biden said while visiting Louisiana Friday "This isn't about being a Democrat or a Republican. We're Americans and we'll get through this together."
As reported by The Washington Post:
Americans' growing sense of vulnerability is palpable. Craig Fugate, former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Florida's Emergency Management Division, has never known a summer as packed with crises as this one.
The question, he wonders, is whether this calamitous season will mark a turning point in public opinion that finally forces political leaders to act. "If not," Fugate asked, "what will it take?"
Even seasoned survivors say that recent disasters are the worst they've ever experienced. People who never considered themselves at risk from climate change are suddenly waking up to floodwaters outside their windows and smoke in their skies, wondering if anywhere is safe.
The true test of this summer's significance will be in whether the United States can meaningfully curb its planet-warming emissions — and fast.
The nation's most ambitious plan to address climate change and adapt to its impacts — Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget bill — is now in jeopardy after Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) called for a "strategic pause" on the legislation Thursday, citing concern over the price tag. The proposal to institute renewable energy requirements for power companies, impose import fees on polluters and provide generous support for electric vehicles cannot pass without Manchin's vote.
For a deeper dive:
Extreme weather: The Washington Post, The Hill, Axios; Opportunity for action: The New York Times, AP; Closing window: Axios; Manchin: The Intercept; Bennet: The New York Times; Sanders: The New York Times; Richmond: POLITICO; Biden: Reuters; Climate Signals background; Extreme heat and heatwaves, 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, 2021 Western wildfire season, Extreme precipitation increase, Flooding, Drought
- The Top 10 Extreme Weather and Climate Events of 2020 - EcoWatch ›
- Climate Change: Everything You Need to Know - EcoWatch ›
- Record Number of U.S. Weather Disasters Struck in 2020 - EcoWatch ›
This Supermoon Has a Twist – Expect Flooding, but a Lunar Cycle Is Masking Effects of Sea Level Rise
By Brian McNoldy
A "super full moon" is coming on April 27, 2021, and coastal cities like Miami know that means one thing: a heightened risk of tidal flooding.
Exceptionally high tides are common when the moon is closest to Earth, known as perigee, and when it's either full or new. In the case of what's informally known as a super full moon, it's both full and at perigee.
But something else is going on with the way the moon orbits Earth that people should be aware of. It's called the lunar nodal cycle, and it's presently hiding a looming risk that can't be ignored.
Right now, we're in the phase of an 18.6-year lunar cycle that lessens the moon's influence on the oceans. The result can make it seem like the coastal flooding risk has leveled off, and that can make sea level rise less obvious.
This simplified chart illustrates how the lunar nodal cycle suppresses and enhances the effects of sea level rise in Miami. The basic model assumes a constant linear increase of sea level, so it doesn't capture the expected acceleration of sea level rise. Brian McNoldy / CC BY-ND
But communities shouldn't get complacent. Global sea level is still rising with the warming planet, and that 18.6-year cycle will soon be working against us.
I am an atmospheric scientist at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science who keeps a close eye on sea level rise in Miami. Here's what you need to know.
What the Moon Has to Do With Coastal Flooding
The moon's gravitational pull is the dominant reason we have tides on Earth. More specifically, Earth rotating beneath the moon once per day and the moon orbiting around Earth once per month are the big reasons that the ocean is constantly sloshing around.
In the simplest terms, the moon's gravitational pull creates a bulge in the ocean water that is closest to it. There's a similar bulge on the opposite side of the planet due to inertia of the water. As Earth rotates through these bulges, high tides appear in each coastal area every 12 hours and 25 minutes. Some tides are higher than others, depending on geography.
The sun plays a role too: Earth's rotation, as well as its elliptic orbit around the sun, generates tides that vary throughout the day and the year. But that impact is less than half of what the moon contributes.
How tides work! Earth merely rotates through the tides: in 24hr 50min there are 2 high & 2 low tides, with the extr… https://t.co/6cMHB4R5oc— Dr. James O'Donoghue (@Dr. James O'Donoghue) 1589627917.0
This gravitational tug-of-war on our water was discovered nearly 450 years ago, though it's been happening for nearly four billion years. In short, the moon has very strong control over how we experience sea level. It doesn't affect sea level rise, but it can hide or exaggerate it.
So, What Is the Lunar Nodal Cycle?
To begin, we need to think about orbits.
Earth orbits the sun in a certain plane – it's called the ecliptic plane. Let's imagine that plane being level for simplicity. Now picture the moon orbiting Earth. That orbit also lies on a plane, but it's slightly tilted, about 5 degrees relative to the ecliptic plane.
That means that the moon's orbital plane intersects Earth's orbital plane at two points, called nodes.
The lunar nodes are the points where the moon's path crosses the ecliptic, the plane of Earth's orbit shown as the view of the sun from Earth over the span of a year. Wikimedia
The Moon's orbital plane precesses, or wobbles, to a maximum and minimum of +/- 5 degrees over a period of about 18.6 years. This natural cycle of orbits is called the Lunar Nodal Cycle. When the lunar plane is more closely aligned with the plane of Earth's equator, tides on Earth are exaggerated. Conversely, when the lunar plane tilts further away from the equatorial plane, tides on Earth are muted, relatively.
The lunar nodal cycle was first formally documented in 1728 but has been known to keen astronomical observers for thousands of years.
Earth's ecliptic and equatorial planes. NASA
What Effect Does That Have on Sea Level?
The effect of the nodal cycle is gradual – it's not anything that people would notice unless they pay ridiculously close attention to the precise movement of the moon and the tides for decades.
But when it comes to predictions of tides, dozens of astronomical factors are accounted for, including the lunar nodal cycle.
It's worth being aware of this influence, and even taking advantage of it. During the most rapid downward phase of the lunar nodal cycle – like we're in right now – we have a bit of a reprieve in the observed rate of sea level rise, all other things being equal.
These are the years to implement infrastructure plans to protect coastal areas against sea level rise.
Once we reach the bottom of the cycle around 2025 and start the upward phase, the lunar nodal cycle begins to contribute more and more to the perceived rate of sea level rise. During those years, the rate of sea level rise is effectively doubled in places like Miami. The impact varies from place to place since the rate of sea level rise and the details of the lunar nodal cycle's contribution vary.
Another "super full moon" will be coming up on May 26, so like the one in April, it's a perigean full moon. Even with the lunar nodal cycle in its current phase, cities like Miami should expect some coastal flooding.
Brian McNoldy is a senior research associate at the University of Miami.
Disclosure statement: Brian McNoldy serves as a volunteer science advisor for Coastal Risk Consulting.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
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By Tara Lohan
Talent. King Mountain. Hugo. The town names — each the site of new wildfire ignitions following a lightning storm the day before — are all new to me. After I read each incident report, I head to Google maps to ask the same question that's been on my mind for weeks: How close?
This is my first wildfire season — also known as summer — in my new home state of Oregon. I'm learning the geography by way of (potential) catastrophe.
After nearly two decades in San Francisco, my wife and I moved to central Oregon in May. We had been plotting our escape to a more rural location for years. While climate change wasn't our reason for leaving the Bay Area, it was a consideration in where to go next.
We first looked at towns along the east and west flanks of California's Sierra Nevada. But our searches mostly ended in frustration... and a bit of fear. We'd hear from locals about getting dropped from their fire insurance or the skyrocketing costs of keeping their policies. And then there were the actual wildfires — like the ones that reduced large swathes of Paradise, and now Greenville, to ash.
When we eventually settled on central Oregon as our next home, we were under no illusion that it would be free from wildfires: I'm an environmental journalist who covers fires and climate change as part of my beat. Wildfire risk, we knew, would come with our new territory.
And it has. As I write this, ash from multiple fires burning in the region dusts my patio furniture. Cascade peaks, usually visible on the horizon, have been smudged by smoke. The air quality has once again reached unhealthy levels.
Still, there are numerous reasons we're glad to be here, even if we do have occasional pangs of doubt and wonder why we didn't move out of the West entirely — out of the path of increasingly longer fire seasons.
Around the country, other families find themselves in similar situations, or may soon. As this summer so cruelly illuminates, climate change will present a barrage of challenges — including droughts, floods and hurricanes — no matter where you live.
Louisiana National Guard members in high-water vehicles work with St. John the Baptist Parish officials to rescue citizens stranded in their homes in the wake of Hurricane Ida. Louisiana National Guard / CC BY 2.0
Understanding the risks of different places isn't easy. As we contemplated our move, I dug through state climate assessments and read scientific reports. But it was hard to match general findings with specific places, even for someone like me who gets paid to do that kind of stuff. Most people don't have hours to read journal articles and try to decipher scientific lingo.
That got me thinking: Whether moving or staying put, how do we assess risk in a climate change world?
Last summer the San Francisco Bay Area had a day when the sun never seemed to rise. The sky remained a darkened, calamitous gray-orange from morning till night as the August Complex fire burned, eventually scorching a record-breaking 1 million acres. I received more than a few texts from friends asking if it was time to move somewhere less "apocalyptic." Was there a safer place to live in the coming years and decades as the planet continues to heat up?
It's a question on a lot of people's minds. The real estate website Redfin reports that the increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters and extreme heat are factors in plans for about half of people considering moves in the next year.
Where to go may be a popular question, but it's also a hard one to answer for a number of reasons, says Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA who gets asked that question multiple times a day.
"I don't know what people's motivations are, what their priorities are and what their lives are like," he says. "It's so personalized and individualized."
The scientific factors, he says, are equally complex. For example, the difference between living somewhere with an extreme fire risk and a place with very little could be just a few miles in places like Los Angeles, he says.
And this summer has already shown that climate change is going to bring surprises.
"Most folks would have thought that Seattle or Portland would have been great places to escape extreme heat waves," he says. "Well, clearly, that's not always going to be the case. Seeing Death Valley-like temperatures in British Columbia in June, I think, really gave people pause. Climate projections suggest that all of these things and more are possible in the future, but I think it's a particularly visceral recent example of how things are changing pretty fast."
Climate change is likely to throw us other curveballs, too.
While most people are concerned with drought and fire in California, Swain says he's more worried about how the state will handle the extreme flood risks that will also come with a warming climate.
"A lot of the risks, the physical hazards that are relevant in a changing climate, are not going to be obvious, and they're not often going to be the ones that people are really hyper-focused on in a particular region," he says. "What comes out of the woodwork in 10 or 20 years won't necessarily be the same problems in the same places that we're facing right now."
Understanding the Science
So given what we know — and don't — how do we go about figuring out where might be safe?
Historically, there haven't been a lot of great resources to tap. Most climate models aren't accessible to the general public. Or their raw data is taken out of context by others when trying to convey more localized impacts, which can be misleading, says Swain.
"I think a good example of this is California, where most of the state, according to climate models, is expected to see neither more nor less mean precipitation in the future with a few degrees of mean warming," he explains. "And if you look at all of these downscaled products, it'll say 'great news, your water availability isn't going to change,' which of course is completely wrong for a variety of reasons."
One reason is that rising temperatures will ensure that even if total precipitation doesn't change, there will still be less available water supply because there'll be more evaporation and thirstier soil, diminishing runoff.
But even a small change in annual average precipitation doesn't catch the variability that California's likely to experience with more extreme storm events and more droughts.
"So you get more really wet periods, but also more really dry periods," says Swain. "In practical terms, it's a really dramatic change. And so you might get a very inaccurate picture of what the future holds if you look at the wrong variables in the wrong context, even if the information is technically correct."
So how do we find the right information in the right context? There are some new efforts attempting just that.
Redfin, for example, recently partnered with ClimateCheck to add a feature to their listings that provides the future climate risk of a particular property. It assesses the change in the risk of heat, fire, drought and storms over the next 30 years.
First Street Foundation has been doing something similar focused on floods.
Getting down to the address level makes sense because risk itself can be hyper-local. Whether your house survives a disaster may depend not on what state or town you live in, but on what side of the street.
But can these tools really be precise at such a fine scale?
Swain, who has done some consulting for ClimateCheck, says it's possible to take regional climate data and combine that with very high-resolution spatial data at the parcel level. But he cautions, "I think it's more important to get it right than to be first to put something out there." After having seen it implemented poorly in the past, he says he now sees people today "who are trying to do a more thorough job of vetting and contextualizing everything."
Having better resources to find places that may have less risk is great... for the people who can afford to move there. Or move anywhere.
I'm among those lucky enough to get to pick a place on the map and point the moving truck in that direction. But that's not going to be a reality for a lot of other folks, as we saw last month before Hurricane Ida, when many people didn't even have enough cash on hand to temporarily flee the impending disaster, let alone permanently uproot their lives.
"It's a pretty extreme privilege in a global and even a national context to be able to choose where you want to live on the basis of your perceived comfort or safety from a climate perspective," says Swain. "That's not a choice the vast majority of people on Earth even get to make, even if there is good information to use for making that decision."
And while some places may seem like the proverbial higher ground, climate change is not a problem we can move away from — even for those with more resources. If it's not directly threatening our homes, it may endanger our food supply, water, jobs, health, neighbors, or the wildlife and wild places we hold dear.
That means making every place safer is a better bet — especially considering that the ground we're starting from isn't level. Many communities of color and low-income communities already face greater climate risks and climate-related health threats.
As far as I can tell, our best bet is to do everything — big and small. First and foremost, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and speed up the energy transition — equitably. At the same time, we'll need to protect and restore critical habitats, green urban areas and increase resilience wherever we are — including curbing new developments in areas we know will flood and burn.
When I started this article, I wanted to ask what resources people could use to pick new places to live. I also wanted to ask: Who has access to them? But maybe, instead of focusing on where we should go, it would be better to ask, "What more can we do to stay in the homes and communities we already love?"
Reposted with permission from The Revelator.
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At least eight deaths were reported as heavy rain from Hurricane Ida battered New York City and New England early Thursday.
The rains caused floods and sent New York City into a state of emergency, as the storm carried into New England with threats of more tornadoes.
Police in New York City reported seven deaths, including a 50-year-old man, a 48-year-old woman and a 2-year-old boy who were found unconscious and unresponsive inside a home. They were pronounced dead at the scene, police said. One death was reported in New Jersey.
New York's FDR Drive, a major artery on the east side of Manhattan, along with the Bronx River Parkway, were underwater by late Wednesday evening.
Subway stations and tracks were inundated to the point where the Metropolitan Transportation Authority suspended all service, and videos posted online showed subway riders standing on seats in cars filled with water. Streets and apartments were under up to 1 meter (3 feet) of water in some places, and more than 5,000 homes were left without power.
The wrath of Hurricane Ida: New York announces its first-ever flash-flood emergency | DW News youtu.be
'Enduring Historic Weather Event'
"We're enduring an historic weather event tonight with record breaking rain across the city, brutal flooding and dangerous conditions on our roads," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted.
I’m declaring a state of emergency in New York City tonight. We’re enduring an historic weather event tonight with… https://t.co/0RN5KNY902— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@Mayor Bill de Blasio) 1630553177.0
The alert marked the first-ever alert of flash-flood emergencies in the region, an alert level reserved for "exceedingly rare situations when a severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage from a flash flood is happening or will happen soon.''
The city also implemented a temporary travel ban for all nonemergency vehicles. Earlier Wednesday, the storm hit states including New Jersey and Pennsylvania, with at least two tornadoes, heavy winds and rains. Photos showed homes reduced to rubble, while the roof of a U.S. Postal Service building collapsed in New Jersey.
Highway 440 flooded in Jersey City, New Jersey, on Sept. 2, 2021 with hundreds of cars stuck in water as Hurricane Ida left behind flash floods. Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
The National Weather Service had predicted flooding from what remained of Hurricane Ida, saying steep terrain and even city streets were particularly vulnerable to a band of severe weather that stretched to Massachusetts, where tornado warnings were issued early Thursday.
Tropical Storm Henri hit the region a little more than a week ago, causing flooding and making the cities more vulnerable to this week's set of weather events.
Our infrastructure is not ready for climate change, a thread from tonight. 28th St. subway station https://t.co/uYemJKB8yg— Brian Kahn (@Brian Kahn) 1630548070.0
Reposted with permission from DW.
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In flood-prone regions of Bangladesh, farmers and their families utilize a centuries-old tradition to reduce their vulnerability to climate change.
Floating gardens — known as dhap, or locally as baira — have been used in south-central Bangladesh for 300-400 years, BBC reported. Farmers build their own floating gardens out of plants, and like rafts, the gardens fall in and out with the moving water, according to Ohio State News.
In a study published recently in the Journal of Agriculture, Food and Environment, researchers interviewed families who use this farming method to determine how the gardens could provide food and income security, despite the impacts of a changing climate, like heavier rainfall and stronger cyclones, Ohio State News reported.
"We are focused here on adaptive change for people who are victims of climate change, but who did not cause climate change," Craig Jenkins, a co-author of the study and academy professor emeritus of sociology at The Ohio State University, told Ohio State News. "There's no ambiguity about it: Bangladesh didn't cause the carbon problem, and yet it is already experiencing the effects of climate change."
Two-thirds of Bangladesh is wetland and large parts of the land can be underwater for up to eight months a year, BBC reported. The country also suffers from poverty, where 48 percent of its population is landless. As climate change grows more severe, bringing stronger tropical storms to the region, it is estimated that one in seven people will be displaced by 2050, the Environmental Justice Foundation found, BBC reported.
But despite these challenges, farmers have implemented this sustainable, low-cost option as a means to survive. In their study, researchers suggest these floating gardens can provide both food security and income for rural households, Ohio State News reported.
"It is very environmentally friendly – all the necessary inputs and resources are natural, and it does not create any waste or byproduct which can impact the environment negatively," Fahmida Akter, a senior research fellow at the James P Grant School of Public Health at Brac University in Dhaka, told BBC about the floating gardens, which rely on water hyacinth, an aquatic plant, for support. Once farmers layer these aquatic plants about three feet deep to mimic a raised-garden bed, they then plant vegetables, such as okra, some gourds, spinach and eggplant, according to Ohio State News.
The practice also contributes to local economies, giving middlemen a chance to buy and sell seedlings, villagers a chance to earn wages from building the beds and creates an income strategy for households, the researchers wrote.
"In Bangladesh, a lot of small farmers that had typically relied on rice crops are moving away from those because of the effects of climate change and better returns from alternative crops," Jenkins added. One floating garden farmer told the researchers that he now earns four times the amount he did at the rice paddies, Ohio State News reported.
Floating gardens are not exclusive to Bangladesh. In southern Mexico, for example, farmers in the city of Xochimilco are reviving a similar practice that was first built by the Aztecs to meet food demand — a struggle ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. "Now the virus is revealing the strength of this model in the midst of a crisis," Atlas Obscura reported.
While the gardens provide a reliable source of food for farmers impacted by both the climate and covid crises, the floating gardens are still in need of improvement. According to Pravash Mandal, a farmer in the Barisal district of Bangladesh, the gardens cannot withstand waves or heavy currents, BBC reported.
Researchers call on NGOs and the government to provide support to help farmers develop floating gardens efficiently, noting their ability to create a "sustainable and lucrative income strategy for rural households," in increasingly vulnerable, flood-prone communities in Bangladesh.
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Massive rainfall in Australia's most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) has brought the worst flooding in decades, forcing more than 18,000 people to flee their homes.
The rain began on Thursday, but the inundation increased over the weekend, CNN reported. Currently, 38 locations in the state are considered natural disaster areas. Some areas have seen rainfall five times the monthly average for March in just four days. The flooding comes a year after the region was scorched by record wildfires, in yet another example of how the climate crisis fuels extreme weather.
"Communities who were battered by the bushfires are now being battered by the floods and a deep drought prior to that. I don't know anytime in our state's history where we've had these extreme weather conditions in such quick succession in the middle of a pandemic," NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told journalists, as CNN reported. "You've been through three or four incidents which are life changing on top of each other. It can make you feel like you are at breaking point."
Miraculously, Berejiklian said no lives had been reported lost as of late Monday, as BBC News reported. However, there has been massive damage. Photos have shown homes, roads and trees completely underwater, according to CNN. In one incident, a young couple's house was swept away on what would have been their wedding day.
"It literally floated like a houseboat, the whole house, fully intact," the couple's landlord and home's owner Peter Bowie told Australia's ABC News. "It went so fast. It went nearly a kilometre all intact, 100 per cent. This house just lifted up and floated down the river."
Overall, the flooding has prompted more than 700 flood rescues, BBC News reported.
The flooding has especially impacted the suburbs west of Sydney, New South Wales's capital, which saw its wettest day of the year on Sunday, when it received 4.4 inches of rain, as Reuters reported. The Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers have flooded much of northwestern Sydney, and parts of western Sydney have seen their worst flooding since 1961.
The NSW Rural Fire Service shared video footage of some of the areas impacted by the Hawkesbury River flooding, as 9News reported.
Many areas across #NSW currently resemble an inland sea. Once the rain stops & the water begins to reside, there wi… https://t.co/uvweRUmn1f— NSW RFS (@NSW RFS) 1616376947.0
Meanwhile, rainfall has also caused rivers to overflow in the southeastern part of the state of Queensland, according to BBC News.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said Monday that around 10 million Australians living in an area roughly the size of Alaska were impacted by weather warnings. The warnings come as two systems collide and affect every mainland state in the country except one.
Around 10 million Australians in every mainland state and territory- except WA- are currently under a #weather warn… https://t.co/Ofwuxr9UnR— Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@Bureau of Meteorology, Australia) 1616394512.0
The wet weather is expected to last through Wednesday, according to BBC News. The flooding comes as Australia is experiencing a La Niña weather pattern, which typically brings more rain and storms. However, scientists say that the climate crisis is intensifying these natural variations. The government's State of the Climate 2020 report found that, while rainfall overall is trending downward in most of Australia, the intensity of heavy rainfall events is increasing.
"Short-duration extreme rainfall events are often associated with flash flooding, and so these changes in intensity bring increased risk to communities," the report authors wrote.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Sydney was the capital of Australia. Sydney is the capital of New South Wales.
Tropical depression Grace is expected to pass over Haiti on Monday and Tuesday, just days after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake left nearly 1,300 dead and 5,700 injured, threatening to cause flooding and landslides and further hampering rescue efforts already contending with devastated infrastructure and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Forecasters predict Grace will drop 5 to 10 inches of rain on Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic, with as much as 15 inches across southern portions of Hispaniola.
Climate change is intensifying tropical storm systems, compounded with sea level rise and deforestation that worsens flooding and landslides that make Haiti particularly vulnerable. The nation, which has not yet fully recovered from the 7.0 quake in 2010 that leveled significant portions of the island's infrastructure and killed as many as 300,000 people, has been hit by major storms in 2020, two in 2017, another in 2016 and four in 2008.
As reported by NPR:
In an interview with ABC's Good Morning America, Haiti's ambassador to the U.S., Bocchit Edmond, said authorities are still trying to figure out exactly how bad the devastation is. Their top priority is getting medical attention and shelter for people who have been hurt or displaced, he said.
Edmond is also concerned that the weather will complicate relief efforts. Tropical Depression Grace, currently wending its way through the Caribbean, could bring heavy rains and flooding on Monday as it hits Haiti, potentially triggering mudslides. Many areas could see 4 to 8 inches of rain, with isolated spots of 15 inches across the south of the country, the National Hurricane Center said.
"Hopefully Grace will be graceful enough to spare us," Edmond said.
Haiti: drone footage shows devastation after deadly 7.2-magnitude earthquake youtu.be
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