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Here we are, right in the thick of summer—it’s hot, it’s humid and you break into a sweat the moment you step out of the air-conditioning. I feel for you, friend. But just imagine what it’s going to be like as climate change continues to heat things up over the coming decades. Well, now you don't have to! This infograph from Climate Central shows us how much hotter 1,001 U.S. cities are going to be in the summer of 2100.

Ever crave the sweltering summer days of Kuwait? Let’s hope so if you live in Phoenix, because 114 degrees Fahrenheit is going to be your new normal. Hey, at least it’s that dry, desert heat?

On average, American cities will see temperature increases between seven and 10 degrees. Seattle will be the new SoCal and Harrisburg will feel the southwestern sizzle of San Antonio. Attention, Bostonians: you may want to update your swimwear, because in less than a century, Cape Cod could feel like Miami Beach.

Click on the image to access the
interactive map from Climate Central

So with all this extra heat (and don't forget the sea-level rise that’ll come with it), you should start booking your summer timeshares in Saskatchewan now

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is doing whatever he can to prevent his state from supporting clean energy jobs and climate action. On Monday, Gov. Christie again took the path of big polluters by pulling New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)—an innovative and proven program in which northeastern states are working together to reduce carbon pollution while boosting the clean energy economy. And it’s not the first time Gov. Christie’s tried to turn back the clock. In March, an earlier RGGI rollback was slapped down when a court found Gov. Christie’s Administration violated the law in attempting to pull the state out of the regional agreement.

With his eyes set on a 2016 presidential nomination, Gov. Christie is aligning himself with big polluters who lobby the Republican party to protect their interests. Photo credit: Bob Jagendorf via Sierra Club

RGGI has already helped create thousands of jobs in New Jersey while curbing carbon pollution from power plants—and it’d be a key way in which the state could meet the new carbon standards established by President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

"People of New Jersey demand action on climate change and want our state to reduce air pollution, for our state to be more resilient, and to support growing our economy through new technology and clean energy jobs,” New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said. “Especially after Hurricane Sandy, the public supports action on climate change. New Jersey needs to reduce greenhouse gases—and RGGI is one of the ways to do it."

During New Jersey’s participation in the initiative, the state achieved its greenhouse gas reduction goal of 10 percent within the first three years, boosted the economy by $151 million, and created 1,772 jobs throughout the state. So that begs the question—why would the state pull out in light of its substantial success?

“We believe that the Governor pulled out of RGGI because he cares more about his national political ambition than the environment and people of New Jersey," Tittel said.

As Gov. Christie keeps his eyes on a potential Presidential run in 2016, the big polluters and special interests that back Republican candidates are attacking any and all efforts to create clean energy jobs and act on the climate crisis. Front organizations backed by the oil-rich Koch Brothers have pushed legislators to sign a pledge to refuse climate action while polluter front groups are dumping millions into efforts to smear the Clean Power Plan and its supporters. So, Republicans with national ambitions like Christie are positioning themselves now to be on the side of polluters.

This isn’t the first time Gov. Christie has put New Jersey’s communities and economy in jeopardy for the sake of his political standing. Since taking office, the Christie Administration has gutted about $1 billion from clean energy funding initiatives. With Christie’s support, a New Jersey Clean Energy Fund could have created 5,000 local jobs, billions of dollars in economic activity and cut air pollution by 100 million tons.

“With RGGI we can protect our environment, reduce carbon pollution and move our state forward economically. RGGI is a win-win for New Jersey, and Gov. Christie is a lose-lose when it comes to protecting our environment and reducing the impacts of climate change,” said Tittel. “The Governor would rather side with the fossil fuel lobby in Washington than clean energy jobs in New Jersey."

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Oil Change International released a comprehensive report today on fossil fuel exploration and production subsidies in the U.S.—Cashing in on All of the Above: U.S. Fossil Fuel Production Subsidies Under Obama—which demonstrates that at a time when we need urgent action on climate change, the U.S. government is channeling huge and growing amounts of money to increasing discovery and production of oil, gas and coal. These federal and state subsidies totaled $21.6 billion in 2013.

“The 'All of the Above' energy strategy is not only climate denial—it’s climate denial that is funded with more than $20 billion in taxpayer support each year.” Photo credit: Oil Change International

Subsidies that promote fossil fuel exploration are particularly harmful and hypocritical. The world’s preeminent scientific institutions working on climate and energy have determined that the majority of the world’s existing fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground in order to avoid catastrophic climate impacts. In 2012, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned that “no more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050 if the world is to achieve the two degree Celsius goal.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reached a similar conclusion in its 2013 climate assessment.

 

“The 'All of the Above' energy strategy is not only climate denial—it’s climate denial that is funded with more than $20 billion in taxpayer support each year.” said Steve Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International. “Until our representatives in Washington and around the country find the courage necessary to put people’s interests ahead of rich polluters, this theft of our tax dollars is likely to continue. The next step for saving the climate should be clear: stop funding fossils.”

Fossil fuel exploration subsidies are in direct conflict with these calls to restrict fossil fuel production and use. Rather than finding ways to curtail fossil fuel production in line with the demands of climate science, the U.S. federal government, under President Obama’s “All of the Above” energy strategy, is currently channeling more than $5 billion each year in exploration subsidies to actually expand proven reserves, leading to the discovery of fossil fuels that we know we should never burn.

Shakuntala Makhijani, the report’s author, added, “The science is clear that at least two-thirds of proven fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate impacts—it is time for the U.S. government to show leadership and immediately end the massive subsidies that encourage their production.”

 

Oklahoma has had a whole lot of shaking going on during the last six years. Seismic activity in the state has risen dramatically, from just more than a dozen earthquakes recorded back in 2008 to more than 100 in 2013. And here we are only halfway through 2014, and already the number of Oklahoma quakes with a magnitude of 3.0 or higher has surpassed the number of such earthquakes in California—a state famous for its big temblors.

The state of Oklahoma recorded more than 100 earthquakes in 2013. Image credit: OnEarth

What on Earth (or under it) could be causing the Sooner State to rumble like this? A new study, published last week in the journal Science, suggests that a common byproduct of oil and gas drilling may be to blame.

In the process of extracting oil and gas, energy companies also end up extracting a lot of underground water: for every quart of oil yielded, in fact, as much as a gallon of water gets sucked up out of the ground. Because this wastewater is salty, drillers can’t simply dump it into the nearest freshwater stream; instead, they typically inject it back into the formation, via deep wells that can extend anywhere from one to three miles below ground. Unfortunately, the study’s authors have found, these wastewater injections can agitate long-dormant faults, causing them to slip—and trigger an earthquake.

A number of previously published studies (you can read a few herehere and here) have shown strong correlations between wastewater injection wells and increased seismic activity. But by synthesizing the most sophisticated hydrological models with the latest seismological data, the authors of this most recent study have arrived at our clearest understanding yet of how, exactly, the act of injecting water into the ground might physically result in an earthquake. 

According to the researchers, only a handful of Oklahoma’s 10,000 wells—roughly 90 of them where drillers have routinely been pumping wastewater below the surface—may account for the state’s biggest cluster of earthquakes. (Within 25 miles of these well sites, more than 100 earthquakes have been recorded.) Although the study doesn’t prove, conclusively, that the wells induced those earthquakes, the data does strongly support that suspicion.

“The main purpose of this study was to try to understand the physics of the system better, particularly the linkage between wastewater injection and observed seismicity,” says co-author Shemin Ge, a hydrogeologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Through this understanding, she and her partners are hoping to identify and promote best practices—such as making sure that a site isn't too close to a fault before any drilling begins, or limiting the amount of water injected into a well.

The size of Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry has nearly doubled since 2004. But it's not the only state where earthquake activity is rising at same time that oil and gas development are surging: ColoradoTexasArkansas and Ohio have also been feeling the Earth move a lot more than usual. Even so, nearly half of all the earthquakes that took place in the central and eastern U.S. between 2008 and 2013 occurred in Oklahoma.

The quakes have cracked foundations and buckled highways. Last October, the state’s insurance commissioner began encouraging homeowners to buy earthquake insurance—a purchase that, up until now, has probably made a lot more sense to residents of Temecula than Tulsa. Now some nervous Oklahomans are calling for a moratorium on wastewater injection wells, taking a cue from their neighbors in Arkansas, who in 2011 issued a ban of their own on any underground wastewater disposal within 1,150 square miles of a major geologic fault.

“We don’t fully understand what the hazard implications of [wastewater injection] are,” says Bill Ellsworth, a U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist who knows a thing or two about earthquakes. (He’s published more than 100 studies on them—though he wasn’t a part of this most recent study). Still, Ellsworth says, “this type of research is an important direction for people working in this field to be perusing.”

Can’t argue with that. In the meantime, Okies, take a few earthquake tips from your friends on the West Coast (and maybe get that insurance).

This article was originally posted in Natural Resources Defense Council’s OnEarth. 

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