Environmental news roundup

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The environment includes your backyard. Something as simple as a screen of evergreens can greatly improve the environment for overwintering birds.

Since the weather suddenly got cold, we’ve been hearing a lot about the polar vortex. This is simply the normal circular flow of cold air around the Arctic that sometimes moves south and brings with it abnormally cold temperatures. It’s not unusual, and it’s not a sign that global warming is a hoax. Check out the National Weather Service‘s excellent explanation and graphics. The actual prediction for the coming winter is for slightly above-normal temperatures in our area.

The effects of global warming are most extreme in the polar regions, where the climate is heating up fast. For a fascinating article about how this is affecting residents of the Arctic, both human and nonhuman, read this article. It explains what happens to polar bears when the sea ice they need for hunting disappears, and what happens to people when, as a result, the polar bears show up in their villages.

All environmental news is not bad. In recent years the cost of renewable energy, particularly solar power, has declined precipitously, making it cheaper to use clean energy than many forms of greenhouse-increasing energy such as coal. Solar is rapidly becoming the cheapest source of new electricity. Market forces are at work.

Local governments all over the world are on board with renewable energy: San Diego; Rochester, MN; Burlington, VT; Barcelona; Adelaide; and countless more. You can read a report from the International Energy Agency here or google the phrase “renewable energy local government” to find many more examples. And you can encourage your local government to join in.

And don’t forget to check out Global Weirding every two weeks for a new episode of this information and funny YouTube series.

Stay warm.

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