What new energy record did the U.S. set?

The eia reports that 44.5 Bcf of natural gas was consumed in the lower 38 on July 19 in their post United States sets new daily record high for natural gas use in the power sector by Katie Dyl (8/5/19).

Higher electricity demand for air conditioning during a heat wave from July 15 through July 22 drove the increased power generation, especially from natural gas-fired generators. Although the highest temperatures occurred during the weekend, most states east of the Rocky Mountains experienced warmer-than-normal weather in the days leading up to the heat wave. From July 16 through July 21, the average maximum temperature exceeded 85°F in most parts of the country.

Note the feedback loop. As the planet warms we use more energy (still mostly fossil fuels) to cool homes  and business (cooling takes more energy than heating) and thus emitting more co2 to warm the planet.  The post has other graphs and links to the data.

How can we find out how much a city may warm?

The BBC Visual and Data Journalism team has posted How much warmer is your city? (7/31/19) The page includes a menu to select a city around the globe to see how January and July temperatures may increase under different scenarios. For example, the graph here is for Washington DC. The page includes animations and reveals information as we scroll down. Other information on the page, for example,

The Indonesian capital (Jakarta), home to 10 million people, is one of the fastest sinking cities in the worldThe northern part of the city is sinking at a rate of 25cm a year in some areas. The dramatic rate is due to a combination of excessive groundwater extraction causing subsidence and sea level rise caused by climate change. A 32km sea wall and 17 artificial islands are being built to protect the city at a cost of $40bn.

There are links to data sources.

Could the earth be cooling?

The NASA article Nope Earth Isn’t Cooling by Alan Buis (7/12/19) is a good primer on short and long term trends as it relates to global climate change. The main graphic (copied here), which is an animation zooming into a short time period and then back to the longer time period, demonstrates the classic misleading graph of selecting only a short time period to view.

So, what’s really important to know about studying global temperature trends, anyway?

Well, to begin with, it’s vital to understand that global surface temperatures are a “noisy” signal, meaning they’re always varying to some degree due to constant interactions between the various components of our complex Earth system (e.g., land, ocean, air, ice). The interplay among these components drive our weather and climate.

For example, Earth’s ocean has a much higher capacity to store heat than our atmosphere does. Thus, even relatively small exchanges of heat between the atmosphere and the ocean can result in significant changes in global surface temperatures. In fact, more than 90 percent of the extra heat from global warming is stored in the ocean. Periodically occurring ocean oscillations, such as El Niño and its cold-water counterpart, La Niña, have significant effects on global weather and can affect global temperatures for a year or two as heat is transferred between the ocean and atmosphere.

This means that understanding global temperature trends requires a long-term perspective. An examination of two famous climate records illustrate this point.

There are two other graphs. Global temp and CO2 can be found on the Calculus Projects page.

How easy is it to understand mass incarceration?

The details of mass incarceration is complicated, but the Prison Policy Initiative report Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2019 by Wendy Sawyer and Peter Wagner (3/19/19) provides an extensive look at the data. The report has over 20 graphs and links to data. A few excerpts:

The American criminal justice system holds almost 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 109 federal prisons, 1,772 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 80 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories.

Every year, over 600,000 people enter prison gates, but people go to jail 10.6 million times each year. Jail churn is particularly high because most people in jails have not been convicted.

People in prison and jail are disproportionately poor compared to the overall U.S. population. The criminal justice system punishes poverty, beginning with the high price of money bail: The median felony bail bond amount ($10,000) is the equivalent of 8 months’ income for the typical detained defendant. As a result, people with low incomes are more likely to face the harms of pretrial detention. Poverty is not only a predictor of incarceration; it is also frequently the outcome, as a criminal record and time spent in prison destroys wealth, creates debt, and decimates job opportunities.

It’s no surprise that people of color — who face much greater rates of poverty — are dramatically over represented in the nation’s prisons and jails. These racial disparities are particularly stark for Black Americans, who make up 40% of the incarcerated population despite representing only 13% of U.S residents. The same is true for women, whose incarceration rates have for decades risen faster than men’s, and who are often behind bars because of financial obstacles such as an inability to pay bail.

Read the whole report for considerably more information and data.

How much energy does the U.S. government consume?

The eia article U.S. government energy consumption continues to decline by Fred Mayes (7/25/19) has a half dozen charts showing U.S. government energy consumption.  For example, the chart copied here provides energy consumption by defense and civilian agencies by type (vehicles/equipment or buildings).

The U.S. federal government consumed 915 trillion British thermal units (Btu) of energy during the 2017 fiscal year (FY), or 20% less than a decade before. The slight decline in FY 2017 marks the fifth consecutive decline in annual federal government consumption.

To put this in some perspective, the eia article In 2018, the United States consumed more energy then ever before by Allen McFarland (4/16/19) shows that the U.S. consumed almost 100 quadrillion BTUs in 2017.

Primary energy consumption in the United States reached a record high of 101.3 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2018, up 4% from 2017 and 0.3% above the previous record set in 2007.

So, the U.S. government consumes about 1% of overall energy. Both articles have links to the data.

In 2100, 80% or more of the population will live where?

The Our World in Data article More than 8 out of 10 people in the world will live in Asia or Africa by 2100 by Hannah Ritchie (7/15/19) includes the (interactive) chart copied here with population projections by the United Nations.

The United Nations projects that world population growth will slow significantly over the course of the 21st century, coming close to its peak at 10.9 billion by 2100.

The striking change between now and 2100 is the expected growth in the African population. Today, its population is around 1.3 billion; by 2100 it’s projected to more than triple to 4.3 billion.

North, Central and South America, and Oceania, are projected to also see a rise in population this century – but this growth will be much more modest relative to growth in Africa. Europe is the only region where population is expected to fall – today its population stands at around 747 million; by 2100 this is projected to fall to 630 million.

The chart and the data can be downloaded.

How hot was June 2019?

The NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information Global Climate Report – June 2019:

Averaged as a whole, the June 2019 global land and ocean temperature departure from average was the highest for June since global records began in 1880 at +0.95°C (+1.71°F). This value bested the previous record set in 2016 by 0.02°C (0.04°F). Nine of the 10 warmest Junes have occurred since 2010. June 1998 is the only value from the previous century among the 10 warmest Junes on record, and it is currently ranked as the eighth warmest June on record. Junes 2015, 2016, and 2019 are the only Junes that have a global land and ocean temperature departure from average above +0.90°C (+1.62°F). June 2019 also marks the 43rd consecutive June and the 414th consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th century average.

How about land-only temps?

The global land-only surface temperature for June 2019 was 1.34°C (2.41°F) above the 20th century average. This was also the highest June temperature in the 140-year record, exceeding the previous record of +1.30°C (+2.34°F) set in 2015.

What about Europe?

Europe had its warmest June on record at 2.93°C (5.27°F) above the 1910–2000 average, surpassing the previous record of 1.95°C (3.51°F) set in 2003 by +0.98°C (+1.76°F). June 2019 also marked the first time since continental records began in 1910 that Europe’s June temperature departure from average surpassed the +2.0°C (+3.6°F) mark and nearly reaching +3.0°C (+5.4°F).

That is the way to beat a record. That isn’t a type the record was beat by almost 1°C.

Data for the chart here as well as land only or ocean only can be obtained from the NOAA Climate at a Glance page.

 

What percent of congress are immigrants or children of immigrants and what part of the country do they represent?

The PEW article In 116th Congress, at least 13% of lawmakers are immigrants or the children of immigrants by A.W. Geiger (1/24/19) provides an overview of the immigrant status of congress. The chart copied here show that the West has a greater number of immigrant or child of immigrant lawmaker.

While at least 13% of voting members in Congress are immigrants or children of immigrants, relatively few of these are foreign born: 13 in the House, and just one – Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii – in the Senate. These 14 immigrant lawmakers represent just 3% of all voting members in both chambers, a slight uptick from recent Congresses but substantially below the foreign-born share of Congresses many decades ago. (For example, about 10% of members in the first and much smaller Congress of 1789-91 were foreign born. About a century later, in the 50th Congress of 1887-89, 8% of members were born abroad, according to a previous analysis.) The current share of foreign-born lawmakers in Congress is also far below the foreign-born share of the United States as a whole, which was 13.5% as of 2016.

The article includes a time series of the percent of foreign-born members in congress dating back to 1789. There is also a chart tracking were the immigrant or children of immigrant congress members are from.

Collectively, 74% of immigrants and children of immigrants in Congress have origins in countries in Europe, Latin America or Asia.

Much smaller shares claim heritage in countries in the Middle East, North America and sub-Saharan Africa – each below 10%.

Rain, Rain, Go, Away. . .How wet has it been?

The NOAA post Assessing the U.S. Climate in June 2019 (7/9/2019) has a quick summary of precipitation. In short, the 12 month contiguous U.S. precipitation record has been broken for the last three months.

 Average precipitation across the contiguous U.S. for July 2018–June 2019 was 37.86 inches, 7.90 inches above average, and broke a record, exceeding the previous all-time 12-month period on record set at the end of May. The previous all-time 12-month record was 37.72 inches and occurred from June 2018–May 2019. Prior to that record, the all-time 12-month record was 36.31 during May 2018–April 2019. The previous July–June record was 35.11 inches and occurred from July 1982–June 1983.

Precipitation data can be obtained from the NOAA Climate at a glance page, where a csv file can be downloaded.

 

How much does a half a degree Celsius matter?

Human-induced warming reached approximately 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels in 2017. At the present rate, global temperatures would reach 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) around 2040. The green section of the diagram represents the range of uncertainty in how much global temperature would continue to rise before leveling off, assuming that reductions in carbon dioxide emissions were to begin immediately and reach zero by 2055. Credit: IPCC

 

In terms of climate change a half a degree Celsius matters a lot. NASA has a two part series A Degree of Concern: Why Global Temperatures Matter and Part 2: Selected Findings of the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming both by Alan Buis (6/19/2019). The two part series is visually well done and an excellent example of telling a story on the web (especially part I).

Higher temperature thresholds will adversely impact increasingly larger percentages of life on Earth, with significant variations by region, ecosystem and species. For some species, it literally means life or death.

“What we see isn’t good – impacts of climate change are in many cases larger in response to a half a degree (of warming) than we’d expected,” said Shindell, who was formerly a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. “We see faster acceleration of ice melting, greater increases in tropical storm damages, stronger effects on droughts and flooding, etc. As we calibrate our models to capture the observed responses or even simply extrapolate another half a degree, we see that it’s more important than we’d previously thought to avoid the extra warming between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius.”

Read both reports for details.  This two part series could be the basis for a QL course.