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Musings about the environment and all it touches, from education to city planning

2014 in review III: climate and other events

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The warmest years in order.  Number one? This year.

The warmest years in order. Number one? This year.

Ah, the year end reviews – quite fun to take a look back, if only to realize how soon we forget. As usual, lots happened in terms of environmental front. There are many reasons to consider 2014 a year of hoe and optimism (I’ll get to that) – but let’s not forget what happened on the climate and pollution scene, because there were some doozies.

The editors of Inside Climate News noted a lot of worrisome events with respect to pollution from hydrocarbons, whether from derailments, pipelines, or too often, from fracking (a two-part review, here and here).

Planet Ark summarized the year by saying that a changed climate is the new normal, a clear case of shifting baselines; CityLab reminded us that this was indeed the warmest year ever, despite the record snowfall in Buffalo; Jeff Masters added coverage on the drought in Brazil and the hurricane seasons (quiet in the Atlantic, stormy in the Pacific); and ThinkProgress presented a summary of the climate in six charts, including the one on top of this post, which shows that not only is 2014 the warmest year ever, but that the warmest years have all been happening in recent years (so much for the ballyhooed global cooling; nice as it would be, ain’t happening). Grist beautifully summarized the year in a two-minute video.

ThinkProgress reminded us that this year had its share of water disasters, and that water availability is often the first thing affected by climate change – this was the year of the worst California drought, but also the year when water in Lake Erie became poisonous. The same site (make sure to bookmark it!) profiled pollution from fracking waste, pet coke, and coal ash, all of which tend to get under-reported. Finally, from the same source, a review of what may be the most depressing story of the year: the accelerated disappearance of species worldwide. OneEarth and Alternatives Journal both produced a summary of the stories of the year, well worth reading.

And what happened in BC? Let’s see, this was the year when sockeye were exected in record numbers; there was indeed a very good run, but short of a record. But of course, the big story was the spill at the Mount Polley mine. There were also announcements that were discouraging to the environmental community: the Northern Gateway pipeline and the Site C dam were both given the go-ahead, Victoria hasn’t met an LNG project it doesn’t like, and Kinder Morgan is expecting the green light for its pipeline as well. Except that all these are running into a wall of public opposition, which bodes well for the future. But I’ll leave the politics for the next post.


Written by enviropaul

December 31, 2014 at 7:57 pm

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