Climate change

Wyoming’s Republican senators can’t wait to go from being in the minority to the majority party come January. In the new year the GOP will hold all the gavels - and with them, most of the power - on Capitol Hill. But Republicans are still locked out of the White House, which Senator John Barrasso is keenly aware of. He's not happy the president is using his pen on immigration reform or to agree to carbon emission targets with China. 

Leigh Paterson

Climate change is a controversial topic in this election cycle, especially when it comes to teaching it in school.  So far only 12 states have adopted a new set of science education standards that include the human impacts on global warming  - and Wyoming is not one of them.

Natalia Macker, who is running to represent District 22 in the Wyoming State House, said something shocking during our recent interview:

Do you think the United Nations Climate Summit this week will result in consensus and action among nations addressing climate change?

Why or why not?

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Dan Boyce

Mark Fix has been ranching outside of Miles City, Montana since the mid-1980s, raising cattle, alfalfa and grain on his 9,700 acre plot of land. But severe weather events have been stacking up in recent years: a tornado tore through his barn, flooding stranded his cows. It’s impacting his bottom line, and he’s convinced it’s from human-caused climate change.

Melodie Edwards

This spring, rivers were overflowing banks all over the state.  Some rivers saw record—or near-record—flood stages.  The Laramie River hit its second highest flood level on record, and that’s only four years after its highest on record in 2010.  But floods aren’t all sandbagging and property damage: they also mean plenty of water for the long dry summer ahead. 

Stephanie Joyce

The Obama administration wants states to cutback on carbon emissions, but doing that has always been a thorny problem. While carbon is a byproduct of almost everything we do, capturing and storing it is expensive. For years, the goal has been to figure out how to make that process cheaper, but more recent efforts take a different approach, with the focus shifting from storing carbon to using it.

On a recent spring morning, Karen Wawrousek led a tour of her lab at the Western Research Institute, on the outskirts of Laramie.

ncrsresearch.blogspot.com

In the next half century, scientists are predicting more extreme weather for Wyoming with bigger winter storms and hotter, dryer summers.  That’s according to the latest National Climate Assessment out this month. Wyoming’s farmers and ranchers are skeptical about climate change, but some of them have been forced to adjust their methods of production. 

It’s time to stop looking at carbon as a liability and time to start figuring out ways to turn into an asset, Governor Matt Mead told attendees at the Wyoming Business Report’s Energy Summit Monday. He said carbon capture and utilization technology is not ready for prime-time, but that innovation is possible if the government and others invest in it.

“Everything is crazy until you figure it out. And this issue on coal in particular is an issue that I think we can figure out, and that we need to figure out,” Mead said.

www.hsdl.org

The White House is painting a dire picture for every region in the nation - including here at home - if action isn’t taken to combat climate change. But Matt Laslo reports from Washington that Wyoming’s Republican senators still aren’t buying it.

Stephanie Joyce

Governor Matt Mead says it’s time to move past the argument over climate change, and start finding solutions that will allow the continued use of fossil fuels, including coal. Answering questions after a speech at the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority board meeting Wednesday the governor reiterated that he remains skeptical about the science behind climate change, but said that’s besides the point.

What are your thoughts on recent discussions about Climate Change? 

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A link to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change can be found on this page: http://ipcc.ch/.

A link to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan can be found on this page: http://www.whitehouse.gov/share/climate-action-plan .

Wyoming is getting hotter and drier, according to the latest National Climate Assessment. The report says by mid-century, the number of extremely hot days Wyoming experiences will increase considerably.

Mark Shafer is with the Oklahoma Climatological Survey and was one of the lead authors of the report. He said that the impacts will be wide-ranging, from changes in growing seasons to stress on the region’s water supply.

The National Climate Assessment says Wyoming’s energy sector could find itself squeezed for water in the future. Both energy production and generation consume large amounts of water, but changes in precipitation patterns mean there will be less of it to go around. The report points out that across the nation, water shortages already threaten power generation for more than a million homes. That's expected to increase.

Rocky Mountain Power’s Jeff Hymas says climate change is definitely something the utility takes into account when planning for the future.

The country’s largest scientific society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is launching a public awareness campaign about climate change.

A study by UW scientists finds that bedrock plays as big of a role as climate in determining how much vegetation grows in an area.

Bedrock is the layer of rock beneath the soil.

Lead author Jesse Hahm says he did the research because he was puzzled by the patchiness of forest cover.

Governor Matt Mead and other elected officials made the case during a Jackson forum Wednesday that Wyoming's future depends on energy. They said that tapping state's energy resources, from coal to natural gas, is what pays the bills when it comes to building schools and other vital infrastructure.

But the governor said that doesn't mean producing energy should come at the cost of the environment. And that impressed Paul Hansen, who moderated
the forum.

Skiing has been a popular pastime in the West for decades, but with climate change, the future of the sport is in question.

Porter Fox is the features editor at Powder magazine and the author of DEEP: The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow. Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce spoke with Fox about his new book, and what’s in store for Wyoming.

This week President Obama announced he's going to attempt to combat climate change from the Oval Office. Wyoming's three Republicans in Congress are none too happy with his plan. As Matt Laslo reports, they say it could cripple the state's economy and hit your pocket. 

MATT LASLO: Climate change wasn't really a part of the 20-12 election, so the president surprised many when he promised to deal with global warming in his second inaugural address. Now he's coming out swinging again...charging Republicans with being deaf to the scientific community. 

(Photo by hitchhacking via Creative Commons)

The University of Wyoming is hosting a conference to help energy companies use enhanced oil recovery to increase their yields. That’s a technique in which carbon dioxide is pumped underground to help extract oil.

  Glen Murrell is the Associate Director of UW’s Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute. He says this year’s conference is putting a major emphasis on helping small operators.

Champion athletes ask President Obama to save winters

May 17, 2013
Kit DesLauriers

Last month, a non-profit group comprising athletes who make a living through winter sports sent a letter to President Obama asking him to take action on climate change.

Two-time world freestyle ski champion and Jackson resident, Kit DesLauriers is part of the group, called Protect Our Winters. She says she has been skiing for over 30 years, including down the highest peaks of every continent, and that the changes she has seen are alarming.

A new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by UW researchers Bob Kelly, Todd Surovell, Bryan Shuman, and one-time UW graduate student Geoff Smith looks at climate change in the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming and how it affected the population living there over thousands of years. Archaeologist Todd Surovell and geologist Bryan Shuman came in to talk about their work with Wyoming Public Radio's Irina Zhorov.

Bob Beck

A new study estimates that ecosystems in the western U.S. absorb and contain nearly 100 million tons of atmospheric carbon each year.
 
     The Interior Department said Thursday that's nearly 5 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, ecosystems in the West help to offset the air pollution that contributes to climate change.
 
     The study authored by U.S. Geological Survey scientists is part of a congressionally mandated national assessment of how ecosystems capture and contain carbon from the atmosphere.
 

The University of Wyoming will host a panel discussion Thursday on how climate change can impact planning and management at national parks. 

Researchers from around the world will discuss how environmental changes can impact tourism.   UW Professor Patricia Taylor is one of the organizers.  She says it’s important that those in running parks consider how stakeholders are impacted by decisions park managers make on topics concerning climate. 

Yellowstone National Park will host a climate change educational workshop for teachers this month.

During the four-day workshop, a representative from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will explain how climate change works, and rangers will talk with teachers about where Yellowstone is seeing impacts, including increased wildfire activity and threats to pika habitat.

Katherine Chesson worked with the parks Climate Challenge, which runs similar programs in parks around the country.

An international team of scientists are studying earth core samples from the Bighorn Mountains to better understand climate change. Traces of natural substances leave hints about ancient climates in the rock.