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FACT CHECK: Global warming hasn’t gone away despite cold

The Free Press WV

In the midst of a Midwest cold spell, President Donald Trump is pleading for global warming to come back, but it never went away.

Just like the Arctic air invading parts of the U.S. because of wandering pieces of the polar vortex, Earth’s warmth appears a bit temporarily displaced.

But scientific reports issued by the Trump administration and outside climate scientists contradict Trump’s suggestion that global warming can’t exist if it’s cold outside.

A look at his Monday night tweet:

TRUMP: “In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming (sic)? Please come back fast, we need you!”

THE FACTS: While the Midwest is in the grip of a chill that’s likely to set records, Earth is still considerably warmer than it was 30 years ago and especially 100 years ago.

The lower 48 states make up only 1.6 percent of the globe and five western states are warmer than normal. The Earth as a whole — and it is global warming, not U.S. warming — on Tuesday is 0.54 degrees (0.3 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 1979 to 2000 average and 1.6 degrees warmer than it was on average about 100 years ago, according to data from the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer and NASA.

“This is simply an extreme weather event and not representative of global scale temperature trends,” said Northern Illinois University climate scientist Victor Gensini, who is in the midst of some of the worst subfreezing cold. “The exact opposite is happening in Australia right now.”

Australia is broiling with triple-digit heat that is setting records opposite the Midwest. Adelaide last week was 115.9 degrees (46.6 Celsius), setting the record for the highest temperature ever set by a major Australian city.

Trump is cherry picking cold weather to ignore the larger picture of a warming planet, said John Cook, a professor of climate change communications at George Mason University.

“This myth is like arguing that nighttime proves the sun doesn’t exist,” Cook said.

As far as how it affects people, Trump’s own administration released a scientific report last year saying that while human-caused climate change will reduce cold weather deaths “in 49 large cities in the United States, changes in extreme hot and extreme cold temperatures are projected to result in more than 9,000 additional premature deaths per year” by the end of this century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at recent rates.

Even with global warming, winter, snowstorms and cold weather will continue to exist, say scientists and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration . That’s because Trump is conflating weather and climate. Weather is like mood, which is fleeting. Climate is like personality, which is long term and over large areas the size of continents, hemispheres and the planet.

“In a warming world, you’re still going to have unusually hot and unusually cold events happening in a particular part of the world,” said Berkeley Earth climate scientist Zeke Hausfather. “Weather is not going away.”

DNR seeks wildlife paintings for 2020 calendar

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is requesting original color wildlife paintings for the 2020 edition of the award-winning West Virginia Wildlife Calendar, according to DNR Wildlife Resources Section Chief Paul Johansen.

The deadline for submitting artwork is February 15, 2019.

Paintings may depict popular game and fish species or feature the state’s other wildlife such as snakes, frogs, turtles, salamanders, bats, songbirds, small mammals and nongame fish.

“This calendar offers a wonderful opportunity for artists to feature their work,“ said Johansen. “Besides distribution in West Virginia, our calendars are enjoyed by people all over the United States.“

An electronic image of each entry capable of being sized at 14½ inches wide by 11½ inches high at 300 dpi is preferred, although a high-quality print will be accepted. Artists may send in multiple entries.

Artists are reminded that the calendar format is horizontal, with measurements of 14 inches wide by 11 inches high, and they should keep this ratio in mind when creating paintings.

Paintings not chosen in previous years may be resubmitted. “Just because the artwork is not selected one year doesn’t mean it will not be selected in the future,“ said Johansen. “Often, there are several submissions of a particular species, and only one can be used in a given year.“

All artists, especially those from West Virginia, are encouraged to submit their work. A $200 prize is awarded for each painting chosen, with $500 going to the artist whose artwork is picked for the cover. Paintings are chosen based on overall composition and quality, along with anatomical and contextual accuracy. The quality of the electronic image or submitted print is very important for judging the artwork.

To obtain 2020 calendar art rules or to purchase a 2019 calendar, please contact the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Wildlife Calendar Art, P.O. Box 67, Elkins, WV 26241, phone 304.637.0245. Electronic images should be emailed to:  ‘Jessica.N.Swecker@wv.gov’.

Could This Be the Next Big Idea on Product Containers?

The Free Press WV

Lots of people have embraced the idea that they should reduce and recycle as a way to cut down on waste. But as Bloomberg notes, the third R in the green bible doesn’t get as much attention: “reuse.“ Now, however, that might change, at least on a small scale initially, because of a new initiative unveiled at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday. Some of the world’s biggest brands have created reusable containers as part of an experiment—the idea is that customers will return them when empty, have them refilled, then get them back again. Details of the “Loop” experiment:

  • How it works: Customers sign up at the Loop website, which is run by the New Jersey company TerraCycle. They order products on the site, which arrive via UPS. After using the products, customers return the empty containers in a special tote via UPS. The containers get cleaned, refilled, and returned to the customer. Yes, this is very much like the “milkman model” of old, notes CNN, when people left out their empty milk bottles to be refilled.
  • Limited test: When the experiment launches in the spring of this year, only those in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania will be able to participate in the US. A second experiment is taking place in France. However, TerraCycle hopes to expand the program in the US, the UK, Toronto, and elsewhere later this year, reports the AP.
  • The products: Some of the biggest companies are on board, reports the Wall Street Journal, including Procter & Gamble, Nestle, PepsiCo, and Unilever. P&G for example, has created special containers for 10 of its brands, including Pantene shampoo, Tide detergent, and Febreze products. Other examples include Häagen-Dazs ice cream, Cascade detergent, Dove and Axe deodorants, Crest mouthwash, Clorox wet wipes, Tropicana orange juice, Quaker Chocolate Cruesli cereal, and Hellmann’s mayonnaise. About 300 products in all are involved for now.
  • The cost: The products cost about the same as their non-reusable versions, but customers also will pay a deposit (typically, $1 to $10 per container) that gets refunded or credited to the customer’s account when the product is returned. Shipping becomes free after the customer buys roughly six items, depending on size and bulk.
  • The big question: “Loop is a well-designed system with a compelling offering and a powerhouse line-up of brands,“ writes Joel Makower at GreenBiz. “But one key question remains: Will consumers buy in to reuse?“ Similar experiments have failed on that front, and while those behind Loop are confident, the system hasn’t been tested in the real world.
  • Worm poop guy: So what is TerraCycle, the company behind Loop? It’s the brainchild of 37-year-old Tom Szaky, a “Princeton dropout with big ideas and a casual demeanor.“ He first gained renown hawking his fertilizer business by talking a lot about “worm poop” and landed contracts with the likes of Home Depot and Walmart by the age of 24. He’s attracted employees with an ethos of putting profit second to the mission of eliminating waste, per CNN.
  • His hope: “Loop is about the future of consumption. And one of the tenets is that garbage shouldn’t exist,“ says Szaky. “Removing plastics from the ocean is not enough. We need to get at the whole idea of disposability and single-use items.“ He tells GreenBiz that he foresees a day when “reuse” bins sit next to recycle bins.

Camera Catches Poachers Killing Bear, ‘Shrieking’ Cubs

The Free Press WV

A father and son in Alaska have been sentenced in what prosecutors said was “the most egregious bear cub poaching case” they had ever encountered. Wasilla residents Andrew Renner, 41, and Owen Renner, 18, illegally killed a sow and her two cubs on an island in Prince William Sound last April, the Anchorage Daily News reports. Prosecutors said that after the men skied up to the den, Owen Renner shot the sleeping mother bear twice with a rifle. Andrew Renner then shot the two “shrieking newborn bear cubs” at point-blank range. The men did not realize that the bears were part of a state wildlife study or that a motion-activated camera at the den captured their actions, KTUU reports.

The men butchered the sow and took meat away in game bags, then returned two days later to take the bodies of the cubs away, prosecutors say. The elder Renner later told wildlife officials that he had legally killed a sow bear and he didn’t see any cubs. For the poaching—and the lies—he was sentenced to three months in prison, fined $9,000, and had his hunting license revoked for 10 years. He also had to “forfeit his 22’ Sea Sport ocean boat and trailer, 2012 GMC Sierra pickup truck, two rifles, two handguns, two iPhones, and two sets of backcountry skis,“ according to a state press release. His son, who was 17 at the time, was sentenced to community service and suspended jail time.

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