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Is Punxsutawney Phil responding to global warming?

04 02 10 - 09:55 Is Punxsutawney Phil responding to global warming?


By Eoin O'Carroll


As dawn broke on Monday morning, officials in cities and towns across the United States and Canada, engaged in an annual ritual of attempting to predict the weather by harassing a marmot.

According to the website of the Punxsutawney (Pa.) Groundhog Club, the most famous of these marmots, Punxsutawney Phil, emerged from his burrow (or more accurately, was dragged out of a box), surveyed the 13,000-person crowd that had gathered to see him, and uttered something in the obscure language of Groundhogese to Club President Bill Cooper, who then proclaimed that the large rodent had seen his shadow and we would therefore be getting six more weeks of winter. This isn't particularly surprising. Since 1886, when the tradition first began in the western Pennsylvania borough, Phil has presaged an early spring only 14 times.

But - as another signal of our warming climate - nine of those times have occurred since 1975.

Phil may be right in the broad outlines - it has been getting warmer lately, particularly since the 70s - but his year-by-year prediction skills could use some improvement. Investigative reporters at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution compared Phil's pronouncements since 1994 to data from the National Weather Service. The verdict: For the past 15 years, Phil has had an accuracy rate of 50 percent, no better than a coin toss.

Of course, Phil isn't the only weather-prognosticating groundhog in North America, and not all of them are in agreement. Atlanta's Gen. Beauregard Lee, whom the Journal-Constitution says has only a 31 percent accuracy rate, predicted an early spring. So did Staten Island Chuck, who took the opportunity this year to bite New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, drawing blood.

Other groundhogs predicting an early spring include New York state's Dunkirk Dave and Malverne Mel.

Joining Phil in predicting a longer winter are Woodstock Willie of Woodstock, Illinois, Jimmy the Groundhog of Sun Prarie, Wisc., and Sir Walter Wally of Raleigh, North Carolina. Similar predictions occurred north of the border, with Manitoba Merv Ontario's Wiarton Willie each seeing their shadow.

Six more weeks of cool temperatures would not be terribly surprising, given that this past year has been cooler than previous years this decade, mostly because of the La Niña that developed in the Pacific Ocean. The meteorology site Weather Underground, notes predictions (by human weather forecasters) that February will see colder than average temperatures in the Pacific Northwest, and near-average temperatures to the Midwest and Northeast.

NASA meanwhile, predicts that the globe will set a new high-temperature record sometime in the next year or two. Used tags: , , , , ,
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Auto emissions: New greenhouse gas caps raise gas mileage standards

Friday 09 April 2010 at 03:59 am By Mark Clayton,




The nation's first-ever law requiring a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions goes into effect today, mandating that automakers progressively chop the amount of tail-pipe gases emitted from US cars.

The first cars to be affected by the law will be automakers' 2012 lines. By 2016, model year greenhouse gas emissions must not exceed an average of 8.8 ounces per mile - a 21 percent reduction from today's levels. To get there, vehicles' gas mileage will need to achieve on average 35.5 miles per gallon fleet wide - a 40 percent improvement from current levels. more

Impact of emission caps: costlier cars that will be cheaper to drive

Friday 09 April 2010 at 03:50 am By Laurent Belsie


The US government's new limits on cars' greenhouse-gas emissions represent a landmark for the environment. For consumers, they're more of a mixed bag financially.

Cars and light trucks will cost more starting in 2012. But what consumers pay up front, they'll more than make up in fuel efficiency, according to the government.

Here's how it adds up: Suppose you buy the average 2016 model, when the strictest emissions standards kick in. The extra technology needed to meet those standards will cost an average $869 for a car or $1,098 for a light truck. So your new vehicle will cost about $1,000 more than it otherwise would.

But that vehicle will be cheaper to drive. So at at average 35.5 miles per gallon, you would save enough in fuel over the first three years to make up for the extra up front cost, according to calculations by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). more

A guide to choosing a solar water pump

Thursday 01 April 2010 at 12:37 pm A guide to choosing a solar water pump


AEN News




Washington - Research scientists with the Agricultural Research Service have published a guide to choosing a solar water pump for remote applications and has provided readers access to that valuable information.

For this guide, agricultural engineer Brian Vick and colleagues drew on the ARS Conservation and Production Research Laboratory's 31 years of testing stand-alone water pumps. The laboratory is located near Bushland, Texas.

Vick found that for pumps with motors rated less than 1,500 watts, solar is usually the best choice. With current technology and costs, wind power or a hybrid wind/solar pump is usually best for power needs of 1,500 watts or more. more

Governors prod Washington on renewable energy

Friday 19 March 2010 at 03:50 am Governors prod Washington on renewable energy


By Mark Clayton




A group of 29 state governors has for the first time submitted to the White House and Congress a list of recommendations to implement renewable energy nationwide. The move reveals growing impatience with Washington's inability to put forward a new energy-climate bill to stimulate growth of solar and wind industry jobs. more

Number of storms may drop, but more could be intense, study says

Saturday 06 March 2010 at 08:30 am By Peter N. Spotts


The number of hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical storms globally is likely to either fall or remain flat over the course of the 21st century. But an increasing proportion of the storms are likely to hit the highest levels of intensity because of the projected effects of global warming, an international team of scientists concludes. more

Is Punxsutawney Phil responding to global warming?

Thursday 04 February 2010 at 09:55 am Is Punxsutawney Phil responding to global warming?


By Eoin O'Carroll


As dawn broke on Monday morning, officials in cities and towns across the United States and Canada, engaged in an annual ritual of attempting to predict the weather by harassing a marmot.

According to the website of the Punxsutawney (Pa.) Groundhog Club, the most famous of these marmots, Punxsutawney Phil, emerged from his burrow (or more accurately, was dragged out of a box), surveyed the 13,000-person crowd that had gathered to see him, and uttered something in the obscure language of Groundhogese to Club President Bill Cooper, who then proclaimed that the large rodent had seen his shadow and we would therefore be getting six more weeks of winter. more

Lithium Demand Energizing Exploration

Thursday 04 February 2010 at 09:43 am Lithium Demand Energizing Exploration


By Dave Porter



Reno - As demand for lithium grows, thanks to the push by the auto industry to produce lithium batteries, exploration for the rare earth is underway and in Nevada where the only operating US lithium mine exists, Lithium Corporation (OTCBB: LTUM) has been locking up properties it believes show promise.

Reno-based Lithium Corp. has managed to acquire claims in several areas considered hotbeds for lithium exploration, three of which are west of Clayton Valley where Silver Peak operates the only US lithium carbonate brine production plant in the US. The Company says samples indicate lithium sediments are double that found at Silver Peak's project with plans calling for further exploration of those properties. more

What to look for at Copenhagen

Saturday 12 December 2009 at 10:20 pm By Peter Spotts



Copenhagen - Delegates left the Bali climate change talks in December 2007 with high hopes that a grand bargain on reducing greenhouse gas emissions would be secured by now.

But today, as the latest round of climate change talks begin with representatives from more than 190 countries gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark, expectations are far more modest. more

UN's Ban sure of a Climate Treaty ahead of the Copenhagen Summit next month

Monday 30 November 2009 at 01:13 am Washington - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was encouraged by the interest being shown by world leaders ahead of the United Nations' climate change summit to be held in Copenhagen next month, saying that a strong framework fora Climate Treaty could be in place by 2010.

Ban, who has repeatedly called climate change and its attendant consequences of increased droughts, floods, rising seas and more violent storms "the defining challenge of our era," will urge the leaders of the 53-member Commonwealth to attend the summit, confident that strong momentum is building for a framework that can be molded into a legally binding climate treaty as early as possible in 2010. more

Hacked climate emails: conspiracy or tempest in a teapot?

Tuesday 24 November 2009 at 4:28 pm Hacked climate emails: conspiracy or tempest in a teapot?



By Pete Spotts,


For all its gee-whiz discoveries and its influence on public policy, science can be a messy, sometimes ugly enterprise.

When the science is paleontology, astronomy, or geophysics, internal politics, thinly or not-so-thinly veiled personal attacks, and water-cooler discussions among influential scientists about whose research is junk and not worth publishing draw a collective yawn from anyone outside the relatively small circle of researchers involved.

When the topic is global warming, however, look out. more