Summer Temperatures to Rise Drastically by 2100

Monday, November 28, 2016 (Issue #3)
by Ryan V. Stewart, Staff Writer/Website Editor

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NOTICE: Corrections to this article have been made, namely: (1) The years of temperature predictions for various areas have been clarified, (2) the fact that Scott Pruit has been chosen to head the EPA under Trump, not Myron Ebell (the latter was merely appointed as the EPA’s transition team leader under Trump), has been noted, and (3) a hyperlink to the webpage associated with the “1,001 Blistering Future Summers” interactive has been placed at the bottom of the article.

These corrections are not reflected in the print version (Issue #3) of The Foothills Reporter.

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If carbon emissions are not quickly and dramatically scaled down worldwide, average daily summer temperatures around the country—indeed, around the world—will be very different by the end of the century. This according to Climate Central, an independent scientific organization devoted to promulgating information about climate change.

According to an interactive chart developed by Climate Central’s researchers, Danbury, the average daily summer temperature of which, as of 2014, hovered around 80.65 degrees Fahrenheit, will feel more like Sunrise, FL, which stood at a balmy 90.41 F the same year, in 2100.

The chart, entitled “1001 Blistering Future Summers”, allows a user to punch in one of about a thousand cities from around the country and track the difference in average summer temperatures between 2014 (when the chart and its associated article were released online) and 2100. The chart compares the end-of-century temperature forecast for a given city with its closest approximation elsewhere in the country, as of 2014, and, for the currently-hottest cities in the U.S., with municipalities in today’s Middle East. Boulder, CO, for example, will feel more like Pharr, TX, whereas Phoenix, AZ, in 2014 an already-hot 103.96 degrees, will feel more like Kuwait City, at a broiling 114.08 F.

It should be noted that the chart’s predictions are based on a “business-as-usual” emissions scenario out to 2100, meaning that the projected temperatures result from the assumption that humans continue burning fossil fuels at the current rate (or faster) until the end of the 21st century. That means that, if humans reverse course, things won’t be quite so hot. “Quite” because, as many scientists have pointed out, there is a certain amount of global warming already “baked into” the climate system, so even if the world stopped emitting carbon today, global temperatures would continue to rise at a fast pace for a couple decades at least.

Unfortunately, there’s little indication that humans are prepared to scale down carbon emissions from electricity production, transport, and agriculture at the scale needed: The IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Paris Climate Accord (also called the “Paris Agreement”), which came into force on November 4, and which 195 countries (including the United States) signed, is a good first step, but by itself is woefully inadequate to keep global warming below the levels scientists have determined to be very dangerous. (Variously defined as 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-Industrial times.)

Add to this the election of Donald Trump—who has vowed to scrap President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement; plans to appoint Myron Ebell, a climate change denier, as head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s transition team; and intends to appoint Scott Pruitt, another climate change denier, as that agency’s Administrator—as president of the United States, and the future of Earth’s climate, and the global civilization it has sustained, becomes bleak indeed.

So, Danbury may very well be unrecognizable by the end of the century, compared to today’s standards, and cities like Pharr, TX and Phoenix, AZ may be as hot as some Middle Eastern municipalities are today. Perhaps we in America are relatively lucky, then, as, given the data, one has to wonder how the people in Kuwait City will fare, if at all, come 2100.

Visit the 1,001 Blistering Future Summers interactive {http://www.climatecentral.org/news/summer-temperatures-co2-emissions-1001-cities-16583} to learn more.

New Milford Power Plant Plans Halted

Monday, November 28, 2016 (Issue #3)
by Ian Boisvert, Managing Editor

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Demolition of the deserted Century Brass mill in New Milford is well underway, but there will not be a new tenant for the time being. Mayor David Gronbach stated earlier this month that he had withdrawn the proposal from Panda Power Funds amidst strong community backlash.

In a letter posted on his Facebook page, Gronbach said, “The Panda Proposal to build a gas-fired electric generation plant was a serious one and warranted serious consideration.”

After acknowledging the residents’ anger with the Panda plant project, Gronbach stated in the letter, “given that neither the majority of the community nor its representatives on the Town Council support the power plant, I will be withdrawing the Panda Proposal to develop the Century Brass site.”

While the plant would have offered an estimated 300-500 jobs during construction, many were concerned about the safety of a gas-fired power plant so close to residential areas. Informational forums with Panda Power Corp. often became heated.

“Some information sessions have involved shouting, accusations of collusion, blatant misinformation and scare tactics, threats and intimidation of people, including Town employees,” Gronbach said in his withdrawal.

In this letter, Gronbach also stated that throughout the power plant debate, certain New Milford residents “behaved without civility and decorum,” which included Gronbach accusing an unnamed citizen of calling him “a Nazi” and the use of gendered slurs towards some of Gronbach’s female staff.

The largest concern of the critics of the Panda project was the implied danger associated with the burning of natural gas. Gronbach shot down the stigma stating, “The process of burning natural gas to generate electricity is already being conducted at the Kimberly-Clark plant next to the Pettibone School and athletic fields.”

The Panda project will not move forward in New Milford, however Gronbach is convinced that natural gas powered plants can exist in Connecticut.

“This Proposal will not proceed here, but they are addressing our current and future energy needs,” said Gronbach. “My hope is that they will continue their work of building modern plants that allow coal and oil-fired plants to be decommissioned.”

Water Supply Dwindling: Drought Strikes Connecticut

drought
Conn. residents are asked to reduce water demand by 10 percent.
(Image courtesy of the U.S. Drought Monitor.)

Monday, November 7, 2016 (Issue #2)
by Austin Rick, Environment Editor

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Currently, Connecticut is facing a drought, according to the United States Drought Monitor. In fact, the monitor states some are dealing with a D2-D4 level drought, which means they are in the middle of a severely dry season. What could have caused a drought like this?

According to WNPR News, dry weather is to blame. “In Connecticut, the entire state is either abnormally dry or experiencing moderate drought, with the driest parts in Hartford County, New Haven County, and most of Litchfield County.” As level of awareness piqued, mandatory action has been called upon.

As part of their drought advisory, a representative for CT.gov stated “all Connecticut residents and businesses are requested to voluntarily reduce water demand by 10 percent; reductions in lawn watering are encouraged as the best way to meet conservation goals.” The site claims “precipitation across Connecticut has been down as much as six inches over the last 90 days.” As of Sept. 14, the drought advisory is still in effect, as consequences have taken hold.

“In Connecticut, the entire state is either abnormally dry or experiencing moderate drought, with the driest parts in Hartford County, New Haven County, and most of Litchfield County.”
—WNPR

CT.gov states, “the criteria for precipitation has not been triggered,” meaning that the amount of rainfall needed to take Connecticut out of the drought has not been met. Additionally, “groundwater has been three consecutive months below normal,” and “stream flow has been below normal in two of the past three months.”

The water supply is dwindling, and people should be careful. “Crops have been abnormally dry,” posing a threat when it comes to fire; the fire danger is reportedly “moderate or above average.” WNPR writes the “drought can also cause a wildfire risk and make it a little harder to grow food.”

Unfortunately, only time will tell when Connecticut will receive enough rain to break through the drought cycle. However, Connecticut residents can do their share by cutting back on consumption of water.

Squantz Pond Early Closing Blamed on Bacteria

squantz
Squantz Pond during the summer, before its early closing.
(Photo courtesy of the Connecticut Post.)

Thursday, October 13, 2016 (Issue #1)

by Austin Rick, Environment Editor

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Squantz Pond has been closed down, banning people from swimming in the pond as of August 19th, 2016.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) stated the swimming area would be “closed after testing high for bacteria,” according to FOX61.

The article posted on fox61.com additionally sheds light on what DEEP plan to do to solve this issue.

With the pond shut down, DEEP has continued to conduct tests to see if it is still harmful to swim in the water. A statement from DEEP reveals that, “Samples are collected weekly by DEEP staff and are analyzed at the Department of Public Health Lab for the presence of certain bacteria.”

“Samples are collected weekly by DEEP staff and are analyzed at the Department of Public Health Lab for the presence of certain bacteria.”
—DEEP statement

The pond was closed, but Squantz Pond was reportedly closed in July as well. FOX61 has another article describing how on July 7, 2016, the pond was reopened after a contamination scare.

Having been closed again in August, it is clear bacteria is an issue Squantz Pond constantly faces. Apparently, “the bacteria growth was caused by storm water runoff from heavy rains,” NBC Connecticut reveals. The Danbury Patch reveals, “Squantz Pond was closed Thursday, August 18th due to the presence of E. coli bacteria.”

DEEP will continue doing what they can before releasing a statement that the pond is safe to swim in again. “Water will be retested and DEEP will reopen the swimming areas when they deem it is safe,” according to FOX 61.

When asked, a DEEP representative stated, “Squantz Pond reopened in September.” The park is currently safe.