The Dernogalizer

August 10, 2010

Moscow Death Rate Doubles From Heat, Smog

Filed under: Climate Change — Matt Dernoga @ 1:14 pm
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I wrote a few days ago that the situation in Moscow was out of control and I’m afraid it isn’t getting any better.  The death rate has now doubled

“Moscow’s death rate has doubled, a city health official said today, as a nearly unprecedented heat wave and acrid smog from wildfires grip the capital, causing tens of thousands to flee.

“On normal days, between 360 and 380 die. Now it’s around 700,” Moscow’s health chief, Andrei Seltsovsky, told the Interfax news agency, according to several media reports.

The capital has 1,500 places available in its morgues, and 1,300 of them are now filled, he said, blaming the heat wave and pollutants for the deaths.”

“Today the head of the state weather service, Alexander Frolov, said the heat wave was the worst in 1,000 years of recorded Russian history, with temperatures above 95 degrees forecast for Moscow until Thursday.

A total of 557 wildfires continued to blaze today in Russia, mostly in the west, the emergencies ministry said, 25 of them burning peat bogs, and 10,000 firefighters are backing up soldiers trying to bring the blazes under control. The ministry said the death toll is at least 52.”

No singular event can be attributed to global warming, but in a year that’s shaping up to be the hottest on record, follow a decade that was the warmest on record, and freak disasters happening all over the globe (China’s ridiculous flooding14 million affected by flood in Pakistan….drought contributing to a $15 billion price tag for Russia), we are seeing a glimpse of what a chaotic climate will look like.  Freak disasters, extreme rain, extreme drought, food shortages, and government unequipped to handle it.

Perhaps the US Senate should re-convene and take a second look at that climate bill?

August 7, 2010

Russia wildfire situation is “out of control”, thousands dead

Filed under: Climate Change — Matt Dernoga @ 1:57 pm
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From CNN Video

See here from meteorologist Jeff Masters, and more on the out of control wildfires here.

The Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 continues
One of the most remarkable weather events of my lifetime is unfolding this summer in Russia, where an unprecedented heat wave has brought another day of 102°F heat to the nation’s capital. At 3:30 pm local time today, the mercury hit 39°C (102.2°F) at
Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport. Moscow had never recorded a temperature exceeding 100°F prior to this year, and today marks the second time the city has beaten the 100°F mark. The first time was on July 29, when the Moscow observatory recorded 100.8°C and Baltschug, another official downtown Moscow weather site, hit an astonishing 102.2°F (39.0°C). Prior to this year, the hottest temperature in Moscow’s history was 37.2°C (99°F), set in August 1920. The Moscow Observatory has now matched or exceeded this 1920 all-time record five times in the past eleven days, including today. The 2010 average July temperature in Moscow was 7.8°C (14°F) above normal, smashing the previous record for hottest July, set in 1938 (5.3°C above normal.) July 2010 also set the record for most July days in excess of 30°C–twenty-two. The previous record was 13 such days, set in July 1972. The past 24 days in a row have exceeded 30°C in Moscow, and there is no relief in sight–the latest forecast for Moscow calls for high temperatures near 100°F (37.8°C) for the next seven days. It is stunning to me that the country whose famous winters stopped the armies of Napoleon and Hitler is experiencing day after day of heat near 100°F, with no end in sight.

Thousands of deaths, severe fires, and the threat of radioactive contamination
The extreme heat has led to thousands of premature deaths in Russia. According to
Yevgenia Smirnova, an official from the Moscow registry office, “We recorded 14,340 deaths in Moscow in July, that is 4,824 deaths more than in July, 2009.” Undoubtedly thousands of additional premature deaths have occurred in the rest of Russia as a result of the heat. The heat has also caused the worst drought conditions in European Russia in a half-century, prompting the Russian government to suspend wheat exports. The drought has caused extreme fire danger over most of European Russia (Figure 3), and fires in Russia have killed at least 50 people in the past week and leveled thousands of homes. The fires are the worst since 1972, when massive forest and peat bog fires burned an area of 100,000 square km and killed at 104 people in the Moscow region alone. Smoke from the current fires spans a region over 3,000 km (1,860 miles) from east to west, approximately the distance from San Francisco to Chicago. Dozens of flights were canceled at Moscow’s airports today, thanks to visibilities of 300 meters in smoke. Also of concern is fires that have hit the Bryansk region of western Russia, which suffered radioactive contamination from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in nearby Ukraine. There are fears that fires may burn through the contaminated area, releasing harmful radiation into the atmosphere.”

Meanwhile, from Wonk Room

“Moscow has reached 102.2° F, after never before even breaking the 100-degree mark in recorded history. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitri Medvedev have flooded the airwaves in response to outrage over the wildfires and droughts caused by the global heat wave, as officials are forced to admit the situation is out of control. The Russian government has recommended people evacuate Moscow, banned wheat exports, diverted flights, fired senior military officers, and warned the fires could pose a nuclear threat if they reach areas contaminated by Chernobyl. Medvedev called the linked disasters “evidence of this global climate change,” which means “we need to change the way we work, change the methods that we used in the past.”

August 5, 2010

More On Russia and Global Warming

Filed under: Climate Change — Matt Dernoga @ 11:32 pm
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Russian Leader Medvedev says

“Frankly, what is going on with the world’s climate at the moment should incite us all (I mean world leaders and heads of public organizations) to make a more strenuous effort to fight global climate change.”

Joe Romm at Climate Progress has more on Medvedev

our country has not experienced such a heat wave in the last 50 or even 100 years… I want to say that this is, of course, a severe trial for our country, a great trial indeed. But at the same time, we are not alone in facing these hardships, for other countries too have gone through such trials and, despite all the difficulties, have managed to cope with the situation. … Overall, we need to learn our lessons from what has happened, and from the unprecedented heat wave that we have faced this summer.

None of us can say what the next summer will be like. The forecasts vary greatly.Everyone is talking about climate change now. Unfortunately, what is happening now in our central regions is evidence of this global climate change, because we have never in our history faced such weather conditions in the past. This means that we need to change the way we work, change the methods that we used in the past.”

August 4, 2010

Even Russia is Burning

Filed under: Climate Change — Matt Dernoga @ 10:41 am
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Typically when we think of Russia we think of Rocky IV where everything is frozen.  I’ve heard it mentioned before that Russia doesn’t have as much incentive to address greenhouse gas emissions because a warmer climate would actually stand to benefit them.  Well, now that Russia is discovering what it’s like to have a heat wave, perhaps they’ll be a little more receptive to the notion that there is such a thing as too hot.

See the Washington Post article “Think Smog from Raging Wildfires Engulfs Moscow” to see that I mean.  A couple excerpts are below.

“Moscow was engulfed Wednesday by the thickest blanket of smog yet this summer, an acrid, choking haze from wildfires that have wiped out Russian forests, villages and a military base.”

“Russia is suffering through its worst heat wave on record, a condition that has sparked forest and peat fires across its central and western regions that have killed at least 48 people in the past week.

Over the last 24 hours, firefighters have extinguished 293 fires, but 403 others have been spotted and more than 500 others have continued to rage over large swathes of countryside, some of them out of control, the Emergencies Ministry said.

Dry winds have sent clouds of smog over Moscow before, but Wednesday’s was the worst yet, with the haze obscuring the capital’s landmarks and penetrating the subway system.

Moscow’s 10 million residents were cautioned to protect themselves against the polluting smog, which came from wildfires in forests and peat bogs to the south and east. The bogs were drained in Soviet times to harvest peat, leaving them prone to wildfires.”

May 30, 2009

Russia Shifts Stance

Filed under: Climate Change,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:14 am
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This was a pretty big deal this week.  Russia has notoriously been indifferent when it’s come to climate change.  When it came to a global treaty in Copenhagen at the end of the year, up till this point they had been completely silent.  No more!

In a dramatic shift, Russia has made a change in its climate policy, now accepting that climate change poses significant risks, and that the need for aggressive mitigation techniques is imminent.  Something about it currently costing them 2 billion a year in GDP.  This should cause a shift in Russia’s approach to energy, and it will make a deal at Copenhagen all the more likely considering Russia is a fairly big polluter that up until now had refused a seat at the table.  This is great timing considering the possibility of a US-China climate deal.  Notable excerpts from the Nature article posted below.

“Russia’s government has quietly made a drastic change to its policy on climate change, accepting that anthropogenic global warming poses severe risks and requires immediate action to limit carbon emissions.”\

“Russia’s diplomatic approach to Copenhagen was until now just one big silence,” says Kristin Jørgensen, who heads the Russian policy group of Bellona, an environmental watchdog based in Oslo that has a network of activists in Russia. “This is a totally surprising move. There were no hearings, no stakeholder discussion, no public debate — just nothing.”

“:Official recognition that anthropogenic climate change is happening and requires action by the government is an almost revolutionary shift in policy, says Anna Korppoo, an expert on Russian climate and energy policies with the Finnish Institute of International Affairs in Helsinki. “For Russia, this new climate doctrine could be comparable in political significance with that of the Stern review on the economics of climate change in Britain,” she says.”\

“The absence of an economic adaptation system to climate change leads to [a] decrease of [Russian] Gross Domestic Product by 2–5%,” he says. “It is absolutely obvious that development of measures for adapting our country’s economy to climate changes must involve every Ministry and Department.”

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