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January 23, 2014

2013 Was 4th Hottest Year On Record, Says NOAA

By Seth Borenstein

AP Science Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The sweltering year of 1988 first put global warming in the headlines and ended up as the hottest year on record. But on Tuesday, it was pushed out of the top 20 warmest by 2013.

Last year tied for the fourth hottest and 1988 fell to 21st.

The average world temperature was 58.12 degrees (14.52 Celsius) tying with 2003 for the fourth warmest since 1880, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday.

At the same time, NASA, which calculates records in a different manner, ranked last year as the seventh warmest on record, with an average temperature of 58.3 degrees (14.6 Celsius). The difference is related to how the two agencies calculate temperatures in the Arctic and other remote places and is based on differences that are in the hundredths of a degree, scientists said.

Both agencies said nine of the 10th warmest years on record have happened in the 21st century. The hottest year was 2010, according to NOAA.

The reports were released as a big snowstorm was hitting the U.S. East Coast.

"There are times such as today when we can have snow even in a globally warmed world," said Gavin Schmidt, deputy director of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York. "But the long term trends are not going to disappear ... Quite frankly people have a very short memory when it comes to climate and weather."

Those longer trends show the world has seen "fairly dramatic warming" since the 1960s with "a smaller rate of warming over the last decade or so," said Thomas Karl, director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. In the past 50 years, the world annual temperature has increased by nearly 1.4 degrees (0.8 degrees Celsius), according to NOAA data.

Unlike 2012, much of the worst heat and biggest climate disasters last year were outside the U.S. Parts of central Asia, central Africa and Australia were record warm. Only a few places, including the central U.S., were cooler than normal last year.

Temperatures that were only the 37th warmest for the nation last year. That followed the warmest year on record for the U.S.

Last year, the world had 41 billion-dollar weather disasters, the second highest number behind only 2010, according to insurance firm Aon Benfield, which tracks global disasters. Since 2000, the world has averaged 28 such billion dollar disasters, which are adjusted for inflation.

Nearly half of last year's biggest weather disasters were in Asia and the Pacific region, including Typhoon Haiyan, which killed at least 6,100 people and caused $13 billion in damage to the Philippines and Vietnam. Other costly weather disasters included $22 billion from central European flooding in June, $10 billion in damage from Typhoon Fitow in China and Japan, and a $10 billion drought in much of China, according to the insurance firm.

Usually the weather event called El Nino, a warming of the central Pacific, is responsible for boosting already warm years into the world's hottest years. But in 2013, there was no El Nino.

The fact that a year with no El Nino "was so hot tells me that the climate really is shifting," said Andrew Dessler, a Texas A&M University climate scientist, who was not part of either the NOAA or NASA teams.

This Week In The Civil War:
More Fighting In Tennessee

This series marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War draws primarily from wartime dispatches credited to The Associated Press or other accounts distributed through the AP and other historical sources.

Editors Note: Primary sources for the series are historic newspaper databases and other archival records.

This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, Jan. 26:

The Union forces pushed back from Dandridge, Tenn., were still in the area 150 years ago this week in the Civil War. For the time being, they disrupted Confederate attempts to capture Union supply wagons and restock their troops in need of shoes, further weapons and additional ammunition.

On Jan. 27, 1864, a Confederate force smashed into a Union cavalry brigade. Hard fighting erupted and Union forces took advantage of dense fog to drive back sharply.

Union troops swiftly routed Confederates in the area of Fair Garden Road and pursued many of the rebels, capturing and killing several. Union troops attacked another Confederate unit before withdrawing, weary from combat and running short of ammunition.

Germans’ Longing For American West Births Documentary Play


Sheridan Press

Sheridan, WY (AP) As she walked down main street, she saw a stockade of old forts and a wooden bank, jail, courthouse and saloon.

Inside the saloon there was a dance floor. And on the dance floor, people danced. Some wore a flannel shirt or maybe a cowboy hat and boots. Some wore fur pelts. One guy wore a full black patent leather suit and looked part biker, part cowboy. He was the Sheriff of the town.

If Sheridan High School graduate Grace Cannon had been in Montana, Wyoming or South Dakota, the scene wouldn’t seem so unusual. But she was in Berlin, Germany’s largest city known for its medical and biotechnology industries and its hip, urban culture.

The cowboy town was flanked by high-rise office buildings and German autobahns, or federal motorways with no speed limit.

Karl May, in character dress

In 2013, Cannon went to Germany on a Fulbright Scholarship to study just these kinds of ``towns,’’ called ``Cowboy Clubs,’’ where Europe meets the Old American West in a country that, to this day, has a keen interest in all things cowboy and Indian.

``My impression was, `I can’t wait to see it because it will be so wrong and off,’’’ Cannon said. ``It was very kitschy, but not so wrong.’’

Cannon said cowboy club members had so enthusiastically embraced their love of the Old West, bringing it to life with inspiration from movies, TV shows, books and music, that it was genuine even if a bit overdone.

Cannon has written a documentary play based on her year-long studies into German enthusiasm for the American West that will make its debut as a staged reading by eight community members at 1:30 p.m. Sunday in the Inner Circle at Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library.

The play integrates Cannon’s own experiences with cowboy club history, interviews with club members and autobiographical writings from controversial German writer Karl May, who wrote glamorized tales of Western lore during the time of Buffalo Bill Cody.

At Cowboy Club Old Texas Berlin—and dozens more like it across Germany—members refer to their obsession as ``hobbyism.’’ Cannon said they say the word in English like they think it’s a commonly used word in America, like America is dotted with cowboy clubs, too. Cannon said social clubs like the Elks or Lions may come close but not to the extent that fake towns are built, costumes are worn and the public is invited for a theme-park experience at least once a month.

The cover of a May novel

In Munich, Cannon visited Cowboy Club Munich Ranch, which was set up like an old western ranch rather than a town. Munich also offered an Indian camp with teepees where club members had powwows, lived in the forest and made Indian-style clothing.

When Cannon began to examine how cowboy clubs started and why they’ve remained popular to this day, creating their own historical subsection in German culture, she discovered myriad reasons. Reason number one, however, was May. Cowboy clubs popped up in the early 1900s due greatly to the influence of his works.

``Karl May captures the imagination. He tells adventures that make him so popular, probably because he’s not very academic. He’s kind of pulpy,’’ Cannon said. ``Einstein loved him; Franz Kafka loved him; Adolf Hitler loved him.’’

That last point made May controversial even though he had died before Hitler took power. After World War II, Germans were looking for ways to explain how someone so evil had risen to power. Since Hitler liked May’s work, they blamed May for contributing to what Hitler became, Cannon said.

May was controversial during his life, too, when it was discovered that even though his books were autobiographical, about a German who traveled to the Old West, he had never actually been to America but had sat in jail, instead.

Even though May became clouded in controversy, the lifestyle he depicted still appealed to Germans and many cowboy clubs opened (or re-opened) after the war.

``When they had survived two world wars, it was something people turned to as an escape from the really dark stuff going on around them,’’?Cannon said. ``And then after something exists for a few decades, it exists because it exists.’’

As far as the title of Cannon’s work?

``It comes from this point and counterpoint of the character of Grace and Karl May,’’?Cannon said. ``What is my home now is his frontier where he imagined all these great adventures. His home is where I’ve had all these great adventures.’’

What Do Fish Poo, Fresh Berries & School Kids Have In Common?


The Casper Star-Tribune

Mills, WY (AP) Students at Mills Elementary School are talking a lot about poop these days without bursting into a thousand giggles.

Poop, specifically fish poop, has taken on an air of seriousness, as students at Mills Elementary, with assistance from students at the alternative Star Lane Center in Casper, are creating an aquaponics system to grow plants inside the school’s four-year-old greenhouse. They plan to sell the food and fish bounties to the community.

On Friday, students gathered around JD Sawyer, president of Colorado Aquaponics, which educates the public on the systems and runs a system in Denver at the GrowHaus.

JD Sawyer from Aquaponics talks to the kids

``Would we be eating the fish poop?’’ one child asked.

``That’s a good question,’’ Sawyer said. ``No. Absolutely not. We have different ways to filter the poop. Another question I get is, does the food taste like fish? And it doesn’t because we keep the fish and plants separate from each other.’’

Sawyer and his employees installed the aquaponics system at Mills Elementary. It has two containers: A 100-gallon plastic tank that will be filled with about 15 tilapia, and a 90-gallon plastic feeding trough that will grow salad greens, herbs and strawberries.

Fish urine and feces contain ammonia, which can be fatal to fish if tanks aren’t properly cleaned. In the aquaponics system, water is constantly pumped up to the plant trough above. The trough will be filled with light-weight silica rocks and worms, Sawyer said. The plant system is called hydroponic because there is no soil.

Once the water is in the plant trough, bacteria convert ammonia into nitrates, the primary source of nutrients for plants, Sawyer said. With nutrients, the plants will take root and grow. The continuous flow pump also returns water back to the fish tank, he said. Water doesn’t need to be refilled.

``This is an ecosystem,’’ Sawyer told the children.

At the GrowHaus in Denver, the aquaponics system creates about 1,500 pounds of fish a year and about 40,000 pounds of produce a year. The system at Mills Elementary will be more modest. No one knows yet exactly how many pounds of produce will grow.

A greenhouse at Colorado Aquaponics

Clareesa Zook, a board member of the Casper Community Greenhouse Project, can’t wait to take her first bite of the students’ food.

The Greenhouse Project wants a community greenhouse and helped pay to bring Colorado Aquaponics to Mills.

The Greenhouse Project is about to take a survey of greenhouses in Casper and across the state. Projects at Natrona County High School and in Riverton are growing food, but there aren’t any restaurants in Casper that promise locally grown herbs, she said.

``I’m not aware of any greenhouses where you can go to purchase food,’’ Zook said.

With the Mills aquaponics food, people could eat locally grown strawberries in December. The value of locally grown food is that it provides jobs and money to the local community. Less gas is spent on transportation from far-flung places, Zook said.

``We live in a desert climate,’’ she said. ``You’re using a tenth of the water of traditional farm production and producing three to four times as much produce.’’

Tyler Kessel, a Mills third-grader, said his class has been learning about the nutritional values of different foods to prepare for the aquaponics system. But he is most thrilled about keeping fish at school.

``I’m excited to watch the fish,’’ he said.

As the aquaponics system gets going, problems may arise. Students will get to solve them. The business community has long asked educators to teach students to be problem-solvers, said Mills Elementary tutor Jennifer Leimback, a project organizer.

Aquaponics imparts students with lessons in science, engineering, math, agriculture, technology, chemistry, sustainability, business, marketing and construction, said Sawyer of Colorado Aquaponics, which has visited other schools to promote the systems.

``This is definitely really starting to take hold,’’ he said. ``We’ve taken it to schools in our area. It’s perfect classroom material. Almost every subject is covered. It’s a little more exciting to have fish or plants than textbooks.’’







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