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2012 SkS Bi-Weekly News Roundup #11

Posted on 23 December 2012 by John Hartz

This is a  twice weekly roundup of selected news articles and blog posts about climate change and its impacts. Readers are encouraged to comment on the posted articles and to provide links to other articles of importance.

2012 climate Change Scorecard 

As our friends at like to remind us, climate change really comes down to math. Put x amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, see y degrees of warming. Our goal — meaning, our goal as an evolved, aware species that would rather not be plagued by droughts and megastorms and constant flooding and armed conflict — is to reduce how much carbon dioxide we’re putting into the atmosphere each year instead of continually increasing the amount. 

We’re not good at this. And time is running very low: We either need massive, quick action or it’s too late. 

Given that this particular year is nearing its end, we decided to figure out how the math for 2012 stacked up. Did we, on balance, change our ways so that our net greenhouse gas emissions declined, or did we yet again increase how much we’re polluting? Are we running in the positive or the negative or what? 

Your 2012 climate change scorecard by Philip Bump, Grist, Dec 21, 2012 

2012 in Review

RTCC’s 2012 review – a year in climate change by Tierney Smiths a month-by-month recap of major climate change happenings. It is posted on the Responding to Climate Change (RTCC) website.

Clinging To Slippery Strands Of Climate Science Denial

The guy next to you in the pub turns around and says, “Popcorn doesn’t exist”... and he adds, “but it grows naturally on trees! And it’s good for you!”
Popcorn doesn’t exist but grows naturally on trees and is good for you? Would you entrust that fellow with the lives of your children if their future depended on logical coherence? No. No one would place any confidence in such incoherence.

So-Called Skeptics Clinging To Slippery Strands Of Climate Science Denial, DeSmog Blog, Dec 21, 2012  

Empathy as a Path to Progress

David Roberts at Grist yesterday (Dec 19) posted a deeply moving essay about using empathy as a means to take on tough issues. He built the piece around President Obama’s heartfelt reaction and response to the Connecticut elementary school massacre and, followed by Joe Romm, noted the lack of any such response from the president or society on the greenhouse buildup despite the risk posed by human-driven climate change. (Current and past greenhouse-gas emissions will affect the climate for generations, actually millenniums, to come).

Empathy as a Path to Climate (and Energy) Progress by Andrew Revkin, DOT Earth, New York Times, Dec 20, 2012

International Agreements: A Potential Path Forward 

Every year the United Nations convenes diplomats from more than 190 nations to negotiate a climate change treaty, and in many years negotiators go home with little more than the promise of another annual meeting. 

After the failure of the 18th such event earlier this month in Doha, diplomats and organizers should focus less on the UN exercise than on combing history for a more suitable model. 

They might find at least three lessons from the history of arms control.

Global Warming Experts Should Think More About the Cold War by Ruth Greenspan Bell & Barry Blechman, Bloomberg, Dec 20, 2012

Melting Ice and Volcanic Activity

After studying data from over a million years in our Earth’s history, researchers at GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany and Harvard University have discovered periods of high volcanic activity often follow periods of quickly rising global temperatures.

Does Melting Ice Cause Volcanic Eruptions? by Michael Harper,, Dec 19, 2012 

New Standards for Tracking GHG Emissions

With the latest round of global climate negotiations at an end, many countries, states, and cities around the world are taking action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through mitigation policies and goals. Decision-makers need to understand the emissions impacts associated with these initiatives in order to evaluate effectiveness, make sound decisions, and assess progress.

However, there is currently little consistency or transparency in how such analysis is done. WRI aims to address this situation through forthcoming Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol standards for mitigation accounting, which have recently been released for review.

Released for Review: New Standards for Tracking GHG Emissions from Policies and Goals by Jared Finnegan and David Rich, WRI Insights, Dec 19, 2012

Ocean Acidification & Toxic Algae Blooms

Preliminary research hints that ocean acidification may promote some types of algal blooms that make people and animals sick.

Could Climate Change Boost Toxic Algal Blooms in the Oceans? by Valerie Brown, Scientific American, Dec 21, 2012 

Poland's Coal Addiction

Poland is addicted to coal. That is the message the country has been sending both domestically and internationally as Warsaw prepares to host the global climate summit next year. In Europe, the Poles are isolated in their fight for looser emissions reduction goals and against fixes to the EU's cap-and-trade system.

Poland Wages War on Efforts to Save the Climate by Joel Stonington, Spiegel Online International, Dec 21, 2012

Public Opinion in the US

Americans may be buying more compact fluorescent light bulbs these days, but they are less likely to set their thermostats low during the winter than they were four years ago and have less confidence that their actions will help to curb global warming, according to a new survey.

Fewer Americans Say Their Actions Can Slow Climate Change by John Hurdle, Green Blog, New York Times, Dec 20, 2012

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Comments 1 to 3:

  1. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to link to an equal number of articles reporting actual, solid progress in the war on AGW? It seems all we are hearing are apologies and excuses, but no tangible deliveries. At least we in Australia can look at our brand-new carbon pricing scheme with some satisfaction. Even though it is still too little to be of significance, it does lay a foundation for future meaningful actions. With a change of government expected in 2013, can we realistically hope that the conservative side of politics will keep up the good work started by the progressives? I have a bad feeling the answer is "no".
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  2. Is there any actual solid progress being made though? While the climate science FUDers are doing their thing & large parts of the public continue to buy into that line of BS, for whatever reason - political ideology seems to be a favourite amongst those I've spoken to, I just don't see us going much of anywhere. Particularly this past year my level of pessimism has only been going up... I've reached the point where I despair for our future to be perfectly honest.
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  3. @Paul.H #3: My commentary under the SkS Highlights heading stems from what I have observed happening in the USA. It may or may not be reflective of what’s happening in other countries of the world. On a global scale, the ever-growing body of climate science is quite robust. The willingness of world leaders in both the public and private sectors to embrace what the science is telling us and to take appropriate actions to prevent a future global climate catastrophe is currently severely lacking.
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