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2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #29A

Posted on 17 July 2013 by John Hartz

  • Australian leader scraps tax on carbon emissions
  • Caribbean launches new tool to deal with climate change
  • CIA backs study on controlling global climate
  • Climate change outpaces evolution
  • Investors should strike while the planet is not too hot
  • Models point to rapid sea-level rise from climate change
  • Obama climate change plan faces long road ahead
  • The costs of climate change and extreme weather in the U.S
  • The forecast for 2018 is cloudy with record heat
  • Tony Abbott caught dog-whistling to climate change denialists
  • We are all climate change deniers
  • Why don't U.S. farmers believe in climate change?

Australian leader scraps tax on carbon emissions

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia announced a plan Tuesday to replace a deeply unpopular tax on carbon emissions with a market-based trading system a full year ahead of schedule.

The decision to scrap the politically toxic tax, which narrowly passed into law with the support of the minority Greens Party, is the most significant policy change unveiled by Mr. Rudd since he regained the leadership of the nation from Julia Gillard in a party coup last month. The announcement comes as a raft of new polls show his Labor Party running neck and neck with the opposition for elections scheduled for Sept. 14.

Australian Leader Scraps Tax on Carbon Emissions by Matt Siegel, New York Times, July 16, 2013

Caribbean launches new tool to deal with climate change

If the studies conducted by the International Code Council (ICC) are true, then by 2025, Caribbean countries will witness a significant increase in Category 4 and 5 hurricanes from the present level of 1.4 annually to four.

And if the studies by the ICC – which focuses on safe building designs – are not frightening enough, another recent study conducted by the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies  is projecting an increase in rainfall during tropical storms and hurricanes.

Against this background, the Caribbean last Friday launched a seminal online support tool that it hopes will promote climate-smart development by helping to embed a risk management ethic in decision-making processes across the region.

Caribbean Launches New Tool to Deal with Climate Change by Peter Richards, Inter Press Service, July 16, 2013

CIA backs study on controlling global climate

The Central Intelligence Agency is funding a scientific study that will investigate whether humans could use geoengineering to alter Earth's environment and stop climate change. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) will run the 21-month project, which is the first NAS geoengineering study financially supported by an intelligence agency. With the spooks' money, scientists will study how humans might influence weather patterns, assess the potential dangers of messing with the climate, and investigate possible national security implications of geoengineering attempts.  

CIA Backs $630,000 Scientific Study on Controlling Global Climate by Dana Liebelson and Chris Mooney, Mother Jones, July 17, 2013

Climate change outpaces evolution

Nature doesn't like to be rushed. But to keep up with climate change, many animals will need to evolve 10,000 times faster than they have in the past, a new study suggests.

Manmade climate change — fueled by excess greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, namely carbon dioxide — is expected to raise global temperatures by up to 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit (6 Celsius) within the next 100 years. That will transform many ecosystems in just a few generations, forcing wildlife to either evolve quickly or risk extinction.

Published online in the journal Ecology Letters, the study concludes that most land-based vertebrate species evolve too slowly to adjust to the dramatically warmer climate expected by 2100. If they can't make high-speed adaptations or move to a new ecosystem, many terrestrial animal species will cease to exist, the researchers report. 

Climate Change Outpaces Evolution, And Some Species Won't Be Able To Keep Up, Researchers Say by Russell McLendon, The Huffington Post, July 16, 2013

Investors should strike while the planet is not too hot

In 2007, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its last reports detailing the causes and effects of climate change, the topic was on everyone’s lips, boosted by the success of Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth and the recent publication of the UK government's Stern Report.

But the issue slipped from the headlines after disastrous 2009 UN climate talks in Copenhagen failed to deliver on expectations, and the financial crisis and Arab spring took centre stage.

Investors should strike while the planet is not too hot by Mike Scott, Financial Times, July 14, 2013

Models point to rapid sea-level rise from climate change

Sea levels could rise by 2.3 metres for each degree celsius that global temperatures increase and they will remain high for centuries to come, according to a new study by the leading climate research institute.

Anders Levermann said his study for the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research was the first to examine evidence from climate history and combine it with computer simulations of contributing factors to long-term sea-level increases: thermal expansion of oceans, the melting of mountain glaciers and the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

Models point to rapid sea-level rise from climate change, Reuters/The Sidney Morning Herald, July 14, 2013 

Obama climate change plan faces long road ahead

Frustrated by a recalcitrant Congress, President Barack Obama has vowed to take climate change into his own hands. Now he has to deliver.

Three weeks after giving an ambitious speech to outline his proposal, the president begins the arduous task of executing it. Obama's plan is a complicated mix of rule-making and federal permitting that's tough to encapsulate in a neat sales pitch – and may be even tougher to put into action.

Obama Climate Change Plan Faces Long Road Ahead by Josh Lederman, The Huffington Post, July 15, 2013

The costs of climate change and extreme weather in the U.S.

One of the biggest of the reinsurers is Swiss Re, and yesterday I had a chance to talk with the CEO of Swiss Re Americas, J. Eric Smith. Smith was in New York City to speak at an event for the Climate Group, an international nonprofit that works with companies, cities and states on sustainability. The event was held at the NASDAQ headquarters in Times Square, where the temperature threatened to push past 100°F. Global warming was on everyone’s mind, even though the air-conditioning inside was on full and shades blocked out the droning city sun. “What keeps us up at night is climate change,” Smith said. “We see the long-term effect of climate change on society, and it really frightens us.”

The Costs of Climate Change and Extreme Weather Are Passing the High-Water Mark by Bryan Walsh, Time, July 17, 2013

The forecast for 2018 is cloudy with record heat

Efforts to predict the near-term climate are taking off, but their record so far has been patchy.

The forecast for 2018 is cloudy with record heat by Jeff Tollefson, Nature, July 10, 2013

Tony Abbott caught dog-whistling to climate change denialists

Tony Abbott gained not one, but two Oxford Blue in boxing, his online biography tells us. But on Monday, he fell for the simplest of sucker punches as he reacted to Kevin Rudd’s move to "axe the tax."

Rudd's decision to fast-track the transition of Australia's fixed price on carbon to an emissions trading scheme (ETS) prompted Abbott to contemplate the nature of carbon pricing policy. "This is not a true market," he told reporters during a campaign visit in Sydney."It's a market, a so-called market, in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no one."

Tony Abbott caught dog-whistling to climate change denialists by Giles Parkinson, The Guardian, July 15, 2013

We are all climate change deniers

Almost all of us minimize or normalize our enormous global problems.

We Are All Climate Change Deniers by Mary Pipher, Time, July 15, 2013

Why don't U.S. farmers believe in climate change?

If it isn't torrential downpours, then it's too dry. If there's one thing U.S. farmers can count on, it's bad weather, and perhaps as a result, many of them don't think humanity is to blame for the long-term shifts in weather patterns known as climate change. But even though agriculture is a major contributor to global warming, it may not matter whether farmers believe in the environmental problem. 

Why Don't Farmers Believe in Climate Change? by David Biello, Future Tense, Slate, July 16, 2013

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Comments 1 to 5:

  1. The link to the article "Models point to rapid sea-level rise from climate change" contains errors.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Link fixed. Thank you for bringing this glitch to our attention. 

  2. How is the title of the first article "Australian leader scraps tax on carbon emissions" possible when in fact Kevin Rudd anounced that carbon tax will be "scrapped" (mor precisely replaced with ETS) in the middle of 2014.

    Isn't the title doubly misleading (by distorting the timeline and by omission of ETS)? BTW, I have an impression that the anouncement is mainly a form of pork-barreling the denialist voters (who are more likely to support the opposing party) and may still change before 2014. Certainly it will change if the opposition wins the elections later this year.

    Or perhaps I'm wrong on my assessment aboce: perhaps this is an official gov decision & confirmed & bound to happen in said date, no matter which party wins the elections behorehand? Whoever understands AUS politics better than I do, please explain.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Generally speaking, headlines are meant to grab the reader's attention and do not necessarily convey completely accurate information. 

  3. The Quinteros & Wiens 2013 paper mentioned in "Climate change outpaces evolution" is not exactly inspiring news.

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  4. chriskoz @2, Kevin Rudd's promise is to seek to ammend the current legislation so that the date of the first "flexible charge year" under the legislation will by the year commencing July 1st, 1914 rather than that commencing July 1st 2015.  That will turn the carbon price in Australia from a carbon tax to an emissions trading scheme.

    Given that bandwidth in the electromagnetic spectrum is auctioned of in Australia, and that is not considered a tax because purchasing bandwidth in the auction is a voluntary act, and a property right is recieved for the payment, then an ETS is also not a tax.  Tony Abbot (the leader of the opposition) insists that an ETS is a tax, but to do so he must redefine "tax" to mean any revenue source for a government which is absurd.

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  5. Gee, I am so impressed by the cough up of the much can really be gotten with that measily amount anyway...and do they think their sprinkles in the air won't make a worse problem down the line...or maybe it will just make us cold enough to keep the oil coffers overflowing...I don't's like the conspiracy theories are less dangerous than the truth. That's really frightening.

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