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2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #15B

Posted on 13 April 2013 by John Hartz

  • China must exploit its shale gas
  • EPA will delay rule limiting carbon emissions
  • Hearing on EPA nominee Gina McCarthy
  • How The Economist got it wrong
  • Letting nature take its course?
  • Obama's budget promises action on climate change
  • Pine bark beetles poised for new attacks
  • Russia skips hybrids
  • The state of nuclear power in US
  • Think the planet isn't warming?
  • Why Jim Hansen stopped being a government scientist
  • Wild weather can send greenhouse gases spiraling
  • Wind turbines beating guns, boats in U.S.

China must exploit its shale gas

If the Senate confirms the nomination of the M.I.T. scientist Ernest J. Moniz as the next energy secretary, as expected, he must use his new position to consider the energy situation not only in the United States, but in China as well.

China Must Exploit Its Shale Gas, Op-ed by Elizabeth Muller, New York Times, Apr 11, 2013

EPA will delay rule limiting carbon emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency said Friday that it would delay issuance of a new rule limiting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from new power plants after the electric power industry objected on legal and technical grounds.

E.P.A. Will Delay Rule Limiting Carbon Emissions at New Power Plants by John Broder, New York Times, Apr 12, 2013

Hearing on EPA nominee Gina McCarthy

Even the Republicans who are the most critical of the Environmental Protection Agency had few questions Thursday about whether Gina McCarthy, President Barack Obama’s pick to be the nation’s top clean air and water watchdog, has the qualifications for the job.

Hearing on EPA nominee Gina McCarthy focuses on agency’s long reach by Erika Bolstad, McClatchy Newspapers, Apr 11, 2013

Letting nature take its course?

Is sustainability still possible? Yes. Is it still probable? No. With bold action today, tomorrow, and in years to come, we could succeed in creating a sustainable and prosperous society. But what does bold action actually mean?

First and foremost, we have to start living within Earth’s boundaries: stop changing the climate, wiping out biodiversity, disrupting the phosphorous and nitrogen cycles, and so on. And to do that we’ll need to live a one-planet lifestyle.

Letting Nature Take Its Course?, Op-ed  Erik Assadourian, Inter Press Service (IPS), Apr 12, 2013

How The Economist got it wrong

A recent news article suggested that climate change may not be as bad as feared. But the report was based on one flawed study and missed a lot of important points.

How The Economist got it wrong, Op-ed by Dana Nuccitelli and Michael E Mann, ABC Environment, Apr 12, 2013 

Obama's budget promises action on climate change

President Barack Obama’s proposed budget would make good on the promise he laid out in the State of the Union — that he will act on climate change if a divided Congress will not.

But the president doesn’t end the uncertainty about when the Environmental Protection Agency will take steps to limit greenhouse gas emissions from industrial sources like power plants.

President Obama's budget promises action on climate change by Darren Goode & Andrew Restuccia, Politicao, April 11, 2013

Pine bark beetles poised for new attacks

Further expansion of the pest outside of its historic range is "inevitable"

Pine Bark Beetles Poised for New Attacks on Canada's Boreal Forests by Nathanael Massey and ClimateWire, Scientific American, Apr 11, 2013

Russia skips hybrids

Gazprom, the state-owned energy monopoly better known for heating houses and powering factories in Europe, is making a bet that natural gas cars are an alluring market for future growth, at home in Russia and in other European countries that have bought its gas. All the ingredients are in place for adoption of natural gas vehicles in Russia, the world’s second-largest gas producer after the United States, with economic and environmental payoffs.

Russia Skips Hybrids in Push for Cars Using Natural Gas by Andrew Kramer, New York Times, Apr 11, 2013 

The state of nuclear power in US

New report says NRC is ill-prepared for massive meltdown, which former NRC chair says is likely.

The State of Nuclear Power in US: Bad and Worse by Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams, Apr 11, 2013 

Think the planet isn't warming?

As The Economist piece itself pointed out, this wasn’t an argument that “global warming has ‘stopped.‘” The past two decades have been the hottest in recorded history; of the nine hottest years on record, eight have come since 2000. The question, though, is why the year-on-year/decade-on-decade increase appears to have been somewhat less in the past 10 to 15 years, given the ongoing increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.

Think the Planet Isn't Warming? Check the Ocean by Kieran Mulvaney, Discovery, Apr 11, 2013

Why Jim Hansen stopped being a government scientist

Why did James Hansen retire on April 2 after 32 years as director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies? As he told the enterprising students of Columbia University’s Sustainability Media Lab who captured him in the following video, “I want to devote full time to trying to help the public understand the urgency of addressing climate change.”

Why Jim Hansen stopped being a government scientist [Video] by David Biello, Scientific American, Apr 12, 2013

Wild weather can send greenhouse gases spiraling

Climate change has a disconcerting tendency to amplify itself through feedback effects. Melting sea ice exposes dark water, allowing the ocean to soak up more heat. Arctic warming speeds the release of carbon dioxide from permafrost. And, as researchers discussed at a meeting last week in Seefeld, Austria, climate extremes — heatwaves, droughts and storms — can hamper plant growth, weakening a major buffer against the rise of CO< in the atmosphere.

Wild weather can send greenhouse gases spiraling by Quirin Schiermeier and Nature magazine, Scientfic American, Apr 11, 2013

Wind turbines beating guns, boats in U.S. 

Companies spent $25 billion building U.S. wind farms last year, more than double the budget of the Coast Guard and overtaking the gun industry, a trade group said.

Wind beating guns, boats as U.S. turbines almost double, Bloomberg, Apr 11, 2013 

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Comments 1 to 4:

  1. Jim Hansen retiring - that's the big news. He's one of the most accomplished luminaries of climate science.

    On the other hand, Jim's decision to quit science and concentrate on activism may be a powerful symbol of what should now be a priority for all of us, including the scientists.

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  2. chriskoz@1, I agree absolutely, in a sense. Not to be a nitpicker, but not all scientists need to become activists. In my view, we are engaged in a war, and a global mobilization at least on the scale of 1939-1945 is needed. The "enemy" is Us and our relation to Nature. If we wait for the Pearl Harbor moment to wake up and get involved, we may wait forever. Nature's predominant strategy in this "war game" may well be a version of the Chinese(?) "Death by a 1000 little cuts." It is not a two-, three-, or four-front war but a multi-multifront war. One person can only fight well on one front. But we all need to engage where we can fight best. We still need more science to learn what we do not yet know, to make what may be crucial new discoveries. The general picture, however, is rather clear.

    When we say "all of us," it is of course a generalization. "All of us" did not participate in the agricultural revolution thousands of years ago, which was accomplished over many centuries. There are still some Stone-Age hunter-gather humans on the planet. "All of us" did not participate in the industrial revolution a few centuries ago, which was acoomplished over many decades. There are still many pre-industrial agricultural humans on the planet. In the same way, I think not "all of us" need now participate in the--what shall we call it?--the sustainable-responsible revolution, which must be accomplished over a few years. We need just a sufficiently large percentage of "all of us."

    I believe the total problem is too large and complex for me or you (or anybody) to understand. It then follows that the total problem, if we will solve it, can be fully understood only by the collective intelligence of mankind. Just how this collective intelligence can form and function, I don't know. But I have been thinking about it for more than forty years and have started to work on it more actively very recently. I you want to know more about this aspect, contact me personally.

    NOTE TO MODERATOR: Please delete this comment if you consider it too much off-topic. I won't be offended.

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  3. Bill,

    Gavin Schmidt said once on realclimate: "If you want to save the planet, study engineering, not climate science". Presumably, he meant "whatever is to discover about AGW and the reason why we want to stop it, has been discovered and settled. Now, solutions are far more urgent than further details"

    Gavin, who's been working with Jim, has certainly good perspective. Acitivism alone will not solve the problem. This is just the first step that will become the majority, including all policy makers are aware. Next is to implement the engineering solutions.

    I'm interested what you have to say. Mods, please give us the e-mail contact.Thanks.

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  4. Chris, I'm afraid it's more complicated. In truth, a lot of engineering solutions already exist that, if used concurrently, could limit the extent of the accidental geo-engineering experiment we're witnessing. The problem is political and economic: how to implement these solutions against the already existing ones in which powerful actors have a vested interest. Even the low hanging fruits of conservation and efficiency will be opposed in places like the US or Canada, where people have enjoyed care free energy use forgenerations. 

    The only true engineering problem that remains is that of energy storage and distribution.

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