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2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #24A

Posted on 13 June 2013 by John Hartz

  • A film presses the climate, health and security case for nuclear energy
  • Airlines push for global measures to control carbon emissions
  • Bloomberg details NYC plan to combat climate change
  • "Carbon farming" makes waves at stalled Bonn talks
  • Conservative think tanks and climate change denial books
  • Developing countries lead global shift to green energy
  • Earth to warm 3.8C if nations fail on climate goals
  • Germans still aim for future without nukes or fossil fuels
  • Global carbon dioxide emissions rose to record high In 2012
  • Global climate negotiations break down in Bonn
  • How climate change makes wildfires worse
  • What to make of a warming plateau
  • Why Greenland's darkening ice has become a hot topic

A film presses the case for nuclear energy

Pandora’s Promise” is a provocative and important new documentary making the case for nuclear power as a safe and large-scale substitute for fossil fuels. There’s a flaw in the film’s approach that undercuts its mission, but I still see it as vital viewing and a refreshing new direction in a tired old battle over the shape of America’s energy future.

A Film Presses the Climate, Health and Security Case for Nuclear Energy by Andrew Revkin, Dot Earth, New York Times, June 13, 2013

Airlines push for global measures to control carbon emissions

Despite the unpopularity of a European aviation carbon emission tax, the world’s airlines are ready to discuss global measures.

Last week, airlines called on the aviation authorities to find a way to curb emissions after 2020. 

Airlines Push for Global Measures to Control Carbon Emissions by Christopher F. Schuetz, International Herald Tribune, June 10, 2013

Bloomberg details NYC plan to combat climate change

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg laid out a multimillion dollar plan Tuesday to guard New York City against storms and the effects of global warming. Fueled by Superstorm Sandy last fall, the sweeping proposals for New York represent a sizeable step up in scale and urgency for Mayor Bloomberg. 

Bloomberg details NYC plan to combat climate change (+video) by Jennifer Peltz, AP/The Christian Science Monitor, June 11, 2013

"Carbon farming” makes waves at stalled Bonn talks

U.N. climate talks have largely stalled with the suspension of one of three negotiating tracks at a key mid-year session in Bonn, Germany.

Meanwhile, civil society organisations claim the controversial issue of “carbon farming” has been pushed back onto the agenda after African nations objected to the use of their lands to absorb carbon emissions.

“Carbon Farming” Makes Waves at Stalled Bonn Talks by Stephen Leahy, International Press Service (IPS), June 

Conservative think tanks and climate change denial books

Books denying climate change evidence are a potent means of manufacturing uncertainty. Most are linked to conservative think tanks, with few authored by individuals with scientific credentials, and fewer still having undergone peer review. 

Conservative Think Tanks and Climate Change Denial Books by Riley E. Dunlap & Peter J. Jacques, The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media, 

Developing countries lead global shift to green energy

Emerging economies such as Mexico and India are shifting energy investments into renewable resources while industrialised countries hesitate, noted two new United Nations reports released Wednesday in Nairobi, Kenya.

Developing Countries Lead Global Shift to Green Energy by Stephen Leahy, Inter Press Services (IPS), June 13, 2013

Earth to warm 3.8C if nations fail on climate goals

The world’s biggest emitting nations are struggling to meet existing pledges to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by the end of the decade, researchers warned Wednesday, adding that global temperatures would likely rise by 3.8C this century as a result.

Climate Action Tracker (CAT), a coalition of European climate policy consultants, said governments are unlikely to deliver on legal and voluntary carbon reduction targets, goals which most scientists say are already too weak to stop the earth warming more than deemed safe levels of 2C.

Earth to warm 3.8C as nations fail on climate goals: report by Michael Szabo, Reuters Point Carbon, June 12, 2013

Germans still aim for future without nukes or fossil fuels

Is the advanced discussion happening there now part of the future for American voters and lawmakers?

Despite New Obstacles, Germans Still Aim for Future Without Nukes or Fossil Fuels by Peter Friederici, Inside Climate News, June 13, 2013

Global carbon dioxide emissions rose to record high In 2012

The world's energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4 percent in 2012 to a record high of 31.6 billion tons, even though the U.S. posted its lowest emissions since the mid-1990s, the International Energy Agency said Monday.

In its annual World Energy Outlook report, the Paris-based IEA said top carbon polluter China had the largest emissions growth last year, up 300 million tons, or 3.8 percent, from 2011. Still, the increase was among the lowest seen in a decade as China continues to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions From Energy Rose To Record High In 2012, IEA Reports by Karl Ritter, AP/The Huffington Post, June 10, 2013

Global climate negotiations break down in Bonn

Virtually no one should be surprised to learn that climate talks currently underway in Bonn, Germany -- the latest venue for the decades-old and largely fruitless pursuit of international agreement on global warming action -- are descending into chaos. This time around, Russia, along with Ukraine and Belarus, are facing off with other nations and effectively blocking movement on negotiations fundamental to forward progress -- including how to provide financial assistance for poorer nations grappling with the worst impacts of a warming planet.

Global Climate Negotiations Break Down in Bonn. Go Figure. by Tom Zeller, Jr., The Huffington Post, June 12, 2013

How climate change makes wildfires worse

Last year, Colorado suffered from a record-breaking wildfire season: More than 4,000 fires resulted in six deaths, the destruction of 648 buildings, and a half a billion dollars in property damage. Still reeling, thousands of Coloradans are once again fleeing from a string of drought-fueled fires. El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said on Wednesday that the Black Forest Fire, northeast of Colorado Springs, had already destroyed between 80 and 100 homes. Three other fires, including one in neighboring Fremont County, also broke out this week.

How Climate Change Makes Wildfires Worse by James West, Mother Jones, June 13, 2013

What to make of a warming plateau

As unlikely as this may sound, we have lucked out in recent years when it comes to global warming.

The rise in the surface temperature of earth has been markedly slower over the last 15 years than in the 20 years before that. And that lull in warming has occurred even as greenhouse gases have accumulated in the atmosphere at a record pace.

What to Make of a Warming Plateau by Justin Gillis, By Dgrees, New York Times, June 10, 2013

Why Greenland's darkening ice has become a hot topic

Darkening causes the snow to absorb more sunlight which in turn increases melting.

Why Greenland's darkening ice has become a hot topic in climate science by John Abraham, Climate Consensus-The 97%, The Guardian, June 12, 2013

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Comments 1 to 6:

  1. Conservative Think Tanks and Climate Change Denial Books needs a link to

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    Moderator Response:

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

  2. Re the film on Nuclear, it would be much easier to suport nuclear power as the solution to climate change if only it was thorium based.  Walk away failsafe; cannot produce weapons grade material; far more efficient that uranium based power plants; far less waste of much shorter half life; thorium based nuclear power is such an obvious answer to our need for energy with buring fossil fuels.  Pity common sense doesn't rule in place of vested interests.

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  3. ClimateChangeExtremist - And if thorium fission were actually proven economic and deployable. Despite small test efforts, those have yet to be shown to date; the technology is (at present) immature. 

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  4. ClimateChangeExtremist @ 2

    In addition to the benefits you list, LFTRs cannot be used to make bombs without killing the bomb makers and without screaming "Here I am!" once made. Furthermore, they lend themselves to small modular construction, ie. they could be made in factories and transported to their desired location via road transport. They do not need copius amouns of water, so can be put almost anywhere (NIMBYs permitting) and seeing as they run very hot, can be far more efficient. On top of all that they can be made to burn the existing nuclear waste that so excites the Greens. When running soley on thorium they burn nearly 100% of the fuel, not the 1 or 2% that uranium fueled reactors do.

    With world oil supply being what it is, the 'danger' we face is that there is a breakthrough in the electrification of transport and coal is chosen to meet the rising need for electricity, with all that would mean for climate change.

    I would far rather leave my family with some radioactive waste to contend with - they might use it to heat their houses - than I would leave them to starve because we just did not plan our energy production intelligently.

    Anyone who thinks that climate science suffers at the hands of the fossil fuel industry has seen nothing like what they do to the nuclear industry.

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  5. ClimateChangeExtremist,

    Again, thorium reactors do indeed produce weapons-grade material; we hear far too often that they don't.

    Thorium will not support a chain reaction.  Bombarding thorium 232 with neutrons produces uranium 233, which will, and that  is what happens in a thorium reactor.  Attempts to build a U233 bomb in the 1950s saw low yield because of radiation from U232, another result of the neutron bombardment, and its decay products, which triggered premature fission.  U232 is difficult to separate from U233 but it is easy to separate from the parent of U233 (protactinium 233).  The Pr233, isolated, decays into U233 with no impurities, which can indeed run a reactor but which also can be used to build a bomb.  A research reactor can be used for the neutron bombardment of thorium.

    The 12 December issue of Nature has an article by four British nuclear engineers which outlines two standard protocols for separating the protactinium from U232.

    Thorium reactors would be a proliferation hazard just as uranium reactors can be.

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  6. If the US is anything like Australia then a big contributing factor to unwillingness of governments to commit to nuclear as emissions solution has to be entrenched climate science denial and obstructionism within conservative politics; plenty of criticising environmentalists for failing to push for nuclear from there, (pleasing to pro-nukers), but an absence of actual commitment to nuclear to replace fossils fuels (should be dispeasing but pro-nukers are given to clutching at straws).

    This ought to be clear evidence that they are fair weather friends at best, and, given an absolute (in Australia) commitment to protection of fossil fuels embodied in their climate policy obstructionism, actually enemies of nuclear to replace them. So we get the argument - "If emission are a problem then they (environmentalists) should push for nuclear" being combined with (never actually stated out loud)  "emissions are not a problem so we are not going to push for nuclear".  Sorry but climate/energy is not about what  greenies should do but about what mainstream politicians should do.

    If you think nuclear is the best climate solution then you will gain more and sooner by making it clear to your conservative reps that climate science denial is absolutely unacceptable. I believe it will be more effective than fighting against anti-nuclear greenies because nuclear's biggest obstacle is weakness of support, not strength of opposition. Those conservatives are still closer to the centre of mainstream politics than green extremists and have far more clout.

    Once their obstructionism isn't tenable anymore they are more likely to actually support nuclear. As long as their aim is to protect fossil fuels they never will.

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