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2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #28A

Posted on 11 July 2013 by John Hartz

  • American leadership on climate change
  • Another Wall Street Journal article misses the target
  • Climate change could make hurricanes stronger
  • Climate change could spark small mammal invasion
  • European capacity to grow food is plateauing
  • Hurricanes are getting stronger in the Caribbean
  • Krauthammer's climate crack-up
  • U.S., China unveil joint climate initiatives
  • Use of coal to generate power rises in U.S.
  • We are all aboard the Pequod
  • Will more U.S. conservatives experience a ‘metamorphosis’?
  • Yogi Berra and emerging ‘memes’ post-Obama climate speech

American leadership on climate change

Here's a sure sign the U.S. is starting to get serious about climate change: some newspaper columnists are playing Chicken Little again. The latest case in point is Charles Krauthammer, who used his syndicated column last week to claim that the Obama Administration's sensible plan to reduce carbon pollution amounts to "economic suicide." 

American Leadership on Climate Change by Fred Krupp, The Huffington Post, July 9, 2013 

Another Wall Street Journal article misses the target

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you know I am no fan of the Wall Street Journal op-ed section. In fact, I think it’s simply awful: They will print mind-numbingly badand outright ridiculous climate change denial articles like clockwork.

The other day, though, a slightly different kind of opinion article appeared there. It’s not outright denial but shows many of the same signs. It was penned by Matt Ridley, a British science writer. He claims he does not deny the reality of global warming or even that it’s caused by carbon dioxide; he just claims the future effects of it are exaggerated.

But given what he wrote for the WSJ, I'm skeptical. Titled “Science Is About Evidence, Not Consensus,” it dances around the topic, making confused and ultimately erroneous points about global warming. The headline is ironic as well, since the evidence he cites is uniformly wrong.

You’re Getting Warmer: Another Wall Street Journal Global Warming Article Misses the Target by Phil Plait, Bad Astronomy, Slate, July 8, 2013

Climate change could make hurricanes stronger

new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, however, suggest that we may not be so lucky. Kerry Emanuel, an atmospheric scientist at the Massachusetts institute of Technology (MIT) and one of the foremost experts on hurricanes and climate change, argues that tropical cyclones are likely to become both stronger and more frequent as the climate continues to warm—especially in the western North Pacific, home to some of the most heavily populated cities on the planet. But the North Atlantic—meaning the U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast—won’t be spared either. Bigger bullets, faster gun.

Climate Change Could Make Hurricanes Stronger—and More Frequent by Bryan Walsh, Ecocentric, Time, July 9, 2013

Climate change could spark small mammal invasion

Invasive animals are a scourge the world over, and on many islands they have decimated local plants and animals. New Zealand has contended with such losses for centuries as rats and stoats (short-tailed weasels) from abroad have helped to wipe out 19 bird species. These small mammals continue to threaten wildlife there today. Now climate change could ramp up that process. Scientists at Landcare Research, a government-funded research center in New Zealand, say they’ve found a troubling link between climate change and invasive mammals that could threaten biodiversity and disease containment around the world if the local pattern holds.

Going to Seed: Climate Change Could Spark Small Mammal Invasion by Henry Gass, Scientific Americacan, July 8, 2013

European capacity to grow food is plateauing

Britain and other countries may not be able to increase the amount of food they grow because many staple crops are close to their physiological growing limits, one of the world's leading food analysts has warned.

"In France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, the three leading wheat producers in western Europe, there has been little rise in yields for over 10 years. Other countries will soon be hitting their limits for grain yields. Agriculturally advanced countries are hitting natural limits that were not widely anticipated," said Lester Brown, president of the Earth Institute in Washington and a former US government plant scientist.

"Rice yields in Japan have not increased for 17 years. In both Japan and South Korea, yields have plateaued at just under five tons per hectare. China's rice yields are now closely approaching those of Japan and may also soon plateau," he said.

European capacity to grow food is plateauing, scientist warns by John Vidal, The Guardian, July 8, 2013

Hurricanes are getting stronger in the Caribbean

Rather than talk about forecasts for hurricanes at the start of this year’s season, Cuban meteorologist José Rubiera prefers to discuss the importance of reducing the country’s vulnerability and improving preparedness.

Experts at Cuba’s Meteorology Institute predict that in this year’s hurricane season – Jun. 1 to Nov. 30 – 17 tropical storms will form, including nine possible hurricanes, in the Atlantic hurricane region, which includes the North Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. And they say one of the big storms could hit Cuba.

At the start of his interview with IPS, the director of the Meteorology Institute’s forecast department clarifies that the Atlantic hurricane region is a very large area into which any city, such as Havana, fits millions of times, because “they are tiny dots on a map.” That means it is impossible to know ahead of time where a hurricane will hit.

Q&A: Hurricanes Are Getting Stronger in the Caribbean by Patricia Grogg,  International Press Service (IPS), July 10, 2013 

Krauthammer's climate crack-up

Krauthammer is not, technically, a climate-change denier. Indeed, his subtle past acknowledgement that climate change might be a problem puts him ahead of conservative commentariat colleagues such as George Will. So it's hard to figure out why Krauthammer chose to fill his column with both climate distortions and unmitigated scorn for President Obama's actions.

Krauthammer's Climate Crack-up by D.R. Tucker, The Hufington Post, July 8, 2013

U.S., China unveil joint climate initiatives

China and the U.S., the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters, on Wednesday unveiled a series of joint initiatives intended to combat climate change.

The two countries pledged to deepen bilateral cooperation with efforts to curb carbon emissions from heavy-duty vehicles and advance carbon storage technology. They also called for expanded cooperation on energy efficiency, data collection on greenhouse gases and the deployment of “smart grid” technologies for electricity.

US, China unveil joint climate initiatives by Ben Geman, E2Wire/The Hill,July 10, 2013

Use of coal to generate power rises in U.S.

Power plants in the United States are burning coal more often to generate electricity, reversing the growing use of natural gas and threatening to increase domestic emissions of greenhouse gases after a period of decline, according to a federal report.

Coal's share of total domestic power generation in the first four months of 2013 averaged 39.5%, compared with 35.4% during the same period last year, according to the Energy Information Administration, the analytical branch of the Energy Department.

By contrast, natural gas generation averaged about 25.8% this year, compared with 29.5% a year earlier, the agency said in its most recent "Short-Term Energy Outlook."

Use of coal to generate power rises; Greenhouse gas emissions next? by Neela Banerjee, July 10, 2013

We are all aboard the Pequod

We, like Ahab and his crew, rationalize madness. All calls for prudence, for halting the march toward environmental catastrophe, for sane limits on carbon emissions, are ignored or ridiculed. Even with the flashing red lights before us, the increased droughts, rapid melting of glaciers and Arctic ice, monster tornadoes, vast hurricanes, crop failures, floods, raging wildfires and soaring temperatures, we bow slavishly before hedonism and greed and the enticing illusion of limitless power, intelligence and prowess. We believe in the eternal wellspring of material progress. We are our own idols. Nothing will halt our voyage; it seems to us to have been decreed by natural law. “The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run,” Ahab declares. We have surrendered our lives to corporate forces that ultimately serve systems of death. Microbes will inherit the earth.

We Are All Aboard the Pequod by Chris Hedges, Truthout, July 8, 2013

Will more U.S. conservatives experience a ‘metamorphosis’?

A small, but seemingly growing, number of Republican and politically conservative interests are advancing climate change policy options they say are consistent with their and their colleagues’ political ideologies and economic principles.

The R Street Initiative, in Washington, D.C., for instance, a Heartland Institute insurance spin-off started by a proudly conservative Republican, wants fellow conservatives to “take a page from the liberal playbook and use the climate change issue to push policies they favor anyway.” The group’s Eli Lehrer is pushing a free-market proposal involving a revenue-neutral carbon tax that would be offset by cuts in other taxes. The approach would seek to boost alternative energy supplies, including nuclear power, and would support fracking…but it abandons conservative Republicans’ long-held arguments on underlying climate science evidence.

Or take another example, that of former Congressman Bob Inglis, who says his metamorphosis on climate change began in 2004.

Will More Conservatives Experience an ‘R Street’ or Bob Inglis ‘Metamorphosis’? by Julie Halpert,  

Yogi Berra and emerging ‘memes’ post-Obama climate speech

Legendary Yankees manager Yogi Berra is famous for reportedly having said, among other things, “it gets late early out there.”

The line no doubt occurred to many as they listened to, or later reviewed, President Obama’s June 25 climate change policy address at Georgetown University. Several “memes” — a term in vogue only long after Berra’s heyday — have taken hold since that speech:

Yogi Berra and Emerging ‘Memes’ Post-Obama Climate Speech, The Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media, July 10, 2013

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Comments 1 to 3:

  1. Depending on your stance on fracking (called Coal Seem Gas down under) you may welcome or dislike this news:

    Sydney water catchment fracking ruled out for now

    Clearly, people who pushed for creation of new Dharawal National Park had this in mind. Not a word about impact on CO2 pollution though: CSG is better than coal but still bad, IMO.

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  2. I'd hit the "Like" button, if it were here!

    Fracking is also used extensively in my home county, where there over 15 *thousand* oil and gas wells. It's also employed in oils wells, as well as CSG.

    Folks around the Marcellus shale--NYC, the biggest population --are also fighting this method of draining every damn drop of oil, and molecule of natural gas. 

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  3. Does anyone know if there is a chart showing the long term trend in extreme weather events and, if so, could you provide a link?. Thanks.

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