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2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #31B

Posted on 3 August 2013 by John Hartz

  • A Republican case for climate action
  • Aviation climate pollution flying under the radar
  • Climate change and violence linked
  • Climate change on pace to occur 10 times faster than any change recorded in past 65 million years
  • Google’s Science Fellows challenge its fund-raising for Inhofe
  • GOP launches offensive on regulatory 'carbon tax'
  • GOP lawmakers stay mum on climate change
  • Heartland Institute knows squat about science
  • It's climate scientists who champion the scientific method
  • Northeast Pakistan hit by 'surprise' floods
  • Sahel region set to see rise in "climate refugees
  • What climate scientists talk about now

A Republican case for climate action

EACH of us took turns over the past 43 years running the Environmental Protection Agency. We served Republican presidents, but we have a message that transcends political affiliation: the United States must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally. 

A Republican case for climate action, Op-ed by William D. Ruckelshaus, Lee M. Thomas, William K. Reilly, and Christine Todd Whitman, New York Times, Aug 1, 2013

Aviation climate pollution flying under the radar

Climate change pollution from the airline industry is massive. Each plane that takes off emits about the same amount of carbon as 3,500 cars.

If you've ever sat at an airport, there's a lot of planes coming and going and you start to get the idea of just how much climate pollution the airline industry is responsible for. If no action is taken soon to begin reducing emissions from airplanes, experts say that emissions could quadruple by 2050.

While there is a lot of focus deservedly being put on other large climate polluters like the tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline, there will shortly be made some very big decisions about the future of airline emissions.

Aviation Climate Pollution Flying Under the Radar by Kevin Grandia, The Huffington Post, Aug 1, 2013

Climate Change And Violence Linked

Shifts in climate change are strongly linked to human violence around the world, according to a comprehensive new study released Thursday by the University of California, Berkeley and Princeton University.

The research, which was published in Science, examined 60 previous studies from all major regions of the globe. The results suggest that changes such as drought, flood and high temperatures strongly correlate with spikes in conflict.

Researchers noted examples including increased domestic violence in India and Australia, assaults and murders in the United States and Tanzania, ethnic violence in Europe and South Asia, land invasions in Brazil, police violence in the Netherlands and civil conflicts throughout the tropics.

Climate Change And Violence Linked, Breakthrough Study Finds by Robin Wilkey, The Huffington Post, Aug 2, 2013

Climate change on pace to occur 10 times faster than any change recorded in past 65 million years

Not only is the planet undergoing one of the largest climate changes in the past 65 million years, Stanford climate scientists Noah Diffenbaugh and Chris Field report that it's on pace to occur at a rate 10 times faster than any change in that period. Without intervention, this extreme pace could lead to a 5-6 degree Celsius spike in annual temperatures by the end of the century.

Climate change on pace to occur 10 times faster than any change recorded in past 65 million years, Stanford Scientists Say by Bjorn Carey, Stanford News, Aug 1, 2013

Google’s Science Fellows challenge its fund-raising for Inhofe

That’s why so many scientists and others (me included) were irked last month to learn that Google, a company that in recent years gained a green reputation by investing aggressively in renewable energy projects, was hosting a July 11 fund-raising luncheon for Inhofe.

Google’s Science Fellows Challenge the Company’s Fund-Raising for Senator Inhofe by Andrew Rvkin, Dot Earth, New York Times, Aug 1, 2013

GOP launches offensive on regulatory 'carbon tax'

Republican lawmakers and pro-fossil-fuels advocates have long held that the Obama administration is planning to promulgate a carbon tax without Congress' consent, and they have found their smoking gun in the administration's revised estimate for the social cost of carbon (SCC).

The SCC will be used in the cost-benefit analyses for agency rulemakings. And Republican opponents of those rulemakings say that businesses will pass the cost of compliance to their customers, making it a de facto levy on carbon emissions.

All this has GOP lawmakers in a frenzy pushing legislative fixes and demanding government oversight.

GOP launches offensive on Obama admin's regulatory 'carbon tax' by Jean Chemnick, E&E Daily, E&E Publishing, Aug 2, 2013

GOP lawmakers stay mum on climate change

The climate change schism between Congressional Republicans and Democrats is becoming more visible as deadly weather events increase and hit close to home.

GOP Lawmakers Hit by Weather Tragedies Stay Mum on Climate Change by Katherine Bagley, InsideClimate News. Aug 1, 2013

Heartland Institute knows squat about science

I told you so.  For years, I have been arguing that scientists and science educators should stop talking about science as if it were possible to completely “prove” a hypothesis or theory.  Instead, we should be MILITANTLY trying to get our students and the public to understand that science is always tentative, involves creativity, and so on.  For example, I argued this point in a recent talk at DePauw University, a 2010 blog post, and a couple 2009 papers published in the Journal of Geoscience Education. 

Heartland Institute Knows Squat About Science by Barry Bickmore, Climate Asylum, aug 2, 2013

It's climate scientists who champion the scientific method

The Guardian Political Science section recently published an article written by social science researcher Warren Pearce from the University of Nottingham. In that piece, Pearce asked if climate "sceptics" (or "skeptics" in my preferred American English) are "the real champions of the scientific method."

It's climate scientists, not concern trolls who champion the scientific method by Dana Nuccitelli, The Guardian, Aug 2, 2013

Northeast Pakistan hit by 'surprise' floods

The above-normal monsoon rains in Punjab’s northeastern districts have taken weather experts by surprise.

“Last month, we predicted that this year monsoon rains across the country would remain normal with no possibility of flooding. But unexpected heavy rains in the northeastern districts are startling for us,” said Ghulam Rasul, a senior weather scientist at the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) in Islamabad. “This shows how monsoon rains have become erratic and unpredictable in timing, volume and intensity.”

Northeast Pakistan hit by 'surprise' floods, as monsoon rains intensify by Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Aug 2, 2013

Sahel region set to see rise in "climate refugees" 

Erratic weather linked to climate change is forcing people to flee their homes in West Africa’s Sahel region, a trend that could worsen dramatically as temperatures rise, a rights group warned.

Refugees International (RI) urged the United Nations and donor countries to improve the tracking of this new form of displacement and work with national governments to better protect those affected.

Some 11 million people are still at risk of hunger in the Sahel following last year’s food crisis in the semi-arid region, which borders the Sahara.

Sahel region set to see rise in "climate refugees" - report by Emma Batha, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Aug 2, 2013

What climate scientists talk about now

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change prepares to release its latest report, Pilita Clark meets some of the key scientists behind it.

What climate scientists talk about now by Pilita Clark, Financial Times, Aug 2, 2013

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Comments 1 to 4:

  1. Encouraging to see the NY Times editorial.  However, the comments in the Times include a reference to a "Handy-Dandy Carbon Tax Temperature-Savings Calculator" created by the CATO Institute which claims to calculate the temperature impact in the year 2100 of reducing CO2 emissions by a user-selected amount for the next 50 years.  

    The comment says that eliminating all CO2 for the next 50 years will mean global temperature is 0.28 degrees C lower than it would have been otherwise.  The commenter claims this is equivalent to moving 10 miles south.  This makes no sense.  Assuming 12,000 miles from the pole to the equator, then 0.28 degrees per 10 miles means an average temperature difference of 336 deg C between the pole and equatotor.  

    Would someone more knowledgable than I take a look at the calculator and comment on whatever other "issues" it may have?

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  2. Forrest,

    I did a quick test for "Industrialised Countries" (red flag there — trying to pretend that everyone else will continue BAU will of course reduce the impact of the actions of a subset of countries), 100% reduction, and 3°C degrees sensitivity, and it said that by 2100 the consequence would be a reduction of 0.278°C compared to A1B (second red flag, since they're really advocating A1FI, and A1B doesn't really equate to "do nothing about climate change", which is precisely what they're trying to suggest).

    The IPCC temperature change for 2090-2099 relative to 1980-1999 for each scenario shows a range of -1.0°C relative to A1B (for B1) up to +1.2°C (for A1FI). That's a difference of 2.2°C depending on emissions scenario, and even B1 with its 1.0°C drop relative to A1B isn't as agressive as their purported scenario from what I can see.

    If it was actual science rather than simply propaganda I'd expect them to explain why they think their results are so small compared to what people might expect rather than just present it as "fact" with no more to say about it.

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  3. The focus of the Times Editorial on planet warming and climate change can be broadened. The concern is the sustainability of the economy. Fundamentally, any economic activity that relies on burning non-renewable resources is not sustainable. The accumulating impacts make it even less sustainable by diverting resources to deal with the climate change consequences.

    So, if the concern really is to develop an economy that can sustainably grow the burning of fossil fuels has to end sooner rather than when the economy fails. The current economy is actually struggling because of all the activity within it that is simply not sustainable.

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  4. Recent marine life study by CSIRO (reported for example here and here) reveals the poleward migration pace by marine species (7.2km/y) outpacing that of the land species (6km/y) indicating the AGW impact on upper ocean waters be greater than that of surface air.

    Another indication, that the latest denialists' bunkum point that "global warming has stopped for 15 years" is irrellevant to the issue at hand. It looks to me that AGW warming impact on ocean, including acidification will be greater than on land. And it is final time to start judging the changes in the ocean as primary indicators of the pace of AGW. And let's cease proclaiming the nonsense that "global warming stopped" over and over again. Unfortunately, the deniaslist who refuse to accept the fact the athmosphere holds less heat than the ocean will always have trouble understanding such simple indicator.

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