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2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #4

Posted on 26 January 2013 by John Hartz

  • BEST results published in peer-reviewed journal
  • Climate change moves to forefront
  • Global warming is a domestic crisis for the US
  • Greenland’s Ice Sheet More Stable
  • Hot years and cold truths
  • How high could the tide go?
  • How much will Tar Sands oil add to global warming?
  • Is rebuilding in hurricane zones wise?
  • Obama faces Keystone dilemma
  • Sea level and the limits of the bathtub analogy
  • The climate change endgame

BEST results published in peer-reviewed journal

This week saw the results of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) study published in a peer-reviewed journal. Originally set up to test scientific consensus on human induced climate change, the study sparked considerable interest among climate skeptics. But after much commotion and with BEST study now coming to a close, do we know anything now that we didn't already?

BEST results published in peer-reviewed journal by Roz Pidcock, The Carbon Brief, Jan 21, 2013

Climate change moves to forefront

Barack Obama said more about climate change in his inauguration speech – and expressed it more forcefully – than he did at any point in the 2012 election campaign and during much of his first term.

Climate change occupied a significant chunk of Monday's speech, and Obama did not stint on the language, suggesting it was a religious and patriotic duty to deal with the challenge.

Climate change moves to forefront in Obama's second inaugural address by Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian (UK), Jan 21, 2013

Global warming is a domestic crisis for the US

As President Obama made clear in his inaugural address Monday, failing to confront the threat of climate change in his second term would be a betrayal of future generations. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science,” Obama said, “but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought and more powerful storms.” Actually, there are some who can avoid fires, drought and storms, but most of them voted for Mitt Romney.

Global Warming Is a Domestic Crisis by Juan Cole, TruthDig, Jan 22, 2013

Greenland’s Ice Sheet More Stable

The enormous sheets of ice that lie atop Greenland may not be as prone to catastrophic melting as many scientists thought, even if the planet continues to warm and temperatures remain high for hundreds of years. But while that may sound like good news, new evidence also suggests that parts of the even vaster ice sheets that lie atop Antarctica could be more unstable than once believed.

Greenland’s Ice Sheet More Stable Than Once Believed by Michael D. Lemonick, Climate Central, Jan 23, 2013

Hot years and cold truths

The climate campaign of 2009-2010 didn't lack for corporate boosters, lobbying teams nor policy analysts. What it lacked was public support.

Hot Years and Cold Truths: The Past and Future of Climate Legislation by Nathaniel Loewentheil, The Huffington Post, Jan 22, 2013

How high could the tide go?

“I can merely tell you that every time in recent earth history where we’ve had these kinds of temperatures for any protracted period of time, two polar ice sheets have catastrophically collapsed,” said Jerry X. Mitrovica, an earth physicist at Harvard who collaborates with Dr. Raymo.

How High Could the Tide Go? by Justin Gillis, New York Times, Jan 21, 2013

How Much Will Tar Sands Oil Add to Global Warming?

The question lurking behind the fight in North America over Keystone, the tar sands and climate change generally is: How much of the planet's remaining fossil fuels can we burn?

How Much Will Tar Sands Oil Add to Global Warming? by David Biello, Scientific American, Jan 23, 2013 

Is rebuilding in hurricane zones wise?

But Sandy is the future, climate scientists said. As carbon dioxide emissions blast past worst-case scenarios, rising sea levels and storm surges will reshape every U.S. coastline, from San Francisco to Houston to New York. It is only beginning to dawn on Americans, half of whom live on the coasts, that their future is a battle against the sea.

In the impulse to rebuild from Sandy, much of it financed by the federal government, big questions need to be answered. What to protect, and how? Where to retreat? Where to stand fast?

Is rebuilding in hurricane zones wise? by Carolyn Lochhead, San Francisco Chronicle, Jan 20, 2013

Obama faces Keystone dilemma

Barack Obama faced intense pressure to break with his inauguration day promise on climate change on Thursday, after a bipartisan majority in the Senate urged approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Obama faces Keystone dilemma after Senate urges pipeline approval by Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guradian (UK), Jan 24, 2013 

Sea level and the limits of the bathtub analogy

What I did not point out is that, now matter how fast it happens, the increase of sea level will not be an even rise everywhere on the planet. Rising sea level, it turns out, is “lumpy” – the sea goes up more in some places than others.

This may seem strange, since we tend to think of the ocean as a giant bathtub filled with water. If you turn on the faucet and add water to a tub, of course, it rises evenly. Why doesn’t the ocean work that way?

Sea Level and the Limits of the Bathtub Analogy by Justin Gillis, Jan 22, 2013

The climate change endgame

It is abundantly clear that the target of a 2-degree Celsius limit to climate change was mostly derived from what seemed convenient and doable without any reference to what it really means environmentally. Two degrees is actually too much for ecosystems. Tropical coral reefs are extremely vulnerable to even brief periods of warming. The elevated atmospheric CO2 also has raised the acidity of the oceans, which affects the ability of coral and mollusks such as oysters to build shells and skeletons. A 2-degree world will be one without coral reefs (on which millions of human beings depend for their well-being).

The Climate Change Endgame by Thomas Lovejoy, New York Times, Jan 21, 2013

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  1. A piece of bad news from Australia: even worse carbon emissions. Emission "export" to China is a "workaround" the carbon tax or ETS. Weareas Jim Hansen's scheme of fee and divident charged at the point of fossil fuel excavation (when breached the main principle of leaving FF in the ground) charged in the mine and at port of entry (in case of import/export) would have avoided this loophole.
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