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2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #46A

Posted on 12 November 2013 by John Hartz

  • Canada's credibility in question
  • Capitalism and the destruction of life on Earth
  • Coal industry joins long line in bid to shape EPA rules
  • Despair, courage, hope in an age of environmental turmoil
  • Forests could face threat from biomass power 'gold rush'
  • IPCC chairman: we may "pass on a lousy, spoilt and defiled planet"
  • Learning how to die in the Anthropocene
  • Rising sea levels, falling real estate values
  • Small islands demand U.N. protection
  • Typhoon Haiyan casts long shadow over U.N. talks in Warsaw
  • Typhoon Haiyan: is climate change to blame?
  • Typhoon Haiyan's deadly surge noted in Warsaw talks

Canada's credibility in question

Negotiators at the United Nations climate summit are searching for broad agreement that will lead to a new treaty requiring deeper cuts to each country’s greenhouse-gas emissions after 2020, even as Canada struggles to achieve its existing commitments.

In an interview from Warsaw on Sunday, Ottawa’s climate ambassador Dan McDougall rejected suggestions from critics that Canada has no credibility at the global summit due to its failure to adopt policies that would meet emission-reduction commitments made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the 2009 meeting in Copenhagen.

Canada's credibility in question as countries seek new climate-change treaty by Shawn McCarthy, The Globe and Mail, Nov 10, 2013

Capitalism and the destruction of life on Earth

Why are we marching to disaster, "sleepwalking to extinction" as The Guardian's George Monbiot once put it? Why can't we slam on the brakes before we ride off the cliff to collapse? I'm going to argue here that the problem is rooted in the requirements of capitalist reproduction, that large corporations are destroying life on Earth, that they can't help themselves, they can't change or change very much, that so long as we live under this system we have little choice but to go along in this destruction, to keep pouring on the gas instead of slamming on the brakes.

Capitalism and the Destruction of Life on Earth: Six Theses on Saving the Humans, Op-ed by Richard Smith, Truthout, Nov 10, 2013

Coal Industry Joins Long Line in Bid to Shape EPA Rules

As the Environmental Protection Agency moves ahead with plans to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants — primarily coal-fired power plants — the coal industry and those wanting the U.S. to curb its greenhouse gas emissions are pushing to shape the new regulations before they're written. 

Last week, the EPA wrapped up more than a month of “listening sessions” designed to tap the public for input on how the agency should design guidelines limiting carbon emissions from existing coal-fired and other power plants. The EPA has rolled out a proposed rule in September that would limit carbon emissions from future coal plants. But the rule governing existing power plants is expected to have more of an impact because it aims reduce emissions from the largest stationary sources of carbon emissions in the country and directly affect more than 500 coal-fired electric power plants in the U.S. and the jobs associated with them. 

Coal Industry Joins Long Line in Bid to Shape EPA Rules by Bobby McGill, Climate Central, Nov 11, 2013

Despair, courage, & hope in an age of environmental turmoil

This may be the most psychologically trying time in all of human history. 

Despair, Courage, Hope in an Age of Environmental Turmoil by Kenneth Worthy, The Green Blog, The Psychology Today, Nov 9, 2013

Forests could face threat from biomass power 'gold rush'

Sustainability fear over new power stations' demand for wood pellets after report says their use has implications globally.

Forests could face threat from biomass power 'gold rush' by James Doward, The Obsever, Nov 9. 2013

How the Coalition can keep a carbon price and its election promises

Perhaps the Abbott government can solve its climate change problem by revisiting an old Coalition policy.

Before the 2013 election the Coalition promised to cut the “carbon tax”, introduce direct action on climate change, and bring the budget back into surplus sooner than the Labor party.

Although the term “carbon tax” has become widely used, it is misleading. The current Clean Energy Future policy is actually an emissions trading scheme (ETS) with a temporary fixed price that funds the uptake of cleaner energy.

How the Coalition can keep a carbon price and its election promises by Michael Howes, The Conversation, Nov 11, 2013

IPCC chairman: we may "pass on a lousy, spoilt and defiled planet"

As Typhoon Haiyan hits the Philippines, Rajendra Pachauri calls for a grassroots movement to put pressure on politicians to act on climate change.

IPCC chairman: we may "pass on a lousy, spoilt and defiled planet" by Jo Confino, The Observer, Nov 10, 2013

Learning how to die in the Anthropocene

This chorus of Jeremiahs predicts a radically transformed global climate forcing widespread upheaval — not possibly, not potentially, but inevitably. We have passed the point of no return. From the point of view of policy experts, climate scientists and national security officials, the question is no longer whether global warming exists or how we might stop it, but how we are going to deal with it. 

Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene by Roy Scranton, Opinionator, New York Times, Nov 10, 2013

Rising sea levels, falling real estate values

While most residents in South Florida still have no worries that global warming could dramatically lower housing prices, land-use attorney Sam Poole has already developed a plan to sell his house in a low-lying Fort Lauderdale neighborhood.

Poole has heard some scientists predict that the first financial effects are probably two decades away, and he wants to sell in about 10 years, well before panic sets in, assuming governments do nothing quickly to combat climate change.

“I don’t want to wait too long,” he says.

Rising sea levels, falling real estate values by John Dorschner, Miami Herald, Nov 11. 2013

Small islands demand U.N. protection

Threatened by rising seas, some of the world’s small island developing states (SIDS) are demanding that the U.N.’s new set of Sustainable Development Goals place a high priority on the protection of oceans and marine resources.

A growing number of SIDS, including Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Maldives, Tonga, Nauru and Kiribati, are making a strong case for a stand-alone goal for the protection of oceans in the post-2015 development agenda known as the SDGs, which is currently under discussion.

Hassan Hussain Shihab, first secretary of the Maldives diplomatic mission to the U.N., told IPS that oceans are a priority for the Indian Ocean island nation, whose 339,000 citizens are threatened by sea-level rise.

“The establishment of an SDG dedicated to oceans is critical to Maldives as the oceans are our source of life, livelihood and the identity of the people,” he said.

Small Islands Demand U.N. Protection by Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service (IPS), Nov 11, 2013

The Supertyphoon and the Warming Globe

But we know we know the oceans are warming. A huge amount of energy is being stuffed into them, because we know we know that excess carbon dioxide in the air is preventing the Earth from being able to radiate away some of the energy that comes down in the form of sunlight. The process is as simple as it is terrible and damning: More CO2 means more energy which means more heat stored in the oceans.

And that means either more strong hurricanes and typhoons, or stronger ones overall.

The Supertyphoon and the Warming Globe by Phil Pliat, Bad Astronomy Blog, Slate, Nov 12, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan casts long shadow over U.N. talks in Warsaw

The typhoon that struck the Philippines produced an outpouring of emotion on Monday at United Nations talks on a global climate treaty in Warsaw, where delegates were quick to suggest that a warming planet had turned the storm into a lethal monster.

Olai Ngedikes, the lead negotiator for an alliance of small island nations,said in a statement that the typhoon, named Haiyan, which by some estimates killed 10,000 people in one city alone, “serves as a stark reminder of the cost of inaction on climate change and should serve to motivate our work in Warsaw.”

Naderev Saño, the chief representative of the Philippines at the conference, said he would stop eating in solidarity with the storm victims until “a meaningful outcome is in sight.”

Typhoon in Philippines Casts Long Shadow Over U.N. Talks on Climate Treaty by Henry Fountain & Justin Gillis, New York Times, Nov 11, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan's deadly surge noted in Warsaw talks

The devastation and mounting humanitarian crisis in the Philippines in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan is becoming more apparent with each passing hour, with the final death toll possibly climbing as high as 20,000 or more, making it the deadliest and most expensive natural disaster in that storm-prone country’s history.

While Haiyan’s winds have garnered most of the headlines, reports from the hardest-hit areas now indicate that it was likely the massive storm surgethat caused the most damage and greatest loss of life, particularly in Tacloban City, a city of 220,000. Tacloban City and the community of Guiuan on the south shore of Samar Island, where the storm’s fiercest winds and waves first made landfall, now resemble areas struck by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, with ships tossed inland, coastal infrastructure flattened, and the horrific sight of bodies lying in the streets.

U.N. climate negotiations that began Monday in Warsaw, Poland, where countries are working to set a course toward a new climate treaty in 2015. In a speech on Monday, the delegate from the Philippines, Yeb Saño, pleaded for the world to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, using Haiyan as an example of the devastating consequences of global warming.

Typhoon Haiyan's Deadly Surge Noted in Warsaw Talks by Andrew Freedman, Climae Central, Nov 11, 2013

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  1. GISS L-OTI for October is out: 0.61C, the fifth warmest October.  By simple average, I have 2013 at .596C, on track to be the third warmest year in the record and easily the warmest for years with MEI average negative.  

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