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All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

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2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #15A

Posted on 8 April 2014 by John Hartz

2014 El Niño warming up to be a mighty one?

El Niño is a growing threat this year that could play havoc with weather patterns in the United States, forecasters say. 

El Niño, named for the warm waters that occasionally occur in the Pacific Ocean near South America, brings fluctuating weather that includes droughts, flooding and heat waves.

“We have above-normal temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean and that often precedes an El Niño because there’s a large volume of above-average water temperature below the surface of the ocean,” Anthony Barnston, chief forecaster for the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, told ABC News. “Volume often tends to come up to the surface; often, but not always.

 “That’s the uncertainty,” Barnston said. “It’s more likely to rise than not.”

2014 El Niño Warming Up to Be a Mighty One? by Danielle Genet, ABC News, Apr 7, 2014

Call climate change what it is: violence

So if we want to talk about violence and climate change – and we are talking about it, after last week's horrifying report from the world's top climate scientists – then let's talk about climate change as violence. Rather than worrying about whether ordinary human beings will react turbulently to the destruction of the very means of their survival, let's worry about that destruction – and their survival. Of course water failure, crop failure, flooding and more will lead to mass migration and climate refugees – they already have – and this will lead to conflict. Those conflicts are being set in motion now.

Call climate change what it is: violence by Rebecca Solnit, The Guardian, Apr 7, 2014

Climate change threats to 'the least of these' compel Christians to act 

"Climate change is a really bad reason to get divorced."

Katharine Hayhoe, a leading climate scientist, recalled the trial she and her husband Andrew, an evangelical Christian pastor, faced when they discovered they weren't on the same page about global warming.

After a number of intense discussions, mediated by shared values and beliefs, their marriage persevered. Andrew accepted the overwhelming scientific evidence, and they even went on to co-write a book for Christians on climate change. But in evangelical churches across the U.S., a faith community to which Hayhoe herself belongs, many pastors and parishioners continue to perceive an incompatibility between their faith and the climate science.

Climate Change Threats To 'The Least Of These' Compel Evangelical Christians To Act by Lynne Peeples, The Huffington Post, Apr 5, 2014

Climate models can show observations to be wrong

Aerosols are microscopic liquid or solid particles suspended in the atmosphere. They can originate from natural sources (pine forests, for example), but centuries of burning wood and fossil fuels means there are plenty of aerosols from human activity.

Aerosols influence the climate system by changing the Earth’s energy balance, for example by reflecting sunlight back into space before it reaches surface level. But the strength of this effect, known as the aerosol forcing, remains uncertain.

Due to their typical lifetime of less than two weeks, and great variability in size and chemical composition, the effects of aerosols are difficult to model. While it remains particularly difficult to resolve the many small-scale interactions between aerosol particles and clouds, their general effects and behaviour can and have been simulated.

What our study shows is that, while different climate models simulate aerosol effects in varying levels of complexity, the range of results for different models broadly agree with each other – but reveal errors or bias in recorded observations.

Climate models can show observations to be wrong by Joe Osborne, The Conversation (UK), PR 7, 2014 

Corporate giants issue fresh demand for climate action

Unilever, Shell, BT, and EDF Energy are among 70 leading companies today calling on governments across the globe to step up efforts to tackle climate change.

The companies, which have a combined turnover of $90bn, say the world needs a "rapid and focused response" to the threat of rising global carbon emissions and the "disruptive climate impacts" associated with their growth

In a communiqué coordinated by The Prince of Wales's Corporate Leaders Group, the signatories demand governments put in place policies to prevent the cumulative emission of more than a trillion tonnes of carbon, arguing that passing that threshold would lead to unacceptable levels of climate-related risk.

The statement urges political leaders to set a timeline for achieving net zero emissions before the end of the century, design a credible strategy to transform the energy system, and create a plan to tackle the global economy's reliance on fossil fuels, especially unabated coal power. 

Corporate giants' 'Trillion Tonne Communiqué' issues fresh demand for climate action, Business Green, Apr 8, 2014 

Forest fires arrive early as Siberia sees record high temperatures

The past week saw record warm weather in western Siberian cities including Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Kemerovo, Barnaul and Gorno-Altaisk.

Natural Resources Minister Sergei Donskoi warned a conference chaired by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev: 'The forest fire situation is tense in Russia this year. Due to a shortage of precipitation the forest fire season has begun almost one and a half months ahead of the norm.'

By 2 April, 17 forest fires had been registered across 2,000 hectares. Among the areas now at risk after a faster-than-usual snow melt are the south of Siberia to the territory of the Far Eastern Federal District, to Baikal and the Amur regions. 

Forest fires arrive early as Siberia sees record high temperatures, The Siberian Times, Apr 6, 2014

IPCC report: climate change and the things people care about

No place is immune to the impacts of climate change. This is the principal message from the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. The impacts of climate change will be felt in individual places such as in back gardens, homes, fields and cities and will likely make us feel less safe and secure. 

For the first time the IPCC examines in detail the impacts of climate change on well-being across its Working Group 2 report, with a cluster of chapters on the topics of health, human security, and poverty

Human security encapsulates the notion of the vital core of human lives and the ability of people to have freedom and the capacity to live with dignity. Human security has direct material elements, such as life and livelihood, but also elements of cultural expression and identity.

IPCC report: Climate change and the things people care about by Neil Adger, The Carbon Brief, Apr 7, 2014

IPCC report proposes sucking carbon out of the air as climate fix

An upcoming UN report suggests that unproven technologies to suck carbon out of the air might be a fix for climate change, according to a leaked draft obtained by the Guardian.

Scientists and government officials gather in Berlin this week ahead of Sunday's publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's third part of its series of blockbuster climate change reports, which deals with policies addressing the emissions that drive global warming.

But environmentalists criticised the report's inclusion of a controversial new technique that would involve burning biomass – trees, plant waste, or woodchips – to generate electricity, and then capturing the released carbon, pumping it into geological reservoirs underground.

IPCC report proposes sucking carbon out of the air as climate fix by Martin Lukacs, The Guardian, Apr 7, 2014 

‘Misleading the reader’: The IPCC responds to Mail on Sunday claims

In an article in this weekend's paper, the Mail on Sunday accuses the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of 'sexing up' its findings in the short 'summary for policymakers' that accompanies its latest report. But the IPCC responded this morning, saying the Mail on Sunday "misleads the reader by distorting the carefully balanced language of the document".

In an effort to help policymakers and the public engage with its mammoth scientific reports, the IPCC produces a summary - the Summary for Policymakers (SPM). It tries to present the report's overall conclusions in a shorter and more accessible format.

The Mail on Sunday has done a comparison between the SPM, and quotes it claims come from the full IPCC report. The article says the SPM puts an "alarmist spin" on the findings, but the IPCC has today rejected that charge in a statement.

We've looked at the source material to see what the report has to say, and how the Mail on Sunday has interpreted (or misinterpreted) it.

‘Misleading the reader’: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change responds to Mail on Sunday claims by Matt Hope, The Carbon Brief, Apr 7, 2014

Mothers vs. climate change

From her perch, Wirth has concluded that the big environmental groups have for whatever reason largely failed to engage the masses. Mothers — who vote, who purchase, who are the linchpins of communities, and, yes, who network on Facebook — could be the ones to make it happen.

“We need people coming together and putting pressure on our leaders to change,” says Wirth. “They’re not going to do it out of the goodness of their hearts; that’s not how change happens. If ever there were a powerful messenger bringing this message, it is mothers.” She continues: “That’s the voice that has been largely missing. It’s not a bunch of easily dismissed political radicals. We’re not a bunch of anarchists. We’re moms.”

Mothers vs. climate change by Melissa Schorr, The Boston Globe Magazine, April 6, 2014

The genocidal campaign of the climate change contrarians

When scientists make presentations at meetings or conferences on the existing and projected impacts of climate change, they describe in jargon laden language and in emotionally neutral terms what their research has revealed about these impacts. But during informal conversations over a few beers during the evening or late at night, these scientists no longer feel obliged to divorce their scientific heads from their human hearts. On these occasions, they use colorful and often profane language to express their disdain and contempt for the small number of scientists known as global warming skeptics who are well compensated by conservative think tanks for misinterpreting and abusing scientific knowledge.

Crimes against humanity: the genocidal campaign of the climate change contrarians by Robert Nadeau and Donald Brown, Ethics and Climate, Apr 5, 2014

Time running out to meet global warming target - U.N. report

World powers are running out of time to slash their use of high-polluting fossil fuels and stay below agreed limits on global warming, a draft U.N. study to be approved this week shows.

Government officials and top climate scientists will meet in Berlin from April 7-12 to review the 29-page draft that also estimates the needed shift to low-carbon energies would cost between two and six percent of world output by 2050.

It says nations will have to impose drastic curbs on their still rising greenhouse gas emissions to keep a promise made by almost 200 countries in 2010 to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times.

Time running out to meet global warming target - U.N. report by Alister Doyle, Reuters, Apr 6, 2014

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