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2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #20

Posted on 17 May 2014 by John Hartz

China’s coal solution has carbon downside across globe

Global carbon-dioxide emissions are climbing at rates that pose severe risks to the planet, and reversing that trend is heavily dependent on China making cuts in its emissions.

First of a three part series

China’s coal solution has carbon downside across globe by Hal Bernton, The Seattle Times, May 6, 2014

Deep ocean warming is coming back to haunt us

As prominent ocean researcher and climate scientist Dr. Kevin Trenberth presciently noted during recent years — an observed spike in ocean heat content over the past decade may well be coming back to haunt us.

Earlier this year the most intense sub-sea Kelvin Wave on record raged across the Pacific Ocean. Driven eastward by a series of strong westerly wind bursts, it traveled just below the surface, running out to collide with South America. By April, it had arrived in the traditional El Nino spawning grounds of the Eastern Equatorial Pacific where it retained an extreme intensity. There it sprawled, snuffing off the cold deep water upwelling that over the past few years has kept surface water temperatures in this critical region slightly cooler than average.

And so, from late March through mid-May, the Eastern Pacific warmed.

Deep Ocean Warming is Coming Back to Haunt Us: Record Warmth for 2014 Likely As Equatorial Heat Rises by Robert Scribber, Robertscribber blog, May 16, 2014

El Nino's threat to major food crop yields 

El Nino events can have a significant impact on the yields of certain major food crops, a study has shown. 

El Nino's threat to major food crop yields by Mark Kinver, BBC News, May 15, 2014

Not just sea level rise: Northeast faces flooding from the skies

The nation’s capital and financial center, not to mention other major metropolitan areas in the Northeast, are going to get soggy. And not just because of dramatic sea level rise and storm surge. The third National Climate Assessment, released Tuesday, stresses that the onslaught of water will come from the skies as well as the oceans.

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, which slammed into the East Coast in October 2012, causing up to $80 billion in damage, most people in the Northeast quickly became familiar with the threat posed by sea level rise. Since 1900, the East Coast has seen about one foot of sea level rise — four inches more than the global average. And the area could see anywhere from another foot to four additional feet by the end of the century.

But the National Climate Assessment makes it clear that future flooding in the region won’t be limited to coastal areas. Precipitation is not only increasing in the area, but the incidence of extreme precipitation events, which often spark flash flooding, is on the rise as well.

Not Just Sea Level Rise: Northeast Faces Flooding From The Skies by Joanna M. Foster, Climate Progess, May 8, 2014

Letting Climate Change Happen Is an 'Intergenerational Crime'

This week, as the White House issued a landmark report detailing the frightening affects of global warming on our country and President Obama took to the airwaves to drive home that message, Bill Moyers talks with a scientist who has sounded the alarm for decades.

For nearly 35 years, David Suzuki has brought science into the homes of millions on the Canadian television series, “The Nature of Things.” He has become a godfather of the environmental movement, and in a poll of his fellow Canadians last fall he was named that country’s most admired figure. Nonetheless, his outspoken views on climate change and the government’s collusion with the petrochemical industry in developing Canada’s oil-rich tar sands have made him the target of relentless attacks from his nation’s prime minister, corporations and right-wing ideologues.

“Our politicians should be thrown in the slammer for willful blindness. ... I think that we are being willfully blind to the consequences for our children and grandchildren. It’s an intergenerational crime,” Suzuki tells Moyers. 

Scientist Tells Bill Moyers That Letting Climate Change Happen Is an 'Intergenerational Crime' by Bill Moyers, Alternet, May 9, 2014

Note: This post includes a video of the Moyers-Suzuki interview and a transcrpit of it.

Paul Krugman on the coming onslaught of right-wing climate economics

Paul Krugman took a look into his incredibly accurate crystal ball in today's column and predicted that, now that the Obama Administration is intent on actually doing something about indisputable man-made climate change, conservatives will, of course, keep attacking science, but also call any attempt to regulate or address the problem a Marxist plot.

Because that's just how they roll.

Paul Krugman on the Coming Onslaught of Crazy Right-Wing Climate Economics—From Scalia, Rubio and Pals by Janet Allon, Alternet, May 12, 2014

'Screwed?' US climate report says era of 'normal' over

"We're screwed. Right now. And it could get much worse."

That was how co-founder Jamie Henn responded to Tuesday's release of the federal government's National Climate Assessment, the national scientific community's definitive statement on the current and future impacts of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

Compiling the efforts of 300 leading climate scientists and experts, the message is "bleak" as the NCA details how human-caused global warming is being felt "here and now" nationwide.

'Screwed?' US Climate Report says Era of 'Normal' Over by Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams, May 6, 2014

Thousands flee in record Balkan floods

Rising rivers surged into homes, sometimes reaching up to the second floors, sending people climbing to rooftops for rescue.

Hundreds were also evacuated in Croatia.

Authorities said 20 people have died but warned the death toll could rise. Tens of thousands of homes were left without electricity or drinking water.

Thousands flee in record Balkan floods, AP/Tampa Bay  Times, May 16, 2014

U.S. insurer class action may signal wave of climate-change suits

A major insurance company is accusing dozens of localities in Illinois of failing to prepare for severe rains and flooding in lawsuits that are the first in what could be a wave of litigation over who should be liable for the possible costs of climate change.

Farmers Insurance filed nine class actions last month against nearly 200 communities in the Chicago area. It is arguing that local governments should have known rising global temperatures would lead to heavier rains and did not do enough to fortify their sewers and stormwater drains.

The legal debate may center on whether an uptick in natural disasters is foreseeable or an "act of God." The cases raise the question of how city governments should manage their budgets before costly emergencies occur. 

U.S. insurer class action may signal wave of climate-change suits ny Mica Rosenberg, Reuters, May 16, 2014

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Comments 1 to 4:

  1. David Suzuki - Suzuki tells Moyers link at the bottom does not work.


    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Fixed.  Thanks to all who helped point this out.

  2. I'm not sure whether in rises to the level of "Weekly News," but robbertscribbler has a nice summary of where we are now sitting wrt El Nino predictions, including an interesting video interview with Kevin Trenberth.

    Trenberth predicts a permanent rise in global temperatures of up to .3 degrees C from the event and from a likely flip in Pacific Decadal Oscilation (PDO) from cool to warm. That would put us well above the 1 C above pre-industrial temperatures mark and on our way to 2.

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Thanks for bringing Robert Scribbler's excellent post to our attention. I have incorporated it into the OP. 

  3. Awesome. Thanks. He does good stuff. "Scribbler" is of course a pseudonym. Thanks, as always, for all your great work here!

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [JH] You're welcome. 

    [KC] Name removed per policy.

  4. "U.S. insurer class action may signal wave of climate-change suits"

    Yes! Finally. I have been waiting for climate change related legal action to go mainstream for a long time now. Farmer's is out on a limb with this one, but it is just the first domino to fall. There will be more cases suing for failure to prepare for climate change... and those will in turn result in suits of fossil fuel companies for causing climate change damage... and eventually for knowing about the damage and covering it up.

    This is how big tobacco eventually fell and it has always been the only way to truly stop the climate change deniers. Get them in a court of law... where the lies that have served them so well in the press suddenly become the anchor dragging them down.

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