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2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #21B

Posted on 25 May 2014 by John Hartz

As mountain snow fails and glaciers melt, Pakistan faces water threats

Farmers in the valleys of northern Pakistan fear for the survival of their summer crops after a short winter of low snowfall altered the flow patterns of mountain streams, potentially robbing the farmers of water they rely on to irrigate their fields.

Experts at the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) and senior weather observers posted at stations in Pakistan's Upper Indus Basin (UIB) say last winter's snowfall in most of the valleys of the Gilgit-Balistan province was as much as 70 percent below that of previous years.

"Not only was snowfall abysmally low, but it also started late by over two months," said Mohammad Amin, meteorologist at PMD's observatory station in Skardu district, where the Shigar River joins the Indus River in the shadow of the Karakoram mountain range. "And it started to melt in March instead of late April in most of the valleys of Skardu."

As mountain snow fails and glaciers melt, Pakistan faces water threats by Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio, Tompson Reuters Foundation, May 23, 2014

Buying insurance against climate change

The third National Climate Assessment report — released on May 6 by the White House, and representing the work of more than 240 scientists — warns us about our hazardous future and offers many good ideas for dealing with it. But a most important point may be lost in the crowd.

After discussing how to mitigate the coming dangers, the report says, “Commercially available mechanisms such as insurance can also play a role in providing protection against losses due to climate change.” That sentence should have been in big, bold letters and underlined.

That’s because of the substantial risk that efforts to stop global warming will fail. The implications are staggering, and we must encourage private innovation and government support to insure against the devastating financial losses that will result.

Buying insurance against climate changeby Robert J. Shiller, the Upshot, New York tinmes, May 24, 2014

China's ambitious cap-and-trade plan rolls down a long, bumpy runway

China has made progress in its carbon trading pilot programs but still has a long way to go, government officials and industry players believe.

China, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, is betting on carbon trading as a key measure to cut its emissions for each unit of economic output 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Already, five regional carbon markets have been up and running in the Guangdong province and cities of Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin since 2013. Central China's Hubei province last month also kicked in its cap-and-trade system.

The city of Chongqing now is the last Chinese pilot region that needs to launch carbon trading.

China's ambitious cap-and-trade plan rolls down a long, bumpy runway by Coco Liu, E&E News, May 23, 2014

Climate angst rises with record temperatures

t’s official

Just after midday on Saturday, the mercury reached 23 degrees - 25 is forecast - as Sydney posted its longest warm spell in records going back to 1910, says Sarah Perkins, a leading heatwave expert at the University of NSW.

Sydney's 25.1 degrees on Friday matched the previous longest heatwave - defined as at least three consecutive days in the warmest 10 per cent for each date - of seven days set in August 1995. Including Saturday, that burst could stretch to at least 14 days.

''It's actually quite scary, especially if it lasts for two weeks - that's incredible,'' Dr Perkins said.

Climate angst rises with record temperatures by Peter Hannam, The Sydney Morning Herald, May 22, 2014

Climate deal 'won't be perfect': US negotiator

With 19 months to go until the deadline for a new, global pact on climate change, the United States' top negotiator cautioned Thursday against unrealistic expectations, saying the deal "won't be perfect".

"It is important that our expectations be ambitious, and also grounded in reality," special envoy Todd Stern told journalists in Paris, where he met officials of the French government, who will host the 2015 meeting where the agreement must be signed.

"I'm sure it won't be perfect," he added. "This is a difficult negotiation. There's 190-plus countries... it is hard to get agreement from all countries on anything."

Climate deal 'won't be perfect': US negotiator,, May 2, 2013 4

Deniers are ignoring the facts and doubling down on their beliefs

We are seeing the conversation on climate change shift, as the media has started asking candidates where they stand on this critical issue. The politicians who continue to ignore basic science and deny that climate change is occurring and human activity is a driving force behind it, are beginning to pay a political price. Instead of holding these extreme anti-science positions, it's time for our nation's leaders to wake-up and tackle the challenge of our generation — the climate crisis.

Climate Change Deniers Are Ignoring the Facts and Doubling Down on Their Extreme Beliefs, Op-ed by Gene Karpinksi, The Huffington Post, May 23, 2014

Hurricane forecast was way off last year.

NOAA released its hurricane forecast for the 2014 season, suggesting activity might be less than usual. Part of the challenge was figuring out what went wrong with last year's forecasts.

Hurricane forecast was way off last year. What does it say this year? (+video) by Pete Spotts, The Christian Science Monitor, May 2, 2914

Pope: Destroying the Earth is a sin

Pope Francis made the biblical case for mitigating the effects of climate change, speaking to a massive crowd in Rome.

In his brief speech, Francis issued a dire warning about the effects of climate change.

“Safeguard Creation,” he said, according to Think Progress, “because if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us! Never forget this!”

Pope: Destroying the Earth is a sin by Jane C. Timm, MSNBC, May 22, 2014

The GWPF bemoans state of climate debate

Nigel Lawson's climate change sceptic group complains of 'intolerance' in climate science, but what of its own record?

The GWPF bemoans state of climate debate – while promoting antagonism by Graham Readfearn, Planet Oz, The Guardian, May 23, 2014

This ice sheet will unleash a global Superstorm Sandy that never ends

Glaciologist Richard Alley explains that losing West Antarctica would produce 10 feet of sea level rise in coming centuries. That's comparable to the flooding from Sandy—but permanent. (includes a pocast by Richard Alley.)

This Ice Sheet Will Unleash a Global Superstorm Sandy That Never Ends by Chris Mooney, The Climate Desk/Mother Jones, May 23, 2014

Tom Steyer: Green Giant

He made his fortune as an investor. Now he's spending millions to level the climate debate. Will his party go along?

Tom Steyer: Green Giant by Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine, May 22, 2014

UN rethinking international development goals

When a handful of technocrats from the world’s most advanced nations gathered in a United Nations basement in 2000 to finalize the world’s first-ever development goals, their objective seemed simple: create a blueprint to help the world’s poor by 2015.

But as the deadline nears and many targets remain to be met, the United Nations is shifting from what it once hailed as the world’s ambitious, unwavering promise to the world’s poor _ the Millennium Development Goals _ to a more inclusive, participatory and sophisticated approach _ the Sustainable Development Goals.

Theses new goals, which are to be be finalized by the U.N. General Assembly in the summer, attempt to revise the previous ones by involving more global leaders at the table and seeking to align national priorities with international goals rather than imposing international goals on countries with widely varying needs and resources.

UN rethinking international development goals as 2014 deadline looms by Fatimah Wasseem, McClatchy Washington Bureau, May 23, 2014

White House seeks to smooth way for carbon curbs

Last month, Washington's top environment advocate went to the Cleveland Clinic to talk about how President Barack Obama's landmark efforts to crack down on power-plant carbon emissions would ease a range of respiratory illnesses.

Speaking separately to historically black Morehouse College in Atlanta in April, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy also framed proposed new rules in terms of social justice, as poor black communities are disproportionately affected by air pollution.

The meetings, and hundreds more like them over the past year, mark an unprecedented campaign by the White House and the EPA to win broad public and state backing for rules expected to come June 2 to limit for the first time carbon emissions from power plants, which are the biggest source of greenhouse gases.

In big public push, White House seeks to smooth way for carbon curbs , Opinion by Valerie Volcovici, Reuters, May 23, 2014

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Comments 1 to 2:

  1. Thanks for the link to the article on WAIS melt. But I am wondering if there is anyone who has put together the new information on accelerated estimations of rates of glacier retreat from both WAIS and GIS to come up with new predictions of total slr by 2100 or earlier. This is the closest I have come to finding anything:

    "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in August warned of a three-foot sea level rise by 2100. But with new insight into melting glaciers in West Antarctica, that increase must be revised to at least seven feet."
    But this does not include slr from the new understanding of GIS dynamics. Would that add another two feet or so? So are we talking 3 meters or more by century end? How much of that would come in the next couple decades?

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Fixed link

  2. wili@1,

    Usually, Al Jazeera reports quite accurate and complete climate science news but this time, i'm a bit disappointed because your link does not provide good info, not even a pointer to the study itself... I found somewhat better report in SA here, with the link to the actual study therein.

    I don't have access to the study so I cannot be sure what it is about. But I suspect they talk only about the topography of Greenland coastal rockbed, as reported in SA. I.e.: the volume of fjords below sea-level, currently filled with ice, is 3 times bigger than assumed in current iceflow models. Likely they don't make any inference about how much iceflow model output changes if the model bedrock topography is altered accordingly. So we need to wait for that conclusion.

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