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2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #36B

Posted on 6 September 2014 by John Hartz

5 reasons to watch NYC’s Climate Summit

On September 23, heads of state and leaders in finance, business and civil society will gather in New York City for the United Nations Climate Summit 2014. The summit is a critical milestone on the path to addressing the global threat of climate change. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon organized the high-level meeting to re-engage world leaders to spur climate action on national and international stages.

Tens of thousands of concerned citizens are seizing the opportunity, organizing the largest climate march in history. During summit week, hundreds of organizations have arranged speeches, documentary film showings, and other gatherings to present the overwhelming evidence of the consequences of climate change and cost-effective solutions to address the problem. New scientific research like the National Climate Assessment and the latest IPCC reports have illuminated the risks from carbon pollution, while new economic analysis including WRI’s upcoming New Climate Economy report will dispel the notion that climate action will slow economic growth.

Yet this is hardly the first time governments have convened to counter climate change. So why is this summit worth watching? 

5 Reasons To Watch NYC’s Climate Summit by Jennifer Morgan, World Resources Institute (WRI), Sep 2, 2014

99.999% certainty humans are driving global warming

There is less than 1 chance in 100,000 that global average temperature over the past 60 years would have been as high without human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, our new research shows.

Published in the journal Climate Risk Management today, our research is the first to quantify the probability of historical changes in global temperatures and examines the links to greenhouse gas emissions using rigorous statistical techniques.

Our new CSIRO work provides an objective assessment linking global temperature increases to human activity, which points to a close to certain probability exceeding 99.999%. 

99.999% certainty humans are driving global warming: new study by Philip Kokic, Mark Howden, and Steven Crimp. The Conversation, Sep 4, 2014

Brian Cox: scientists giving false sense of debate on climate change

Scientists are doing the public a disservice in their attempts to communicate certainty in climate change science, often giving a “false sense of debate” by being overly precise, says broadcaster and physicist Professor Brian Cox.

Climate scientists are 95% certain that humans are the main cause of the current global warming the world is experiencing. But Cox said this level of accuracy had been manipulated by “nonsensical”, politically-motivated climate sceptics.

“I think we do a disservice to the public. If you look down the [camera] lens and see your head of department or your PhD supervisor, whoever it might be, then you’ll start being scientifically precise and you’ll mislead the public. Because you’ll give them a false sense of debate,” he told an audience at a fundraiser for the Society of Biology.

He said scientists could say with total confidence that climate science was uncontroversial and the current predictions for warming were the best advice available.

Brian Cox: scientists giving false sense of debate on climate change by Karl Mathiesen, The Guardian, Sep 3, 2014

Climate change threatens to put the fight against hunger back by decades

We’ve all heard about the dangers of climate change on world food security, but by 2050 our ability to produce food may be lowered by up to 10% due to rising air pollution, according to new research published by Nature Climate Change.

“Human activities have increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere by over 30% during the past 200 years and this figure is expected to double by the end of the century,” says lead author Arnold Bloom. “Our report found this change in air pollution inhibits the growth of field-grown wheat by 10%.”

According to Bloom, air pollution will affect both urban and rural farming alike. Field-grown wheat is a staple crop for most developing countries, so if not addressed these findings show food security will suffer more than previously predicted. Adding to the crisis, worldwide food demand is set to rise by 50% in 2050.

Climate change threatens to put the fight against hunger back by decades by Charlotte Seager, The Guardian, Sep 2, 2014

El Nino watch: 6 months and still counting 

For months now, the tropical Pacific Ocean has been flirting with blossoming into a full-fledged El Niño state: Waters off the coast of South America have warmed, a hallmark of the climate phenomenon, but then cooled, only to warm once again. Winds, which normally blow east-to-west have made tentative moves in the other direction, another key criteria, but the bottom line is that the whole El Niño package hasn’t come together.

So, is this El Niño going to happen or not?

“Most likely” is the answer from forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University, who issue monthly forecasts.

El Nino Watch: 6 Months and Still Counting by Andrea Thompson, Climate Central, Sep 4, 2014

Humans damaging wild forests at "alarming" rate, maps show

The world's undisturbed forests are being degraded at an "alarming speed", researchers said on Thursday, as they released new analysis showing an area three times the size of Germany was affected by logging and infrastructure development in the last 13 years.

Using satellite technology and advanced techniques, they found that more than 104 million hectares of intact forest landscapes were degraded between 2000 and 2013 - around 8 percent of the global total.

"We can clearly see that business as usual will lead to destruction of most remaining intact forests this century,” said Nigel Sizer, global director of the forest programme at the World Resources Institute (WRI) and head of Global Forest Watch.

Humans damaging wild forests at "alarming" rate, maps show by Megan Rowling, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Sep 4, 2014

New York to become a hub of climate hubbub

The climate buzz in the Big Apple later this month will have more effervescence than a bottle of hard cider. You may have heard of Climate Week NYC, the U.N. Climate Summit, and the People's Climate March. They're all scheduled at around the same time, but they're all different things. Here's the skinny on all of them.

New York to Become a Hub of Climate Hubbub by John Upton, Climate Central, Sep 4, 2014

On arguing by analogy

Climate blogs and comment threads are full of ‘arguments by analogy’. Depending on what ‘side’ one is on, climate science is either like evolution/heliocentrism/quantum physics/relativity or eugenics/phrenology/Ptolemaic cosmology/phlogiston. Climate contrarians are either like flat-earthers/birthers/moon-landing hoaxers/vaccine-autism linkers or Galileo/stomach ulcer-Heliobacter proponents/Wegner/Copernicus. Episodes of clear misconduct or dysfunction in other spheres of life are closely parsed only to find clubs with which to beat an opponent. Etc. Etc.

On arguing by analogy by Gavin Schmidt, Real Climate , Sep 2, 2014

Scientists may have solved a climate change mystery

Scientists have long known that carbon dioxide is the main cause of most of the warming we've seen since pre-industrial times. But there are periods in the Earth's distant past when the connection between carbon dioxide and temperature rise has been harder to see.

New research into Greenland's ice sheets now seems to have explained one of the mysteries of our climatic past, confirming the importance of carbon dioxide on global temperature changes.

Scientists may have solved a climate change mystery using Greenland ice cores by Robert McSweeney, The Carbon Brief, Sep 4, 2014

Sunlight boosts CO2 from thawing permafrost

Arctic permafrost holds about twice as much carbon as the atmosphere, making its ultimate fate a key factor in the severity and pace of climate change impacts.

Now a study reports that old assumptions of how permafrost carbon breaks down in Arctic lakes and rivers may be wrong. Instead of bacteria being responsible for the conversion of carbon into carbon dioxide, the real culprit in many cases is sunlight, according to the research supported by the National Science Foundation.

The findings could change estimates of how much permafrost soil carbon—which constitutes about half the world's soil carbon in total—is transformed to greenhouse gases and released to the atmosphere. They also suggest that warming could exacerbate the release of CO2 from Arctic waters by allowing more vulnerable areas to be exposed to sunlight over time.

Sunlight Boosts CO2 from Thawing Permafrost by Christa Marshal, Climate Wire/Scientific American. Sep 4, 2014

U.N. Climate Summit will help seal the fate of nations

The first thing to know about the U.N. Climate Summit is that it's not a part of the formal global climate treaty negotiations.

Except it sort of is. By bringing together more than 100 heads of state in New York on Sept. 23, along with CEOs and leaders from civil society organizations, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is hoping that it serves as diplomatic jumper cables to revitalize the stagnated U.N. climate treaty talks as they head into a crucial year.

Climate scientists and many political leaders have warned that, because of the inertia of the climate system, tackling global warming is becoming more urgent with each passing day, and that if the world does not enact major emissions cuts by 2020, all hope of limiting global warming to at or below dangerous levels will be lost.

To put it another way, the negotiations that informally kick off in New York this month could make or break the fate of many countries, species and communities worldwide.

This Month's U.N. Climate Summit Will Help Seal the Fate of Nations by Andrew Freedman, Mashable, Sep 5, 2014

World’s last remaining forest wilderness at risk

The world’s last remaining forest wilderness is rapidly being lost – and much of this is taking place in Canada, not in Brazil or Indonesia where deforestation has so far made the headlines.

A new satellite study reveals that since 2000 more than 104 million hectares of forests – an area three times the size of Germany – have been destroyed or degraded.

“Every four seconds, an area of the size of a football (soccer) field is lost,” said Christoph Thies of Greenpeace International.

The extent of this forest loss, which is clearly visible in satellite images taken in 2000 and 2013, is “absolutely appalling” and has a global impact, Thies told IPS, because forests play a crucial in regulating the climate. 

World’s Last Remaining Forest Wilderness at Risk by Stephen Leahy, International Press Service (IPS), Sep 5, 2014

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Comments 1 to 2:

  1. Climate change threatens to put the fight against hunger back by decades

    This is my vote for understatement of the Millenium.

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  2. jja should that perhaps be "Climate change threatenst to put the fight against hunger back by Millenia"?

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