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2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #39A

Posted on 23 September 2014 by John Hartz

Climate change as a catalyst of conflict

A respected military advisory board, with highly ranked retired officers from all branches of the armed forces, evaluated the effects of climate change on national security. They found that climate change is becoming a catalyst for conflict.

Climate change as a catalyst of conflict by Bud Ward and ChavoBart Digital Media., Yale Climate Connections, Sep 22, 2014

Climate primer: Explaining the global carbon budget and why it matters

For as long as scientists and policymakers have been grappling with climate change, they've been up against two critical questions: How much extra carbon has mankind sent into the atmosphere? And how much more can be added before global warming becomes disastrous? 

Climate researchers have spent decades tracking and quantifying the complex flows  of carbon into and out of the atmosphere, but those questions couldn't be answered convincingly until 2009. That's when a group of European scientists published a groundbreaking and highly credible global carbon budget  that filled the information void. Using a comprehensive climate model, the scientists determined the maximum amount of greenhouse gases mankind could send into the atmosphere without triggering catastrophe—and then found that more than a quarter of that budget had been spent by 2006. 

Climate primer: Explaining the global carbon budget and why it matters by Elizabeth Douglass, Inside Climate News, Sep 22, 2014

Climate realiites

ON Tuesday, world leaders will converge at United Nations headquarters in New York for a summit meeting on the climate that will set the stage for global negotiations next year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the threat of global climate change. The summit is titled “Catalyzing Action,” a decidedly hopeful characterization.

I wish I were so hopeful.

It is true that, in theory, we can avoid the worst consequences of climate change with an intensive global effort over the next several decades. But given real-world economic and, in particular, political realities, that seems unlikely.

There are emerging hints of a positive path ahead, but first let’s look at the sobering reality.

Climate Realities, Op-ed by Robert N. Stavis, Sunday Review, New York Times, Sep 20, 2014

Dozens arrested as police face off with Flood Wall Street protesters

More than 100 protesters were arrested after hundreds of people gathered in New York City’s financial district on Monday to denounce to denounce what organisers say is Wall Street’s contribution to climate change.

Flood Wall Street demonstrators, primarily dressed in blue to represent climate change-induced flooding, marched to New York City’s financial centre to “highlight the role of Wall Street in fuelling the climate crisis,” according to organisers .

Dozens arrested as police face off with Flood Wall Street protesters by Amanda Holpuch, The Guardian, Sep 22, 2014

On a warmer planet, which cities will be safest?

Alaskans, stay in Alaska. People in the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest, sit tight.

Scientists trying to predict the consequences of climate change say that they see few safe havens from the storms, floods and droughts that are sure to intensify over the coming decades. But some regions, they add, will fare much better than others.

Forget most of California and the Southwest (drought, wildfires). Ditto for much of the East Coast and Southeast (heat waves, hurricanes, rising sea levels). Washington, D.C., for example, may well be a flood zone by 2100, according to an estimate released last week.

Instead, consider Anchorage. Or even, perhaps, Detroit.  

Portland Will Still Be Cool, but Anchorage May Be the Place to Be: On a warmer planet, which cities will be safest? by Jennifer A. Kingson,  New York Times, Sep 22, 2014

Push for new pact on climate change is plagued by old divide of wealth

At 1 p.m. on Sunday, tens of thousands of demonstrators in Manhattan are expected to make as much noise as they can — with whistles, trumpets, even the tolling of church bells — to raise an alarm about the risks of climate change. Similar demonstrations are planned across the United States and in 161 other countries.

Two days later, that show of unity will most likely give way to political discord.

The United Nations is convening on Tuesday the largest gathering of world leaders ever devoted to climate change, and some bold proclamations are expected. Africa will promise a clean-energy corridor stretching from Cairo to Cape Town. Pledges will be made to halve the destruction of the world’s forests by 2020 and stop it by 2030. The World Bank will lead a big push to put a global price on emissions of greenhouse gases.

Push for new pact on climate change is plagued by old divide of wealth by Justin Gillis & Coral Davenport, New York Times, Sep 20, 2014

Q. and A.  Glen Peters on China and climate change

Government leaders from across the world will gather at the United Nations in New York on Tuesday for a summit meeting on global warming, and China is at the heart of contentious negotiations on how to cut the greenhouse gas emissions behind that warming.

In 2009, governments agreed on a goal of keeping greenhouse gases below a level that would cause global average temperatures to rise two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial average. But none of the major economies is on track to make the emissions cuts needed to achieve that goal. An international research effort, the Global Carbon Project, has been tracking emissions trends and the latest findings, published on Sunday in the project’s annual Global Carbon Budget, showed that in 2013 China emitted 28 percent of all greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels and other human activities.

In an interview, Glen Peters, a senior research fellow at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research – Oslo and a scientist with the Global Carbon Project, discussed why China poses such a big challenge for curbing global warming:

Q. and A.: Glen Peters on China and climate change by Chris Buckley, Sinsosphere, New York Times, Sep 21, 2014

Scientists report global rise in greenhouse gas emissions

Global emissions of greenhouse gases jumped 2.3 percent in 2013 to record levels, scientists reported Sunday, in the latest indication that the world remains far off track in its efforts to control global warming.

The emissions growth last year was a bit slower than the average growth rate of 2.5 percent that prevailed over the past decade, and much of the dip was caused by an economic slowdown in China, which is the world’s single largest source of emissions. It may take another year or two to know if China has turned a corner toward lower emissions growth, or if the runaway pace of recent years will resume.

The new numbers, reported by a tracking initiative called the Global Carbon Project and published in the journal Nature Geoscience, come on the eve of a United Nations summit meeting meant to harness fresh political ambition in tackling climate change. Scientists said the figures show that vastly greater efforts would be needed to get the world on a course to keep long-term global warming within tolerable limits. 

Scientists Report Global Rise in Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Justin Gillis, New York Times, Sep 21, 2014

Scientists: Why clinging to a two degree limit may harm meaningful climate action

Hopes of keeping global warming below the long-established target of two degrees above pre-industrial levels are rapidly eroding, according to a collection of papers in two Nature journals today.

That might sound like a gloomy backdrop to this week's climate summit, convened by UN director-general Ban Ki Moon to refocus world leaders' attention on climate action.

But chalking up the two degrees target as a political failure is a "naive" way to look at climate ambition and could even obstruct future negotiations, the authors argue.

Scientists: Why clinging to a two degree limit may harm meaningful climate action by Roz Pidcock, The Carbon Brief, Sep 21, 2014

Stop waiting for politicians to sound the alarm about climate change

At exactly 1pm on Sunday, the streets of New York City are going to fill with the sound of clanging pots, marching bands, church bells and whatever other kinds of noisemakers that participants of the People’s Climate March  decide to bring along.

It’s being called the “climate alarm”, and the general idea is that a whole lot of people are going to make the very loud point that climate change is a true emergency for humanity, the kind of threat that should cause us to stop what we are doing and get out of harm’s way.

Is it a stunt? Well, sure, all protests are. But the mere act of expressing our collective sense of climate urgency goes beyond symbolism. What is most terrifying about the threat of climate disruption is not the unending procession of scientific reports about rapidly melting ice sheets, crop failures and rising seas. It’s the combination of trying to absorb that information while watching our so-called leaders behave as if the global emergency is no immediate concern. As if every alarm in our collective house were not going off simultaneously.

Climate change is a global emergency. Stop waiting for politicians to sound the alarm by Naomi Klein, Comment is Free, The Guardian, Sep 20, 2014

Testing Future Conditions for the Food Chain

From afar, the three young men tramping through a corn field here looked like Midwestern farm boys checking their crop. And a fine crop it seemed to be, with plump ears hanging off vibrant green stalks.

But as they edged deeper into the field, the men — actually young scientists, not farmers — pointed to streaked, yellowing leaves on some of the corn plants. “You’re definitely seeing some damage,” said Tiago Tomaz, a biochemist from Australia.

The injured leaves signaled trouble down the road, and not just for a single plot of corn a few miles from the main campus of the University of Illinois. By design, the scientists were studying the type of damage that could put a serious dent in the food supply on a warming planet.

Testing future conditions for the food chain by Justin Gillis, New York Times, Sep 22, 20141

Trust in science reduces concerns about climate change

Donald Trump probably leaves the water running while brushing his teeth. Heck, he probably leaves it running while he’s at work. After all, turning faucets can be mildly inconvenient and if science has taught him anything, it’s that our planet is doing just fine when it comes to conserving its natural resources and its long-term environmental prospects. Indeed, given his very high profile remarks questioning climate change and the science upon which it is based, I think we can safely assume he doesn’t lose any sleep over his consumption habits or the size of his carbon footprint. 

But this is the kind of attitude we expect from individuals who have a fundamental mistrust (and misunderstanding) of science. Climate denialism seems to fit squarely with a disinterest towards cultivating environmentally friendly habits. We don’t expect people who “roll coal” to have a sophisticated appreciation for the importance of scientific progress. Those who do demonstrate environmentally friendly behavior, however, seem more like the kind of folks who understand that science has much to teach us about addressing global problems. 

Trust in Science Reduces Concerns about Climate Change by Piercarlo Valdesolo, Scientific American, Sep 23, 2014

Tutu calls for tactics that beat apartheid to be used in climate fight

Desmond Tutu, the Nobel peace prize winner and activist, has called for an international campaign to boycott mining companies, oil corporations and other businesses involved in the trade of fossil fuels. Writing exclusively in the Observer prior to this week's UN climate summit in New York, Tutu says the same approach that was taken by the 1980s anti-apartheid campaign, of which he was a leader, should now be adopted in the battle to halt global warming.

"The most devastating effects of climate change – deadly storms, heat waves, droughts, rising food prices and the advent of climate refugees – are being visited on the world's poor," he states. "Those who have no involvement in creating the problem are the most affected, while those with the capacity to arrest the slide dither. Africans, who emit far less carbon than the people of any other continent, will pay the steepest price. It is a deep injustice."

In his Observer article, Tutu urges world leaders including President Barack Obama to take a strong lead in setting up carbon emission curbs. However, he also proposes the launching of a populist campaign that would mirror the anti-apartheid campaigns, which argued that firms which conducted business with apartheid South Africa were aiding and abetting an immoral system. The businesses were targeted and their goods were boycotted.

Desmond Tutu calls for tactics that beat apartheid to be used in climate fight by Robin Mckie, The Guardian, Sep 20, 2014

U.N. puts spotlight on climate change

With crises from Islamic State to Ebola competing for attention, the United Nations on Tuesday will zero in on climate change, giving leaders from 125 countries a platform to explain how they plan to address the issue.

A huge march to call for international action on climate change, which brought as many as 400,000 people to the streets of New York on Sunday, set the tone for the summit spearheaded by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The private sector also helped create a buzz around the summit, with corporate chief executives like Apple's Tim Cook and Ikea's Peter Agnefjäll declaring a variety of voluntary measures to reduce their carbon emissions.

U.N. puts spotlight on climate change by Valerie Volcovici, The Guardian, Sep 22, 2014

World on course to overshoot two degrees target, study shows

As world leaders prepare to meet in New York to reinvigorate global efforts to tackle climate change, a new study shows carbon dioxide emissions are set to hit record levels. Again.

The Global Carbon Project's (GCP) annual report warns that if emissions continue to climb, the world will soon pass the point at which it's likely global warming can be limited to two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

The report's author Professor Corinne Le Quéré says in a press release that the research shows politicians "need to think very carefully" about how to avert the worst impacts of climate change.

World on course to overshoot two degrees target, study shows by Mat Hope, The Carbon Brief, Sep 21, 2014

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Comments 1 to 1:

  1. Worth mentioning inthis thread:

    "The Netherlands are going to invest 20 billion Euros to protect against the rise in sea level."

    Excerpt from the article: "About 9 million Dutch people live today in floodable areas of the kingdom, where are also concentrated 70 % of economic activity, sea ports and airports. Chemical plants, natural gas and nuclear installations are present as well and will be the subject of much strengthened protection measures. For public planners, the goal is to avoid a catastrophe that could threaten a potential revenue of about 2 trillion Euros."

    Non official translation by myself.

    It is my conviction that the arguments about how costly addressing the problem now would be have their numbers wrong.

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Fixed link

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