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2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #4A

Posted on 22 January 2014 by John Hartz

  • At Davos, push for clean energy as climate weapon
  • Climate change alters land map of India
  • CO2 emissions are being 'outsourced' by rich countries
  • Global warming can produce more intense snows
  • Industry realism curtails EU's long-term climate ambitions
  • 'Neglected Topic' winner: climate change
  • NOAA: World in 2013 was 4th hottest on record
  • North and Tropical Atlantic Ocean bringing climate change to Antarctica
  • Oil demand to rise as global economy recovers
  • Stop the foot-dragging on climate change
  • Trade and the environment
  • Washington and the oil industry know the truth about climate change
  • Wasting energy on climate change sceptics

At Davos, push for clean energy as climate weapon

Leaders gathered in the Swiss ski resort of Davos are pushing for nations worldwide to shift to cleaner energy sources as the best way to contain global warming and re-energize the global economy.

U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres, reflecting the top billing that climate change has in Davos this year, said the world economy is at risk unless a binding deal is agreed in Paris in 2015 to lower heat-trapping carbon emissions from coal and oil.

"It is important that we get the treaty because the signal to the markets, the signal to the global economy, needs to be stronger than it is right now," she said in an Associated Press interview on Wednesday.

At Davos, push for clean energy as climate weapon by John Heilprin, AP/SF Gate, Jan 22, 2014

Climate change alters land map of India

The adverse effects of climate change are being felt on more than a fourth of India’s landmass over the last four decades. While some parts of the country have turned arid, others have witnessed more rainfall.

A study by the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) at Hyderabad has revealed that about 27% of the country’s geographical area has been directly impacted by climate change, a result of increase in mean surface temperatures coupled with changes in rainfall pattern between 1971 and 2005.

The study said the changes in weather have implications on agriculture, water availability, drought preparedness, and could be a possible trigger for climate-change driven disease.

Climate change alters land map of India by Snehal Rebello, Hindustan Times, Jan 19, 2014

CO2 emissions are being 'outsourced' by rich countries

The world's richest countries are increasingly outsourcing their carbon pollution to China and other rising economies, according to a draft UN report.

Outsourcing of emissions comes in the form of electronic devices such as smartphones, cheap clothes and other goods manufactured in China and other rising economies but consumed in the US and Europe.

A draft of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, obtained by the Guardian, says emissions of carbon dioxide and the other greenhouse gases warming the planet grew twice as fast in the first decade of the 21st century as they did during the previous three decades.

CO2 emissions are being 'outsourced' by rich countries to rising economies by Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, Jan 20, 2014

Global warming can produce more intense snows

We all remember "Snowmageddon" in February of 2010. Even as Washington, D.C., saw 32 inches of snowfall for the month of February—more than it has seen in any February since 1899—conservatives decided to use the weather to mock global warming. Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe and his family even built an igloo on Capitol Hill and called it "Al Gore's New Home." Har har.

Yet at the same time, scientific voices were pointing out something seemingly counterintuitive, but in fact fairly simple to understand: Even as it raises temperatures on average, global warming may also lead to more intense individual snow events. It's a lesson to keep in mind as the northeast braces for winter storm Janus—which is expected to deliver as much as a foot of snow in some regions—and we can expect conservatives to once again mock climate change.

Believe It: Global Warming Can Produce More Intense Snows by Chris Mooney, Mother Jones, Jan 21, 2014

Industry realism curtails EU's long-term climate ambitions

Seven years after it set some of the world's most stringent environmental targets, the European Union is about to revise its long-term goals to take more account of industry and changed economic circumstances.

Following years of economic turmoil, low growth and rising energy costs, the EU is looking to strike a balance between tackling climate change and giving industry room to manoeuvre as it prepares to unveil new targets on Wednesday.

Instead of the "Holy Trinity" of goals laid down in 2007 - a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 levels by 2020, 20 percent use of renewable energy sources and 20 percent gains in energy efficiency - the new targets for 2030 are likely to be simpler. 

Industry realism curtails EU's long-term climate ambitions by Barbara Lewis and Charlie Dunmore, Reuters, Jan 19, 2014

"Neglected Topic" winner: climate change

HERE’S a scary fact about America: We’re much more likely to believe that there are signs that aliens have visited Earth (77 percent) than that humans are causing climate change (44 percent).

That comes to mind because a couple of weeks ago, I asked readers for suggestions of “neglected topics” that we in the news business should cover more aggressively in 2014. Some 1,300 readers recommended a broad range of issues, which I look forward to pilfering (with credit!) — and many made a particularly compelling case for climate change.

‘Neglected Topic’ Winner: Climate Change, Op-ed by Nicholas Kristoff, New York Times, Jan 18, 2014

NOAA: World in 2013 was 4th hottest on record

The sweltering year of 1988 first put global warming in the headlines and ended up as the hottest year on record. But on Tuesday, it was pushed out of the top 20 warmest by 2013.

Last year tied for the fourth hottest and 1988 fell to 21st.

The average world temperature was 58.12 degrees (14.52 Celsius) tying with 2003 for the fourth warmest since 1880, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday.

At the same time, NASA, which calculates records in a different manner, ranked last year as the seventh warmest on record, with an average temperature of 58.3 degrees (14.6 Celsius). The difference is related to how the two agencies calculate temperatures in the Arctic and other remote places and is based on differences that are in the hundredths of a degree, scientists said.

Both agencies said nine of the 10th warmest years on record have happened in the 21st century.  The hottest year was 2010, according to NOAA.

NOAA: World in 2013 was 4th hottest on record by Seth Borenstien, AP/SF Gate, Jan 21, 2014 

North and Tropical Atlantic Ocean bringing climate change to Antarctica

The gradual warming of the North and Tropical Atlantic Ocean is contributing to climate change in Antarctica, a team of New York University scientists has concluded. The findings, which rely on more than three decades of atmospheric data and appear in the journal Nature, show new ways in which distant regional conditions are contributing to Antarctic climate change. 

"Our findings reveal a previously unknown—and surprising—force behind climate change that is occurring deep in our southern hemisphere: the Atlantic Ocean," says Xichen Li, a doctoral student in NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and the study's lead author. "Moreover, the study offers further confirmation that warming in one region can have far-reaching effects in another."

Over the past few decades, Antarctica has experienced dramatic climate change, with its peninsula exhibiting the strongest warming of any region on the planet. During its summer, Antarctic changes have been attributed to greenhouse gas increase and stratospheric ozone loss. However, less clear are the forces behind climate changes that occur during its winter. In addition, the effects of these changes during the cold season are complex, further stifling efforts to find the atmospheric culprit.

North and Tropical Atlantic Ocean bringing climate change to Antarctica,study finds,, Jan 22, 2014

Oil demand to rise as global economy recovers

Global oil demand will increase more quickly this year as economic growth accelerates, outstripping supply even as shale oil production in the United States reaches record highs, the west's energy watchdog said on Tuesday.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said world oil consumption would increase by 1.3m barrels per day (bpd) this year, 50,000 bpd higher than previously forecast.

"Global oil demand growth appears to have gradually gained momentum in the last 18 months, driven by economic recovery in the developed world," the IEA said in its monthly report.

"Most OECD economies have by now largely exited the restraints of recession, with strong gains in some countries in the energy-intensive manufacturing and petrochemical sectors." 

Oil demand to rise as global economy recovers, energy watchdog says, The Guardian, Jan 21, 2014

Stop the foot-dragging on climate change

The world has very little time — perhaps 15 years — to make serious inroads on  climate change, according to a leaked report from a United  Nations panel. Current efforts, even among the most committed nations, fall  short, and at the current rate of carbon emissions, the problem might grow too  large to overcome with existing technology.

Stop the foot-dragging on climate change, Op-ed by Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times, Jan 21, 2014

Trade and the environment

One of the most laudable American goals in negotiating the trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership with 11 other countries was to strengthen environmental protections around the world. But a draft chapter of the agreement made public last week by WikiLeaks shows that many of the countries involved in the talks are trying to undermine that goal.

Trade and the Environment, Op-ed by Editorial Board, New York Times, Jan 18, 2014

Washington and the oil industry know the truth about climate change

Climate skeptics in Congress, and oil and coal industry lobbyists like the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Coal Council (ACC) may be preventing any significant action in the US on reducing this country’s emissions of carbon into the atmosphere, but at the Pentagon, and in the executive suites of the oil industry giants, there is no doubt about the reality of climate change.

Washington and the Oil Industry Know the Truth about Climate Change by Dave Lindorff, This Can't Be Happening, Jan 18, 2014

Wasting energy on climate change sceptics

This time of the year often brings with it news on climate change. Partly this is because the various agencies recording global temperatures are releasing their annual measures, and partly because invariably we have some pretty hot weather here in Australia.

This year the quirk amidst the usual plethora of reporting and opinion pieces has been the response to an op-ed by the chair of Tony Abbott's "Business Advisory Council", Maurice Newman.

Newman usually pops up on opinion pages or in speeches to variously decry the pay of those on minimum wage; rail against wind farms because they are, among other things, "a danger to human health"; or attack climate change.

Wasting energy on climate change sceptics by Greg Jericho, The Drum/ABC, Jan 22, 2013

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Comments 1 to 5:

  1. Many of these articles have a common element. An economic competitive advantage is obtained by those who can get away with unsustainable and damaging ways of doing things (that are less expensive – and unsustainable, damaging and riskier ways will always be less expensive as long as they can be gotten away with).

    Until that counter-productive economic advantage is effectively addressed the powerful global leaders will likely only be 'all talk', with the worst of them saying whatever they believe will be the easiest way to get the most popular support while maximizing the opportunity for the powerful people who help keep them in power to benefit the most from keeping them in power.

    The only sustainable future for humanity or an economy is if the uncaring greedy are not able to succeed in any way, ever. The current ‘popular’ socioeconomic system will not lead to a sustainable better future for all. It needs to be significantly changed, but the people who became powerful in the flawed system will certainly not willingly make the required changes.

    Hopefully, the continued efforts to most fully inform as many people as possible about this issue will rapidly lead to the majority of voters demanding measures to ensure nobody gets away with an advantage from damaging and unsustainable actions.

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  2. >>The only sustainable future for humanity or an economy...........<<

    The fundamental problem for climate change, resources, biodiversity etc etc is overpopulation. That is the ONLY thing that matters.

    Some are keen to say that population is forecast to stabilise at 9Bn plus, but nobody seems to address the question of whether even *that* number is remotely sustainable. Bear in mind that everyone would like to see the developing countries attaining a high standard of living.

    Various estimates of sustainable population have come up with hugely differing results, but almost all put the number way below 9Bn IF a more equal standard of living is taken as read.

    Taking action on carbon without addressing the real problem is like running up the down escalator without first pushing the "Stop" button.

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  3. Meanwhile in the arctic region...

    The Arctic Frontiers conference was held in Tromsö, Norway, this week. Irene Quaile from Deutsche Welle covers this event on her blog, starting with "Arctic Frontiers: Humans in the Arctic".

    While the arctic regions are undergoing much more of a change than other regions as a result of global warming, a kind of unwillingness to deal with the problems can be noticed, states Quaile in her recent blog "Climate Change: Arctic in denial?" where she cites Kari Marie Norgaard (Professor of Sociology at the University of Oregon) and Per Espen Stoknes (Associate Professor at the Center for Climate Strategy of the Norwegian Business Institute NBI) who are currently studying this phenomenon.

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  4. Wol @2.

    Overpopulation is a concern, but it has nothing to do with the fundamental lack of sustainability of human activity based on the consumption of non-renewable resources.

    There is no future for attempts to get benefit from the consumption of non-renweable resources. Eternal full-recycling of such resources would have a future. Burning them definitely doesn't.

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  5. Wol @2.

    A more realistic way to look at the population issue is to recognize that it is the number of people whose lifestyle leads to the highest consumption and impacts that must be reduced.

    That is essentially what the point of Kyoto was all about. It was going to require the highest per-capita consumers and impacters to change their ways and help the less fortunate become more fortunate without becoming big per-capita consumers and impacters.

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