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2015 SkS Weekly News Roundup #1B

Posted on 3 January 2015 by John Hartz

Baked Alaska: Climate change in the Arctic

If there’s been any “pause ” in global warming, the Arctic  hasn’t seen it. The latest Arctic Report Card issued from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows a continued acceleraRion of climate change in the region.

This latest report shows that Arctic air temperatures continue to rise at more than twice the rate of global temperatures, a phenomenon scientists call “Arctic amplification,” causing a range of impacts. Among them are increasing air and sea surface temperatures, declining reflectivity (albedo ) of Greenland’s ice sheet, diminishing spring snow cover on land and summer ice  on the ocean, and the declining health and numbers of some polar bear numbers, including those in the Hudson Bay region

Baked Alaska: Climate Change in the Arctic by Tom Schueneman, The EnergyCollective, Jan 2, 2015

Citing next generations, lawsuits demand courts recognize 'mind-blowing' climate impacts

By caving to industry pressures, environmental regulatory agencies are failing to uphold their obligation to future generations, declared Mary Christina Wood, the author pushing a new legal framework to fight global warming, on the final episode of Moyers & Company.

Wood, a University of Oregon law professor who wrote Nature's Trust: Environmental Law for a New Ecological Age (2013; Cambridge University Press), advocates an idea called "atmospheric trust litigation," which takes the fate of the Earth into the courts, arguing that the planet’s atmosphere—its air, water, land, plants, and animals—are the responsibility of government, held in its trust to insure the survival of all generations to come.

Citing Next Generations, Lawsuits Demand Courts Recognize 'Mind-Blowing' Climate Impacts by Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams, Jan 2, 2015

Climate change’s calling card in 2014: Heat

Editor’s Note: This is one in a series of stories in which we look back at key issues and events of 2014 and why they will continue to make headlines in 2015.

Global warming and extreme heat continued filling the airwaves in 2014 and it’s likely that the hits will just keep coming in 2015 and beyond.

This year is virtually guaranteed to go down as the world’s hottest on record. But it’s not just one hot year we’re talking about. It’s a staggering list.

Climate Change’s Calling Card in 2014: Heat by Brian Kahn, Climate Central, Jan 1, 2015

Climate change threatens Quechua and their crops in Peru’s Andes

In this town in Peru’s highlands over 3,000 metres above sea level, in the mountains surrounding the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the Quechua Indians who have lived here since time immemorial are worried about threats to their potato crops from alterations in rainfall patterns and temperatures.

“The families’ food security is definitely at risk,” agricultural technician Lino Loayza told IPS. “The rainy season started in September, and the fields should be green, but it has only rained two or three days, and we’re really worried about the effects of the heat.”

If the drought stretches on, as expected, “we won’t have a good harvest next year,” said Loayza, who is head of the Parque de la Papa or Potato Park, a biocultural conservation unit created to safeguard native crops in the rural municipality of Pisac in the southeastern department or region of Cuzco.

Climate Change Threatens Quechua and Their Crops in Peru’s Andes by Fabiola Ortiz, Inter Press Serivice (IPS), Dec 29, 2014

David Attenborough: Leaders are in denial about climate change

Sir David Attenborough is calling on global leaders to step-up their actions to curb climate change, saying that they are in denial about the dangers it poses despite the overwhelming evidence about its risks.

The TV naturalist said those who wield power need to use it: “Wherever you look there are huge risks. The awful thing is that people in authority and power deny that, when the evidence is overwhelming and they deny it because it’s easier to deny it – much easier to deny it’s a problem and say ‘we don’t care’,” Sir David said.

In terms of climate change, “we won’t do enough and no one can do enough, because it’s a very major, serious problem facing humanity; but at the same time it would be silly to minimise the size of the problem,” he told Sky News.

David Attenborough: Leaders are in denial about climate change by Tom Bawden, The Independent, Dec 31, 2014

Environment Agency: 7,000 properties to be lost to sea<h/3>

An estimated 7,000 properties around England and Wales will be sacrificed to rising seas over the next century, according to the Environment Agency.

Analysis by the Agency, based on current funding levels, projects that more than 800 will be lost over the next 20 years as coastlines erode.

The cost of protecting these properties is considered to be too high.

Environment Agency: 7,000 properties to be lost to sea by Roger Harrabin, BBC News, Dec 29, 2014

Hottest year ever: 5 places where 2014 temps really cooked

Though the official numbers aren't in for December, it's likely that 2014 will go down as the planet's hottest year on record, at least since scientists started keeping tabs on global temperature.

Data from three major climate-tracking groups agree: The combined land and ocean surface temperatures hit new highs this year, according to the United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United Kingdom's Met Office and the World Meteorological Association.

If December's figures are at least 0.76 degrees Fahrenheit (0.42 degrees Celsius) higher than the 20th century average, 2014 will beat the warmest years on record, NOAA said this month. The January-through-November period has already been noted as the warmest 11-month period in the past 135 years, according to NOAA's November Global Climate Report. [8 Ways Global Warming Is Already Changing the World]

Hottest Year Ever: 5 Places Where 2014 Temps Really Cooked by Becky Oskin and LiveScience/Scientific American, Dec 31, 2014

How smart glass windows slash energy bills

It’s a kind of disappearing act in reverse.

Apply a trickle of electricity, and the window made by View can change from clear to almost pitch black. Control the current, and the window can take on any tint you need. Based in Milpitas, View is part of a burgeoning market for “dynamic glass,” a market that according to Navigant Research could be worth $899 million worldwide by 2022. And the company’s windows could help California achieve one of its most ambitious energy goals — creating buildings that produce most of their own power.

View is turning a former racquetball club in Sunnyvale into a “zero-net-energy” office building — one that generates as much electricity as it uses over the course of a year. Solar panels on the roof will supply the electricity. The windows, covering about 40 percent of the walls, filter sunlight and glare to slash cooling costs.

How smart glass windows slash energy bills by David R. Baker, SFGate, Dec 29, 2014

How to pay for climate safety

The purpose of the global financial system is to allocate the world's savings to their most productive uses. When the system works properly, these savings are channeled into investments that raise living standards; when it malfunctions, as in recent years, savings are channeled into real-estate bubbles and environmentally harmful projects, including those that exacerbate human-induced climate change.

The year 2015 will be a turning point in the effort to create a global financial system that contributes to climate safety rather than climate ruin. In July, the world's governments will meet in Addis Ababa to hammer out a new framework for global finance.

The meeting's goal will be to facilitate a financial system that supports sustainable development, meaning economic growth that is socially inclusive and environmentally sound. Five months later, in Paris, the world's governments will sign a new global agreement to control human-induced climate change and channel funds toward climate-safe energy, building on the progress achieved earlier this month in negotiations in Lima, Peru. There, too, finance will loom large.

How to pay for climate safety by Jeffery Sachs, Sydney Morning Herald, Dec 30, 2014

India's Modi raises solar investment target to $100 bln by 2022

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ramped up his target for solar energy as he bets on renewables to help meet rising power demand and overcome the frequent outages that plague Asia's third largest economy, a senior official told Reuters.

India gets twice as much sunshine as many European countries that use solar power. But the clean energy source contributes less than 1 percent to India's energy mix, while its dependence on erratic coal supplies causes chronic power cuts that idle industry and hurt growth.

Modi now wants companies from China, Japan, Germany and the United States to lead investments of $100 billion over seven years to boost India's solar energy capacity by 33 times to 100,000 megawatts (MW), said Upendra Tripathy, the top official in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

India's Modi raises solar investment target to $100 bln by 2022 by Krishna N. Das and Swetha Gopinath, Reuters, Jan 2, 2015

New U.S. climate model project getting cautious praise

Fifteen months ago, academic climate scientists expressed worries that a new climate model sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) was going to harm existing modeling efforts, siphoning off talent and funding when federally funded science is short on both. The biggest concern: that the Accelerated Climate Modeling for Energy (ACME) project, meant to forecast local impacts of climate change and to be used on DOE’s future exascale supercomputers, would dilute resources from the Community Earth System Model (CESM). That model, managed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, is built on science and code continually developed by U.S. academics and DOE scientists and is partially funded by DOE. Besides, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal space and ocean agencies, respectively, each have two other models; could creating a sixth U.S. climate model work?

New U.S. climate model project getting cautious praise by Eli Kintisch, Science, Dec 30, 2014

Rapidly warming oceans set to release heat into the atmosphere

Probing a blue abyss can be an abysmal recipe for the blues.

For every 10 joules of energy that our greenhouse gas pollution traps here on Earth, about 9 of them end up in an ocean. There, the effects of global warming bite into fisheries, ecosystems and ice. But those effects are largely imperceptible to humans—as invisible to a landlubber as an albatross chomping on a baited hook at the end of a long line.

What scientists discovered in 2014 is that since the turn of the century, oceans have been absorbing more of global warming’s heat and energy than would normally be expected, helping to slow rates of warming on land. What they will be talking about in 2015, and beyond, is when that trend might come to an end—likely following a routine shift in Pacific Ocean trade winds. Much of that extra sunken heat will eventually be belched back into the atmosphere by the overheating seas. The effects of ocean warming might be imperceptible to most of us, but they are far-reaching. They are driving fishing fleets further out to sea, ushering tropical fish into polar waters, and worsening flood hazards for coastal communities.

Rapidly Warming Oceans Set to Release Heat into the Atmosphere by John Upton, Climate Central/Scientific American, Dec 30, 2014

Top 10 Misguided Climate Deniers’ Quotes of 2014

Every year climate deniers manage to say some truly misguided things in an attempt to appease their oil and gas industry sponsors. From breathtaking avoidance of the issue to outright denial; from magic Icelandic volcanoes to refusal to believe the experts, politicians find a variety of ways to spout climate denial nonsense.

As 2014 ends and we move into a new era of Climate Deniers in charge of both houses of Congress, we thought we’d give you our Top 10 Misguided Climate Deniers’ Quotes of 2014.

Top 10 Misguided Climate Deniers’ Quotes of 2014 by Mitch Jones, Common Dreams, Dec 31, 2104

Tracing the roots of Pope Francis’s climate plans for 2015

One of the highlights of my year, perhaps my career, was being able to participate in “Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature: Our Responsibility,” a four-day Vatican workshop aimed at shaping strategies for human advancement that are attuned to the planet’s limits, organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Academy of Social Sciences last May.

Now there are signs that the themes and conclusions developed in those sessions are helping to shape Pope Francis’s planned push for serious international commitments in 2015 to curb greenhouse gases and gird communities, particularly the poorest, against climate-related hazards.

A first step will come in less than three weeks, when, during his visit to the Philippines, the pope is scheduled to have lunch with some survivors of the typhoon that devastated Tacloban in 2012. The scope of the human calamity there was as much a result of deep poverty and poorly governed urban growth as the ferocity of Typhoon Haiyan.

Tracing the roots of Pope Francis’s climate plans for 2015 by Andrew C Revkin, Dot Earth, New York Times, Dec 31, 2014

Tropical forests may inhale third of fossil fuel emissions

Plant a tree. Preserve a forest. Save the Earth from climate change?

It’s of course much more complicated than that, and slowing the tide of climate change will take a lot more than saving trees from chainsaws. But a new study highlights how critical forests may be, especially in the tropics, in absorbing human-caused carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and mitigating climate change.

Tropical forests are so critical to fighting climate change that they may absorb up to one-third of all of humans’ fossil fuel emissions and may become more effective at doing so as atmospheric CO2 concentrations increase, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Tropical forests may inhale third of fossil fuel emissions by Bobby Magill, Climate Central, Dec 31, 2014

US must face up to the dark side of climate change

Climate change could leave more Americans in the dark as hurricanes become more intense or more frequent.

Researchers in the US have identified 27 cities that are likely to become more vulnerable to blackouts as a result of floods and high winds hitting the power grid.

They report in the journal Climatic Change that they matched evidence from the past – historic hurricane information – with scenarios for future storm behaviour throughout the US as global temperatures rise. And then they looked at those cities most vulnerable.

US must face up to the dark side of climate change by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, Dec 29, 2014

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    Top 10 Misguided Climate Deniers’ Quotes of 2014

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