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2015 SkS Weekly News Roundup #22A

Posted on 27 May 2015 by John Hartz

America’s future has wind in its sails

Wind turbines have only a tenuous link to most Americans’ daily lives because wind farms generate less than 5 percent of all of the electricity produced today.

As reducing greenhouse gas emissions to slow a changing climate becomes more urgent, though, wind is expected to become one of the country’s largest sources of energy by mid-century. The U.S. Department of Energy has published two new maps that put that future in more concrete terms. 

America’s Future Has Wind in its Sails by Bobby Magill, Climate Central, May 26, 2015

China's CO2 emissions have been plummeting lately. What's going on?

Arguably the most important climate story in the world right now is the question of what's happening in China. A recent analysis by Greenpeace International found that China's carbon dioxide emissions have plunged nearly 5 percent, year over year, in the first four months of 2015:

Chinese CO2 Emissions 

China's CO2 emissions have been plummeting lately. What's going on? by Brad Plumer, Vox, May 22, 2015

Climate change denial is a threat to national security

First, let me be clear about this reality: Planet Earth is warming because of human activity, because of us, and that is profoundly affecting the climate. There is no honest doubt about this; the overwhelming evidence supports it, so much so that 97 percent of climate scientists agree on it.

The effects of climate change are profound. We are already seeing more extreme weathermore powerful tropical stormsmore wildfires. As the sea level rises, coastal populations are threatened, including military bases.

I have been saying for a long time that climate change is a threat to our national security, and it’s long past time to call out those who would deny this as abetting that threat.

Climate Change Denial Is a Threat to National Security by Phil Plait, Bad Astronomy, Slate, May 26, 2015

Climate impacts leave rainforests on edge of destruction

Rising temperatures will not themselves spell disaster for the world’s rainforests. It is the droughts and unpredictable rainfall patterns, which climate change is already worsening, that will settle the forests’ fate before the century ends, according to a new book.

Claude Martin, who has worked in tropical rainforest conservation since the 1970s, is author ofOn the Edge, commissioned by the Club of Rome, which published the seminal Limits to Growth report in 1972. Since then, nearly 50% of the world’s forest cover has disappeared.

Martin, a former director-general of WWF International, recognises that there are many drivers of forest damage and destruction − including the pressures of the global economy for animal feed and food for humans, and the worldwide demand for biofuels.

Climate impacts leave rainforests on edge of destruction by Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, May 23, 2015

Global schemes to price CO2 emissions worth almost $50 bln – World Bank

The value of global schemes to put a price on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and designed to reduce greenhouse gases blamed for global warming totalled almost $50 billion as of April 1, the World Bank said in a report on Tuesday.

The Carbon Pricing Watch report estimates emission trading schemes were worth $34 billion on April 1, up from $32 billion in 2014, while carbon taxes around the world, valued for the first time in the report, were about $14 billion.

The increase stemmed largely from the launch in January of South Korea's emissions trading scheme, which will impose caps on emissions from 525 of the country's biggest companies and become the world's second-biggest carbon market. 

Global schemes to price CO2 emissions worth almost $50 bln – World Bank by Susanna Twidale, Reuters, May 26, 2015

Heat wave kills more than 1,100 in India

Stifling heat has killed more than 1,100 people in India in less than one week.

The worst-hit area is the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, where authorities say 852 people have died in the heat wave. Another 266 have died in the neighboring state of Telangana.

India recorded its highest maximum temperature of 47 degrees Celsius — 117 degrees Fahrenheit — at Angul in the state of Odisha on Monday, according to B.P. Yadav, director of the India Meteorological Department.

Heat wave kills more than 1,100 in India by Harmeet Shah Singh and Rishabh Pratap, CNN, May 27, 2015

How fossil fuel burning nearly wiped out life on Earth – 250m years ago

Do you want to know the real reason for the advances by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria? Changing lightbulbs in America. This is the explanation given by John McCain, Republican chair of the Senate armed services committee. At the weekend he blamed Barack Obama’s inability to magic away Isis on the president’s belief that climate change is “the biggest enemy we have”. Never mind the role of the Iraq war – which McCain supported – in destabilising the region, destroying the Iraqi army and creating the opportunities Isis has exploited. Never mind the propagation of Salafi doctrines by Saudi Arabia, which McCain bravely confronts by grovelling before its tyrants. It’s the Better Buildings Challenge and the Solar Instructor Training Network that allowed Isis to capture Ramadi and Palmyra.

In fact there is a connection, but it strengthens Obama’s contention that “climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security”. One of the likely catalysts for the 2011 uprising in Syria was a massive drought – the worst in the region in the instrumental record – that lasted from 2006 to 2010. It caused the emigration of one and a half million rural workers into Syrian cities, and generated furious resentment when Bashar al-Assad’s government failed to respond effectively. Climate models suggest that manmade global warming more than doubled the likelihood of a drought of this magnitude.

How fossil fuel burning nearly wiped out life on Earth – 250m years ago by George Monbiot, Gusardian, May 27, 2015

Jeb Bush fumbles for "moderate" stance on climate, falls on face

Jeb Bush has been having a rough time, offering an evolving series of not-quite-coherent answers on the question of whether the Iraq War was a good idea. It's catnip for journalists, and they've hounded him about it relentlessly.

If the public or journalists cared as much about climate change as they do about the Iraq War, they'd take note of a series of Bush comments on that subject just as incoherent and unstable. His position can't stand up to the slightest scrutiny; his only hope is that it doesn't get any.

What's interesting about Bush's current stance on climate change is not that it's wrong (though it is), but what it says about the prospects of developing a climate change message that can help a GOP candidate survive the primary without hurting in the general election. So far, things are not looking good on that front.

Jeb Bush fumbles for "moderate" stance on climate, falls on face by David Roberts, Energy & Environment, Vox, May 26, 2015

Leading health charities should divest from fossil fuels, say climate scientists

Senior scientific figures, including influential climate researcher Michael Mann, have called on the world’s two leading health charities to review their fossil fuel investments in light of a series of Guardian investigations published this week.

The Big Carbon investigations uncovered examples of industry misinformation campaigns, legal transgressions and alleged human rights abuses.

Mann, along with other senior scientists and commentators, said the immense moral authority of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trustwas in danger of being undermined by their continued investments in companies with such questionable corporate practices.

Leading health charities should divest from fossil fuels, say climate scientists by Karl Mathiesen, Harry Davies and James Ball, Guardian, May 23, 2015

Nature faces off against politics in North Carolina

During the early morning hours of May 2, part of the northbound lane of North Carolina Highway 12 in Kitty Hawk broke off and washed into the Atlantic Ocean.

While the loss of 200 feet of roadway and about 500 feet of a protective sand berm will be temporary, it was more than just another hit to the road from a big spring storm at high tide under a full moon. In a state that has been engaged in a highly charged, highly politicized debate about climate change for more than five years, it was a reminder that the Atlantic isn’t waiting to see who wins the argument.

It was also a reminder that North Carolina, with its rapidly developing coastline and intricate ecological network of sounds and estuaries, has a lot at stake as sea levels rise. The state has more than 300 miles of direct coastline and thousands of miles of tidal areas. Like much of the Southeastern U.S. coast, commercial and residential development is growing more concentrated on barrier islands that move over time, rolling over themselves and drifting toward and away from the mainland with the rise and fall of the sea.

Nature faces off against politics in North Carolina by Kirk Ross, Al Jazeera, May 25, 2015

Paris can't be another Copenhagen

As a former prime minister of Australia, I understand something of the political costs leaders must bear in aiming to reconcile the long-term interests of the planet with short-term national interests.

After attending the 2009 Copenhagen summit on climate change, I was attacked back home for either doing too m

uch or too little in trying to bring about a binding global agreement.

We all failed at Copenhagen, though not for want of effort from many of us. The United Nations conference in Paris this December is the next opportunity for leaders of the world’s biggest economies to show real leadership in the slow-motion drama that is anthropogenic climate change.

Paris can't be another Copenhagen, Op-ed by Kevin Rudd, New York Times, May 25, 2015

Stern: Shell is asking us to bet against the world on climate change

Shell is asking investors to bet against the world taking action on climate change or in renewables displacing fossil fuels, says influential economist Nick Stern.

Speaking at a Guardian debate on divestment last night, Lord Stern said Shell and other hydrocarbon companies were getting it wrong on the potential of renewables technology and that people will insist on policies to hold global warming to 2C of global warming.

“They do not believe the world will be wise enough to follow policies that can hold the world to 2C and are asking us to bet against the world ... telling us that we won’t do what we’ve set out to do and that it is a safe bet to bet that we won’t.

“We have to try to show them that they are wrong and that we can get the world’s people to insist that we must follow those policies. We must try to build pressure to try to make that 2C assumption correct and the forecast of the energy companies wrong.”

Stern: Shell is asking us to bet against the world on climate change by Tom Levitt, Guardian, May 27, 2015

The glaciers of Mount Everest could shrink dramatically due to global warming

The iconic Mount Everest could see a major loss of its glaciers over the course of this century, according to a new scientific study that its chief author calls the “the first detailed modelling study of all glaciers in the Dudh Koshi basin in the Everest region of Nepal.”

The paper, published Wednesday in the journal The Cryosphere, was authored by glacier researcher Joseph Shea of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Kathmandu, Nepal, and several colleagues from France and the Netherlands.

“The biggest result here is that the glaciers in the basin, we find them to be more sensitive to temperature than anyone expected before,” says Shea.

The glaciers of Mount Everest could shrink dramatically due to global warming, study finds by Chris Mooney, Energy & Environment, Wahsington Post, May 27, 2015

U.S., Mexico, Canada to collaborate on climate adaptation

Upgrading power grids, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change are on the agenda for a new international working group composed of the three national energy ministers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Greg Rickford, and Mexico Secretary of Energy Pedro Joaquín-Coldwell will collaborate on six different climate adaptation and energy issues. Those include building low-carbon electric power grids and other energy technology, developing new ways to capture carbon and store it, creating climate change resiliency, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector.

U.S., Mexico, Canada to Collaborate on Climate Adaptation by Bobby Magill, Climate Central, May 26, 2015

World has no choice but to decarbonise - UN climate chief

Responding to climate change in the next 15 years is the world's "mega development project", given the need to invest trillions of dollars in infrastructure, creating jobs and economic stability, the United Nations' top climate change official said on Tuesday.

"It makes fundamental economic sense" for countries to push forward on tackling climate change because of the benefits it will bring in terms of food, water and energy, as well as employment, Christiana Figueres told a carbon market conference in Barcelona.

This, together with the speed at which businesses are acting on climate change and efforts to put a price on carbon, mean "a decarbonised world is now irreversible, irrefutable," the head of the U.N. climate change secretariat told the conference.

"We are going to do it, because frankly we don't have any other option," she said.

World has no choice but to decarbonise - UN climate chief by Megan Rowling, Reuters, May 26, 2015

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Comments 1 to 1:

  1. The second link is broken (on China's CO2 emissions dropping).  It ends in 'dr' and I think should end in 'drop'.

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [jh] Glitch fixed. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

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