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2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #27

Posted on 8 July 2018 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Reviews... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review... 

Story of the Week...

Global warming may be twice what climate models predict


Sunset. Credit: Patrik Linderstam, Unsplash

Future global warming may eventually be twice as warm as projected by climate models and sea levels may rise six metres or more even if the world meets the 2°C target, according to an international team of researchers from 17 countries.

The findings published last week in Nature Geoscience are based on observational evidence from three warm periods over the past 3.5 million years when the world was 0.5°C-2°C warmer than the pre-industrial temperatures of the 19th Century.

The research also revealed how large areas of the polar ice caps could collapse and significant changes to ecosystems could see the Sahara Desert become green and the edges of tropical forests turn into fire dominated savanna.

“Observations of past warming periods suggest that a number of amplifying mechanisms, which are poorly represented in climate models, increase long-term warming beyond climate model projections,” said lead author, Prof Hubertus Fischer of the University of Bern.

“This suggests the carbon budget to avoid 2°C of global warming may be far smaller than estimated, leaving very little margin for error to meet the Paris targets.” 

Global warming may be twice what climate models predict, Newsroom, UNSW Sydney, July 5, 2018 

Toon of the Week...

2018 Toon 27 

Quote of the Week...

The dirty little secret behind 'clean energy' wood pellets

Wood pellets burning

Wood pellets will be counted as renewable energy, the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt has said, even though the EPA’s scientific board is still working on its advice on their environmental impact. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

“Philosophically it looks good but practically it looks pretty bad in many cases,” said William Schlesingera biogeochemist and member of the US Environmental Protection Agency advisory board.

“When you cut down existing trees and burn them, you immediately put carbon dioxide in the air. None of the companies can guarantee they can regrow untouched forest to capture the same amount of carbon released. The whole renewable forest industry is kind of a hoax in terms of its benefit as climate mitigation.”

Schlesinger added, however, that burning wood can result in lower emissions than coal if managed and certified properly and could be used as a “bridge fuel” as solar and wind energy continues to expand.

Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the EPA , recently announced that wood pellets will be classified as renewable energy similar to solar or wind power.

This has caused alarm among some experts, including those on the EPA’s own scientific board, which is still working on its own advice on the environmental impact of burning wood to generate energy. “Pruitt announcing that before we weighed in was appalling – frankly it was insulting to our existence,” said Schlesinger.

“If you burn young trees and regrow them, it might not be too bad. If you venture into older trees or forests that have never been cut before, that can be very bad.”

The dirty little secret behind 'clean energy' wood pellets by Tom Dart & Oliver Milman, Environment, Guardian, June 30, 2018 

Coming Soon on SkS...

  • There are genuine climate alarmists, but they're not in the same league as deniers (Dana)
  • Ocean Temperature - Part 1 (Irek Zawadzki)
  • Book Review: A Global Warming Primer, by Jeffrey Bennett (David Kirtley, Daniel Bailey)
  • Guest Post (John Abraham)
  • Land uplift ‘could prevent’ collapse of West Antarctic ice sheet (Daisy Dunne)
  • 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #28 (John Hartz)
  • 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #28 (John Hartz)

Climate Feedback Reviews...

Daily Mail correctly reports that climate change leads to more severe heatwaves, but explanation of recent weather is off the mark

2018 Climate Feedback 27

Cliate Feedback asked a team of scientists to analyze of Scorching Earth: Global warming to blame for all-time heat records being set worldwide, as experts warn stifling temperatures will continue to soar by Joe Pinkstone, Daily Mail, July 4, 2018

Six scientists analyzed the article and estimate its overall scientific credibility to be 'neutral'.

Review Summary

This article in the Daily Mail describes recent record warmth occurring in a number of different places. But while the article is correct to note that climate change results in more frequent and stronger heatwaves, scientists who reviewed it found that the article (and particularly the headline) is not entirely accurate in its explanation of how these heatwaves relate to climate change.

Daily Mail correctly reports that climate change leads to more severe heatwaves, but explanation of recent weather is off the mark, Edited by Scott Johnson, Climate Feedback, July 5, 2018

Poster of the Week...

2018 Poster 27 

SkS Week in Review... 

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Comments 1 to 6:

  1. Wood pellets used as a climate mitigation tool would have to be the most monumentally stupid idea known to humankind, apparent to me within a nano second. There is perhaps just one exception, third world countries with limited other options.

    If Scott Pruitt approves of them, that is also instant proof it's a bad idea.

    Even if you are burning sawdust, you are at best in a carbon neutral situation. Not burning the sawdust means less carbon, which is what we really want.

    Most countries have other options such as wind power etc.

    It's going to be next to impossible to police wood pellet production, and make sure the right sources of wood are used.

    The trouble is theres just too much risk of the idea becoming "normalised" that we use existing forests, (not just a few fallen branches) and even if new forests are grown, this only creates a carbon neutral situation. The idea of new forests should be to provide a carbon sink.

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  2. I'm in the camp that says it really doesn't matter anymore. There is already enough CO2 in the atmosphere to fry us, and the only reason we haven't yet is from global dimming, the fact that all the larger-particulate pollution reflects a lot of energy back into space. If/when that pollution disappears, either from well-meaning pollution controls or sudden economic collapse due to trade wars or shooting wars, the temps will skyrocket within weeks or days. This was proven post-911 when the planes were grounded. 

    I'm sure this group isn't popular around here, but I never see any good reasons for where they get it wrong.  Yahoo won't even let me post this link anymore, even though they love links to Flat Earth and NASA "hoaxes", etc, Youtube videos. 

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  3. Even without the potentially higher warming due to the already created increased CO2 levels, the lack of responsible leadership by the winners of competitions for power, popularity an profitability must be corrected if humanity is to have a future.

    The current richest humans, particularly the ones who got rich because of the continued burning of fossil fuels since the 1970s when the harm being done was undeniable, need to be required to pay for the reduction of CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

    Climate science is one the biggest examples of the many harmful threats, and actual producers of harm (not just the potential), that have developed because "winners" are not required to prove they have, and continue to, "behave the best".

    People who are not interested in helping to achieve a sustainable better future for humanity, people who have developed personal interests that are contrary to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, people who would lose developed perceptions of prosperity and superiority relative to others if the SDGs were aggressively pursued, Deserve To Be Losers.

    The cries that the winners deserve their status and wealth, or that their personal perceptions of superiority must be maintained, need to be replaced with demands that the winners prove conclusively, through the ethical helpful truth of their history of actions, that they deserve the impression they have developed, that their image is not just an unsustainable unjustified disguise.

    And that is the root of the problem - too many people are being allowed to grow up not caring about how their actions impact others, too many people do something beause they desire it and think they can get away with it.

    Egoism (freedom to believe and do whatever you please) is inappropriately being allowed to over-power Altruism. Egoism's limits need to be understood to be Altruism. Examples: Gender Identity freedom is OK, Woman's choice to have an abortion is OK, carrying a gun in public is not OK, driving faster than the posted speed limit is not OK, driving after drinking alcohol is not OK, disliking and denying climate science is not OK, believing in a spiritual being is OK, using such a belief to deny or oppose climate science is not OK.

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  4. I was reading Politico and saw a paid post from Exelon mentioning climate change.  It had a picture of a nuclear reactor.  

    When I read the article I was pleasantly surprised to find it was an article in favor of a carbon fee.  It mentioned that Exelon had nuclear plants but also mentioned hydro and renewable resources.  It seemed to me that the article was pitched to conservatives as a solution to climate change.

    I thought it was a good sign that a major electric utility would pitch a carbon fee to the general public.

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  5. NigelJ: unless sawdust is buried deep underground in anaerobic conditions it's going to decompose into CO2 or methane eventually. Wood pellets are only neutral if they derive from plantation trees planted for production.

    I've wondered if trees planted for sequestration of CO2 need to be buried too, but that would require machinery presumably requiring fossil CO2 release. It's quite tricky putting coal back in the hole.

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  6. Coitus Cibus Interruptus

    If an energy utility had enough self control, wood pellets could be pyrolysed, rather than fully burned, utilizing the volatile hydrocarbons for fuel and sequestering the remaining charcoal (biochar).

    This arrests the cycling of sawdust back into the atmosphere; provides an energy source from a waste product; has the potential to improve soil fertility, and therefore accelerate reforestation/afforestation; and could attract carbon credits - given the long soil residence time of biochar.

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