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2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #43

Posted on 28 October 2018 by John Hartz

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

Story of the Week...

Coal-fired Power Plant Costrip MT

A coal plant in Colstrip, Mont. Scientists say countries have put off reducing carbon emissions for so long that even a breakneck shift toward clean energy would most likely not be enough. Credit: Janie Osborne for The New York Times

With time running out to avoid dangerous global warming, the nation’s leading scientific body on Wednesday urged the federal government to begin a research program focused on developing technologies that can remove vast quantities of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere in order to help slow climate change.

The 369-page report, written by a panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, underscores an important shift. For decades, experts said that nations could prevent large temperature increases mainly by reducing reliance on fossil fuels and moving to cleaner sources like solar, wind and nuclear power.

But at this point, nations have delayed so long in cutting their carbon dioxide emissions that even a breakneck shift toward clean energy would most likely not be enough. According to a landmark scientific report issued by the United Nations this month, taking out a big chunk of the carbon dioxide already loaded into the atmosphere may be necessary to avoid significant further warming, even though researchers haven’t yet figured out how to do so economically, or at sufficient scale.

And we’ll have to do it fast. To meet the climate goals laid out under the Paris Agreement, humanity may have to start removing around 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the air each year by midcentury, in addition to reducing industrial emissions, said Stephen W. Pacala, a Princeton climate scientist who led the panel. That’s nearly as much carbon as all the world’s forests and soils currently absorb each year.

Scientists Push for a Crash Program to Scrub Carbon From the Air by Brad Plumer, Climate, New York Times, Oct 24, 2018 

Editorial of the Week...

The biggest crime scene on the planet is the planet. We know the earth is warming, but who or what is causing it?

Carbon Emissions

Credit: Emilia Mi?kisz

The latest report from the world’s climate scientists has made clear the size of the challenge if the world is to stay below the global warming limit hoped for in the Paris climate agreement. Unfortunately, with current trends we are likely to cross this threshold within the next two decades because we are already two-thirds of the way there.

But how do we know what is driving these climate trends? It comes down to the same kind of detective work that typifies a crime scene investigation, only here we are dealing with a case that encompasses the whole world. Let me give you my view, which does not necessarily represent the position of NASA or the federal government.

For the past 100 years we have documented good, independently confirmed observations of change at the surface of the planet, and for the past 40 years satellites and comprehensive measuring efforts have provided a much fuller view of changes throughout the earth system. These observations show clearly that among other things, the surface of the planet has warmed, the upper atmosphere has cooled, the oceans are gaining an enormous amount of heat, sea level is rising, Arctic ice has greatly receded and glaciers around the world are in retreat.

Scientists Push for a Crash Program to Scrub Carbon From the Air by Brad Plumer, Climate, New York Times, Oct 24, 2018 

Toon of the Week...

2018 Toon 43 

SkS in the News...

The SkS Graphic Human vs. Natural Contributions to Global Warming is prominently featured by David Roberts in his article Why conservatives keep gaslighting the nation about climate change published in the Energy & Environment section of Vox on Oct 23, 2018.

Global Warming Attribution

Coming Soon on SkS...

  • Canada passed a carbon tax that will give most Canadians more money (Dana)
  • Eulogy for Climate Consensus - the 97% (Dana)
  • China's GHG emissions (Riduna)
  • Climate Impacts (ATTP)
  • New research this week (Ari)
  • 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #44 (John Hartz)
  • 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #44 (John Hartz)

Poster of the Week...

2018 Poster 43 

SkS Week in Review... 

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Comments 1 to 7:

  1. Let's achieve a double benefit by letting nature help us pull carbon out of the atmosphere.

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  2. The next step of improved awareness and understanding is that the need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere in parallel with rapidly ending the addition of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels is "What the current generation (particularly its winners/leaders) owes the future generations of humanity."

    Statements like "... even though researchers haven’t yet figured out how to do so economically" imply that if the correction of something understandably harmful isn't economic (meaning profitable) it does not need to be done. That is clearly incorrect.

    The most cost-effective safe and sustainable way to technologically remove CO2 should already be happening (at the expense of the people benefiting most from the burning of fossil fuels), along with the natural ways. And the efforts to develop even better technological ways to do it should be encouraged, without any hint that there is the potential for big profit to be made. A reward of $1,000,000 for each person who participates in developing 'proven to be better ways' would be enough reward.

    History is full of examples of corrections being imposed on the marketplace by responsible leaders. It would be best if the responsible leaders were winners in the business community. But that is unlikely to ever be the case because free-market misleading advertising boosted capitalism abhors that type of business leadership (and encourages and rewards the other types of people).

    If the system encouraged responsible leaders, those type of leaders would be the winners almost all the time, and those type of people would win often enough to have their kind of political leadership keep power (responsible Conservatives or responsible Liberals or responsible Socialists or responsible Communists or responsible Dictators or responsibly led autonomous communes ...).

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  3.  The Guardian has an interesting article here that suggests that many of the migrants coming to the USA from Central America are climate refugees.  Their farms have failed due to climate change and they have to move to be able to live. 

    Estimates are for there to be 150 million climate refugees by 2050.  Since the affects of climate change have been bigger than expected for years, it may be sooner than that.  What will the world do with 150 million refugees??  Only 1 million went to Europe in the past few years and it has caused much upheaval.  When people are desperate it is very hard to stop them.

    The Guardian has had a lot of interesting articles about climate change recently.

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  4. It looks like South America and Mexico are highly at risk from climate change, more so than the USA according to this map. This is a population of approximately 500 million people on Americas southern border.

    This source of potential climate refugees will put a lot of pressure on Americas southern border that no wall will keep out. It's going to get ugly, and this will be the price of ignoring the climate problem.

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  5. PS: I picked that map somewhat at random rather quickly just to illustrate a general point. Not sure how up to date it is -  I think America is more at risk from climate change from recent information but theres still a differential with Latin America and Mexico.

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  6. The new president of Brazil loooks like a very unfortunate choice.

    "Bolsonaro has an environmental hit list that is bold and brash.

    Just when the world needs the "lungs" of the world more than ever, he is planning a paved highway to run right through the Amazon rainforest. And no more will a government commitment to preserving vast areas for indigenous people be tolerated. Bolsonaro has previously said that he will "not give the Indians another inch of land".

    "Because that's the Amazon's job. The rainforest absorbs approximately a quarter of the CO2 absorbed by all the land on earth. Every inch of deforestation matters. And what's the motive for deforestation in Brazil? Cattle ranching. The billions of us have created a massive consumer demand for beef so that clearing land for cattle ranching is lucrative and with Bolsonaro in charge, now unstoppable."

    Etcetera. Sorry the article is a bit political.

    In my view unfortunately the left leaning candidate was not the greatest, mired in corruption and poor economic management. There seems to be a peculiar lack of sensible leaders around at the present time, people with a centrist view, and a reasonably clean personal history. It's completly a mystery to me why this is so, given theres no shortage of people or politicians. 

    However Bolsanaro has to get his insanity past congress and the courts,  and will come up against the same resistance Trump gets.

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  7. nigelj #4… about the coming migrations of climate refugees, you are unfortunately correct.

    My wife is from Honduras, a refugee of a different type. When she was coming up to high school graduation, a military officer (Tiburcio Carías Andino dictatorship) took a fancy to her. Her dad spirited her out of the country to Beloit College; she's a long-time American now. But we have special insights into Honduras, of course: And we struggle to convince young relatives to stay put and not come to the US; it's not a place for them these days.

    Climate change is one of several factors devastating people's lives in Honduras (along with the rest of Central America and Mexico) these days. However, it exacerbates the effects of others, which makes it hard for people to separate the climate effect from the others. Indeed, these Latins themselves have a hard time figuring it out.

    What scares me does not include the caravans of poor refugees headed our way. What really scares me is the latest IPCC report.

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