2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #23A

A floating wind tower is launched in Maine

One reason that offshore wind has not caught on in the United States is the steep cost of erecting a tower in the water, but researchers at the University of Maine tried another approach on Friday by launching a floating wind machine. It is the first offshore wind installation in United States waters, according to the Energy Department, which helped pay for it.

A Floating Wind Tower Is Launched in Maine by Matthew L. Wald, New York Times, May 31, 2013

Arctic summers to be ice-free earlier?

Scientists studying Arctic sea ice say ice-free summers could be on the horizon sooner than many expected. A new analysis by NOAA scientists James Overland (NOAA Pacific marine Environmental Laboratory) and Muyin Wang (NOAA Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean at the University of Washington) considered three methods of predicting when the Arctic will be nearly ice free in the summer. All three suggest nearly ice-free summers in the Arctic before the middle of this century, says Wang, although the actual dates differ widely. One method suggests the Arctic could be nearly sea ice free in summer as early as 2020.

Arctic summers to be ice-free earlier?, Deutsche Welle (DW), Jun 3, 2013

Are CFCs responsible for global warming?

On Monday, a report appeared in the Australian claiming a link between chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) in the atmosphere and global warming. The report claimed “banned aerosols” and not carbon dioxide were “responsible for global warming since the 1970s”. It went on to claim global temperatures would fall as the concentration of CFC in the atmosphere declined.

The story was based on a recent article from an academic at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

The premise (of the paper) is false.

Are CFCs responsible for global warming? by Andrew Gilkson, The Convesation, June 5, 2013

Climate change bags Mount Everest

When Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest 60 years ago Wednesday, the mountaineers gazed over a view from the top of the world that had never been seen before.

The view has changed since that historic day. Pollution and rising mountain temperatures are relentlessly shearing away at the Himalayas' frozen façade. Photographs taken around the time of the 1953 expedition show hulking ridges of ice that have since shrunk or disappeared.

Glaciers and snow are melting throughout the sprawling mountain range, which stretches across India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibetan China. The waning glaciers are leaving precarious mountainside lakes of cyan blue water in their wake.

Climate Change Bags Mount Everest by John Upton, Mother Jones, Climate Desk, Mother Jones, May 31, 2013

Methane leaks could negate benefits of US natural gas boom

Reduction in carbon emissions triggered by America's shift from coal to gas is being offset by a sharp rise in methane. 

Methane leaks could negate climate benefits of US natural gas boom: report by Suzanne Goldenberb, The Guardian, Jun 4, 2013 

Pakistan wilts under record heat wave

Pakistan in recent weeks has suffered its most severe heat wave in decades, with temperatures reaching as high as 51 degrees Celsius (124 Farenheit) on May 19 in Larkana, a city of two million people in southern Sindh province. This was the highest temperature for that month recorded there since 1998, when the mercury had peaked at almost 53 Celsius (127 Fahrenheit).

Lahore, Punjab province’s capital of about 15 million population, was the hottest city in the country on May 24 at 47.4 Celsius (117 Fahrenheit), hotter than any May since 1954.

Pakistan wilts under record heat wave by Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio,Thomson Reuters Foundation, Jun 4, 2013

Population growth erodes sustainable energy gains 

The world has made important progress towards improving energy efficiency, using more renewable sources of power and providing basic electricity to every household over the last two decades.

But the gains have barely been enough to keep up with population growth and surging energy demand and are far short of what is needed to curb climate change, a new UN-backed energy report suggests.

AlertNet,Population growth erodes sustainable energy gains - UN report by Laurie Goering, AlertNet, May 31, 2013 

Slow start, dim hopes at U.N. climate talks in Bonn

International negotiators met in Germany on Monday for a fortnight of U.N. talks aimed at forging a new global climate pact by 2015, but observers expected little progress on key issues such as whether countries would deepen their emissions reduction pledges or how to raise cash to help poorer nations fight climate change.

Slow start, dim hopes at U.N. climate talks in Bonn by Michael Szabo, Reuters, Jun 3, 2013

The centrality of the politics of energy

President Obama will soon face a day of reckoning with a decision on the Keystone Pipeline project. Here in New York, Governor Cuomo will soon face a decision on lifting the state's fracking moratorium. These are bound to be controversial decisions, with powerful forces lining up on opposite sides of these issues. The energy policy debate is growing in intensity and it is important to understand its fundamental causes. In my view, there are two main factors to understand: our addiction to energy and the concentration of economic and political power in the energy business.

The Centrality of the Politics of Energy by Steven Cohen, The Blog, The Huffington Post, Jun 3, 2013

The climate change guilt trip

The battle against global warming should not be about judging people's every choice.

The climate change guilt trip, Op-ed by James Turner, Los Angeles Times, Jun 3, 2013

The discontent of our winter

MY CHILDREN have snow anxiety. For the record, this started in the winter of 2011–12 when no snow fell—at all—and sleds, saucers, skis, and snowball makers sat dejectedly on the porch, unused, next to the irrelevant and despondent snow shovel. Week after week, month after month, Faith and Elijah scanned the skies and studied the forecast. When June-like temperatures hit in March, the sight of the toboggan filled them with so much despair that they wordlessly dragged it back to the barn and put it in storage. 

The Discontent of Our Winter: Are reliable seasons gone for good? by Sandra Steinberger, May/Jun 2013 issue of Orion magazine

U.S. to lease offshore wind blocks

The U.S. government announced Tuesday that it would be going forward with long-discussed plans to auction federal leases off the Atlantic Ocean coast for the development of offshore wind energy.

The sales, to take place in late July, will be the first time that federal lands have been offered on a competitive basis for the United States’ nascent offshore wind business. Proponents say the industry has significant potential, but for decades it has lagged far behind the country’s onshore wind sector – even as offshore usage has strengthened significantly in other countries.

For First Time, U.S. to Lease Offshore Wind Blocks by Carey L. Biron, Inter Press Service (IPS), Jun 4, 2013

What economists say about carbon pricing

I last raised the issue of a carbon price in “What Unconventional Fuels Tell Us About the Global Energy System”, which added several data points to Charles C. Mann’s already thorough discussion of fossil fuels for The Atlantic. My conclusion is: a carbon price is needed to induce large-scale changes of how we produce and consume energy. It’s only part of the solution, but one that many experts say is needed to reduce carbon emissions.

A more in depth discussion of carbon pricing will have to wait, but in the meantime, I direct the reader to several resources that I personally have found useful for understanding the economic rationale of a carbon price.

What economists say about carbon pricing by David Wogan, Plugged In, Scientific American, June 3, 2013


Posted by John Hartz on Wednesday, 5 June, 2013

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