2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #26A

A clear view of Alaska—and maybe our future

The melt in Greenland and the high temperatures in Alaska may be more signs—like we needed more—of the reality of climate change. Even scarier is the fact that the climate models used before didn’t predict this sort of thing. The climate is very complex, and it’s hard to model it accurately. This is well-known and is why it’s so hard to make long-term predictions.

But before the deniers crow that climatologists don’t know what they’re doing, note this well: The predictions made using these models almost always seem to underestimate the effects of climate change. That’s true in this case, too. So it’s not that the models are wrong and therefore climate change doesn’t exist. It’s that the models aren’t perfect, and it’s looking like things are worse than we thought.

A Clear View of Alaska—and Maybe Our Future by Phil Plait, Slate, June 20, 2013

Climate change altering insurers' risk assessment

Climate change is creating more frequent and more unpredictable extreme weather events, forcing insurers to change how they assess the risk of natural disasters hitting a specific area, the Geneva Association think tank said Monday.

"Traditional approaches, which are solely based on analysing historical data, increasingly fail to estimate today's hazard probabilities," the think tank for strategically important insurance and risk management issues, warned in a report.

"A paradigm shift from historic to predictive risk assessment methods is necessary," it stressed, adding that the insurance industry needed to support scientific research to gain a better understanding of when and where weather-related disasters will hit.

According to a UN report last month, natural disasters have cost the world $2.5 trillion so far this century, which is far higher than previously estimated.

Climate change altering insurers' risk assessment, AFP, June 24, 2013 

Climate change: key data points from Pew Research

In his inaugural and State of the Union addresses, President Obama spoke of the need to deal with climate change in his second term, but the American public routinely ranks dealing with global warming low on its list of priorities for the president and Congress. This year, it ranks at the bottom of the 21 tested. 

Climate Change: Key Data Points from Pew Research, Pew Reserch Center, June 24, 2013

Climate change like atom bomb

The planet has been building up temperatures at the rate of four Hiroshima bombs of heat every second, and it’s all our fault, say climate scientists.

Hurricane Katrina and superstorm Sandy are just two examples of how extreme weather will intensify, Australia’s Climate Action Summit has heard.

Humans are emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other time in history, says John Cook, Climate Communication Fellow from the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland.

Climate change like atom bomb, AAP/Sidney Morning Herald, June 22, 2013  

Climate change promises tough times for Asia and Africa

Extreme heat, flooding and water and food shortages will rock South Asia and Africa by 2030 and render large sections of cities inhabitable, if the world continues to burn huge amounts of coal, oil and gas, the World Bank is warning.

Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience“, a new report commissioned by the World Bank and released Wednesday, analysed the expected effects on South Asia and Africa if global temperatures increase by two and four degrees Celsius.

The report showed that a global temperature rise of two degrees Celsius will have a wide range of dangerous effects, including a loss of 40 to 80 percent of cropland in Africa and rising sea levels that will destroy significant parts of many coastal cities in South Asia.

Climate Change Promises Tough Times for Asia and Africa - Report by Stephen Leahy, Inter Press Service (IPS), June 20, 2013

Global warming will make Indian monsoon worse

Scientists have found that the pattern of the Indian monsoon will change under global warming in the future. 

Computer simulations with a comprehensive set of 20 state-of-the-art climate models now consistently show that Indian monsoon daily variability might increase. 

Scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said, "ups-and-downs of Indian monsoon rainfall is likely to increase under warming."

Global warming will make Indian monsoon worse and unpredictable, says study by Kounteya Sinha, TNN/The Times of India,June 24, 2013

India's severe floods spied by satellite

An Earth-observing NASA satellite has captured images of northern India's devastating floods that have left hundreds of people dead this month.

India's Severe Floods Spied by Satellite by Megan Gamon, LiveScience, June 24, 2013

Obama's ambitious global warming action plan

In advance of President Obama’s speech Tuesday afternoon laying out his three-pronged plan to cut releases of greenhouse gases and the impacts of global warming, White House officials circulated detailed fact sheets and discussed the plans with journalists, including me, last night. They laid out an impressive array of steps, most of which have long been in the pipeline or anticipated and which can be carried out without congressional approval.

The 21-page White House “climate action plan” is easy to search and read, so I encourage you to sift it yourself.

Obama's ambitious global warming action plan by Andrew Revkin, Dot Earth, New York Times, June 25, 2013

Obama announces new curbs on existing power plants

Seeking to propel the US faster into the fray on curbing climate change, President Obama laid out an aggressive plan Tuesday to sharply curb smokestack emissions of existing coal-fired power plants and to double wind, solar, and other renewable energy production from today’s levels.

Under a hot summer sun, wiping his brow repeatedly as if to underscore the presence of global climate change, Mr. Obama told an audience of students at Georgetown University that future generations of Americans – including their children – would have to live with the consequences of current US climate policy.

“We don't have time for a meeting of the flat earth society,” Obama said. “Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it's not going to protect you from the coming storm. And ultimately, we will be judged as a people and as a society and as a country on where we go from here.”

Climate  change: Obama announces new curbs on existing power plants (+vodeo) by Mark Clayton, Christitan Science Monitor, June 25, 2013 

Obama cheerleads for natural gas industry

Obama’s much anticipated speech on climate change delivered today at Georgetown University in Washington DC was full of highs and lows. Since his election many hoped he’d be a leader on environmental concerns, but the last five years have mostly been disappointing — gains in renewables and fuel efficiency are worth noting, but his allegiance to an “all of the above” energy strategy is foolhardy at best.  

Obama Uses Major Climate Speech to Cheerlead for Natural Gas Industry; Keystone XL Fate Still Undecided by Tara Lohan, Alternet, June 25, 2013

We haven't hit the global warming pause button

Recent articles about a global warming 'pause' miss that the planet as a whole is still rapidly warming.

We haven't hit the global warming pause button by Dana Nuccitelli, Climate Consensus-The 97%, Guardian, June 23, 2013

Posted by John Hartz on Wednesday, 26 June, 2013

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