2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #36A

A carbon tax that America could live with

Among economists, the issue is largely a no-brainer. In December 2011, the IGM Forum asked a panel of 41 prominent economists about this statement: “A tax on the carbon content of fuels would be a less expensive way to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions than would a collection of policies such as ‘corporate average fuel economy’ requirements for automobiles.” Ninety percent of the panelists agreed.

Could such an overwhelming consensus of economists be wrong? Well, actually, yes. But in this case, I am confident that the economics profession has it right. The hard part is persuading the public and the politicians.

A Carbon Tax That America Could Live With, Op-ed by N. Gregory Mankiw, New York Times, Aug 31, 2013

America's future up in flames

Little by little climate change - the elephant in the room - is seeping into the daily news cycle. For Americans it began to resonate with last year's epic drought, an echo of the Dustbowl era and still ongoing, followed by Superstorm Sandy that slammed into New York, helping propel Barack Obama, whose Administration has been woefully inadequate in tackling climate change, back into the White House.

This week it is the Rim Fire, a monster conflagration relentlessly advancing through dense oak and conifer forests into Yosemite National Park, the iconic American natural treasure.

America's future up in flames by Peter Huck, The New Zealand Herald News, Aug 31, 2013

Climate change likely to steer away Sandy-like superstorms

Scientists predict stronger storms but say changing air patterns will prevent them from hitting US east coast. 

Climate change likely to steer away Sandy-like superstorms, study says by Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, Sep 2, 2013

Climate change: warm words and cool waters

Last week's report that the current "pause" in global warming could be linked to cyclic cooling in the Pacific will be interpreted by climate sceptics as evidence that global warming isn't happening, and by politicians as a reason to forget about climate change and carry on with business as usual. Both responses would be dangerously wrong.

Climate change: warm words and cool waters, Op-ed by the Editorial Board, The Guardian, Sep 1, 2013

Crop pests head polewards to flee heat

Organisms which can threaten food and other crops are moving towards the poles to escape increasing heat where they live at present. That may be serious for the highest-yielding producers.

Crop pests head polewards to flee heat by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, Sep 1, 2013

Drones poised to be new climate surveillance workhorses

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), better known as drones, are best known for their use in military settings. But scientists and researchers are quickly discovering their value in environmental and conservation projects, from tracking the effects of climate change to monitoring conservation projects.

Drones poised to be new climate surveillance workhorses by Erin Berger, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Sep 2, 2013

Hope and fellowship

With no obvious path to victory (where victory = minimizing suffering and maximizing flourishing in the face of climate change), the question is how to proceed. How do we maintain our equilibrium, our happiness and fighting spirit, with disappointments so common, victories so rare, and unthinkable loss looming?

Hope and fellowship by David Roberts, Grist, Aug 30, 2013

Should you divest from coal and oil?

Students across the US are pushing college endowments to divest from fossil fuels. But endowments worry it will trim profits. Can you divest from coal and oil without hurting your portfolio?

Should you divest from coal and oil? by David J Unger, The Christian Science Monitor, Sep 2, 2013

Silver lining in China’s smog

Jiang Kejun may be one of the few Beijing residents who see a ray of hope in the smog engulfing the city. A researcher in a state energy institute, he is an outspoken advocate of swiftly cutting China’s greenhouse gas output, and he says public anger about noxious air has jolted the government, which long dismissed pollution as the necessary price of prosperity.

The grimy haze blanketing Beijing and other Chinese cities comes from motor vehicles, factories, power plants and furnaces that also emit carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas from human activities. The widespread ire about air pollution has forced China’s new leadership to vow firmer, faster measures for cleaner air that are likely to reduce carbon dioxide output, especially from coal, experts said. “The public concern about the air pollution has helped raise awareness about broader environmental problems,” said Mr. Jiang, a researcher at the Energy Research Institute, which advises the Chinese government. “This will be a big help in pushing China.”

Silver lining in China’s smog Silver Lining in China’s Smog as It Puts Focus on Emissions by Chris Buckley, New York Times, Aug 31, 2013

The oceans are acidifying at the fastest rate in 300 million years 

The world’s oceans are turning acidic at what’s likely the fastest pace in 300 million years. Scientists tend to think this is a troubling development. But just how worried should we be, exactly?

It’s a question marine experts have been racing to get a handle on in recent years. Here’s what they do know: As humans keep burning fossil fuels, the oceans are absorbing more and more carbon-dioxide. That staves off (some) global warming, but it also makes the seas more acidic — acidity levels have risen 30 percent since the Industrial Revolution.

The oceans are acidifying at the fastest rate in 300 million years. How worried should we be? by Brad Plumer, The Wonk Room, Washington Post, Aug 32, 2013

UN struggling to avert carbon trade war with aviation deal

Talks at the U.N.'s aviation body must bridge a deep divide between developed and emerging nations over airline emissions to avert the threat of a carbon trade war with the European Union.

After more than a decade of debate at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), there is little sign emerging powers China and India are ready to pay to pollute.

Failure to get a deal would open the way for the European Union to resume international implementation of its own law that makes all aviation using EU airports buy carbon allowances.

UN struggling to avert carbon trade war with aviation deal, Reuters, Sep 2, 2013 

U.S. and Europe may face off over reducing airline emissions

Environmentalists are calling for the administration to join a plan developed by the European Union that would press airlines to cut emissions immediately.

U.S. and Europe may face off over reducing airline emissions by Neela Banerjee, Los Angeles Times, Sep 2, 2013

Warm winter caps Australia's hottest year

Australia has just experienced its warmest 12 months since climate records began.

Data monitoring by the Bureau of Meteorology shows the average temperature throughout Australia in the year to August 31 was 1.11 degrees above the long-term average.

Warm winter caps nation's hottest year by Tim Colebatch & Peter Hannam, The Canberra Times, Sep 2, 2013

Posted by John Hartz on Tuesday, 3 September, 2013

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