2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #37B

50 US power plants emit more greenhouse gases than South Korea

A new study by an environmental group suggests that reining in a handful of America's coal-fired power plants would have a major impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

'50 dirtiest' US power plants emit more greenhouse gases than South Korea by Mark Clayton, The Christian Scince Monitor, Sep 10, 2013

Astronomer royal calls for 'Plan B' to prevent runaway climate change

Launching mirrors into space, triggering algal blooms in the oceans and seeding clouds are among experimental "Plan B" schemes world leaders would have to consider if the rise in carbon emissions cannot be curbed within a couple of decades, according to one of Britain's most senior scientists.

Hacking the planet's climate through geoengineering, though controversial and "an utter political nightmare", would buy time to develop cleaner sources of energy, the astronomer royal Lord Rees will say in a speech to the annual British Science Festival in Newcastle on Thursday. 

Astronomer royal calls for 'Plan B' to prevent runaway climate change by Alok Jha, The Guardian, Sep 11, 2013

Brazil data suggests spike in Amazon deforestation

Preliminary data released Tuesday by Brazil's space agency suggests Amazon deforestation spiked by more than a third during the past year, reversing a steady decline in destruction of the world's largest rainforest.

If substantiated by follow-up data typically compiled by the end of the year, the increase would confirm fears by scientists and environmental activists who warn that farming, mining and Amazon infrastructure projects, coupled with changes to Brazil's long-standing environmental policies, are reversing progress made against deforestation.

Last year, Amazon deforestation was shown to be at a record low.

Brazil data suggests spike in Amazon deforestation by Paulo Prada, Reuters, Sep 10, 2013

Carbon capture and storage to be monitored by cosmic rays

A few test sites around the world suggest that CO2 can indeed be returned to the deep Earth successfully, but attention has now turned to monitoring its behaviour at depth.

Checking that it stays locked within the porous rocks of any CCS repository is an important step in validating the method.

Prof Jon Gluyas of Durham University stressed, at the British Science Festival in Newcastle, the importance of monitoring CO2 once buried, to ensure that it stays within the storage site and to chart any changes with time, and simply to ensure that the carbon capture is permanent.

Carbon capture and storage to be monitored by cosmic rays by Simon Redfern, BBC News, Sep 13, 2013

Christianity and climate change: the relationship between God and green

A new survey suggests that evangelical Christians in the US are more likely to be climate sceptics. Adam Corner investigates.

Christianity and climate change: the relationship between God and green by Adam Comer, Guardian Sustainable Business blog, The Guardian, Sep 11, 2013

Colorado’s “Biblical” flood in line with climate trends

The Boulder, Colo. area is reeling after being inundated by record rainfall, with more than half a year’s worth of rain falling over the past three days. During those three days, 24-hour rainfall totals of between 8 and 10 inches across much of the Boulder area were enough to qualify this storm as a 1 in 1,000 year event, meaning that it has a 0.1 percent chance of occurring in a given year.

Colorado’s “Biblical” Flood in Line with Climate Trends by Andrew Freedman, Climate Central, Sep 13, 2013

EPA is expected to set limits on GHG emissions by new power plants in US

Following up on President Obama’s pledge in June to address climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency plans next week to propose the first-ever limits on greenhouse gas emissions from newly built power plants.

But even before the proposal becomes public, experts on both sides of the issue say it faces a lobbying donnybrook and an all-but-certain court challenge. For a vast and politically powerful swath of the utility industry — operators of coal-fired plants, and the coal fields that supply them — there are fears that the rules would effectively doom construction of new coal plants far into the future.

E.P.A. Is Expected to Set Limits on Greenhouse Gas Emissions by New Power Plants by Michael Wines, new York Times, Sep 13, 2013

Global warming may spell doom for Peru's cloud forests

Peru's cloud forests are some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the world. A profusion of tree and plant species as well as one third of Peru's mammal, bird and frog species make their home in these perennially wet regions, located along the eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains. The high elevation (6,500-11,000 feet), and remote location of these areas makes them some of the hardest to reach and therefore hardest to study ecosystems in the world. To date, scientists only believe a fraction of cloud forest tree and plant species have been discovered.

This massive array of underexplored biodiversity will face an unprecedented threat before the end of the century.

Now, researchers at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. have pieced together startling new evidence that shows rapid 21st century warming may spell doom for tree species in Peruvian cloud forests, with species losing 53-96 percent of their populations.

Global warming may spell doom for Peru's cloud forests, Yubanet.com, Sep 12, 2013

How we learned not to guzzle

FOR as long as most of us can remember, the nation’s energy news has trended from bad to worse, starting with the oil crises of the 1970s. But today, the good news is that our energy productivity and security are better than they have been in decades.

You’d never know it by listening to those who say our energy security requires construction of the massive Keystone XL pipeline, or a new surge of oil and gas drilling, or a nuclear power renaissance, or all of the above. And while “all of the above” has emerged as the favored national energy policy of both parties, fortunately that is not the focus of President Obama’s promising climate action plan.

He has given top priority instead to our most productive and lowest-cost option: the “energy efficiency resources” that come from getting more out of oil, natural gas and electricity with increasingly efficient equipment and vehicles, used more carefully.

How We Learned Not to Guzzle, Op-ed by Ralph Cavanaugh, New York Times, Sep 12, 2013

New colour purple depicts worsening climate risks in UN draft report

Some parts of nature and human society are more vulnerable than expected to climate change, according to a draft of a U.N. report that adds a new purple colour to a key diagram to show worsening risks beyond the red used so far.

It says "unique and threatened systems" like coral reefs, endangered animals and plants, Arctic indigenous communities, tropical glaciers or small island states seem be less able to adapt to warming than believed in a last report in 2007.

The 44-page draft Summary for Policymakers by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) looking at impacts of climate change worldwide, obtained by Reuters and dated March 2013, is part of a series of IPCC reports updating science from 2007 as the main guide for governments.

It will be issued in March 2014 in Japan after several rounds of editing by experts. "It would be misleading to draw conclusions from it," said Jonathan Lynn, spokesman for the IPCC Secretariat.

New colour purple depicts worsening climate risks in UN draft report by Alister Doyle, Reuters, Sep 14, 2013

The first rule of climate change research: don't mention climate change

Tomorrow, Saturday 14 September, BBC Media Action launches the findings of a major, two-year research project called Climate Asia. There's a hint in the name – we were given the task of understanding how people in Asia are being impacted by climate change in their everyday lives and how they are adapting to these impacts.

The majority of the 33,500 people we spoke to in Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and Vietnam were not climate scientists or policymakers. They were the farmers, fishermen, housewives, and slum dwellers who live at the frontline of changes in the environment across the region.

From the outset the challenge was knowing how to talk about climate change. We knew from similar work we undertook in Africa in 2010 that people would probably be able to talk about changes in weather they had noticed, particularly in rural areas. By holding focus groups and visiting communities across Asia we looked to see if it was a similar story – we started understanding changes people felt in seasons over time and how these changes were affecting them. For example what had the weather been like during the festival of Holi over the years? When did they harvest their crops and how had that changed?

The first rule of climate change research: don't mention climate change by sonia Whitehead, Guardian Professional, The Guardian, Sep 13, 2013 

The most important climate pacts you’ve never heard of;

With global efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions stalled, cutting short-lived climate pollutants has emerged as an unsung story of U.S.-led progress in the international climate arena.

Momentum has quietly been building toward a series of agreements that, when combined, could make a significant dent in the amount of manmade warming that occurs during the next several decades.

The Most Important Climate Pacts You’ve Never Heard Of by Andrew Freedman, Climate Central, Sep 11, 2013

Posted by John Hartz on Saturday, 14 September, 2013

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