2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #39A

An important step on global warming

On Friday, in a move that has already caused dismay in industry and among Congressional Republicans, the Obama administration proposed the first-ever federal limits on power plant emissions of carbon dioxide, which account for nearly 40 percent of the greenhouse gases America contributes to a gradually warming climate. 

An Important Step on Global Warming, Op-ed by Editorial Board, New York Times, Sep 22, 2013 

CN Rail floats idea of shipping Alberta bitumen to Prince Rupert

CN Rail, at the urging of Chinese-owned Nexen Inc., is considering shipping Alberta bitumen to Prince Rupert, B.C., by rail in quantities matching the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline, documents show.

Internal memos obtained by Greenpeace under the Access to Information Act show the rail carrier raised the proposal last March with Natural Resources Canada.

CN is denying it has made a specific proposal for Prince Rupert but says it will consider any such project as it comes up".

CN Rail floats idea of shipping Alberta bitumen to Prince Rupert by Bruce Cheadle, The Globe and Mail, Sep 22, 2013

Communicating climate change by the numbers

At the end of September, less than a week from now, the world will be caught in a downpour of numbers.

warm front is developing in advance of the release of the first volume of the fifth assessment report (AR5) by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). At the same time, across the U.S., at least, a cold front of climate denial is developing. When these two fronts collide, one can expect turbulent words and a deluge of numbers about climate change.

How will Americans fare in these rhetorical storms, and what can the media do to help them with their climate understanding? Literature on numeracy, the ability to manage the mathematics of everyday life, offers few grounds for optimism, but it does suggest some ways to respond. 

The Numbers Game: Communicating Climate Change by the Numbers by Michael Svoboda, Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media, Sep 23, 2013

Food waste worsens greenhouse gas emissions

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates the direct cost to producers of food that goes to waste is currently $750 billion annually, a figure that excludes wasted fish and seafood.

But the FAO says the waste not only causes huge losses but is also doing very significant damage to natural resources – climate, water, land and biodiversity.

It says its report, Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources, is the first study to analyze the impacts of global food waste from an environmental perspective.

Food Waste Worsens Greenhouse Gas Emissions: FAO by Alex Kiurby, Climate News Network, Climate Central, Sep 22, 2013

Hunger seen worsening as climate change heats up world

World hunger is expected to worsen as climate change hurts crop production and disrupts incomes, with food-price spikes due to extreme weather set to increase, charity Oxfam said.

The number of people at risk of hunger may climb by 10 percent to 20 percent by 2050 as a result of climate change, with daily per-capita calorie availability falling across the world, Oxfam wrote in an e-mailed report today.

The world risks “cataclysmic changes” caused by extreme heat waves, rising sea levels and depleted food stocks, as average temperatures are headed for a 4 degree Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) jump by 2100, the World Bank reported in November.

“The changing climate is already jeopardizing gains in the fight against hunger, and it looks set to worsen,” Oxfam said. “A hot world is a hungry world.”

Hunger Seen Worsening by Oxfam as Climate Change Heats Up World by Rudy Ruitenberg, Bloomberg News, Sep 22, 2013

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions could prevent premature deaths

Reducing the flow of the greenhouse gases that spur global warming could prevent up to 3 million premature deaths annually by the year 2100, a new study suggests.

Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide trap heat, helping warm the globe. The surge in carbon dioxide levels due to human activity since the Industrial Revolution is now causing an overall warming of the planet that is having impacts around the globe. And the burning of fuel generates not only carbon dioxide, but also air pollutants that are harmful to human health.

Past studies have analyzed how reductions in greenhouse gas emissions would also improve air quality. [5 Ways Climate Change Affects Your Health]

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Could Prevent Premature Deaths by Charles Choi, Live Science, Sep 22, 2013

Scientists confess? The attack on the IPCC that went terribly wrong

When an error was found in the IPCC Assessment Report Number 4 – that mountain glaciers were likely to melt by 2035 – climate change deniers obsessed about this for several years, endlessly returning to it as proof that the IPCC was thoroughly flawed in its findings and the science could not be trusted.

Even with all the caution that the IPCC is famous for, it still managed to make a few errors in its almost 3000 page report. The caution also meant that the IPCC report in 2007 would have been loath to predict the unprecedented glacial lake outburst flood in the Himalayas that killed 6000 people in June. The ice around 20,000 large glacial lakes throughout the Himalayas is melting very fast, and when combined with monsoon rains, the ice gives way releasing billions of cubic metres of water – which happened at Kedarnath on June 16 this year.

Scientists confess? The attack on the IPCC that went terribly wrong by David Holmes, The Conversation, Sep 22, 2013

Suzuki accuses Abbott of 'wilful blindness' to climate change

Environmentalist David Suzuki has attacked the Coalition’s climate change policies, calling for a legal penalty to be imposed for “wilful blindness” in leaders who commit the “crime” of ignoring climate change.

Suzuki, a Canadian academic visiting Australia, told the ABC’s Q&A on Monday night that the government’s decision to disband The Climate Commission – which has since been resurrected as a privately funded body – was “very dangerous”.

“Human beings have become so powerful that we are altering the physical, chemical and biological properties of the Earth on a global scale,” he said. “In a time when we have become so powerful, how are we best making decisions for the future? I would think the best source of advice would be science."

David Suzuki accuses Tony Abbott of 'wilful blindness' to climate change by Oliver Milman, The Guardian, Sep 23, 2013

'We are all to blame for climate change'

Scientists are to tell the international community that they are at least 95 per cent sure that human activity is the main cause of climate change, according to one of the most authoritative reports on the subject.

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Cli, Sep 22, 2013mate Change (IPCC) will say next week that certainty has increased from "very likely" to "extremely likely" that human activity has caused more than half of the observed temperature rise from 1951 to 2010, in a large part due to fossil fuels and deforestation.

'We are all to blame for climate change': Experts hope that the strengthening evidence will help to bolster the political will to act by Chris Steenson, The Independent, Sep 22, 2013

Whatever happened to climate change?

Whither global warming? Apart from a succession of puerile puns – fracking awful quips, as the Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, might have put it in his conference speech – the issue hardly raised its head at the Lib Dem gathering in Glasgow. It is not looming large on the Labour agenda in Brighton over the next few days. And David Cameron, who once bragged his would be "the greenest government ever", hasn't waved his eco-credentials for ages now.

Whatever happened to climate change? by Paul Vallely, The Independent, Sep 22, 2013

Why the World Bank is Taking on Climate Change

Why the World Bank is Taking on Climate Change, Feature Story, The World Bank, Sep 23, 2013

Why we should choose science over beliefs

Ever since college I have been a libertarian—socially liberal and fiscally conservative. I believe in individual liberty and personal responsibility. I also believe in science as the greatest instrument ever devised for understanding the world. So what happens when these two principles are in conflict? My libertarian beliefs have not always served me well. Like most people who hold strong ideological convictions, I find that, too often, my beliefs trump the scientific facts. This is called motivated reasoning, in which our brain reasons our way to supporting what we want to be true. Knowing about the existence of motivated reasoning, however, can help us overcome it when it is at odds with evidence. 

Why We Should Choose Science over Beliefs by Michael Shermer, Scientific American, Sep 24, 2013


Posted by John Hartz on Tuesday, 24 September, 2013

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