2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #40B

A brief history of climate science

Climate change is often seen as a recent phenomenon, but its roots are actually far older – the effects of human activity on the global climate have been discussed for more than 150 years.

A brief history of climate science by Ed Hawkins, The Hindu, Sep 30, 2013

A reprieve from climate doom

When I first saw the September 17 Wall Street Journal headline, “A Reprieve from Climate Doom: A forthcoming report dials back the alarm on global warming,” I hoped against all odds this was a credible, evidence-based story and not just another piece of well-placed oil industry PR. Skimming down to paragraph three, I learned that a forthcoming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s largest and most respected international body of climate scientists, “points to the very real possibility that, over the next several generations, the overall effect of climate change will be positive for humankind and the planet.” Wow. If only the Fox News universe was real, life could be grand. 

A Reprieve From Climate Doom Op-ed by Michael I Niman, Art Voice/Truthout, Oct 4, 2013

Coal Cash, Climate Denial Fuel 'Citizens United 2'

Alabama coal baron and conservative activist Shaun McCutcheon has a problem. He doesn't feel that $123,200 buys him enough influence in Washington. He wants to spend more. A lot more.

McCutcheon, a big fan of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, apparently feels that this existing aggregate federal campaign contribution limit is a restriction of his "right" to spend what he wants on politics.

Next Tuesday at the Supreme Court, shutdown willing, the Court will hear oral arguments in McCutcheon v. FEC. Already being called Citizens United 2 by a coalition of democracy, environmental, and labor activists, the case could enable a single wealthy donor, like McCutcheon, to contribute more than $3.6 million to the Democratic or Republican party's candidates and party committees in a single election cycle.

Coal Cash, Climate Denial Fuel 'Citizens United 2' by Stephen Kretzmann, Blog, The Huffington Post, Oct 3, 2013

Earth Care Week: Buddhists respond to climate change

As a Buddhist teacher I've been interested in finding true happiness through directly opening to suffering. A major interest and focus of my teaching has been awakening the natural joy that is within us. But two years ago after reading Bill McKibben's brilliant, sobering book, Eaarth, I had to face the harsh realities of climate change. My optimism was shaken as I came to terms with the fact that the future looks pretty bleak.

Although the current picture can seem pretty depressing, it's also been heartening to see that more and more people are starting to become aware of the dangers connected with the most crucial issue facing us today. As a wise friend of mine says, "We're in a race between ignorance and consciousness."

This past June fifty senior teachers met at an International Vipassana Teachers Conference at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, Calif., where I teach. On the agenda was Climate Change: specifically the role Buddhism might play and the responsibility of those who share the teachings.

Earth Care Week: Buddhists Respond to Climate Change by James Braatz, The Huffington Post, Oct 2, 2013

Envoys Spar Over Aviation Carbon Market Compromise Deal

Aviation negotiators have begun final talks in Montreal over the creation of a carbon market for the world airline industry.

More than 190 countries in the International Civil Aviation Organization are discussing a revised proposal by the assembly’s President Michel Wachenheim that would limit the European Union emissions trading system prior to the global deal and exempt countries with a low share in international civil aviation. The triennial meeting ends Oct. 4.

At stake is international commitment to agree on the details of a market-based emissions-reduction tool for the $708 billion industry in 2016 and start the program in 2020. An agreement would be unprecedented for any global industry. Airlines emit 2 percent of greenhouse gases worldwide.

Envoys Spar Over Aviation Carbon Market Compromise Deal by Ewa Krukowska, Bloomberg News, Oct 2, 2013

Global warming and heat waves – our bodies working to stay cool

Increases in extreme heat due to global warming will pose challenges to our cities, infrastructure, and bodies.

Global warming and heat waves – our bodies working to stay cool by John Abrahams, Climate Consensus-the 97%, The Guardian, Oct 3, 2013

Insights into the personalities of conspiracy theoris

Conspiracy theories and scientific theories attempt to explain the world around us. Both apply a filter of logic to the complexity of the universe, thereby transforming randomness into reason. Yet these two theoretical breeds differ in important ways. Scientific theories, by definition, must be falsifiable. That is, they must make reliable predictions about the world; and if those predictions turn out to be incorrect, the theory can be declared false. Conspiracy theories, on the other hand, are tough to disprove. Their proponents can make the theories increasingly elaborate to accommodate new observations; and, ultimately, any information contradicting a conspiracy theory can be answered with, “Well sure, that’s what they want you to think.”

Insights into the Personalities of Conspiracy Theorists by Caitlin Shure, Scientific American, Oct 4, 2013

Ireland might be losing its green

Summer visitors to Ireland used to coping with frequent outpourings from the heavens might be in for a bit of a shock in future if the latest projections on the country’s climate by Met Eireann, the Irish Meteorological Service, prove correct.

In a just-released report, Ireland’s climate: the road ahead, Met Eireann says that as a result of climate change summers will become considerably drier, with up to a 20% decrease in precipitation. But winters will become wetter, with precipitation increases of up to 14%.

That could mean those famously green fields will lose their lushness in spring and summer months. This happened earlier this year as grasslands across much of Ireland turned brown through lack of rainfall.

Ireland Might Be Losing Its Green by Kieran Cooke, Climate News Network, Truthdig, Oct 4, 2013

Latest IPCC climate report puts geoengineering in the spotlight

Attempts to counter global warming by modifying Earth's atmosphere have been thrust into the spotlight following last week's report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Mention of ‘geoengineering’ in the report summary was brief, but it suggests that the controversial area is now firmly on the scientific agenda. Some climate models suggest that geoengineering may even be necessary to keep global temperature rises to below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.

Latest IPCC Climate Report Puts Geoengineering in the Spotlight by David Kressy and Nautre magazine, Scientific American, Oct 2, 2013

Toxic algae may be longer, more intense

Toxic algae blooms appear to be increasing in frequency and intensity around the country, but the full range of their causes -- and their health effects -- remains far from clear. Some experts, meanwhile, are suggesting that lakes, rivers and ponds that breed such blooms are becoming more hazardous thanks in part to a warming planet.

Green Lake, a popular local recreation destination, is no exception. Nearly every morning, Garet Munger and his little black dog, Charlie, make the 3-mile trek around the lake -- which is currently more than living up to its name.

Toxic Algae Blooms May Be Longer, More Intense Due To Climate Change by Lynne Peeples, The Huffington Post, Oct 2, 2013

What the new IPCC report says about sea level rise 

Scientists' best guess on sea level rise this century has increased considerably on its last projections in 2007. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) now estimates seas will rise between 26 and 82 centimetres.

So what's changed?

What the new IPCC report says about sea level rise by Freya Roberts, The Carbon Brief, Oct 3, 2013

When the levees break: disasters converging on a finite planet

The 19th century novel Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates by American author Mary Mapes Dodge features a brief story-within-the-story that has become better known in popular culture than the book itself. It’s the tale of a Dutch boy (in the novel he’s called simply “The Hero of Haarlem”) who saves his community by jamming his finger into a leaking levee. The boy stays all night, despite the cold, until village adults find him and repair the leak. His courageous action in holding back potential floodwaters has become celebrated in children’s literature and art, to the point where it serves as a convenient metaphor.

Here in early 21st century there are three dams about to break, and in each case a calamity is being postponed—though not, in these cases, by the heroic digits of fictitious Dutch children.

When the Levees Break: Disasters Converging on a Finite Planet by Richard Heinberg, Common Dreams, Oct 2, 2013

Posted by John Hartz on Saturday, 5 October, 2013

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