2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #45A

Army of volunteers compiles possible evidence of climate change

Dead seals littering beaches, bolts of fur dangling from deer, white worms squiggling in the meat of freshly killed grouse. 

Incidents like these are some of the dozens of reports from the front lines of climate change in rural Alaska, where a volunteer army of observers is documenting unusual events to warn of potential health threats as new plants, bugs and animals migrate to the Far North. 

Spread across the state in more than 100 villages, 230 Alaska Native volunteers are part of a 2-year-old program organized by the Center for Climate and Health at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

Army of volunteers compiles possible evidence of climate change in Alaska by Alex DeMarban, AlaskaDispatch, Nov 4, 2013

Climate deniers' strategy of confusion

The fossil-fuel industry has invested billions of dollars in propaganda - funding phony “scientists” and bankrolling politicians - to confuse the public about the threat from global warming. The deception is aided and abetted by the mainstream media’s misguided “balance,” as Dan Becker and James Gerstenzang explain.

Climate Deniers' Strategy of Confusion, Op-ed by Dan Becker and James GerstenzangConsortium News/Truthout, Nov 3, 2013

Climate scientists want business leader to apologise for 'serious slur'

Climate scientists have called on one of Australia’s highest profile business leaders to apologise for accusing their profession of lacking integrity.

The Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society described as a “serious slur” the remarks of David Murray, former head of the Commonwealth Bank and the inaugural chairman of Australia’s multi-billion dollar future fund.

Murray told the ABC’s Lateline he believed there had been a “breakdown in integrity” in the science of climate change.

Climate scientists want business leader to apologise for 'serious slur' by Graham Readfern, The Guardian, Nov 1, 2013

Cool head on global warming

As the world's foremost economist on climate change, William D. Nordhaus, a professor at Yale University, has long held the planet's distant future in mind. But right now, paddling a canoe on a salt lagoon in late August, his thoughts were more immediate. They were fixed on his elementary-school-age granddaughter, crouched midship. She was hunting jellyfish.

Their summer rental home, all shingles, porches, and salt, had a beach nearby. Red jellyfish had swarmed it the day before, his granddaughter said. The lifeguard had resorted to hurling the jellies back into the ocean. It was to little avail.

"Now that's an unmanaged system," said Nordhaus, steering aft.

Cool Head on Global Warming by Paul Voosen, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov 4, 2013

'Crazy' climate re-engineering could reduce vital rains, study says

If global warming gases build up so much that record-setting rains, droughts and coastal floods routinely bankrupt businesses and cities, the world's economic and political powers may decide to aggressively re-engineer the global climate. One option is to fill the atmosphere with enough sunlight-reflecting particles to restore surface temperatures to pre-industrial levels. If they do, would all be cool? 

'Crazy' climate re-engineering could reduce vital rains, study says by John Roach, NBC News, Nov 1, 2013 

In Sandy's wake, flood zones and insurance rates re-examined

Robert Moore, who studies flood policy for the Natural Resources Defense Council, says New York City formerly had about 35,000 buildings sitting in flood zones. That number has now doubled. "The new maps that were made in the wake of Hurricane Sandy show a much larger flood plain that encompasses about 67,000 buildings," Moore says. The increase is due to changes in sea level up to now, and to changes in the built environment that shift the way runoff moves.

In Sandy's Wake, Flood Zones And Insurance Rates Re-Examined by Christopher Joyce, NPR, Oct 30, 2013

Jordan’s farmers struggle to weather climate change

Abu Waleed isn’t quite sure where to begin his litany of grievances. Bugs that chomp their way through the mint he grows, or the dry well that forces him to pump water from a half kilometre away? Or perhaps the 160 dinars he spent on spinach seeds only to see scant growth after planting.

For the small community of farmers in the Zarqa river basin east of the capital Amman, industrial development, poor resource management and climate change have converged to create a perfect storm of problems that damage farmers’ produce and livelihoods and ultimately threaten food security in Jordan.

The Jordanian government and organisations from local NGOs to U.N. agencies are taking baby steps to mitigate the effects of climate change, but Abu Waleed and other farmers say these efforts are not enough.

Jordan’s Farmers Struggle to Weather Climate Change by Elizabeth Whitman, Inter Press Service (IPS), Nov 5, 2013

Looking for clues to navigate climate uncertainty

When experts gather in Vietnam to debate the likely impacts of climate change in the region, they will be looking for clues to navigate a hugely uncertain future.

In a world of constant change, there are no certainties and we can’t predict the future. But in 50 years, governments will still have to make policy, people will still have to make a living, and we will still have to eat food. 

Documenting the drivers of change which are likely to impact food security and increase vulnerability to climate change in the future will be necessary to shape policy responses. Future market forces, economic and infrastructure developments will all affect how governments react to climate change. 

Looking for clues to navigate climate uncertainty by Georgina Smith,International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Thomson Reuters Foundation, Oct 31, 2013

Microsoft to use Texas wind power to fuel data centers

Microsoft has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement to buy Texas wind energy from RES Americas, as it joins Intel and Google in the technology race for carbon neutrality.

The Washington state-based software giant plans to buy all of the energy produced by the Keechi Wind project, a 110-megawatt wind facility 70 miles northwest of Ft. Worth. The deal’s price tag was not disclosed.

The wind farm shares the grid with Microsoft’s data center in San Antonio, and is part of its strategy to reduce the carbon footprint of its data centers.

“By placing a dollar value on a metric ton of carbon, Microsoft is building environmental sustainability in our long term business planning and creating a blueprint for more purchases of renewable energy like this one,” the company wrote on its Microsoft Green Blog on Monday morning.

Microsoft to use Texas wind power to fuel data centers by Emily Pickrell, Fuel Fix, Nov 4, 2013

Obama asks federal agencies to 'prepare' for climate change

Climate scientists tend to agree that even if humans stopped burning fossil fuels today, we'd still see some further warming and climate change from all the carbon dioxide we've already loaded into the atmosphere. We'll need to adapt regardless — it's just a question of how much.

The White House underscored that point on Friday when it issued a new executive order directing federal agencies to help states and communities prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea-level rise, storms, and droughts.

Obama asks federal agencies to ‘prepare’ for climate change. Here’s what that means by Brad Plumer, Wonkblog, Washington Post, Nov 1, 2013

Study shows carbon sequestration can cause quakes

Two scientists have found evidence that underground carbon dioxide injection in oil and gas fields may cause earthquakes, a finding that suggests carbon sequestration projects could shake the earth, too.

Carbon sequestration projects, also called carbon capture and storage, or CCS, projects, are thought to be one solution to reducing climate change-fueling carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and other sources. Several such projects are currently being studied across the country. 

Study Shows Carbon Sequestration Can Cause Quakes by Bobby McGill, Climate Central, Nov 4, 2013

World leaders warned time is running out

As world leaders prepare to meet in Poland for the latest United Nations summit on climate change, a major new report has warned that the chance to limit global temperature rises to below 2C is swiftly diminishing.

The United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) annual "Gap report", issued today aims to highlight the efforts needed by governments and businesses to avoid catastrophic climate change.

This year's report shows that even if nations meet their current climate pledges, greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 are likely to be eight to 12 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e) above the level needed to have a good chance of remain below 2C by 2020 on the lowest cost pathway.

World leaders warned time is running out to close widening emissions gap by Jessica Shankleman, businessGreen, Nov 5, 2011

Posted by John Hartz on Tuesday, 5 November, 2013

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