2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #49A

Al Gore is a vegan now — and we think we know why

And so it is actually quite remarkable that, as Forbes reported in this week’s issue and The Washington Post confirmed with a source close to Gore on Monday, he has gone vegan. Forbes merely tossed in a throwaway line referring to Gore as “newly vegan,” in a story about investors looking at ways of replacing eggs with plant-based formulas. The Post was unable to get any further details beyond confirmation from an unnamed Gore associate. 

Al Gore is a vegan now — and we think we know why by Ben Adler, Grist, Nov 27, 2013

An update on risks of abrupt jolts from global warming

In 2002, the National Academy of Sciences published “Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises,” a valuable report examining whether and how the building human influence on the climate system might lead to disruptive jolts. The most important finding, in a way, was that this was an area sorely in need of intensified research.

Most of the “monsters behind the door,” to use an apt phrase from Stephen W. Pacala of Princeton, were plausible rather than probable. There were signs they’d escaped before (evidence of past abrupt changes), but only faint scratching could be heard now.

Now there’s a new report from the Academy’s National Research Council. The title reflects advances in understanding: “Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises.” The findings laid out below reinforce the reality that the biggest impacts of greenhouse-driven global warming still lie several generations in the future.

An update on risks of abrupt jolts from global warming by Andrew Revkin, Dot Earth, New York Times, Dec 3, 2013

Bloomberg LP launches first tool that measures risk of 'unburnable carbon' assets

In a move that underscores Wall Street's growing unease over the business-as-usual strategy of the world's fossil fuel companies, Bloomberg L.P. unveiled a tool last week that helps investors quantify for the first time how climate policies and related risks might batter the earnings and stock prices of individual oil, coal and natural gas companies.

The company's new Carbon Risk Valuation Tool is available to more than 300,000 high-end traders, analysts and others who regularly pore over the stream of information that's available through Bloomberg's financial data and analysis service. The move significantly broadens and elevates the discussion of "stranded" or "unburnable" carbon reserves—expanding it beyond climate groups and sustainability investors to the desks of the world's most active and influential investors and traders.

Bloomberg LP Launches First Tool That Measures Risk of 'Unburnable Carbon' Assets by Elizabeth Douglass, InsideClimate News, Dec 3, 2013

Climate change is not the future

A comment from a Los Angeles Times editor that the paper doesn’t print letters that deny human-induced climate change because they have “an untrue basis” (Washington Times, 10/11/13) didn’t cause quite the stir conservatives might have hoped for—probably because it reflects a growing sense that it’s long past the time for journalism to be debating whether such change is happening, and that even where denialist claims are rebutted, they distort and derail the discussion.

Climate Change Is Not the Future by Janine Jackson, FAIR, Dec 2, 2013

Climate change: No longer electoral Kryptonite!

How did things go so wrong for a conservative Republican in the coal-rich state of Virginia? Earlier this month, voters in that closely watched battleground state rejected Ken Cuccinelli’s extreme, right-wing bid for governor and dealt a serious blow to the deep-pocketed oil companies that backed his candidacy.

Of course, now is when the number-crunchers confer behind closed doors, in hushed tones, about what it all really means — for the midterms in 2014 and the primaries in 2016, for soccer moms and NASCAR dads, for women’s bodies and marriage equality, and for climate change.

I am here to tell you: A new political dynamic is emerging. Climate change is a winner, not a loser.

Climate change: No longer electoral Kryptonite! by Tom Steyer, Grist, Nov 30, 2013

Climate change will pose rising burden on U.S. Taxpayer

Such losses, says Ceres, a U.S.-based non-profit organization which promotes environmentally sustainable business practices, are set to rise considerably in the years ahead as a result of climate change, imposing an ever bigger burden on the U.S. taxpayer.

Federal and state disaster relief payouts last year alone are estimated to have cost every person in the U.S. more than $300.

Climate Change Will Pose Rising Burden on U.S. Taxpayer by Kieran Cooke, Climate News Network/Climate Central, Nov 29, 2013

Methane: It’s leaking out of the Arctic Ocean

We learned last week that Al Gore has become a vegan, and speculated that it might be because methane emissions from livestock are a surprisingly large driver of climate change. Meanwhile, a recent report from the National Academy of Sciences argues that the U.S. EPA has vastly underestimated methane emissions because it calculates them from the bottom-up — how much methane does a cow release times how many cows there are, for example — rather than actually measuring the methane released into the atmosphere.

Another reason to worry about methane: It’s leaking out of the Arctic Ocean hella fast by Ben Adler, Grist, Dec 3, 2013

No climate-change deniers to be found in the reinsurance business

In the aftermath of the German and Canadian floods, the victims, the insurers, the media, the politicians and the scientists were all asking the same questions: What caused them? Was it the relentless buildup of atmospheric carbon dioxide? Could “extreme” weather events become the new normal or were they once-a-millennium acts of god?

No climate-change deniers to be found in the reinsurance business by Eric Reguly, The Globe & Mail, Nov 28, 2013

Scientists warn that warming "will be hard to reverse"

A Swiss-American team of scientists has looked far into the future and calculated that the present lukewarm plans to limit climate change may involve too little action, applied too late.

Thomas Frölicher of ETH-Zurich and colleagues from Princeton report in Nature Climate Change that they tried to model the long-term planetary adjustment after carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning stopped altogether.

Scientists warn that warming "will be hard to reverse" by Tim Radford, Climate News Network/Climate Central, Dec 1, 2013

Something in the weather tells us climate change is real

Five years ago, I was a climate change denier.

Now, I give talks in the St. Louis area about the dangers of climate change and our obligation to do something about it — like speaking out for strict limits on carbon. I changed my views on climate change because my dad taught me to pay attention to the world around me ... and it’s obvious that something is wrong with the weather. It’s like the weather is on steroids — and getting worse.

The record heat wave in March 2012, when the temps in the high 80s made it feel like it was July, comes to mind. 

Something in the weather tells us climate change is real, LTE by Larry Lazar, St Louis Post-Dispatch, Nov 27, 2013

Temperature limit too high to avoid climate change - study

An internationally agreed target to limit rises in global average temperatures to within 2 degrees Celsius is around double the threshold that would avoid catastrophic climate change, a study by 18 eminent scientists said.

Governments decided in 2009 that such temperature increases needed to be no more than 2 degrees C (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels to avoid effects such as more extreme weather, higher sea levels and ocean acidification.

They aim to agree by 2015 on a global deal to cut the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change, but the reductions will not come into force until after 2020.

Temperature limit too high to avoid climate change - study by Nina Chestney, Reuters, 

Weather—without climate

Television news thrives on drama. Stories that can blend danger and dramatic footage are much more likely to be considered “newsworthy.”

So it’s no surprise that extreme weather plays a major role in the network evening news broadcasts. “As we come on the air this Friday night, millions of people are trying to drive home on sheets of ice,” ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer (2/22/13) announced at the beginning of one broadcast. But for the TV networks, weather events are most often discussed in isolation: A new FAIR study shows that even when  covering weather events that scientists suggest are linked to climate change, the news rarely mentions the changing climate.

Weather—Without Climate by Peter Hart, FAIR, Dec 2, 2013

Posted by John Hartz on Tuesday, 3 December, 2013

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