2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #52

2013 Australia's hottest year on record 

2013 is the year Australia marked its hottest day, month, season, 12-month period and, by December 31, hottest calendar year.

"We're smashing the records," said Andy Pitman, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of NSW. "We're not tinkering away at them, they're being absolutely blitzed."

Global interest in Australia's weather flared early. In January, when models predicted heat that was literally off the charts, the Bureau of Meteorology added colours to maps - a deep purple and pink - to indicate maximum temperatures of 50-54 degrees.

2013 Australia's hottest year on record by Peter Hannam, Sydney Morning Herald, Dec 21, 2013

2014 climate outlook and communications challenges to be highlighted 

Some call it a “Google Hangout.” Others just call it a webinar. The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media calls it “30onClimate,”* a new regular feature debuting this month.

Long-time Forum regular contributor and veteran science writer Bruce Lieberman, of San Diego, hosts and moderates the new Yale Forum regular feature.

Lieberman will regularly host an online discussion of between 20 and 30 minutes. The first in the series (available now) features three other Forum regular contributors — Lisa Palmer of Maryland, John Wihbey of Massachusetts, and Zeke Hausfather of California. The debut webinar, recorded on December 20, focuses on the writers’ outlook for major upcoming climate issues throughout the 2014 new year.

2014 Climate Outlook and Communications Challenges to be Highlighted in New Webinar Series, Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media, Dec 23, 2013 

Climate change 2013: Where we are now - not what you think

We are in the midst of an era of frightening contradictions, when it comes to public understandings of climate change. While climate changes are occurring more quickly than scientists have ever predicted, most people’s knowledge of these realities remains hazy and clouded by political overtones. Because of both the counter-intuitive nature of climate change and the massive misinformation campaigns created by the fossil fuel industry, the general population is 20 years behind most climate scientists when it comes to the straightforward fact of "believing in" climate change. This is an ominous statistic: Now that scientists are predicting that even worse impacts than previously understood will happen significantly sooner, a rapid global response will be necessary for any attempt to stave them off. We are likely closer to irreversible dangerous climate change - if it has not begun already - and to take action, there must be a basic public consensus. There is, however, some hopeful news on the technological front if action is taken soon.

Climate Change 2013: Where We Are Now - Not What You Think, News Analysis by Bruce Melton, Truthout, Dec 26. 2012

Former leaders of Norway and Ghana named UN climate change envoys

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday appointed former Ghana President John Kufuor and former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg as special envoys on climate change to drum up support for a planned global conference in September.

Ban has invited world leaders, chief executives and civil society groups to a Climate Summit in New York on Sept. 23 to push for robust action on climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building climate resilient communities.

"As part of their work, the special envoys will assist the Secretary-General in his consultations with leaders to raise the level of ambition to address climate change and to accelerate action," Ban's office said in a statement.

Former leaders of Norway and Ghana named UN climate change envoys, Reuters, Dec 23, 2013

Increasing risks + declining trust = more risk?

As thousands were meeting at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting in San Francisco (see complete list of Forum coverage here), some 800 researchers, practitioners, and policymakers from more than 30 countries met in Baltimore to discuss “Risk Analysis for Better Policies.”

Risk communication and climate change were among the main subthemes at the 33rd annual meeting of the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA). The challenge of communicating climate change, in particular, was considered from different perspectives, and levels of analysis ranging from specific case studies to big-picture overviews. That approach echoes SRA’s objective of seeking to work across disciplines and at multiple levels.

Increasing Risks + Declining Trust = More Risk? by Michael Svoboda, Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media, Dec 23, 2013

In the Philippines, a vortex of climate change and debt

Since Typhoon Yolanda made landfall in the Philippines on Nov. 8, the country has sent holders of its debt close to one billion dollars, surpassing, in less than two months, the 800 million dollars the U.N. has asked of international donors to help rebuild the ravaged central region of the archipelago.

Even as the Philippines goes hat in hand to wealthier countries seeking disaster relief, it continues to diligently pay creditors in those same countries millions of dollars every day – much of it interest on debt that can be traced back to the corrupt regime of Ferdinand Marcos (1965-1986) , Cold War ally to the West.

When Philippine President Benigno Aquino III announced last week the staggering cost of rebuilding from the storm, the price tag – 8.17 billion dollars – and a pair of emergency loans to help meet that goal distressed debt reduction campaigners in the country who have for many years called for a cancellation of illegal debts.

In the Philippines, a Vortex of Climate Change and Debt by Samuel Oakford, Inter Press Service (IPS), Dec 23, 2013

Reducing sunlight ‘will not cool Earth’

Two German scientists have just confirmed that you can’t balance the Earth’s rising temperatures by simply toning down the sunlight. It may do something disconcerting to the patterns of global rainfall.

Earlier this year a US-led group of scientists ran sophisticated climate models of a geo-engineered world and proposed the same thing. Now Axel Kleidon and Maik Renner of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, have used a different theoretical approach to confirm the conclusion, and explain why it would be a bad idea.

The argument for geo-engineering goes like this: the world is getting inexorably warmer, governments show no sign of drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions, so why not control the planetary thermostat by finding a way to filter, block, absorb or reflect some of the sunlight hitting the Earth? 

Reducing sunlight "will not cool Earth" by Tim Radford and Climate News Network, Climate Central, Dec 27, 2013

Some lose, some win in warming world

And now for the good news: climate change could actually make life better for some creatures. The ibex in the Swiss Alps may find an extra spring in its step. The roly-poly pika of the American northwest might find it has gained an edge over its predators because it is adapted to a high fibre diet.

The news is not uniformly good: climate change is already taking its toll of Arctic peregrine falcons and chinstrap penguins on the Antarctic peninsula. But change is not always for the worse.

A team of scientists led by the Swiss Federal Institute of Forest, Snow and Landscape Research reports in Ecology Letters that they used dendrochronological techniques (the scientific method of dating based on the analysis of patterns of tree rings) to monitor the response of the mammal Capra ibex to patterns of climate change.

Some lose, some win in warming world by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, Dec 25, 2013

Still uncertain: climate change’s role in drought

It’s common for direct connections to be drawn between climate change and the effects of the devastating droughts that have been afflicting the U.S. and other parts of the world over the last decade. A new analysis led by scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research says there are still many uncertainties about how climate change is affecting drought globally, though.

The analysis, authored primarily by NCAR senior scientist Kevin Trenberth, concludes that more global precipitation data need to be made available and natural variability needs to be better accounted for to fully determine how climate change is affecting drought worldwide.

“We aIn a year that saw carbon pollution levels hit the milestone of 400 parts per million in the atmosphere and brought record-breaking drought, fires, typhoons, and air pollution, it can be easy to forget there are climate champions out there, pushing back on those climate grinches. Here are a few of the climate heroes that made progress, inspired, or otherwise made an impact in 2013:re really addressing the question of, how is drought changing with global warming and expected to change in the future?” Trenberth said Friday. “To address that question, how is drought changing with global warming, you have to address the question, is drought changing?”

Still uncertain: climate change’s role in drought by Bobby Magill, Climate Central, Dec 20, 2013

The climate champions of 2013

In a year that saw carbon pollution levels hit the milestone of 400 parts per million in the atmosphere and brought record-breaking drought, fires, typhoons, and air pollution, it can be easy to forget there are climate champions out there, pushing back on those climate grinches. Here are a few of the climate heroes that made progress, inspired, or otherwise made an impact in 2013:

The Climate Champions Of 2013 by Joanna M Foster, Climate Progress, Dec 23, 2013

Posted by John Hartz on Saturday, 28 December, 2013

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