2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #26A

Climate change to impact even deep-ocean ecosystems

Even tiny crustaceans scuttling across the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean floor will feel the effects of climate change, according to a new study published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography. “The deep sea is so remote and so very, very cold that we wondered if it too will be impacted by climate change,” explains Gene Hunt , a paleobiologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. “Our research shows the answer is yes.”

Climate change to impact even deep-ocean ecosystems, scientists say, Smithsonian Science, June 24, 2014 

Climate change to profoundly alter Great Lakes Region

Intense rainstorms, floods and heat waves will become more common in the Great Lakes region due to climate change in the coming decades, and ice-cover declines will lengthen the commercial navigation season on the lakes, according to a new summary report released today at the start of a three-day climate-adaptation conference at the University of Michigan.

In the next few decades, longer growing seasons and rising carbon dioxide levels will increase some crop yields in the region, but those benefits will be progressively offset by extreme weather events, according to the report prepared by the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center (GLISA), a federally funded collaboration between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. 

Climate Change to Profoundly Alter Great Lakes Region, eNews Park Forest (Illinois), June 24, 2014

G20 summit: Obama expected to discuss 'critical issue' of climate change

Barack Obama is expecting to discuss climate change at the G20 summit in Brisbane, with the US ambassador to Australia reinforcing the president’s message that it is a “critical” issue.

In a wide-ranging address to the National Press Club on Wednesday, in which he also spoke about marrying his partner of 17 years thanks to same-sex marriage laws, ambassador John Berry said the US was raising climate change through its sherpas for the November summit.

“I think we can't lose sight that this is an important issue, it's one the United States will raise in every international forum, it is one we will continue to press on, it is of critical importance, we see not only to Americans but to the world,” he said.

G20 summit: Obama expected to discuss 'critical issue' of climate change by Bridie Jabour, The Guardian, June 25, 2014

Heat & repeat: globe breaks May temperature record

Driven by exceptionally warm ocean waters, Earth smashed a record for heat in May and is likely to keep on breaking high temperature marks, experts say.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Monday said May's average temperature on Earth of 59.93 degrees Fahrenheit (15.54 degrees Celsius) beat the old record set four years ago. In April, the globe tied the 2010 record for that month. Records go back to 1880.

May was especially hot in parts of Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Spain, South Korea and Australia, while the United States was not close to a record, just 1 degree warmer than the 20th century average. However, California is having a record hot first five months of the year, a full 5 degrees above normal. 

Heat & Repeat: Globe Breaks May Temperature Record by Seth Borenstein, AP/ABC News, June 23, 2014

How Rupert Murdoch created the world’s newest climate change villain

Australia was once a leader on climate action. Thanks to American conservative powerhouses, that's no longer true

How Rupert Murdoch created the world’s newest climate change villain by Alexander White, Salon, June 22, 2014

On balance, a good ruling on emissions

The Supreme Court Correctly Affirms the E.P.A.’s Authority

On balance, a good ruling on emissions, Op-ed by Editorial Board, New Yok Times, June 23, 2014

Parts of America will be 'Unsuited For Outdoor Activity'

The old adage, "it's not the heat, it's the humidity," will come into play more often and in more places because of climate change, with life-altering results in southern U.S. cities from Miami to Atlanta to Washington and even northern ones such as New York, Chicago and Seattle.

"As temperatures rise, toward the end of the century, less than an hour of activity outdoors in the shade could cause a moderately fit individual to suffer heat stroke," said climatologist Robert Kopp of Rutgers University, lead scientific author of the report. "That's something that doesn't exist anywhere in the world today."

Parts Of America Will Be 'Unsuited For Outdoor Activity' Thanks To Climate Change, Report Finds by Sharon Begley, Reuters/The Huffington Post, June 24, 2014

Taking effective action against the unstoppable

Climate change is not an event in your children’s future. It is bearing down upon you now. And there is nothing you — or anyone else — can do to prevent the hit.

Over the next quarter-century, heat-related death rates will probably double in the southeastern states. Crop losses that used to happen only once every 20 years because of cataclysmic weather will occur five times as often.

This is our future even if every person on the planet abruptly stopped burning coal, gas, oil, wood or anything else containing carbon today and we hooked the world economy onto the wind and the sun tomorrow. The change is baked in, caused by CO2 spewed into the air long ago. 

Taking Effective Action Against the Unstoppable by Eduardo Porter, New York Times, June 24, 2014

The coming climate crash

There is a time for weighing evidence and a time for acting. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my work in finance, government and conservation, it is to act before problems become too big to manage.

For too many years, we failed to rein in the excesses building up in the nation’s financial markets. When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating. Millions suffered. Many still do.

We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked.

This is a crisis we can’t afford to ignore. I feel as if I’m watching as we fly in slow motion on a collision course toward a giant mountain. We can see the crash coming, and yet we’re sitting on our hands rather than altering course.

The Coming Climate Crash, Op-ed by Henry Paulson, New York Times, June 22, 2014

The loneliness of the non-crazy Republican

Hank Paulson has a very sad opinion piece about climate change in today’s Times. We must act, he declares, in the same way we acted to contain the financial crisis.

It’s a dubious analogy: the 2008 crisis was fast-moving, and people like Paulson could credibly warn that unless we acted the whole world economy would fall apart in a matter of days. Meanwhile, climate change is slow but inexorable, with enormous momentum; by the time it becomes undeniable that there’s a crisis, it will be too late to avoid catastrophe.

The Loneliness of the Non-Crazy Republican by Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal blog, New York Times, June 22, 2014

Three reasons why climate change is real, and humans are causing it

Dire warnings of imminent human-induced climate disaster are constantly in the news but predictions of the end of the world have been made throughout history and have never yet come true. Even in the brief period of recorded history, natural climate change has always been with us – whether it is the volcanically induced crop failures that helped precipitate the French Revolution or the Medieval Warm Period that allowed Vikings to colonise Greenland. So how can we trust that the computer models scientists use to make predictions are reliable?

There is sometimes reluctance to take experts' words for anything and so we would like to be shown the evidence. Unfortunately, that is difficult when the details are buried under hundreds of thousands of lines of computer code which implement mathematical algorithms of mind-numbing complexity. There is, however, one branch of science that can reliably give an answer that is easy to understand and hard not to believe.

Three simple reasons why climate change is real, and humans are causing it by David Waltham, The Conversation(UK), June 24, 2014

Transforming the United Nations from Raison d'Etat to Raison de Planète 

This month marks the centenary of the start of the First World War. Notwithstanding the vast transformations that we have undergone since, this great conflict remains what Winston Churchill called "a drama never surpassed."

As we face fresh turmoil around the world today, many fear history will not only repeat itself, but that we will be unable to meet key new challenges like climate change. While there is certainly cause for this concern, in 2014 we have one globally legitimate institution, born out of the disasters of the 20th century, that remains the best hope for avoiding the same mistakes in the 21st century while also stepping up the plate on global issues : the United Nations.

Transforming the United Nations From Raison d'Etat to Raison de Planète by Vuk Jeremi?, The World Post, June 23, 2014

We just experienced the hottest May on record

The average land and ocean surface temperature for May was the highest ever. And 2014 is shaping up to potentially be the hottest year yet. 

We Just Experienced the Hottest May on Record by Adam Vaughan, The Climate Desk/ Mother Jones, June 24, 2014

What does climate change mean for sea turtles?

You might have seen in recent news that climate change may increase the size of some sea turtle populations, by increasing the number of female turtles.

These studies hinge on an unusual trait of sea turtles: their sex is determined by the temperature in the nest. Turtle eggs incubated above 29C produce mostly females, while temperatures under 29C produce mostly males.

Our recent study published in Nature Climate Change found that by altering the sex ratio of turtle populations in favour of females, climate change could lead to a population increase in the short term. But this isn’t the whole story.

What does climate change mean for sea turtles? by Graeme Hays, The Conversation (Australia), June 23, 2014

White House plans another big climate push

One year after President Barack Obama rolled out his climate change action plan, the administration is putting fresh emphasis on its environmental agenda.

The White House plans to host two roundtable discussions this week on the economic threats that climate change poses and the "opportunities to overcome those risks," a White House official said in an email Monday night, which emphasized the potential costs of not addressing planet-warming emissions.

White House Plans Another Big Climate Push by Kate Shepard, The Huffington Post, June 24, 2014

Posted by John Hartz on Wednesday, 25 June, 2014

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