2015 SkS Weekly News Roundup #2A

7 trends that will affect the Planet in 2015

Here are some trends and expected events in 2015 and beyond that may have a significant impact upon the planet and life on Earth.

7 trends that will affect the Planet in 2015 by Parick J. Kiger, Discovery News, Jan 5, 2015

2014 may set a new temperature record. So can we please stop claiming global warming has “stopped”?

Speaking on the Senate floor in July, Oklahoma's James Inhofe — soon to head, once again, the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee — made a claim that has become quite prevalent among skeptics of climate change skeptics.

"For the past 15 years," Inhofe said, "temperatures across the globe have not increased."

Inhofe was offering one of the favorite arguments of skeptics, namely, thatglobal warming  paused or slowed down since the very hot year of 1998.

But the argument has one big problem. This:

2014 may set a new temperature record. So can we please stop claiming global warming has “stopped”? by Chris Mooney, Wonkblog, Jan 6, 2015

Australia is burning, and climate change is making it worse

It’s summertime in Australia, which means the fires are raging. Every year, the continent’s sweltering temperatures and dry conditions create a toxic combination for bush fires that can threaten homes and lead to injuries and deaths. This season’s wildfires are particularly damaging, destroying the largest amount of territory in more than three decades. The Insurance Council of Australia yesterday declared a catastrophe for regions near Adelaide in South Australia.

Fires may be inevitable in Australian summers, but climate change is making the problem more severe, says Will Steffen, an adjunct professor at the Australian National University’s Fenner School of Environment & Society. “Pretty much all parts of the continent do burn,” says Steffen, who is also a councillor with the Climate Council, an NGO in Sydney. As temperatures rise, however, the patterns are changing, with the southeastern part of the country more vulnerable than before. “We are seeing an increase in the most populated areas of Australia. That’s really of concern, the fires that can encroach on the edge of cities.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a vocal critic of policies designed to combat climate change. And with the wildfires raging, his government probably could have found a better time to release new data showing just how quickly temperatures are rising in the country. This past spring—from September to November—was the hottest on record, the Bureau of Meteorology said in a report published Monday.

Australia is burning, and climate change is making it worse by Bruce Einhorn, Bloomberg/Businessweek, Jan 6, 2015

California drought: Early months of 2015 will be critical

As the state enters a fourth year of drought, a key variable in all this is El Nino — the periodic warming of Pacific Ocean waters that tends to mean precipitation over California. "El Nino impacts in California usually show up with the new year so we will have to wait and see what happens there," said Anderson.

Experts have been signaling a potential El Nino for months, and one could still develop, but expectations were muted in mid-December when the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) said that the Pacific waters were as warm as they were expected to get.

California Drought: Early Months of 2015 Will Be Critical by Miquel Llanos, NBC News, Jan 4, 2015

California Gov Jerry Brown unveils ambitious energy goals

In a historic swearing-in ceremony Monday, Jerry Brown began an unprecedented fourth term as the governor of California.

“No pressure,” Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye joked as she began the official inauguration.

The veteran politician, whose first term began in 1975 and who won reelection last November by a landslide, got right down to business. In a combined inaugural and state of the state speech that focused largely on California's role as an environmental policy leader, Brown laid out an ambitious energy plan.

California Gov Jerry Brown Unveils Ambitious Energy Goals by Lydia O'Connor, The Huffington Post, Jan 5, 2014

Climate change isn't just a Leftist cause

I'm a Liberal voter and I'm passionate about action on climate change. Did that sentence seem strange?

Under Tony Abbott's stewardship of the federal Liberal Party, the term "Liberal" has almost become synonymous with climate change denial. It need not be so.

The climate debate has unfortunately descended into an ideological battle of Left versus Right, with parties of the Left taking ownership of the moral necessity for climate action. Yet this is an issue that should never have been framed in ideological terms, since history will be harsh judges on those who refused to accept the scientific consensus that something must be done to preserve the planet. Just yesterday the Bureau of Meteorology confirmed that Australia experienced its third warmest year on record in 2014.

Climate change isn't just a Leftist cause by Dale Hughes, The Drum/ABC, Jan 2015

Climate deniers employ predatory tactics in fight against facts: Scientist

Michael Mann writes that the strategy 'is similar to what happens when a group of lions on the Serengeti seek out a vulnerable individual zebra at the edge of a herd.'

Climate Deniers Employ Predatory Tactics in Fight Against Facts: Scientist by Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams. Jan 6, 2015

How climate change is making its mark on the world – pictures

NASA gallery reveals how global warming is taking its toll on the planet’s glaciers, lakes and forests

How climate change is making its mark on the world – pictures by Sophie Yeo, Responding to Climate Change (RTCC), Jan 6, 2015

Keystone, climate change and the US economy: the truth behind the myths

America has 2.5m miles of oil and gas pipelines. But none of those pipelines are anywhere near as contentious as the Keystone XL, which would transport tar sands crude oil from Canada to refineries on the US gulf coast. Over the past six-plus years, Keystone has become a stand-in for a broader debate about climate change. It’s also the subject of much myth-making about climate change and the economy. Below, a look at some of the most prominent of those myths, and the truth behind them.

Keystone, climate change and the US economy: the truth behind the myths by Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, Jan 6, 2015

Limiting global warming means forgoing vast fuel reserves - study

A third of the world's oil reserves, half of gas reserves and 80 percent of current coal reserves should not be used in the coming decades if global warming is to stay below an agreed 2 degree Celsius target, scientists said on Wednesday.

In a study published in the journal Nature, researchers said the vast majority of coal reserves in China, Russia and the United States should stay in the ground, as well as more than 260,000 million barrels of oil reserves in the Middle East, equivalent to all of Saudi Arabia's oil reserves.

The Middle East should also leave more than 60 percent of its gas reserves in the ground, the study found.

"Policy makers must realise that their instincts to completely use the fossil fuels within their countries are wholly incompatible with their commitments to the 2 degrees C goal," said Christophe McGlade, who led the study at University College London's Institute for Sustainable Resources.

Limiting global warming means forgoing vast fuel reserves - study by Kate Kellen, Reuters, Jan 7, 2015

Oil’s swoon creates the opening for a carbon tax

The case for carbon taxes has long been compelling. With the recent steep fall in oil prices and associated declines in other energy prices, it has become overwhelming. There is room for debate about the size of the tax and about how the proceeds should be deployed. But there should be no doubt that, given the current zero tax rate on carbon, increased taxation would be desirable.

The core of the case for taxation is the recognition that those who use carbon-based fuels or products do not bear all the costs of their actions. Carbon emissions exacerbate global climate change. In many cases, they contribute to local pollution problems that harm human health. Getting fossil fuels out of the ground involves both accident risks and environmental challenges. And even with the substantial recent increases in U.S. oil production, we remain a net importer. Any increase in our consumption raises our dependence on Middle East producers.

Oil’s swoon creates the opening for a carbon tax, Op-ed by Lawrence Summers, Washington Post, Jan 5, 2014

Playing dumb on climate change

Years ago, climate scientists offered an increase of 2 degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) as the “safe” limit or ceiling for the long-term warming of the planet. We are now seeing dangerous effects worldwide, even as we approach a rise of only 1 degree Celsius. The evidence is mounting that scientists have underpredicted the threat. Perhaps this is another reason — along with our polarized politics and the effect of fossil-fuel lobbying — we have underreacted to the reality, now unfolding before our eyes, of dangerous climate change.

Playing dumb on climate change, Op-ed by Naomi Oreskes, Sunday Review, New York Times, Jan 3, 2014

Pope Francis plants a flag in the ground on climate change

Make no mistake about it, there is no longer any rationale for division between science and faith. Over the past decades, scientists and persons of faith have learned to dance in a complementary manner, a “non-overlapping magisterium” as the saying sometimes goes. But as prior conflicts were found to be more molehill than mountain, leaders among the scientific and religious communities have explored collaborative ways to answer scientific questions and provide solutions to real-world problems that reflect a universal motivation to care for our fellow humans and honor our religious traditions.

Pope Francis plants a flag in the ground on climate change by John Abraham, Climate Consensus - The 97%, The Guardian, Jan 6, 2015

Solar is changing the game

At the start of 2015, solar energy is booming. It’s been a long time coming, but financial incentives for renewables along with more affordable panels are finally having a notable impact in states like California.

I’m not surprised. When I moved to Monterey in 2013, I met Solar City reps on my first trip to Home Depot. They clearly and concisely explained the benefits of adding solar panels to our roof and even sent a sales person to meet with us in our home to discuss what we could save. Ultimately, we didn’t add panels because we knew we would be moving again soon, but their reps made a very convincing case. And during our nine month residency, many neighbors made the change. California now accounts for a quarter of all the rooftop solar systems in the U.S. and the state’s utility companies are getting nervous.

Here’s why - 

Solar is changing the game, Op-ed by Sheril Kirshenbaum, Scientific American, Jan 5, 2015

Posted by John Hartz on Wednesday, 7 January, 2015

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