2015 SkS Weekly News Roundup #21B

25 newspapers team up to bring attention to climate change

The Guardian's Keep It In The Ground campaign has centered around publishing climate stories aggressive enough to alienate major oil companies.

Now, it's convinced 25 other global newspapers to gang up together on Big Oil.

The Guardian's partners include the world's influential daily papers including Le Monde, El País, China Daily, the Sydney Morning Herald, India Today, and the Seattle Times.

The newspapers will share each other's articles on climate coverage in an effort to pressure diplomats to craft a stricter new global agreement to reduce emissions at the UN's global summit on climate change on December 11. the Guardian's coverage, already the most activist in its approach, will begin appearing in 25 major newspapers around the world as part of a new content sharing agreement, coordinated by the Global Editors Network.

25 newspapers team up to bring attention to climate change by Jason Abbruzzese, Mashable, May 23, 2015 

Bad news keeps flowing from Antarctica

The massive shelves of ice that ring Antarctica have been shrinking over the past couple of decades, and that could have grave implications for sea level rise.

It’s not the ice shelves themselves that pose a problem: they’re mostly afloat, so when they melt or dump massive icebergs, it doesn’t affect water levels any more than melting ice cubes make your drink rise and overflow.

But the ice shelves serve as massive barriers that slow the flow of glaciers out to sea. As the shelves shrink, the barrier weakens, allowing glaciers to start moving faster. And since that ice is land-based, it adds to sea level rise.

Bad News Keeps Flowing From Antarctica by Michael D. Lemonick, Climate Central, May 21, 2015

Cutting warming to 1.5°C could endanger food supply

As world leaders try to agree how to prevent global warming from heating the planet by more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, scientists have tackled an altogether thornier question: can we keep the rise below 1.5°C?

The lower target—demanded by more than 100 countries as a safer goal—is attainable, they say. But there will be little room for error, and getting there will mean not only cutting greenhouse gas emissions, but actually removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

That is not possible with the technology now available. And even if it could one day be done, it would probably have forbiddingly harmful consequences for world food supplies.

Cutting warming to 1.5°C could endanger food supply by Alex Kirby, Climate News Network/Truthout, May 22, 2015

Congress manufactures doubt and denial in climate change hearing

US Congress periodically holds hearings on issues related to climate change. Because the subject has become a partisan one in America, they generally follow apredictable pattern – Democrats invite science and policy expert witnesses who agree with the expert consensus on human-caused global warming and the need to address it, and Republicans invite witnesses who disagree.

John Christy at the University of Alabama at Huntsville is one of the fewer than 3% of climate scientists who publishes research suggesting that humans aren’t the primary cause of the current global warming. He’s thus become one of Republicans’ favorite expert witnesses.

Last week, the Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing to discuss draft guidance by the the President’s Council on Environmental Quality to include carbon pollution and the effects of climate change in the consideration of environmental impacts of federal projects, as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process. Needless to say, the Republicans on the committee don’t like the idea, as is clear from the hearing highlights and lowlights in the video below.

Congress manufactures doubt and denial in climate change hearing by Dana Nuccitelli, Cliamte Consensus - the 97%, The Guardian, May 21, 2015

France's Hollande concerned about slow progress in climate talks

French President Francois Hollande said he was worried about a lack of progress towards a United Nations climate deal in Paris in December and called on the financial sector to "decarbonise" its investment portfolios.

Hollande said on Wednesday that only 37 of 196 U.N. member states had so far submitted plans to the United Nations outlining their actions to slow global warming beyond 2020. The plans are meant to be the building blocks for a deal in Paris.

"I note and I am concerned that at the moment I am speaking there are only 37 submissions," Hollande told the Paris Business and Climate conference, where global chief executives are discussing how industry can help fight climate change.

"The contributions should in theory be submitted this summer," he added.

France's Hollande concerned about slow progress in climate talks by Alister Doyle and Geert De Clercq, Reuters, May 20, 2015

Limiting global warming to 1.5C is still possible, say scientists

It's still technically possible to limit global warming to below 1.5C this century, according to new research published in Nature Climate Change.

Only a small window of opportunity remains open, the study says - and it is closing rapidly. Global carbon pricing or its equivalent should have been implemented already and must certainly be in place by 2020. The world would then need to become carbon neutral by mid-century.

The new study pitches into a live and vociferous debate over whether the world should be aiming to limit warming to 1.5C or 2C, and whether either target remains achievable. Carbon Brief puts the new study's findings in context.

Limiting global warming to 1.5C is still possible, say scientists by Simon Evans, The Carbon Brief, May 21, 2015

Seeds of Time - preserving food resources in a hot future climate

So often, we talk about “proving” climate change is happening, or articulating changes we expect in the future from increased extreme weather. We should also talk about adaptation - how can we adapt to a future climate? 

A recent film, being shown in theaters in New York City now and Los Angeles next Friday is a great success story about adaptation; decisions we can make now that may influence the fortunes of future generations. The movie, called Seeds of Time, is directed by Oscar-nominee Sandy McLeod. It is narrated by Dr. Cary Fowler who identifies the challenges agriculture will face with climate change and other potential disasters. Cary was former Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. Their goal was to put together an international plan to preserve global genetic diversity.

Seeds of Time - preserving food resources in a hot future climate by John Abraham, Climate Consensus - the 97%, The Guardian, May 22, 2015

Shell boss warns that unchecked fossil fuel burning will cause global warming

The world's fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned unless some way is found to capture their carbon emissions, Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said on Friday.

In an interview published in the Guardian newspaper, Van Beurden forecast that global energy use would produce "zero carbon" by the end of the century, and that his group would get a "very large segment" of its earnings from renewable power.

The interview came a day after Van Beurden slammed as a "red herring" calls to divest from energy companies as part of the fight against climate change, in particular the "Keep it in the Ground" campaign led by the Guardian.

Shell boss warns that unchecked fossil fuel burning will cause global warming Reuters/The Christian Science Monitor, May 22, 2015

The surprising links between faith and evolution and climate denial — charted

For a long time, we’ve been having a pretty confused discussion about the relationship between religious beliefs and the rejection of science — and especially its two most prominent U.S. incarnations, evolution denial and climate change denial.

At one extreme is the position that science denial is somehow deeply or fundamentally religion’s fault. But this neglects the wide diversity of views about science across faiths and denominations — and even across individuals of the same faith or denomination — not all of which are anti-climate science, or anti-evolution.

At the other extreme, meanwhile, is the view that religion has no conflict with science at all. But that can’t be right either: Though the conflict between the two may not be fundamental or necessary in all cases, it is pretty clear that the main motive for evolution denial is, indeed, a perceived conflict with faith (not to mention various aspects of human cognition that just make accepting evolution very hard for many people).

The surprising links between faith and evolution and climate denial — charted by Chris Mooney, Energy & Environment, Washington Post, May 20, 2015

We need real consensus, not Bjorn Lomborg’s illusion of it

The Australian government’s intent to create a “Consensus Centre” to work on the big issues facing the nation signals a welcome revival in interest in using research to inform policy, if it can be taken at face value. But it needs to be done right, and if it is, universities can readily help.

The University of Western Australia’s recent decision to decline the A$4 million offered by the Abbott government, having originally agreed to host Bjorn Lomborg’s proposed “Australian Consensus Centre”, came after an outcry from faculty and students who were concerned that Lomborg’s views on climate change and other environmental issues were not based on the level of objective analysis expected of universities.

Lomborg is well known as a cornucopian, in the tradition of the US economist Julian Simon. Both have argued that environmental problems are not especially serious, and that the conventional economic growth model can continue indefinitely, even on a planet that is clearly finite.

We need real consensus, not Bjorn Lomborg’s illusion of it by Robert Costanza, Frank Jotzo & Steven Cork, The Conversation AU, May 21, 2015

Posted by John Hartz on Saturday, 23 May, 2015

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