2015 SkS Weekly News Roundup #28A

Argentina still has no strategy for Paris climate change summit

It’s been 11,000 years since temperatures were this high on Earth, thanks to our burning of oil and gas, releasing carbon emissions, trapping the heat in the atmosphere and warming up the planet.

If we continue our current activities at this pace, we would have spent all of our so-called ‘carbon budget’ – that cannot be exceeded if we are to stay within the 2C limit scientists say is necessary to avoid catastrophic global warming – within the next three decades.

In Warsaw in 2013, the world’s countries agreed that they would make voluntary proposals of mitigation and adaptation to climate change. The deadline for this is in October.

Yet Argentina’s national pledge to reduce carbon emissions remains a mystery.

Argentina still has no strategy for Paris climate change summit by  Marina Aizen for Clarin, part of the Climate Publishers Network, The Guardian, July 8, 2015

Australia can stop greenhouse gas emissions by 2050: here’s how

To avoid dangerous climate change there is a finite amount of greenhouse gas emissions, in particular CO2, that we can add to the atmosphere – our global carbon budget. If we use our budget wisely, we have until about 2050 to transition to zero net emissions. But how do we get there?

For Australia to play its role, we’ll also need to get to zero net emissions by 2050. In a recently launched website from ClimateWorks, we’ve created an online tool to demonstrate that there are various ways to get there. You can create your own way of getting to zero net emissions by 2050.

Internationally the world has agreed to limit warming to 2C. To keep under this limit, globally we can emit around 1,700 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases (measured in CO2-equivalent) between 2000 and 2050. This would give us a 67% chance of limiting warming to 2C or less.

Just over a third of this budget was already used up between 2000 and 2012, leaving approximately 1,100 billion tonnes – this is the remaining global carbon budget.

Global emissions are currently projected to rise without further actions, putting us on a pathway to exceed this carbon budget and experience temperature rises of 4C or more.

Australia can stop greenhouse gas emissions by 2050: here’s how by Anna Skarbek, The Conversation, July 6, 2015

China eyes safe smart-grid system by 2020 to push clean energy

China plans to build a safe and environmentally friendly smart-grid system by 2020 as it promotes the spread of clean energy.

The nation will build long-distance transmission networks and active power distribution networks to fully use hydro power, wind and solar, according to a statement from the National Development and Reform Commission.

Grid constraints threaten to temper China’s rush to develop renewable energy supplies. Already, some of the nation’s wind capacity has been idled because of issues with the grid. There’s also the matter of being able to get power from where it’s produced to where it’s needed most.

China eyes safe smart-grid system by 2020 to push clean energy, Bloomberg/Japan Times, July 7, 2014

Climate Commission issues blueprint for low-carbon economy

Up to 96 percent of the emissions reductions needed by 2030 to keep global warming below a critical threshold of two degrees C could be achieved through a series of 10 steps, says a new report released by the Global Commission on the Economy and the Climate.

“The low carbon economy is already emerging,” said former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón, Chair of the Commission.

“But governments, cities, businesses and investors need to work much more closely together and take advantage of recent developments if the opportunities are to be seized. We cannot let these opportunities slip through our fingers.” 

Climate Commission issues blueprint for low-carbon economy by Kitty Stapp, Inter Press Service (IPS), July 7, 2015

Climate denial linked to conspiratorial thinking in new study

A new study has examined the comments on climate science-denying blogs and found strong evidence of widespread conspiratorial thinking. The study looks at the comments made in response to a previous paper linking science denial and conspiracy theories.

Climate denial linked to conspiratorial thinking in new study by Dana Nuccitelli, Climate Consensus - the 97%, Guardian, July 8, 2015

Exxon knew of climate change in 1981, email says – but it funded deniers for 27 more years

ExxonMobil, the world’s biggest oil company, knew as early as 1981 of climate change – seven years before it became a public issue, according to a newly discovered email from one of the firm’s own scientists. Despite this the firm spent millions over the next 27 years to promote climate denial.

The email from Exxon’s in-house climate expert provides evidence the company was aware of the connection between fossil fuels and climate change, and the potential for carbon-cutting regulations that could hurt its bottom line, over a generation ago – factoring that knowledge into its decision about an enormous gas field in south-east Asia. The field, off the coast of Indonesia, would have been the single largest source of global warming pollution at the time.

“Exxon first got interested in climate change in 1981 because it was seeking to develop the Natuna gas field off Indonesia,” Lenny Bernstein, a 30-year industry veteran and Exxon’s former in-house climate expert, wrote in the email. “This is an immense reserve of natural gas, but it is 70% CO2”, or carbon dioxide, the main driver of climate change.

Exxon knew of climate change in 1981, email says – but it funded deniers for 27 more years by Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian, July 8, 2015

Fossil fuel funding boycott puts spotlight on Clinton campaign

Progressive groups have a challenge for presidential hopefuls: Put your money where your mouth is on the climate, and swear off contributions from fossil fuel companies.

To affirm their commitment to taking on the climate crisis and "standing up to the corrupting influence of fossil-fuel companies," the campaign, launched on Monday by The Nation and 350 Action, is calling on 2016 presidential and congressional candidates to sign a pledge committing to "neither solicit nor accept campaign contributions from any oil, gas, or coal company."

The Nation editors said they have asked each of the major declared presidential candidates in the the Democratic, Republican, and Green parties if they would be willing to honor the pledge. 

Fossil fuel funding boycott puts spotlight on Clinton campaign by Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams, July 7, 2015

Many Americans still lack access to solar energy. Here’s how Obama plans to change that

The White House Tuesday announced an array of new measures to extend access to the most rapidly growing source of U.S. energy — solar — to a much broader group of Americans, including low-income communities and individuals who rent, rather than owning their own homes.

That includes a new initiative to ramp up so-called “community solar” projects across the country — programs in which one solar installation supplies energy to multiple different homes or individuals – with a focus on serving low- and middle- income Americans. It also includes a pledge to install a total of 300 megawatts of solar and other renewables in federally subsidized housing developments by the year 2020 (each megawatt represents roughly enough solar to power 164 homes).

The announcements came just a week after the administration pledged, in a joint agreement with Brazil, that the United States will get 20 percent of its total electricity from renewable sources by the year 2030 — a target that would require tripling renewables beyond current levels.

Many Americans still lack access to solar energy. Here’s how Obama plans to change that by Chris Mooney, Energy & Environment. Washington Post, July 7, 2015

Quantum leap taken in measuring greenhouse effect

New technique for analysing satellite data will allow scientists to predict more accurately how much the Earth will warm as a result of carbon dioxide emissions.

Quantum leap taken in measuring greenhouse effect by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, July 8, 2015

Saving China from itself: how the world's biggest polluter is dealing with climate change

The undulating hills of Ningxia have been home for Hai Zhengjun ever since he chiselled out a cave shelter on the side of a ridge with a pickaxe and shovel in the 1970s.

The 64-year-old has learned never to take water for granted, having spent all his life rearing sheep and sowing crops of wheat and corn in an area environmentalists identify as among China's driest and most ecologically vulnerable.

The central and southern parts of the region, which sprawl across the Loess Plateau and are home to a sizeable ethnic Hui Muslim population, are highly prone to drought and desertification. With the dry conditions exacerbated in recent years, scientists say, by the effects of climate change, the Chinese government has been ramping up a far-reaching resettlement project aimed at relocating hundreds of thousands of villagers into towns built from scratch and with ready access to running water.

Saving China from itself: how the world's biggest polluter is dealing with climate change by Philip Wen and Sanghee Liu, The Age, July 4, 2015

Technical solutions alone can’t fix climate change – scientists

Dealing with climate change and its risks will require not only technical responses like drought-resilient crops and higher sea walls but also reshaping economic and political incentives that are driving global warming, scientists said on Wednesday.

“The biggest risk of all that we face is that we’re addressing the wrong problem,” University of Oslo sociologist Karen O’Brien told a week-long conference of climate researchers in Paris.

Using more renewable energy and setting up crop insurance schemes and early warning systems is important, she said. But climate change “is more than a technical challenge”.

Finding genuine solutions will have to involve “looking at who has power and how that might need to change”, she said.

Technical solutions alone can’t fix climate change – scientists by Laurie Goering, Thomson Reuters Foundation, July 8, 2015

The most influential climate change papers of all time

Which of the many thousands of papers on climate change published each year in scientific journals are the most successful? Which ones have done the most to advance scientists' understanding, alter the course of climate change research, or inspire future generations?

On Wednesday, Carbon Brief will reveal the results of our analysis into which scientific papers on the topic of climate change are the most "cited". That means, how many times other scientists have mentioned them in their own published research. It's a pretty good measure of how much impact a paper has had in the science world.

But there are other ways to measure influence. Before we reveal the figures on the most-cited research, Carbon Brief has asked climate experts what they think are the most influential papers.

The most influential climate change papers of all time by Roz Pidcock, The Carbon Brief, July 6, 2015

What will climate be like in 2100? Expect surprises, says new Met Office study

The world’s leading scientists, politicians and even the pope are agreed that the world is warming thanks to human activities. Yet despite this, extreme cold weather still happens. The unusually chilly UK winter of 2009/10, for instance, led to understandable scepticism from some commentators who argued that this “global cooling” conflicted with predictions of warmer winters.

There’s no contradiction – the world simply doesn’t work like that. In fact, even after another 85 years of global warming there will still be a small chance of a 2009/10-style winter – a 0.6% chance, to be precise.

That’s according to new research by the UK’s Met Office which assesses how likely these sorts of unusual seasons will be in future. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, also says the chances of the sort of historically hot summer that we might currently see only once every two decades will rise to 90% by 2100. What we would today consider a wetter-than-average summer will, by 2100, be relatively rare – just a 20% chance.

What will climate be like in 2100? Expect surprises, says new Met Office study by Edward Hanna, The Conversation, July 8, 2015

When the end of human civilization is your day job

Oden, which was exploring the Arctic for an international expedition led by Stockholm University. "Our first observations of elevated methane levels, about ten times higher than in background seawater, were documented . . . we discovered over 100 new methane seep sites.... The weather Gods are still on our side as we steam through a now ice-free Laptev Sea...."

As a leading climatologist who spent many years studying the Arctic at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at Ohio State, Box knew that this breezy scientific detachment described one of the nightmare long-shot climate scenarios: a feedback loop where warming seas release methane that causes warming that releases more methane that causes more warming, on and on until the planet is incompatible with human life. And he knew there were similar methane releases occurring in the area. On impulse, he sent out a tweet.

"If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we're f'd."

When the End of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job by John H. Richardson, Esquire, July 7, 2015

World suffering surge in extreme rainfall due to climate change

The world is suffering a surge in record-breaking rainfall because of climate change, scientists say.

Extreme rains, like those that led to flooding and a cholera outbreak that killed hundreds in Pakistan in 2010, are happening 12 percent more often globally and 56 percent more frequently in Southeast Asia than if the world wasn’t warming, according a study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

“One out of 10 record-breaking rainfall events observed globally in the past 30 years can only be explained if the long-term warming is taken into account,” Dim Coumou, co-author of the report released Wednesday, said in a statement. “For the last year studied, 2010, it is even one event out of four.”

The results are the latest evidence of the dangers from climate change as negotiators from about 190 nations work on the first worldwide deal to curb greenhouse gases in richer and poorer nations alike. With emissions from fossil fuels at record levels, world temperatures are set to warm 3.6 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, the fastest shift in 10,000 years. 

World suffering surge in extreme rainfall due to climate change by  Stefan Nicola, Bloomberg, July 8, 2015

Posted by John Hartz on Thursday, 9 July, 2015

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