2015 SkS Weekly News Roundup #31C

Climate pressures lead to rise in 'new-age orphans' in India's delta

Eleven-year old Srijita Bhangi sits in the waiting room of the jetty boat that connects her island home in Khulna to the mainland Sundarbans, near India's border with Bangladesh.

After spending a few days with her elderly grandparents - an effort to lift her most recent spell of depression - she is travelling back to the school hostel where she has lived since her parents left two years ago to find work in a garment factory 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) away, in Tamil Nadu.

Since then she has seen them only once, and the school lodging has effectively become her new home.

Climate pressures lead to rise in 'new-age orphans' in India's delta by Aditya Ghosh, Thomson Reuters Foundation, July 30, 2015

Earth now halfway to UN global warming limit

IT’S the outcome the world wants to avoid, but we are already halfway there. All but one of the main trackers of global surface temperature are now passing more than 1 °C of warming relative to the second half of the 19th century, according to an exclusive analysis done for New Scientist.

We could also be seeing the end of the much-discussed slowdown in surface warming since 1998, meaning this is just the start of a period of rapid warming. “There’s a good chance the hiatus is over,” says Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

Earth now halfway to UN global warming limit by Michael Le Page, New Scientist, Aug 1, 2015

Forests suck up less carbon after drought

Climate scientists forecast sea levels to rise anywhere from one to four feet by the end of the century. That's a pretty big range. And there's a good reason for that: there's a lot of uncertainty baked into climate models

Take, for example, the way climate models predict how trees respond to drought. "Drought in these models is treated as a light switch"—either on or off—“but in the real world we know that drought damages trees, and it can take a while for trees to repair this damage and recover." 

Forests suck up less carbon after drought by Christopher Intagliata, Scientific Amercian, July 31, 2015

Northern forests falter in combating climate change

The Earth relies on its vegetative cover to extract and hold onto carbon dioxide when a great deal of it finds its way into the atmosphere, as has happened with the burning of fossil fuels. The forests, which form the largest part of this land-based cover, are referred to as carbon sinks.

Now, new research shows that one of the planet’s largest and most important carbon sinks, the forests of northern Eurasia, may be pulling in carbon at a slower rate than in the past. What is even more worrying is the possibility that regions that were absorbing carbon may emerge as sources of carbon emissions as the permafrost melts.

In northern Eurasia, the annual net sink rate increased from the 1960s to the 2000s, but since then, the rate at which carbon is sequestered by the region has leveled and even showed signs of weakening, said Michael Rawlins, an assistant professor in the University of Massachusetts’ Department of Geosciences.

Northern Forests Falter in Combating Climate Change Malavika Vyawahare, ClimateWire/ Scientific American, July 28, 2015

People's Climate March: the revolution starts here

reating a world powered on clean energy to save ourselves from climate catastrophe is a central challenge of our time, and requires a revolutionary transition in our economies. We can’t wait for our leaders to solve this problem; unless they feel serious public pressure, they’ll never go far enough or fast enough. Revolutions start with people, not politicians.

To survive the 21st century, we must discover the sense of common purpose that has driven revolutionary change through history, building a mass movement to stretch what our politicians believe is possible. We must lead, not follow, and bring leaders with us.

In the years leading up to 2014, as the gap between what the science demanded and our politicians delivered widened, fatalism began to creep into parts of the climate movement. Then a handful of organisers took a major bet on the power of people – calling for the largest climate change mobilisation in history to kick-start political momentum.

People's Climate March: the revolution starts here by Rick Patel, The Guardian, July 29, 2015

The fossil fuel industry is still winning the investment war

There’s sobering news for campaigners trying to persuade investors to withdraw their funds from the fossil fuel industry: UK experts say their efforts are unlikely to achieve enough quickly enough.

One expert, using the term often applied to the global energy industry, told a meeting in London: “The incumbency is winning the cold war.”

Senior members of asset management firms and carbon risk specialists were invited this week by a prominent British charitable foundation, Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, to discuss the prospects for disinvestment and the attitudes in the City of London to attempts to match investment policies with avoidance of climate change risks.

They say the continued confidence of the industry in the long-term viability of coal, oil and gas—despite the plunging cost of many renewable fuels—means that the UN climate change summit in Paris at the end of the year will fall short of its aims.

The Fossil Fuel Industry Is Still Winning the Investment War by Alex Kirby, Climate News Network/Truthdig, July 29, 2015

The new economics of climate change

The twentieth century was a terrible time to be born a blue whale. After 1926, when seagoing factory vessels were introduced, the population plummeted, and by the early seventies only a few hundred remained. Attempts at conservation met with limited success, and it seemed that the whale’s days were numbered. The Japanese and Russians, in particular, continued to aggressively hunt the docile mammals, well aware that such rapacity would result in their extinction. In 1973, a creative economist named Colin W. Clark decided to take financial analysis to its logical conclusion. He posed the question of which method—hunting the whales to oblivion and investing the profits in stocks, or fishing the population sustainably—would yield the most money in the long term. The answer: hunt the whales to extinction and invest all the proceeds in the market.

The new economics of climate change by Katy Lederer, The New Yorker, July 30, 2015

Tomgram: Subhankar Banerjee, Fire at World's End

TomDispatch regular and award-winning photographer Subhankar Banerjee lives on the Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington and has recently found himself on the frontlines of the present wildfire season and of climate change. In his latest piece, he takes us into perhaps the single place least likely to be ablaze in America and oh yes, if you haven’t already guessed, it’s on fire. Welcome to — if you’ll excuse my appropriation of a classic phrase from our past — the new world Tom

Tomgram: Subhankar Banerjee, Fire at World's End by Tom Englehardt, TomDispatch, July 30, 2015

Warming may boost wind energy in U.S. Plains states

Powerful winds are commonplace in the U.S. prairie states, which experienced walls of dirt swept into the air by these gusts during the Dust Bowl. While today's winds don't often carry the huge quantities of dust that they did in the 1930s, they’re stirring up something significantly more useful in states like Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas – energy.

A study published last month in the journal Renewable Energy suggests that climate change is likely to make these states windier than they've ever been before, which could be a boon to the nation’s renewable energy industry and the already thriving wind energy operations in those states.

Warming May Boost Wind Energy in Plains States by Chelsey B. Coombs, Climate Central, July 29, 2015

World Bank rejects energy industry notion that coal can cure poverty

The World Bank said coal was no cure for global poverty on Wednesday, rejecting a main industry argument for building new fossil fuel projects in developing countries.

In a rebuff to coal, oil and gas companies, Rachel Kyte, the World Bank climate change envoy, said continued use of coal was exacting a heavy cost on some of the world’s poorest countries, in local health impacts as well as climate change, which is imposing even graver consequences on the developing world.

“In general globally we need to wean ourselves off coal,” Kyte told an event in Washington hosted by the New Republic and the Center for American Progress. “There is a huge social cost to coal and a huge social cost to fossil fuels … if you want to be able to breathe clean air.”

World Bank rejects energy industry notion that coal can cure poverty by Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, July 29, 2015

Posted by John Hartz on Saturday, 1 August, 2015

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