04 March 2012

Climate News

Week ending 4 March 2012


Syria: Climate Change, Drought and Social Unrest
Francesco Femia & Caitlin Werrell, Climate Progress, 3 March 2012
Syria’s current social unrest is, in the most direct sense, a reaction to a brutal and out-of-touch regime and a response to the political wave of change that began in Tunisia early last year. However, that’s not the whole story.

Old king coal
Economist blog, 25 February 2012
Asian growth will remain fuelled by coal, which is worrying for the planet

Peel-off solar panels could make solar competitive with coal
Christopher Mims, Grist, 28 February 2012
ltra-thin solar cells that can be “peeled off” from larger pieces of silicon like delicious fruit roll-ups could be the key to making solar competitive with coal, say researchers at MIT. Once solar costs about half what it does now, say the scientists, rooftop panels will be generating electricity at about 6 cents per kw/h, which is comparable with coal-fired electricity in pretty much the entire country.
Oceans' acidic shift may be fastest in 300 million years
Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters, March 1, 2012
The world's oceans are turning acidic at what could be the fastest pace of any time in the past 300 million years, even more rapidly than during a monster emission of planet-warming carbon 56 million years ago, scientists said on Thursday.

Predicting and managing extreme weather events
Jane Lubchenco and Thomas R. Karl, Physics Today, March 2012
Earth’s climate is warming, and destructive weather is growing more prevalent. Coping with the changes will require collaborative science, forward-thinking policy, and an informed public.

Models underestimate future temperature variability; food security at risk
Vince Stricherz, UWtoday, 17 February 2012
Climate warming caused by greenhouse gases is very likely to increase the variability of summertime temperatures around the world by the end of this century, a University of Washington climate scientist said Friday. The findings have major implications for food production.

21 Issues for the 21st Century
Results of the UNEP Foresight Process on Emerging Environmental Issues

COAL versus GAS

Carbon price no obstacle to deadly expansion of Australian coal (and gas), as new study finds replacing coal with gas will not lower rate of global warming for 100 years
Climate Code Red, 3 March 2012
Recently, the Labor member for Blaxland in the Australian Parliament, Jason Clare, fired a salvo at the Liberal opposition for their hypocrisy on carbon pricing: claiming it would cost coal jobs while they were busily…  investing in more coal.

“No time to waste” on transition to green energy
ERW, 16 February 2012
If the entire world adopted ‘green’ forms of energy tomorrow, how long would it take for global temperatures to stabilize? The answer is a good 50 years: even if we "pull out all of the stops" there is little we can do to diminish the impact of climate change during the first half of this century.

Switching from coal to natural gas would do little for global climate, study indicates
AtmosNews, September 08, 2011
Although the burning of natural gas emits far less carbon dioxide than coal, a new study concludes that a greater reliance on natural gas would fail to significantly slow down climate change.

Natural Gas Our New Savior? Not So Fast . . .
Mike Lemonick. Climate Central, 28 February 2012
Remember how ethanol was going to save us? It was the perfect solution to not one, but two different problems.

Why Australia needs no new coal or gas baseload…
Giles Parkinson, REnewEconomy, 29 February 2012
Origin Energy CEO Grant King says falling demand and the push to renewables means there will be no requirement for new baseload power stations – either coal or gas – until the end of the decade. 


Coal port growth threatens Barrier Reef: Greenpeace
Reuters, 1 March 2012
Australia's rapid expansion of coal ports in the next decade will threaten the Great Barrier Reef as increased ship traffic, port infrastructure and dredging put pressure on the world's largest coral reef, Greenpeace said on Thursday.
Boom Goes the Reef. Australia’s coal export boom and the industrialisation of the Great Barrier

Efficiency: Can government and business get it right?
Giles Parkinson, REnew Economy, 2 March 2012
As one energy efficiency program was closed abruptly this week, and controversy continued to rage over another, a new $1 billion grants based scheme was quietly rolled out to try and encourage Australians – business consumers this time – to become more efficient about the way they use energy.

CSG economic modelling: on the alleged benefits of the Santos coal seam gas project in North West NSW
David Richardson, The Australia Institute

NSW Finance Minister says it would cost billions of dollars to revoke CSG licences
ABC News, March 2, 2012
The New South Wales Finance Minister says it would cost billions of dollars in compensation to shut down coal seam gas operations in the Illawarra and across the state.

Simon Corbell and the ACTs solar vision
Giles Parkinson, REnewEconomy, 27 February 2012
The ACT government has launched what many in the solar industry believes to be the most progressive policy mechanism in this country, a reverse-auction to set a feed-in-tariff for large scale solar.

The Car, the Refrigerator, and the World’s Booming Demand for Energy
Aman Chitkara, Chicago Policy Review, 27 February 2012
nprecedented growth in developing countries, led by the Asian giants China and India, has established a delicate balance in energy consumption between North and South.

The death of peak oil
Alan Kohler, Climate Spectator, 29 Feb 2012
Here’s another structural transformation to add to all the others that you have to get your head around: it’s the transformation of global energy markets as a result of shale oil and gas.


University survey links Americans’ growing belief in global warming with higher temps outside
AP/WP, 28 February 2012
Americans’ belief in global warming is on the rise, along with temperatures and surprising weather changes, according to a new university poll.
Poll: Americans’ Understanding of Climate Change Increasing With More Extreme Weather, Warmer Temperatures

Podcast: John Cook of Skeptical Science on How to Debunk Climate Myths
Stephen Lacey, Climate Progress,  Feb 27, 2012 at 12:22 pm
How exactly does one break a deeply embedded myth? We often believe that bombarding people with facts and figures is the best way to combat misinformation. But busting myths is not just about providing more data — it’s about presenting the data in a way that people will actually process it.

Apocalypse Not: The Oscars, The Media And The Myth of ‘Constant Repetition of Doomsday Messages’ on Climate
Joe Romm, Climate Progress, Feb 26, 2012
The two greatest myths about global warming communications are 1) constant repetition of doomsday messages has been a major, ongoing strategy and 2) that strategy doesn’t work and indeed is actually counterproductive!

Psychology to Build a Climate Movement (book)


The $8 billion industry policy no one notices
Bernard Keane, Crikey, 1 March 2012
"How many billions have to be spent on these schemes before state and federal governments stop trying to buy the green vote?" demanded the Financial Review today, apropos of the government’s decision to close the solar hot water subsidy scheme that was threatening to run over-budget

Wind power still gets lower public subsidies than fossil fuel tax breaks
Damian Carrington, Guardian, 27 February 2012
Financial support for renewable energy under attack as gas, oil and coal still subsidised to far greater extent, new data shows

Sea level rise concerns overruled
Damon Cronshaw, Newcastle Herald, 28 Feb, 2012
LAKE Macquarie councillors gave the green light last night to a medium-density development at Marks Point, overruling council staff who had recommended refusal because of sea level rise concerns.


Low Coastlines Under Watery Siege
Paul Hearty, Ecology Today, 1 March 2012
Low-lying islands and coastlines around the world face a “perfect storm” of warming atmosphere and rising seas

Shrinking Arctic ice linked to record dumps of snow
Adam Morton, The Age, February 28, 2012
A dramatic decline in Arctic sea ice linked to global warming is likely to have triggered record snow dumps in the northern hemisphere in recent winters, a study has found.

Thickest Parts of Arctic Ice Cap Melting Faster
ScienceDaily, Feb. 29, 2012
A new NASA study revealed that the oldest and thickest Arctic sea ice is disappearing at a faster rate than the younger and thinner ice at the edges of the Arctic Ocean's floating ice cap.

Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong
William D. Nordhaus, NYRB, 22 March 2012
But one of the difficulties I found in examining the views of climate skeptics is that they are scattered widely in blogs, talks, and pamphlets. Then, I saw an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal of January 27, 2012, by a group of sixteen scientists, entitled “No Need to Panic About Global Warming.” This is useful because it contains many of the standard criticisms in a succinct statement.

Himalayan sherpas lament climate change devastation
Times of India, 26 February 2012
Climate change is altering the face of the Himalayas, devastating farming communities and making Mount Everest increasingly treacherous to climb, some of the world's top mountaineers have warned.

Climate change will shake the Earth
Bill McGuire, Guardian, 26 February 2012
A changing climate isn't just about floods, droughts and heatwaves. It brings erupting volcanoes and catastrophic earthquakes too