15 April 2012

Climate News

Weeks ending 8 April and 15 April 2012 

"We're in an emergency: you can see what's on the horizon... with ecosystems, sea level and species extinction" – Dr James Hansen, Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies


Nasa scientist: climate change is a moral issue on a par with slavery
Severin Carrell, Guardian, 6 April 2012
Prof Jim Hansen to use lecture at Edinburgh International Science Festival to call for worldwide tax on all carbon emissions
Global warming projections from 1981 prove tellingly accurate
Amber Jamieson, Crikey, 12 April 2012
A seminal article by climate scientists in 1981 has proved eerily accurate at predicting global temperature rises over the past three decades, with its lead author James Hansen telling Crikey that his early research on global warming "seems to hold up remarkably well".

Nine Low-Tech Steps For Community Resilience In A Warming Climate
Kaid Benfield, NRDC Switchboard, 3 April 2012
Over the past 50 years, our average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history.  That is fact, not opinion.  Scientists say that under current trends, average US temperatures could be 3 to 9 degrees higher by the end of the century.

How a grassroots rebellion won the nation's biggest climate victory
Mark Hertsgaard, Mother Jones, April 2, 2012
Activists have imposed a de facto moratorium on new coal—and beat the Obama EPA to the punch.

Greens' sustainable future
Peter Hartcher, The Sydney Morning Herald, April 14, 2012
The father of the Australian environmental movement was a politician ahead of his time.

How carbon dioxide melted the world
Sonja van Renssen, Nature News, 4 April 2012
Global data set shows that rising greenhouse-gas levels drove the end of the last ice age.

What electricity will really cost under a carbon tax
Andrew Macintosh and Richard Denniss, Crikey, 12 April 2012
Late last week the ACT electricity price regulator released its draft electricity pricing decision for 2012-13. And the political response couldn’t have been more predictable.

Shale shocked: USGS links ‘remarkable increase’ in earthquakes to fracking
Joseph Romm, Grist, 7 April 2012
A U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) team has found that a sharp jump in earthquakes in America’s heartland appears to be linked to oil and natural gas drilling operations.


U.S. Records Warmest March; More Than 15,000 Warm Temperature Records Broken
ScienceDaily, April 10, 2012
Record and near-record breaking temperatures dominated the eastern two-thirds of the United States and contributed to the warmest March on record for the contiguous United States, a record that dates back to 1895. More than 15,000 warm temperature records were broken during the month.

March temperatures in lower 48 US states 8.6 degrees above normal & 6 degrees higher for 1st 3 months of year
Seth Borenstein, Associated Press, April 9, 2012
It’s been so warm in the United States this year, especially in March, that national records weren’t just broken, they were deep-fried. Temperatures in the lower 48 states were 8.6 degrees above normal for March and 6 degrees higher than average for the first three months of the year, according to calculations by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That far exceeds the old records.

Weather records due to climate change: a game with loaded dice
ERW, 3 April 2012
The past decade has been one of unprecedented weather extremes. Scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany argue that the high incidence of extremes is not merely accidental.

Epic March heat shifts global warming discussion
Matt Sutkoski, BFP, 3 April 2012
The epic heat wave that hit Vermont and much of the rest of eastern North America in March blasted away long standing high temperature records, goofed up the spring growing season, threatened agriculture and shifted the national conversation about global warming

Elderly people more at risk of death due to summer heat
Jenny Flyall, NewsScotsman, 10 April 2012
Increased fluctuations in summer temperatures caused by climate change could lead to tens of thousands of extra deaths among elderly people each year, a study has warned.

Storms lead to 15% jump in losses for insurance companies
Climate Signals, 5 April 2012
Storm losses accounted for a 14.8 point increase in the direct-loss ratio to 75.8 “likely motivating continued rate increases in 2012,” according to Shields

Extreme Weather Threatens Rich Ecosystems
ScienceDaily, March 30, 2012
Extreme weather such as hurricanes, torrential downpours and droughts will become more frequent in pace with global warming. Consequently, this increases the risk for species extinction, especially in bio diverse ecosystems such as coral reefs and tropical rainforests.

Risk and the rising tide
David Spratt, RenewEconomy, 4 April 2012
Sea-level rise projections are being ignored in a foolish bet by Australian governments that the higher projections won’t occur. Tens of millions of dollars are being wasted on risk assessments and adaptation reports that may soon be superceded.


Study: No Relationship Between Renewable Energy Targets And Higher Electric Rates
Climate Progress, April 11, 2012
Renewable Energy Standards Deliver Affordable, Clean Power; Right-Wing Attacks Are Misguided

Solar’s new business model
Bill Scanlon, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 12 Apr 2012
The sun is shining on homeowners in less affluent neighbourhoods who are discovering they can afford solar energy after all – by leasing rather than buying the panels on their roofs.

Subsidy-free Big Solar, coming sooner than you think
Giles Parkinson, RenewEconomy,  12 April 2012
The developer of Australia’s first utility-scale solar PV plant says such projects should be able to be constructed in Western Australia within two to three years, without the need for additional subsidies.

Bipartisan support for RET finally crumbles
Giles Parkinson, RenewEconomy,  12 April 2012
The veneer of bipartisan support for Australia’s 20 per cent renewable energy target has collapsed after the NSW conservative government called for the long standing mechanism to be removed.

Arctic oil rush will ruin ecosystem, warns Lloyd's of London
Julia Kollewe and Terry Macalister, The Guardian, 12 April 2012
Insurance market joins environmentalists in highlighting risks of drilling in fragile region as $100bn investment is predicted

US tops global clean energy investment rankings
Mark Kinver, BBC News, 12 April 2012
The US has regained top spot from China as the biggest investor in clean energy in 2011, according to global rankings. The table, published in a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts, showed that US invested more than $48bn (£30bn) in the sector, up from $34bn in 2010.

Solar Policy Can Advance (Or Delay) Grid Parity By A Decade
John Farrell, Energy Self Reliant States, 23 March 2012
In their excellent interactive graphic, Bloomberg Energy Finance calls solar grid parity (when electricity from solar costs less than grid power) the “golden goal.” It’s an excellent illustration of how the right energy policy can help a nation go gold on solar or wallow in metallurgical obscurity.  In the case of the U.S., it may mean delaying grid parity by eight years.

Zero-cost solar: Will this be Gillard’s election secret weapon?
Giles Parkinson, RenewEconomy, 2 April 2012
Australian solar installers are racing to become the first companies to offer long-term leasing arrangements that will allow householders to install large rooftop solar installations at zero up-front cost and hedge against rising electricity prices.

Plan to head off protests on coal
Tom Arup, The Age, April 11, 2012
THE Baillieu government is working on a long-term strategy to try to head off objections to its plans to develop  Victoria's brown coal reserves.

Electricity giants accused of blocking green power                   
David Wroe, The Age,
The consumer watchdog will examine claims by the Greens that three major power companies — AGL, Origin and TRUenergy — are using their market clout to frustrate the roll-out of competing wind and solar projects.
A step into the AGL FiT fight


Gottliebsen’s misinformed carbon revolt
Tristan Edis, Climate Spectator, 5 April 2012
Robert Gottliebsen yesterday wrote an article that is incredibly concerning for those worried about dangerous climate change.

‘I withdraw’: A talk with climate defeatist Paul Kingsnorth
Wen Stephenson, Grsit, 11 April 2012
Not everyone is quite ready to hear, or accept, what Paul Kingsnorth has to say.

Fears bipartisan support for green energy collapsing
Margot O'Neill, ABC Lateline, 12 April 2012
Key industry players are concerned that bipartisan support for green energy is collapsing after calls from the NSW Government to abolish national renewable energy targets.

FoI disclosures from Aust Dept of Resources, Energy and Tourism on spying on activists, HRL

Green light to dirty coal plant threatens to undermine Gillard’s climate credibility
In response to the decision by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to approve the proposed HRL dirty coal-fired power station at full-scale, Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaigner Julien Vincent said: “This is a bizarre decision laid down today from VCAT and flies in the face of the fact that the last six months have shown HRL’s project for what it really is: dirty, unpopular, unnecessary and expensive.”

What the Victorian Climate Act Review really means
EDO, 29 March 2012
The State Government tabled the report of the Review of the Climate Change Act 2010 (Vic), along with its response to it, in Parliament on Tuesday.

A Message from a Republican Meteorologist on Climate Change
Paul Douglas, neorenaissance, March 28, 2012

Local brainpower can save manufacturing jobs and the environment
Gunter Pauli and Ian Dunlop, The Age, 3 April 2012
Australia needs innovative thinking to steel its economy for the 21st century

Vic coal protesters end eight-hour sit-in
AAP, April 3, 2012
After eight hours locked together on the ground floor of Ted Baillieu's office four anti-coal protesters ended their sit-in when the Victorian premier's chief of staff Tony Nutt agreed to talk with them.

As weather gets biblical, insurers go missing
Matt Stroud, Reuters, 11 April 2012
As weather disasters strike with more frequency, homeowners first get hit with the destruction or total loss of property. Many are then hit with the unexpected loss of homeowners insurance policies as insurance companies re-evaluate their financial liabilities.


Sceptics' case melts more
Gerard Wynn, The Age, April 6, 2012
A clutch of recent studies reinforces evidence that people are causing climate change and suggests debate should now move on to a more precise understanding of its impact on humans.

PIRC Climate Factsheets
Since the failure of the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009 and the ‘Climategate’ debacle of early 2010, media interest in climate science has declined, and the public become somewhat more sceptical about its veracity. Yet the evidence base itself has only become more robust in that time. Conveying the certainties and uncertainties of climate science to the public – through a media that has become much more polarised about the subject – is a recurrent challenge for campaigners.

New science reveals agriculture’s true climate impact
Tom Laskawy, Grist, 10 April 2012
When I examined the reasons agriculture often gets a pass in climate negotiations recently, I pointed to the fact that precise measurement of the climate impact of many industrial farming practices remains difficult and controversial. This is especially true when it comes to synthetic nitrogen fertilizer.

No compensation under Taree erosion retreat plan
Luisa Rubbo, ABC News, April 10, 2012 10:01:06
Old Bar residents at risk of losing their homes to coastal erosion will not be compensated if they are ordered to leave under a planned retreat regime.

Did Melting Antarctic Permafrost Drive Ancient Global Warming?
Richard A. Kerr, Science Now, 4 April 2012
Fifty-five million years ago, the world abruptly warmed by a scorching 5 degrees Celsius, the oceans turned acidic, and life ran a gantlet of extinction. Sound familiar? That was the closest nature ever came to foreshadowing the fossil-fuel-fed warming that is just getting underway now.

RISE: A media project about how climate change is changing human lives in coastal communities

Arctic Warming is Altering Weather Patterns, Study Shows
Andrew Freedman, Climate Central, 3 April 2012
By showing that Arctic climate change is no longer just a problem for the polar bear, a new study may finally dispel the view that what happens in the Arctic, stays in the Arctic.

New climate record shows last ice age ended by temperature rise driven by increased atmospheric CO2
Jonathan Amos, BBC News, 4 April 2012
A new, detailed record of past climate change provides compelling evidence that the last ice age was ended by a rise in temperature driven by an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Temperature variations lower life expectancies in the chronically ill -- study
Umair Irfan, E&E/ClimateWire, April 13, 2012
Researchers have found that it isn't just temperature extremes that pose risks to human health; sudden temperature changes can also increase mortality.

How ocean warming is priming the Amazon for fire
Barbara Fraser, The Daily Climate, 10 April 2012
Karina Pinasco watched in dismay as flames on a hillside at the edge of town lit up the sky one night in October 2010. A farmer had intended to clear a few hectares of land to plant coffee bushes, but the fire – set during an unusually hot, dry spell – quickly got out of hand.

Ocean Acidification Linked to Larval Oyster Failure
ScienceDaily, Apr. 11, 2012
Researchers at Oregon State University have definitively linked an increase in ocean acidification to the collapse of oyster seed production at a commercial oyster hatchery in Oregon, where larval growth had declined to a level considered by the owners to be "non-economically viable."

Climate Change Boosts Then Quickly Stunts Plants, Decade-Long Study Shows
ScienceDaily, April 11, 2012
Global warming may initially make the grass greener, but not for long, according to new research results. The findings, published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change, show that plants may thrive in the early stages of a warming environment but then begin to deteriorate quickly.