27 May 2012

Climate News

Week ending 27 May 2012


Jeremy Rifkin on the Third Industrial Revolution
ABC Big Ideas, 21 May 2012
Writer and thinker Jeremy Rivkin delivers this address to the Royal Society of the Arts (RSA) in London on the critical need to develop our economies into a post carbon Third Industrial Revolution, or else we’ll spiral into a ‘dangerous endgame’.

Post-Carbon Postcard#1: California, USA and British Columbia, Canada
John Wiseman, CCR, 23 May 2012
I’m currently on a study tour interviewing authors, campaigners and policy makers responsible for the post carbon economy transition strategies reviewed in the recently published report: Post Carbon Pathways – and thought the following reflections arising from these discussions might be of interest.

‘Hell Is Truth Seen Too Late’: WWII And Climate Change
Joe Romm, Climate progress, May 23, 2012
Journalist Bill Blakemore has another great piece on ABC’s website:‘The Great Big Book of Horrible Things’: WWII and Climate Change. What our great failure in the 1930s may teach about facing the rapid assault of manmade global warming.

Climate scientists say warming could exceed 3.5 C
AFP, 25 May 2012
Climate researchers said Thursday the planet could warm by more than 3.5 degrees Celsius (6.3 degrees Fahrenheit), boosting the risk of drought, flood and rising seas.

Soft and materialistic, we won't cope with the next depression
John Birmingham, the Age, 22 May 2012
It’s possible two or three years from now that we’ll look back on these pinched and fractious days as something of a golden period, an idyll before the world passed into darkness. Increasingly, I find myself wondering what that’ll be like.
Unpicking the collective whinge
Jessica Irvine, National Times, 18 May 2012
I've figured it out. I've figured out how Australia's economic vital signs can be so good - low joblessness, low inflation, trend growth - and yet Australians can remain so resolutely miserable.

Global Scarcity: Scramble for Dwindling Natural Resources
Diane Twoomey, Yale 360, 23 May 2102
National security expert Michael Klare believes the struggle for the world’s resources will be one of the defining political and environmental realities of the 21st century. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he discusses the threat this scramble poses to the natural world and what can be done to sustainably meet the resource challenge.

Global carbon-dioxide emissions increase by 1.0 Gt in 2011 to record high
IEA, 24 May 2012
Global carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil-fuel combustion reached a record high of  31.6 gigatonnes (Gt) in 2011, according to preliminary estimates from the International Energy Agency (IEA). This represents an increase of 1.0 Gt on 2010, or 3.2%. Coal accounted for 45% of total energy-related CO2 emissions in 2011, followed by oil (35%) and natural gas (20%).

‘Let me tell you a little story…’
Tom Smerling, Climate Bites, 14 May 2012
Watch this 13-min video, and you may never want to get up in front of an audience again without uttering, at some point, the seven magic words in the title.


Video of the Day: Murdoch on the dance floor -- the Leveson remix


A land of (more extreme) droughts and flooding rains?
Karl Braganza, 22 May 2012
While most people now understand that the enhanced greenhouse effect means a much warmer planet, communicating regional shifts in weather remains a significant challenge.

Droughts & flooding rains: what is due to climate change?
Karl Braganza, 23 May 2012
The issue of recent rainfall trends, what caused them, and future rainfall projections has become very conflated in the public discourse.

Explainer: climate modes and drought
James Risby, The Conversation, 24 May 2012
Greenhouse climate change is forced by the buildup of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. The climate system responds to this forcing by inexorable increases in temperature and by changing rainfall and circulation patterns.

Decade to decade changes in our climate – what’s really going on?
Karl Braganza and Andrew B. Watkins, 25 May 2012
If you’ve been hanging round your friendly neighbourhood climatologist of late, you might have heard them talking about the IPO. No, not the Facebook initial public offering, the real IPO – the “Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation”.


Fear and loathing as utilities grasp impact of solar PV
Giles Parkinson, ReNew Economy, 21 May 2012
Australia’s power generators and electricity network operators are viewing the rapid falls in the cost of solar PV and an anticipated surge in installation with an increasing level of concern.

Fracking production "outstrips scientific knowledge"
ERW, 21 May 2012
Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking", the process of extracting natural gas from a narrow layer of shale lying 1.5 to 2.5 km below the surface by drilling down and then horizontally inside the shale layer, is a highly controversial procedure.

Brown coal exports not yet viable: energy giant
Tom Arup, The Age, May 21, 2012
A COMPANY trying to buy a massive brown coal mine and power generator in the Latrobe Valley says it has no plans to sell coal overseas despite a government push to develop a new export industry.

The real cost of coal is quickly adding up
Linda Connor and Stuart Rosewarne, Newcastle Herald, 21 May 2012
"Cheap coal" is a myth. And like all myths, we accept its wisdom without thinking.

Queensland Government scraps expansion of coal port
Kim Honan, ABC Rural, 21 May 2012
The Queensland LNP Government has scrapped plans for a $9 billion expansion of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal near Bowen in the north of the state

Renewables investment eclipses fossil fuels
Science Show, 19 May 2012
Investment in renewable energy infrastructure is outstripping that for fossil fuels. Investment was equal in 2008, but the balance has swung since. During 2011, globally, $40 billion was invested in fossil fuels. $260 billion was invested in renewables.  In the past year the price of photovoltaic cells has dropped by 50%.

Abbot Point - NO means YES when it comes to big coal
Greenpeace,  22 May, 2012
In the vast grazing country of Central Western Queensland, there are places where the coal seam literally comes out of the ground. But what is a dream to some is a nightmare for others, as battle lines are drawn over the future of Australia’s farmland and the global climate.

Measuring the merits of wind energy: How wind lowers power prices
Richard W. Caperton, Climate Progress, 24 May 2012We’ve all heard that wind energy is too expensive, and that massive investments in wind will drive up electricity rates for consumers.


Climate talks stall with nations 'wasting time'
Richard Black, BBC News, 25 May 2012
The latest round of UN climate talks has made little progress, observers say. The meeting in Bonn, Germany saw angry exchanges between rich nations, fast-industrialising ones and those prone to climate impacts.

Abbott's carbon tax deception
Daniel Palmer, Climate Spectator, 24 May 2012
The first “victims of the carbon tax” are in, according to Opposition leader Tony Abbott, and they come in the form of workers at Hydro’s Kurri Kurri aluminium smelter in the Hunter Valley, which appears set to close.

Heartland reflects on its beating
Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian, 22 May 2012
The ultra-conservative group's climate conference showed how far it has fallen after an internet sting and a disastrous ad
Heartland Denial Conference: Special Guest Lord Monckton Goes Birther, Admits He Has ‘No Scientific Qualification’

G8 Deaf to Climate Change Warnings by International Energy Agency
Kelly Rigg, Huffington Post, 21 May 2012
When the chief economist for the International Energy Agency (IEA) issues a dire warning, you'd think the world's leaders would sit up and take notice.

Peter Gleick cleared of forging documents in Heartland expose.
Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian, 21 May 2012
A review has cleared the scientist Peter Gleick of forging any documents in his expose of the rightwing Heartland Institute's strategy and finances, the Guardian has learned.

The Question: Has apathy overtaken urgency in the debate on climate action?
The Age, 19 May 2012
There has been subdued reaction to a week of worrying scientific reports.

Who Are The Australian Backers Of Heartland's Climate Denial?
Graham Readfearn, Desmogblog, 21 May 12
Any conference worth its salt needs a nice long list of sponsors to give the impression of widespread diverse support for whatever the conference  organisers are advocating.

Coastal N.C. counties fighting sea-level rise prediction
Bruce Henderson, Charlotte Observer, 25 May 2012
Science panel predicts 1-meter sea-level rise by 2100; counties say that could harm economic development
Not a coast of a chance: rules rile shires


Waking the giant: Global Warming in the Weddell Sea, West Antarctic Ice Sheet and sea level rise
Takvera, 26 May 2012
Warm ocean currents are projected to melt the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf in the Weddell Sea area of Antarctica opening instabilities in the West Antarctic Ice sheet (WAIS) which will impact global sea level rise. Climate change is waking up the sleeping giant of Antarctica.

We must set planetary boundaries wisely
Simon L Lewis, Nature, 23 May 2012
The concept of environmental thresholds is compelling, but it has the potential to shift political focus to the wrong areas.

Dust-Bowlification And the Grave Threat It Poses to Food Security
Joe Romm, Climate Progress, 24 May 2012
Which impact of anthropogenic global warming will harm the most people in the coming decades? I believe that the answer is extended or permanent drought over large parts of currently habitable or arable land — a drastic change in climate that will threaten food security and may be irreversible over centuries.

Global CO2 emissions hit record in 2011 led by China: IEA
Reuters, May 24, 2012
China spurred a jump in global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to their highest ever recorded level in 2011, offsetting falls in the United States and Europe, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said.

Arctic melt releasing ancient methane
Richard Black, BBC News, 20 May 2012
Scientists have identified thousands of sites in the Arctic where methane that has been stored for many millennia is bubbling into the atmosphere.

Particles offer a climate Plan B
Henning Rodhe, ABC Environment, 21 May 2012
Tiny soot particles in the Earth's atmosphere affect both human health and the climate. So we should limit them, right? For health reasons, yes, we should indeed do that; but, paradoxically, limiting such emissions would cause global warming to increase.

Fresh water demand driving sea-level rise faster than glacier melt
Damian Carrington, guardian, Sunday 20 May 2012
Trillions of tonnes of water have been pumped up from deep underground reservoirs in every part of the world, says report.

Sea-level rise poses expensive questions for New York City
John J. Fialka, E&E, May 22, 2012
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has given his city one of the most detailed and highly publicized plans to reduce carbon emissions and to adapt to rising sea levels and other risks posed by climate change.

Climate Armageddon: How the World's Weather Could Quickly Run Amok [Excerpt]
Fred Guterl, Scientific American, May 25, 2012
Climate scientists think a perfect storm of climate "flips" could cause massive upheavals in a matter of years

Trees Absorb Less Carbon in Warming World Than Experts Have Assumed
InsideClimateNews.org, May 23, 2012
Trees may not be the planetary saviors people have been counting on in a warming climate.