02 September 2012

Climate News

Week ending 2 September 2012
Arctic sea-ice volume 1979 to 25 Aigust 2012
It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.”
– Elizabeth Kolbert, Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change (2006)

Grassroots Movements Driving Back Coal Worldwide
Gordon Scott, Sierra Club, August 27, 2012
The global grassroots movement against dirty, polluting coal-fired power has added another continent to the ranks of those finally moving away from the carbon-intensive fuel source: Australia.

The Heat of the Moment
George Monbiot, Guardian, 28 August 2012
There are no comparisons to be made. This is not like war or plague or a stockmarket crash. We are ill-equipped, historically and psychologically, to understand it, which is one of the reasons why so many refuse to accept that it is happening.

Russia Plays Game of Arctic Roulette in Oil Exploration
Benjamin Bidder, Matthias Schepp and Gerald Traufetter, Spiegel, 24 August 2012
Thawing sea ice and improved technology is opening up the race for natural resource exploration in the Arctic Circle, home to nearly a quarter of the world's untapped oil reserves. Russia leads the race and has promised to adhere to environmental guidelines. But accidents and other damage resulting from the country's oil exploration tell a different story.

Carbon price shock: more likely to go up than down
Giles Parkinson, ReNewEconomy, 30 August 2012
The overwhelming reaction to news that Australia is to ditch its carbon floor price – in response to a push by business and as a condition to linking with the European Emissions Trading Scheme – has been one of relief. Surely, the argument goes, the carbon price must go down.

We Are Writing the Epilogue to the World We Knew
John Atcheson, Common Dreams,  August 31, 2012
The data continue to roll in, and they are telling us we are in the process of bringing an end to the world we evolved in, and creating a new, harsher world. We will be forced to devote more and more of our resources trying to adapt to this new world, and less on development.


All gone by 2015? Welcome to the Arctic end times
David Spratt, ReNewEconomy, 30 August 2012
A world-leading Arctic expert has predicted the region's summer sea ice will vanish within three years. Big call? More like a call to arms.

What Sea-Ice Melt Means For Our Climate Policy
David Spratt, New Matilda, 28 August 2012
There's half as much sea-ice as there was 30 years ago and the annual summer melt keeps smashing records. Here's why Australian policy-makers should be paying attention.

Why Arctic sea ice shouldn't leave anyone cold
Neven, Arctic Sea Ice blog, 26 August 2012
The sea ice is leaving us a bit more every year. It's time to start contemplating its absence, which is why I teamed up with Kevin McKinney to write an extended version of the shorter piece you might see pop up here and there.

Satellites Show Sea Ice in Arctic Is at a Record Low
Justn Gillis, NYT, 27 August 2012
The amount of sea ice in the Arctic has fallen to the lowest level on record, a confirmation of the drastic warming in the region and a likely harbinger of larger changes to come.

Cullen joins Lateline
Tony Jones, Lateline, 29 August 2012
Climate Central's chief climatologist Heidi Cullen joins Lateline to discuss the worrying new data about the extent of this summer's arctic sea-ice melt

George Monbiot: Climate concerns melt away in the race to make a buck
George Monbiot, The Age, 28 August 2012
The Arctic is in crisis, yet all we try to do is profit from the disaster.

Arctic Tipping Point: A North Pole Without Ice
Fen Montaigne, environment360, 30 August 2012
Scientists say this year’s record declines in Arctic sea ice extent and volume are powerful evidence that the giant cap of ice at the top of the planet is on a trajectory to largely disappear in summer within a decade or two, with profound global consequences.

Carbon release from collapsing coastal permafrost in Arctic Siberia
Phys.org,  August 30, 2012
In this week's issue of Nature a study lead by Stockholm University, with collaborators from Russia, US, UK, Switzerland, Norway, Spain and Denmark, show that an ancient and large carbon pool held in a less-studied form of permafrost ("Yedoma") is thaw-released along the ~ 7000 kilometer desolate coast of northernmost Siberian Arctic.
Siberian thaw unlocks ice-age carbon vault
Activation of old carbon by erosion of coastal and subsea permafrost in Arctic Siberia

Stop-and-go deglaciation
Nature Geoscience,  31 August 2012
Past transitions from glacial to interglacial climates have not been smooth. It would be wise to prepare for similarly sudden episodes of ice loss in future climate changes.
Northern Hemisphere ice-sheet responses to past climate warming

A new record minimum of the Arctic sea ice extent (charts)

Sea-ice melt impact on jet stream and weather (graphic)
Arctic melt will impact climate before policy


Clarion call
Nature Climate Change, 28 August 2012
Research scientists and other concerned academics should be more willing to join the climate change debate.

A new paradigm for climate change
Kevin Anderson & Alice Bows, Nature Climate Change,  28 August 2012
How climate change science is conducted, communicated and translated into policy must be radically transformed if 'dangerous' climate change is to be averted.

Climate science: Time to raft up
Chris Rapley, Nature, 29 August 2012
Climate scientists should learn from the naysayers and pull together to get their message across, says Chris Rapley.

Al Gore On Media’s Failure To Address Global Warming: ‘There’s Hardly Any Discussion About It. It Drives Me Crazy’


Grains of wrath as drought hits hard
He Na, China Daily, 30 August 2012
Shi Hongmin has been panic buying recently. Two enormous bottles of cooking oil and two 25-kg sacks of flour are just some of his purchases.

Barclays makes £500m betting on food crisis
Tom Bawden, Independent, 1 September 2012
Outrage as bank revealed to be major speculator while millions face starvation
Climate science: Time to raft up

Water shortages to hit food supply
John Vidal, The Age, August 28, 2012
Leading water scientists have issued one of the sternest warnings yet about global food supplies, saying the world's population may have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet over the next 40 years to avoid catastrophic shortages.

Droughts prompt warning
The Age, September 1, 2012
The World Bank has issued a global hunger warning after droughts in the
US and eastern Europe sent food prices to a record high.


Anti-wind farm Waubra Foundation infiltrates Government wind farm review
Graham Readfearn, Independent Australia, 31 August 2012
Government reference group looking into health effects of wind turbines includes an “independent” expert who is actually an anti-wind  farm campaigner.

Future of fossil fuels: Back-up for renewables
Giles Parkinson, ReNewEconomy, 28 August 2012
Germany's biggest utilities are shedding the conventional concept of baseload and peaking power, and replacing it with a vision of flexible and inflexible generation designed around renewables.

Geoengineering: Risks and benefits
Richard Black, BBC News, 24 August 2012
Few issues arouse as much controversy in environmental circles these days as geoengineering - "technical fixes" to tackle climate change, by sucking carbon dioxide from the air or by reducing the amount of sunlight hitting the Earth

'Fracking' in WA to be more tightly regulated
ABC News, 29 August 2012
Western Australia's emerging unconventional gas sector, which undertakes a practice known as fracking, will be subject to Australia's toughest disclosure laws.

CSG drills move in as protesters maintain vigil
ABC News, 29 August 2012
Residents at Fullerton Cove, north of Newcastle say they will continue their protest at a Coal Seam Gas test drill site despite police ending their blockade of an access road.

Domestic Coal Use Linked to Substantial Lifetime Risk of Lung Cancer in Xuanwei, China
ScienceDaily, August 30, 2012
The use of "smoky coal" for household cooking and heating is associated with a substantial increase in the lifetime risk of developing lung cancer, finds a study from China published on the British Medical Journal website.


Owning Adaptation in the Pacific: Strengthening governance of climate adaptation finance
Pacific Island peoples are already feeling the effects of climate change. Living in one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate impacts, Pacific communities face no option but to adapt if they are to build a resilient future. But adaptation poses different challenges from aid programmes and the delivery of public services.

What went wrong at The Australian: an insider’s account
Independent Australia, 29 August 2012
The man who helped Rupert Murdoch establish The Australian, Rodney E. Lever, feels some regret about a newspaper he says “remains the idiotic plaything of rogue amateur journalism”.

Carbon backflip with a double pricing pike
Alan Kohler, Climate Spectator, 29 August 2012
Climate change is no longer the great moral challenge of our time or a great economic catastrophe; it’s just a bit of a policy bugger.

Scrapping carbon floor raises budget uncertainty
ABC News, 28 August 2012
Policy think tank Australia Institute says the Federal Government's decision to scrap the floor price on carbon is likely to lead to a hole in future budgets.

Big step for Australia and the world in genuine action to cut pollution
Christine Milne, 28 August 2012
Significant changes to Australia's pollution price announced today, following extensive negotiations between the government, the Greens and the European Commission, will deliver a big step forward for genuine action to cut pollution both in Australia and globally.

Carbon markets – you’ll never walk alone…
Freddy Sharpe, ReNew Economy,  29 August 2012
The changes to the design of the Australian carbon price represent smart politics.  They also look to be good environmental and economic policy.  They will underpin support in the medium term for CFI projects and they will make it harder for anyone who wants to repeal the whole Clean Energy Futures legislative package.  (Blood oath, they will.)

PM's concession on carbon
David Woe, The Age, 29 August 2012
The Gillard government has made a concession to big business and tweaked its carbon price, potentially creating a budget black hole and endangering incentives for the switch to cleaner energy.

Labor's carbon price pragmatism
Frank Jotzo, Climate Spectator, 28 August 2012
The price floor in Australia’s permit trading scheme will be replaced with a binding limit on CDM emissions credits, coupled with early linking to the EU emissions trading scheme, the Australian government announced today.


Large Methane Reservoirs Beneath Antarctic Ice Sheet, Study Suggests
ScienceDaily, August 29, 2012
The Antarctic Ice Sheet could be an overlooked but important source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, according to a report in the August 30 issue of Nature by an international team of scientists.
'Vast reservoir' of methane locked beneath Antarctic ice sheet

Severe summer drought recalls damaging Dust Bowl days
Kevin G. Hall, McClatchy, August 26, 2012
Farmers in this hardscrabble patch of the Midwest know the discomfort of summer heat, they've suffered through dry weather before, and they've certainly lived through the boom and bust cycles of modern farming. But they've never season a drought like the one that's gripping much of the nation, and they're seeing miserable growing conditions rivaled only perhaps by the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s.

Emissions accounting: China's uncertain CO2 emissions
Gregg Marland, Nature Climate Change, 28 August 2012
Climate change mitigation commitments and basic carbon-cycle science both require reliable information on carbon dioxide emissions. Uncertainties in energy data and carbon dioxide emissions estimates are particularly important when they involve large emitters.

Antarctic ice confirms we've had a dry spell - for a century
Sally Dakis, ABC Rural, 30 August 2012
Ice cores in the Antarctic have confirmed rainfall in eastern Australia over the past 100 years has been below the average for the past millennium.

Research charts growing threats to biodiversity 'arks'
ERW, Guardian, 28 August 2012
Many of the world's tropical protected areas are struggling to sustain biodiversity, researchers say.

Facing disaster: the little things that rule the world
Michael McCarthy, Independent, 1 September 2012
A startling 20 per cent of world's invertebrates, including insects and worms, are now endangered