16 September 2012

Climate News

Week ending 16 September 2012


Coal company shareholders dudded, says Garnaut
Ross Garnaut, AFR, 12 September 2012
Labor’s former climate change adviser, Ross Garnaut, has accused coal companies of “dudding” their shareholders by overinvesting in mining projects

Decades Of Deception: The Coal Industry Has Advertised ‘Clean Coal’ Since At Least 1921
Stephen Lacey, Climate Progress, 13 September 2012
The coal industry has spent tens of millions of dollars trying to convince people that it can create an environmentally friendly product. However, whether it be the technological and cost barriers associated with capturing and storing carbon dioxide or the devastating impact of mountaintop mining on groundwater, ecosystems and human health, the concept of “clean” coal is a proven myth.

A simple, useful guide to communicating climate change
David Roberts, Grist, 10  September 2012
There seems to be a subtle shift underway in the cultural valence of climate change.

We Are Now One Year Away From Global Riots, Complex Systems Theorists Say
Brian Merchant, Motherboard, 10 September 2012
What’s the number one reason we riot? The plausible, justifiable motivations of trampled-upon humanfolk to fight back are many—poverty, oppression, disenfranchisement, etc—but the big one is more primal than any of the above. It’s hunger, plain and simple.

Abbott’s budget and abatement black hole
Ben Rose, Climate Spectator, 14 September 2012
The Coalition still intends to repeal Labor’s carbon price and Clean Energy Future. Their alternative is ‘Direct Action’, more aptly named ‘soil magic’ as its budget costings critically depend on getting 60% of its emission reductions through increasing the amounts of carbon in agricultural soils.


Arctic warning: As the system changes, we must adjust our science
David Spratt, ReNewEconomy, 12 September 2012
The Arctic sea-ice big melt of 2012 “has taken us by surprise and we must adjust our understanding of the system and we must adjust our science and we must adjust our feelings for the nature around us”, according to Kim Holmen, Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI) international director.

Ice loss shifts Arctic cycles
Quirin Schiermeier, Nature News, 12 September 2012
Record shrinkage confounds models and portends atmospheric and ecological change.

‘Astonishing’ Ice Melt May Lead to More Extreme Winters
Climate Central, September 12, 2012
The record loss of Arctic sea ice this summer will echo throughout the weather patterns affecting the U.S. and Europe this winter, climate scientists said on Wednesday, since added heat in the Arctic influences the jet stream and may make extreme weather and climate events more likely.
Arctic sea ice melt 'may bring harsh winter to Europe'

Arctic melt down: Scientists Speak Out (audio)

EcoShock, 10 September 2012
In 2012, the Arctic Sea Ice hit a stunning new record low. Rutgers scientist Jennifer Francis explains how this changes weather for billions of people in the Northern Hemisphere. Plus the Director of the Snow and Ice Data Center, Mark Serreze on record and what it means, and analysis from polar scientist Jennifer Bitz, U of Washington. In depth, direct from top scientists. Radio Ecoshock 120912 1 hour.

The staggering decline of sea ice at the frontline of climate change
John Vidal, Guardian, 14 September 2012
Scientists on board Greenpeace's vessel exploring the minimum extent of the ice cap are shocked at the speed of the melt.

How Fast Can Ice Sheets Respond to Climate Change?
Science Daily, Sept 13, 2012
A new Arctic study in the journal Science is helping to unravel an important mystery surrounding climate change: How quickly glaciers can melt and grow in response to shifts in temperature.
New Study Shows How Fast Ice Sheets Can Change

History of sea ice in the Arctic (pdf)
Polyak, Alley et al, QSR29: 1757-1778 (2010)
Although existing records are far from complete, they indicate that sea ice... consistently covered at least part of the Arctic Ocean for no less than the last 13–14 million years. Ice was apparently most wide-spread during the last 2–3 million years, in accordance with Earth’s overall cooler climate.

Significant contribution to climate warming from the permafrost carbon feedback
Andrew H. MacDougall, Christopher A. Avis & Andrew J. WeaverNature Geoscience, 9 September 2012
Permafrost soils contain an estimated 1,700 Pg of carbon, almost twice the present atmospheric carbon pool1. As permafrost soils thaw owing to climate warming, respiration of organic matter within these soils will transfer carbon to the atmosphere, potentially leading to a positive feedback.

Limitations of a coupled regional climate model in the reproduction of the observed Arctic sea-ice retreat


Entire state up for grabs in coal seam gas and mining rules
Sean Nicholls, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 September 2012
Farmers, environmental groups and miners have joined forces to condemn the state government's new regime for how coal seam gas drilling and coal mining may be carried out in NSW.

Wind power nice in theory, better in practice
Tristan Edis, Climate Spectator, 13 Sept 2012
Back in March Climate Spectator explained how the large proportion of wind in South Australia’s electricity supply has been pushing out fossil fuel power generation and reducing CO2 emissions.

Enough Wind to Power Global Energy Demand: New Research Examines Limits, Climate Consequences
Science Daily, Sept. 9, 2012
There is enough energy available in winds to meet all of the world's demand. Atmospheric turbines that convert steadier and faster high-altitude winds into energy could generate even more power than ground- and ocean-based units.

Energy efficiency 'means savings'
The Age, 9 September 2012
Baillieu government could save $2.5 billion over 20 years, research suggests.

The Australian blown away on CO2
Tristan Edis, Climate Spectator, 10 September 2012
The movement to hinder action to reduce greenhouse emissions seems to be bizarrely populated by conspiracy theorists that badly over-rate their own analytical abilities. 

Coal Seam Gas Emissions: Facts, questions and challenges
Climate Institute, September 12, 2012
Claims that coal seam gas (CSG) power is more polluting than coal are exaggerated, but without proper accounting and performance standards it will not have a place in the clean energy future, finds a paper released today by The Climate Institute.

Newman wipes climate and clean energy off Queensland map
Giles Parkinson, ReNewEconomy, 12 September 2012
The Queensland Government has made good on its commitment to obliterate virtually the entirety of the state’s climate change and clean energy initiatives, the measures Premier Campbell Newman has deemed to be made “redundant” by the Federal Government’s carbon price.
Paddy Manning: Newman's unintended carbon curb
Paddy Manning, The Age, 12 September 2012
By hiking royalties on coal, the Queensland government may do more to stop global warming than the carbon tax package.


'Managed retreat' to sandbag city?
Ben Cubby, SMH, September 11, 2012
New state government sea level rise guidelines will make it easier for people to fortify their homes against the effects of climate change, but local councils said the policy would lead to ''ad hoc'' walls of sandbags that will not hold back the sea

Climate Coverage Drop Due To ‘Disinformation And Intimidation Campaign’ Plus ‘Immensity’ Of Crisis
Joe Romm, Climate Progress, Sept 10, 2012
The decline in climate coverage in recent years has been well documented — both for print and the evening news. ABC’s veteran journalist Bill Blakemore offers his explanation for this dismaying trend in an excellent Nature’s Edge Notebook column, “The Elephant We’re All Inside: Junk Journalism on Climate, or Too Big to Cover”:

Kyoto Protocol May End With the Year
Marwaan Macan-Markar, IPS, Sept 9 2012
As government negotiators from the world’s poorest countries ended a round of United Nations climate change talks in the Thai capital, they sounded a grave note about what appears imminent when they assemble in November in Doha – the reading of the last rites of the Kyoto Protocol

Anti-green activist James Delingpole runs appeal for IPA think-tank
Graham Readfearn, 12 September 2012
James Delingpole is a UK columnist waging a long personal jihad against wind farms, environmentalists and climate science.


Heat and Drought Ravage U.S. Crop Prospects—Global Stocks Suffer
Janet Larsen, EPI, 14 September 2012
September estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) show 2012 U.S. corn yields at 123 bushels per acre, down by a fourth from the 2009 high of 165 bushels per acre. Yields are the lowest since 1995 and well below the average of the last 30 years. The summer heat and drought also hit U.S. soybean yields, which are down 20 percent from their 2009 peak.

Caribbean coral reefs face collapse
Fiona Harvey, Guardian, 10 September 2012
Caribbean coral reefs are in danger of disappearing, depriving the world of one of its most beautiful and productive ecosystems

In U.S., 2012 so far is hottest year on record
Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters, 10 September 2012
The first eight months of 2012 have been the warmest of any year on record in the contiguous United States, and this has been the third-hottest summer since record-keeping began in 1895, the U.S. National Climate Data Center said on Monday.

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

Greenland Lemmings' Collapse Pushes Predators to Brink
Virginia Morell, ScienceMag, 11 September 2012
Lemmings don't commit suicide by running blindly off cliffs—that's a myth. But lemming populations in their Arctic tundra home can rise and fall dramatically in just a few short years.

Report: Most Antarctic Peninsula Warming Human-Caused
Climate Central, 22 August 2012
The debate over whether global warming is natural or manmade is an artificial one: scientists know that both factors can affect the planet’s temperature.

Is methane lurking beneath Antarctica?
ERW, Sept 12, 2012
Microbes in sediments beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet could have emitted methane that is now trapped in the form of methane hydrates. According to researchers from the UK, the Netherlands, US and Canada, the amounts could be comparable to those entombed by permafrost and the Arctic Ocean.

Scientists search for strategy to convey seriousness of sea-level rise
Anne C. Mulkern, E&E, September 10, 2012
Sea-level rise threatens cities around the world, and academic leaders must talk about it differently to help people grasp the potential dangers and costs, climate experts said last week.