Week ending 28 October 2012
PICKS OF THE WEEK
'Frankenstorm': Worse than sum of its parts
Seth Borenstien, AP, 28 October 2012The storm that is threatening 60 million Americans in the eastern third of the nation in just a couple of days with high winds, drenching rains, extreme tides, flooding and probably snow is much more than just an ordinary weather system. It's a freakish and unprecedented monster.
Connecting the dots between 'Frankenstorm' and global warming as extreme weather becomes the new norm
Renewables: Australia's a land of plenty
Peter Hannam, the Age, 26 October 2012
When feisty UN climate change chief Christiana Figueres swept into Sydney this week, she mocked suggestions Australia is alone in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
NASA climate chief demolishes denialist claims on sea levels
Climate Code Red, 26 October 2012
NASA climate chief James Hansen has three great attributes: his research is impeccable and pertinent, he is politically courageous, and he communicates with great clarity to lay audiences.
Getting real about it: Meeting the Psychological and Social Demands of a World in Distress
Susanne C. Moser (forthcoming book)
Environmental leadership in such a world is a whole-life, whole-person commitment, not simply a matter of professional expertise, political savvy, or even passionate martyrdom for some time before burning out. Environmental leadership now and increasingly so in the future poses tremendous personal—psychological, interpersonal, and political—demands on us that deserve to be exposed clearly and explored consciously.
Interactive graphic: Four ways to look at global carbon footprints
The Great Transition, Part I: From Fossil Fuels to Renewable Energy
Lester R. Brown, Plan B Update, October 25, 2012
The great energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy is under way. As fossil fuel prices rise, as oil insecurity deepens, and as concerns about pollution and climate instability cast a shadow over the future of coal, a new world energy economy is emerging. The old energy economy, fueled by oil, coal, and natural gas, is being replaced with an economy powered by wind, solar, and geothermal energy.
ENERGY AND INNOVATION
Gernot Wagner and Martin L. Weitsman, Foreign Policy, 24 October 2012
With efforts to halt climate change on life support, scientists are looking at some radical options to save our planet. But could the cure be worse than the disease?
Solar Insights: Grid parity is really here, this time
Giles Parkinson, reNewEconomy, 22 October 2012
Spain and Italy expect their PV markets to thrive, even with all forms of subsidies removed. In Australia, the solar industry will have to wait a few extra years. In the meantime, which way to point the panels?
U.S. Coal Exports On Pace To Hit All-Time High, Fueling Surge In International Global Warming Pollution
Stephen Lacey, Climate Progress, Oct 23, 2012
Here’s an energy-related foreign policy issue that isn’t getting any campaign attention: Coal exports are booming, fueling a surge in global warming pollution — and American taxpayers are picking up a good portion of the tab.
A win for renewable energy from RET Review
Daniel Palmer, Climate Spectator, 26 October 2012
A few minor changes aside, it appears the renewable energy target will remain largely untouched after the Climate Change Authority (CCA) finalises its review by the end of the year.
Offsetting Global Warming: Targeting Solar Geoengineering to Minimize Risk and Inequality
ScienceDaily, Oct. 21, 2012
A new study suggests that solar geoengineering can be tailored to reduce inequality or to manage specific risks like the loss of Arctic sea ice. By tailoring geoengineering efforts by region and by need, a new model promises to maximize the effectiveness of solar radiation management while mitigating its potential side effects and risks.
Management of trade-offs in geoengineering through optimal choice of non-uniform radiative forcing
Pillaging The Pilliga
Sharon Coutts, Global Mail, October 26, 2012
Alarm bells are sounding over further coal seam gas drilling in northern NSW’s vast Pilliga State Forest: dead animals and a toxic chain of ponds, along with the release this week of a damning ecological report.
Undermined or Overburdened? Victoria’s brown coal: an economic perspective
A report by Environment Victoria examining the economics of new brown coal projects, with a focus on exports.
Scientists Eat Crow on Geoengineering Test. Me, Too
Michael D Lemonick, Climate Central, 24 Oct 2012
Harvard’s David Keith calls it the “goofy Goldfinger scenario” – a rogue nation, or even an individual, would conduct an unsupervised geoengineering experiment – and he confidently predicted in a story I wrote last month that it would never happen.
Arctic allure fades for oil companies
AAP, 24 Oct 2012
The agreement between BP and Russian oil giant Rosneft announced on Monday is said to give the British group a firm foothold in the Arctic, a region often hailed as a new frontier for oil and gas companies
POLITICS AND POLICY
Meet greenhouse target with Australian renewables, not abatement overseas
John Andrews, The Conversation, 25 October 2012
It is Australian Government policy to achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Despite the good intentions, is the current energy strategy truly “sustainable”?
Cost of carbon tax less than estimated
Peter Martin, SMH, October 25, 2012
THE carbon tax has boosted the cost of living scarcely at all. Despite dire talk of an ''almost unimaginable'' increase (Tony Abbott) and $100 for a Sunday roast (Barnaby Joyce) the first official consumer price figures show a far lower impact than predicted
The coal industry’s Great Illusionist Brief
By Georgina Woods on 25 October 2012
Here’s a question for you: how much of a masterpiece can you remove, before it loses its value and beauty for which it is recognised? That’s the question the Australian government is wrestling with as the coal industry makes greater and greater inroads into the masterpiece that is the Great Barrier Reef.
Fakery 2: More Funny Finances, Free Of Tax
John Mashey, deSmogBlog, 25 October 2012
Follow the money. October 23, PBS Frontline's Climate of Doubt gave viewers an hour's coverage of the tactics of climate anti-science, its advocates and a quick look into the funding behind it. Read on to follow the money deeper into the funny finances, all free of tax.
Carbon price's feared impact a 'storm in a teacup'
Peter Hannam, SMH, October 22, 2012
IT IS almost a case of ''now you see it, now you don't.'' The tax of $23 per tonne of carbon emissions arrived on July 1, but not before the government splurged on $2.85 billion in handouts so most families wouldn't notice.
Australian companies will be able to offset their emissions from coal-fired energy by financing new coal-fired energy projects
Neil Perry, the Conversation, 24 October 2012
A recent decision by the executive board of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) creates an incongruous Australian carbon pricing scheme. Companies will be able to offset some of their carbon emissions by financing coal-fired power stations in developing countries.
Climate scientist sues for defamation
Daily Climate, 23 October 2012
Michael Mann, an influential climatologist who has spent years in the center of the debate over climate science, has sued two organizations that have accused him of academic fraud and of improperly manipulating data.
Alan Jones sent back to school on fact-checking, climate
Graham Readfearn, DeSmogBlog, 22 October 2012
It’s not been a great few weeks for Alan Jones, arguably Australia’s most influential radio personality who believes global warming is a hoax and that climate change science is “witchcraft“.
SCIENCE AND IMPACTS
Worsening weather battering bottom line
Peter Hannam, The Age, 27 October 2012
Financial losses from events related to weather in Australia have risen four-fold over the past 30 years and are likely to increase as climate change intensifies already volatile weather patterns, according to the reinsurance company Munich Re.
Not-So-Permanent Permafrost: 850 Billion Tons of Carbon Stored in Frozen Arctic Ground Could Be Released
ScienceDaily, Oct. 25, 2012
As much as 44 billion tons of nitrogen and 850 billion tons of carbon stored in arctic permafrost, or frozen ground, could be released into the environment as the region begins to thaw over the next century as a result of a warmer planet.
Rising Ocean Temps Threaten the Ocean Food Chain
Michael D. Lemonick, Climate Central, October 26th, 2012
Of all the plants and animals facing a potentially dire future because of climate change, a study released Thursday in Science paints a potentially grim picture for one of the most important and underappreciated groups of living things on Earth.
Rice Agriculture Accelerates Global Warming: More Greenhouse Gas Per Grain of Rice
ScienceDaily, Oct. 19, 2012
More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and rising temperatures cause rice agriculture to release more of the potent greenhouse gas methane (CH4) for each kilogram of rice it produces, new research published in this week's online edition of Nature Climate Change reveals.
Antarctic airstrip melting away
Andrew Darby, The Age, October 24, 2012
AUSTRALIA'S $46 million Antarctic airstrip is melting, leaving the government scrambling to find a new air link to the frozen continent.
Recent changes to the Gulf Stream causing widespread gas hydrate destabilization
Benjamin J. Phrampus & Matthew J. Hornbach, nature, 24 October 2012
Methane hydrate, an ice-like form of methane and water, in ocean sediments represents one of the largest reservoirs of organic carbon on Earth. Sudden methane release from this sink could cause abrupt climate change. This study uses seismic data and modelling to reveal clathrate destabilization along the United States Eastern margin, probably caused by warming of the Gulf Stream, or a slight shift in its position.
El Niño more central since 1990
ERW, 18 October 2012
The last decade of the 20th century saw a major change in the relationship between the tropical and extra-tropical climate, according to scientists in the US and Taiwan. The discovery suggests that the increasing influence of the extra-tropical atmosphere on the tropical Pacific Ocean has driven the emergence of El Niño events in the central Pacific.