30 July 2012

Climate News

Week ending 29 July 2012
Global Drought Monitor July 2012   Source: http://drought.mssl.ucl.ac.uk/drought.html
Erratic Weather Across Globe Fueling Impending Food Crisis
Common Dreams, July 23, 2012
In addition to the ongoing drought in the United States, experts warn that the potential for a worldwide food crisis is heightened by extreme and erratic weather across the globe.

Extreme Drought Areas in US Nearly Triple in One Week
Mat McDermott, Treehugger, 27 July 2012
The drought gets worse: The US Drought Monitor reports that areas on the nation under extreme drought conditions in key agricultural states has tripled in the past week. Furthermore, the amount of land experiencing drought conditions more broadly has increased to nearly two-thirds of the nation, up from 56% just a week ago.

When National Climate Disasters Go Global: On Drought, Food, And Global Insecurity

29 July 2012

The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic

By Joe Romm, a Climate Progress cross-post
ten year data analysis comparison graph
The decadal land-surface average temperature using a 10-year moving average of surface temperatures over land. Anomalies are relative to the Jan 1950 – December 1979 mean. The grey band indicates 95% statistical and spatial uncertainty interval.A Koch-funded reanalysis of 1.6 billion temperature reports finds that “essentially all of this increase is due to the human emission of greenhouse gases.”
The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study (BEST) is poised to release its findings next week on the cause of recent global warming.

24 July 2012

A sober assessment of our situation (3)

by David Spratt

[Final of a 3-part series]

The first part in this series described some characteristics of the climate debate and the climate action advocacy movement in Australia. Part two explored some of the forces which have moulded the shape of climate politics in Australia today.
3. Challenges  

3.1 The “possible” and the necessary

Our goal is to achieve a desirable future, not to just reduce the misery, because the alternative is really awful, and failure is not an option. Current global greenhouse gas mitigation commitments will result in global warming of  4 degrees Celsius plus by 2100. Fatih Birol of the International Energy Agency says that “with the current policies in place, the world is perfectly on track to six degrees Celsius increasing the temperature, which is very bad news. And everybody, even school children, know this will have catastrophic implications for all of us.”

22 July 2012

Climate News

Week ending 22 July 2012

Carbon dioxide emission per head of population - see first story


As emissions rise, China loses moral high ground
Jeff Tollefson, Nature News Blog, 18 July 202
For years China has dismissed concerns about its rising carbon emissions by pointing out that, on a per-capita basis, Chinese citizens still emit far less than their counterparts in the industrialized world. But now that China’s per-capita emissions are on par with those of the European Union, that argument will be much harder to make.
A da xiang in the room: new emissions data
Cathy Alexander, Crikey, 20 July 2012
There’s a dà xiàng in the room when it comes to addressing climate change. Dà xiàng is mandarin for elephant. And if you want to get your head around the latest data on greenhouse gas emissions, you’ll need to look to China.

20 July 2012

Post-Carbon Postcard #2: New York City

by John Wiseman, Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne

a Post Carbon Pathways crosspost

Over the last few months I’ve had the privilege of listening to a range of leading climate change policy advocates in Australia, the US, Canada and Europe reflect on priority actions for reducing the risk of runaway climate change.
     This has included interviews with many of the lead authors of the strategies reviewed in the Post Carbon Pathways report. In this Post Carbon Postcard #2, written from New York City, I’d like to highlight a few of their responses to two of the most common questions in the minds of people who have been working on climate change and environmental issues for many years: Is it too late? And...So what should we do now?

17 July 2012

A sober assessment of our situation (2)

by David Spratt

The first part in this series described some characteristics of the climate debate and the climate action advocacy movement in Australia.
2. How we got to here  [Part 2 in a series of 3]

2.1 Climate in the media

In the USA (and Australia too), concern about climate change (as measured by the climate change threat index - see chart below) peaked around 2007.  Research studies find that media coverage of climate change directly affects public concern levels, and that the actions of political elites turn out to be the most powerful driver of public concern. Concern in the USA was at its heightat the time of media focus on the IPCC’s 2007 fourth assessment reports and Al Gore’s “The Inconvenient Truth”.

The Climate Change Threat Index aggregates data from 6 different polling organizations gauging how much people worry about global warming

16 July 2012

The wet side of Greenland

An Arctic Sea Ice blog crosspost

When writing The dark side of Greenland, a recent blog post on decreasing reflectivity of the Greenland ice sheet, with images comparing the southwest of Greenland with satellite images from previous years, I of course realized that when that ice sheet becomes less reflective, it will soak up more solar energy and thus melt faster. But the practical aspect of this theory never really dawned on me, until I saw this video:

More videos here and here.

15 July 2012

Climate News

Week ending 15 July 2012


The bush is dying, yet still we deny it
Canberra Times Editorial, July 13, 2012
Australian politicos' focus on Whyalla earlier this month - will or won't the carbon tax wipe it ''off the map''? - summed up just how low the national climate change debate has sunk

Must-See Videos: ABC Interviews Climatologist Michael Mann
Joe Romm, Climate Progress, July 12, 2012
ABC’s Bill Blakemore has a 5-part interview of the most vindicated climate scientist in America, Michael Mann. All 5 videos are posted below with links to their transcripts.

10 July 2012

A sober assessment of our situation (1)

by David Spratt 

Where we are   [Part 1 in a series]

1.1 Introduction

In the last five years, Australia has signed the Kyoto Protocol, legislated a price on greenhouse gas emissions, established a Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), and more than doubled the Renewable Energy Target (RET) to 20 per cent of electricity production by 2020. The Contracts for Closure of around 2GW of dirty coal power is due to be resolved soon. Household electricity demand is falling and the wholesale price has dropped substantially. Energy efficiency measures, installed household solar PV and higher prices have already reduced demand by the equivalent of Hazelwood power station’s full capacity.
     The Greens’ vote and influence has increased, the Transition Towns and sustainability movements are growing, and a formidable community campaign against coal seam gas is gaining significant political power. The coal industry in Queensland is a hot topic. The cost of renewable energy, especially PV solar, is falling quickly and household rooftop solar is already grid competitive. Community support for replacing dirty fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy is strong.

05 July 2012

The case for shutting Hazelwood, Australia's dirtiest power station

by Roger Dargaville, Research Fellow, Energy Research Institute at University of Melbourne 

Under its Clean Energy Future, the Federal government will negotiate to close 2000 MW of the dirtiest fossil fuel power generating capacity in Australia by 2020.
     With the price on carbon now in operation, there will be pressure on some highly carbon intensive station to remain viable – this policy pre-empts the failure of the most vulnerable businesses and provides some certainty as to which stations will close, as well as compensating the companies affected, including the workers who will lose their jobs.
The plants under consideration are Hazelwood, Yallourn and Energy Brix in Victoria, Playford B in South Australia and Collinsville in Queensland.

02 July 2012

Arctic sea-ice takes a nose dive

Neven Acropolis, a Climate Progress cross-post
Arctic sea ice area for June in recent years. Source: Cryosphere Today
If you want to mislead people into thinking that there is nothing weird going on in the Arctic, you have to do it during winter. In winter things almost look normal on some graphs, with gaps between trend lines and long-term averages not as ridiculously big as during spring and summer.  If you’re lucky, anomalous weather patterns can make those trend lines come real close to the long-term average, and you’ll have a couple of weeks of shouting ‘recovery’, ridiculing scientists and suggesting graphs are being cooked. It’s an annual ritual on pseudo-skeptic blogs, which is only logical. The Arctic is becoming ever more problematic for their life work, i.e. denying AGW could ever be a problem and thus delaying any meaningful action on mitigating the consequences of AGW. Thank God water still freezes in winter.

Why we are going nuts

As noted in the End game for the climate policy paradigm post, I am re-posting two articles by the US environmentalist Ken Ward, because they are so relevant to our circumstances today. Next week, I will start a 3-part series, tentatively entitled "A sober assessment of our situation" — David

Why we are going nuts
Lessons from cognitive dissonance theory for US environmentalists

by Ken Ward, first published on Grist, March 4, 2009
"If we do not raise our sights and ambitions, then we are guaranteed to fail. Itʼs a tough but simple choice and if we continue down our present road, we will leap from foggy thinking into pure madness, there being no other means of keeping reality at bay."
If we accept the worst, or precautionary assessment, then US environmentalists have perhaps a year to avert cataclysm and nothing we are doing now will work. We are dealing with this terrible situation in a very ordinary and human way, by denying it.
     Our denial comes in a variety of forms: we believe that President Obama can and will solve the problem; we ignore Jim Hansenʼs assessment and timeline; we concentrate on our jobs and organization agendas and pass over the big picture; we focus on the molehill of climate policy rather than tackle the mountain of climate politics; we assess our efforts by looking back on how far we have come and do not measure the distance still to be traveled; we scrupulously avoid criticizing each other, lacking conviction in our own courses of action and not wishing to invite criticism in turn; and we are irrationally committed to antique approaches that are self-evidently inadequate.

01 July 2012

Climate News

Week ending 1 July 2012
The U.S. surface temperature map from Unisys at 4 pm, June 29, 2012, shows 100° temperatures stretching almost continuously from California eastward to the Carolinas

While Colorado burns, Washington fiddles
Bill McKibben, Guardian, 29 June 2012
Drought, wildfires, storms, floods – climate change is happening, but the real disaster is our Big Energy-owned politicians' inaction