19 March 2012

Climate News

Week ending 18 March 2012


Climate Commission report: The science behind southeast Australia’s wet, cool summer, and climate link to heavy rains
Most parts of Australia have experienced exceptionally heavy rains over the past two years, filling many dams around the country and breaking the drought of 1997–2009. There has been much confusion in the media about what this means for climate change. This report seeks to set the record straight.

State of the Climate 2012: an addendum
ClimateCodeRed, 14 March 2012
Today Australia's CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology released their State of the Climate 2012.
State of the Climate - 2012

Heat Wave Sizzles On, Toppling More Than 2,000 Records
Andrew Freedman, Climate Central, 16 March 2012
Records continue to fall across much of the U.S., as the extraordinary March heat wave rolls onward. The warm weather, with daytime high temperatures close to 40°F above average in some places, set the stage for severe thunderstorms that spawned rare, damaging March tornadoes near Detroit.
Solar panel made with ion cannon is cheap enough to challenge fossil fuels
Sebastian Anthony, Extreme Tech, March 13, 2012
Twin Creeks, a solar power startup that emerged from hiding today, has developed a way of creating photovoltaic cells that are half the price of today’s cheapest cells, and thus within reach of challenging the fossil fuel hegemony. The best bit: Twin Creeks’ photovoltaic cells are created using a hydrogen ion particle accelerator.

Jim’s Frank TED Talk: Speaking Out on Climate Change
Climate Central, 9 March 2012
If there’s a grand old man of climate science, it’s got to be Jim Hansen, of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Sciences. Now he’s out on a limb again, with a TED talk in which he says that if we delay as long as 10 years to start taking drastic action to save the climate, we’re in real trouble. It sounds pretty apocalyptic. But given his track record, it’s probably not something to ignore.

Was Human Evolution Caused by Climate Change?
ScienceDaily, March 15, 2012
According to a paper published in Science, models of how animal and plant distributions are affected by climate change may also explain aspects of human evolution.

Environmental crunch 'worse than thought': OECD
AFP, March 15, 2012
Pressures on Earth's ecosystem are now so great that future generations could be doomed to falling living standards, the OECD said on Thursday in a report looking to the mid-century.

Ken Caldeira: Natural Gas Is ‘A Bridge To A World With High CO2 Levels’, Deployment Is To R&D As Elephant To Mouse
Joe Romm, Climate Progress, March 12, 2012
Earlier, I wrote about a paper co-authored by climatologist Ken Caldeira.  A key point of the study is that we can’t slow projected warming with natural gas, you need “rapid and massive deployment” of carbon-free power.


Rising sea levels to displace 13.6M Filipinos by 2050
ADB, 13 March 2012
At least 13.6 million Filipinos are at risk of being displaced due to a rise in sea levels in the Philippines by 2050, according to the latest climate-change report released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday.

Councils cowed by constituents on climate change planning
ABC Sydney, 13 March 2012
Skepticism of climate change is now turning into pressure on local councils, according to new research commissioned by the National Seachange Taskforce, and it seems concern about property values is the main motive.
Coastal tide is turning - climate change sceptics don't want house values eroded

Tides of March: If you’re not worried about rising sea levels, you should be
Claire Thompson, Grist, 14 Mar 2012
Will your home be underwater in 2030 — not your mortgage, but the house itself? If you live anywhere near a coast, that’s a question you might want to start taking seriously.
Report: Global Warming Doubles Extreme Coastal Flood Risk

Experts predict surge in floods
Catherine Armitage, SMH, March 12, 2012
As global temperatures rise, short storm bursts will increase in frequency and severity, resulting in more flash flooding, especially in urban areas.

After the Storm: The Hidden Health Risks of Flooding in a Warming World
UCS, 14 March 2012
Report documents the costly, and often overlooked, health impacts of heavy precipitation and flooding—and highlights climate change as a growing risk factor for these extreme weather events.

Why is the sea rising at different rates around Australia?
John Church, ABC Online, 14 March 2012
What causes sea level rise? Why is the average sea-level rise around Australia higher than the global mean? And why is the sea rising at different rates around Australia?

Melting moments put ice sheets in a new light
Jo Chandler,The Age, 15 March 2012
Some 400,000 years ago, in the long, warm interglacial of the Middle Pleistocene, the world's oceans rose dramatically, but not, it seems, quite as dramatically as first thought.
New Study Lowers Estimate of Ancient Sea-Level Rise


A $200b push to become world's biggest gas power
Paddy Manning, SMH, March 17, 2012
Another block was removed from the path of Australia's coal seam gas boom a fortnight ago, as the NSW government stepped away from pre-election commitments to protect prime agricultural land from mining with no-go areas.

Emissions set to surge 50 pct by 2050 unless we act now, says OECD in pessimistic assessment
Nina Chestney, Reuters, 15 March 2012
Global greenhouse gas emissions could rise 50 percent by 2050 without more ambitious climate policies, as fossil fuels continue to dominate the energy mix, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said on Thursday.

In 2011, US solar panels cost half as much and produced twice as much energy as in 2010.
Wendy Koch, USA Today, 14 March 2012
Newly installed solar panels produced 109% more electricity nationwide last year than in 2010, reaching a record 1,855 megawatts, as the price of these panels plummeted by more than 50%, according to a report today by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), an industry group, and GTM Research.
Rooftop revolution: How to get solar to 100 million Americans
David Roberts, Grist, 6 March 2012
Nearly 100 million Americans could install over 60,000 megawatts of solar at less than grid prices – without subsidies – by 2021.

Blinded by the coal dust
Christine Milne, ABC Unleashed, 13 March 2012
The extraordinary response by politicians and corporate leaders to Greenpeace's legal plans to challenge Australia's massive coal expansion is a disturbing sign of how effectively the coal industry's narrow interests are trumping respect for science, the law and human welfare in our national debate.

China threatens to pierce coal export bubble
Giles Parkinson, REnewEconomy, 12 March 2012
As China considers putting a cap on coal consumption by 2015, Australia must consider what this would mean for projections for international coal demand.

Blown away by weak wind research
Lane Crockett, Climate Spectator, 12 March 2012
A cheap shot via a front page splash (David Crowe, The Australian “Billions blown away on wind power, says British study”) again undermines business reality, and proper independent research.

Is global solar headed for a boom or a bust?
Giles Parkinson, REnew Economy, 14 March 2012
Predictions for the growth of solar PV have always proved problematic – and mostly wrong – in recent years as analysts and economic forecasters wrestle with the implications of assumed and actual falls in technology costs.

Greenpeace survey reveals port expansion resistance
Jamie Rule, ABC News, 16 March 2012
Greenpeace has released a survey on public sentiment towards the development of the Abbot Point coal port near Bowen in north Queensland.

Geoengineering: no need for dedicated research
ERW, 8 Mar, 2012
Ken Caldeira recommends study of geoengineering alongside existing programmes, and no research on implementation techniques

Climate 'tech fixes' urged for Arctic methane
Richard Black, BBC News, 17 March 2012
UK scientists say the threat of sudden methane release from the melting Arctic is a "planetary emergency" requiring urgent intervention.


Inhofe’s Stunning Admission To Maddow on Global Warming: ‘I Thought It Must Be True Until I Found Out What It Cost”
Joe Romm, Climate Progress, Mar 16, 2012
Senate’s top denier pushes myth enviros far outspent industry in climate fight

Climatologist slams intimidation of scientists
ABC Lateline, 15 March 2012
Climatologist and director of the Earth System Science Centre in Pennsylvania State University Michael Mann joins Lateline.

Skills, not drills, for survival
Thomas Friedman, SMH, March 12, 2012
Every so often someone asks me: ''What's your favourite country, other than your own?'' I've always had the same answer: Taiwan. ''Taiwan? Why Taiwan?'' people ask.

Coalition plan falls short: CSIRO
Sid Maher, The Australian, 13 March 2012
CSIRO research suggests Tony Abbott's direct action climate change plan of sequestering 85 million tonnes of carbon a year in soil by 2020 may fall short by between 30 million and 80 million tonnes of abatement

Serious about climate? Throw out the free-market playbook
Naomi Klein, Solutions Journal, 12 March 2012
Climate solutions won't come from capitalism, Klein argues. They require government intervention; that's why climate change is such a polarizing issue.

How the lobby door spins for Swan’s vested mining interests
Graham Readfearn, 12 March 2012
There's a revolving door outside state and federal government offices that has been spinning for decades.


Faustian bargain revisited
ClimateCodeRed, 12 March 2012
Study finds zeroed emissions will add 0.25-0.5C of warming as aerosol cooling is lost

Global warming: Doctors foresee major health impacts
Bob Berwyn, SCSV, March 18, 2012
Asthma, allergies and infectious disease could surge in warming world

The emissions rebound after the GFC: why greenhouse gases went up in 2010
Frank Jotzo et al, The Conversation, 16 March 2012
Recessions are not the way to permanently cut greenhouse gas emissions. Global emissions surged during 2010, cancelling out the reductions from the global financial crisis (GFC).

Nitrous Oxide Emissions Are No Laughing Matter
ScienceDaily, March 12, 2012
While many are acquainted with the problems caused by CO­­2 emissions, the harmful effects of the release of nitrous oxide into the atmosphere have been far less well known.

Greenland's ice sheet: Climate change outlook gets a little more dire
By Pete Spotts, Staff writer / March 13, 2012
If temperatures reach 1.6 degrees C above preindustrial levels, the iconic ice sheet will probably tip toward irreversible loss. With climate change, temperatures have already risen 0.8 degrees C.
Greenland ice melt seen at lower temperatures: study
Nina Chestney, Reuters, 11 March 2012
The complete melt of the Greenland ice sheet could occur at lower global temperatures than previously thought, a study in the journal Nature Climate Change showed on Sunday, increasing the threat and severity of a rise in sea level.
Multistability and critical thresholds of the Greenland ice sheet
Alexander Robinson, Reinhard Calov & Andrey Ganopolski
Nature Climate Change (2012) doi:10.1038/nclimate1449

Climate changing despite cool years: CSIRO
Mike Hedge, AAP/SMH, 13 March 2012
According to some of the world's most eminent climate scientists, a couple of years of cooler temperatures and good rains do nothing to defeat the assurances that the world is getting warmer and that droughts, particularly in southern Australia, are bound to become more common and more severe.

La Nina brought flooding but climate change not off the hook
Neville Nicholls, SMH, March 13, 2012
Changes to the system are almost certainly due to human activity.

Regions of rapid sea ice change: An inter-hemispheric seasonal comparison
In fastest Arctic sea ice decrease regions ice-free season is now 3 months longer
Impact of declining Arctic sea ice on winter snowfall
Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes