12 August 2012

Climate News

 Week ending 12 August 2012

Extensive melt over the Greenland Ice Sheet. This figure shows the daily, cumulative area of the Greenland ice sheet showing surface melt for 2012, 2011, 2010 and for the 1980 to 1999 mean. While melt was unusually extensive through May and June of 2012, the melt area increased rapidly in early July in response to an unusually warm weather event. Source: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/2010/08/a-most-interesting-arctic-summer/figure6-2/

Rate of Arctic summer sea ice loss is 50% higher than predicted
Robin McKie, Guardian, 11 August 2012
New satellite images show polar ice coverage dwindling in extent and thickness
Sea Ice Decimated, Huge Storm May Have Broken Arctic Ocean Stratification

Mine-Field: The Dark Side of Australia's Resources Rush
Paul Cleary, Black Inc., 2012
Whether it be coal-seam gas, LNG or coal mega-mines, a resources rush is happening in just about every productive corner of our country. Yet at the same time oversight and regulation have been hollowed out.

Disturbing Signal That Bad U.S. Climate Stance Is About to Get Worse
Kelly Rigg, Huffington Post, 7 August 2012
Todd Stern, the U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change, was in my neck of the woods the other day. Speaking at Dartmouth College, an hour's drive from where I'm spending a quiet vacation with my family, he said something so disturbing that I was compelled to dust the beach sand off my feet and respond.

It’s official: Australia needs no new coal or gas baseload
Giles Parkinson, ReNewEconomy,  9 August 2012
Since pretty much the start of the National Electricity Market more than a decade ago, the Australian power industry has regarded the annual Electricity Statement of Opportunities as their bible to help pinpoint where a new coal or gas-fired generator might be needed to meet rising demand.

America's drought of political will on climate change
Naomi Wolf, Guardian, 8 August 2012
With US politics paralysed by the partisan divide on climate change, public concern about extreme weather cannot bear fruit

The age of solastalgia
Glenn Albrecht, The Conversation, 7 August 2012
The built and natural environments are now changing so rapidly that our language and conceptual frameworks have to work overtime just to keep up.

An Influential Global Voice Warns of Runaway Emissions
Fen Montaigne, Environment360, 11 June 2012
Few international figures have been as consistent in warning about the threat posed by global warming as economist Fatih Birol, of the International Energy Agency. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Birol explains why the situation is worsening and what needs to be done to significantly slow emissions.

India's Blackout Lesson: Coal Failed, Small Solar = Big Results
Justin Guay, Sierra Club, 6 August 2012
Of all the headlines around India's historic blackout, none summed up the truth more than The Onion:  "300 million without electricity after restoration of the power grid."


U.S. has hottest month on record in July 2012 NOAA says
Jason Samenow, WP blog, 8 August 2012
In 118 years of U.S. records, July 2012 stands as king, hotter than any month previously observed. NOAA reports today that the average temperature across the continental U.S. was 3.3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 20th century average, 0.2 degrees hotter than the previous record set in July, 1936.

Global food stockpiles to shrink as droughts bite
SMH, 9 August 2012
Stockpiles of the biggest crops will decline for a third year as drought parches fields across three continents, raising food-import costs already forecast by the United Nations to reach a near-record $USUS1.24 trillion.

Explaining Extreme Events of 2011 from a Climate Perspective
Attribution of extreme events shortly after their occurrence stretches the current state-of-theart of climate change assessment. To help foster the growth of this science, this article illustrates some approaches to answering questions about the role of human factors, and the relative role of different natural factors, for six specific extreme weather or climate events of 2011.

Advocates see recent extreme weather as a 'teachable moment' 
Jean Chemnick, EandE, August 8, 2012
Advocates for action to address climate change are making messaging hay out of this year's seemingly endless procession of storms, droughts, heat and wildfires.

Climate change is already here
Michael E. Mann, ABC Environment, 8 Aug 2012
The first scientist to alert Americans to the prospect that human-caused climate change and global warming was already upon us was NASA climatologist James Hansen. In a sweltering US Senate hall during the hot, dry summer of 1988, Hansen announced "it is time to stop waffling... The evidence is pretty strong that the [human-amplified] greenhouse effect is here."


Anti-CSG activists join forces for protest
The Age, 11 August 2012
Farmers and environmental activists in NSW and Queensland have joined forces at the border in a marathon protest against the expansion of coal seam gas (CSG) mining.

The wind farms that Baillieu killed
Giles Parkinson, ReNewEconomy, 9 August 2012
If Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu came to power with a determination to kill off opportunities for wind farm development in Victoria, then he can be proud of his work.

Carbon price claims SA’s largest coal-fired generator
Giles Parkinson, ReNewEconomy, 2 August 2012
The first coal-fired generator to shut down since the introduction of the carbon price has done so quietly, with the 544MW Northern power station near Port Augusta in South Australia closing down little more than a week after the introduction on July 1. The shut-down actually occurred a week later than planned because of relatively high wholesale electricity prices

Two reasons why Victoria will never be a brown coal export hub
Rod Campbell, ReNewEconomy, 8 August 2012
Last Friday, the Victorian and federal governments announced a $90 million fund to develop brown coal processing technology in the Latrobe Valley. The fund is called the Advanced Lignite Demonstration Program (ALDP) and, according to the brochure, its main goal is the “development of low-emission coal products for export”.

The inevitability of solar PV in Australia
Nigel Morris, ReNewEconomy, 8 August 2012
Over the last few months, I have had the pleasure of presenting to hundreds of solar industry delegates at the EcoGeneration Master Classes held around Australia. Inevitably, the most interesting part for me was the conversations with so many who are at the ‘coal face’; working day in, day out to sell the virtues of solar photovoltaic (PV) against rising coal-fired energy prices.

Bolt from the blue: How Australia got gold in rooftop solar
Giles Parkinson, ReNewEconomy, 6 August 2012
Australia has long been regarded as one of the pioneers of the global solar photovoltaic industry, courtesy of its excellent research at institutions such as UNSW and elsewhere. Now, thanks to its excellent solar resource, rising electricity costs and the falling cost of solar PV, it is now emerging as the leading market for rooftop solar as well.

James Price Point: An economic analysis of the Browse LNG project
According to the Western Australian government’s own economic assessment, the Browse LNG precinct proposed for James Price Point is likely to have a significant adverse impact on the state’s budget, will employ few local workers and harm the region’s reputation as a tourist destination, a new analysis by The Australia Institute has found.

New Bladeless Wind Turbine Claimed to be Twice as Efficient as Conventional Designs
Derek Markham, Treehugger, August 3, 2012
When it comes to the future of wind power, one company thinks it looks a lot different than you would expect, and cheaper and more efficient to boot.

New solar design inspired by telescope could double output
Cleantechnica, ReNewEconomy, 10 August 2012
Researchers have designed a new solar power module that uses a curved mirror to focus sunlight onto a 5-inch glass ball that then spreads the light evenly across a solar panel, leading to twice the power output of traditional solar panels when combined with high-efficiency solar cells

PV Installations in US: 2000 to Present (graphic)


Obama Administration Abandons Two-Degree Commitment
Brad Johnson, Forecast the Facts, August 6, 2012
As climate change accelerates, it appears the Obama administration is in retreat. In an address on Thursday, the top climate negotiator for the United States rejected the administration’s formal commitment to keeping global warming less than two degrees Celsius (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels.
Justin Guay, Sierra Club International Program

Carbon tax price rises limited to utilities: index
ABC News, 6 August 2012
A private index shows the carbon tax had little effect on inflation in its first month of operation, despite pushing up energy costs.

Andrew Bolt Cuts Ties With Climate Science Denying Galileo Movement Over Alleged Anti-Jewish Conspiracy Theory
Graham Readfearn, DeSmogBlog, 7 August 2012
There is at least one conspiracy theory which Andrew Bolt isn't happy to endorse. Up until last week, Bolt was listed as an adviser to one of Australia's most active climate denialist organisations the Galileo Movement. But then what happened?

Green growth not targets needed for 2015 climate deal
Nina Chestney and Alister Doyle, Reuters, 6 August 2012
Green economic growth rather than strict targets for cutting greenhouse gases needs higher priority if the world is to reach a deal to fight climate change by a 2015 deadline
Developed and developing world responsibilities for historical climate change and CO2 mitigation

Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul linked to climate science smear campaign
Greenpeace, August 8, 2012
Today, Greenpeace released a briefing detailing Romney campaign operative and Press Secretary Andrea Saul’s involvement with DCI Group, a firm that was on contract to ExxonMobil at the height of the oil company’s campaign to attack global warming science and climate change policy.

Putting a price on the rivers and rain diminishes us all
George Monbiot, Guardian, 6 August 2012
Payments for 'ecosystem services' look like the prelude to the greatest privatisation since enclosure

Carbon Credits Gone Awry Raise Output of Harmful Gas
Elisabeth Rosenthal and Andrew Lehren, NYT, August 8, 2012
When the United Nations wanted to help slow climate change, it established what seemed a sensible system


On global temperatures, Berkeley’s BEST is similar to the rest
Karl Braganza and Blair Trewin, The Conversation, 9 August 2012
The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) study recently found that global land-surface temperatures have increased by about 1°C since the 1950s — and 1.5°C since the mid-18th century.

July Heat Records Crush Cold Records By 17 To 1, ‘Historic Heat Wave And Drought’ Fuels Oklahoma Fires
Joe Romm, Climate Progress, August 5, 2012
July saw 3,135 new daily high temperature records in the U.S. — over 100 per day. That overwhelmed new cold records by a factor of nearly 17 to 1, as this chart from Capital Climate shows.

When It Comes to Greenland's Glaciers, Precedence Doesn't Matter
Joel Plummer, Huffington Post, 3 August 2012
Much to-do has been made this week about surface melt in Greenland. For anyone who hasn't been following the story, NASA released findings that shows surface melt has been observed on more than 97 percent of the Greenland ice sheet this summer a rate unprecedented in the era of satellite observation.

New Atmospheric Compound Tied to Climate Change, Human Health
ScienceDaily, August 8, 2012
An international research team led by the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Helsinki has discovered a surprising new chemical compound in Earth's atmosphere that reacts with sulfur dioxide to form sulfuric acid, which is known to have significant impacts on climate and health.

Researchers ID link between heat and heart stress
Daily Climate, 9 August 2012
Looking for ties between higher temperatures and heart failure, researchers find a troubling pathway.