07 October 2012

Climate News

Week ending 7 October 2012


Climate change may force evacuation of vulnerable island states within a decade
Jo Confino, Guardian, 4 October 2012
Leading climate scientist warns that vulnerable island nations may need to be evacuated within a decade as evidence shows polar ice is shrinking at greater speeds than models predicted


Calls for climate action as Great Barrier Reef suffers major coral loss
The Conversation interview, 2 October 2012
The Great Barrier Reef has lost half its coral cover in the last 27 years, and it could halve again by 2022 say researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
Great reef catastrophe
Nicky Phillips, SMH, 2 October 2012
Half the Great Barrier Reef's coral has disappeared in the past 27 years and less than a quarter could be left within a decade unless action is taken, a landmark study has found
Marine environments in Australia's southern waters under threat

Environmental absolution one greenwash at a time
Guy Pearse, ABC Unleashed, 4 October 2012
Far from representing a great social movement, Earth Hour is an opportunity for the most culpable to absolve themselves, writes Guy Pearse
From Kermit to coal, book reveals how world's top brands greenwash the public

In a climate-crazed world, how can we plan for the future?
David Roberts, Grist, 28 September 2012
We can we make good planning decisions in the face of climate uncertainty?
Making decisions about how and where to invest limited resources is always difficult, especially with a group of diverse stakeholders. It’s more difficult when, as in the case of infrastructure like bridges, sea walls, and sewer systems, the effects of the decisions can extend out for decades, even centuries.

Climate Change Takes a Bite Out of Global Food Supply
Stephen Leahy, IPS, 29 September 2012
Humanity’s ability to feed itself is in serious doubt as climate change takes hold on land in the form of droughts and extreme weather, as well as on the world’s oceans.

Matt Damon brings the fracking fight to the big screen
Daniel Penner, Grist, 1 October 2012
In the fracking-centric "Promised Land," Matt Damon, John Krasinski, and Gus Van Sant aim to deliver a star-studded, Oscar-baiting environmental drama -- and they'll do it without a single penguin or Powerpoint.

The true cost of electricity – wind is half the price of coal
Giles Parkinson, ReNewEconomy/Cleantechnica, 2 October 2012
Wind power and solar power from new power plants in Europe is significantly cheaper than electricity from fossil fuel or nuclear power plants when you factor in health and environmental damage, according to a new report.


An Illustrated Guide To 2012 Record Arctic Sea Ice Melt
Neven, 3 October 2012
We already knew a few weeks ago that the PIOMAS sea ice volume record had been broken, but with the latest data release by the Polar Science Center at the University of Washington we now know the minimum sea ice volume for 2012, as calculated by the Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System.

In wake of sea ice loss, focus on new models, melt ponds
Andrew Freedman, Climate Central, 3 October 2012
Since Arctic sea ice extent plummeted to a record low in September, shattering the previous record set in 2007, much has been made of the fact that sea ice has declined at a much faster pace than what most scientists had anticipated. Until recently, most computer models failed to capture the precipitous decline in Arctic sea ice that has occurred since satellite observations began in 1979.

Melting Permafrost Will Boost Temps, But Not Quickly
Michael D. Lemonick, Climate Central,  October 5th, 2012
Climate scientists have long known that human-generated greenhouse emissions are only part of the story with global warming. A rising planetary temperature sets in motion all sorts of secondary effects that can boost the temperature even higher — effects like melting Arctic sea ice, rising levels of heat-trapping water vapor in the atmosphere, and more. When researches try to figure out how high the thermometer will go over the next century or two, it’s important to figure in these so-called feedbacks into their calculations. But they don’t fully understand how feedbacks will play out.

Child discovers nearly intact woolly mammoth in Russia
Kirit Radia, ABC, 4 October 2012
An 11 year-old boy in Russia’s far north has reportedly uncovered a nearly intact woolly mammoth, complete with fur, bones, flesh, and layers of fat. Scientists say they haven’t seen anything like it in over a hundred year. 


Power costs saving promised for some SA customers
ABC News, 2 October 2012
There is a proposal for about 25 per cent of South Australian electricity customers to pay a
lower rate next year.

The top 20 solar PV suburbs in each state
Giles Parkinson, ReNewEconomy, 1 October 2012
The Solar Energy Council estimates that up to $3 billion has been invested in the rooftop PV in the mortgage belt of Australia. If the forecasts are right, then that sum could double or triple, or even rise five fold, in the coming decade.

Solar marred by a myth
Tristan Edis, Climate Spectator, 3 October 2012
Claims that support for solar PV is hugely expensive abatement are out of date and sometimes just plain wrong. Based on the latest data, the small-scale renewable energy support scheme (SRES) will reduce emissions at lower costs than gas-fired power

Why the energy sector is howling
Mike Sandiford, The Conversation, 2 October 2012
Three months into the brave new world of carbon pricing, and we can see some dramatic trends in the latest data from the National Electricity Market – or NEM. In particular, the latest data shows the demand for electricity is continuing to collapse in spectacular fashion.

Federal Government commissions scenarios for 100% renewables
Roger Dargaville, The Conversation, 1 October 2012
The Federal Government (presumably under pressure from the Greens) has given the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) the job of coming up with a 100% renewable energy scenario for 2030 and 2050.

Finland may be first European country to halt coal use
SMH, September 29, 2012
Finland may phase out the use of coal in energy production by 2025, the first European country to do so, Economy Minister Jyri Haekaemies said.


Barry Commoner, Pioneering Environmental Scientist and Activist, Dies at 95
Peter Dreier, Common Dreams, 1 October 2012
Barry Commoner, a founder of modern ecology and one of its most provocative thinkers and mobilizers, died Sunday, September 30, 2012 in Manhattan. Described in 1970 by Time magazine as the "Paul Revere of ecology," Commoner followed Rachel Carson as America's most prominent modern environmentalist

Leaders of Small Islands Endorse Climate Change Declaration at UNGA
28 September 2012
Last night, leaders from the Alliance of Small Island States’ (AOSIS), a group of 43 low-lying and coastal states that are highly vulnerable to climate change, adopted a Declaration on the sidelines of the 67th United Nations General Assembly that calls for urgent action to address the climate change crisis.

Newspapers in UK and US give climate sceptics most column inches
Leo Hickman, Guardian, 5 October 2012
Study into coverage of climate change also shows right-leaning papers less likely to challenge sceptical voices

Climate Change Beliefs: Political Views Trump Facts for Some
ScienceDaily, October 4, 2012
For some people, scientific facts help determine what they believe about an issue. But for others, political views trump scientific facts and determine what information they will accept as true. It's a phenomenon that is particularly prevalent on the issue of climate change.

Lake Cathie calls for coastal erosion law changes
ABC News, 5 October 2012
A mid north coast community group says coastal erosion laws need to be amended to include the protection of public assets.

Minister sidesteps VCAT (on sea level rise planning)
Jane Lee, The Age, 4 October 2012
Planning Minister Matthew Guy has hatched a plan to avoid a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing days before it is due to start - by changing a law so the hearing cannot go ahead.

Government starts review of draft IPCC working report
Peter Hannam, SMH, 6 October 2012
The Australian government has begun its review of the latest draft of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, pledging ‘‘an open and comprehensive approach’’ as it taps selected input


Climate vulnerability monitor (PDF)

Southern Hemisphere becoming drier
CSIRO, 3 October 2012.
A decline in April-May rainfall over south-east Australia is associated with a southward expansion of the subtropical dry-zone according to research published today in Scientific Reports, a primary research journal from the publishers of Nature.
Rainfall reductions over Southern Hemisphere semi-arid regions: the role of subtropical dry zone expansion

Does record Antarctic sea ice refute global warming?
Mark Robison, RJG, 6 October 2012
Reno reader Judson Pierce contacted Fact Checker on Monday with a story from Newsmax headlined “Record Antarctica ice contradicts global warming trend.” He wanted to know whether it truly contradicts global warming and why the mainstream media seems to be ignoring this fact after widely reporting Arctic sea ice being at record lows.

Irreversible Warming Will Cause Sea Levels to Rise for Thousands of Years to Come, New Research Shows
ScienceDaily, Oct. 2, 2012
Greenhouse gas emissions up to now have triggered an irreversible warming of Earth that will cause sea levels to rise for thousands of years to come, new research has shown.

Climate Change Could Cripple Southwestern U.S. Forests: Trees Face Rising Drought Stress and Mortality as Climate Warms
ScienceDaily, Sep. 30, 2012
Combine the tree-ring growth record with historical information, climate records, and computer-model projections of future climate trends, and you get a grim picture for the future of trees in the southwestern United States.

Fish Getting Smaller as the Oceans Warm
ScienceDaily , Sep. 30, 2012
Changes in ocean and climate systems could lead to smaller fish, according to a new study led by fisheries scientists at the University of British Columbia.
Fish likely to shrink as planet warms: study
SMH, 1 October 2012
Fish are likely to get smaller on average by 2050 because global warming will cut the amount of oxygen in the oceans in a shift that may also mean dwindling catches, according to a study on Sunday

Climate change: Tropical extremes
Geert Lenderink, Nature Geoscience, 16 September 2012
Climate model projections of future precipitation extremes in the tropics are highly uncertain. Observations of year-to-year variations in extremes of present-day climate help to narrow down these projections to a rise in extreme rainfall by 6–14% per °C of warming.
Sensitivity of tropical precipitation extremes to climate change