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2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #34A

Posted on 21 August 2013 by John Hartz

  • AGU’s new climate change statement emphasizes human role
  • Carbon capture and storage: global warming panacea, or fossil fuel pipe dream?
  • China's voyage of discovery to cross the less frozen north
  • Could climate campaigners’ focus on current events be counterproductive?
  • Foes of Obama climate policy prepare battle over cost of carbon
  • Global warming has not stopped
  • Global warming is real, and it’s our fault – let’s fix it
  • Global warming makes apples sweeter – Japan study
  • Increased flooding may cost the world $1 trillion by 2050
  • Never mind the economic deficit. What about the environmental one?
  • Nobelist presses case on climate change
  • Trash into gas, efficiently? A U.S. Army test may tell

AGU’s new climate change statement emphasizes human role

It was a pull-no-punches American Geophysical Union revised climate change statementthat drew the support of all but one of the 14 AGU members chosen to rework the update prior to its release.

But that one, Roger A. Pielke Sr, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, in his dissent threw some pretty sharp elbows at the panel and its chairman.

It was inevitable from the start, and Pielke Sr’s resistance and opposition came as no surprise to the other panel members. He had been raising a fuss throughout the whole process — “incredibly persistent” is how one participant described him. And all the committee members except he clearly reflected the “consensus” climate science views, including in particular those concerning the preeminent importance on risks posed by mounting CO2 emissions and concentrations.

AGU’s New Climate Change Statement Emphasizes Human Role by Bud Ward, Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media, Aug 


Carbon capture and storage: global warming panacea, or fossil fuel pipe dream?

Inside the offices of MIT's Energy Initiative, a campus-wide program with the ambitious goal of helping to "transform the global energy system," Howard J. Herzog, a senior research engineer, pulled out a fresh yellow legal pad and began sketching a line graph. He was responding to a straightforward question: In a world so addicted to fossil fuels, and yet so threatened by the planet-warming carbon dioxide they produce, why has one seemingly elegant and elementary solution -- blocking that CO2 from entering the atmosphere in the first place -- proved so elusive? 

Carbon Capture And Storage: Global Warming Panacea, Or Fossil Fuel Pipe Dream? by Tom Zeller Jr., the Huffington Post, Aug 19, 2013


China's voyage of discovery to cross the less frozen north

Global warming means that the Arctic's fabled Northern Sea Route could soon be ice-free in summer, slashing journey times for cargo ships sailing from the Far East to Europe. Which is why the Yong Sheng, a rust-streaked Chinese vessel, is on a truly historic journey.

China's voyage of discovery to cross the less frozen north by Robin McKie, The Observer, Aug 17, 2013


Could climate campaigners’ focus on current events be counterproductive?

So “here and now” arguments take the policy fight on global warming into the terrain favored by those who recoil at environmental regulation or profit from fossil fuels — an arena where there’s lots of real scientific uncertainty. All they have to do is sprinkle just a little of that uncertainty dust and the public disengages. Job done.

Could Climate Campaigners’ Focus on Current Events be Counterproductive? by Andrew Revkin, Dot Earth, new York Times, Aug 20, 2013


Foes of Obama climate policy prepare battle over cost of carbon

Three months ago, the Obama administration made a little-noticed but potentially pivotal move in the stepped-up fight against climate change: it boosted the U.S. government's official estimate of the future economic damage caused by carbon pollution.

After its first review, a panel of technical experts from 11 government agencies raised the so-called "social cost of carbon," known as SCC. The measure is used by many arms of the U.S. government to determine the financial benefits of new regulations since 2010.

The new 2020 forecast of $43 a ton was a 58 percent jump from the previous estimate, made in 2010. The issue is to be reviewed biannually.

Foes of Obama climate policy prepare battle over cost of carbon by Valerie Volcovici, Reuters, Aug 20, 2013


Global warming has not stopped

The apparent lack of warming in Earth’s surface temperature measurements since 1998 is not yet significant from climatic perspective. Surface temperature also seems to be changing according to IPCC projections. Climate model simulations show similar warming breaks, and have done so even before current break started, even if they include the effect of carbon dioxide. Models also can re-create the current break and the cause for the break seems to be known: warming has gone to the oceans instead of warming the surface. The ocean warming has been observed. Also the continuing warming effect of greenhouse gases has been observed. Global warming as a whole seems to continue despite the apparent break in surface measurements.

Global warming has not stopped by Ari Jokimäki, AGW Observer, Aug 19, 2013


Global warming is real, and it’s our fault — let’s fix it

It’s us.

We did it.

And now we have to fix it.

It’s hard to imagine drawing any other conclusion from the latest news on global warming, this time from the preeminent body on the topic:

Global warming is real, and it’s our fault — let’s fix it, Op-ed by the Editorial Board, Chicago Sun-Times, aug 20, 2013


Global warming makes apples sweeter – Japan study

Apples are becoming less crunchy but sweeter due to global warming, according to a study made at two orchards in Japan.

A research team gathered data at the orchards from 1970 to 2010 and said that global warming has obvious effects on apple taste and texture.

“All such changes may have resulted from earlier blooming and higher temperatures” during the growth season, the researchers said according to the international press.

Apple trees are blooming earlier due to higher temperatures and the harvests are also affected by modifications in rainfall and temperature, previous studies showed.

Global Warming Makes Apples Sweeter – Japan Study, Tokyo Times, Aug 20, 2013


Increased flooding may cost the world $1 trillion by 2050

Flood damage in the world's major coastal cities may top $1 trillion a year by 2050 due to rising seas and subsiding land, according to a new study.

The startling figure is "not a forecast or a prediction," but rather a means to "show that not to adapt and not to improve protection is impossible," Stéphane Hallegatte, a senior economist with the World Bank in Washington, D.C., and the study's lead author, told NBC News. "We have to do something."

The finding, which comes nearly 10 months after Superstorm Sandy's destruction, is shared by Hallegatte and colleagues in a report Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change. Researchers considered current flood protections in 136 cities around the world, and found that in many instances they are inappropriate for sea levels that rise a projected 8 inches by the year 2050.

Increased flooding may cost the world $1 trillion by 2050 by John Roach, NBC News, Aug 19, 2013


Never mind the economic deficit. What about the environmental one?

Two contradictory ideas shape UK politics. First, the argument for austerity, that the nation cannot and should not live beyond its financial means. Second, the notion that we can and must, in effect, live beyond our environmental means. That is why any increase in our spending and consumption is hailed as economic success.

Today, the world goes into ecological debt, or "overshoot" – an estimate of the moment in the year when humanity has consumed more natural resources and created more waste than our biosphere can replace and safely absorb over a 12-month period.

Never mind the economic deficit. What about the environmental one? Op-ed by Andrew Simms, The Guardian, Aug 20, 2013


Nobelist presses case on climate change

He (Mario Molina) soon resumed his main mission in life: Warning the world about the potential impact of climate change, and suggesting ways to deal with it. Molina has been at it for more than 40 years and is among the most high profile figures in the field. He shared the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry for helping reveal that a class of common household chemicals was damaging earth’s ozone layer. Molina also has worked as a science advisor to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, service that has earned him another award. President Obama announced last week that Molina, who is 70, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the highest honor bestowed on a civilian -- during a ceremony this fall at the White House. 

Nobelist presses case on climate change by Gary Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, Aug 17, 2013


Trash into gas, efficiently? A U.S. Army test may tell

The FastOx gasifier is the brainchild of two former engineers at Kaiser Steel, patented by the grandson of one of them and commercialized by Mr. Hart. “It’s a modular system that can be dropped into any area,” Mr. Hart said, “using waste where it’s produced to make electricity where it’s used.” Once it’s off the ground, he said, “garbage will be a commodity.”  

Trash Into Gas, Efficiently? An Army Test May Tell by Paul Tullis, New York Times, Aug 17, 2013

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Comments

Comments 1 to 3:

  1. Roger Pielke's dissent represents 7% of the 14 AGU members, so that's consitent with the 95% consensus figure!

    I note tow of the articles mention sea level rises.  One at 8 inches by 2050 and the other 3 feet by 2100.  Recent rates of rise have been reported at near 3 mm per year, which equates to almost a foot per decade indicating rises of 3.5 feet by 2050 and over 8 feet by 2100, and that's without an acceleration of the rise.  Why are those projections inconsistent with recent measurements?

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  2. John Chapman - That's mm/yr, not cm/yr. 3.2mm/yr * 10 is 32 mm, or 3.2cm, or about an inch and a half per decade. 

    3.2mm plus 0.013mm/yr acceleration (Church and White 2006) leads to a total of about 33-34cm by 2100. That, however, doesn't figure in temperatures - semi-empirical modeling of temperature versus sea level (Vermeer and Rahmstorf 2009 for one example) predicts 90-170cm for middle-range temperature scenarios. 

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  3. Oops, that was a bit silly of me.

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