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Climate Hustle

2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #14B

Posted on 5 April 2014 by John Hartz

Arctic sea ice falls to fifth lowest level on record

Arctic sea ice remained on its death spiral on Wednesday, with the amount of winter ice cover falling to its fifth lowest on the satellite record, scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center said.

The scientists said Arctic sea ice extent for March averaged 14.80m sq km. That's 730,000 sq km below the 1981-2010 satellite average.

The latest findings reinforce a trend that could see the Arctic losing all of its ice cover in the summer months within decades.

Arctic sea ice falls to fifth lowest level on record by Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, Apr 2, 2014


B.C. climate change expert sees ‘brighter, smarter’ future for planet

VANCOUVER - Tom Pedersen sounds almost upbeat about climate change, putting a positive spin on the decidedly gloomy subject.

“You must never lose hope,” says Pedersen, executive director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions at the University of Victoria in B.C., who foresees a  “brighter, smarter” future for the planet.

There is no question the world is facing enormous threats as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations group, made clear once again this week.

B.C. climate change expert sees ‘brighter, smarter’ future for planet by Margaret Munro, The Vancouver Sun, Apr 1, 2014


Bumpy start for the UN mechanism on climate change 'loss and damage'

For organisations like CARE, the loss and damage issue is not new. It describes what happens when measures to adapt to climate change impacts fail (whether sea-level rise or extreme events such as storms or floods) and the destruction to homes, infrastructure and lives that ensues.

It’s a concept that has been around for many years, but Warsaw finally marked its anchorage on the international stage through the establishment of a so-called Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage. This is essentially a shared agreement between nations of the world to cooperate on tackling the issue.

Bumpy start for the Warsaw Mechanism on climate change 'loss and damage' Op-ed by Sven Harmeling, CARE, Thomson Reuters Foundation. Apr 2, 2014


Changing our climate of indifference

Americans need to hear from the media about the climate crisis even if there's a shortage of cheerful angles.

Changing our climate of indifference by Jill Richardson, Other Words, Apr 2, 2014


China faces a unique challenge in adapting to climate change

Protecting vulnerable communities through adaptation is now the main priority of China’s climate policies, says Chinese expert Xu Yinlong

China faces a unique challenge in adapting to climate change by Xu Nan & Liu Jingyang, China Dialogue, Mar 31, 2014


Climate change will 'lead to battles for food', says head of World Bank

Battles over water and food will erupt within the next five to 10 years as a result of climate change, the president of the World Bank said as he urged those campaigning against global warming to learn the lessons of how protesters and scientists joined forces in the battle against HIV.

Jim Yong Kim said it was possible to cap the rise in global temperatures at 2C but that so far there had been a failure to replicate the "unbelievable" success of the 15-year-long coalition of activists and scientists to develop a treatment for HIV.

Climate change will 'lead to battles for food', says head of World Bank by Larry Elliott, the Guardian, Apr 3, 2014


Germany boosts wind power at green energy summit

Germany's wind power industry has emerged victorious at Tuesday's (01.04.2014) energy summit in Berlin. The talks brought together German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country's 16 state premiers.

The country is planning a shift away from fossil fuels and nuclear power. "We have now made the first big step to safeguard the energy transition," said German Economics and Energy Minister, Sigmar Gabriel.

Gabriel's initial plans to reform the country's Renewable Energy Act (known locally as the EEG) had included drastically reducing subsidies for renewable energy power systems and capping the rollout of domestic wind power to 2500 megawatts per year.

But, southern German states like Baden-Württemberg rejected the plans. They argued that this would effectively destroy the renewable energy technology market they have built over years. States like Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein were also angry, saying the new plans would reduce their ability to create power in the wind-intensive northern states.

Germany boosts wind power at green energy summit by Richard Fuchs, Deutsche Welle (DW), Apr 2, 2014


Global warming forcing Mongolian nomads to change lifestyles

ULAN BATOR--Men on horseback chase sheep and goats over the snow-covered land in winter in the Mongolian plains, where temperatures can drop to minus 30 degrees.

The strong wind that blows over the plains takes its toll on man and animals. Taking an even bigger toll onI'm not a betting man, but if I had to choose the horse that our destruction will ride in on, I'd go with climate change (if you want debate the for vs. against of climate change, look elsewhere; that debate involves everyone yelling the same thing over and over. I will treat the notion of climate change as the settled science that it, you know, is). And here's the thing about climate change: while we tend to focus on the big, sexy, Hollywood disasters – the IPCC's latest includes fun things like increased global conflict, health catastrophes, and mass extinction - the climate can kill us in ways that are far more prosaic and even a little boring. the traditional way of life of the nomads is global warming.

For those living in northern latitudes with harsh winters, global warming might be considered a blessing if it leads to milder weather. However, the experience in recent years of nomads in Mongolia shows that even a rise of a few degrees can have devastating effects not only on the ecosystem, but on an entire society.

Global warming forcing Mongolian nomads to change lifestyles by Daisuke Sudo, The Asahi Shimbun AJW, Apr 2, 2014 


How climate change will kill us in the dumbest possible way

I'm not a betting man, but if I had to choose the horse that our destruction will ride in on, I'd go with climate change (if you want debate the for vs. against of climate change, look elsewhere; that debate involves everyone yelling the same thing over and over. I will treat the notion of climate change as the settled science that it, you know, is). And here's the thing about climate change: while we tend to focus on the big, sexy, Hollywood disasters – the IPCC's latest includes fun things like increased global conflict, health catastrophes, and mass extinction - the climate can kill us in ways that are far more prosaic and even a little boring.

How Climate Change Will Kill Us in the Dumbest Possible Way by Akira Watts for BuzzFlash at Truthout, Apr 3, 2014


No, we should not arrest climate deniers

Should politicians and pundits who deny climate change be held criminally liable for the misinformation they spread? Gawker's Adam Weinstein—our friend and former colleague—thinks so, and has called for the arrest of outspoken deniers. "Those denialists should face jail," Weinstein writes. "They should face fines. They should face lawsuits from the classes of people whose lives and livelihoods are most threatened by denialist tactics."

Predictably, the denier crowd isn't buying the argument. A post on the Heartland Institute's website links Weinstein to "liberal fascism": "Liberals who are that soaked in the ideology of catastrophic man-caused global warming are fascists. Full stop." Even those normally on Weinstein's climate-change-believing side are pouring scorn in the comments section: "I also want a unicorn. One that shoots rainbow-colored lasers out of its ass. Since, y'know, we're talking about wish-fulfillment that will never, ever happen."

So who's right? Much as we like the spirit of Weinstein's argument, ultimately, we disagree with its premise. Here's why:

No, We Should Not Arrest Climate Deniers by Tim McDonnell and James West, Mother Jones, Apr 3, 2014

One third of planet may see drier conditions because of warming temps

Warming temperatures, scientists say, can tip places into drought conditions by increasing evaporation and sapping soil of its moisture. A new study suggests up to a third of the Earth's land area could be subject to drier conditions because of warmer temperatures, not just changing precipitation patterns, by the end of the century.

The study finds that one of the agricultural heartlands of the United States, the Central Plains, could become drier, even though it may not receive less rain in the future, simply because warmer temperatures will drive evaporation to dry out the rich soils. Drier soil makes it harder to grow the food that feeds the country, which can have knock-on effects on trade and national security. And the problem isn’t limited to the U.S.: Western Europe and the fertile fields of southeast China show the same drying trend, the study, detailed in the journal Climate Dynamics, found.

One Third Of Planet May See Drier Conditions Because Of Warming Temperatures by Andrea Thompson, The Huffington Post, Apr 3, 2014


UN climate chief urges radical clean-up of oil, gas industry

The U.N.'s climate chief called on the oil and gas industry on Thursday to make a drastic shift to a clean, low-carbon future or risk having to leave three-quarters of fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

"The time for experimentation, for marginal changes and for conditional response is now over," Christiana Figueres told the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA) in a speech in London.

She urged an "urgent transformation" to greener production after top scientists warned on Monday that climate change would damage food supplies, slow economic growth and aggravate the underlying causes of armed conflicts.

UN climate chief urges radical clean-up of oil, gas industry by Alister Doyle, Reuters, Apr 3, 2014


U.S. seeks changes to ‘skewed’ data in UN climate draft

U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration is concerned that a crucial United Nations report on climate science may be too harsh in assessing the cost of fighting global warming. 

Such a finding may lower the incentive for the world to reduce fossil fuel pollution and feed the arguments of those skeptical about whether it’s worth spending money to curtail rising temperatures.

The report will be completed by hundreds of scientists and government officials at a UN meeting in Berlin next week. It’s due to include an assessment of the economic losses that would come from cutting emissions. That along with calculations about the costs of doing nothing is meant to guide policymakers around the world working on climate-protection measures.

U.S. Seeks Changes to ‘Skewed’ Data in UN Climate Draft by Alex Morales, Bloomberg News, apr 4, 2014


Who's leading on climate action pledges?

If China and the United States start pointing fingers across the table at the key UN climate talks in Paris in 2015, accusing each other of not doing their share to fight climate change, there may now be a way to measure which superpower’s claims are more accurate – and so far it won’t be the American negotiators who come out on top of that argument.

As governments and other climate organisations gear up for efforts to agree a new global deal to curb climate change and deal with its impacts in 2015, a collaboration between a California nonprofit and the Stockholm Environment Institute has produced an online tool to grade the equity of emission reduction pledges that countries have made and will continue to make.

Tom Athanasiou, executive director of EcoEquity, explained that his organisation’s Climate Equity Pledge Scorecard and Climate Equity Reference Calculator are based around the idea that every country has a “fair share” of emissions reductions to make, which can be measured by comparing that country’s historical responsibility (or total amount of emissions to date) and its present capacity, or capability, for reducing emissions.

Who's leading on climate action pledges? A calculator reveals all by Samuel Mintz, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Apr 3, 2014

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