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Climate Hustle

2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #17

Posted on 26 April 2014 by John Hartz

A battle over renewable energy in the U.S.

In state capitals across the country, legislators are debating proposals to roll back environmental rules, prodded by industry and advocacy groups eager to curtail regulations aimed at curbing greenhouse gases.

The measures, which have been introduced in about 18 states, lie at the heart of an effort to expand to the state level the battle over fossil fuel and renewable energy. The new rules would trim or abolish climate mandates — including those that require utilities to use solar and wind energy, as well as proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules that would reduce carbon emissions from power plants.

But the campaign — despite its backing from powerful groups such as Americans for Prosperity — has run into a surprising roadblock: the growing political clout of renewable-energy interests, even in rock-ribbed Republican states such as Kansas. 

A battle is looming over renewable energy, and fossil fuel interests are losing by Steven Mufson and Tom Hamburger, Washington Post, Apr 25, 2014 

Businesses wake up to climate risk

Even supermarket giants and the biggest multinational corporations may struggle to stay afloat as valuable natural resources dwindle. From food retailers to engineers, the private sector is becoming increasingly aware of how climate change could affect future profits.

A collection of papers in Nature Climate Change today looks what businesses are already doing to future-proof themselves against climate change - and what more needs to happen.

How to prosper in an uncertain world? Businesses wake up to climate risk by Roz Pidcock, the Carbon Brief, Apr 25, 2014

California drought linked to global warming in new study

While researchers have sometimes connected weather extremes to man-made global warming, usually it's not done in real time. Now a study is asserting a link between climate change and both the intensifying California drought and the polar vortex blamed for a harsh winter that mercifully has just ended in many places. 

The Utah State University scientists involved in the study say they hope what they found can help them predict the next big weird winter. 

Outside scientists, such as Katharine Hayhoe at Texas Tech University, are calling this study promising but not quite proven as it pushes the boundaries in "one of the hottest topics in climate science today."

California Drought Linked To Global Warming In New Study by Seth Borenstein, AP/The Huffington Post, April 25, 2014

Carbon capture faces hurdles of will, not technology

If human-caused climate change is to be slowed enough to avert the worst consequences of global warming, carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and other pollutants will have to be captured and injected deep into the ground to prevent them from being released into the atmosphere.

Such is the scenario the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change paints in its recent report outlining ways climate change can be mitigated as civilizations across the globe continue to burn fossil fuels with little sign they’ll stop anytime soon.

But that scenario hinges on a huge question: How realistic and feasible is it for carbon sequestration, also known as carbon capture and storage, or CCS, to be implemented globally in the coming decades and on such a wide scale that it helps to vastly reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Carbon Capture Faces Hurdles of Will, Not Technology by Bobby Magill, Climate Central, Apr 23, 2014

Climate change is the fight of our lives

The good news is that, unlike reindeer and songbirds, we humans are blessed with the capacity for advanced reasoning and therefore the ability to adapt more deliberately – to change old patterns of behaviour with remarkable speed. If the ideas that rule our culture are stopping us from saving ourselves, then it is within our power to change those ideas. But before that can happen, we first need to understand the nature of our personal climate mismatch.

Climate change is the fight of our lives – yet we can hardly bear to look at it, Op-ed by Naomi Klein, The Guardian, Apr 23, 2014

Climate change survival: companies need courage...and new metrics

Today, tremendous work is being done to develop the metrics of natural capital. All kinds of very smart people and organizations are making the "business case" for sustainability, making tortuous calculations as they analyze the life cycles, carbon production and water footprints of a variety of products, all in an attempt to make the best possible business and marketing choices.

This arduous work is being done – finally – by gifted and smart accountants, economists and supply chain and manufacturing experts, from the Global Reporting Initiative to the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board to the Carbon Disclosure Project to the World Bank's Natural Capital Accounting. I appreciate all of this work. We need it.

But, impressive as this work is, it is no replacement for having the courage to actually contemplate the state of the world around us. Right now, we are looking on with a mix of disbelief and ennui as extreme weather engulfs us. In some cases, we are trying to take what appear to be reasonable steps, mostly in order to protect our precarious perch in the world's economy. The trouble is, the time for reasonable has passed. We have somehow forgotten that if there is no nature, there is no business.

Climate change survival: companies need courage...and new metrics by Amy Larkin, The Guardian, Apr 24, 2014

Rich nations' greenhouse gas emissions fall in 2012

Industrialised nations' greenhouse gas emissions fell by 1.3 percent in 2012, led by a U.S. decline to the lowest in almost two decades with a shift to natural gas from dirtier coal, official statistics show.

Emissions from more than 40 nations were 10 percent below 1990 levels in 2012, according to a Reuters compilation of national data submitted to the United Nations in recent days that are the main gauge of efforts to tackle global warming.

Still, with emissions rising elsewhere, experts said the rate of decline was too slow to limit average world temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, a ceiling set by almost 200 nations to avert droughts, heatwaves and rising seas.

Rich nations' greenhouse gas emissions fall in 2012, led by U.S. by Alister Doyle, Reuters, Apr 25, 2014

The was all about climate on Earth Day

Just in time for Earth Day comes a fresh sign of the growing strength of the grassroots climate movement: the Obama administration announced on April 18 that it would delay yet again a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, probably until after the November elections. Delay is not victory, and Big Oil and its friends in high places will continue insisting that the project go forward. But make no mistake: Keystone XL would have been approved years ago if a feisty popular movement of farmers in Nebraska, indigenous peoples in Canada and environmentalists across the United States had not marched, filed lawsuits, gotten arrested and otherwise opposed a pipeline that would bring to market some of the most carbon-intensive oil on earth. The longer Obama’s decision on Keystone is delayed, the better. Delay gives activists more time to educate the public about this suicidal folly and above all to build an even larger, more cantankerous grassroots movement—which, as the unsung history of Earth Day suggests, is the key not only to defeating Keystone but to winning the larger battle for climate survival.

Toward that end, The Nation is marking Earth Day 2014 with special, wall-to-wall coverage of the climate challenge. Every piece of content on today will focus on climate change, its implications and solutions. “Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts,” Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said on March 31, when releasing the latest scientific report on how climate change is already causing great suffering and economic disruption around the world, with much more to come.

To underline how climate change must become everyone’s issue, The Nation is publishing articles not only by seasoned climate reporters such as Naomi Klein, Chris Hayes and Wen Stephenson but also by contributors from beats not usually associated with rising temperatures and extreme weather, including Katha Pollitt, Dave Zirin and Mychal Denzel Smith. One reason the climate movement isn’t bigger is that many Americans still regard climate change as “just” an environmental issue. In particular it is time for progressive activists and organizations to grasp that climate change is increasingly affecting their own concerns

Why Today Is All About Climate by Mark Hertsgaard, The Nation, Apr 22, 2014

The reality of a hotter world is already here

As global warming makes sizzling temperatures more common, will human beings be able to keep their cool? New research suggests not

The Reality of a Hotter World is Already Here by Jerry Adler, Smithsonian Magazine, May, 2014

What’s El Niño and why does it matter that scientists say one is on the way?

Forecasters worldwide are issuing alerts. Later this year, we're likely to be in the midst of an El Niño - a phenomenon driving severe weather worldwide. So when can we expect it to kick in, and what will the consequences be for global temperature? Find this and more in our quick Q & A.

Q & A: What’s El Niño - and why does it matter that scientists say one is on the way? by Roz Pidcock, the Carbon Brief, Apr 24, 2014

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