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Climate Hustle

2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #24B

Posted on 14 June 2014 by John Hartz

Air conditioning raising night-time temperatures in the US

Researchers in the US have identified a way in which city-dwellers are inadvertently stoking up the heat of the night by installing air conditioners. Because the cities are getting hotter as the climate changes, residents are increasingly investing in airconditioning system which discharge heat from offices and apartment blocks straight into the city air. And the vicious circle effect is that cities get still warmer, making air conditioning all the more attractive to residents.

According to scientists at Arizona State University, the air conditioning system is now having a measurable effect. During the days, the systems emit waste heat, but because the days are hot anyway, the difference is negligible. At night, heat from air conditioning systems now raises some urban temperatures by more than 1C, they report in the Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres

Air conditioning raising night-time temperatures in the US by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, The Guardian, June 9, 2014

Al Gore says 'History will not be kind' to these politicians

Former Vice President Al Gore (D) issued a sharp warning to lawmakers challenging the validity of global climate change in an interview with Australia’sFairfax Media this week. In the interview, Gore specifically targeted Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott for his anti-climate change record, ahead of Abbott’smeeting with President Barack Obama on Thursday.

“I am not a citizen of Australia, and I don’t feel I have the privilege of entering your political debate,” Gore said. “But we have had deniers of the climate crisis in office in the U.S. as well. History will not be kind to those who looked away, much less those who sought to prevent [action on climate change].”

Al Gore Says 'History Will Not Be Kind' To These Politicians by  Shadee Ashtari, The Huffington Post, June 12, 2014

Are national laws the key to global climate action?

On June 6-8, at the invitation of the president of the Mexican Congress and Senate, the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE International) convened senior legislators from over 80 countries to discuss how to strengthen the international response not just to climate change, but also wider sustainable development challenges.

With some 400 lawmakers in attendance, this was the largest ever gathering of legislators focused on sustainability issues, and key outcomes included agreement of a landmark Legislators’ Resolution.

This historic agreement sets out a series of recommendations for the international process about how to strengthen effectiveness of the response to the challenge of sustainable development. 

However, more importantly it will focus on the steps and actions that legislators can take themselves now – without waiting for the outcomes of UN negotiations.

Are national laws the key to global climate action? Op-ed by Terry Townshend, Rafael Aymbar Jimenez and Marlene Grundstrom, GLOBE International, Thomson Reuters Foundation, June 9, 2014

Carbon pricing won't solve climate change. Innovation will.

Carbon pricing has been the go-to solution for economists and environmentalists alike since climate change was identified as one of the foremost social and environmental challenges of our time.

Want a climate rescue plan? Carbon pricing. Want to raise revenue for clean energy deployment? Carbon pricing. It's the "silver bullet" for other things, too. Want to reduce reliance on foreign oil? Or raise revenue to correct other tax inefficiencies? Carbon pricing.

Carbon pricing won't solve climate change. Innovation will. Op-ed by Matthew Stepp and Megan Nicholson, The Christian Science Monitor, June 13, 2014

El Niño could make U.S. weather more extreme during 2014

Unusual weather across the U.S. and other parts of the world just became more likely for this summer and autumn. That’s because the chances have gone up that El Niño—an atmospheric pattern driven by water temperature changes in the Pacific Ocean—will develop during that time, according to the nation’s leading climate experts. When El Niño settles in, it has major effects on weather conditions nationally and globally.

Scientists speaking at a press conference yesterday afternoon said the odds that El Niño will develop during the summer have risen from 65 to 70 percent. The prediction comes in a new monthly report from the U.S. National Weather Service and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University. The experts also said there is up to an 80% chance that El Niño will develop during the fall and winter.

El Niño Could Make U.S. Weather More Extreme during 2014 by Kevin Schultz, Scientific American, June 13, 2014

Fossil fuels' 'easy money' and the need for a new economic system

Energy giant Kinder Morgan was recently called insensitive for pointing out that “Pipeline spills can have both positive and negative effects on local and regional economies, both in the short- and long-term.” The company wants to triple its shipping capacity from the Alberta tar sands to Burnaby, in part by twinning its current pipeline. Its National Energy Board submission states, “Spill response and cleanup creates business and employment opportunities for affected communities, regions, and cleanup service providers.”

It may seem insensitive, but it’s true. And that’s the problem. Destroying the environment is bad for the planet and all the life it supports, including us. But it’s often good for business. The 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico added billions to the U.S. gross domestic product! Even if a spill never occurred (a big “if”, considering the records of Kinder Morgan and other pipeline companies), increasing capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels a day would go hand-in-hand with rapid tar sands expansion and more wasteful, destructive burning of fossil fuels—as would approval of Enbridge Northern Gateway and other pipeline projects, as well as increased oil shipments by rail.

Fossil Fuels' 'Easy Money' and the Need for a New Economic System by David Suzuki, Common Dreams, June 11, 2014

Hurricane Cristina just set a scary record

Two weeks ago in the eastern Pacific hurricane basin, we saw Category 4 Hurricane Amanda, which was too strong, too early. Amanda was the "strongest May hurricane on record in the eastern Pacific basin during the satellite era," noted the National Hurricane Center.

And right now, the basin is host to Category 4 Hurricane Cristina, which follows on Amanda's record with a new one. The storm just put on an "extraordinary" burst of intensification in the last 24 hours, rocketing from Category 1 to Category 4 strength, with maximum sustained wind speeds of 150 miles per hour. And now that it has gotten there, notes the National Hurricane Center, we have another new record:

Hurricane Cristina Just Set A Scary Record by Chris Mooney, Climate Desk/Moother Jones, June 12, 2014

Making science cool won't win over the denialists

Scientists have long had cause to complain about how the public views them and their work. Complaints range from objections to denialism – "they don't accept evolution" or "they won't vaccinate" – to more cultural laments: "they always make us look like the bad guys in films" and "they don't cover us on the news any more".

Lately, though, the cultural laments seem out of date. In the US, science is becoming cool again among non-scientists. The evidence is all around us, in the form of a popular culture pulsing with content celebrating science.

Making science cool won't win over the denialists by Chris Mooney, New Scientist, June 9, 2014

Melting glaciers a ‘climate tipping point’, Bonn meeting told

World leaders need to ensure that global warming is kept low enough to avoid “pulling the plug” on vast ice shelves in Antarctica, thereby causing a catastrophic sea level rise across the globe, a leading scientist warned yesterday.

Dr Anders Levermann of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, noted last month’s major scientific report warning that a collapse of large sections of the west Antarctica ice shelf had already begun and was now “unstoppable”.

“We have entered a new era of irreversible climate change, a tipping point of part of the climate system,” he told a side event at the UN climate talks in Bonn. “West Antarctica has tipped and there isn’t anything we can do about it.” 

Melting glaciers a ‘climate tipping point’, Bonn meeting told by Frank McDonald

Oil and coal must be phased out entirely by 2050

If we really want to maintain a livable climate, and prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2˚ Celsius, then no nation, anywhere, can burn any oil, gas, or coalat all after 2050, according to a striking new analysis of the latest climate science.

“The world must start preparing for a rapid decarbonization of the energy and industry sectors within the next decade… and get to zero emissions by 2050,” Bill Hare, a climate scientist at Climate Analytics, told me in an interview from Bonn, Germany, where the latest round of international climate negations are underway.

What Hare is saying is that, in the near future, every country—and every economy—will no longer be able to rely on burning fossil fuels for energy and transport.

Oil and Coal Must Be Phased Out Entirely by 2050 to Stop Catastrophic Warming by Stephen Leahy, Motherboard, June 12, 2014

S&P: climate change is a global mega-trend with an impact on sovereign creditworthiness

On May 15th, 2014, Standard & Poor’s Rating Services issued Climate Change is a Global Mega-Trend for Sovereign Risk, a report about the potential impacts of climate change on sovereign credit ratings of countries around the world.  In its report, S&P explains how the costs of inaction on climate change in response to increasing frequency and destructive force of extreme weather events will become large enough to adversely influence countries’ credit ratings.

S&P labels climate change as a new mega-trend that is increasingly part of public discussion on global economic risks.  The report makes it clear that our lack of understanding of climate change and the interconnected nature of ecological systems make it difficult to predict precisely if and when global warming and changing weather patterns will outweigh other economic trends or risks for most sovereign nations. It particularly specifies three factors that make climate change a challenging problem to control.

S&P: Climate Change is a Global Mega-Trend with an Impact on Sovereign Creditworthiness by Akiko Shimizu, Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School, July 13, 2014

Six ways climate change is screwing with your seafood

Have you not finished reading the latest IPCC report? The definitive summary of what we’re doing to the Earth’s climate is only 1,552 pages long — that’s like a single George R. R. Martin novel, right?

Well, sushi-loving non-speedreaders are in luck, because a new report by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL for short — pronounced, I assume, “sizzle”), along with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, turns the IPCC tome into the SparkNotes version of climate change’s impact on the seafood biz.

Annnnd if that’s not good enough for you busy bumble bee gobies, I’m going to shrink that down into even tinier chunks. I bring you the six ways that climate change is affecting your fish — and for bonus points, a few things you can do about it.

Six ways climate change is screwing with your seafood (and what to do about it) by Amelia Urry, Grist, June 6, 2014

TransCanada eyes 'bridge' to Keystone XL pipeline approval

Oil producers and Keystone XL developer TransCanada Corp. are exploring the option of transporting Canadian crude oil by railcar as a temporary solution until the pipeline is approved.

Still, crude-by-rail isn't a substitute for Keystone XL, Russ Girling, CEO of TransCanada, told The Hill on Thursday.

"Our customers asked whether we would explore with them potentially building rail-car loading facilities at a place called Hardesty, which is the initiation point of the current Keystone XL project, and we've said we will do that, and we'll do it expeditiously," Girling said.

TransCanada eyes 'bridge' to Keystone XL pipeline approval by Laura Barron-Lopez, The Hill, June 12, 2014

Will 2014 be the hottest year on record?

We're hearing more and more about our pending global El Niño. NOAA now says the odds are 70 percent that we'll have an El Niño event develop by this summer, and even higher after that. Other experts put the odds higher still. What's more, the ocean and atmosphere have recently been behaving in a rather El Niño-like manner: Record-breaking Hurricane Amanda recently formed in the northeastern Pacific basin, which tends to be a very active hurricane region in El Niño years.

El Niño, if it develops, will upend everybody's weather—but it may also have another impact: Driving up global temperatures. El Niño, after all, is a global weather phenomenon whose most notable characteristic is the presence of extra-warm surface water in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific ocean. This tends to unlock greater average global temperatures, notes Joseph Romm of Climate Progress.;

Will 2014 Be the Hottest Year on Record? by Chris Mooney, Mother Jones, june 10, 2013

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Comments 1 to 9:

  1. It is true that air conditioning creates some net heat.  But mostly, it is just moving it from inside the house/office to outside.  The air conditioning is moving heat out, and the heat is working itself back in through the walls etc.  How could moving heat around in this manner raise the temperature of a city 1C?

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Have your read the article? BTW, the 1C increase is specific to night-time temperature.  

  2. also, ac units are not 100% efficient... so there is a net heat gain.

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  3. Good point jzk. If the city wasn't there then that heat would be radiating out itself. The houses are simple trapping the heat during the day and the airconditioners are returning it to the environment at night. So it's obvious that the temp will be higher than before the city had air conditioners.

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  4. And, this release of heat from AC is then obviously affecting temperature readings in these urban areas.  I've been saying that for years. Glad there is some research to back it up!

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  5. Terranova @4 - And the effect of those airconditioners on temperature records have been compensated by carefull adjustments based on close study of UHI effects over that time.  You've been very carefull not to say that for years as well, but it remains true none-the-less.

    Caerbannog showed comprehensively the entirely unskeptical nature of concerns about the UHI two years ago when he made an index of global temperatures from 50 long term rural records:

    His work just follows a very large number of scientific studies designed to detect the UHI effect, and compensate for it, but shows very simply that the compensation has been effective.

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  6. So it would seem the general increase in weaith in our modern society is contributing more and more to the UHI effect!

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  7. Terranova - Putting "urban heat air conditioning" into google scholar would suggest that research has been going into this years (at least 1988).

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  8. So we are all in agreeance that there is no net increase in temperature being caused by air conditioning.  It's just that the heat is being released all at once during the night instead of gradually throughout the whole nightly and early morning period.

    For a minute there I was thinking that the mod mistakenly thought that air cons were increasing net temperature.

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  9. Derp - I think you are missing something here. It seems to me that the article does indeed suggest that there is a net increase in temperature due to air conditioner use. 

    It mentions the location as being Phoenix, Arizona - a desert environment. I would imagine that the air conditioners will be working 24/7 in such conditions. The article says that the heat extracted from the house doesn't make a noticeable difference to the external daytime temperatures ('cos its already scorching hot). When the sun falls and the external temperature drops, the air con is still pumping heat out of the building and increasing the external temperature. That is where the 1C comes in - night time use.

    Air conditioners run from an electrical supply - this is adding more 'heat' to the existing desert fire. 

    Perhaps the building construction methods need updating? (backdating? - adobe has advantages...)

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