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Climate Hustle

2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #25B

Posted on 21 June 2014 by John Hartz

A quarter of India's land is turning into desert

About a quarter of India's land is turning to desert and degradation of agricultural areas is becoming a severe problem, the environment minister said, potentially threatening food security in the world's second most populous country.

India occupies just 2 percent of the world's territory but is home to 17 percent of its population, leading to over-use of land and excessive grazing. Along with changing rainfall patterns, these are the main causes of desertification.

"Land is becoming barren, degradation is happening," said Prakash Javadekar, minister for environment, forests and climate change. "A lot of areas are on the verge of becoming deserts but it can be stopped."

A quarter of India's land is turning into desert - minister, Reuters, June  18, 2014

Atmosphere may be getting in gear for El Niño

he atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean may be getting its act together and finally cooperating with shifting ocean waters to signal that an El Niño has arrived, climate scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported in their latest outlook.

El Niño watchers have been waiting for the climate phenomenon to show up since an El Niño Watch was issued back in March, meaning that conditions were favorable for one to develop in the next six months. Potential El Niño events are so closely watched because of the influence they can have on the world’s weather. Depending on when this El Niño develops, it could also bump up Earth’s already warming temperature enough to make 2014 or 2015 a record warm year, scientists have said.

Atmosphere May Be Getting in Gear for El Niño by Andrea Thompson, Climate Central, June 20, 2014

Can Port Authorities save the planet?

With more than half the world’s population now living in cities, and urban planners pressing for more density, we need a model of urban governance that can evaluate the effects of development on estuaries. An improved port authority could forge the way, instead of serving as a punching bag for commuters.

Can the Port Authority Save the Planet? Op-ed by Ted Steinberg, New York Times, June 16, 2014

Climate disdainers Canada and Australia form 'Axis of Weasels'

Jokes aside, Harper and Abbott's oily bromance could soon prove catastrophic.

Climate Disdainers Canada and Australia Form 'Axis of Weasels' by Ian Gill,, June 19, 2014

El Nino's return could change everything

Indications from the tropical Pacific suggest that the first El Nino event in five years is happening. And this looks to be not any normal El Nino, but one that could rival the abnormal conditions from the spring of 1997 to the spring of 1998. Experts also note that global warming could accelerate if this year's El Nino triggers a "regime shift," the term used for a sudden, massive change in the global climate.

The trade winds in the equatorial Pacific normally blow from east to west. But two strong westerly bursts were recorded in January and February, and two slightly less powerful westerly bursts occurred in March and April. "The trigger for an El Nino has been pulled. If these westerly bursts continue, it could develop into a powerful event," said Shuhei Maeda, senior coordinator for El Nino information at the Japan Meteorological Agency.

El Nino's return could change everything by Kiyoshi Ando, Nikkei Asian Review, June 15, 2014

Money key to unlocking new U.N. climate deal, activists say

Rich nations must come up with substantial pledges of fresh climate finance in the next six months to build the trust needed for U.N. negotiations to reach a new global climate deal in Paris next year, officials and activists said after the latest round of talks ended in Bonn at the weekend.

Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said governments should put money into the recently established U.N.Green Climate Fund (GCF) "as early as possible and with at least an initial $10 billion" to underpin progress at the annual conference in Lima at the end of this year and success in Paris in 2015.

The fund's board recently agreed rules for how it will operate, and is due to start the process of finding money to fill it at a meeting this month. The GCF is expected to channel a large portion of the $100 billion a year wealthy countries have promised to mobilise by 2020 to help vulnerable states adapt to climate change and pursue low-carbon growth. 

Money key to unlocking new U.N. climate deal, activists say by Megan Rowling, Thomson Reuters Foundation, June 16, 2014

Obama’s new emission rules: Will they survive challenges?

The sweeping nature of President Obama’s proposed regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants is likely to open his initiative to serious legal challenges. To date, however, the courts have given the federal government wide latitude in regulating CO2 under the Clean Air Act.

Obama’s New Emission Rules: Will They Survive Challenges? by Michael B. Gerrard, Yale Envornmnet 360. June 16, 2014

Penguins that weathered past climate change suffer this time

Three penguin species tolerated a warming climate quite well about 15,000 years ago, but it's a very different story for two of them now.

Penguins That Weathered Past Climate Change Suffer This Time by Jane J Lee, National Geographic, June 12, 2014

Republican leaders threaten government shutdown over climate action

Republican leaders in the Senate took America one step closer to another government shutdown this week, foreshadowing a possible replay at the end of September. Instead of voting on straightforward bills to fund government operations, GOP lawmakers held the appropriation bills hostage with unrelated amendments. These riders would block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from addressing climate change and keeping pollution out of our water.

Republican Leaders Threaten Another Government Shutdown Over Climate Action by Frances Beinecke, EcoWatch, June 20, 2014 

Republicans are talking differently about climate change

A suddenly more nuanced position speaks to the party's belief in the issue's coming potency.

Republicans Are Talking Differently About Climate Change by Alex Roarty, The National Journal, June 18, 2014

The Fox-ification of global warming and the war on coal

Fox News loves to declare wars. Wishing someone 'happy holidays' is a War on Christmas. Support for marriage equality is a War on Marriage. And trying to limit carbon pollution to preserve a livable climate for future generations is now a War on Coal.

Recently, President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy went on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. Maher asked if the EPA's new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants could be described as a 'war on coal,' as some conservative media outlets have called it. McCarthy responded:

Actually, EPA is all about fighting against pollution and fighting for public health. That’s exactly what this is. Exactly.

That's an accurate description – the regulations were implemented to fight against carbon pollution and to protect public health. Coal isn't the only target, but it is the source of about a quarter of America's carbon pollution. 

The Fox-ification of global warming and the war on coal by Dana Nuccitelli, Climate Consensus-the 97%, The Guardian, June 18, 2014

The new environmentalism will lead us to disaster

So-called ecopragmatists say we can have a “good Anthropocene.” They’re dead wrong

The New Environmentalism Will Lead Us to Disaster by Clive Hamilton, SA Forum, Scientific American, June 19, 2014

Water war bubbling up between California and Arizona

Once upon a time, California and Arizona went to war over water.

The year was 1934, and Arizona was convinced that the construction of Parker Dam on the lower Colorado River was merely a plot to enable California to steal its water rights. Its governor, Benjamin Moeur, dispatched a squad of National Guardsmen up the river to secure the eastern bank from the decks of the ferryboat Julia B. — derisively dubbed "Arizona's navy" by a Times war correspondent assigned to cover the skirmish. After the federal government imposed a truce, the guardsmen returned home as "conquering heroes."

The next water war between California and Arizona won't be such an amusing little affair. And it's coming soon.

Water war bubbling up between California and Arizona by Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, June 20, 2014

Who cares about climate change consensus?

Bickering over precise figures is pointless until the climate issue resonates with the general public, not just an informed few 

Who cares about climate change consensus? Op-ed by Adam Corne, The Guardian, June 19, 2014

Why Europe needs to break its imported fossil fuel addiction

Europe is by far the largest importer of fossil fuel in the world. And the recent developments in Ukraine, Syria and Iraq highlight once again how vulnerable Europe's economy is to price spikes, external energy shocks and other regimes' wishes.

Like a patient hoping to get better, the drip-feed of imported fossil fuels is keeping the European economy alive, but isn't providing the remedy to spur new growth. 

Why Europe needs to break its imported fossil fuel addiction, Op-ed by Connie Hedegaard, Reuters, June 20, 2014

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Comments 1 to 3:

  1. A good source for future cartoons of the week (or month or year)?


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    Moderator Response:

    [RH] Embedded link that was breaking page formatting.

  2. wili

    My personal rating is that only 4 out of 12 of the presented cartoons have a direct relevance to climate change.

    Does anyone agree with my 33.33% result and can we form a consensus?

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  3. I do, actually, foth. I found some of them fairly clever, though.

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