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Climate Hustle

2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #32B

Posted on 9 August 2014 by John Hartz

Air traffic growth set to outpace carbon reduction efforts

Carbon reduction efforts in the airline industry will be outweighed by growth in air-traffic, even if the most contentious mitigation measures are implemented, according to new research by the University of Southampton.

Even if proposed mitigation measures are agreed upon and put into place, air traffic growth-rates are likely to out-pace emission reductions, unless demand is substantially reduced.

"There is little doubt that increasing demand for air travel will continue for the foreseeable future," says co-author and travel expert Professor John Preston. "As a result, civil aviation is going to become an increasingly significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions."

Air traffic growth set to outpace carbon reduction efforts, Phys.org, Aug 7, 2014


Conservative media is now just making things up about climate scientists

On the scale of climate-denying media crimes, the Washington Times has hit a new low. There’s deliberately misrepresenting the science. Then there’s misrepresenting the press release, which is what the conservative news outlet appears to have done.

In an agenda-driven fantasy titled “Paging Al Gore: NASA says that global warming could be on ‘hiatus,’” the Times claims that the “nation’s space agency his [sic] noticed an inconvenient cooling on the planet lately.” The quick article discusses a talk, given at the Virginia Air and Space Center by Norman Loeb, the principal investigator of NASA’s CERES project, as evidence that Al Gore is wrong. (Because, you know, Al Gore is the only one talking about climate change these days.) It certainly would be scandalous if Loeb, who has a doctorate in atmospheric sciences from McGill University, were to get up in front of his audience and announce that global warming were no longer happening, after all.

Curiously, however, another article — one written by a reporter who appears to have actually attended the lecture — doesn’t report anything like that happening. Instead, according to the Virginian-Pilot, the “provocatively titled lecture” (“The Recent Pause in Global Warming: A Temporary Blip or Something More Permanent?” ) was pretty run-of-the-mill, and “reflected the general complexity of climate science.”

Loeb “cautioned against drawing conclusions about what 15 years of slower warming means,” the article adds, “mainly because it’s a relatively short time period.”

Conservative media is now just making things up about climate scientists by Lindsay Abrams, Salon, Aug 6, 2014


Deep emissions cuts needed by 2050 to limit warming-UN draft

Deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions of 40 to 70 percent by mid-century will be needed to avert the worst of global warming that is already harming all continents, a draft U.N. report showed.

The 26-page draft, obtained by Reuters on Thursday, sums up three U.N. scientific reports published over the past year as a guide for almost 200 governments which are due to agree a deal to combat climate change at a summit in Paris in late 2015.

It says existing national pledges to restrict greenhouse gas emissions are insufficient to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, a U.N. ceiling set in 2010 to limit heatwaves, floods, storms and rising seas.

Deep emissions cuts needed by 2050 to limit warming-UN draft by Alister Doyle, Reuters, Aug 8, 2014


EPA chief: Teach global warming in schools

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy wants schools to include climate science in their curricula.

Irish America magazine scored an interview with McCarthy, who grew up in a Boston area family with Irish roots. In one question, she was asked whether climate change should be part of the educational system.

"Very much so," she replied. "I think part of the challenge of explaining climate change is that it requires a level of science and a level of forward thinking and you've got to teach that to kids.

"People didn't have a sense of how dramatic climate change really is, and what it means for all of us. So that's been a challenge. But what's great about renewables is that when you put a solar panel on the roof of a school, you change the entire dynamic of education for the students. It's hands-on," she continued.

EPA Chief: Teach Global Warming in Schools by Ben Geman and Clare Foran, National Journal, Aug 8, 2014


Europe's forests 'particularly vulnerable' to rapid climate change

Climate change is here, it’s happening now, and for the last few decades it has been demonstrably bad news for many of Europe’s forests.

An international team of researchers say in a report from the European Forest Institute that climate change is altering the environment, and it is long-lived ecosystems like forests that are particularly vulnerable to the comparatively rapid changes occurring in the climate system.

The report, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that damage from wind, bark beetles, and wildfires has increased significantly in Europe’s forests in recent years. Windthrow − the wind’s effect in damaging or uprooting trees − is an increasing problem. 

Europe's forests 'particularly vulnerable' to rapid climate change by Alex Kirby, Climate News Netork/The Guardian, Aug 5, 2014


Heading into the late innings on climate change

We're numbers guys. Climate science is all about observations and data. They reveal the past and help us plan the future. In meteorology, observations and data are the backbone of forecasts and statistics are the vertebrae of narratives. We're also fans of baseball, which offers us lots of opportunities to dig into numbers. In baseball, numbers can make goats and legends. In climate and weather, they show we're in a whole new ballgame.

Carbon isn't the only thing rising. Globally, June was the hottest month on record. It broke a temperature record set just a month earlier. The hot streak prompted Derek Arndt, climate monitoring chief at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to declare: "We are living in the steroid era of the climate system."

Between the 1980s and the 2000s, baseball saw the average season-leading total for home runs jump to almost 50 home runs from 36. Even casual observers knew something was up. Congress and Major League Baseball took action.

But when it comes to carbon dioxide, the stakes are far higher than peanuts and Cracker Jack.

Heading into the late innings on climate change Op-ed byTom Skilling and Donald J. Wuebbles, Chicago Tribune, Aug 7, 2014


Naomi Klein: 'Our Economic Model Is at War with Life on Earth'

The book's title is not elusive: 'This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate'

Due for release in September, the anticipated new work by Canadian journalist, activist and public intellectual Naomi Klein has now been previewed in a video trailer that appears to lay out its main themes and central argument.

Naomi Klein: 'Our Economic Model Is at War with Life on Earth' by John Queally, Common Dreams, Aug 8, 2014


Odds of El Niño drop; still expected to form

The El Niño that seems to be trying to form in the tropical Pacific Ocean is looking a little less likely now, though the chances of it developing are still double the normal odds, forecasters said in the latest monthly update on the cyclical climate phenomenon, released Thursday.

That update lowered the odds of an El Niño occurring in fall and early winter to 65 percent, down from 80 percent last month>. But “we’re still fairly confident that El Niño will come,” said Michelle L’Heureux a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center, who puts out the El Niño forecasts along with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University.

Odds of El Niño Drop; Still Expected to Form by Andrea Thompson, Climate Central, Aug 7, 2014


Reality check: Most scientists never believed in "Global Cooling"

limate-change deniers like to remind us how, in the 1970s, scientists all believed the Earth was heading for another ice age. So why should we believe the doomsayers who now claim the opposite? Here's why: Most scientists rejected the "global cooling" theory and, even then, were convinced the real problem was global warming.

Unfortunately, the "global cooling" myth just won't die. It's like the Big Bad in a horror movie: You can kill it, set it on fire, cut off its head — and it just comes back, year after year, in a never-ending succession of lame sequels.

If this meme were limited to the sort of fringe websites that fret about the Freemasons and Lizard-people, it would be one thing. But, "global cooling" remains a top talking point among policy wonks, pundits and members of Congress. "The entire scientific community was in lockstep with it, and doubters, well they were idiots if they dared deny it," Neil Cavuto recently declared on Fox News. During a Congressional hearing this past April, Republican members on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, ridiculed the White House's stance on climate change. "I remember the 70s, that was the threat," said Bill Posey (R-FL). "We're going to have a cooling that's eventually going to freeze the planet, and that was the fear before Al Gore invented the Internet…."

Reality Check: Most Scientists Never Believed In "Global Cooling" by Mark Strauss, io9, Aug 8, 2014


Sowing Confusion About Renewable Energy

Readers of The Economist may have been surprised to read in its 26 July 2014 “Free exchange” section on page 63, or in its online version, the “clear” conclu­sion that solar and wind power are “the most expen­sive way of reducing green­house-gas emissions,” while “nuclear plants…are cheaper,” so governments are foolish to boost renewables and mothball nuclear.

In each of the past three years, the world has invested more than a quarter-trillion dollars to add over 80 billion watts of renew­ables (excluding big hydro dams). That growth is accelerating: solar power is scaling faster than cellphones. Big European utilities lost €0.5 trillion in market cap, as an Economist cover story fea­tured, not because renewables couldn’t compete, but because they competed all too well, wiping out old power plants’ profits. The same is happening to some well-running U.S. nuclear plants, now facing closure as uneconomic just to operate.

Shouldn’t the runaway market success of renewables—soon to beat grid power on price, says Bloomberg , in most of the world—have raised a flag at the Eco­no­m­ist article’s conclusion?

Sowing Confusion About Renewable Energy, Op-ed by Amory Lovins, Forbes, Aug 5, 2014


The toxic algae are not done with Toledo. Not by a long stretch.

Last weekend, Toledo's 400,000 residents were sent scrambling for bottled water because the stuff from the tap had gone toxic—so toxic that city officials warned people against bathing their children or washing their dishes in it. The likely cause: a toxic blue-green algae bloom that floated over the city's municipal water intake in Lake Erie. On Monday morning, the city called off the don't-drink-the-water warning, claiming that levels of the contaminant in the water had fallen back to safe levels. Is their nightmare over?

The Toxic Algae Are Not Done With Toledo. Not By a Long Stretch. by Tom Philpott, Mother Jones, Aug 6, 2014


Which ocean species will outlast the tising acidity of seawater?

Many of the projected effects of climate change on the world's oceans are already visible, such as melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels. But invisible changes may be the most threatening to human food sources, beginning with the tiny species like plankton that inhabit the bottom of the oceans' food chain.

As emissions from human activities increase atmospheric carbon dioxide, they, in turn, are modifying the chemical structure of global waters, making them more acidic.

Many researchers have speculated that most aquatic species won't be able to adapt in time to survive the acidification that has already begun, but there are some who are more optimistic. One of them is Jennifer Sunday, a postdoctoral ecologist and evolutionary biologist at Canada's Simon Fraser University.

Which Ocean Species Will Outlast the Rising Acidity of Seawater? by Jennifer Huizen. ClimateWire/Scientific American, Aug 6, 2104

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