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Climate Hustle

2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #4B

Posted on 25 January 2014 by John Hartz

  • An insider’s story of the global attack on climate science
  • Australian industry group fails to back Coalition's climate policy
  • Cameron, Bono link poverty, climate at AP debate
  • Checking on Earth's 'chimney'
  • Climate change: Arctic in denial?
  • Don't bet on coal and oil growth
  • Keystone XL pipeline fight lifts environmental movement
  • Lord Stern: I should have been fiercer in climate change review
  • Policy choices will decide a future of cars or mass transit
  • "We can't trust capitalism to just fix this" global warming mess
  • What effect does cold weather have on people's views on climate change?
  • When forecasting the future, scientists’ blind spot is above them

An insider’s story of the global attack on climate science

A recent headline – Failed doubters trust leaves taxpayers six-figure loss – marked the end of a four-year epic saga of secretly-funded climate denial, harassment of scientists and tying-up of valuable government resources in New Zealand.

It’s likely to be a familiar story to my scientist colleagues in Australia, the UK, USA and elsewhere around the world.

But if you’re not a scientist, and are genuinely trying to work out who to believe when it comes to climate change, then it’s a story you need to hear too. Because while the New Zealand fight over climate data appears finally to be over, it’s part of a much larger, ongoing war against evidence-based science.

An insider’s story of the global attack on climate science by Jim Salinger, The Conversation, Jan 22, 2014


Australian industry group fails to back Coalition's climate policy 

A major business group has declined to say whether it thinks the Abbott government’s Direct Action climate policy will meet global targets on emissions reductions and whether it can actually reduce emissions in a cost effective manner.

The Australian Industry Group says the Coalition’s flagship environmental policy, which has been around for two election cycles, is still very much “under development” and firm conclusions on its efficacy must wait “further articulation of the policy”.

It has used a submission to a Senate inquiry into the policy to criticise the centrepiece of the Direct Action plan – the emissions reduction fund – saying the fund has “several challenges to overcome in order to achieve the government’s emissions reduction goals at least cost to Australia”.

Australian Industry Group fails to back Coalition's Direct Action climate policy by Katharine Murphy, The Guardian, Jan 23, 2014


Cameron, Bono link poverty, climate at AP debate

Global leaders argued Friday that efforts to eradicate poverty must be linked to climate change, saying that rising temperatures will have widespread effects on everything from food supplies to education.

Panelists at two separate sessions at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland — among them Bill Gates, Al Gore and U2 frontman Bono — underlined the importance of the issue. The United Nations is also making climate change a priority at Davos this year, pushing for a U.N.-brokered internationally binding climate treaty in Paris in 2015.

Cameron, Bono link poverty, climate at AP debate by John Heilprin, AP/SF Gate, Jan 24, 2014


Checking on Earth's 'chimney'

For years, scientists have suspected that the warm waters of the western  Pacific Ocean play a key role in shaping the Earth's climate. But satellite data  provided only a partial picture of what's happening in this remote region of the  globe.

Now, an international team of researchers, including several from Maryland,  is engaged in an ambitious effort to quantify those natural processes, making  dozens of flights in three aircraft from mid-January through February to track  the gases and particles from the ocean as they rise into the upper  atmosphere.

"This has interested scientists for many years because we know the atmosphere  [there] acts like a huge chimney this time of year," Ross J. Salawitch, a  professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of Maryland, College Park,  said from Guam.

Checking on Earth's 'chimney' by Timothy B. Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun, Jan 24, 2014


Climate change: Arctic in denial?

If there is one place you would imagine people would have to be conscious of climate change, it would be the Arctic, where the temperature is rising around twice as fast as the global average. As I mentioned in the Ice Blog yesterday and in my article on dw.de from here in Tromsö, changes to the sea ice and temperature are altering life rapidly and visibly for people in the high north. So I was intrigued by a side-event here at Arctic Frontiers, which made it clear that this does not necessarily mean people are aware of climate change and what it involves – at least not consciously or actively.

Climate Change: Arctic in denial? by Irene Quaile, Ice-Blog, Deutsche Welle (DW), Jan 23, 2014 


Don't bet on coal and oil growth

A mind-boggling sum of about $800 for each person on the planet is invested into fossil fuel companies through the global capital markets alone. That's roughly 10 percent of the total capital invested in listed companies. The amount of money invested into the 200 biggest fossil fuel companies through financial markets is estimated at 5.5 trillion dollars. This should be an impressive amount of money for anyone reading this. 

By keeping their money in coal and oil companies, investors are betting a vast amount of wealth, including the pensions and savings of millions of people, on high future demand for dirty fuels. The investment has enabled fossil fuel companies to massively raise their spending on expanding extractable reserves, with oil and gas companies alone (state-owned ones included) spending the combined GDP of Netherlands and Belgium a year, in belief that there will be demand for ever more dirty fuel.

Don't Bet on Coal and Oil Growth by Kumi Naidoo, The Blog, Huffington Post, Jan 24, 2014


Keystone XL pipeline fight lifts environmental movement

Environmentalists have spent the past two years fighting the Keystone XL pipeline: They have built a human chain around the White House, clogged the State Department’s public comment system with more than a million emails and letters, and gotten themselves arrested at protests across the country.

But as bad as they argue the 1,700-mile pipeline would be for the planet, Keystone XL has been a boon to the environmental movement. While it remains unclear whether President Obama will approve the project, both sides agree that the fight has changed American environmental politics.

Keystone XL Pipeline Fight Lifts Environmental Movement by Sarah Wheaton, New York Times, Jan 24, 2014


Lord Stern: I should have been fiercer in climate change review

There are certain iron laws of recessions. One of them is that the urge to take care of the environment rapidly falls down the political agenda.

The downturn of 2008-09 was a spectacularly big one so it is no surprise that those seeking an international agreement on climate change have found the going tough. Governments want growth and don't mind much how they get it. Businesses looking for an easing of anti-pollution regulations find it easier to get a hearing.

This is all a big mistake, according to Lord Stern, who completed a review of the economics of climate change for Tony Blair in what now seems the different world of 2006.

Lord Stern: I should have been fiercer in climate change review by Larry Elliott, Economics Blog, The Guardian, Jan 23, 2014


Policy choices will decide a future of cars or mass transit

Rapidly growing populations and rising incomes will drive an enormous rise in car use and greenhouse gas emissions across Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia by 2050.

But deliberate policy choices about urban planning, road building and the provision of public transport will determine whether the increase is manageable or becomes a nightmare for congestion and climate change.

Car use in the developed economies of North America, Europe, Japan and Australasia appears to have decoupled from economic growth and in some may have slowed down.

But in fast-growing emerging markets, car use will develop in line with GDP unless policymakers provide a strong steer in the opposite direction, according to the OECD's International.

Policy choices will decide a future of cars or mass transit by John Kemp, Reuters, Jan 23, 2014


"We can't trust capitalism to just fix this" global warming mess

In his new book, Windfall, journalist McKenzie Funk visits five continents to bring back stories of the movers and shakers at the forefront of the emerging business of global warming. He introduces us to land and water speculators, Greenland secessionists hoping to bankroll their cause with newly thawed mineral wealth, Israeli snow makers, Dutch seawall developers, wannabe geoengineers, private firefighters, mosquito scientists, and others who stand to benefit (at least in the short term) from climate change. (See this short excerpt, in which he writes about a guy who launched the world's first water rights hedge fund.)

Windfall is fascinating, entertaining, and ultimately troubling as the author uncovers more and more evidence of what he calls the implicit "unevenness" of global warming, and the futility and/or unfairness of our approaches to dealing with it. I reached Funk at his home in Seattle to chat about California's impending drought, why man-made volcanoes won't save us, and how Hurricane Sandy (figuratively) blew him away.

"We Can't Trust Capitalism to Just Fix This" Global Warming Mess by Michael Mechanic, Mother Jones, Jan 23, 2014 


What effect does cold weather have on people's views on climate change?

If climate change means higher temperatures, then what are people to make of the brutal cold that continues to cause havoc across the US? Or the fact that only three years ago the UK experienced one of its coldest Decembers for decades, if not centuries?

With public concern about climate change stalling in recent years, these might seem exactly the sorts of weather events likely to generate sceptical viewpoints, a sign that something is seriously amiss in the case for climate change.

A study I have just had published in the journal Climatic Change suggests however that this way of interpreting extreme cold is actually quite rare. At the same time, I found that people’s reading of the weather was strongly influenced by their pre-existing attitudes towards climate change.

What effect does cold weather have on people's views on climate change? by Stuart Capstick, Environment Blog, The Guardian, Jan 24, 2014 


When forecasting the future, scientists’ blind spot is above them

Chris Bretherton’s office on the seventh floor of the Atmospheric Sciences building at the University of Washington is like a scene from the Cloud City, only without the nonstop sunset. All that’s visible outside the plate-glass windows is an endless stream of cars filing across the I-5 bridge through the soup of Seattle’s infernal January fog.

I’ve come to talk to Bretherton, one of the nation’s leading experts on cloud science, because I’m hoping he can shed some light on a recent report, published in the journal Nature, that has generated some alarming headlines. The study used patterns of cloud formation in the tropics to project that we’ll likely see warming of more than 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century — that’s 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit, a worst-case scenario in the scheme of broadly accepted future forecasts.

When forecasting the future, scientists’ blind spot is above them by Greg Hanscom, Grist, Jan 23, 2014

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Comments

Comments 1 to 5:

  1. It's very upsetting when you realize that certain vested interests keep alive bogus ideas because of their deep pockets and nothing else. 

     

    Where can I send a donation to help promote the AGW message?  I've spent a lot of time at blogs making the same repeated general defenses against their zombie science.  Since I’m a mile wide and a foot deep when it comes to the science, I think I might serve the cause more by helping in  financial ways. 

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  2. Stranger, money is said to be needed to continue updating the Keeling curve. There is a donation button at http://rabett.blogspot.ca/ .

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  3. The most intuitively obvious response to members of the public is the temperature anomaly image from GISS which shows that most of the earth is warmer than average with only a small portion of it - the US and canada - being colder than average for the month of December.

    Like the old saying goes: One picture is worth a thousand words

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  4. villabolo - Indeed. Here's the map for 2013.

    Global GISS anomaly 2013

    [Source]

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  5. An then there was this interesting story in the NYT:

    Industry Awakens to Threat of Climate Change

    0 0

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