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Climate Hustle

2015 SkS Weekly News Roundup #26A

Posted on 27 June 2015 by John Hartz

6 devastating heat waves hitting the planet

Need proof that we’re having the hottest year on record? Scorching heat is searing parts of the world, sparking wildfires and claiming lives due to heat stroke and dehydration.

6 Devastating Heat Waves Hitting the Planet by Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch, June 23, 2015


ADB: Climate change makes poor poorer in Asia-Pacific

Climate change has been making the poor in the Asia-Pacific region even poorer and is also setting back efforts to haul them out of poverty, the Asian Development Bank said in a report Wednesday.

Combined with rising inequality, the two forces could make the more equal distribution of the fruits of economic growth a "distant goal" for the world's most populous region, where 700 million people — two thirds of the world's poor — still wallow in poverty.

"In one country after another, climate change frequently threatens to offset decades of gains in poverty reduction," the report said.

ADB: Climate Change Makes Poor Poorer in Asia-Pacific by Oliver Teves, Associated Press/AbC News, June 24, 2014


Australia, an 'injured' energy superpower with a renewables future: Ross Garnaut

Australia will become an "injured superpower" of energy as constraints on carbon dioxide emissions inevitably undermine the ability of fossil fuels to bolster living standards at home and export revenues, according to Melbourne University economist Ross Garnaut.

"The coal, oil and gas industries will remain large and important in Australia for several decades, but will detract from - rather than enhance - Australian incomes growth from now on," Professor Garnaut said in a speech on Tuesday at the University of Adelaide.

As the world moves to limit global warming to two degrees from pre-industrial levels, Australia's fossil fuel exports will depend on advances in technology to capture and store the carbon emissions although "little effort" has been made by producers to develop the know-how, he said.

Still, Australia has "by far the greatest per capita potential" for low-cost renewable energy among developed economies given the nation's endowment of solar, wind, wave and other renewable sources.

Provided the right policies are in place, such as a carbon price, the country could be even more important to global energy than in the past, Professor Garnaut said.

Australia, an 'injured' energy superpower with a renewables future: Ross Garnaut by Peter Hannam, Sydney Morning Herald, June 23, 2015


Climate change forecasts warmer and drier Australia

How will climate change affect where I live?

That's the subject of intense research around the world, as scientists try to predict how increasing levels of greenhouse gases – and the additional heat they trap from the sun – will alter the climate of different regions.

For most regions of Australia, the climate will become warmer and drier, according to research by the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO. For most centres, that's akin to shifting northwards, or in Canberra's case, to a lower altitude. 

Just how much conditions change depends in part on how far forward one looks – for instance, to 2030, 2050 or 2090 – since the impact of most greenhouse gases we emit today lasts well into the future.

Climate change forecasts warmer and drier Australia by Petr Hannam, Sydney Morning Herald, June 22, 2015


Climate change threatens 50 years of progress in global health, study says

Climate change threatens to undermine half a century of progress in global health, according to a major new report.

But the analysis also concludes that the benefits to health resulting from slashing fossil fuel use are so large that tackling global warming also presents the greatest global opportunity to improve people’s health in the 21st century.

The report was produced by the Lancet/UCL commission on health and climate change, a collaboration of dozens of experts from around the world, and is backed by Margaret Chan, head of the UN World Health Organisation.

Climate change threatens 50 years of progress in global health, study says by Damian Carrington and Sarah Boseley, Guardian, June 22, 2015


Dutch government ordered to cut carbon emissions in landmark ruling

A court in The Hague has ordered the Dutch government to cut its emissions by at least 25% within five years, in a landmark ruling expected to cause ripples around the world.

To cheers and hoots from climate campaigners in court, three judges ruled that government plans to cut emissions by just 14-17% compared to 1990 levels by 2020 were unlawful, given the scale of the threat posed by climate change.

Jubilant campaigners said that governments preparing for the Paris climate summit later this year would now need to look over their shoulders for civil rights era-style legal challenges where emissions-cutting pledges are inadequate.

Dutch government ordered to cut carbon emissions in landmark ruling by Arthur Neslen, Guardian. June 24, 2015


Nearly 300 wildfires are burning in Alaska right now. That’s an even bigger problem than it sounds

Following on a record hot May in which much snow cover melted off early, Alaska saw no less than 152 fires erupt over the weekend. The numbers have only grown further since then, and stood at 291 active fires Thursday,according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

“Given the high number of fires and the personnel assigned to those fires, the state’s firefighting resources are becoming very limited, forcing fire managers to prioritize resources,” noted the state’s Department of Natural Resources Tuesday. The preparedness level at the moment for the state is 5, meaning that “resistance to control is high to extreme and resistance to extinguishment is high.” 

Nearly 300 wildfires are burning in Alaska right now. That’s an even bigger problem than it sounds by Chris Mooney, Energy & Environment, Washington Post, June 25, 2015


New study links global warming to Hurricane Sandy and other extreme weather events

One of the hottest areas of climate research these days is on the potential connections between human emissions, global warming, and extreme weather. Will global warming make extreme weather more common or less common? More severe or less severe? 

New research, just published today in Nature Climate Change helps to answer that question by approaching the problem in a novel way. In short yes, human emissions of greenhouse gases have made certain particular weather events more severe. Let’s investigate how they arrived at this conclusion.

Lead author Kevin Trenberth and his team recognized that there are two potential ways a warming climate may lead to weather changes. The first way is through something called thermodynamics. We experience thermodynamics in our own lives. Warm air can be more humid than cold air; we feel that difference throughout the year. Also, warm air evaporates water more quickly. That’s why hair blow dryers and restroom hand dryers usually use heated air. It’s why puddles evaporate more quickly on hot days. 

New study links global warming to Hurricane Sandy and other extreme weather events by John Abraham, Climate Consensus - the 97%, Guardian, June 22, 2015


NY Times Public Editor: We’re “moving in a good direction” on properly describing climate deniers

New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan believes the paper is making progress when it comes to using the more accurate term “denier” — rather than “skeptic” — to refer to those who reject the scientific consensus on climate change.

In an interview with Media Matters, Sullivan described “denier” as the “stronger term” and the appropriate label “when someone is challenging established science.” Sullivan said that “the Times is moving in a good direction” on the issue, adding that the newspaper is using the term “denier” more often and “perhaps should be doing it even more.”

She also likened the discussion to the Times’ process for evaluating whether to refer to “enhanced interrogation techniques” as torture, stating: “After a long time the Times came around to calling it torture and I thought that was a very good thing. I think we’re sort of in the same realm with the business about skeptics and deniers.”

NY Times Public Editor: We’re “Moving In A Good Direction” On Properly Describing Climate Deniers by Andrew Seifter & Joe Strupp, Media Matters for America, June 22, 2015


Severe weather linked more strongly to global warming

Attempts to attribute extreme weather events to global warming have often failed because they have looked at the wrong thing, leading climatologists claim. By focusing on rising temperatures, tides and atmospheric moisture instead of chaotic and highly variable shifts in atmospheric circulation, they say, scientists may be able to better identify the human fingerprint in destructive events such as Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the US Atlantic coast in 2012.

“A small change can make a big difference,” says Kevin Trenberth, a climatologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, and lead author of a perspective paper published on 22 June in Nature Climate Change1. “That’s the thing that breaks the record and pushes you beyond previous thresholds, and that’s when the damage goes up enormously.”

Trenberth and his colleagues begin with the observation that global warming is boosting both atmospheric and sea-surface temperatures across the globe, which has increased the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere by roughly 5% since the 1950s. This has fuelled larger storms, and in the case of hurricanes and typhoons, ones that ride atop oceans that are 19 centimetres higher than they were in the early 1900s. That sea-level rise increases the height of waves and tidal surges as storms make landfall.

Severe weather linked more strongly to global warming by Jeff Tollefson, Nature News, June 24, 2015


Unnatural disaster: How global warming helped cause India’s catastrophic flood

The flood that swept through the Indian state of Uttarakhand two years ago killed thousands of people and was one of the worst disasters in the nation’s recent history. Now researchers are saying that melting glaciers and shifting storm tracks played a major role in the catastrophe and should be a warning about how global warming could lead to more damaging floods in the future. 

Unnatural Disaster: How Global Warming Helped Cause India’s Catastrophic Flood by Daniel Grossman, Yale Environmnet 360, June 23, 2015


U.S. summers bringing more and more heat

It’s officially summer! We have now passed the points that mark the traditional start to summer (Memorial Day), the meteorological start (June 1), and now the astronomical start, or summer solstice (June 21) — so break out those flip-flops and beach towels!

Though June, July, and August usually bring the heat, for parts of the country spring felt decidedly more like summer. Florida had its warmest spring on record and Georgia its third warmest. Seven states in the West had a spring that ranked among the top 10 hottest on record, exacerbating the historic drought there. Even some Northeastern states saw a record-warm May.

Overall, summer temperatures are heating up across the country, having risen steadily since the 1970s. For the contiguous states over that period, temperatures overall have increased at a rate of about 0.4°F per decade for a total of nearly 2°F since 1970. 

U.S. Summers Bringing More and More Heat, Climate Central, June 22, 2015


Warm crimes: The bid to put 'toxic' carbon in the dock

Justice Brian Preston, chief judge of the NSW Land and Environment Court, is among leading jurists exploring how domestic and international law might be used to address or remedy such "warm crimes" - and many others - caused by human activities.

"It's an enormously difficult task," Justice Preston told Fairfax Media from his chambers on Sydney's Macquarie Street. "You've got so many different legal systems, you've got so many different countries at different stages of economic, social and legal development."

Warm crimes: The bid to put 'toxic' carbon in the dock by Peter Hannam, Sydney Morning Herald, June 24, 2015


Why the solar-plus-battery revolution may be closer than you think

In late April, Tesla Motors took a step toward upending home energy when it announced the Powerwall, a battery for homes that can provide backup power, and that was paired with higher capacity versions for businesses and even power companies.

Within about a week of the announcement, Bloomberg reported, the company had already pulled in $800 million worth of orders, with the vast majority of revenue not for individual home batteries but rather for larger, company or utility scale applications called PowerPacks. With numbers like that, the energy storage revolution may already be here.

It’s not entirely clear yet how it will play out, though. In particular, a big question mark concerns when a much touted pairing of home energy storage with rooftop solar power — so that people can power their homes at night with solar energy gathered during the day, and need only minimal amounts of power from the grid — will become widely available, not to mention affordable. 

Why the solar-plus-battery revolution may be closer than you think by Chris Mooney, Energy & Climate, Washington Post, June 23, 2015


Western U.S. heat wave intensifies Friday; may break June, all-time records this weekend into early July

A brutal heat wave is about to shift into high gear and may shatter June or even a few all-time records in parts of the Great Basin and Northwest. Furthermore, it may last into the first days of July.

The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat watch for parts of northwest Oregon and western Washington, including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Salem and Eugene. Heat advisories have also been posted for other parts of the Northwest.

June has already been a hot month in parts of the West.

Western Heat Wave Intensifies Friday; May Break June, All-Time Records This Weekend Into Early July (FORECAST) by John Erdman, Weather Underground, June 25, 2015


Why the solar-plus-battery revolution may be closer than you think

In late April, Tesla Motors took a step toward upending home energy when it announced the Powerwall, a battery for homes that can provide backup power, and that was paired with higher capacity versions for businesses and even power companies.

Within about a week of the announcement, Bloomberg reported, the company had already pulled in $800 million worth of orders, with the vast majority of revenue not for individual home batteries but rather for larger, company or utility scale applications called PowerPacks. With numbers like that, the energy storage revolution may already be here.

It’s not entirely clear yet how it will play out, though. In particular, a big question mark concerns when a much touted pairing of home energy storage with rooftop solar power — so that people can power their homes at night with solar energy gathered during the day, and need only minimal amounts of power from the grid — will become widely available, not to mention affordable. 

Why the solar-plus-battery revolution may be closer than you think by Chris Mooney, Energy & Environment, Washington Post, June 23, 2015

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Comments

Comments 1 to 3:

  1. Good article on the 6 heatwaves hitting the planet, but already a bit out of date: The Pakistan heatwave has now far exceed the "nearly 700 reported in that article; latest reports have over 1200.www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/06/pakistan-heatwave-death-toll-climbs-1200-150627153012878.html

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  2. The link in the Alaskan wildfire section is to a Bloomberg piece on attribution of AGW, not to Mooney's article.

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  3. @Treesong2: The correct links have been inserted. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

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