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Climate Hustle

2015 SkS Weekly News Roundup #30D

Posted on 27 July 2015 by John Hartz

5 bold and beautiful solar projects from around the world

China is building its largest solar plant covering 6,301 acres in the Gobi desert and with capacity to provide electricity to 1 million households.

This is just another record breaker for China. But there’s good reason.

In a recent Greenpeace East Asia investigation, we found that air pollution levels have improved in the first six months of 2015, though still remain below global and domestic standards. Once completed the new solar plant will cut standard coal use by 4.26 million tons every year, reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide by 896,000 tons and 8,080 tons, respectively, according to state-run Xinhua news agency.

It’s part of a global trend. Check out these other bold and beautiful solar projects from around the world. Which one is your favorite?

5 Bold and Beautiful Solar Projects From Around the World by Shuk-Wah Chung, Greenpeace East Asia, EcoWatch, July 24, 2015


A rocky first review for a climate paper warning of a stormy coastal crisis

On Thursday, I wrote about the rocky rollout, prior to peer review, of “Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise and Superstorms: Evidence from Paleoclimate Data, Climate Modeling, and Modern Observations that 2°C Global Warming is Highly Dangerous.”

The 66-page, 17-author paper was posted Thursday in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions, the pre-publication forum for papers submitted to the European Geosciences Union journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. (You’ll hear more on the benefits and problems of such open-review journals toward the end of this post.)

The paper is a sweeping cross-disciplinary challenge to status-quo science on risks posed by the building greenhouse effect. The authors, led by James E. Hansen, the veteran climatologist-turned-campaigner, stitch a variety of findings and simulations into a worrisome vision of a looming and abrupt collapse of Antarctic ice sheets and a multi-meter rise in storm-raked seas. They directly call for urgent action by the world’s nations at the Paris treaty talks in December.

A Rocky First Review for a Climate Paper Warning of a Stormy Coastal Crisis by Andrew C Revkin, Dot Earth, New York Times, July 25, 2015


Climate change threatens China’s booming coastal cities, says expert

A recent study led by Georgina Mace, ecosystem professor at University College London, indicated that governments across the world have failed to grasp the risk that population booms in coastal cities pose as climate change continues to cause rises in sea levels and extreme weather events. Mace is director of the UCL Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research.

Mace says population growth in coastal areas can lead to big increases in exposure to extreme weather. The biggest direct effect of projected climate change is heat waves. The number of people dying from extreme heat could increase twelvefold by the end of this century, as a result of global warming combined with increasing numbers living in affected areas.

“People are increasingly living in the wrong places, and the demographic shift in China is enormous. China has a lot of old people who are vulnerable to extreme weather,” says Mace.

Climate change threatens China’s booming coastal cities, says expert by Peng Yining for China Daily, The Guardian, July 25, 2015


Faith leaders issue global “Call to Conscience” on climate

 “We received a garden as our home, and we must not turn it into a wilderness for our children.”

These words by Cardinal Peter Turkson summed up the appeal launched by dozens of religious leaders and “moral” thinkers at the Summit of Conscience for the Climate, a one-day gathering in Paris earlier this week aimed at mobilising action ahead of the next United Nations climate change conference (COP 21) scheduled to take place in the French capital in just over four months.

“Our prayerful wish is that governments will be as committed at COP 21 as we are here,” said Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and one of the advisers for Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change, released in June. 

With the theme of “Why Do I Care”, the Summit of Conscience drew participants from around the globe, representing the world’s major religions – Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism – and other faiths and movements.

Faith Leaders Issue Global “Call to Conscience” on Climate by A. D. McKenzie, Inter Press Service (IPC), July 24, 2015


Fossil fuel companies impose more in climate costs than they make in profits

It is fairly well understood by now that releasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere imposes an economic cost, in the form of climate change impacts. In most cases, however, those responsible for carbon emissions are not required to pay that cost. Instead, it's borne mainly by the world's poor and low-lying countries, and of course by future generations, as many of the worst impacts of climate change will emerge years after the emissions that drive them.

People sometimes refer to the unpaid cost of carbon pollution as a subsidy, or an "implicit subsidy," to polluting businesses. The IMF recently issued a report saying that total worldwide subsidies to energy, mainly fossil fuel energy, amounted to $5.2 trillion a year. The reason that number is so high is that the IMF includes implicit subsidies — the social costs imposed by businesses (including climate damages) that they don't have to pay for.

Vox's Brad Plumer raised some questions about whether that's a misleading use of the term "subsidy." Whatever you call it, though, it makes for an unsustainable situation, literally. It can't go on.

Fossil fuel companies impose more in climate costs than they make in profits by David Roberts, Vox, July 24, 2015


Navy climate change expert sees opponents ignoring science

As the U.S. Navy's former top expert on man-made climate change, retired Rear Adm. David Titley says he deals in evidence, not belief. 

Navy climate change expert sees opponents ignoring science by Brian Nearing, Times Union (Albany, NY), July 22, 2015


Offshore wind farm raises hopes of U.S. clean energy backers

A few miles off the coast of Block Island, part of Rhode Island, a small flotilla has been gathering: crane vessels, tugboats and barges that began this week installing the 1,500-ton foundations of the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm.

It’s a moment that its supporters have long anticipated, billing it as nothing less than the dawn of a new clean energy future for the United States, which lags Europe and China in harnessing ocean gusts for electricity.

It is a much more modest beginning than was originally expected. Only five turbines will spin in the waters off Rhode Island; other, more ambitious projects like Cape Wind in Nantucket Sound and its 130 turbines remain stalled. But its backers see it as one that could lend credibility to other efforts.

Offshore Wind Farm Raises Hopes of U.S. Clean Energy Backers by Diane Cardwell, New York Times, July 23, 2015


Philippines to raise 10m signatures for pope’s climate petition

Asia’s largest Catholic country has mobilised after the pope’s warning to tackle climate change, promising to gather 10m signatures for a petition that will be handed to world leaders at a Paris climate summit in November.

The Catholic climate petition aims to pressure countries to drastically cut carbon emissions to keep the global temperature rise below the dangerous 1.5°C threshold, and to help the world’s poorest to cope with climate change.

“We’re getting signatures as a representation of the Catholic’s voice on the issue of climate change, especially in pushing global leaders to urgently act,” said Lou Arsenio, in Manila, the local coordinator for the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM), a coalition of more than 140 Catholic groups.

Philippines to raise 10m signatures for pope’s climate petition by Carmela Fonbuena, The Guardian, July 22, 2015 


The week climate change diplomacy went into overdrive

An unprecedented climate diplomacy drive is now fully underway, spanning continents and forcing governments to focus on what a UN global warming pact will look like.

Envoys face a brutal five months in the run-up to December’s UN summit in Paris, where a deal to avert dangerous levels of climate change is to be finalised.

Many will spend the rest of 2015 shuttling between capitals, the vapour trails and additional greenhouse gas emissions of their flights a price paid to tackle this fiendish problem.

“Burdensome but necessary” is how Giza Gaspar Martins, the Angolan diplomat representing the world’s poorest countries at negotiations described his workload to RTCC.

“We are doing much more than the last time we tried to do this… then there was very little prior engagement and as a result we failed miserably,” he said, referring to the 2009 Copenhagen summit.

The week climate change diplomacy went into overdrive by Ed King, Responding to Climate Change, (RTTC), July 23, 2015


Whiplash warning when climate science is publicized before peer review and publication

Who wins when a scary, but edge-pushing new climate study led by one of the world’s most prominent climate scientists makes headlines before it is either peer reviewed or published?

Everybody, and nobody. Let me explain what I mean.

The study is “Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise and Superstorms: Evidence from Paleoclimate Data, Climate Modeling, and Modern Observations that 2°C Global Warming is Highly Dangerous.”

The 66-page “discussion paper” (the authors’ description) was posted Thursday in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions, the discussion forum of the European Geosciences Union journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

The paper was was written by 17 prominent climate, ice and ocean scientists, led by James E. Hansen, the pioneering climatologist who since 2007 has argued that most of his peers have been too reticent in their projections of the possible pace of sea-level rise in a warming world.

Whiplash Warning When Climate Science is Publicized Before Peer Review and Publication by Andrew C Revkin, Dot Earth, New York Times, July 23, 2015

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  1. Was it quite necessary to include two links to Revkin ?

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Yes, it was.

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