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Climate Hustle

2015 SkS Weekly News Roundup #7B

Posted on 14 February 2015 by John Hartz

Climate hacking is barking mad

Some years ago, in the question-and-answer session after a lecture at the American Geophysical Union, I described certain geoengineering proposals as “barking mad.” The remark went rather viral in the geoengineering community. The climate-hacking proposals I was referring to were schemes that attempt to cancel out some of the effects of human-caused global warming by squirting various substances into the atmosphere that would reflect more sunlight back to space. Schemes that were lovingly called “solar radiation management” by geoengineering boosters. Earlier I had referred to the perilous state such schemes would put our Earth into as being analogous to the fate of poor Damocles, cowering under a sword precariously suspended by a single thread.

This week, the National Research Council (NRC) is releasing a report on climate engineering that deals with exactly those proposals I found most terrifying. The report even recommends the creation of a research program addressing these proposals. I am a co-author of this report. Does this mean I’ve had a change of heart?


Climate hacking is barking mad by Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, Slate, Feb 10, 2015

Climate science denialists in tailspin over hottest years

Tony Abbott’s top business advisor Maurice Newman wrongly claimed a UK charity had blamed the deaths of elderly people on renewable energy policies

Climate science denialists in tailspin over hottest years, The Planet Oz by Graham Readfearn, The Guardian, Feb 12, 2015

Exclusive: Bjorn Lomborg think tank funder revealed as billionaire Republican 'Vulture Capitalist' Paul Singer

A billionaire “vulture capitalist” and major backer of the US Republican Party is a major funder of the think tank of Danish climate science contrarian and fossil fuels advocateBjørn Lomborg, DeSmogBlog has found.

New York-based hedge fund manager Paul Singer’s charitable foundation gave $200,000 to Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC) in 2013, latest US tax disclosures reveal.

The grant to Lomborg’s think tank is revealed in the tax form of the Paul E. Singer Foundation covering that foundation’s activities between December 2012 and November 2013.

Exclusive: Bjorn Lomborg Think Tank Funder Revealed As Billionaire Republican 'Vulture Capitalist' Paul Singer by Graham Readfern, DeSmog Blog, Feb 9, 2015

Fiddling with global warming conspiracy theories while Rome burns

It shouldn’t need to be said, but the Earth really is warming. Air and oceantemperatures are rising fast, ice is melting across the planet, ecosystems are shiftingsea levels are rising, and so on.

The latest zombie climate myth to rise from the dead involves the oldest form of global warming denial. It’s a conspiracy theory that the Earth isn’t really warming; rather, fraudulent climate scientists are “fiddling” with the data to introduce a false warming trend.

In The Telegraph, which is a mostly serious UK newspaper, Christopher Booker calls scientists’ adjustments to temperature data “the biggest science scandal ever.” These accusations have echoed through conservative media and online blogs, even being aired on Fox News (three times). 

Fiddling with global warming conspiracy theories while Rome burns by Dana Nuccitelli, Climate Consensus - the 97%, The Guardian, Feb 11, 2015

Geoengineering might work in a rational world … sadly we don’t live in one

The publication of a hefty two-volume report on geoengineering by the US National Research Council represents a marked shift in the global debate over how to respond to global warming.

To date, the debate has been about mitigation, with the need for some adaption because of the failure to reduce emissions adequately. The new report, backed by the prestige of the National Academy of Sciences of which the NRC is the working arm, now argues that we should develop a “portfolio of activities” including mitigation, adaptation and climate engineering.

In other words, rather than presenting climate engineering, and especially solar radiation management (rebranded “albedo modification”), as an extreme response to be avoided if at all possible, the report normalises climate engineering as one approach among others.

Geoengineering might work in a rational world … sadly we don’t live in one by Clive Hamilton, The Conversation US Pilot, Feb 12, 2015

Investments in African schools, health and other infrastructure exposed to climate risks

Investments in African schools, healthcare and other infrastructure are at risk from the long-term impacts of global warming because governments and businesses are not considering climate information in their plans, researchers have warned.

They looked at how climate predictions starting from five years to decades ahead were used in Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia and the coastal cities of Accra in Ghana and Maputo in Mozambique, as well as by planners of large African dams and ports.

In a report, they concluded that "very few long-term decision-making processes" draw on climate information.

Investments in African schools, health and other infrastructure exposed to climate risks by Meg Rowlings, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Feb 10, 2015

Is climate change fuelling war?

For years, scientists and security analysts have warned that global warming looms as a potential source of war and unrest.

Storms, droughts, floods, and spells of extreme heat or exceptional cold: all can destroy wealth, ravage harvests, force people off land, exacerbate ancient rivalries and unleash a fight for resources, they say.

These factors are predicted to become more severe as carbon emissions interfere with Earth's climate system.

Yet some argue there is evidence that man-made warming is already a driver in some conflicts.

Is climate change fuelling war? by Richard Ingham,, Feb 11, 2015

Nations agree draft text for deal to fight climate change

Almost 200 countries agreed a draft text for a deal to fight climate change on Friday, but put off hard choices about narrowing down a vast range of options for limiting a damaging rise in temperatures.

Government delegates adopted the 86-page draft as the basis for negotiations on the deal due to be agreed later this year.

But the document includes radically varying proposals for slowing climate change — one foresees a phase-out of net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, for instance, while another seeks a peak of emissions "as soon as possible".

Nations agree draft text for deal to fight climate change by Alister Doyle, Reuters, Feb 13, 2015

Scientists urge global 'wake-up call' to deal with climate change

Climate change has advanced so rapidly that the time has come to look at options for a planetary-scale intervention, the National Academy of Science said on Tuesday.

The scientists were categorical that geoengineering should not be deployed now, and was too risky to ever be considered an alternative to cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

But it was better to start research on such unproven technologies now – to learn more about their risks – than to be stampeded into climate-shifting experiments in an emergency, the scientists said.

With that, a once-fringe topic in climate science moved towards the mainstream – despite the repeated warnings from the committee that cutting carbon pollution remained the best hope for dealing with climate change.

Scientists urge global 'wake-up call' to deal with climate change by Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, Feb 10, 2015

Senators debate whether climate change is real at EPA Carbon Rule Hearing

Given the chance to speak face-to-face with an Environmental Protection Agency assistant administrator about the agency’s much-debated Clean Power Plan, there are many questions a lawmaker could ask.

If, say, a state decided to replace some of its coal-fired plants with natural gas and renewables, how would the EPA make sure that coal miners won’t be out of a job? Or, if the plan results in less coal use across the country, how will the EPA ensure the reliability of the U.S. electricity system? Exactly how much flexibility will states be given while creating their own plans to meet the greenhouse gas emission reductions goals the EPA has set out for them? Does the plan give states enough time to comply?

Those types of questions, however, did not dominate Wednesday’s meeting of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which held a hearing to question EPA Acting Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Janet McCabe about the agency’s proposed regulations limiting carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. Instead, many of the questions took the form of statements focused on the reality of human-caused climate change, and whether it was worthwhile to tackle the problem.

Senators Debate Whether Climate Change Is Real At EPA Carbon Rule Hearing by Emily Atkin, Climate Progress, Feb 11, 2015

Significant errors in study suggesting global warming is good for the world

The new issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives includes a remarkable admission about a controversial academic paper that wrongly suggested moderate amounts of global warming would have an overall positive economic impact on the world.

The paper by Richard Tol, who is now a professor of economics at the University of Sussex, has been widely promoted by climate change 'sceptics' who have attempted to argue that global warming is not a problem.

But editors at the journal have now finally acknowledged that the original paper contained a number of significant errors that render invalid its conclusion about beneficial global warming. 

Significant Errors in Study Suggesting Global Warming is Good for the World by Bob Ward, The Huffington Post UK, Feb 9, 2015

Surprisingly, a voluntary climate treaty could actually work

Negotiators around the world are deliberating proposals for an international climate change treaty that will contain a glaring loophole: It won’t be binding.

That’s less than ideal, but it’s still worthwhile for several important reasons.

Surprisingly, a Voluntary Climate Treaty Could Actually Work by Michael Greenstone, Economic View, New York Times, Feb 13, 2015

Using anti-Apartheid divestment strategies to battle fossil fuels

Divestment, the rallying cry against apartheid in the 1980s, just isn’t what it used to be.

The updated version of the practice, which advocates the shunning of stocks of companies perceived to be involved in something objectionable, is focused on fossil fuels. Stanford and a handful of other colleges have pledged to divest their endowments of such investments, but in a world where universities are fighting for every dime and trying to keep tuition rates down, most of them, including Harvard and Yale, have demurred.

Using Anti-Apartheid Divestment Strategies to Battle Fossil Fuels by Steven Davidoff Solomon, New York Times, Feb 10, 2015

What to call a doubter of climate change?

The words are hurled around like epithets.

People who reject the findings of climate science are dismissed as “deniers” and “disinformers.” Those who accept the science are attacked as “alarmists” or “warmistas. ” The latter term, evoking the Sandinista revolutionaries of Nicaragua, is perhaps meant to suggest that the science is part of some socialist plot.

In the long-running political battles over climate change, the fight about what to call the various factions has been going on for a long time. Recently, though, the issue has taken a new turn, with a public appeal that has garnered 22,000 signatures and counting.

The petition asks the news media to abandon the most frequently used term for people who question climate science, “skeptic,” and call them “climate deniers” instead.

What to Call a Doubter of Climate Change?, By Degrees by Justin Gillis, New York Times, Feb 12, 2015

White House: Climate change threatens more Americans than terrorism

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Tuesday that President Obama believes that climate change affects far more Americans than terrorism does.

"There are many more people on an annual basis who have to confront ... the direct impact on their lives of climate change or on the spread of a disease than on terrorism," Earnest told reporters.

"The point that the president is making is that when you're talking about the direct daily impact of these kinds of challenges on the daily lives of Americans, particularly Americans living in this country … more people are directly affected by those things than by terrorism."

Earnest's remarks came in response to a question from reporters about Obama's comments on climate change made in a Vox interview  released on Monday.

When asked by Vox if the media overstates the dangers of terrorism while downplaying the risks of climate change, Obama replied: "Absolutely."

White House: Climate Change Threatens More Americans Than Terrorism by Clare Foran, National Journal, Feb 10, 2015

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  1. GISS L-OTI is out for January: 0.75C — the second warmest January on record.

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