2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #1

As Australia burns, anger at Prime Minister's climate policies boils

As Australia closes its hottest year in recorded history, anger at Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s climate change denying policies appears to be reaching a boiling point.

According to findings released January 3 by Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, "2013 was Australia’s warmest year since records began in 1910." The report notes that this warming is directly tied to the greenhouse gas effect that is heating the entire planet.

Labor and Green party members say these numbers emphasize just how dangerous Abbott's efforts to gut Australia's carbon-curbing measures are.

As Australia Burns, Anger at Prime Minister's Climate Policies Boils by Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams, Jan 3, 2014

Climate change worse than we thought, likely to be 'catastrophic rather than simply dangerous'

Climate change may be far worse than scientists thought, causing global temperatures to rise by at least 4 degrees Celsius by 2100, or about 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal Nature, takes a fresh look at clouds' effect on the planet, according to a report by The Guardian. The research found that as the planet heats, fewer sunlight-reflecting clouds form, causing temperatures to rise further in an upward spiral.

That number is double what many governments agree is the threshold for dangerous warming. Aside from dramatic environmental shifts like melting sea ice, many of the ills of the modern world -- starvation, poverty, war and disease -- are likely to get worse as the planet warms.

Climate Change Worse Than We Thought, Likely To Be 'Catastrophic Rather Than Simply Dangerous by Nick Viasser, The Huffington Post, Dec 31, 2013

Climate coverage soars in 2013

Reporting on climate change by world media leapt 30 percent above 2012's effort as more reporters tied energy and environmental issues to a rise in greenhouse gas emissions, according to The Daily Climate's archives.

Climate coverage soars in 2013, spurred by energy, weather by Douglas Fischer, The Daily Climate, Jan 2, 2014

Dear Donald Trump: Winter does not disprove global warming

An intense blizzard, appropriately named Hercules, is about to blanket the Northeast. Antarctic ice locked in a Russian ship containing a team of scientists—en route, no less, to do climate research. Record low temperatures have been seen in parts of the US, and in Winnipeg, temperatures on December 31 were as cold as temperatures on...Mars.

So as is their seasonal wont, here come the climate skeptics. 

Dear Donald Trump: Winter Does Not Disprove Global Warming by Chris Mooney, Mother Jones, Jan 2, 2014

In 2013, climate 'resiliency' officially entered the lexicon 

The debate about tackling climate change has long revolved around the twin challenges of mitigating global warming and adapting to its more predictable long-term impacts—rising seas, higher peak temperatures, relentless drought.

Now a new concept has risen: "climate resiliency," or preparing cities for climate change's unforeseen and destructive disasters and disruptions. Resiliency includes adaptation measures—such as rebuilding wetlands or moving homes onto higher foundations as a way to fight floods—but it's also about armoring entire populations so they can absorb and quickly recover from sudden calamity. 

In 2013, Climate 'Resiliency' Officially Entered the Lexicon by Maria Gallucci, InsideClimate News, Dec 31, 2013

Kerry shifts State Department focus to environment

As a young naval officer in Vietnam, John Kerry commanded a Swift boat up the dangerous rivers of the Mekong Delta. But when he returned there last month as secretary of state for the first time since 1969, he spoke not of past firefights but of climate change.

Kerry shifts State Department focus to environment by Coral Davenport, New York Times, Jan 4, 2014

Loss of tropical coral reefs could be first irreversible climate consequence

Less familiar, but every bit as troubling to climate scientists, is a parallel slope on a different track of climate data: the increase of CO2 in the world's oceans, which has been climbing almost in lockstep with the Keeling curve. The rising carbon level is cranking up ocean acidity with astonishing speed—probably 10 times faster than at any point in about 50 million years, according to scientists. 

Loss of Tropical Coral Reefs Could Be First Irreversible Climate Consequence by John H. Cushman Jr., InsideClimate News, Dec 28, 2013

Our climate hangover: 5 reasons to end America's fossil fuel fiesta in 2014

It was a heck of a party. For America's oil and gas industry, 2013 was another festive year of incredible financial gains and expanding opportunities.

Even as petroleum companies raked in up to $175,000 a minute in profits, the Obama administration has leased millions of acres of your public land to the oil and gas industry while shrugging off concerns about fracking pollution.

Thanks to dangerous new fracking techniques and lax regulators, the U.S. is becoming -- temporarily, at least -- the world's largest producer of oil and gas. So many people in fracked communities have already lost their health, their quality of life, and even their homes to the immediate ravages of this toxic activity.

But perhaps the highest price for this festival of corporate greed may be paid by the climate and those who depend on it -- meaning, you, me, and every other creature on earth. A climate hangover of monumental proportions awaits us all in the aftermath of this modern-day fossil fuel frenzy.

Our Climate Hangover: 5 Reasons to End America's Fossil Fuel Fiesta in 2014 by Kassie Siegle, The Huffington Post, Jan 3, 2014

Planet likely to warm by 4C by 2100, scientists warn 

Temperature rises resulting from unchecked climate change will be at the severe end of those projected, according to a new scientific study.

The scientist leading the research said that unless emissions of greenhouse gases were cut, the planet would heat up by a minimum of 4C by 2100, twice the level the world's governments deem dangerous.

The research indicates that fewer clouds form as the planet warms, meaning less sunlight is reflected back into space, driving temperatures up further still. The way clouds affect global warming has been the biggest mystery surrounding future climate change. 

Planet likely to warm by 4C by 2100, scientists warn by Damien Carrington, The Guardian, Dec 31, 2013

Quebec-California partnership blazes trail for carbon trading

The province of Quebec formally linked its cap-and-trade system with California’s market on Thursday, as the two jurisdictions plow ahead with ambitious plans to put an escalating price on carbon in order to reduce emissions.

Quebec and California are the only members moving forward with cap-and-trade programs in what was once a promising alliance of 11 states and provinces comprising the Western Climate Initiative that envisaged a North American market for carbon trading.

Quebec-California partnership blazes trail for carbon trading by Shawn McCarthy, Globe and Mail, Jan 2, 2014

Spared winter freeze, Florida’s mangroves are marching North

Much of the Florida shoreline was once too cold for the tropical trees called mangroves, but the plants are now spreading northward at a rapid clip, scientists reported Monday. That finding is the latest indication that global warming, though still in its early stages, is already leading to ecological changes so large they can be seen from space.

Spared Winter Freeze, Florida’s Mangroves Are Marching North by Justin Gillis, New York Times, Dec 30, 2013

The 10 worst climate stories of 2013

There was some good climate news in 2013. President Barack Obama outlined a new plan to address rising emissions in a major address at Georgetown University in June. The EPA rolled out the first-ever standards for emissions from power plants in September. And both the US Department of Treasury and the Export-Import Bank announced that they will no longer fund coal-fired power plants abroad unless they have pollution controls.

But for the most part, the climate news this year was bad. Really bad. Like, "Seriously, come on, THIS IS TERRIBLE you guys." Here are the ten worst climate stories of 2013, in no particular order--from killer hornets to killer jellyfish, and everything in between.

The 10 Worst Climate Stories Of 2013 by Kate Shepard, The Huffington Post, Dec 31, 2013

Posted by John Hartz on Saturday, 4 January, 2014

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