Climate News Roundup 5/15/2015

  • Bill McKibben had an op-ed piece in the New York Times entitled “Obama’s Catastrophic Climate-Change Denial“.
  • There has been a lot of interest lately in the 2 degree C goal for global warming. First, there is controversy over whether it can be achieved, particularly given some of the assumptions in the models showing how to get there. Then several reasons were cited as to why we are missing the mark. Finally, we were told that the 2 degree goal is too high and that we should shoot for something lower lest low-lying island nations suffer.
  • David Roberts has a very interesting conversation with libertarian Jerry Taylor about climate change and the type of policy against it that would get libertarian support. In a follow-up conversation they discussed why Taylor favors a carbon tax for addressing climate change. You might want to share both conversations with any libertarian or Tea Party acquaintances you have.
  • The World Bank doesn’t think that pricing carbon is adequate for solving climate change. Instead, it recommends five policies for establishing a thriving low-carbon economy.
  • Stage 3 of climate denial is to accept that climate change exists and we are the cause, but to deny that it is really a problem. People who think this way are called “lukewarmers.” Dana Nuccitelli examines whether the rise of lukewarmers is a good or bad thing.
  • As part of its “Keep it in the ground” campaign The Guardian is starting a series of stories about the five biggest “carbon bombs.” The first deals with the Galilee basin coal project in Australia, which would dig up and make available a huge amount of coal. If you don’t look at anything else in this Roundup, look at this story. It is beautifully done.
  • While it is tempting to attribute every extreme weather event to climate change, many are just due to the vagaries of “the weather.” The Economist has an interesting article about the advances in attribution, i.e., the science behind scientists ability to determine when an event is really due to climate change.
  • Both the Larsen A and Larsen B ice shelves in Antarctica have already collapsed and now it looks as if the massive Larsen C ice shelf may also collapse. Although total collapse of the ice shelf will take a very long time because of its massive size, it is still a concern for those interested in sea level rise. Meanwhile, Larsen B ice shelf appears to be in the final stages of disintegration, which will allow faster calving of ice bergs from the glaciers behind it.
  • New research on sea level rise published recently in Nature Climate Change has revealed both good news and bad news. The good news is that sea level hasn’t risen as much as previously thought. The bad news is that sea level rise is accelerating.
  • Because of recent volcanic eruptions, Robert McSweeney and Roz Pidcock have queried climate scientists to determine the impact of volcanoes on the climate.
  • Does the lack of renewable energy from Dominion and Duke Energy threaten the choice of Virginia and North Carolina as locations for large data centers, and therefore the jobs they provide? Greenpeace has studied the renewable energy availability in the two states and its relationship to the data centers.
  • Yale Climate Connections has a new website. On it they have articles as well as 90 sec podcasts of their public radio program. Perhaps we could get WMRA to work their program into its schedule.
  • It now looks as if the long-awaited strong El Nino is here. If so, it will be good for the western U.S. but bad for Australia.
  • January through April 2015 was the hottest Jan – April on record, and the records are likely to continue to be broken this year, especially with the developing El Nino.
  • An international group of scientists has just published a study showing that the organic carbon in the thawing permafrost is rapidly eaten by microbes and released as carbon dioxide, providing a significant new input of fossil CO2 to the atmosphere.

These news items have been compiled by Les Grady, member and former chair of the CAAV steering committee. He is a licensed professional engineer (retired) who taught environmental engineering at Purdue and Clemson Universities and engaged in private practice with CH2M Hill, the world’s largest environmental engineering consulting firm. Since his retirement in 2003 he has devoted much of his time to the study of climate science and the question of global warming and makes himself available to speak to groups about this subject. More here.

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