Climate News Roundup 7/10/2015

John Richardson has a very interesting essay in Esquire about how climate scientists handle the often depressing work they are doing. Doing science requires objectivity and detachment, but these can take an emotional toll when the things you are studying are causing you more and more concern, yet you can’t express that concern without being accused by some of being alarmist. Spoiler alert – this is a very powerful essay.

In December world governments will meet in Paris to generate a new global agreement on greenhouse gas emissions. The new limits would begin in 2020 when currents limits expire. The meeting is seen as the last chance to put the world on track to limit global warming to a level that can be tolerated. Unfortunately, according to the EU commissioner for climate action, Miguel Canete, there is no Plan B should the talks fail. In addition, there are some in the Senate who vow to do all they can to keep the U.S. from meeting any commitments it makes.

On Tuesday the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate issued a new report that provides 10 practical recommendations that they claim will boost economic growth while reducing climate risk. Implementation of the recommendations could achieve between 59 and 96 percent of the carbon dioxide emission cuts required to keep global warming below 2 degrees C.

By 2020 China plans to build a safe and environmentally friendly grid system that will allow them to take maximum advantage of clean energy.

Need some good news about the politics of climate change? Well, consider this op-ed piece by Mark Reynolds, executive director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL). CCL had its annual meeting and lobby day in late June and Reynolds’ optimism stems from those activities, which saw participation increase greatly to over 900 people. Several members of CAAV are active in CCL.

The California drought is having a big impact on everyone there, but especially on the rural poor, many of whom are living without water in their homes. Meanwhile, the lack of snow-pack in the Pacific northwest is contributing to fires in the rain forest in Olympic National Park and to warm rivers in British Columbia, which stresses salmon.

If you have ever had a conversation with someone who is a climate change skeptic it is likely that they brought up the uncertainties in climate science as a major reason for their skepticism. Explaining that uncertainty is an integral part of science usually doesn’t convince them, so what should we do? Well, the Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN) has the answer in the form of an “Uncertainty Handbook” that has twelve principles for effectively communicating climate change uncertainty.

A new research paper reports on the vulnerability of built infrastructure on 12 island nations in the South Pacific. Fifty-seven percent of the infrastructure is within 550 yards of the coastline and would cost a cumulative $22 billion to replace.

Carbon Tracker has released a new report showing that more than $280 billion worth of liquefied natural gas projects being planned over the next decade risk becoming stranded assets if global action is taken to limit global warming to 2C.

On Tuesday the Obama administration announced a new initiative to broaden access to solar power to all Americans. On the same day Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a bill, “Low Income Solar Act,” to help low income Americans install solar panels, either on their own property or in community solar gardens. There were also articles about the initiative in The Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun. Too bad current Virginia law will prevent people here from taking full advantage of the benefits.

Many of us either read the book or saw the movie titled Merchants of Doubt in which the tactics used by the fossil fuel industry were shown to be similar to those used earlier by the tobacco industry. Now The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has prepared a report entitled The Climate Deception Dossiers in which they show that “Internal fossil fuel industry memos reveal decades of disinformation – a deliberate campaign to deceive the public that continues even today.” Elliott Negin, a senior writer for UCS, has a summary in a blog on Huffington Post.

Methane emissions from natural gas operations in the Barnett shale of North Texas are 50% higher than EPA estimates had indicated.

A new scientific paper reports that one effect of climate change has been to increase the frequency of torrential rain storms.

Scientists are using information from past warm periods to try to estimate how high sea level will rise in response to increases in global average temperature, and the results are not encouraging for coastal regions. The results from their study were published in the journal Science. Some implications of the study can be found here.

Because of increased temperatures associated with climate change bumble bees have abandoned the most southern 185 miles of their range, according to a new study published in the journal Science. Unfortunately they have not expanded their range northward, like many other species. It is as if they are caught in a climate vise.

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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