Climate News Roundup 7/17/15

    • Charlottesville-based Apex Clean Energy is moving forward with plans to build a 25 turbine wind farm in Botetourt County, 30 miles north of Roanoke. The company expects construction to take place in 2017. Ivy Main discusses the implication of this project to meeting the requirements of the Clean Power Plan in Virginia, as well as to the future of renewable energy here.
    • Last week approximately 2000 scientists met in Paris to discuss climate science and policy as a prelude to the Paris climate summit in December. One of the speakers was Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, who stated “In order to stay below 2C, or even 3C, we need to have something really disruptive, which I would call an induced implosion of the carbon economy over the next 20-30 years. Otherwise we have no chance of avoiding dangerous, perhaps disastrous, climate change.”
    • Science writer Stephen Leahy drives this point home by interpreting a paper by Steve Davis and Robert Socolow of Princeton University about the CO2 emissions we commit ourselves to each time we build any new infrastructure based on fossil fuels. He has a link to the original paper, which is open access. Davis and Socolow conclude “Reducing CO2 emissions will ultimately mean retiring CO2-emitting infrastructure more quickly than it is built. However, trends have long pointed the other way:…”
    • If you have struggled with how to talk with children about climate change, perhaps this post from Climate Progress will be helpful.
    • According to posts on the NASA Global Climate Change website, inland glaciers in both Alaska and Turkey have experienced large loses of ice. Glaciers in southern Alaska lost around 75 billion tons of ice a year between 1994 and 2013 whereas the total area of Turkish glaciers fell from 10 square miles to 4.2 square miles between 1972 and 2013.
    • Human-caused climate change could cause mass migration, competition for resources, and state failure, providing fertile ground for conflict and terrorism, according to a new study entitled Climate Change, A Risk Assessment, prepared by a global team of scientists, policy analysts, risk assessment experts. Consequently, some recommend that governments treat climate change as seriously as national security.
    • Warm, tropical air masses that hit Greenland in the autumn months cause a sharp spike in the thawing of surface ice and speed up the movement of glaciers at a time when the Arctic is normally turning colder.
    • A new paper in Nature Communications concludes that “fire weather” seasons (times of year when fires are most likely to start and grow out of control due to dry conditions) have increased by nearly 20% over much of Earth’s surface. In addition, the amount of burnable area has more than doubled since 1979. This increased risk is strongly correlated with climate change because of shifting weather patterns.
    • Another paper in Nature Communications dealt with stresses on the oceans. While many factors are contributing to increased ocean stress, climate change impacts were found to be driving most of the increased stress. However, others pointed out the difficulty in teasing out the effects of one stressor on a system receiving multiple stressors. Carbon Brief has a detailed review of the paper.
    • The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the cap and trade system in the northeastern U.S., has generated $1.3 billion in economic benefits and 14,000 job-years during the past three years according to a new report by a financial and economic consulting firm. This shows that there can be economic benefits associated with reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
    • NOAA recently released its State of the Climate Report for 2014. Carbon Brief has reviewed the report and found that seven records were broken last year. You can learn about them here. Also, you can go here to listen to what NPR had to say about the report.
    • Behind the scenes reports of the ongoing negotiations in preparation for the Paris climate meeting in December indicate that the negotiators are coalescing around a deal that would commit every country to restricting greenhouse gas emissions but bind none to specific targets.
    • In output terms, China, Japan, and India, three of the world’s four largest economies, along with Brazil, Germany, Mexico, The Netherlands, and Spain now generate more electricity from non-hydro renewables than from nuclear according to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2015.
    • Recently there have been reports in the media that the sun is about to enter a minimum phase which may plunge us into a mini ice age. Dana Nuccitelli at The Guardian does a good job of debunking this myth.
    • Polar bears are experiencing difficult times as the Arctic warms and the ice from which they usually hunt melts. They can’t get as many calories from a land-based diet as from seals, but, unfortunately, their metabolism won’t slow down to allow them to live a leaner life, a new study shows. There was also a piece in the NYT about the study.

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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