Climate News Roundup 2/12/16

Last week I mentioned that the CAAV Steering Committee had read What We Think about When We Try Not to Think about Global Warming by Per Epsen Stoknes as part of our retreat.  Amelia Urry has an excellent summary on Grist based on an interview with the author.  In addition, Transition United States has a video that goes over the most important information in the first two parts of the book.

The big news this week is that on Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court blocked implementation of EPA’s Clean Power Plan while the D.C. Circuit Court considers the merits of a challenge by more than two dozen states to its legality.  Martha Roberts, writing on the Environmental Defense Fund blog, makes the case for the Clean Power Plan.  As might be expected, some states have decided to hold off on the CPP, but others are continuing to develop their compliance plans and major utility companies are continuing with their plans to diversify their energy sources.

​Republican ​p​residential candidates Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush​ agreed last week to meet with a group of 15 South Florida mayors concerned about climate change’s impact on their state and on the country as a whole.​  And two Congressmen — Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R) and Rep. Theodore Deutch (D), both of Florida, filed paperwork ​last​ week to create the Climate Solutions Caucus.​  For an interesting and inspiring blog detailing much of the behind-the-scenes work​ that helped make the Caucus a reality, go here.

​It was no surprise last week when President Obama proposed a $10 a barrel tax on oil that Republicans in Congress were opposed to it.  It might be a surprise, however, that many economists are in favor of such a tax.​

​​A committee of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations agency, agreed on Monday to the first emissions-reduction standards for aircraft​.  ​The agreement, which took six years to negotiate and must still be approved by ICAO’s governing council, was the subject of significant criticism by environmental groups.  In addition, two members of the faculty of the University of Western Australia don’t think much of the agreement.

Investors and industry analysts say that renewable energy will buck the trend of falling investment in oil and gas because it can offer long-term returns sheltered from political risk.  Consequently some long-term investors say the smart money is shifting away from oil and gas.  For example, Allianz and Bank of America​ are making their first investments in on-shore wind farms in the United States, with investments in two wind parks in New Mexico with a combined capacity of around 300 MW.​

​According to a comment published Wednesday in the journal Nature: “those who manage other people’s money have a duty to control for ‘material risks’. In finance, that means risks that might trigger a 5% or more loss in investment value. Climate damage in the future is expected to be one such risk.”  Therefore, “clients and beneficiaries of investment firms might have a legal case to bring against their investors who stand idly by as emissions erode the value of their stock.”​

California added 20,000 new solar energy jobs in 2015, more than half the total positions added nationwide.  Furthermore, last year the solar industry added workers at a rate nearly 12 times faster than the overall economy.​  ​So why are companies like SolarCity experiencing dropping stock prices?  Also, what will happen as incentive programs expire?​

In its annual energy outlook, BP indicated larger growth in renewables than it had in the past, but continued to project strong use of oil and natural gas.  Others, however, thought their analysis did not change as much as it should have in light of the Paris agreement.

According to Jim Pierobon writing on The Energy Fix, data centers run by Amazon, Apple, and Google don’t get as much of their electricity from renewable sources as they claim.

Ivy Main had a blog post on The Energy Collective that summarizes the bills before the Virginia Legislature that deal with energy issues.  Unfortunately, most of them met delaying tactics, as described in her Power for the People VA blog.

Two papers just published on-line in Nature Climate Change focus on melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica and their long-term impacts on sea level rise.  Robert McSweeney of Carbon Brief provides a summary of the articles while Damian Carrington of The Guardian provides a deeper discussion of the implications of the work.  In addition, Chris Mooney at The Washington Post explains the paper focusing on the Antarctic ice shelves and their roles as gate-keepers controlling the advance of the glaciers.  Andrew Freedman, writing on Mashable, considers the implications of the paper that looks far into the future.

Surprisingly, changes in rainfall and evaporation patterns since 2002 have caused more water to be stored on land, reducing sea level rise by around 20%, according to a new study published in Science.

​​Warming temperatures are causing about half of the world’s plants and animals to move location, an international conference in Australia heard Wednesday, with every major type of species affected.​

​Recent estimates suggest ​that ​as much as a third of ​greenhouse gas emissions could be offset by stopping deforestation and restoring forest land — and that this solution could be achieved much faster than cuts to fossil fuel​ use.​

Research published in this week’s Science indicates that the majority of middle- and high-school teachers teaching about climate change are unaware of the scientific consensus that it is caused primarily by human activities and teach climate change as an ongoing debate in the scientific community.​

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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