Climate and Energy News Roundup 7/7/2017

Climate scientist Ben Santer had a very moving and informative essay on Wednesday in The Washington Post.  British political scientist David Runciman, in an essay appearing as a “Long Read” piece in The Guardian, posited: “The politics of climate change poses a stark dilemma for anyone wanting to push back against the purveyors of post-truth.  Should they bide their time and trust that the facts will win out in the end?  Or do they use the evidence as weapons in the political fight, in which case they risk confirming the suspicion that they have gone beyond the facts?”  Much to think about there.  Justin Gillis, writing in The New York Times, has updated his short answers to 16 hard questions about climate change.

Last week I included a link to an article about the setting of the trial date for the children’s lawsuit against the federal government over climate change.  This week Chelsea Harvey wrote in The Washington Post about how things are likely to proceed in the case.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the EPA has overstepped its authority in attempting to suspend for two years the implementation of the rule restricting methane leaks from oil and gas wells.  Rather, the agency must follow a new rulemaking process to fully undo the regulations.  In an opinion piece on Project Syndicate, economist Joseph Stiglitz took President Trump to task for pulling the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement and made the case for a carbon tax.

Climate

A new paper published online in Science Advances sought to understand why estimates of equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) obtained from historical temperature data records are systematically lower than estimates obtained from the paleoclimate record.  The authors found that estimates of ECS from historical temperature data records do not account for the fact that different parts of Earth warm at different speeds.  This suggests that Earth is likely to warm up more than we had hoped.

As we think of rising seas and how to protect coastal cities and other infrastructure from them, there might well be lessons to be learned from the ancient Romans.  Whereas modern concrete has a lifetime of decades in the presence of sea water, Roman concrete has a lifetime of millennia.  Scientists and engineers are working to understand why.

The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication have issued a new report in which they found that 58% of Americans believe that climate change is mostly human caused.  That is the highest level reported since the survey began in 2008.  Unfortunately, only 13% knew that more than 90% of climate scientists agreed that climate change was happening and was caused by humans.

In a subjective appraisal based on analysis of numerous scientific models and his personal experience observing climate change in a variety of places, John Vidal, former environment editor of The Guardian, took a global look at where the impacts of climate change will be the greatest.  In an interview with Yale Environment 360, University of Hawaii geologist Chip Fletcher described the threats confronting Hawaii and other tropical islands and discussed potential adaptation strategiesThe Guardian presented pictures of life along the vanishing shorelines of the Solomon Islands.

Climate Central has prepared an interactive graphic showing how much selected cities around the world will warm by the end of the century under two different emissions scenarios.  The graphic has some peculiar characteristics, but can provide interesting results and is worth looking at.  Another interactive graphic has been prepared by Carbon Brief.  It summarizes the findings from the more than 140 extreme weather events that have been studied to ascertain whether they were influenced by climate change.

Richard Rood, Professor of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering at the University of Michigan, published an essay in The Conversation entitled “If we stopped emitting greenhouse gases right now, would we stop climate change?”.

Energy

A couple of weeks ago, while I was out of town, Bishop Dansby provided a link to an article in IEEE Spectrum about the “battle royal between competing visions for the future of energy” that had broken out on the pages of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Now, in order to shed additional light on where clean energy might be headed, the staff of Grist “talked to six of the smartest energy experts around” and asked for their opinions.  It is interesting reading.

The Daily Climate had an article about “Walking the Line: Into the Heart of Virginia”, a two-week journey along the route through Virginia of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The G20 nations provide four times more public financing to fossil fuels than to renewable energy, according to a new report by a coalition of NGOs, including Oil Change International, Friends of the Earth U.S., the Sierra Club, and WWF Europe.

On Wednesday, Volvo Car Group said it plans to offer only hybrid or full-electric motors on every new model launched in 2019 or later.  As a consequence, when an existing model is due for a major revamp, it will no longer be offered with only an internal combustion engine.  In addition, on Thursday, the government of France announced that no new gasoline or diesel powered cars could be offered for sale in the country after 2040.  According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s (BNEF) Long-Term Electric Vehicle Outlook released on Thursday, Tesla will emerge as “the stand-out” electric vehicle manufacturer in terms of total cumulative deliveries through 2021.  BNEF also projected that electric vehicles will account for 54% of all new light-duty vehicle sales globally by 2040Seventeen states now charge fees for electric vehicles registered in the state.  Speaking of cars and their powertrains, hydrogen-powered, fuel cell cars seem to be stuck in “prototype stage”.

The overall share of wind, hydroelectric, and solar power in Germany’s electricity mix climbed to a record 35% in the first half of 2017.

EPA officials on Wednesday released their proposed 2018 biofuel requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard.  The proposals for corn-based ethanol and biodiesel are essentially the same as for 2017, while the targets for cellulosic ethanol and advanced biofuels are lower.

Tesla has been awarded the contract to build a 100 MW grid-scale battery to serve as emergency back-up power for South Australia.

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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