Climate News Roundup 5/8/2015

  • Hannah Devlin, writing in The Guardian, addresses eight myths about climate change that need to be exploded, some from people who deny human-caused climate change and some from people who are concerned about it.
  • Will framing climate change as a moral issue change the transition to a carbon-free economy? David Roberts at Vox argues that it will.
  • Commitments made by world governments to reduce carbon emissions are inadequate to keep global warming below 2C.
  • In the final video of the Post Carbon Institute’s four-part video series, Richard Heinberg discusses what a more resilient society would look like.
  • Ivy Main has a new blog post, this one about Governor McAuliffe’s veto of coal subsidy bills. She also has a post about AG Herring’s ruling that municipalities may ban fracking.
  • The nature of Arctic sea ice is changing, which will bring about changes in its vulnerability to melting as well as the absorption of solar energy in the Arctic.
  • Gayathri Vaidyanathan of E&E Publishing has a moving and riveting account of the fate of two explorers surveying ice thickness in “The Last Ice” region of the Arctic.
  • The drought in California should be a wake-up call for everyone that our food production system is deeply flawed. Natasha Geiling reports on how our dependence on California for so much of our food came about and what would be required for us to grow more food closer to home.
  • Climate scientist James Hansen has an interesting 13 minute interview on Australian radio about why allowing a temperature rise of 2C is a recipe for disaster. Just click on “Listen now”.
  • The route of the Keystone XL pipeline in South Dakota must be recertified and that has led Native Americans to vow to fight it.
  • If you have been frustrated by TV weather forecasters and their reluctance to address climate change, relief may be on the way.
  • The MIT Energy Initiative has issued a new report entitled “The Future of Solar Energy.” It concludes that solar energy has great potential, provided there is increased emphasis on developing lower-cost technologies and more effective deployment policy. The executive summary can be found here.
  • The co-creators of the 2013 composition “A Song of Our Warming Planet” are back with a new composition entitled “Planetary Bands, Warming Worlds.”
  • Bank of America has announced that it will continue to reduce credit for financing of coal extraction projects.
  • Earthjustice, on behalf of Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Patuxent Riverkeeper, and the Maryland Sierra Club, has filed suit to rescind federal approval of the Cove Point natural gas export terminal proposed by Dominion.

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.

Climate News Roundup 5/1/2015

  • CNN columnist John D. Sutter will spend the rest of the year reporting on 2 degrees C as a target for maximum global warming and its significance to the future Earth. To begin, he asks and answers 7 questions about the 2 degree value. You can signup there to receive his 2 degree newsletter.
  • Thawing permafrost may release significant amounts of carbon to the atmosphere
    in the form of carbon dioxide and methane.
    Its impacts should be considered in climate models and in efforts to keep global warming below 2 degrees C.
  • EPA’s Clean Power Plan will have a positive effect on the economy, generating more than 270,000 new jobs.
  • The Post Carbon Institute has released Part 3 of its four-part video series made in conjunction with the release of Richard Heinberg’s new book, Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels. In case you missed them, you can still watch Part 1 and Part 2.
  • China claims to have significantly reduced both its carbon dioxide emissions and its coal consumption in 2014. If confirmed and sustained this could be good news for all.
  • According to a new study about 75% of extremely hot days and 18% of extreme rain events can be attributed to climate change.
  • South Dakota regulators have delayed a decision on whether to renew the expired permit for the Keystone XL pipeline’s route through the state.
  • The Premier of Alberta in Canada hopes to turn their First Nations into pipeline proponents by letting them share in oil and gas profits.
  • We don’t normally think of climate change as triggering earthquakes, but some geologists think that it can.
  • It has been asserted that the recent report by the North American Energy Reliability Corporation (NERC) on the impacts of EPA’s Clean Power Plan on the reliability of our electricity supplies is based on several flawed assumptions.
  • Last week the U.S. government released the first Quadrennial Energy Review.
    It lays out six ways we can create a climate resilient energy infrastructure.
  • Matthew England, an Australian climate scientist, explains his recent article showing that the “hiatus” in global average surface temperature will have little effect on the long-term increase in temperature due to climate change.
  • NASA has prepared a set of interactive visuals showing the impact of climate change on Arctic sea ice, sea level, and global temperature. They also have one on how the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere has changed.
  • For those who are interested in the concept of climate sensitivity, Dana Nuccitelli has an interesting piece on where things currently stand in trying to estimate it.
  • According to a new analysis, one in six of the planet’s species will go extinct if world leaders fail to act adequately on climate change.

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.

Climate News Roundup 4/24/2015

  • Several large insurance companies are calling upon the Federal Government to revamp its disaster relief system to put more emphasis on preparedness before a disaster.
  • Lester Brown and colleagues at the Earth Policy Institute have released a new book entitled The Great Transition.
  • John Cook and colleagues at the University of Queensland have a developed a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) entitled “Making Sense of Climate Science Denial” that is available free through EdX. A description of it can be found at RealClimate.
  • Ivy Main’s blog reports on the Virginia Attorney General’s opinion letter concerning the 2014 Virginia law prohibiting HOAs from banning solar panels. The short answer is that they can’t do it unless the prohibition was written into the founding documents of the HOA. She also reports on Gov. McAuliffe’s comments at a forum on climate change in Richmond on Earth Day.
  • Chesapeake Climate Action Network has launched a new website entitled domtruth. Check it out.
  • A new report finds that China could feasibly get 60% of its energy and 85% of its electricity from renewables by 2050.
  • March 2015 set the record for the hottest March ever recorded and the period Jan-March 2015 set the record for the warmest Jan-March ever.
  • The Dutch have developed a way to retrofit existing housing in 10 days to make it net zero energy housing. The occupants don’t even have to vacate during the retrofit.
  • Peter Sinclair has a disturbing new video about Totten Glacier in East Antarctica. Recent research indicates that it is being destabilized by warm ocean waters coming under it, much like two glaciers in West Antarctica.
  • Climate scientists have a difficult enough time communicating their results without people misinterpreting them. Read how one climate scientist has had to work to clear up misuse of his findings.
  • One of the weakest links in climate models is how clouds will influence future warming. Recent research provides new insights and the findings are not encouraging: clouds can amplify global warming.
  • In the April 3 Weekly Roundup of Climate News I gave you a link to a new book on climate change economics by Wagner and Weitzman. In this post they explain how rapidly the likelihood of exceeding a temperature increase of 6 degrees C goes up as the average temperature increase goes up. Scary, but well worth reading.
  • Panelists at the Electric Power Conference and Exhibition gave their opinions on how the electric power industry can meet the goals of the Clean Power Plan. The plan is achievable, but the industry faces large challenges in meeting it.
  • Planting forests in places where they haven’t been before can help to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. A recent study indicates a positive impact from such efforts, although there are some potential negative impacts as well.
  • A Federal Court of Appeals today dismissed a challenge to the fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for big trucks.

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.

Climate News Roundup 4/10/2015

  • Doug Hendren has a new song entitled “Fracking’s Just a Bad Dream.”
  • Here is a brief, hopeful essay about why the “Merchants of Doubt” will lose in the end.
  • In a Guardian column, economics editor Larry Elliott asks “Can we imagine a future that is cleaner, greener and sustainable – one that avoids climate Armageddon – without abandoning the idea of growth and, thus, forcing living standards into decline?” To see what he concludes, go here. It is a very thought-provoking essay.
  • Libertarian science writer and author Ronald Bailey asks what evidence would it take to persuade you that man-made climate change is real. His essay is one you might want to share with your conservative and/or libertarian friends and relatives.
  • The Post Carbon Institute is releasing a series of four videos by Richard Heinberg in conjunction with the release of his new book, Afterburn: Society beyond Fossil Fuels. The first is here.
  • The Yale Project on Climate Change has released an interactive map that shows public opinion on a variety of climate change issues down to the county level. It is interesting to note that Rockingham County is more accepting of man-made climate change than surrounding counties.
  • The Risky Business Project issued its third report, this one on the economic impacts of climate change. This report focuses on California, particularly the impacts on agriculture.
  • The National Environmental Education Foundation is offering a free course entitled “Extreme Weather 101” through UDEMY.
  • Two members of the Natural Resource’s Defense Council staff have published a paper outlining how the federal flood insurance program can be used to encourage people to retreat from shore lines and move away from flood prone areas.
  • A new study shows that cities with extensive urban sprawl will have a difficult time decreasing their CO2 emissions from transportation, even if they increase housing in the city center.
  • The Rocky Mountain Institute, an energy policy think tank, has issued a new report on how we will get our electricity in the future. Chris Mooney has a description of the major findings from the report.
  • As Shell moves drilling equipment near Alaska, environmental groups maintain that drilling for oil in the Arctic is just not compatible with President Obama’s pledge to lead on climate change.
  • A new study confirms that significant amounts of organic carbon are stored in permafrost. While it is unlikely that they will be abruptly emitted as CO2 or methane, they are expected to serve as a continuous carbon source over long time periods.
  • One impact of increasing the CO2 content of the atmosphere is to make the oceans more acidic. BBC News summarized a recently published study that provided evidence that the Permian-Triassic mass extinction (252 million years ago), in which over 90% of marine species went extinct, was likely caused by increased ocean acidity caused by CO2 released by volcanic activity.
  • A recent study demonstrated that marine ecosystems can be disrupted by climate events on timescales of multiple decades, but recovery can require a thousand years.

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.

Climate News Roundup 4/3/2015

  • Let’s start with some good news.
    • Robert Shiller, a professor of economics at Yale, argues that individual actions can have a beneficial effect fighting climate change.
    • Utilities are making progress in reducing leaks from their natural gas distribution systems.
    • There was an unprecedented boom in renewables across the globe in 2014, but it still isn’t fast enough.
  • There were several interesting article in The Guardian this week.
    • A new study has shown that limiting climate change could have huge economic benefits.
    • The U.S. Episcopal Bishop said that climate change denial is immoral.
    • The drought in California is having a major impact on the state and global warming is thought to be influencing it. (The second article is from The Washington Post).
    • So far, corporate America is reluctant to sign on to EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
  • Other items of interest:
    • There is a new book examining the economic consequences of a hotter planet.
    • Two stations in Antarctica have reported what may well be record high temperatures.
    • The amount of water used for fracking gas wells is twice that used for oil wells.
    • The Washington Post has an interesting graphic showing where the world’s CO2 is coming from.
    • Polar bears were back in the news with articles discussing the impacts of a need for a change in their diet as a result of sea ice loss.
    • Blue crabs have been found further north than they typically live.
    • Ivy Main has a new post, this one about sea level rise and coastal property.

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.

Climate News Roundup 3/27/2015

This week has been a very busy one in terms of the number of articles about climate change in the news. Before getting into them I want to start with a few links to bolster our spirits and give us hope.
  • Sierra Club has a really nice service you can sign up for. Called the Daily Ray of Hope it sends a picture and a thought-provoking quote to your inbox each weekday.
  • Audubon provides advice from seven environmentalists about how to stay positive in the face of perpetual bad news.
  • A new group called More than Scientists provides short videos by climate scientists explaining why they do what they do.
  • Peter Dykstra at Environmental Health News offered seven reasons to be hopeful.
  • David Roberts at Grist had a good post about a way to get power to the world’s poor without making climate change worse.
  • Cara Pike, also at Grist, had advice about how to talk with almost anyone about climate change.

On the local scene, Saturday night will mark the wrap-up of Starry Nights for 2015 with a program at Edith J. Carrier Arboretum beginning at 7:30.

Ivy Main had a new blog post about the recent General Assembly session and its impact on solar energy.

Several scientific papers were published during the past week about ice conditions in both the Arctic and the Antarctic, as well as changes in the speed of the Gulf Stream. Consequently, there were several posts regarding those papers.

  • The National Snow and Ice Data Center reported that the maximum ice extent in the Arctic was the smallest ever reported. The implications of this were discussed Derek Watkins in the New York Times.
  • University of Washington researchers have compiled data over several decades to show the progression of Arctic sea ice thinning.
  • An article in the March 27 issue of Science reported that the floating ice shelves that circle Antarctica are deteriorating. They act like doorstops holding back the flow of the land-based glaciers. While it will take quite a long time for them to lose that function, there is still concern for the long-term impacts. Articles in both the Washington Post and Scientific American discuss this.
  • A new scientific paper about a slowdown in the Gulf Stream was published on-line this week in the journal Nature Climate Change. The article is pay-walled but since I subscribe to the journal I will share the article with anyone wanting to read it. You can learn more about it at several sources, including these. Chris Mooney at The Washington Post has an article about it as does the blogger Robert Scribbler. A new video by Peter Sinclair, “A Nasty Surprise in the Greenhouse” addresses the new paper on the Gulf Stream. Finally, a video on “Forecasting Sea Level Rise in Maryland” is equally applicable to Virginia and explains how the Gulf Stream influences sea level rise.
  • While the following didn’t come out this week, I thought I should call it to your attention. People who don’t think that increases in CO2 levels in the atmosphere are causing global warming often say that there is no proof that it does. While there have been many lines of evidence to link global warming with increased CO2 levels, now there is direct proof. Scientists measured incoming radiation from the greenhouse over an 11 year period in two locations (Oklahoma and Alaska) and showed that its increase was due to increases in the CO2 level over the same period. The study was published on-line in the journal Nature on Feb 25, 2015. You can read a short summary of the research at LiveScience or read the full press release from Berkeley Labs.

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.

Climate News Roundup 3/20/2015

Below is a roundup of things I’ve seen this week that I thought you would find of interest.
  • Northeast Neighborhood Association Public Meeting on Home Weatherizing with Community Housing Partners
    Thursday, March 26, 7:00PM, Lucy F. Simms Center, 620 Simms Ave., Harrisonburg

    If you qualify as a low-to-moderate income household, Community Housing Partners can help reduce your energy bills, make your home more comfortable, energy efficient and affordable year round. Clients approved for the Weatherization Assistance Program will receive a free energy audit which will determine the work that can be done in their home.

    Learn more and obtain an application. Join this Northeast Neighborhood Association meeting with representatives of Community Housing Partners and Weatherize Harrisonburg/Rockingham. This effort is being organized by CAAV, with Joni Grady chairing the committee. Please pass the word on to anyone you think might be interested.

  • If you would like to know more about the human face of climate scientists, there is a neat new website you can go to.
  • As part of the Reel Change Film Festival, the movie Cowspiracy will be playing free-of-charge at Court Square Theater on Wednesday, March 25 at 7:00 pm.
  • Dave Pruett has a new post on Huffington Post about Solarize Harrisonburg.
  • Doug Hendren has a new song about divestment.
  • The Wild and Scenic Film Festival will be April 18 at Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers cave.
  • The Guardian has a petition urging the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust to divest from fossil fuels.
  • The Guardian also had an Article about the true costs of fossil fuels that is based on a research paper in Climatic Change.
  • Not all oil is alike, so where oil comes from has a big impact on the emissions from its use.
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists has an infographic on climate science vs. fossil fuel fiction.
  • In 2014, for the first time in 40 years, the global CO2 emission rate did not increase.
  • Changes in refrigerants to reduce their potency as greenhouse gasses shows that nothing is simple.
  • Scientists have found evidence for possible warm water channels under East Antarctic glacier.
  • At the same time, sea ice in the Antarctic has been growing.
  • The maximum Arctic sea ice extent this winter is the smallest ever measured.

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.

Doug McNeall’s Blogroll

dougmcneallIn an article in the March 2014 issue of Nature Climate Change, climate scientist and statistician Doug McNeall of Hadley Centre in the UK mentioned a list of blogs on climate science written by climate scientists. It can be found at http://dougmcneall.wordpress.com/links/.

The only two with which I am familiar are RealClimate by Gavin Schmidt and others (listed under “climate blogs from groups or institutions”), which I read regularly, and Climate Etc. by Judith Curry, which I read for a while, but gave up on because I found it to be light on climate science and high on opinion and politics.

A brief description of each blog is given in the list. I was surprised at how extensive the list is. Perhaps you will find one there that captures your fancy. If you do and would like to alert others on our email list about your experience with it, just send an email to contactcaav[at]gmail.com and I’ll pass it on (perhaps after consolidation with others).

Les Grady
Chair, CAAV Steering Committee
3/23/2014