Climate News Roundup 9/11/2015

Before getting into this week’s climate news I want to give a shout out to CAAV Steering Committee member Charlie Strickler who is among the group engaged in a fast outside of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington, DC. Thank you Charlie and good luck. Please take care of yourself.

  • Joni Grady, Doug Hendren, and I were in DC on Thursday to participate in the Grandparents Climate Action Day. The high point of our day was being part of a flash mob in Union Station in the morning. You can see it here.
  • How business responds to climate change will have a large impact on how rapidly the world reduces its carbon emissions. Thus, it is discomforting to learn that fewer than half (46%) of the CEOs of the worlds largest companies will prioritize the issue, even if a binding climate agreement is reached in Paris.
  • The Syrian crisis began when prolonged drought and an exhausted aquifer forced farmers off their land and into cities where there were no jobs. But, as Peter Mellgard discusses, the European migrant crisis may just be a harbinger of things to come as climate change forces people to leave their homelands. Craig Bennett, CEO of Friends of the Earth, also discusses the issue.
  • A new study by the New Climate Economy has shown that cities world-wide could generate savings of up $17 trillion by investing in green urban infrastructure.
  • Two recently published studies by different scientific teams provide further evidence that melting glaciers on Greenland could lead to disruption of global ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream. Possible effects range from plunging temperatures in northern latitudes to centuries-long droughts in Southeast Asia.
  • In an interesting exercise, Damon Matthews of Concordia University in Montreal, Canada has monetized the CO2 emissions from various nations, dividing them into two groups (debtor and creditor) depending on whether they emitted more or less than the global per capita average. He used the EPA’s social cost of CO2 of $40 per tonne in arriving at his figures, which show that each person in the US has an accumulated debt of $12,000, whereas each person in India has a credit of $2500. Similarly, George Washington University’s graduate program in health administration has released a new visualization based on 2010 data showing the nations most responsible for climate change and the ones most vulnerable to it.
  • NASA has an interesting website that you might want to bookmark. It is called “Vital Signs of the Planet” and it tracks CO2, global temperature, sea level, etc. They have recently updated some of the figures so I encourage you to check it out.
  • Although it is normal for us to focus on changes occurring in the U.S. weather, we need to remember that changes are occurring all over the world. For example, this summer was especially hot and dry in Europe, as John Abraham reported in The Guardian.
  • The folk in Norfolk can look forward to greater than average nuisance flooding this fall, winter, and spring, according to a recent NASA report, going from about 8 flood days to 18.
  • A recently published paper by Australian scientists has shown that a single statistic, the ratio of the number of record hot temperatures to the number of record low temperatures in a year, is a good indicator of a changing climate.
  • Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 so there has been a lot of interest recently in reducing leakage from natural gas transport and distribution pipelines. Thus it is encouraging that a recent study focusing on Cincinnati, OH and Durham, NC has found that replacing old gas mains has brought about a significant reduction in gas leakage.
  • The oceans are major carbon sinks, with about a quarter of emitted CO2 being absorbed by them. Unfortunately, around 1980 the ability of the Southern Ocean to absorb CO2 began declining, which was a cause for concern. Now, new studies based on millions of observations from ships at sea have found that the ability of the Southern Ocean to absorb CO2 has recovered and that it is again a major sink.
  • Idaho has been hit particularly hard by wildfires this year, as well as in the past few. This has had a large impact on many sectors of the Idaho economy. Rocky Barker examines those effects and wraps up with a good list of things that have been learned about wild fires in Idaho this century.
  • In a “the glass is half full” essay, Fred Krupp of the Environmental Defense Fund provides “4 undeniable signs we’re making progress on climate change.” His optimism stems in part from “a deeply reported New York Magazine piece” by Jonathan Chait entitled “The Sunniest Climate-Change Story You’ve Ever Read.”
  • While we all hope it will never happen, a recent study investigated the consequences of burning all available fossil fuel reserves. Hint: don’t buy coastal property.
  • One impediment to building a consensus for action on climate change is the perception that the risk of extreme warming is low. This stems in part from uncertainty in climate science and in part from a lack of understanding of risk. For example, scientists have reported a range of values for the likely warming associated with a doubling of greenhouse gas concentrations. When we think about that range, we generally think that it follows a bell-shaped curve because the likelihood of so many other things in our lives do. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. It displays a distribution with a “fat tail”. Michael Mann of Penn State explains the impacts of that on the risks associated with rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

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 9/4/2015

  • Ivy Main has a new blog post in which she presents her third annual update of Virginia renewable energy law and policy. If you are considering putting solar panels on your house or business this is a post you should read.
  • A major news story this week was President Obama’s trip to Alaska. Because of its full coverage in major media I will not repeat it here. Rather, I’ll give you a link to a story in The Atlantic about the difficulties of moving a small Alaskan village that is washing into the sea as a result of sea level rise and the melting of the permafrost. The people there are among the first climate migrants
    in the U.S. Another article has a picture of another Alaskan village that is even more vulnerable to sea level rise.
  • Climate migrants are not a future phenomenon, they exist right now. One case is in Zimbabwe. Although this migration is occurring within a single country it is still causing significant problems in the region to which the migrants are moving. Another article addresses the issue of climate displacement and why the term “refugee” is not really appropriate for people displaced by climate change, even when they leave their home country.
  • People in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and northwest China depend on melt water from glaciers in the Tien Shan mountain range as a critical part of their water supply. The melt rate of these glaciers has accelerated and by 2050 warmer temperatures driven by climate change could wipe out half of the remaining glacial ice.
  • Samuel Alexander (Research Fellow, Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne, Australia) and Josh Floyd (advisor on energy, systems, and societal futures at Understandascope, and founding partner of the Centre for Australian Foresight) have some interesting ideas about a sustainable future. Some of their ideas may make you uncomfortable, but they certainly deserve consideration.
  • And now for some good news: CO2 emissions from electric power plants have hit the lowest point in 27 years. This happened even before the Clean Power Plan was released.
  • The World Wide Views Alliance has engaged 10,000 people in 76 countries to learn their views on the desirability of action on climate change. The United Nations Environment Programme has summarized the findings. A synthesis report is also available.
  • The world is undergoing a battery revolution and this may well have a big impact on your life. In fact, the second quarter of 2015 saw a 6-fold increase in energy storage deployment over the first quarter.
  • Tampa, Florida, Cairns, Australia and Dubai could experience super-charged hurricanes because of climate change, according to a new study from Nature Climate Change. These so called “grey swan” storms, events that are foreseeable but rare, pose a particularly grave threat to these three cities because of their massive storm surge potential.
  • A new study provides additional evidence that a warming Arctic can lead to colder winters in North America and Asia. Specifically, the new study identifies two areas in the Arctic that lead to colder winters, one affecting North America and the other Asia. The authors state that their findings will help weather forecasters.
  • A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences makes the case that droughts and heat waves have become more likely to overlap in the past 20 years compared to the period from 1960 to 1980. Interestingly, their map indicates that this has not been the case in the Valley, which has experienced fewer overlaps.
  • Deforestation has two impacts on climate change. First, as forests are cut down and burned, large quantities of CO2 are released to the atmosphere, directly contributing to warming. Second, the lost forests no longer remove CO2 through tree growth. Thus, it is disturbing that data from the University of Maryland and Google indicate that the world lost more than 45 million acres of tree cover in 2014. Also this week a new paper in Nature indicated that the world has many more trees than previously thought, although there are 46 percent fewer trees than there were before extensive deforestation began.
  • A paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters indicates that the record floods in Texas and Oklahoma in May 2015 were intensified by global warming.
  • A study published in the journal Nature/Scientific Reports has found that between 1950 and 2010, 5.7% of the global total land area shifted toward warmer and drier climate types. Modeling studies found that the shift cannot be explained by natural variations, but rather, was driven by anthropogenic factors such as CO2 emissions.
  • Even in the face of extreme climate change, life (of some sort) will go on. Lizzie Wade speculates in Wired on how biodiversity might change in a warmer world.

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 8/28/2015

  • New Orleans is getting a lot of press right now because of the upcoming tenth anniversary of Katrina. While most of that coverage has focused on the people and how their lives have changed, Chris Mooney and colleagues at the Washington Post have pulled together an interesting piece on building new wetlands to help protect New Orleans when the next hurricane strikes. Turns out that not everyone is happy about the new wetlands. In addition, Kerry Emanuel, Prof. of Atmospheric Sciences at MIT, examines what scientists have learned about the impact of climate change on hurricanes.
  • So far this year, the U.S. has been very fortunate in not being hit by a hurricane. Unfortunately, other parts of the world have not been so lucky. Typhoon Goni hit Okinawa with record winds of 159 mph after hitting the Philippines, where 15 were killed.
  • Altered precipitation patterns are one consequence of a warming world. Around one-fifth of the countries in the world will face acute water shortages by 2040 as climate change disrupts rainfall patterns according to a new study by the World Resources Institute. Water stress will be particularly important in Central America and the Middle East in coming years. This will likely have a negative impact on their efforts to relieve poverty. Chelsea Harvey of The Washington Post summarizes the findings of one study.
  • Based on data from NASA satellites, it looks like 2015 is on track to being a low surface ice year in the Arctic. In addition, glaciers on Greenland have been found to be much more vulnerable to melting from below by seawater than previously thought. The latter does not bode well for sea level rise. In fact, NASA held a press conference on Wednesday to announce that they will be undertaking an “intensive research effort” on sea level rise. Chris Mooney summarized the major news from the announcement. It struck me as ironic that the ad preceding a new NASA animation showing ice loss from Greenland in The Washington Post article was for Porsche and focused on exhaust pipes! The Carbon Brief also has a good summary.
  • California’s salmon, steelhead, and smelt are in danger of being wiped out because the long-term drought is reducing river flows and making them hotter. These problems for the fish are being exacerbated by dams and other water projects built over the years to provide water for agriculture in the state.
  • The wildfires in Washington state continue to burn. The Okanogan fire is now the largest in state history, covering more than 400 square miles.
  • Jim Pierobon has an interesting essay about the innovations of Tony Smith and Secure Futures in bringing solar power to nonprofits such as Eastern Mennonite University.

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 8/21/2015

  • Ivy Main had a post about the EPA’s Clean Power Plan for Virginia. She calls it a “powderpuff.”
  • A study from DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has found that the price of installed photo-voltaic panels fell for the fifth consecutive year.
  • You are aware of the seriousness of climate change or you wouldn’t be reading this email. Have you ever wondered why society seems unable to do anything about the problem? Perhaps the findings of psychologists can supply the answer.
  • Eric Holthaus has a very interesting essay in Rolling Stone summarizing the extreme responses of the climate system that have been observed just this year. While it may be a bit scary to read, it contains things that we should all be aware of.
  • July 2015 was the Earth’s hottest month on record. The current El Niño is expected to intensify in the latter half of the year. This, in combination with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation moving into a positive phase, is expected to make 2015 significantly hotter than 2014. Joe Romm summarizes the evidence for these events and discusses their implications for the climate.
  • Most studies on climate change focus on the physical and biological consequences, but research by Geoffrey Heal and Jisung Park focused on the economic impacts, which can be significant. Unfortunately, not enough attention is being paid to how rising temperatures will impact worker productivity.
  • This week the U.S. EPA released new proposed regulations for methane leaks from the natural gas supply system. There has been much attention given to this in the media, but in case you missed it you can learn more here. What you may not have heard is that a new study has found that leaks from natural gas gathering facilities are much worse than had been thought, being about eight times greater than EPA estimates. In addition, Joe Romm takes everyone to task, including the EPA, for low-balling the global warming potential of methane in the press releases and news articles.
  • The wildfire situation in the western U.S. is dire, with five states battling 10 or more fires each. As a consequence the U.S. is at a Wildfire Preparedness Level 5, the highest, and has been since Aug. 13.
  • International organizations have been overestimating the CO2 emissions from China’s coal-fired power plants by around 14%.
  • Greenland’s Jakobshavn glacier just calved a huge area of ice, around 5 sq. miles, from its face, causing its calving line to retreat markedly. This has several implications for the future, which are discussed in the article.
  • Global investment bank Citigroup joins the chorus of studies showing that acting on climate change by investing in renewable energy results in significant savings; in this case, $1.8 trillion by 2040. In addition, the study finds that electricity from solar PV panels will be competitive with electricity from conventional fossil fuels by 2030 so there is a strong economic incentive for their installation.
  • Writing in The Atlantic, John Light asks “What will it take to get climate change on the Republican agenda?”
  • You are probably aware of Bill McKibben’s article on the “Terrifying New Math” in the July 19, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone that launched the fossil fuel divestment movement. What you may be less aware of is the work of Carbon Tracker Initiative (CTI), which provided the data for McKibben’s article. Ed King has an interesting essay at RTCC that provides the story of CTI and the response of the financial industry to their report on the need to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
  • As we contemplate the consequences of a warming world, one concern with severe economic consequences is the rate and magnitude of sea level rise. Melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica is an important contributor to sea level rise. Unfortunately, our knowledge about ice sheet collapse is still too limited for accurate projections, although new research is increasing our understanding. Chris Mooney at the Washington Post summarizes recent research on this important topic.
  • In an effort to help us get to know the people who are working for global change on the climate issue, Elizabeth Kolbert has profiled Christiana Figueres, who heads the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the organization convening the Paris Conference in December.
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 8/15/15

Final roundup from me.  Les will resume next week.  It’s been fun.  Hard too because there’s so much information.  Wish more of it was hopeful.

But let’s at least start off with articles that are.

Maybe this is more positive than negative.  What’s your opinion?  Check out the slides and the interactive map on people’s opinions about climate change.  VA’s is 64%.

These two items give some food for thought on Virginia’s renewable energy policies and laws.  Certainly not all-encompassing but….

More on the EPA’s CPP.

What’s up with energy efficiency?  A bit nerdy.

What about green bonds?  Also somewhat wonky.

Jon Stewart, thanks for the memories…and the climate information.

Religious leaders on climate change.  The Pope’s still beating the drums for the environment.  And so are some Muslim imams.

Help for Native Americans.

Bad news for butterflies and trees and food and New Orleans.

From Canada, update on Keystone.​

If you want to follow the Paris Climate Conference, here’s one source.

Climate Change and the Arts.​
Move over, MoMA, New York’s new climate change museum is about to be the hottest place in town

Alaska in the spotlight.

These news items have been compiled by Joy Loving, member of the CAAV steering committee and leader of Solarize efforts in the valley.

Climate News Roundup 8/13/15

There was so much news this week that I decided to release 2 roundups.  This is the 1st and I’ll send out the 2nd over the weekend.  These offerings are a mix of topics, and most of the news won’t make you cheerful.

Enjoy eating west coast and Alaskan salmon?  Well maybe not for long.

Last week we read about Alaska’s wildfires.  Here’s an opinion piece from someone who lives there.

Who knew wetlands did a lot more than harbor mosquitoes?

Does Katrina’s aftermath offer lessons for VA, given our sinking coast?

Here’s another NY times piece, this time an op-ed by Tom Friedman.  I received it from Former SC Congressman Bob Inglis’ Energy and Enterprise group.  The spokesman called it a “gem” and added “At the heart of his column, Friedman address accountability as a conservative concept as it relates to the gas tax and transportation bill. He took it a step further in addressing climate change by referencing out friends at the libertarian Niskanen Center.”

No doubt you’ve heard about subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.  Turns out they’re more than tax breaks.

Remember VA’s uranium mining moratorium?

And then there’s coal.

More on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

On a 2014 trip to the southwest, I saw one of the Navaho power plants discussed in this article.

Last week we had an article about the Great Barrier Reef.  Here’s one that might be a bit encouraging.

​On the other hand, here’s a scary one about carbon and the oceans.

​​Some of you know that CAAV members have more than a passing interest in solar energy.  We sponsored Solarize Harrisonburg in 2014; 68 area residents went solar.  Some who didn’t do it then have said they want another chance, so CAAV is sponsoring Massanutten Regional Solar Coop, which launches at the end of this month and will serve Harrisonburg and Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Page Counties.  What you may not know is CAAV is also working on Weatherize, an effort to bring energy efficiency and eventually, hopefully, solar to low and lower middle income people who want it.  We’re not alone in thinking this is important.

One more item on solar–utility solar, that is.

An overview of the effects of climate change, from Rolling Stone of all sources.  Warning:  This piece paints word pictures you will find disturbing.

These news items have been compiled by Joy Loving, member of the CAAV steering committee and leader of Solarize efforts in the valley.

Climate News Roundup 8/8/15

This week just about everything is about the EPA’s issuance of its final rules called the Clean Power Plan (CPP); thus many of the links below are related to that.  But not all of them.  Warning:  There’s a lot here and even more that I couldn’t include.

Here are several CPP-related items, from different perspectives and varying sources, including some of the business response.
The Guardian’s take:
Advanced Energy Economy’s press release:
The President’s Executive Order:
How can the states implement the new rules?

What New Jobs? ​The CPP and jobs….​
What about coal-powered power plants?
And how about nuclear power?
What do some of “we the people” think?

National Journal’s take on winners and losers:

On the other hand….
How about suing if you don’t like the new rules?
The new rules certainly aren’t popular in the House of Representatives, apparently.
VA House Republicans issued a press release for which I could not locate a link. Here it is as a pdf: Matthew Moran Press Release for VA House Republicans on CPP
Former Republican Bob Inglis’ (The Energy and Enterprise Initiative) has a video of an interview with Mr. Inglis, who supports an alternative approach to addressing climate change.  Mr. Inglis tweeted this when the CPP was released:  “”We can do better. Whole economy, not sector-by-sector. A price signal, not regulations. A smaller government, not a bigger one. Free enterprise, not command-and-control. The country and the world have been waiting for conservatives to step forward with the better solution. Now’s the time.”
How about “cap and trade”?

Should you happen to be a bit of a policy wonk and haven’t read enough yet, NextGen Climate America has assembled a resource library that puts a lot of info at your disposal:
For further wonky details, Synapse Energy Economics Inc. gives us “Eight Things You Need to Know about the Clean Power Plan”.
More data…  The states and their carbon emissions–VA isn’t the worst or the best.

Enough about the CPP already!  Let’s move on…

Not sure about Congress, but DoD takes climate change seriously, it seems:

Nature’s wreaking havoc in the US West; last week we had an article about Alaska wildfires.  This week it’s our Pacific Northwest and a chilling (opposite of a pun) map of current US active wildfires.  Plus, there’s a map showing the effect on air quality of fossil fuel emissions.  The fires, of course, aren’t helping.

Let’s hope there is some hyperbole here.

Just how clean is natural gas?

From down under, Solar Choice tells us that “Utility-scale solar will soon be competitive in USA–with fossil fuels, even without tax credit”.

Also from below the equator (by a lot) comes a story about some good news for Glapagos penguins, at least for a while.

100% Renewable Energy??  A bit wonky but…

Here’s another more upbeat article about some islands’ actions.

If you’re getting this email, then you’re part of the 60%.

I could go on and on and clearly already have.  Congratulations if you’ve made it this far.

These news items have been compiled by Joy Loving, member of the CAAV steering committee and leader of Solarize efforts in the valley.

Climate News Roundup 7/31/15

No surprise here–VA’s isn’t the only coastline that is facing the challenge of rising sea levels (or recurrent flooding as VA likes to say).  China has a lot of coastline.

In last week’s roundup, we saw articles about Dr. James Hansen’s recent study results.  Here’s a follow-up from Mashable.

A Guardian article on the EPA Clean Power Plan gives some insight into what to expect once these rules are issued.

You may have heard of “fee and dividend”, one way to use the market to drive down fossil fuel use and emissions.  Here’s an op ed piece from The New York Times included in the weekend summary of The Daily Climate, suggesting another possibility.  I am including it as a pdf file (see below) in case you can’t see it from the link.  Also, here’s a Renewable Energy World article on the same subject.

This next link isn’t directly about climate per se, but hopefully you’ll appreciate the pictures of our planet and the commentary by Astronaut Scott Kelly.

Sir Roland Sanders, a columnist for the Jamaica Observer gives a thought-provoking piece on the plight of the world’s island residents.–Time-for-talking-is-over_19220441

In another opinion piece, this time from the Chicago Sun Times, the Chicago Archbishop and the EPA Administrator tell us “We have a moral obligation on climate change”.  This is a follow-up to Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change.

Three items related to the Paris talks: 
• From The Guardian comes a July 22nd piece by reporter Dana Nuccitelli related to the upcoming Paris talks.
• The Diplomat’s Kamal Madishetty ponders India’s role there in a July 24 article.
• And, Renewable Energy World reprinted a Bloomberg July 27 article on corporate support for carbon re ahead of Paris. just published a lengthy report titled “Come Heat and High Water:  Climate Risk in the Southeastern U.S. and Texas”.  What got my attention right away were the 3 names of the committee co-chairs–Michael Bloomberg, Henry Paulsen, and Tom Steyer–not to mention other committee members, bi-partisan & many from the corporate world.  No doubt you won’t want to digest the whole thing, but take a quick look at the Executive Summary and the material on Virginia.

Click to access Climate-Risk-in-Southeast-and-Texas.pdf

Inside Climate included a Jul 26 Washington Post article on the connection between Alaska’s wildfire season and climate change.

Here are 3 items about food–one of them a bit encouraging:
• If you like Australian wines, then you might want to peruse this article from down under.  Well, maybe climate change will leave other wine-growing regions alone.
• Who doesn’t love olive oil?  It’s getting pricier–guess why?
• Some Northwest Native Americans see problem coming with their traditional food supply.  Should the rest of us?

The Union of Concerned Scientists believes that some of the self-described “science” behind climate change wants to deceive us or cast doubt on what is happening.  The detailed article, “Documenting Fossil Fuel Companies’ Climate Deception”, printed in their Summer 2015 Catalyst magazine isn’t yet available online, but here’s a link to their summary of it.  If you’ve seen the documentary “Merchants of Doubt”, you’ve heard this before, but the information hasn’t gotten less troubling.

Hardly a​l​l the news that’s ​fit to print or available, but I think enough for this week….

These news items have been compiled by Joy Loving, member of the CAAV steering committee and leader of Solarize efforts in the valley.

Climate News Roundup 7/24/15

Let’s start with some not very good news from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as reported in Nation of Change by Anastasia Pantsios of Ecowatch.

TakePart’s associate editor for environment and wildlife Emily J. Gertz ​wrote in a July 22 article about new research by Dr. James Hansen.  The title is “Three Things to Know About That Terrifying New Climate Study…Science and politics are both in play as scientists warn of dire sea-level rise”.  Not yet peer-reviewed prior to its initial publication, the report has its critics….and its warnings.

And here’s The New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert’s July 23rd take on the same Hansen report:

The Guardian’s John Abraham offered food for thought about the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet in a July 14th article.

At a time when many are pondering the possibility of nuclear war, the Guardian’s editors ga​ve us this headline:  “Climate Change Threat Must be Taken as Seriously as Nuclear War – UK Minister”.  Damian Carrington’s July 13 article tells us about a new report on climate change risks authored by experts from the US, UK, China, and India.

From the LA Times (via The Daily Climate) c​ame an article about the California legislature’s recently passed resolution supporting Pope Francis’ encyclical ​on
climate change.

Speaking of Pope Francis, a Mashable article told about some of the Pope’s activities following issuance of his encyclical (included in this week’s summaries in The Daily Climate).

Living on Earth, a radio program produced by PRI (Public Radio International), g​ave​ us a transcript of a July 17 show titled “Climate Change Fuels Wildfires”​.​

The Daily Breeze, a local California paper in Los Angeles’ South Bay Region, brought​
us this article:  “Hermosa Beach tackles climate change with a plan to go ‘carbon neutral'”.

Inside Climate News ​highlighted a July 17 story from The Globe and Mail about Canadian legislators reaching a deal on Canada’s Energy Strategy.

Inside Climate News point​ed​ us to a July 20 article by Arthur Nesland in The Guardian titled “Swamp power:  How the world’s wetlands can help stop climate change”

Ryan Koronowski, writing in Climate Progress on July 20, told​ us how the climate changed last year.

Also from Climate Progress ​is a July 22, report that mayors in Tehran and New Orleans have climate change in common.

The AP’s (Associated Press) Elaine Ganley gave​ a July 22 ​report of her interview of the UN climate chief about the Paris climate talks setting a 50-year agenda.

And speaking of Paris, Responding to Climate Change’s Ed King reported​ on July 23 about “the week that climate change diplomacy went into overdrive”.

Business Green had this July 24 article about Kenya’s pledge ​on climate change action:

Nature ran this article on July 21 titled “Quest for climate proof farms”, presenting a mixed picture.

In Australia an “expert says farms hold the key to absorbing carbon and fighting climate change.”

These news items have been compiled by Joy Loving, member of the CAAV steering committee and leader of Solarize efforts in the valley.

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.