Climate News Roundup 7/10/2015

John Richardson has a very interesting essay in Esquire about how climate scientists handle the often depressing work they are doing. Doing science requires objectivity and detachment, but these can take an emotional toll when the things you are studying are causing you more and more concern, yet you can’t express that concern without being accused by some of being alarmist. Spoiler alert – this is a very powerful essay.

In December world governments will meet in Paris to generate a new global agreement on greenhouse gas emissions. The new limits would begin in 2020 when currents limits expire. The meeting is seen as the last chance to put the world on track to limit global warming to a level that can be tolerated. Unfortunately, according to the EU commissioner for climate action, Miguel Canete, there is no Plan B should the talks fail. In addition, there are some in the Senate who vow to do all they can to keep the U.S. from meeting any commitments it makes.

On Tuesday the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate issued a new report that provides 10 practical recommendations that they claim will boost economic growth while reducing climate risk. Implementation of the recommendations could achieve between 59 and 96 percent of the carbon dioxide emission cuts required to keep global warming below 2 degrees C.

By 2020 China plans to build a safe and environmentally friendly grid system that will allow them to take maximum advantage of clean energy.

Need some good news about the politics of climate change? Well, consider this op-ed piece by Mark Reynolds, executive director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL). CCL had its annual meeting and lobby day in late June and Reynolds’ optimism stems from those activities, which saw participation increase greatly to over 900 people. Several members of CAAV are active in CCL.

The California drought is having a big impact on everyone there, but especially on the rural poor, many of whom are living without water in their homes. Meanwhile, the lack of snow-pack in the Pacific northwest is contributing to fires in the rain forest in Olympic National Park and to warm rivers in British Columbia, which stresses salmon.

If you have ever had a conversation with someone who is a climate change skeptic it is likely that they brought up the uncertainties in climate science as a major reason for their skepticism. Explaining that uncertainty is an integral part of science usually doesn’t convince them, so what should we do? Well, the Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN) has the answer in the form of an “Uncertainty Handbook” that has twelve principles for effectively communicating climate change uncertainty.

A new research paper reports on the vulnerability of built infrastructure on 12 island nations in the South Pacific. Fifty-seven percent of the infrastructure is within 550 yards of the coastline and would cost a cumulative $22 billion to replace.

Carbon Tracker has released a new report showing that more than $280 billion worth of liquefied natural gas projects being planned over the next decade risk becoming stranded assets if global action is taken to limit global warming to 2C.

On Tuesday the Obama administration announced a new initiative to broaden access to solar power to all Americans. On the same day Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a bill, “Low Income Solar Act,” to help low income Americans install solar panels, either on their own property or in community solar gardens. There were also articles about the initiative in The Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun. Too bad current Virginia law will prevent people here from taking full advantage of the benefits.

Many of us either read the book or saw the movie titled Merchants of Doubt in which the tactics used by the fossil fuel industry were shown to be similar to those used earlier by the tobacco industry. Now The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has prepared a report entitled The Climate Deception Dossiers in which they show that “Internal fossil fuel industry memos reveal decades of disinformation – a deliberate campaign to deceive the public that continues even today.” Elliott Negin, a senior writer for UCS, has a summary in a blog on Huffington Post.

Methane emissions from natural gas operations in the Barnett shale of North Texas are 50% higher than EPA estimates had indicated.

A new scientific paper reports that one effect of climate change has been to increase the frequency of torrential rain storms.

Scientists are using information from past warm periods to try to estimate how high sea level will rise in response to increases in global average temperature, and the results are not encouraging for coastal regions. The results from their study were published in the journal Science. Some implications of the study can be found here.

Because of increased temperatures associated with climate change bumble bees have abandoned the most southern 185 miles of their range, according to a new study published in the journal Science. Unfortunately they have not expanded their range northward, like many other species. It is as if they are caught in a climate vise.

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 7/3/2015

  • On June 13 I alerted you to the new series on climate change, The Climate 25, being launched by The Weather Channel. The project compiled short (~2 min) videos by each of 25 people presenting their views on climate change. You can watch all 25 of the short videos starting here.
  • Ivy Main has a new post about Appalachian Power Company’s approach to customers who wish to purchase solar power from third party providers. Hint: Its not pretty.
  • We’ve all heard that it would take several planet Earths to support the global population in a manner similar to way we live. But what if we all lived in a very efficient, modern eco-village with a small carbon footprint? Samuel Alexander explores this question in a post on The Conversation.
  • Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, much stronger than carbon dioxide. Currently, leakage rates in the U.S. are thought by many to be sufficient to call into question the benefits of burning natural gas rather than coal for electricity generation. Thus, if we are to benefit climate-wise from the fracking boom, leakage rates must be reduced. To better focus attention on the worst methane polluters, Energywire has evaluated where various oil and gas companies stand.
  • As part of his new assignment to report on climate change, John Sutter of CNN visited the Marshall Islands and filed this report. The Marshall Islanders are not in good shape and many are already migrating to other countries, including the U.S. In fact, climate change, with its associated sea level rise, is considered likely to be a major factor contributing to future human migration.
  • The U.S. has an aging power grid designed well before solar and other forms of distributed energy were conceived of. ClearPath examines our power grid and its vulnerabilities. Lela Guccione of Rocky Mountain Institute addresses the question of what type of grid we will have in the future. Will we take the path to an integrated grid or will we choose grid defection? For us in Virginia the question comes down to which path Dominion Virginia Power and the State Corporation Commission choose. To get some idea, you might read Dominion’s Integrated Resource Plan.
  • After a seven year environmental and health review, New York state has banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. In another regulatory action, the EPA moved on Thursday to restrict the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), refrigerants that are also potent greenhouse gases, in some cases almost 15,000 times as powerful as carbon dioxide.
  • The Supreme Court’s decision on the EPA mercury regulation has had two major effects, one direct and the other indirect. The direct effect, of course, is to slow the process of limiting mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. The indirect effect, which may turn out to be even more important, is to embolden opponents of the Obama administrations climate agenda.
  • “What is community resilience? How can you know if your community is resilient? Is there a relationship between resilience and justice? What resources have proven particularly useful in actually building resilience?” These are some of the questions that the website Resilience explores in a series of interviews with a li>
  • Brazil, the U.S., and China all announced new goals Tuesday to curb climate change. Chris Mooney and Steven Mufson of The Washington Post analyse why those commitments are important.
  • As of June 30, 45 large active wildfires were burning from Alaska to Arizona and as far east as Colorado. In addition to loss of property and forests, these fires will have wide-ranging impacts, including air pollution, soil erosion impacting water supplies, and exacerbating climate change. Natasha Geiling discusses all of these impacts here. Meanwhile, the U.S. Interior Department is studying how to make forest ecosystems more resilient to fire.
  • Yet another scientific paper has been published this year showing a weakening in the Atlantic overturning circulation (i.e., Gulf Stream). This paper examines the impacts of the loss of polar sea ice. One impact of a slowing circulation is a warming of the waters off the east coast of the U.S., causing greater sea level rise in places like Norfolk.
  • Siemens is opening a plant to convert electricity from wind turbines into hydrogen gas. This provides a method of energy storage as well as a means of obtaining hydrogen for fuel cell powered cars.
  • A new study just reported on in the journal Science concludes that global warming poses serious threats to marine ecosystems and the millions of humans that depend on them.
  • Speaking at an event for the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership, Prince Charles of Great Britain stated that “profound changes” in the world’s economic system are needed to avoid environmental catastrophe from climate change. The prince said that “the irresistible power of ‘business as usual’ has so far defeated every attempt to ‘rewire’ our economic system in ways that will deliver what we so urgently need.”
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 6/26/15

  • Ivy Main has a new post about Dominion Virginia Power and utility-scale solar electricity generation.
  • Bloomberg Business has an interesting graphic that presents all of the factors influencing Earth’s average temperature since the industrial revolution. (It is more interesting on a computer than on a mobile device.) It may even help your denier friends see what is actually driving the warming.
  • Scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts have used computer modeling to study how the Earth’s natural ability to sequester carbon dioxide will change in the future if we continue to burn fossil fuels as we are now. One of their findings is that the oceans will become stratified, thereby cutting off the deep oceans as a storehouse for carbon and keeping more in the atmosphere.
  • Research suggests that Canada’s Beaufort Sea is becoming more acidic faster than any other ocean in the world. This will provide insights into what is in store for the rest of Earth’s oceans. In a totally separate study, Kaitlin Alexander and coauthors examine the implications of uneven distribution of ocean acidity during the PETM 55 million years ago to our understanding of that event.
  • Alaskan glaciers are contributing much more melt water to the oceans than had previously been thought, with most of the here-to-fore unaccounted for water coming from inland glaciers.
  • In contrast to the recent EPA report finding little evidence that hydraulic fracturing is contaminating drinking water wells, a new study published in Environmental Science and Technology has found that drinking water wells in Texas counties that are home to intensive fracking operations contain elevated levels of more than two dozen metals and chemicals, some of which are carcinogens.
  • A new study, commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund, has found that 2.2% of the natural gas produced by gas wells on federal and Indian lands is lost to leakage. When combined with leakage in the distribution system, this suggests that the overall leakage rate exceeds 3%, the level above which any climate benefits of gas over coal are lost. Additional analysis of the report is available here.
  • According to a new peer-reviewed EPA study, immediate action against climate change will prevent thousands of premature deaths and save the country from facing severe economic disruptions. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy highlighted the major findings in an NPR interview.
  • A report by the Lancet Commission concludes that curbing climate change could be the biggest global health opportunity of the 21st century. Failure to act, on the other hand, could wipe out all public health progress due to economic development over the last 50 years.
  • In a new report, Bloomberg New Energy Finance outlines six major shifts that will transform future energy markets. However, fossil fuels will still provide 44% of our power in 2040.
  • A new study published in Nature Climate Change finds that human-caused climate change affects weather in two ways. It changes the odds that any given extreme event will occur. It makes the events more severe.
  • The heat wave in Pakistan has killed more than 1000 people this past week.
  • There were two significant court rulings this week. In the state of Washington a judge has ruled in favor of a group of young people asking that the state be required to protect the climate for future generations. In The Netherlands a court ruled that the government must take action to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming.
  • For many Christians, protecting the poor of the world and the protecting the environment are intimately intertwined. Justin Gillis examines how this relationship is causing many to view action on climate change as a social-justice issue.
  • If you are into cli-fi, you might find Ari Phillips’ review of The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigolupi of interest.

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 6/19/2015

  • The top news this week was about Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter on the environment. The Washington Post published an overview and analysis as well as ten key excerpts. The Carbon Brief posted a much more detailed summary of key statements on climate, energy, and the environment. An abbreviated version of the letter was released by The Vatican. Finally, George Monbiot had a very interesting opinion piece in The Guardian positing that our fight for the natural world is all about love.
  • If you saw the television series Years of Living Dangerously you may remember Anna Jane Joyner and her attempts to convince her father, evangelical minister Rick Joyner, about the human roots of climate change. Rolling Stone has an interview with her discussing how to reach members of the evangelical community. She has some very interesting things to say.
  • Bill McKibben has a letter to President Obama on Common Dreams telling him that he still has time to be a climate champion. It is well worth reading. (Since it was posted last Thursday it should have been listed in last week’s Weekly Roundup, but I didn’t learn of it until after that Roundup had been sent out.)
  • David Gelles of The New York Times examines the divestment movement and whether it is likely to have an impact on the companies targeted or on the shift of the economy off of fossil fuels.
  • Norway is operating the world’s first all-electric battery-powered ferry.
  • Bella Bathurst has a very interesting piece in The Guardian about Ron Naveen, a biologist who has spent 23 seasons in Antarctica studying penguins. His findings should give us all concern.
  • Those who have read Merchants of Doubt, or seen the movie of the same name, will recall Naomi Oreskes, the Harvard historian of science whose research unearthed the activities of the “merchants”. For more background information about her you might be interested in this essay.
  • Governor McAuliffe is considering changes to Virginia’s fracking regulations. John Bloom, chair of public health issues for the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, has reviewed the proposed revisions of the regulations and finds them wanting. His comments on the proposed changes can be read in a guest column on Ivy Main’s blog.
  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned that current pledges from more than 30 countries imply that global CO2 emissions will continue to rise until 2030, thereby making it very difficult to limit warming to 2C. The IEA has proposed four measures that would allow the world to meet that target.
  • David Crane, CEO of NRG Energy, is not your typical head of an energy company. Rather, he wants to change the way energy companies operate, thereby revolutionizing the industry.
  • As the Shell drilling rig departs Seattle for the Arctic, The Guardian has another installment in their carbon bomb series, this one about Barrow, Alaska.
  • The UN has no category for climate refugees, although more and more people might fall under that category if one existed. The problem lies in establishing that climate change caused a person to become a refugee, just as it is very difficult to say that any single weather event was caused by climate change. Ana Sofia Knauf examines the concept of climate refugees using the case of a man in Seattle as an example.
  • There is increasing evidence that warmer temperatures are associated with more intense rainstorms, even when the total rainfall doesn’t change. This may mean that existing drainage systems will be inadequate, leading to more localized flooding.
  • Alaska’s glaciers are losing 75 billion tons of ice a year.
  • Ilissa Ocko, writing on the Environmental Defense Fund blog, Climate 411, examines six climate tipping points and assesses how concerned we should be about them.

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 6/12/2015

  • Bill McKibben has sent a letter to Hillary Clinton advising her that now is the time to get serious about climate change.
  • Elizabeth Douglass of Inside Climate News reports on the difficulty of shareholder engagement with oil and gas companies.
  • A number of U.S. weather related records were broken in May, including the wettest May on record for the lower 48 states. In addition, Alaska just recorded the hottest May that it has had since record keeping began 91 years ago. The hot spring may contribute to polar amplification of climate change because of the early loss of snow cover on the ground.
  • The G7 Summit set goals for decarbonizing the economies of the G7 nations by 2100, but some felt they were very weak.
  • Katherine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University, explains why we need to put a price on carbon as a way to reduce CO2 emissions while honoring our values.
  • Jay Faison, a conservative businessman and entrepreneur from Charlotte, NC, has invested $165 million to endow a new foundation focused on getting conservatives to change their minds about climate change.
  • The Weather Channel is launching a new media package called The Climate 25: Conversations with 25 of the Smartest Voices on Climate, Security, Energy, and Peace. Each short video features one of 25 people that speaks about their area of expertise relative to climate change.
  • A Stanford University study provides a state-by-state plan for converting the U.S. to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050. The plan for Virginia can be found here.
  • Hawaii’s governor has signed a bill requiring the state’s utilities to generate 100% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2045.
  • The EPA’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions at power plants will create more jobs than it cuts, according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute,
  • The Environmental Defense Fund has a new white paper analyzing how states can use well-established emissions management tools to meet the requirements of EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
  • Amazon Web Services announced on June 10 that it has partnered with Community Energy, Inc. to support the construction and operation of an 80 MW solar farm in Accomack County, VA.
  • EPA has announced an endangerment finding with respect to CO2 emissions from commercial aircraft, paving the way for regulation of those emissions.
  • According to climate models the temperature in the tropical upper troposphere (roughly 3 – 9 miles altitude) should be increasing faster than the temperature at Earth’s surface in response to atmospheric CO2, but it apparently has not been doing so, providing climate change deniers with evidence that climate models are wrong. Now, in a new paper, Sherwood and Nishant have shown that the upper troposphere is warming about 70-80% faster than the surface, a value close to model predictions.
  • The likelihood of a strong El Nino this year is increasing and if it comes to pass it will have a positive impact on precipitation in California, particularly if it lasts until winter.

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 6/5/2015

  • Ivy Main has a new post about the use of solar panels and green buildings to reduce energy costs at schools.
  • NOAA scientists have just had a paper published in Science that finds that the so-called hiatus in global warming since 1998 is an artifact caused by inaccuracies in the global temperature record. Rather, their reanalysis of the global temperature record shows that there is no hiatus. As might be expected, the paper has caused quite a stir, especially among the denier community. Two additional articles on the subject can be found here and here.
  • The death toll in India from their heat wave has continued to rise. Catherine de Lange has a post in The Guardian with an interesting graphic that shows the combinations of temperature and humidity at which it is dangerous to work out of doors. She also explains why high temperatures are dangerous.
  • The third installment of The Guardian‘s carbon bomb series covers coal in China. Like the previous two, it really grabs you.
  • Getting countries to make the costly but necessary investments to reduce their carbon emissions will take more than diplomacy. It will require a big stick, something currently lacking from the negotiations leading up to Paris.
  • After suffering a multi-year drought, Texas has recently experienced record high rainfall with associated widespread flooding. This is referred to as “weather whiplash” as explained by Joe Romm.
  • Although a temperature increase of 2C over preindustrial times has been the goal of international negotiations for quite some time, some are saying that pledges so far are inadequate and that the Paris conference in December may mark the end of it as a goal.
  • A new study indicates that natural gas may not be effective as a bridge to a low carbon world.
  • The EPA has just released a report that concludes that there is little evidence that fracking represents a threat to water supplies. This means that it is unlikely that additional regulations will be put forth.
  • A paper in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that global warming may result in the largest ocean species migration in 3 million years, with a large impact on fisheries and other marine food supplies.
  • In one of the most surprising actions this week, a group of six major oil/gas companies have indicated that they are ready for a price on carbon and, in fact, need one in order to effectively plan for the future. Tim McDonnell at Mother Jones and Tara Patel at Bloomberg Business both had commentaries, as did a former CEO of Shell, who also indicated that divestment is a perfectly rational response to current actions of fossil fuel companies.
  • Last week I included an item about a new paper by Jennifer Francis of Rutgers providing more evidence that the warming Arctic is causing more severe winter weather patterns at mid-latitude in the Northern Hemisphere. Well, this week she and another coauthor have another new paper out with even more evidence for their hypothesis.
  • Renewable energy in South Africa is producing significant amounts of electricity less expensively than new coal-fired power plants.
  • Southeastern U.S. forests are being cut to provide biomass for European power plants and the practice may not lead to a reduction in carbon emissions.
  • Psychological barriers make it difficult to overcome denial of climate change. Brian Roewe discusses the various factors that prevent us from taking climate change seriously.

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 5/29/2015

  • Nationwide (not just here in Harrisonburg) elders are taking up the cause of climate change, feeling that they must do all they can for their children’s and grandchildren’s future. They are even planning a rally in D.C. in September.
  • Doug Hendren has a new song about the TPP, called Fast Track Blues.
  • Ivy Main discusses Virginia Sierra Club’s latest General Assembly scorecard on climate and energy.
  • Extreme heat in India has killed more than 1300 people, which is not surprising because the combination of high temperature and humidity made it impossible for perspiration to evaporate and cool the body. Katherine Bagley of Inside Climate News has a roundup of what the latest science says about climate change and extreme weather.
  • Experts think that hurricanes will move further north in response to climate change, with more hitting the mid-Atlantic region. With 2015 shaping up to be a strong El Nino year, the Atlantic hurricane season is expected to generate fewer storms than average, whereas the Pacific is likely to see more storms.
  • As we approach COP21, the Paris Climate Change Conference, an informative infographic has been posted on visual.ly. It might be useful in explaining the climate change issue to family and friends.
  • Skeptical Science has a very informative post about the slowdown in global surface warming over the past 15 years or so, providing a rational explanation for why it has occurred. While the text is fairly long and detailed it is accompanied by a six minute video that summarizes the information in a very clear, succinct manner. I encourage you to watch the video so you’ll be prepared next time you hear someone say that global warming has stopped.
  • Drought has been severe in southern Africa and as a result people in Zimbabwe face disastrous food shortages and hunger.
  • Michael Grunwald has an analysis of the real “war-on-coal”, the one being waged by the Sierra Club, with the help of funding by Michael Bloomberg. This war is being fought on the economic front, not just the environmental one, and Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign is winning.
  • A group of NGOs is working to convince 100 top corporations to set their greenhouse gas emissions policies in line with what scientists say is necessary to keep the global temperature rise less than 2 degrees C. Some are doing a great job, others not so great.
  • China’s coal use may have already peaked, and along with it, its CO2 emissions, but there may be lots of reasons.
  • In another installment of its series on “carbon bombs” The Guardian looks at the Canadian tar sands.
  • An analysis of rainfall data across the U.S. shows a pattern of more intense rainfall across many regions.
  • Chris Mooney examines the skeptics’ argument that we don’t need to worry about the loss of polar sea ice.
  • Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University and coworkers have argued that the warming Arctic is contributing to a wavy jet stream, which in turn impacts severe weather in the Northern Hemisphere. She and colleagues recently published a paper providing additional evidence for their hypothesis. Robert McSweeney, writing in The Carbon Brief, summarizes their latest data and what other climate scientists are saying about it.

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 5/22/2015

  • Ivy Main has a new blog post entitled “If the power grid goes down, blame the war on solar.”
  • Jason Mathers has some surprising numbers about fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by the trucking industry.
  • New research shows that much of the heat that has been taken up by the Pacific Ocean over the last decade has been transported to the Indian Ocean, where it could impact India’s monsoon rains.
  • A new study shows that the shapes of mountains are not as we typically imagine them. Their actual shape will influence the ability of animals and birds to change their range in response to climate change.
  • At a time when we badly need to reduce the emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, governments around the world are still spending trillions of dollars in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. Also reported on here.
  • Climate models provide the only means we have of estimating what the future may look like in the face of continued CO2 emissions. But are 95% of them in error, as claimed by Maurice Newman, top business adviser to Australian Prime Minister tony Abbott? John Cook answers that question in The Conversation.
  • A new study published in Nature Climate Change finds that climate change is impacting hurricanes in two contradictory ways: it is making them stronger while decreasing their number.
  • Another impact of increasing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels is to make the oceans more acidic. This increased acidity makes it more difficult for marine organisms to form shells, which has the impact of making them smaller.
  • Global warming will make trees shorter and scrubbier. Since large trees store more carbon, this may exacerbate warming.
  • The next generation of wind turbines, which are much larger, will be able to reach winds at higher elevation, thereby making wind energy feasible in more states.
  • A new report by German and Austrian scientists suggests that it is still possible to keep global warming below 1.5C, but it will take rapid changes in the global energy system and will likely require the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • After reviewing the presentations at four technical conferences across the country the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has concluded that contrary to claims from some states, there is nothing in EPA’s Clean Power Plan that will make the lights go out.
  • Several glaciers in the southern Antarctic Peninsula suddenly began shedding ice in 2009, according to a recent report in Science. Another article about it is here.
  • Fusion remains the holy grail of energy production because it would provide an endless supply of energy. A new reactor configuration increases the likelihood of achieving the dream, maybe even within five years.
  • If an El Nino event materializes this year as expected, it could increase rainfall in California, but it could also increase drought in west Africa, which would be very bad.

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 5/15/2015

  • Bill McKibben had an op-ed piece in the New York Times entitled “Obama’s Catastrophic Climate-Change Denial“.
  • There has been a lot of interest lately in the 2 degree C goal for global warming. First, there is controversy over whether it can be achieved, particularly given some of the assumptions in the models showing how to get there. Then several reasons were cited as to why we are missing the mark. Finally, we were told that the 2 degree goal is too high and that we should shoot for something lower lest low-lying island nations suffer.
  • David Roberts has a very interesting conversation with libertarian Jerry Taylor about climate change and the type of policy against it that would get libertarian support. In a follow-up conversation they discussed why Taylor favors a carbon tax for addressing climate change. You might want to share both conversations with any libertarian or Tea Party acquaintances you have.
  • The World Bank doesn’t think that pricing carbon is adequate for solving climate change. Instead, it recommends five policies for establishing a thriving low-carbon economy.
  • Stage 3 of climate denial is to accept that climate change exists and we are the cause, but to deny that it is really a problem. People who think this way are called “lukewarmers.” Dana Nuccitelli examines whether the rise of lukewarmers is a good or bad thing.
  • As part of its “Keep it in the ground” campaign The Guardian is starting a series of stories about the five biggest “carbon bombs.” The first deals with the Galilee basin coal project in Australia, which would dig up and make available a huge amount of coal. If you don’t look at anything else in this Roundup, look at this story. It is beautifully done.
  • While it is tempting to attribute every extreme weather event to climate change, many are just due to the vagaries of “the weather.” The Economist has an interesting article about the advances in attribution, i.e., the science behind scientists ability to determine when an event is really due to climate change.
  • Both the Larsen A and Larsen B ice shelves in Antarctica have already collapsed and now it looks as if the massive Larsen C ice shelf may also collapse. Although total collapse of the ice shelf will take a very long time because of its massive size, it is still a concern for those interested in sea level rise. Meanwhile, Larsen B ice shelf appears to be in the final stages of disintegration, which will allow faster calving of ice bergs from the glaciers behind it.
  • New research on sea level rise published recently in Nature Climate Change has revealed both good news and bad news. The good news is that sea level hasn’t risen as much as previously thought. The bad news is that sea level rise is accelerating.
  • Because of recent volcanic eruptions, Robert McSweeney and Roz Pidcock have queried climate scientists to determine the impact of volcanoes on the climate.
  • Does the lack of renewable energy from Dominion and Duke Energy threaten the choice of Virginia and North Carolina as locations for large data centers, and therefore the jobs they provide? Greenpeace has studied the renewable energy availability in the two states and its relationship to the data centers.
  • Yale Climate Connections has a new website. On it they have articles as well as 90 sec podcasts of their public radio program. Perhaps we could get WMRA to work their program into its schedule.
  • It now looks as if the long-awaited strong El Nino is here. If so, it will be good for the western U.S. but bad for Australia.
  • January through April 2015 was the hottest Jan – April on record, and the records are likely to continue to be broken this year, especially with the developing El Nino.
  • An international group of scientists has just published a study showing that the organic carbon in the thawing permafrost is rapidly eaten by microbes and released as carbon dioxide, providing a significant new input of fossil CO2 to the atmosphere.


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 5/8/2015

  • 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.