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.

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.