These posts include a brief mention of a number of news items relating to climate change. They don’t preclude treating any of these topics at more length in a separate post.
They can also serve as an open thread so that we can keep each other informed on important climate news.
Garnaut Update Paper 5: The science of climate change
Garnaut’s series of update papers has now reached Update Paper 5: The science of climate change. This is worth a longer look, but suffice it to say here that the sense of urgency has grown considerably.
- Observable trends seem to be running ahead of predictions.
- The 2C limit looks high and may in fact represent the boundary between dangerous climate change and extremely dangerous climate change.
- 450 ppm looks high, but we are going to shoot through it.
- Garnaut has picked up on the “emissions budget” approach I have been banging on about. On present trends we (the world) will use up our remaining budget of allowable emissions in a couple of decades.
Climate Emergency: Time to Slam on the Brakes
James Wright at Skeptical Science reckons what we do this decade is crucial. He follows Hansen’s notion of climate sensitivity, which gives us 6C temperature change for a doubling of CO2 concentrations with long term feedbacks.
He reckons we are on track for 1000 ppm by 2100 under BAU, so even if Hansen is wrong and it’s only 4.5C we are looking at an unmitigated disaster (sorry about the pun!).
390 ppm implies 25 metres of sea level rise eventually, that’s an 8-story building. 450 ppm implies no perennial ice anywhere and 75 metres.
Best get a wriggle on.
Polar ice loss quickens
Meanwhile ice loss from the ice sheets is quickening.
RealClimate sums up:
Extrapolating these melt rates forward to 2050, “the cumulative loss could raise sea level by 15 cm by 2050″ for a total of 32 cm (adding in 8 cm from glacial ice caps and 9 cm from thermal expansion) – a number very close to the best estimate of Vermeer & Rahmstorf (2009), derived by linking the observed rate of sea level rise to the observed warming.
Vermeer & Rahmstorf reckoned on 75-190 cm by 2100. The midpoint of that range is looking good.
Phytoplankton peaking early in the Arctic
The Arctic ice loss is moving the phytoplankton peak up to 50 days early, which could lead to crashes of the food web. Fish, shellfish, sea birds, and marine mammals are at risk.
The EU looks at a 25% target
The Guardian has the story:
Europe’s climate chief has beaten off intense lobbying from businesses to secure a key victory in the battle over greenhouse gas targets.
Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate change commissioner, published on Tuesday afternoon her long-awaited report into how the EU can toughen its climate targets in a cost-effective manner, with a proposal that the EU could raise its current targets on emissions cuts from 20% emissions cuts to 25% cuts by 2020.
What’s more, Hedegaard insists it will boost the EU economy.
The report hasn’t officially hit the deck yet and Hedegaard has some way to go in getting it adopted. The UK, Germany, France and Denmark are pushing for 30%.
China counts on coal
According to Fred Palmer, the chairman of the London-based World Coal Association and a key executive at Peabody Energy:
Vast reserves of coal in the far west of China mean it is set to become the “new Middle East”
But not to worry:
China is leading the US in efforts to develop technology to “clean” coal of its carbon emissions by burying them underground.
Tim Flannery quits climate change body
Tim Flannery has stepped down from the position of chairman of the Coasts and Climate Change Council. Seems he wants to concentrate on his new gig as chief commissioner of the independent Climate Commission.
He is being replaced by Professor Bruce Thom.
First electric contender for World Car of the Year
For the first time, an electric car – the Nissan LEAF – has made the grade as one of the top three contenders for the title of World Car of the Year.
Announced at a press conference Tuesday at the Geneva International Motor Show, the Audi A8, the BMW 5 Series and the Nissan LEAF were named the top three overall finalists for 2011 World Car of the Year.
To be eligible for the overall World Car award, the candidates must become available for sale on at least two continents during the period beginning January 1, 2010 and ending May 30, 2011.
Vehicles are selected and voted on by an international jury panel comprised of 66 automotive journalists from 24 countries who drive and evaluate new vehicles on a regular basis as part of their professional work.
Reading the article it is clear that electric cars have arrived.
Thanks to BilB for the heads-up.
Kite power for cargo ships
For the past ten years, Hamburg-based SkySails has been engineering and producing what are essentially giant kites, designed to help ships reduce their fuel use by catching the wind and pulling them across the surface of the ocean.
Cargill Ocean Transportation has announced that it plans to use the technology on one of its long-term charter ships, a vessel of between 25,000 and 30,000 deadweight tonnes (27,558 to 33,069 US tons). It will be the largest kite-assisted ship in the world.
Use of a SkySails sysytem is claimed to reduce a cargo vessel’s fuel consumption by an average of 10 to 35 percent annually, and by up to 50 percent temporarily.
Thanks to John D for this one.