Environmental change and migration
The British Government Office for Science has published a report Foresight: Migration and Global Environmental Change (Financial Times article here) looking at displacement and migration, both internal and transnational, due to environmental factors up to 2050.
Moving can be to a place of greater vulnerability, as from drought devastated area to a flood plain, or it can be part of the solution. There is concern over vulnerable populations that can’t move. Effectively they are “trapped”.
17 million people were displaced by natural hazards in 2009 and 42 million in 2010 (this number also includes those displaced by geophysical events).
Future numbers are impossible to estimate.
There more at Climate Spectator.
Dangerous climate change
I want to highlight Prof Kevin Anderson’s slide-show, linked by alexincancun in the last thread, Climate Change: going beyond the dangerous… brutal numbers & tenuous hope or cognitive dissonance?
Anderson uses the “burning embers diagram”, originally published in IPCC TAR in 2001 with a 2009 update in the The Copenhagen Diagnosis to question whether the guardrail for dangerous climate change should be 1C above pre-industrial rather than 2C:
Zero is set at 1990 temperatures, so 2C from pre-industrial is at 1.4C. A global average of 2C will give us 3C on land and about 7C near the poles.
Anderson looks at our emissions trajectory and particularly at China which at the end of their 12th five-year plan in 2030 will probably be emitting as much CO2 as the whole world is now. Then factor in India and others.
He sees 2C as virtually impossible and 4C by 2050 by 2050-2070 likely. The sound track gave up on me, but from the slides I think he’s recommending reductions of 40% by 2015, 70% by 2020 and 90% by 2030.
Problem is, he can’t be written off as a nutter. He’s just trying to be clear-eyed about what we face. Worth a listen and a look, I think.
EU energy futures
Someone has leaked an EU study on how it might meet its future renewable energy targets.
The scenario with the highest electricity prices was the “high renewables” one with more off-shore wind plus “significant” concentrated solar power and micro power generation from solar and wind.
The “diversified supply” scenario produced the cheapest prices. It assumed support for renewable energy but also acceptance of nuclear power and the commercial viability of CCS. Oh dear!
Recent discussion of CCS is here.
Pinning down Antarctic ice mass loss
Scientists are launching a project to finally give a definitive answer about the impact Antarctica is having on sea level change globally. They are bringing together all the available records and using technology capable of making “measurements with accuracies of better than one millimetre-per-year – the thickness of a fingernail.”
So then we’ll know.
Top writers tackle climate change in short stories
Via The Guardian we learn of Verso’s short story collection I’m With the Bears: Short Stories from a Damaged Planet with contributions from Margaret Atwood, Paolo Bacigalupi, T.C. Boyle, Toby Litt, Lydia Millet, David Mitchell, Nathaniel Rich, Kim Stanley Robinson, Helen Simpson, and Wu Ming. Royalties will go to 350.org.
Breeding plants to survive floods
Scientists have now identified the genes that allow plants to survive inundation. If we are to expect more floods this could be more than handy, especially in the food bowls of Asia.
Even in Australia flood inundation can be a problem, as it was in North West Qld in 2009 when the country went under for two months:
“There’s nothing left there any more, not even any sign of grass re-growing.”
“Half of our land is affected, people think the grass will come back, but it wont.”
Queensland’s idea of meeting demands for clean energy is to build two gas-fired power stations each with 1500MW capacity.
Not everyone is happy.
In Port Augusta they are hoping to close a dirty power station and replace it with solar. For one thing the mayor knows that coal-fired power stations have serious adverse effects on the health of the locals.
So do open-cut coal mines. Alcoa at Angelsea has an open-cut coal mine, plus possibly one of the dirtiest power stations on earth. The Baillieu Government has just extended the lease until 2061. There should be a penalty for such crimes against humanity:
This announcement ticks all the boxes when it comes to being a bad news story: the coal mine produces considerable amounts of carbon dioxide pollution. The smokestack from the power station is a little over 1km from the town’s new primary school. The mine is chewing through nationally significant heathlands, and the coal is low grade and high sulphur, leading to considerable public health impacts. It is very hard to see how ongoing coal mining within a few kilometres of the world famous Great Ocean Road helps the main employer in the region – tourism.
A dozen or so black-throated finches v one noisy miner
That’s the problem facing Clive Palmer with his 40 million tonnes a year coal mine projected to earn about $4.6 billion pa and inject about $1 billion annually into the coffers of the Queensland and Federal Governments.
You might recall that the orange-bellied parrot stopped a wind farm in Victoria back in 2006. I recall an estimate that one parrot might get killed by the blades every 1000 years.
John D who sent me this story has checked out the relevant listing and reports that the range of the finch is not restricted. In other words it can simply move over.