Climate clippings 148

1. Hansen’s alarming new sea level rise scenario

James Hansen has a 17 author paper out suggesting that we could have multi-metre sea level rise this century. It’s based on the notion that meltwater from the ice sheets interrupts ocean circulation patterns, which then cause a feedback loop via larger storms. I think that’s it in brief.

There is a brief post at Climate Progress and a longer article at The Washington Post. The latter asked five relevant climate scientists to comment.

From this it appears to me that no-one is prepared to say that Hansen and associates are wrong, but they have queries about the assumptions and conclusions. Some think the extrapolations are such that the depicted scenario is unlikely. For all, however, there is plenty of food for thought.

If Hansen’s purpose was to break open the comfortable straitjacket provided by recent studies and in particular the IPPC report, he probably succeeded. It should be noted that the paper wasn’t peer reviewed. It was published in a ‘discussion’ journal where the peer review process happens in public.

2. Hottest first half of the year ever

The numbers are in. NOAA has found the first half of the year the hottest on modern record, surpassing the previous record of 2010 by 0.09°C. June surpassed the previous record set in 2014 by 0.12°C.

This is what it looks like:


In 2010 the El Niño had ended by this point. The current one is still strengthening and has an 80% chance of going through to our autumn next year.

3. In the end we’ll all be under sea water

All you need to do is hang around for a billion years or so.

Earth’s shrinking crust could leave us living on a water world, says the New Scientist.

About three billion years ago the earth’s crust was thinner. With less volume the continents could not float above sea level. Then tectonic activity started in earnest, pushing up parts of the crust. Over 2 billion years the crust thickened.

It’s been thinning for a billion years now. Give it another billion years and all the dry land will again slide under the water.

4. Plastic roads, more durable and climate friendly than asphalt


A Netherlands construction company has made a plastic road, which is claimed to be “virtually maintenance free” and “unaffected by corrosion and the weather.” The roads could handle extremely high and low temperatures, and would have a lifespan three times as long as typical asphalt roads.

The concept awaits an actual real world trial.

5. Hillary Clinton’s climate change agenda

    Among other things, Clinton pledged to defend from legal or political attack the Obama administration’s rule to cut carbon pollution from the nation’s fleet of power plants.

    A Clinton administration would go further, rewarding communities that speed rooftop solar panel installation, backing a contest for states to go beyond the minimums called for in the environmental rules, and boosting solar and wind production on federal lands.

    A four-page campaign fact sheet said the goal was to increase the share of U.S. power generation from renewable sources to 33 percent by 2027, compared to 25 percent under Obama’s carbon plan.

Clinton would make climate change a top priority throughout the election campaign. Last election neither candidate mentioned climate.

There’s more at Climate Progress.

6. Labor’s climate plans

Labor plans a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030 and a “reasonably soft” emissions trading scheme which will be linked to the rest of the world, according to Bill Shorten.

John Connor of The Climate Institute says we need “a toolbox of policy solutions” and our plan “needs to be seen as part of an economic modernisation as well as climate outcomes.”

We need to retire and replace our outdated and polluting coal-fired generation infrastructure, he says.

    “It makes little sense to have half of our power generation renewables if the other half is dominated by the most polluting generation technology – brown coal.”

Tony Abbott, our benighted PM, dismissed the ETS proposal as “electricity tax scam”.

Minister against for the environment, Greg Hunt, described the Climate Change Authority’s call for 40 to 60 per cent emissions reductions by 2030 (from 2005) as “staggering”.

7. It’s time for science to take a back seat on climate change

That’s the view put by Fred Pearce in the New Scientist (paywalled). In fact he said:

Scientists have long been told to engage with the public on the great issues of the day. But maybe on this issue, it is time to shut up and let others take the floor.


    What we need are other ways of thinking about our climate future that do not have science centre-stage. Too often, the issue gets pigeon-holed as something for researchers to sort out, with everyone else marginalised. To change that, we need to hear a lot more from artists and lawyers, priests and playwrights, economists and engineers, moralists and financiers, and a lot less from the lab.

Fred, let the scientists speak, but we need to hear from the others as well.

One thought on “Climate clippings 148”

  1. If we overlook the space travel theme, this could be interesting.

    It produces thrust by using solar power to generate multiple microwaves that move back and forth in an enclosed chamber. This means that until something fails or wears down, theoretically the engine could keep running forever without the need for rocket fuel.

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