Climate clippings 166

1. Temperatures could be rising faster than we thought

Using a new model, researchers from the University of Queensland and Griffith University, predict the global average temperature could rise by 1.5°C as early as 2020. The model is based on forecasts of population and economic growth combined with rising per capita energy consumption.

    The study is the first to include ‘energy use per person’ as a predictive factor rather than focusing on economies or populations.

They say:

    “Simply put, as we get more efficient at manufacturing, goods get cheaper and we buy more.”

There should also be a focus on renewable fuels:

    “As 80 per cent of world energy is used as fuels and only 20 per cent as electricity, renewable fuels in particular will be critical.”

Tamino at Open Mind has a series of graphs which will make you sick!

2. February temperature was the biggest monthly anomaly on record

Earlier Val gave us the link to The Guardian. Here’s Joe Romm at Climate Progress. The map shows Alaska, Central Asia and eastern Europe baking, and a familiar cold spot in the Northern Atlantic:


Tamino says it’s not yet the harbinger of a “tectonic shift” in the global warming trend, but here’s his charting of the 12-month mean:

nasa12_Feb 2015_600

Here’s his chart of the trend:

nasa_trend_to Feb 2016_600

3. Record levels of CO2 growth

In 2015 atmospheric CO2 increased by 3.05 parts per million, a record for a single year.

The rate of increase is now 200 times what it was between 11,000 and 17,000 years ago, at the end of the ice age.

4. Links between climate change and extreme weather are increasingly clear and present

Adam Sobel at Washington Post writes of a new area of scientific research, known as “extreme event attribution” taking shape. Essentially actual events are set against expectations worked out from models to identify the climate change contribution.

As Sobel says, this should allow us to grasp more profoundly what is happening to our planet in real time.

Thanks to zoot for the link.

Update: Carbon Brief has a comprehensive treatment of the topic of event attribution, including the need for timeliness, so in some cases we can be told of the linkages while the event is still happening or newsworthy.

5. Decline of Great Barrier Reef likely to be worse than feared

A new study has looked at the individual reefs in the Great Barrier Reef, and found variability greater than expected of the aragonite necessary for reef building. Perhaps surprisingly, they think that natural processes rather than ocean acidification is the main driver of variability.

However, the overlay of global warming is telling and they found that:

    even the full implementation of the Paris Agreement will bear high risk for warm-water corals and coral reefs. Mitigation will not [be] enough and local managers will need to implement protection and adaptation measures.

Just what these protection and adaptation measures might be is not clear.

6. Tasmania lurches back to fossil fuels

The federal Greens have struck a deal with Labor for a Senate inquiry as Tasmania’s electricity crisis deepens. With its dams and hydro systems Tasmania exports electricity to the mainland from May to August, but is normally a net importer for the rest of the year. This year there was a dry spring, and then in late December the Basslink cable to the mainland broke. It will take months to fix, no-one is sure how long.

Meanwhile the dams are at 15.5% and dropping. Tasmania cranked up its old gas-fired power station and is importing thousands of diesel motors, but some large industries may have to close.

Electricity prices have surged. Tasmania usually enjoys some of the lowest wholesale electricity prices in the nation, averaging around $40/MWh. In early March it was around $300/MWh.

Presumably the Senate will look into whether it was just bad luck, or rotten planning and greed in selling too much power to cash in on the carbon price. They might also ask why rooftop solar is still being valued at just $60/MWh, and why plans to build a 600MW wind farm in King Island were derailed by fierce opposition from anti-wind activists, mostly from the mainland.

7. China’s carbon emissions may have already peaked

Officially China aims to peak CO2 emissions around 2030. The good news is that the country’s emissions should peak sometime between now and 2025, according to a London study.

Even better news, it’s possible that emissions actually peaked in 2014. In 2015 there was a 5 percent drop in coal consumption and a 35 percent fall in coal imports.

One of the reasons is that people are dying from air pollution.

Elsewhere we find that in the first two months of 2016 that while electricity consumption was up just 0.3% year on year, coal imports fell 10.2% and coal production declined 6.4%. The big mover was hydro where production grew by 22.6%.

8. Modelling high penetration renewable energy

A group of engineers, energy analysts and IT experts in Western Australia modelled a high penetration renewable energy system, showing that an 85% penetration of renewables would cost an average of $124/MWh compared to $127/MWh for “business as usual”.

The modelling includes decentralised energy production microgrids, and batteries “behind the metre”. Achieving 100% renewable energy would be more expensive, ranging from $157/MWh to $164/MWh depending on the scenario adopted.

30 thoughts on “Climate clippings 166”

  1. Carbon Brief has a comprehensive treatment of the topic of event attribution, including the need for timeliness, so in some cases we can be told of the linkages while the event is still happening or newsworthy.

  2. The map is a pretty scary one, Brian. The amount of heat in the Arctic is huge.

    I think that one positive action to take would be to make commercial interest climate denial a criminal offence with assets of such crime confiscatable. By doing this then there would be a process to cut off the funding of those who deliberately set out to frustrate the process of understanding and addressing climate change. In this way legitimate climate sceptical research would be properly funded and face full scientific rigour.

  3. Coal fired power is much cheaper if output is steady. As a result we have offered the lowest prices to industries like aluminium that have a large, steady power demand.
    However, as renewable capacity increases the cheapest power will go to industries that can change their power consumption to accommodate the variable output of most forms of renewable power.

  4. BilB, I did read somewhere that in Alaska they were trucking in snow for a snow event, which would be a worry in winter.

    Logically crimes against the planet and humanity should be punished. In climate mitigation that thinking leads me to favour regulation rather than to market-based incentives, but whatever works!

  5. Yeah right BilB, plenty of illegal coal mines and power stations in communist China and you want Plimer in jail.

    Can we jail those that overstate the impacts by the same degree?

  6. On Radio National, economist Frank Jotzo said, we are doing nowhere near enough to achieve our 2030 target.

    Chief Scientist Alan Finkel:

    What that says is that for all the effort that we’re putting into trying to avoid increases of emission, we’re losing. So what we’re doing with solar, with wind and with changing practices, behavioural practices and things like that, we’re not winning the battle.

  7. Jeff Masters and Bob Henson at Wunderblog say it’s a true shocker and an ominous milestone in our march toward an ever-warmer planet.

    They advise that ,global readings tend to average about 4°C cooler in January and February than they do in July or August because of the larger landmass in the northern hemisphere.

    But taking that into account they reckon we are about at 1.55°C above the pre-industrial average.

  8. In China, Jumpy, people get executed for less. Prosecuting, fining and stripping assets is a lot more humane.

    Extensive damage to property, substantial loss of life, and extensive disruption to ecosystems are now all clearly demonstrated as being consequences of climate change. We have lost 15 years of vital reaction time at the hands of deliberately obstructive and dishonest politicians, a handful of “scientists”, a number of grossly self interested business people, and a body of complicit blog operators. Once the actions of such people are declared illegal then bank accounts can be examined and the money trails traced. There is a difference between having an opinion, however misguided, and engaging in premeditated action to harm others.

    Denialist’s claimed motive is to “prevent wasteful spending”, I have observed, but their actions are very clearly focussed on preventing any reduction in the use of fossil fuel despite the very clear fact that such continued consumption threatens our very existence.

    Just as the tobacco industry eventually faced penal action for failing to warn the public of health risks that their product presented, so too will fossil fuel interests who, for commercial gain, take deliberate action to frustrate the process of decarbonising the global economies, I believe.

  9. Go to the West Coast of Tasmania and you’ll wonder why the heck the place isn’t chock-a-block full of wind turbines.

    The dumb-bunny decision makers in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra have never heard of The Roaring Forties.

  10. Look on the bright side Graham, the teachers got some undercover basketball courts when we ” had ” to borrow money and spend it.
    Apparently the ALP thought basketball was the Great Moral Challenge of Our Time.

  11. Jumpy, if you are referring to the ‘school halls’ program, every time I’ve voted since then it has been in one of these pleasantly designed multi-purpose facilities. For many schools it was the first time they could assemble the whole school out of the weather.

    Then there was the billions spent on school libraries.

  12. I think Jumpy is a little blinkered. The Abbott LNP wrecking ball called a halt to the roofing insulation programme on totally trumped up charges, that will eventually be seen as a massive loss for the country in terms of energy efficiency, and then NBN which the LNP under Turnbull has become a loss greater eventually than the GFC stimulus, a stimulus package that the LNP backed you should recall. Just to remind you what Turnbull promised before the election

    Tony Abbott was the biggest dummy spit in Australia’s history, and the consequences of his lunacy will remain with us for decades.

  13. I’m intrigued that Jumpy nominates Plimer as a person who has “deliberately set out to frustrate the process of understanding and addressing climate change.”

  14. Brian

    Then there was the billions spent on school libraries.

    Everyone has a library. On their phone, free Rudd Chinese lap top ( Oh wait, that was another spending debacle) or home PC.
    Libraries are like drive-ins and VCRs, now redundant. Wasting billions ( borrowed with interest ) on them was economic vandalism in the extreme.

    The opportunity cost ( renewable efficiency research ? ) is incalculable ?

  15. Zoot, I picked Plimer coz he has more credential in Earth science than Flannery.
    Plimer ( perhaps ) underestimates warming effects to the same degree Flannery ( perhaps ) overestimates.

    Would you determine jail sentence length by degree of wrongness of prediction compared to the outcome?
    And what would the Law determine as the ” future outcome ” as a base ?
    Would you only confine this Law to this subject or across the board ?
    Would this Law be retrospective ?

    BilB, feel free to jump in, it was your stupid suggestion in the first place.

  16. From our position here at this time, Jumpy, we cannot overstate the impacts of climate change, we can only be wrong about the timing.

    Everything that Cruz and Co do just serves to make Plimer more accurate.

  17. Oops, I was thinking of Mann not Plimer. Let me restate that, Plimer goes to Jail, Mann, and Flannery, get a statue.

    The problem, Jumpy is inertia. For Global Warming that inertia is provided by the ocean. There is a thermal lag of some 50 years as the ocean takes up heat, but once it has that energy is in the system it continues to affect climate for a very long time. Compounding the problem is economic inertia, it takes another 50 years to change the way we do things so the rate of heat absorption by the oceans is set to increase a lot before it comes even close to levelling off. Compounding that again is political inertia and this is where the liability of deliberately obstructive denialists lays.

    What that energy does is increase the rate of water surface evaporation, and it is that moisture that drives climate change.

    THE BIG FACT: Moist air is lighter than dry air. If it weren’t for that fact we would probably not have a problem, but then we would have no rain either.

    The average surface temperature is a symptom of the real problem which is more energy in the air in the form of moisture (yes it take energy to put moisture into air). That moisture/energy increases the rate of turnover of the atmosphere and this is what we experience as climate change, along with the hotter surface.

    It is really simple stuff, so simple in fact that it is not surprising that the likes of Plimer (and a large handful of other geologists) who is more concerned about stuff that is heavier than air would have missed it.

    To your questions.

    1. Jail sentence is determined by intention. If a geologist actively distorts the science to benefit their profession ie oil geologist knowingly distorts facts to protect his income from fossil fuels, then the sentence is determined by that impact. It is kind of like reverse insider trading.

    2. Climate affects all of nature so the impact is massive. There is no comparable problem anywhere on this planet.

    3. Yes the judgement of a Denialists actions would be retrospective as determined by their evidenced influence.

  18. From our position here at this time, Jumpy, we cannot overstate the impacts of climate change, we can only be wrong about the timing.

    Then I want to see definite outcome certainties with the year of occurrence with a margin of error stated in +/- years.
    Can you find that for us Bilb to back up the above ?

  19. Actually I was confusing Plimer with Hansen (who gets arrested from time to time). My Bad

  20. I think, Jumpy if you read Hansen’s predictions (and Flannery’s for that matter) they will be understating the impacts minus zero plus thirty years (diminishing by 5 years per decade), but much damage is already done so the case to answer is in the present.

    And, yes, those who plough down rain forests to plant oil palms should go to jail too.

  21. Mann, and Flannery, get a statue.

    So your saying Mann and Flannery were accurate with their predictions but their timing was a little off, is that it ?

  22. Without doing a study on it I would not put my real estate up and, apart from predictions of where and when rain will fall, I would have more faith in the predictions of these two over, say, yours Jumpy. And that is really sticking my neck out because we all know that in your mind you, rain gage and thermometer in hand, are one of the greatest climate predictors, Jumpy.

  23. You will be known as [************], from this day forward, if you don’t produce MY predictions.
    But, alas for you, I have made none.
    So you are what you are.


    [Jumpy, you crossed a line there – Brian]

  24. Jumpy, your notion that libraries are redundant is ignorant, but I’m not going to explain why. Perhaps another day. There is a case for the service they provide being rebranded.

    For Ian Plimer, I did a piece on him with lots of links back in 2009. If you want to follow up one who looked at his book in detail, try Ian Enting. I did try to read the book once because someone gave me a copy. It was surprisingly awful in a way that should be apparent to anyone with a brain.

    Professor Barry Brook debated him, I think several times, when they were both in Adelaide.

  25. Then I want to see definite outcome certainties with the year of occurrence with a margin of error stated in +/- years.

    Jumpy it comes down to an issue of risk, not so much accuracy of predictions.

  26. Once again I’ve been too subtle for Jumpy.
    My point (which I apparently failed to make) was that nobody had mentioned Plimer until Jumpy decided he was someone who had “deliberately set out to frustrate the process of understanding and addressing climate change.”
    I would never have accused Plimer of such heinous behaviour; I think the poor dear has either gone emeritus or is suffering the early stages of dementia.
    But on reflection, that might be too forgiving. Thanks Jumpy!

  27. Oh and it is a stunt. I haven’t heard all of the details but he is clearly carrying on Abbott’s Climate Action “contain, control, and minimise” policy. One billion dollars put up against a 200 billion dollar (over 30 years) problem.

    He has nailed his reputation to the mast and the winds of change are going to tear it to shreds in just months.

  28. Hey, BilB. I do like your “reverse insider trading” felony – can we bring back the stocks for a bit of pre-incarceration public amusement please, please? The used rotten fruit and vegetables could be swept up afterwards and recycled as compost for public gardens.

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