Climate clippings 61

David Archer on methane

Arctic methane plumes

Climate clippings 58 led with an item on Methane worries. @ 18 I identified David Archer as one who is “very knowledgeable on the matter [and] thinks the process will be chronic rather than catastrophic.” Continue reading Climate clippings 61

Climate clippings 60: 2011 review edition

The year in review

For me the year began with the post Climate crunch: the fierce urgency of now, wherein we were reminded that the time for significant action on climate change was now and that postponing such action would make things quite a lot harder.

This message was reinforced by the Climate Commission’s report The Critical Decade with the following message:

“This decade is critical. Unless effective action is taken, the global climate may be so irreversibly altered we will struggle to maintain our present way of life.” “Without strong and rapid action there is a significant risk that climate change will undermine our society’s prosperity, health, stability and way of life.

Continue reading Climate clippings 60: 2011 review edition

Climate clippings 59

Tokelau leads the world!

I’ve been looking for some positive stories for Christmas. What can be more positive than Tokelau going almost completely to renewables?

I guess it helps if you’ve got only 1,500 people and three cars.

Harnessing desert sun power

We’ve posted before on Desertec, the plan to generate solar power in North Africa and pipe it to Europe, to supply up to 15% of its energy by 2050. They expect to see the first solar electricity flowing from Morocco to Spain as early as 2014.

This report tells us that Morrocco itself “wants to produce 42% of its electricity from renewable sources – solar, wind and hydro-electric – by 2020.” That’s got to be good.

There are critics, however:

Valentin Hollain of Eurosolar, a German non-profit organisation that promotes renewable energy, queries the entire concept of Desertec.

He argues that big corporations are using large-scale projects like Desertec and Medgrid to retain their position into the next generation, and that a mix of renewable power supplied locally can meet demand while keeping prices down for consumers.

Continue reading Climate clippings 59

Climate clippings 58

Methane worries

A team of Russian research scientists have been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Igor Semiletov, of the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that he has never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed.

“Earlier we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This is the first time that we’ve found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures, more than 1,000 metres in diameter. It’s amazing,” Dr Semiletov said. “I was most impressed by the sheer scale and high density of the plumes. Over a relatively small area we found more than 100, but over a wider area there should be thousands of them.”

I realise this has been linked to three times in the previous thread, but it’s important and not everyone reads the comments threads.

A separate study has found that the methane stored in permafrost is three times larger than earlier estimates. It could release 1.7-5.2 times more carbon than previously thought, depending how rapidly the world warms.

In a cautionary note here, James Hansen reckons we are forcing the system 20,000 times faster than commonly happened through natural caused in the past 50 million years. Continue reading Climate clippings 58

Climate clippings 57

WMO on the 2011 climate

Via Climate Progress we have the WMO’s Provisional Statement on the Status of the Global Climate and press release. This graph is interesting:

Temperatures relative to 1960-1990

2011 is shaping as the 10th highest on record and are higher than any previous year with a La Niña event. The 13 warmest years have all occurred in the 15 years since 1997. WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud:

“Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached new highs. They are very rapidly approaching levels consistent with a 2-2.4 degree Centigrade rise in average global temperatures which scientists believe could trigger far reaching and irreversible changes in our Earth, biosphere and oceans,” he said.

Continue reading Climate clippings 57

Climate clippings 56

Energy from biomass

A new report suggests that we should be able to feed a growing population, conserve the environment and produce 20% of world energy needs from biomass by making “the best use of agricultural residues, energy crops and waste materials”.

The report by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) can be downloaded from here.

I’m not sure how well they took into account the impact of climate change on agricultural productivity. They did consider an IPCC report on renewable energy (large pdf) and a study by the German Advisory Council on Climate Change (WBGU). Of the latter they said:

The WGBU08 report is arguably the most comprehensive study of the implications of growing bio-energy crops considered here. The approach uses a spatially explicit yield model for terrestrial productivity (LPjmL) driven by IPCC climate models, and scenarios. (p. 35)

You would need to go back to those studies to see what changes of weather, melting glaciers, sea penetration of river deltas etc were taken into account. Continue reading Climate clippings 56

Climate clippings 55

WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin

The World Meteorological Organization’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin has just been released. These graphs show the ‘progress’ of the main gases.

The WMO is agnostic about the reason for the increase in methane emissions, but in this ABC story Paul Fraser from the CSIRO tells us what they are thinking and it’s not good news.He says that the increase of methane is coming from high and low attitudes, which seems to indicate that northern permafrost and tropical wetlands may be the source.

The story also looks at HFCs and refrigeration. As linked on the last thread, go here to Figure 2.21 for the IPCC’s graph on forcings. Continue reading Climate clippings 55

Climate clippings 54

Wind electricity to be fully competitive with natural gas by 2016

So says Stephen Lacey at Climate Progress:

The best wind farms in the world are already competitive with coal, gas and nuclear plants. But over the next five years, continued performance improvements and cost reductions will bring the average onshore wind plant in line with cheap natural gas, even without a price on carbon.

That’s according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. They say that cost reduces by 7% for every doubling of installed capacity, while efficiency has steadily improved. Continue reading Climate clippings 54

IEA and the energy crunch of 2017

The International Energy Association’s (IEA) World energy Outlook 2011 had only just hit the deck when it generated a political stoush, this time between Labor and The Greens.

Greens deputy leader Christine Milne told The Age the report showed that there was no longer time to use gas – which is a cleaner-burning fuel than coal – as a stepping stone to renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal. ”[The outlook] is basically saying to the investment community, ‘You are going to be gambling on how long gas has got as any kind of transitional fuel’.”

However, Mr Ferguson told The Age: ”The flexibility of gas-fired technology and the fact it is the cleanest fossil fuel make it an attractive investment option.

”In addition to gas, the message I am getting firsthand out of China and India … is that coal-fired power will increase and Australia is well placed to supply coal to fuel their growing economies.”

I picked that one up in Queensland Country Life, a Fairfax paper in which they reprint articles from The Age and the SMH.

But who’s right?

Not Christine Milne, I’m afraid. She has her eye on the IEA’s 450 Scenario, but even here we find this in the IEA Factsheet:

The share of fossil fuels in the global energy mix falls from 81% in 2009 to 62% in 2035. Global demand for both coal and oil peak before 2020, and then decline by 30% and 8% respectively by 2035, relative to their 2009 levels. By contrast, natural gas demand grows by 26%, though it plateaus by around 2030.

Ferguson has his eye on what the world is actually doing.

In the Current Policies Scenario, demand [for coal] carries on rising after 2020, increasing overall by nearly two-thirds to 2035. But in the 450 Scenario, coal demand peaks before 2020 and then falls heavily, declining one-third between 2009 and 2035.

Under the New Policies Scenario (see below) coal increases to the early 2020s and then remains broadly flat. Nevertheless the increase in 2035 over 2009 is a healthy one quarter.

I’ll outline some basic concepts first, then link to some sources, followed by some discussion. Continue reading IEA and the energy crunch of 2017

Climate clippings 53

GLOBAL warming is unusual

A common response to AGW warmists is that climate has always changed and always will. It’s natural and humans have nothing to do with it. Now via Climate Progress we learn from a study by Svante Björck of Lund University that apart from general moves into and out of ice ages the hemispheres do not warm or cool in sync. When one hemisphere changes the other stays the same or moves in the opposite direction. For example he found that during the Little Ice Age in Europe there were no corresponding changes in the southern hemisphere.

Last week I posted this graph to show that we are giving the system a helluva jerk. In fact we need to go back 15 million years to find CO2 levels as high as today. (if you are concerned about Antarctic thawing be very afraid.)

However, the following graph shows that the hemispheres are not perfectly in sync now:

Hemispheric land-ocean temperatures

The northern hemisphere is pulling away. The reason, presumably, it has more land, and at higher latitudes. Continue reading Climate clippings 53

Climate clippings 52

7 billion and counting

With the world’s population passing 7 billion there have been reports and analysis all over the media.

George Monbiot, clear-headed as usual, says the real problem is consumption. He also takes a look at the UN calculations, and is not impressed, but one way or another the graph is going to go up for about four decades.

Fred Pearce is not an economist, but he may have a point in saying that ageing is the trend and with that your economy goes down the tube. Japan has become the land of the setting sun.

Those two are part of The Guardian’s Crowded Planet series. Our ABC has 7 challenges for 7 billion put together by 7 academics. Continue reading Climate clippings 52

Climate clippings 51

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.

For the report itself, download from here or go directly to the Executive summary.

There more at Climate Spectator. Continue reading Climate clippings 51

Climate change, sustainability, plus sundry other stuff