At a mid-year meeting of UNFCCC in Bonn this year in June a small group of countries led by Saudi Arabia have put the kybosh on any formal consideration of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C in the UNFCCC forum. Continue reading Saudis throw a spanner
In 1999 NASA lost its $125-million Mars Climate Orbiter because spacecraft engineers failed to convert from Imperial to metric measurements when exchanging vital data before the craft was launched. Numbers are important!
When Michael Le Page attempts to sort out the numbers in climate science (probably pay-walled) it’s not as straight forward as you might think. For starters we are given this image:
Sorry, when floating ice melts the sea level does not rise. The caption is misleading. Continue reading Climate change by the numbers
It was a strange decision to hold the UNFCCC’s Conference of Parties (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, deep in Poland’s coal mining territory. The main purpose of the conference is to finalize the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement.
The conference also received the special report on achieving a 1.5°C global average temperature rise prepared on request by the IPCC. While I had some reservations about the whole exercise, the report a strong wake up call on the need for more urgent cuts. Fossil fuels had to be wound back rapidly. This from Dr. Joeri Rogelj, of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria:
- “For coal the picture is the clearest. It is reduced 75 to 95 percent from 2010 levels across the entire economy and fully phased out from producing electricity.” Continue reading Countries behave badly in Poland, investors behave well
Last week school children of Australia marked the card of the Morrison government on climate change and gave it a fail. Was this too harsh?
On Q&A last Monday a Melbourne boy called Marco asked the panel:
- “I’m greatly concerned about my future and the future of children all around the world who will suffer the consequences of climate change more than anyone else,” Marco said.
“A few days ago thousands of students from around Australia, like me, went on strike from school to demand that the Government acts on climate change.
“When will the Government start to care about my future and children around the world by acting on climate change and create a strong climate policy?”
Arctic summer sea ice minimum was the sixth lowest on record. So we can all relax, right?
I’ll come back to that. However, Tamino at Open Mind points out that while the Arctic warms three to four times as fast as global warming, the Arctic winters are warming at a much faster rate.
Using the NASA data, which is about mid-range in the major players, Tamino finds that the overall average warming rate since 1985 in the Arctic, at 6.48°C/century is fully 3.4 times as fast as the global rate since 1985 of 1.90°C/century. Continue reading Trouble at the top of the world
The target should not be 1.5°C; rather we should aim for a safe climate. James Hansen told us in 2007 that to achieve a safe climate we need to bring GHG concentrations down to 350 ppm as soon as possible. That’s CO2 equivalent, not CO2. Current CO2e is not often quoted, but would be around 500 ppm on the basis that CO2 is about 80% of total GHGs. Also we need to focus on what we are doing to the planet over centuries and millennia, not just the next 50 to 100 years.
However, the IPCC team putting the report together were not asked what the goal should be. They were asked to build a scenario for achieving the 1.5°C warming limit specified as desirable in the Paris Agreement of 2015, and to look at the impacts of a 1.5°C world as against a 2°C world. Two Degrees came out of Europe in the 1990s, achieved a general currency, then became the official goal of at the Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC in Cancun in 2010. At that time there was a move mainly by many of the island states vulnerable it inundation for a more ambitious target. Essentially the whole group at Paris agreed to try.
However, while two degrees was commonly seen as a guardrail for a safe climate even by many scientist, it was never a scientifically derived goal for a safe climate.
The IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C is important because it shows that the path to 1.5°C has a high degree of difficulty and has implications which to most will not be acceptable. It’s importance is in changing the discourse, from being seen as an achievable safe guardrail to 1.5°C as difficult to achieve and far from safe. Continue reading IPCC on 1.5°C: the target is wrong, but we have a strong wake-up call
Quiggin says, yes we can.
I can’t comment on his blog, because the Askimet software has got me marked as a pest, and my comments go straight to spam. There is no facility for telling Askimet I’m OK, so there it is, I’m as good as banned. So I’ll make my comments here, which are in any case longer than is form for comments there.
The Mail on Sunday recently declared the polar bear in good shape on the basis of the opinion of biologist Dr Susan Crockford, who says:
“On almost every measure, things are looking good for polar bears … It really is time for the doom and gloom about polar bears to stop.”
It turns out that Crockford’s expertise is the archaeology of dead dogs and the identification of animal remains, and receives funding from the Heartland Institute to spread disinformation about human agency in climate change.
Information, reliable or not, is difficult to come by. This is a snapshot of one estimate of how the polar bear is travelling:
In nine of the 19 populations of polar bears information is deficient.
On their future the best estimate is:
To keep polar numbers relatively healthy, though still lower than today, scientists suggest global temperatures should not exceed 1.25 degrees Celsius above the 1980-1999 average.
Measuring the thickness of the Arctic sea ice sheet is not a simple matter. data from disparate sources has been brought together for the first time.
in the central part of the Arctic Ocean basin, sea ice has thinned by 65% since 1975. During September, when the ice reaches its annual minimum, ice thickness is down by a stunning 85%.
Contracts worth £315 million have been awarded to 27 renewable energy projects with a combined capacity of 2.1 gigawatts.
The majority of the 27 schemes are windfarms, including 15 onshore and two offshore schemes (the blue and green chunks below). The remaining contracts went to five solar farms (yellow) and five schemes that will burn or gasify waste to generate energy (black and grey).
By peak capacity the outcome looks rather different:
The auction was divided into two pots, with one pot reserved for “less established” technologies.
The big surprise was the prices, which were lower than expected.
It’s important to note that the pipeline bill has been vetoed, not the pipeline.
Keystone is not dead. The bill was a political Tea party move to pre-empt State Department approval, which will now continue until a recommendation in made to John Kerry as Secretary of State.
Meanwhile Nebraska landowners are fighting a case in the courts. They claim state law giving TransCanada the right to drive the pipeline through their land under ’eminent domain’ is unconstitutional.
If the landowners succeed TransCanada does not have a route for the pipeline.
A longer post on the issue is here.
Every seven years the IPCC publishes three whopping reports followed by a Synthesis Report. Working Group 1 looks at the physical basis of climate change. Working Group 2 looks at impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Working Group 3 looks at mitigation. Each of these whopping tomes has a Summary for Policy Makers of about 30 pages.
The main decision is that the program will continue with some minor modifications. They will try to link the second and third volumes more specifically to the first, while producing the whole series within about 18 months.
More special reports on specific issued will be produced during the interim years.
They will try to make the summaries for policy makers more readable.
6. NZ infestation of
flat-earthers climate denialists
The Dominion Post is the newspaper of record for New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington. Last Friday it featured an opinion piece by high profile climate denialists Bob Carter and Bryan Leyland titled Hypothetical global warming: scepticism needed. Gareth Renownden at Hot topic calls it
a “Gish Gallop” of untruths, half-truths and misrepresentations — a piece so riddled with deliberate errors and gross misrepresentations that it beggars belief that any quality newspaper would give it space.
He then identifies 24 specific errors or misrepresentations.
The EU formally adopted on Friday climate change targets for December’s Paris conference including a 40 percent cut in emissions by 2030, climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said.
The targets were agreed on by leaders of the 28 European Union member states at a summit in October, but the confirmed benchmarks have now been officially sent to the UN, Canete said.
The EU was the second after Switzerland to publish its submission.
In other EU news, the Commission is to spend €100 million on projects aimed at connecting energy networks across the continent.
El Niño has finally arrived at a time of the year when they usually decay. It’s weaker than usual and is unlikely to have much impact on world weather.
9. US weather conundrum
Last week I reported (Item 1) that the planet had just experienced the hottest 12 months, while it was freezing in eastern North America during January and February and into March.
Because winter includes December and December was mild, no state had a record low winter. In fact the East’s brutal cold was offset by record warmth in the West, which was caused by warmth in the Northern Pacific. The experts think this pushed the jet stream out of shape, bringing Arctic air further south in the east.
It seems the Northern Pacific warmth has now moved to the Central Pacific, causing the weak El Niño referred to above.
Reminder Climate clippings is an open thread and can be used for exchanging news and views on climate.
In sum, the dynamics of the global coupled human-environmental system within the dominant culture precludes management for stable, sustainable pathways and promotes instability.
In other words, we’re f*cked!
The quote was actually from the abstract of a sober, technical paper by geophysicist Brad Werner. The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report will also be sober and technical, based on peer reviewed literature, at least accepted for publication two to three months before the draft of each section is finalised, plus ‘grey’ material, which I take it means reliable sources such as government reports and reports prepared by or for organisations such as the International Energy Association, the World bank and our erstwhile Climate Commission.
There will be three working group reports, each with a summary for policymakers, plus a synthesis report. The working groups are:
- WG1: The Physical Science Basis
- WG2: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability
- WG3: Mitigation of Climate Change
It remains to be seen how urgent and dramatic the summaries for policymakers will be. The full import won’t be on view until the publication of WG3 in April next year, but the first should give us an idea of the seriousness of the situation.
Here’s the timetable for releasing the reports:
Here’s the site for WG1. Here’s where the Summary for Policymakers should appear on 27 September. Here are the chapter headings of the report, due on Monday: Continue reading Crisis or catastrophe? What will the IPCC say?
These posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as an open thread. Again I do not want to spend time in comments rehashing whether human activity causes climate change.
This edition contains items, exclusively, I think, in climate science and impacts. The thread is meant to function also as a roundtable to share information and ideas.
1. Climate change picked the crops we eat today
The New Scientist carries a story about how some cereals we know today were changed by the climate as we came out of the last ice age. Researchers at the University of Sheffield, UK took seeds of precursors of modern wheat and barley found with human remains in a 23,000-year-old archaeological site in Israel. They grew these together with four wild grass species that aren’t eaten today, but were also known to grow in the region at that time, and grew them under conditions replicating levels of CO2 then and also the higher levels when farming first arose 10,000 years ago.
All the plants grew larger under the higher levels of CO2, but the relatives of wheat and barley grew twice as large and produced double the seeds. This suggests the species are especially sensitive to high levels of CO2, making them the best choice for cultivation after the last ice age.
The team plan to look at whether other food staples around the world are similarly affected by elevated CO2 levels, for example millet grown in Asia and maize in North America. They also plan to compare the effects of CO2 on legumes such as peas. Continue reading Climate clippings 83
WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin
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.
Renewables need consistent policy
From Climate Spectator:
Andrew Garrad, the founder of Garrad Hassan, the world’s largest renewable energy consultancy, has an interesting way of describing Australia’s stop-start renewable energy policy. It goes something like this, in binary code, where nought represents a step backwards, and one represents an advance: 100101100101011010010. The point he’s making is that, more than anything, renewables need consistent policy. And in Australia, and elsewhere in the world, that has been clearly lacking.
The rest of the article is worth reading. Greg Hunt shows what it would be like to have a climate change minister who is interested in climate change.
The Koreans show how to pick winners:
he suspects the future may be dominated by the Korean companies who have become household names in electrical appliances. The likes of Samsung and Hyundai are investing huge sums into clean-tech. “They are going to do things, very fast and well.”
Hunt picks algae as a winner “echoing predictions that it could emerge as a $20 billion industry.” Continue reading Climate clippings 26