China exponentially increased its use of coal in the early part of this century, so that 64% of its energy comes from coal. Now studies suggest that coal use in China declined in 2014 and may have peaked in 2013. No new mines will be approved in the next three years. Continue reading Climate clippings 162
1. Is it climate change?
When the first named cyclone in July appeared off the Queensland coast some asked whether this was caused by climate change. My response would be that a single event is weather. Climate is about changes in the patterns of weather over time.
Carbon Brief has a post suggesting that climate change attribution studies are asking the wrong questions. Continue reading Climate clippings 145
1. Ocean acidification charted
Apparently there has been no baseline data for ocean acidification, which varies around the world. Now a database of the current state of the ocean has been compiled. Here is a map showing the rough state of play:
The current rate of acidification for the ocean is the greatest seen in the past 300 million years. 25% of co2 emitted ends up in the ocean.
This article offers some hope that some species may adapt.
2. Warmest October
NASA has October as the warmest since 1880 along with 2005. The Japanese Meteorological Agency has it as the warmest ever:
No warming pause there!
So far an El Niño still has not developed, which would make things warmer.
3. Climate Council report fingers us
The Climate Council has published a new report Lagging Behind: Australia and the Global Response to Climate Change. The key findings are:
- China and the US have firmly moved from laggards to global leaders on climate change.
- In the last five years most countries around the world have accelerated action on climate change as the consequences have become more and more clear.
- Australia, a crucial player in global climate action, moves from leader to laggard.
- Global action must accelerate to protect Australia and the world from the consequences of a changing climate, sea level rise and more frequent and intense extreme weather.
Now, 39 countries and over 20 sub-national jurisdictions are putting a price on carbon. China has the world’s second largest carbon market with 250 million people covered. In the US 10 states have carbon markets, covering 79 million people.
Germany has decoupled growth from carbon pollution. Since 1990 GDP has increased 37% while emissions have fallen 25%.
According to the IEA and the OECD for every $1 spent to support renewable energy, another $6 is spent on fossil fuel subsidies, but investment in renewable energy at US$192 billion now exceeds that in fossil fuel energy at US$102 billion.
Australia is the 15th largest emitter out of 186 countries. We emit roughly the same as France, Italy and Turkey, each with three times the population.
Here’s the world wide solar growth:
Our record on large scale renewables:
Time to get on our bike!
4. Climate Council on renewables
The Climate Council report finds that around the world important initiatives on renewables are often taken at the sub-national level. In Australia:
- South Australia is striding forward leading the Australian States on renewable energy.
- Victoria and NSW have moved from leaders to laggards in Australia’s renewable energy race.
- Australia has substantial opportunities for renewable energy. A lack of clear federal policy has led to a drop in renewable energy investment.
Only SA and the ACT have renewable energy targets – SA 50% of electricity by 2025, the ACT 90% by 2020. The current state of play is:
SA narrowly pips QLD in terms of percentage of dwellings with solar PV:
Both have roughly a quarter.
The potential for renewables in Australia is huge – some 500 times current electricity generation.
Australia produces per capita 23.96 tCO2e as against an OECD average of 12.47. As I said, time to get on our bike!
5. China caps coal use by 2020
The Chinese government announced Wednesday it would cap coal use by 2020. The Chinese State Council, or cabinet, said the peak would be 4.2 billion tonnes, a one-sixth increase over current consumption.
This is a staggering reversal of Chinese energy policy, which for two decades has been centered around building a coal plant or more a week. Now they’ll be building the equivalent in carbon-free power every week for decades, while the construction rate of new coal plants decelerates like a crash-test dummy.
The 2020 coal peak utterly refutes the GOP claim that China’s recent climate pledge “requires the Chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years.” Indeed, independent analyses make clear a 2020 coal peak announcement was the inevitable outcome of China’s game-changing climate deal deal with the U.S. last week, where China agreed to peak its total carbon pollution emissions in 2030 — or earlier.
6. Australia a pariah
Giles Parkinson thinks other nations are deliberately trying to embarrass Australia on climate change. Certainly Obama’s remarks can be interpreted that way. Then he (Giles) really gets stuck in:
We are, quite possibly, witnessing the most incompetent and ideologically blind government ever to hold power in Canberra. It’s effectively the Tea Party of Australia, pretending to be something else.
Business Insider, Australia tells us that 25 disasters may befall us from climate change. The assumptions are conservative – 2°C and half a metre of sea level rise by 2100, though the text sometimes specifies more. Some of the predictions are disturbing: Continue reading Climate clippings 110
Nevertheless with the certainty only possessed by fools, the Abbott government’s chief business adviser, Maurice Newman, has warned that Australia is ill prepared for global cooling owing to widespread “warming propaganda” in his latest critique of mainstream climate science.
The suggestion is that temperature change is due to changes in solar activity, cosmic rays and stuff. The science is heading in the opposite direction.
“The sun doesn’t have as much influence on the climate as we previously thought, the latest estimates are that it explains only 5% of the warming over the last 150 years,” he said.
How can the government be advised by someone who is so ill-informed about arguably the biggest single influence on business conditions over the next century.
We’ve just had the hottest August globally since records began being kept in 1880, according to NASA. The year to date has been the fourth hottest on record. Hot years usually coincide with an El Niño either in the year concerned or the previous year. An El Niño has not yet arrived but does look likely according to the latest information.
It has been especially hot in West Antarctica. Bear that in mind when you see stories of record sea ice around Antarctica:
This is not incompatible with global warming and could in fact be caused by it. Melting ice produces cold water, and the tightening wind pattern tend to blow the ice further north.
There is no information as yet on ice volume.
The Australian Climate Action Summit 2014 is on this weekend. Since my life is governed by work, the weather and medical appointments I am unable to go.
On Sunday there will be a People’s Climate March, organised by an outfit called Avaaz. Marches will be organised all around the world, and indeed, all around Australia, including, for example Mt Isa and the Gold Coast. If you click on Brisbane you get the Summit, but if you click on the Summit you don’t get a march. So if there is a march in Brisbane, I can guess where but I’d also need to guess when.
4. Surviving in hot, acidic oceans
I think this is a good news story.
More than 90% of the extra heat in global warming ends up in the oceans, as does 25% of the CO2 we create, which makes the oceans more acidic. Shell-making organisms such as plankton are expected to be in trouble. The good news is that it seems one species of plankton, the Emiliania huxleyi, can survive the changes underway.
5. Climate Council report on sea level
The Climate Council has taken another look at climate change and coastal flooding. The focus is on 1.1 metres sea level rise by 2100, all too possible if West Antarctica is in play, as it seems to be.
We are told that the frequency of flooding events can treble for every 10 cm of sea level rise. The risk multiplier depends where you are. In Sydney, Bundaberg and Hobart, for example a current 1 in 100 year event now could be happening every day by 2100. In Adelaide, the least at risk city, it would be only once every year.
At risk we have $87 billion worth of commercial and light industrial buildings, $72 billion worth of homes and $67 billion worth of roads and rail infrastructure.
Joe Romm tells us about Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate. Klein, he says, makes three essential points:
1. Because we have ignored the increasingly urgent warnings and pleas for action from climate scientists for a quarter century (!) now, the incremental or evolutionary paths to avert catastrophic global warming that we might have been able to take in the past are closed to us.
2. Humanity faces a stark choice as a result: The end of civilization as we know it or the end of capitalism as we know it.
3. Choosing “unregulated capitalism” over human civilization would be a “morally monstrous” choice — and so the winning message for the climate movement is a moral one.
The time for ‘evolutionary’ strategies is long past. Now only ‘revolutionary’ strategies will get us there. Unregulated capitalism is a Ponzi scheme, which must collapse. The real choice facing us is a moral one.
Unchecked capitalism is immoral and will destroy civilisation as we know it. Just what Klein says we should do will be covered by Romm in a subsequent post.
This is a continuation of the Climate clippings series familiar to readers of Larvatus Prodeo
While this edition was finished about a week ago I actually started writing stuff from about mid-February and have several others queued in the draft bin. They’ll be fed in periodically at the rate of perhaps more than one a week until I catch up with myself.
1. Strong El Niño rated an 80% chance
That’s according to Paul E. Roundy of the University at Albany, New York.
The sub surface temperature of the eastern Pacific Ocean is measuring an ‘astounding’ six degrees warmer than normal for this time of year.
The only time anything similar has happened was in March 1997, before the whopping 1998 El Niño.
An El Niño normally means dry conditions and reduced monsoons in Australia and Indonesia, but wetter weather in Central America.
Climate Progress shows this interesting graph:
Since 1998 there have been six La Niña years warmer than any El Niño years prior to 1998.
At Mashable Andrew Freedman quotes the same people but found at least one scientist who thinks there’s perhaps a 40% chance there will be no El Niño at all.
Worth watching. Could be spectacular.
Climate Progress reports on wave energy projects at Morro Bay in California and elsewhere.
A 2012 report prepared by RE Vision Consulting for the Department of Energy found that the theoretical ocean wave energy resource potential in the U.S. is more than 50 percent of the annual domestic demand of the entire country. The World Energy Council has estimated that approximately 2 terawatts — 2 million megawatts or double current world electricity production — could be produced from the oceans via wave power.
3. The Pacific Ocean is turning sour
Much faster than expected, according to a new study.
Apparently CO2 concentrations are not uniform around the world and the tropical Pacific is getting more than its fair share. Hence the ocean in that area is acidifying faster than elsewhere.
4. Oxfam on food futures
From Huff Post, Oxfam has just completed a report (downloadable here) which suggests that climate change could delay the fight against world hunger for decades. Global food prices could double by 2030, with half the increase attributable to climate change. In the next 35 years there could be 25 million more malnourished children under the age of five than there would otherwise be.
Oxfam analyzed ten gaps that measured how prepared – or unprepared – 40 food-insecure countries are to tackle climate change impacts.
We assess ten key factors that influence a country’s ability to feed its people in a warming world – these include the quality of weather monitoring systems, social safety nets, agricultural research and adaptation finance.
As expected, the poorer countries will be most affected.
5. Will we still be able to have a decent cup of tea?
At the foot of the Huff Post Oxfam link above is a graphic showing the top “endangered” crops listing in order chocolate, coffee, beer (at least in Germany), peanuts, durum wheat to make pasta in Italy, maple syrup, honey, wine (at least in France). It must be said that I couldn’t find that list in the Oxford report which is mainly about staples such as rice and vegetables.
Now it seems that Assam tea is being affected by hotter, drier weather with more erratic rainfall. Indeed tea growing all over the world is becoming more difficult.
There’s more at the BBC.
6. More on global food security
A separate study found that from 2030 onwards, the world’s crop yields will be more and more impacted by climate change.
The study found that Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia showed significant yield reductions for the second half of the century, while regions of the world with temperate climates, such as Europe and most of North America, could withstand a couple of degrees of warming without a noticeable effect on harvests, or possibly even benefit from a bumper crop.
One of the most important findings of this study is that adaptation may not be as effective for rice and maize as it is for wheat.
7. On the other hand
If you need a more cheerful story, here’s one about peasant farmer Vu Thi Ngoc who has adapted to crazy weather in the uplands of northern Vietnam by growing a different range of crops and changing farming practices.
It shows adaptability at work, this time with the help of CARE and Vietnam’s Agriculture and Forestry Research and Development Centre for the Northern Mountainous Region.
These posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as an open thread.
But as ever, I do not want to spend time in comments rehashing whether human activity causes climate change.
These posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as a roundtable. Continue reading Climate clippings 85
1. The scientific consensus remains solid
Suzanne Goldenberg in The Guardian has the story. A study led by John Cook of Skeptical Science fame considered the work of some 29,000 scientists published in 11,994 academic papers between 1991 and 2011.
Of the 4,000-plus papers that took a position on the causes of climate change only 0.7% or 83 of those thousands of academic articles, disputed the scientific consensus that climate change is the result of human activity, with the view of the remaining 2.2% unclear.
The survey found that the consensus has grown slowly over time, and reached about 98% in 2011.
Of the papers which specifically examine the contributors to global warming, they virtually all conclude that humans are the dominant cause over the past 50 to 100 years.
In this edition I’ve stuck to scientific articles, and, incidentally have used a couple (items 3 and 4) from stuff I gathered around this time last year when I thought I might be launching a new blog. For reasons we won’t go into it didn’t happen at that time.
1. Arctic ice watch
While we were on sabbatical last year the northern cryosphere had an exciting time. There was a giant storm in the Arctic ocean, Greenland surface melt covered virtually the whole ice sheet and all sorts of records were broken in the Arctic summer sea ice melt. I’m hoping to do an update to catch us up, but follow this link to see a dramatic animation of Arctic sea ice volume loss since 1979. I’ve posted this image to show how far we’ve come:
You can monitor Arctic sea ice extent on the NSIDC site. This image is a screenshot from the interactive graph on that page showing the way summer sea ice is sagging:
Greenland ice loss
The rate continues to accelerate, according to Skeptical Science.
It looks ugly, but see comment 24 and the correction @ 27. Doubling the rate each decade will give you 3,200 gt each year by 2050. But that’s still only a bit less than 9mm pa of sea level rise, according to my calculations. Concerning, certainly, but not yet catastrophic. Continue reading Climate clippings 48
Antarctica’s glacial movements
Via Gizmodo researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and the University of California, Irvine have made a map of every glacier on the continent, down to its individual shape and flow velocity, illustrating how water melting in the interior of the continent makes its way out to the coasts. Lead author Eric Rignot calls it a “game changer for glaciology.”
I think the implication may be that we will lose more ice than previously thought from East Antarctica with a temperature rise of 1 or 2C.
These posts include a brief mention of a number of news items relating to climate change. They don’t preclude treating any of these topics at more length in a separate post.
They can also serve as an open thread so that we can keep each other informed on important climate news.
A new study has looked at the contribution of glaciers to sea level rise based on observations of the Patagonian icefields between Chile and Argentina.
They found that the glaciers have lost volume on average “10 to 100 times faster” in the last 30 years, faster than at any time in the last 350 years. Continue reading Climate clippings 23