1. Unsubsidised wind and solar now cheapest form of bulk energy
That is the case in all major economies except Japan, according to BNEF. From RenewEconomy:
The latest report says the biggest news comes in the two fastest growing energy markets, China and India, where it notes that “not so long ago coal was king”. Not any more.
“In India, best-in-class solar and wind plants are now half the cost of new coal plants,” the report says, and this is despite the recent imposition of import tariffs on solar cells and modules. Continue reading Climate clippings 228→
This edition contains a miscellany from the absolutely central scientific issue of climate sensitivity to adaptation in Bangladesh.
1. Sense about climate sensitivity
The fourth IPCC report in 2007 estimated that the planet will warm between 2 and 4.5°C warming in response to a doubling of the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, with a best estimate of 3°C. Since then a number of studies suggested a lower sensitivity, leading the IPCC’s fifth report to extend the range to 1.5°C at the lower end and omit a best estimate entirely.
Dana Nuccitelli reports on a new paper by Kummer & Dessler which shows that recent studies suggesting an insensitive climate are flawed. Without going into the detail they converge on a value around 3°C.
2. CO2 fertilization won’t slow global warming
Some contend that increased CO2 in the atmosphere will enhance plant growth leading to an increase in soil carbon. A study of this issue found that any such gains were offset by increased microbial activity in soils. Along the way the researchers found that soil carbon was less stable than previously thought.
3. Bangladesh uncovers the crippling cost of climate change adaptation
Bangladesh has found the cost of climate change adaptation quite crippling in a new report.
They are spending $1 billion a year, 6-7% of their annual budget, on climate change adaptation. Only a quarter comes from aid.
The irony of the finding will be lost on few people: the average European citizen emits as much carbon in 11 days as the average Bangladeshi in an entire year. Yet it is the government and the people of Bangladesh who are expected to pay for the escalating costs.
Within the country it is the poor who are most severely affected.
After the report Bangladesh sees climate adaptation expenditure as central to their development.
4. Deutsche Bank rules out funding for controversial Abbot Point coal terminal
The same article tells us that Keith DeLacy, former Qld Labor treasurer who would do just about anything to turn a buck, said on the front page of the Oz that renewables had “no place in a modern society”.
Meanwhile economist Jeffrey Sachs, advisor to UN secretary general on the Millennium Development Goals, is in Australia telling us that we can’t mine all that coal unless we invest in carbon capture and sequestration technology. We just need to get serious:
Put in real money, probably $20 to $30 billion I would say, minimum, to get scaled, serious demonstration programs working in China, in India, in Australia, in Canada, in the United States and to test the geology and the engineering of this technology.
Sachs is a man who thinks big!
6. EU’s energy strategy
Not surprisingly, the EU has been taking another look at its energy security strategy in view of the political instability to their east.
The EU imports over half the energy it consumes at a cost of more than €1 billion per day. Two-thirds of its gas is imported, with nearly a third coming from Russia. Half of that is transported via Ukraine.
Russia has already twice pulled the plug on gas supplies to Europe arriving via Ukraine, in 2006 and 2009.
The bottom line is that there will be a continued dependence on Russia for the foreseeable future:
The EU energy security strategy doesn’t look like it’ll take a rifle to that Russian bear just yet. But with a tweak to address vulnerability here and a spotlight on energy dependence there it may just help the EU avoid a mauling – and drive an ambitious EU 2030 climate and energy deal too.
Shale gas and nuclear energy are being left as options that member states can explore if they wish.
Reminder: Use this thread as an open thread on climate change.
These posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as a roundtable. Again I do not want to spend time in comments rehashing whether human activity causes climate change.
This edition is mostly about the doings of our new government, prospective EU targets, a statement by religious leaders and a couple of items on health implications.
1. Greg Hunt’s role diminished
Whether or not Greg Hunt gets to go to the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) Conference of Parties (COP) in Warsaw from 11 to 22 November. Julie Bishop will henceforth be the lead negotiator in international climate talks.
The story in the AFR says Hunt has been “stripped of responsibility for global climate change negotiations”. He still gets to go and hang out at the talks. One might say that Australia’s representation has been upgraded. Suspicious minds might also think that Hunt couldn’t be trusted. He actually believes human activity causes global warming and might join the warmist urgers if not kept on a tight leash. Continue reading Climate clippings 84→
I’m not sure about his four key questions, though. Yes, bipedalism seems to be important as does using tools to make tools. But I can’t see the importance of migration out of Africa as important to our evolution. Apart from picking up some Neanderthal genes presumably in a palm grove somewhere in the Middle East, which did boost our immune system, those of us who left Africa are much the same genetically as those who stayed behind.
I’d say the development of language was important. If you want a fourth I’d suggest our patterns of social organisation – how we interact and how we co-operate within groups. But I don’t know how much of that is in our genes.
2. Aid for climate refugees
Speaking of climate and migration, displacement by extreme weather events does not qualify you as a refugee under present UN arrangements. The International Organisation of Migration (IOM) hopes this will change at the annual United Nations climate change summit to be held in Qatar later this year, gaining access to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and other sources. It seems that 42 million people were displaced by storms, floods and droughts in Asia and the Pacific during 2010 and 2011.
3. Ocean heat content update
Skeptical Sciencerecently posted on an update by Levitus et al on ocean heat content, which increases apace. Around 93% of additional warming goes into the ocean which is truly vast with, for example, an average depth of around 3,790 metres. This graph indicates the changing heat content within bands of the upper 2000m:
4. Southern Ocean research shows decrease in dense Antarctic bottom water
Antarctic Bottom Water is a massive current of super dense salty water which used to be which used to occupy the bottom mile of the Great Southern Ocean. Used to. Researchers are now able to report that the current is diminished by 60% compared to what it was in 1970.
Antarctic Bottom Water is colder than the normal freezing point and is a vast store of CO2. Understanding changes in this deep ocean current are crucial to understanding the likely future of global climate patterns as the planet warms. The researchers have not only been able to make direct observations, they have distributed buoys which should be able to provide data at times of the year when field work is impossible.
5. Plants flower faster than climate change models predict
For years scientists have been doing experiments to find out how much earlier plants will flower and leaf with global warming. A new study using field observations has found that plants are responding much faster than they had thought. Their research suggests that that spring flowering and leafing will continue to advance at the rate of 5 to 6 days per year for every degree celsius of warming.
What surprises me is that they thought they could model natural conditions in the lab.
It seems they will have to rethink the impacts of global warming on ecosystems and food production.
The idea is explore the role of “Australia’s large tracts of undeveloped land, known as bush” in storing carbon. They will be able to add carbon or take it away.
I’m not sure it doesn’t suffer from the same problems as experiments with plants, where only one variable was controlled, neglecting changes in precipitation patterns and cloudiness, for example.
7. Wind farms do not cause global warming
There has been a raft of articles in the MSM suggesting that wind farms cause global warming, mainly in the headlines, it seems.
In fact a study of some large wind farms in remote areas of Texas found local warming. The authors don’t know what’s going on but the suggestion is that thermal energy is being redistributed, perhaps by pulling down warmer air from higher altitudes during the nights.
For the spinning blades of wind turbines to increase the overall temperature of the planet some basic laws of physics would need to be rewritten.
I’ve used a random image for the featured image of this post. I was going to use the one that once was my gravatar (to the left) but the original is quite small and it came up fuzzy. Continue reading Climate clippings 67→
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”.
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→
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.
The Scientific American reports on a paper by Andrew Dessler refuting a paper by Spencer and Braswell. Dessler’s analysis shows:
Clouds change in response to temperature changes. There is no evidence clouds can cause meaningful climate change… “Suggestions that significant revisions to mainstream climate science are required are therefore not supported,” he wrote.
In my words, the story goes Like this. Additional CO2 in the atmosphere traps additional heat from the sun, about 90% of which ends up in the ocean. The ocean is the prime driver of the world’s climate, including changes in cloud cover. There are other lesser drivers but that’s the main story.
In the alternative reality, decreased solar activity lets through more galactic cosmic rays, which increase cloud nucleation, which increase cloud cover, which changes (cools) surface temperature.
OR changes are simply due to internal variability. In any case CO2 has a minor effect and is basically irrelevant.
Skeptical Science looks at the issue here and here. In short Dessler:
found that the heating of the climate system through ocean heat transport was 20 times larger than TOA [top of the atmosphere] energy flux changes due to cloud cover over the period in question.
Problem is, these tipping points may not be sudden and dramatic but involve a steady but inevitable increase. When outbreaks of pine beetles first became obvious perhaps the eventual destruction of Canada’s boreal forests was inevitable. But Lenton is making an argument “from almost a mathematical point of view” that there are general properties of tipping points. Continue reading Climate clippings 39→
For many in Australia on climate change Bob Carter is the man. Tamino at Open Mind got access to his slides and took a look at how he does temperature trends. Turns out he doesn’t. What we get is the most outrageous and blatant cherry-picking.
John Abraham took a look at how Monckton cites scientific literature on the Mediaeval Warm Period. Abraham emailed a sample of the cited scientists to find Monckton achieved perfect score for misrepresentation.