Category - Environment

The Clean Power Plan Is Barely Better Than Kyoto; IPPC Says: We Must Remove CO2 From the Atmosphere

Truthout, By Bruce Melton, August 16

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is 12 percent more stringent than the Kyoto Protocol, yet since 1978, the US has emitted as much carbon dioxide as we emitted in the previous 228 years. Globally, since 1984, our civilization has emitted as much carbon dioxide as in the previous 236 years.

The new EPA carbon regulations in the Clean Power Plan require about the same carbon dioxide emissions reductions as what was proposed at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, when we as a global society first recognized that climate pollution was a problem. What resulted was the Kyoto Protocol, and its proposal to limit carbon dioxide emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels in the US and similar levels in other developed countries.

The grand contradiction between the latest climate science and current climate policy is that since about the beginning of the Kyoto Era, we have emitted as much climate pollution as we emitted since mankind first began altering the carbon dioxide content of our atmosphere to a noticeable degree in the mid-1700s.

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The myth comes from the ability of models to recreate abrupt changes. And the models truly are quite challenged when it comes to abrupt changes, or at least they were until last year. Researchers from the University of New South Wales and the University of Hawaii have successfully modeled abrupt changes over a portion of the past 100,000 years by simulating fresh water impulses from iceberg armadas in the North Atlantic. Not only do we know from physical evidence that these abrupt changes are real, but now we can model them.

We also have a great deal of physical evidence about what happened to our environment during natural climate changes of all kinds; impacts to forests, oceans, rainfall, etc. When we back the models up and run them with ancient climate conditions and ocean circulations, the models are accurate for the slow changes. As of last year, the models are even getting toward reliability for abrupt changes.

When everything is taken into consideration, the professional opinion of the IPCC as stated in its Summary for Policy Makers is that emissions reductions alone are nowhere near what are needed. Strong negative emissions are required. A large, continuous, net removal of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere is required.

The methods could be agricultural, reforestation and/or industrial and energy smokestack capture, but one thing is certain; all of these things combined will not create a large net removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Direct atmospheric removal of carbon dioxide is required.

This means that even progressive climate policy that is much more aggressive than the Clean Power Plan just adopted in Austin, Texas, that will strive to meet net-zero (or zero emissions of carbon dioxide) by 2030, are inadequate to say the least.

Final word: All is not lost. Treating climate pollution like the pollution it is can be done for similar costs to what we spend on advertising across the planet every year. The same voices that have so badly discombobulated the climate science discussion in the general population have also masked the true solutions to the treatment of climate pollution. Please tell your friends.

Fifteen states seek to block EPA carbon rule

State attorneys general argue the EPA has overstepped its regulatory authority

Al Jazeera, August 13

Fifteen state attorneys general filed a court petition in Washington on Thursday to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules to curb carbon emissions from power plants, in the first of several expected legal challenges to the Obama administration measure.

States from Alabama to West Virginia that oppose the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan filed for the stay in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and asked for a ruling by Sept. 8, one year before states need to submit compliance plans to the EPA.

“This rule is the most far-reaching energy regulation in the nation’s history, and the EPA simply does not have the legal authority to carry it out,” said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

Russia lays claim to vast areas of Arctic [again]

Foreign ministry says it has submitted bid to UN for more than 463,000 sq miles of sea shelf as competition for oil and gas resources heats up.

AP, August 4

Russia has submitted a bid to the UN claiming vast territories in the Arctic, the country’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

The ministry said in a statement that Russia is claiming 1.2m sq km (over 463,000 sq miles) of sea shelf extending more than 350 nautical miles (about 650km) from the shore.

Russia, the US, Canada, Denmark and Norway have all been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic, which is believed to hold up to a quarter of the planet’s undiscovered oil and gas. Rivalry for resources has intensified as shrinking polar ice is opening up new exploration opportunities.

VICE news: Russia Just Laid Claim to a Vast Chunk of the Arctic
CNBC: Move Over, Santa: Putin Claims the North Pole

Iran city hits suffocating heat index of 165 degrees, near world record

Washington Post, By Jason Samenow, July 31

Wherever you live or happen to travel to, never complain about the heat and humidity again.

In the city of Bandar Mahshahr (population of about 110,000 as of 2010), the air felt like a searing 165 degrees (74 Celsius) today factoring in the humidity.

Although there are no official records of heat indices, this is second highest level we have ever seen reported.

To achieve today’s astronomical heat index level of 165, Bandar Mahshahr’s actual air temperature registered 115 degrees (46 Celsius) with an astonishing dew point temperature of 90 (32 Celsius).


Apparently that’s 0.3° C below the 35° C wet-bulb temperature limit of human of human endurance.

WaPo: Iran’s heat index is literally off the charts, and this is what it feels like

Hillary Clinton unveils climate change policy

Los Angeles Times, By Evan Halper & Seema Mehta, July 26

Hillary Rodham Clinton sought to position herself as a crusader against climate change Sunday by unveiling some robust goals, even as she continued to avoid some of the more contentious battles around global warming.

Clinton announced that she will push to vastly expand the number of solar panels installed in the United States, as well as to boost overall renewable energy to the point that it will be able to fuel all homes and businesses by 2027.

The proposals reflect Clinton’s commitment to continuing the path on climate change set by President Obama, who champions numerous policies that bolster renewables and push a reduction in fossil fuel consumption.

The Clinton package is incomplete, however. Unlike her rivals in the Democratic presidential contest, Clinton has yet to take a position on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from the Canadian tar sands to Gulf Coast ports. She also has yet to weigh in on a campaign to ban hydraulic fracturing nationwide, or to take a firm position on offshore oil drilling.

The proposal Clinton released Sunday for boosting solar installations by 700% is vague on details about how it would be funded.

Think Progress: Clinton Campaign Releases Horror Film Montage Of Climate-Denying Presidential Candidates

Mammoths killed by abrupt climate change

Science Daily, July 23

New research has revealed abrupt warming, that closely resembles the rapid human-made warming occurring today, has repeatedly played a key role in mass extinction events of large animals, the megafauna, in Earth’s past.

Using advances in analysing ancient DNA, radiocarbon dating and other geologic records an international team led by researchers from the University of Adelaide and the University of New South Wales (Australia) have revealed that short, rapid warming events, known as interstadials, recorded during the last ice age or Pleistocene (60,000-12,000 years ago) coincided with major extinction events even before the appearance of man.

Published today in Science, the researchers say by contrast, extreme cold periods, such as the last glacial maximum, do not appear to correspond with these extinctions.

“This abrupt warming had a profound impact on climate that caused marked shifts in global rainfall and vegetation patterns,” said University of Adelaide lead author and Director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, Professor Alan Cooper.

The California Drought Is Just the Beginning of Our National Water Emergency

For years, Americans dismissed dire water shortages as a problem of the Global South. Now the crisis is coming home.

The Nation, By Maude Barlow, July 15

The United Nations reports that we have 15 years to avert a full-blown water crisis and that, by 2030, demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 percent. Five hundred renowned scientists brought together by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that our collective abuse of water has caused the earth to enter a “new geologic age,” a “planetary transformation” akin to the retreat of the glaciers more than 11,000 years ago. Already, they reported, a majority of the world’s population lives within a 30-mile radius of water sources that are badly stressed or running out.

For a long time, we in the Global North, especially North America and Europe, have seen the growing water crisis as an issue of the Global South. Certainly, the grim UN statistics on those without access to water and sanitation have referred mostly to poor countries in Africa, Latin America, and large parts of Asia. Heartbreaking images of children dying of waterborne disease have always seemed to come from the slums of Nairobi, Kolkata, or La Paz. Similarly, the worst stories of water pollution and shortages have originated in the densely populated areas of the South.

But as this issue of The Nation shows us, the global water crisis is just that—global—in every sense of the word. A deadly combination of growing inequality, climate change, rising water prices, and mismanagement of water sources in the North has suddenly put the world on a more even footing.

There is now a Third World in the First World. Growing poverty in rich countries has created an underclass that cannot pay rising water rates. As reported by Circle of Blue, the price of water in 30 major US cities is rising faster than most other household staples—41 percent since 2010, with no end in sight. As a result, increasing numbers cannot pay their water bills, and cutoffs are growing across the country. Inner-city Detroit reminds me more of the slums of Bogotá than the North American cities of my childhood.

Warming of oceans due to climate change is unstoppable, say US scientists

The Guardian, By Suzanne Goldenberg, July 16

The warming of the oceans due to climate change is now unstoppable after record temperatures last year, bringing additional sea-level rise, and raising the risks of severe storms, US government climate scientists said on Thursday.

The annual State of the Climate in 2014 report [Document of Inordinate Size], based on research from 413 scientists from 58 countries, found record warming on the surface and upper levels of the oceans, especially in the North Pacific, in line with earlier findings of 2014 as the hottest year on record.

Global sea-level also reached a record high, with the expansion of those warming waters, keeping pace with the 3.2 ± 0.4 mm per year trend in sea level growth over the past two decades, the report said.

Scientists said the consequences of those warmer ocean temperatures would be felt for centuries to come – even if there were immediate efforts to cut the carbon emissions fuelling changes in the oceans.

Earth’s sixth mass extinction has begun, new study confirms

The Conversation, By James Dyke, June 19

We are currently witnessing the start of a mass extinction event the likes of which have not been seen on Earth for at least 65 million years. This is the alarming finding of a new study published in the journal Science Advances.

The research was designed to determine how human actions over the past 500 years have affected the extinction rates of vertebrates: mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians. It found a clear signal of elevated species loss which has markedly accelerated over the past couple of hundred years, such that life on Earth is embarking on its sixth greatest extinction event in its 3.5 billion year history.

This latest research was conducted by an international team lead by Gerardo Ceballos of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Measuring extinction rates is notoriously hard. Recently I reported on some of the fiendishly clever ways such rates have been estimated. These studies are producing profoundly worrying results.

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