Wednesday, July 26, 2017

UK to Ban Sales of Gas, Diesel-Fueled Cars from 2040

A Mobil gas station in the East Village in New York (Contributor: Richard Levine / Alamy Stock Photo) Click to Enlarge.
Britain's government will announce on Wednesday that it will ban the sale of all gas- and diesel-fueled cars from 2040 as part of a plan to clean up air pollution, newspapers reported on Tuesday.

The reported move follows a similar announcement earlier this month by the French government.

Read more at UK to Ban Sales of Petrol, Diesel-Fuelled Cars from 2040

Allowable 'Carbon Budget' Most Likely Overestimated

Because greenhouse gas concentrations have been increasing since 1750 it would be preferable to define a baseline prior to then, but actual instrumental measurements of temperature did not exist before the 1800s. (Image Credit: © iStock Photo Drbouz) Click to Enlarge.
While most climate scientists, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, implicitly define "pre-industrial" to be in the late 1800's, a true non-industrially influenced baseline is probably further in the past, according to an international team of researchers who are concerned because it affects the available carbon budget for meeting the 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) warming limit agreed to in the Paris Conference of 2015.

"The IPCC research community uses a definition of preindustrial that is likely underestimating the warming that has already taken place," said Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science and director, Earth System Science Center, Penn State.  "That means we have less carbon to burn than we previously thought, if we are to avert the most dangerous changes in climate."

The researchers explored a variety of date ranges for defining a "pre-industrial" baseline and the likelihood that, compared to those baselines, the global temperature averages could be held to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) or to the preferred 1.5 degrees C (1.7 degrees F).  They report their results in Nature Climate Change.

"When the IPCC says that we've warmed 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F) relative to pre-industrial, that's probably incorrect," said Mann.  "It's likely as much as 1.2 degrees C (2.16 degrees F)."
...
"A widely used metric for climate change mitigation is how much carbon we can still burn and remain below 2 degrees C," said Mann.  "It's what we call the 'carbon budget.'"

A pre-industrial baseline that truly contained no human-caused warming would alter the amount of carbon that could be put into the atmosphere.  Measured in gigatons of carbon, to account for the 0.2 degrees C likely unaccounted for in previous estimates of human-caused warming, we would need to burn 40 percent less carbon to remain below the 2 degree C threshold, according to Mann.

"Either the Paris targets have to be revised," said Mann.  "Or, alternatively, we decide that the existing targets really were meant to describe only the warming since the late 19th century."

If nothing else, Mann says that the community needs to be far more precise in defining what baselines are being used in setting targets.

Read more at Allowable 'Carbon Budget' Most Likely Overestimated

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

  Tuesday, July 25

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

Paul Hawken on One Hundred Solutions to the Climate Crisis

Environmentalist Paul Hawken believes that to motivate action on climate change, the focus needs to be on solutions rather the problem.  And, he says, those solutions – from changing the type of refrigerants used to reducing food waste – are already here.


Paul Hawken (Credit: e360.yale.edu) Click to Enlarge.
Paul Hawken acknowledges that the subtitle of his latest book, Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, is brash.  But the author and entrepreneur says he can get away with it because the plan he and his collaborators put forward is the first and only of its kind.

“We’ve never mapped, measured, and modeled the top solutions to global warming, after 40 years of this being in the public sphere,” he says in an interview with Yale Environment 360.  With this plan, he contends, “we have in hand now, in a practical way, the solutions that are needed in order to reverse global warming.”

The book, which he edited, represents the work of Project Drawdown, the organization he founded with the mission of researching and promoting a path to drawdown, the point at which the concentration of greenhouse gases begins to decline.  The volume includes descriptions of 100 of those solutions, 80 of which are currently in practice.  As Hawken puts it, “There are no wannabes.”

The solutions are ranked by the number of gigatons of CO2, or the equivalent, that they would avoid or sequester between the years 2020 and 2050.  They range from big difference-makers such as refrigerant management, wind turbines, and food waste to those that are important but not as impactful, including methane digesters, green roofs, and microgrids.

When it comes to global warming, Hawken says, we’ve been “focusing too much on the problem instead of the solution….  Regenerative development is development, whether it’s on an urban, transportation, housing, marine agriculture, or health level.  It’s development that actually heals the future as opposed to stealing from it, which is what we’re doing today.”

 Paul Hawken on One Hundred Solutions to the Climate Crisis

8 Senators Call for Probe of ‘Arbitrary’ Reassignment of Federal Scientists

The senators' letter, following a whistleblower complaint from a climate scientist in the Interior Department, says there may be as many as 50 similar cases.


Democratic Sens. Maria Cantwell (center), Ron Wyden and Debbie Stabenow, wrote to the deputy inspector general of the Interior Department asking her to look into the reassignment of scientists. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (right) of Alaska also said she would talk with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. (Credit: Jim Watson/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Eight U.S. senators called for an investigation today after a federal climate scientist filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that he had been arbitrarily reassigned by the Trump administration in what he believed was retaliation for speaking out publicly about the dangers climate change poses to Alaska Native communities.

The scientist, Joel Clement, had been working on climate adaptation in Alaska for the Department of Interior when he was moved to an obscure accounting position that deals with fossil fuel royalty payments.

The senators, all members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, asked the deputy inspector general in the Department of Interior to look into allegations that as many as 50 Senior Executive Service employees at the department has been arbitrarily reassigned.

"We believe that any reassignment of highly trained, highly competent senior executives within the department from the positions in which they may best use their training and competence to accomplish the department's mission and best serve the public interest to sinecures where their talents are wasted would constitute a serious act of mismanagement, a gross waste of public funds, and an abuse of authority," the senators wrote.

The Senior Executive Service was created to provide continuity in the management of public programs, with career experts in their subject areas serving under the political appointees. Under the law, agency heads can reassign senior executives, provided the changes are made "to best accomplish the agency's mission."

"Any suggestion that the department is reassigning SES employees to force them to resign, to silence their voices, or to punish them for the conscientious performance of their public duties is extremely troubling and calls for the closest examination," the senators wrote.  No Republicans signed the letter.

The letter came just days after Clement, formerly the director of the Office of Policy Analysis in the Interior Department, filed a formal complaint about his reassignment and published an op-ed in the Washington Post describing his experience.

Read more at 8 Senators Call for Probe of ‘Arbitrary’ Reassignment of Federal Scientists

Monday, July 24, 2017

  Monday, July 24

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

A Mississippi-Sized Area of Forest Disappeared in 2015

Areas shaded in pink show points that have lost trees at least 16 feet in height due to deforestation, wildfire or some other cause of mortality between 2001 and 2015. (Credit: Global Forest Watch) Click to Enlarge.
A Mississippi-sized chunk of the world’s forests was decimated in 2015 because of wildfire, logging and expanding palm oil plantations, according to a new study.  The loss is part of a continuing trend of deforestation that could have devastating implications for the climate.

About 49 million acres of forest disappeared worldwide in 2015, mainly in North America and the tropics, putting the year’s global deforestation level at its second-highest point since data gathering began in 2001.  In all, the globe lost 47 percent more forested land in 2015 than it did 16 years ago, according to the study by Global Forest Watch.

Deforestation accounts for more than 10 percent of the global carbon dioxide emissions driving climate change.  Dense tropical forests are also critical to keeping the climate stable because they suck up large amounts of human carbon pollution from the atmosphere, storing it in tree trunks, leaves, roots and soil.

Using satellite data provided by Google and the University of Maryland, Global Forest Watch researchers measured the death or removal of trees at least 16 feet tall.  

2014 was a record-breaking year for tree-cover loss when nearly 60 million acres of forests disappeared.  2015 saw less, but it’s too soon to say whether deforestation is truly on a downward swing because of uncertainty in some of the data, study co-author Mikaela Weisse, a research analyst for Global Forest Watch at the World Resources Institute, said.

For example, Canada, Russia and the U.S. saw the most forest cover loss in 2015, mainly because of wildfire, pest infestations and commercial logging.  But the study says the actual level of forest loss in those countries is difficult to determine because there is insufficient available data on logging and natural tree re-growth.

Read more at A Mississippi-Sized Area of Forest Disappeared in 2015