Saturday, February 25, 2017

All-Time Warmth for February Stretches to New England

Sea-surface temperatures early on Thursday, February 23, 2017, were running 1-2°C (1.8-3.6°F) above average over large parts of the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and northwest Atlantic. (Image credit:, via Eric Blake) Click to Enlarge.
A February remarkable for its long stretches of mildness steamed onward Thursday, with more all-time records for the month continuing to tumble across wide stretches of the U.S.  The apex of the record-setting warmth expanded on Thursday from the Midwest.  A staggering number of daily record highs have been set in recent days, especially when juxtaposed against the sparse number of record lows this month.  As of Friday morning, NOAA’s U.S. Records site had compiled 4492 daily record highs for February 2017, against a mere 29 daily record lows, for a lopsided highs-to-lows ratio of 155-to-1.  With record highs expected to far outpace record lows through the end of the month, February has a very good chance of smashing the highest ratio in modern records:  44-to-1, from November 2016, as reported by longtime records tracker Guy Walton (@climateguyw) in his new Guy on Climate blog.  Brian Kahn (Climate Central) puts it this way:  “The U.S. is poised to set a record-setting record.” 

Another astounding tidbit:  the NOAA site shows 248 monthly record highs for February, but no monthly record lows at all.  This is the first time that Walton recalls seeing such a skewed ratio of monthly records.  It almost goes without saying that this onslaught of February records is entirely consistent with the warming of national and global climate being generated by human-produced greenhouse gases, as noted by Andrew Freedman 

Read more at All-Time Warmth for February Stretches to New England

Europe’s Tough Line on Shipping Emissions

Shipping industry is ordered to reduce its climate-damaging CO2 emissions in European waters or face trading charges.

Dark clouds gather over a container ship in the Belgian port of Antwerp. (Image Credit: August Brill via Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
The European Parliament has lost patience with shipping industry inaction over climate change and has outlined plans to include vessels in its Emissions Trading System (ETS).

Ship owners are furious, claiming it is wrong that they will effectively be charged for carbon pollution in Europe Union waters ahead of any wider international arrangement.

But the members of the parliament in Brussels endorsed a recommendation from their own environment committee that the maritime industry should be included in the European Union’s ETS, a cap-and-trade scheme aimed at tackling global warming.

Maritime transport is estimated to produce around 1,000 million tonnes of carbon annually and is responsible for about 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

It is predicted that CO2 output will increase by between 50% and 250% by 2050, depending on future economic and energy developments.

“This is not compatible with the internationally-agreed goal of keeping global temperature increase to below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels, which requires worldwide emissions to be at least halved from 1990 levels by 2050,” the European Commission explains.

Read more at Europe’s Tough Line on Shipping Emissions

US to Send Delegates to Bonn Climate Talks Despite Trump Vow - The Financial Times

Delegates at the UN conference on climate change in 2015. Donald Trump promised to 'cancel' the Paris deal during the presidential campaign (Credit: © AFP) Click to Enlarge.
The US has said it would send delegates to the next round of international climate change talks in Bonn in May, despite Donald Trump’s vow that he would abandon the Paris agreement at the center of the German negotiations.

UN officials told reporters in London on Thursday they were not sure how to interpret the move, which follows President Trump’s appointment of an environmental regulator who has questioned climate science and a secretary of state who ran ExxonMobil, the world’s largest listed oil company.

“We got an email saying there is a US delegation coming in May,” said Nick Nuttall, communications co-ordinator for the UN climate change secretariat in Bonn.  “It looked like it was a pretty standard delegation that they would send.”

Patricia Espinosa, the secretariat’s executive secretary, said she hoped this was a sign the US might remain part of the Paris deal that virtually every country adopted in December 2015.

“Of course I hope this means they are not really thinking of [pulling out]” she said, adding that it was hard to be sure because any country withdrawing from the accord still faced an effective waiting period of four years and would therefore be expected to send a delegation to UN talks in the interim.

Ms Espinosa hopes to meet senior Trump administration officials in Washington next week, where she plans to emphasize the importance of the Paris deal.  “We want to engage with them to really share with them why this agenda is so important and why it is in their interest,” she said.

Read more at US to Send Delegates to Bonn Climate Talks Despite Trump Vow

Amazon Deforestation, Once Tamed, Comes Roaring Back - The New York Times

A fire smolders on land cleared for soy farming in Propiedad Valle Verde, near Santa Cruz, Bolivia. (Credit: Jim Wickens/Ecostorm) Click to Enlarge.
A few months ago, a representative from Cargill traveled to this remote colony in Bolivia’s eastern lowlands in the southernmost reaches of the vast Amazon River basin with an enticing offer.

The American agricultural giant wanted to buy soybeans from the Mennonite residents, descendants of European peasants who had been carving settlements out of the thick forest for more than 40 years.  The company would finance a local warehouse and weighing station so farmers could sell their produce directly to Cargill on-site, the man said, according to local residents.

One of those farmers, Heinrich Janzen, was clearing woodland from a 37-acre plot he bought late last year, hustling to get soy in the ground in time for a May harvest.  “Cargill wants to buy from us,” said Mr. Janzen, 38, as bluish smoke drifted from heaps of smoldering vegetation.

His soy is in demand.  Cargill is one of several agricultural traders vying to buy from soy farmers in the region, he said.

Cargill confirmed the accounts of colony residents, and said the company was still assessing whether it would source from the community.  That decision would depend on a study of the area’s productivity and land titles, said Hugo Krajnc, Cargill’s corporate affairs leader for the Southern Cone, based in Argentina.  “But if a farmer has burned down its forest we’ll not source from that grower,” he said.

A decade after the “Save the Rainforest” movement forced changes that dramatically slowed deforestation across the Amazon basin, activity is roaring back in some of the biggest expanses of forests in the world.  That resurgence, driven by the world’s growing appetite for soy and other agricultural crops, is raising the specter of a backward slide in efforts to preserve biodiversity and fight climate change.

In the Brazilian Amazon, the world’s largest rain forest, deforestation rose in 2015 for the first time in nearly a decade, to nearly two million acres from August 2015 to July 2016.  That is a jump from about 1.5 million acres a year earlier and just over 1.2 million acres the year before that, according to estimates by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research.

Here across the border in Bolivia, where there are fewer restrictions on land clearance, deforestation appears to be accelerating as well.

Read more at Amazon Deforestation, Once Tamed, Comes Roaring Back

Friday, February 24, 2017

  Friday, Feb 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.

Exxon's New CEO Says Carbon Tax Could Combat Climate Change

Colorado Clouds / The comments, which mirror statements made by Tillerson as CEO and reflect Exxon’s stance over the past years, are the first from the new Exxon head since he took office last month. (Credit: © AgWeb) Click to Enlarge.
In his first blog post since succeeding Rex Tillerson, the new head of Exxon Mobil Corp. focused on climate change, calling for a carbon tax to discourage use of polluting fuels.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods said a revenue-neutral carbon tax “would promote greater energy efficiency and the use of today’s lower-carbon options, avoid further burdening the economy, and also provide incentives for markets to develop additional low-carbon energy solutions for the future.”

The comments, which mirror statements made by Tillerson as CEO and reflect Exxon’s stance over the past years, are the first from the new Exxon head since he took office last month. Tillerson now serves as the secretary of state under U.S. President Donald Trump, who has pledged to ease the regulatory burden that former President Barack Obama’s administration imposed on the oil and gas industry in a bid to fight climate change and protect air and water quality.

Read more at Exxon's New CEO Says Carbon Tax Could Combat Climate Change

Ivanka and Jared Saved the Paris Agreement — for Now

Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, may be helping behind the scenes at the White House to preserve the Paris Agreement. (Photo Credit: Michael Vadon / Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to say yesterday if President Trump remains committed to withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The suggestion of a shift in position comes after Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, two close advisers to the president, worked to remove references to the global climate deal from a new executive order, according to a source.  The measure, aimed at dismantling carbon policies initiated by the Obama administration, is expected to be released soon but no longer contains language opposing the Paris Agreement.

Moving to quit the international pact is increasingly seen by Republicans as a knottier effort than staying in and, instead, potentially downplaying U.S. commitments struck by the former administration on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The agreement isn't legally binding.

"The question is, for businesses, is it worth the political and economic capital that you would have to invest to take the U.S. out of Paris?  I think the answer is probably no," said Frank Maisano of Bracewell LLP, a firm representing energy companies.

Read more at Ivanka and Jared Saved the Paris Agreement — for Now