Saturday, June 30, 2018

Saturday 30

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.

What’s the ‘Green New Deal’?  The Surprising Origins Behind a Progressive Rallying Cry.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaign poster (Credit: Scott Heins / Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Defining a ‘Green New Deal’
From the beginning, there were competing definitions of what “Green New Deal” meant.

[Thomas] Friedman’s version focused on policies that compelled the “big players to do the right thing for the wrong reasons.”  He liked a lot of what Obama enacted — including $51 billion in “green stimulus” and a $2.3 billion tax credit to clean energy manufacturing — even after the administration shelved the Green New Deal rhetoric after the midterm election.

Sure, big-ticket policies like a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system and sunseting the $20 billion in subsidies to oil, gas, and coal each year never came to fruition.  Even the regulations the administration did achieve — like tightening fuel economy standards and incentivizing utilities to produce more renewable energy — disintegrated as soon as the Trump administration took over.

Subsidies for wind, solar, and battery technology managed to survive proposed cuts in the tax bill Congress passed last year because Republicans in states that have come to rely on those burgeoning industries saved them.  For Friedman that is proof that lasting climate policies are ones that make private renewable energy companies powerful enough to sway politics.

“The more the market does on its own, the more sustainable it is,” he said.  Even as the Trump administration dismantles Obama’s climate legacy, Friedman feels the battle shouldn’t be for more aggressive government intervention to wean the economy off fossil fuels, but on messaging that focuses on the patriotic, nation-building aspects of greening the economy.

“We are the true patriots on this,” said Friedman.  “We’re talking about American economic power, American moral power, American geopolitical power.  Green is geostrategic, geoeconomic, patriotic, capitalistic.”
Revival of an idea
Talk of a Green New Deal went quiet for years in the U.S. and Britain.  But a new wave of progressive candidates, spurred by the organizing that went into Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2016 Democratic presidential bid, began reviving the term in the past year.

It could be a winning strategy.  Polls show that Americans overwhelmingly support efforts to reduce climate pollution and increase renewable energy capacity, even if it comes with a cost. Sixty-one percent of Americans who voted for Obama in 2012 and then for Trump in 2016 supported requiring a minimum amount of renewable fuels even if it increased electricity prices, according to Cooperative Congressional Election Study’s 2016 survey results analyzed for HuffPost by Data for Progress, a left-leaning think tank.  That increased to 76 percent among voters who picked Obama in 2012 but sat out the 2016 race, and it surged to 85 percent among those who voted for both Obama and, in 2016, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The data showed similar support for strengthening enforcement of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, even if it cost U.S. jobs.  Fifty percent of Obama-Trump voters said they would support such regulations, increasing to 77 percent among voters who picked Obama then sat out the 2016 election, and 83 percent for Obama-and-Clinton voters.

Some have called for federal spending plans similar to the World War II economic mobilization to bolster renewable energy and rebuild roads and bridges to make them more resilient in extreme weather.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic Socialists of America-backed challenger who trounced Democratic Representative Joe Crowley Tuesday night in a working-class Bronx and Queens district in New York City, outlined a similar vision.  She called the Green New Deal proposed in Obama’s 2008 platform a “half measure” that “will not work.”

“The Green New Deal we are proposing will be similar in scale to the mobilization efforts seen in World War II or the Marshall Plan,” she said by email.  “It will require the investment of trillions of dollars and the creation of millions of high-wage jobs.  We must again invest in the development, manufacturing, deployment, and distribution of energy but this time green energy.”

Read more at What’s the ‘Green New Deal’?  The Surprising Origins Behind a Progressive Rallying Cry.

Electric Vehicles Are Gaining Momentum, Despite Trump - By David Roberts

Jaguar Land Rover’s new I-PACE. (Credit: Jaguar) Click to Enlarge.
The transportation sector today emits more carbon than any other sector of the US economy.  And it is shaping up to be the next big battle in the long fight to decarbonize.

On one side of that battle:  the Trump administration, a few US automakers, and Koch Industries, who would like to stymie or at least delay the electrification of vehicles and continue the use of fossil fuels.

On the other side:  California, a coalition of like-minded states, most automakers, a growing roster of utilities, and climate hawks.  All of them are eager to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles (EVs), so that the sector can be run on increasingly clean grid power.

Lately, the Trumpian side has had the upper hand.  EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has signaled that he wants to freeze fuel-economy standards at 2020 levels, while Koch-funded groups are fighting EV incentives and blocking public-transit projects around the country.  And low oil prices have kept gas prices down, which means American consumers are once again opting for SUVs and trucks.  Cars are practically disappearing from the market; Ford plans to stop selling almost all its cars by 2020.

But underneath the surface, there is a frenzy of activity on the other side.  It’s not just that states are pushing back and beginning to set their own stringent goals (like California’s, to put 5 million EVs on the street by 2030).  It’s also that a broader coalition is taking on the real nuts and bolts of electrifying the US fleet, working out the details and best practices that will be necessary to put ambitious plans into motion.

Though only about 1 percent of US vehicles are electric today, and many consumers have not researched or even heard of EVs, some forecasts have them as high as 65 percent of new US vehicle sales in 2050.  We are on the front end of a steeply rising S-curve, a rate of change not seen in the US transportation sector for decades.  The temporary triumphs of the luddites in power should not obscure the fact that the work of making those forecasts real is beginning in earnest.

Read much more at Electric Vehicles Are Gaining Momentum, Despite Trump

A City in Oman Just Posted the World’s Hottest Low Temperature Ever Recorded:  109 Degrees

 MODIS satellite image from June 26, 2018 shows clear weather over Oman on the day the 24-hour world high-minimum temperature record was set at Quriyat, Oman. (Image credit: NASA) Click to Enlarge.
Over a period of 24 hours, the temperature in the coastal city of Quriyat, Oman, never dropped below 108.7 degrees (42.6 Celsius) Tuesday, most likely the highest minimum temperature ever observed on Earth.

For a location to remain no lower than 109 degrees around the clock is mind-boggling.  In many locations, a temperature of 109 degrees even during the heat of the afternoon would be unprecedented.  For example, in nearly  150 years of weather records, Washington, D.C.’s high temperature has never exceeded 106 degrees.

Quriyat’s suffocating low temperature, first reported by Jeff Masters at Weather Underground, breaks the world’s previous hottest minimum temperature of 107.4 degrees (41.9 Celsius), also set in Oman, on June 27, 2011.

Masters received word of the exceptional temperature from weather records expert Maximiliano Herrera.  Incredibly, the temperature in Quriyat, Masters said, remained above 107.4 degrees (41.9 Celsius) for 51 straight hours.  Its blistering afternoon high temperature of 121.6 degrees (49.8 Celsius) Tuesday was just about two degrees shy of Oman’s all-time heat record and its highest June temperature, Masters reported.

Quriyat, sometimes also spelled Qurayyat, is a small fishing village in northeast Oman adjacent to the Sea of Oman that spills into the Arabian Sea.  The city’s population is just over 50,000, and it is about an hour southeast of Muscat, Oman’s capital.

This sweltering episode marked the second exceptional weather event to affect Oman in as many months.  In May Category 3 Tropical Cyclone Mekunu slammed into its southwest coast, making landfall near Salalah.  It was the most intense tropical cyclone to make landfall on the Arabian Peninsula on record.

Tuesday’s record-breaking heat resulted from a strong high-altitude, high-pressure system or heat dome anchored over the region, which pumped air temperatures up to 15 degrees above normal.  Masters said sea surface temperatures in the adjacent waters were about 90 degrees, keeping air temperatures elevated even through the night and offering no reprieve from the oppressive conditions.

Tuesday’s 109-degree low, while the highest known, is not official and remains unverified.  Although the World Meteorological Organization validates and maintains records for the hottest maximum world temperature, it does not do so for minimum temperatures.

Nevertheless, assuming it is legitimate, this weather extreme adds to a tremendous number of hot-weather milestones established around the world in just over the past year, which include:
  • In April, Pakistan posted the hottest temperature ever observed on Earth during the month of 122.4 degrees (50.2 Celsius).
  • Dallas had never hit 90 degrees in November before, but it did so three times in four days in 2017.
  • In late October 2017, temperatures soared to 108 degrees in Southern California, the hottest weather on record so late in the season in the entire U.S.
  • On Sept. 1, 2017, San Francisco hit 106 degrees, smashing its all-time hottest temperature.
  • In late July 2017, Shanghai registered its highest temperature in recorded history, 105.6 degrees (40.9 Celsius).
  • In mid-July, Spain posted its highest temperature recorded when Córdoba Airport (in the south) hit 116.4 degrees (46.9 Celsius).
  • In July 2017, Death Valley, Calif., endured the hottest month recorded on Earth.
  • In late June 2017, Ahvaz, Iran, soared to 128.7 degrees Fahrenheit (53.7 Celsius) — that country’s all-time hottest temperature.
  • In late May 2017, the western town of Turbat in Pakistan hit 128.3 degrees (53.5 Celsius), tying the all-time highest temperature in that country and the world-record temperature for May, according to Masters.
All of these heat records are part and parcel of a planet that is trending hotter as greenhouse gas concentrations increase due to human activity.  The past four years have been the hottest four years on record.

Read more at A City in Oman Just Posted the World’s Hottest Low Temperature Ever Recorded:  109 Degrees

BYD Powers Up New 24 GWh EV Battery Factory in Qinghai Province in China

Image of the BYD Qinghai factory shared by BYD (Credit: BYD) Click to Enlarge.
BYD opened its new 24 GWh battery factory this week in Western China’s Qinghai province, with plans to ramp up to a total production capacity of 60 GWh by 2020.  The new factory joins BYD’s two other existing battery factories in Shenzhen and Huizhou.

BYD expects that the new Qinghai factory will be the largest factory in the world after its construction is completed in 2019, with a size of 1 million square meters or 10.7 million square feet.  That is more than twice the finished size of the 5.1 million square foot footprint of the Tesla Gigafactory.  Though, the Gigafactory will have more total factory space due to its multiple levels, which bring the total factory square footage to over 13 million square feet.

The new Qinghai factory signals a full court press by BYD into electric vehicles as global sentiment regarding internal combustion vehicles continues to shift.  “Electrification is a done deal as several countries have announced a deadline for the sale of internal combustion engine cars to end.  Electric vehicles are on the cusp of another boom,” said BYD President and Chairman Wang Chuanfu.

At full capacity, the factory’s 60 GWh of batteries can supply 1.2 million of BYD’s popular Tang EV.  For comparison, Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 outside of Reno, Nevada, in the United States will produce 50 GWh of batteries in 2018 on the way up to its maximum capacity of 150 GWh, as of the last update from the company in 2016.

Batteries from both BYD’s and Tesla’s factories will be used in plug-in vehicles as well as stationary energy storage products in the residential, commercial, and grid markets.  BYD has also established specific use cases for its batteries in rail transportation (including BYD’s SkyRail), solar power stations, and many other new energy solutions.

Read more at BYD Powers Up New 24 GWh EV Battery Factory in Qinghai Province in China

Friday, June 29, 2018

Friday 20

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.

Friday 29

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.

Urban Trees Match Rainforests as Carbon Stores

Not just decorative, urban trees do much more:  they enrich civic life, moderate climate change, and save the taxpayer millions.

London researchers have identified a new reason for preserving urban trees.  Woodland in the world’s great cities, originally intended to enhance the streets, can store as much carbon as a comparable stand of tropical rainforest.

Great concentrations of people in rapidly expanding cities are both driving climate change and at the same time increasingly vulnerable to the extremes of heat threatened by runaway global warming.  So the finding is another reminder of the impact that megacities have both on climate change and on the answers to climate change.

Other research teams have already emphasised the direct value of green canopy in crowded urban streets:  one study has calculated that megacities benefit to the value of around $500 million a year just by having tree-lined streets and shaded parks.

Another has matched the foliage in the avenues with real estate prices to find that, in California at least, street trees add up to $1 billion to property values.

And, for once, urban foresters gain something from the increasingly warm and sometimes stifling conditions in the cities:  street, garden, and park trees flourish as the temperatures creep up.

London geographers report in the journal Carbon Balance and Management that they used airborne LiDAR data – the acronym is short for light detection and ranging – and ground measurements to generate a map of the carbon stored in 85,000 trees in just one area of London, the borough of Camden.

They found that parkland such as Hampstead Heath – a famous London open space – stored up to 178 metric tons of carbon per hectare:  this is comparable with the 190 tonnes that are typically stored in tropical rainforests.

Trees have value:  they provide shade, absorb rainwater, filter the air, and offer habitat for other creatures.  One calculation suggests that the services delivered by London’s planes, oaks, and horse chestnuts are worth $175 million (£133 m) a year in total:  the carbon storage capacity alone is valued at $6.3m (£4.8m) a year. 

Read more at Urban Trees Match Rainforests as Carbon Stores

What Happened Last Time It Was as Warm as It’s Going to Get Later This Century?

Kids today will be grandparents when most climate projections end—does the past have more hints?

Map of Antarctica today showing rates of retreat (2010-2016) of the “grounding line” where glaciers lose contact with bedrock underwater, along with ocean temperatures. The lone red arrow in East Antarctica is the Totten Glacier, which alone holds ice equivalent to ~3m (10ft) of sea level rise. (Image Credit: UMass Amherst / Edward Gasson) Click to Enlarge.
The year 2100 stands like a line of checkered flags at the climate change finish line, as if all our goals expire then.  But like the warning etched on a car mirror: it’s closer than it appears.  Kids born today will be grandparents when most climate projections end.

And yet, the climate won’t stop changing in 2100.  Even if we succeed in limiting warming this century to 2ºC, we’ll have CO2 at around 500 parts per million.  That’s a level not seen on this planet since the Middle Miocene, 16 million years ago, when our ancestors were apes.  Temperatures then were about 5 to 8ºC warmer not 2º, and sea levels were some 40 meters (130 feet) or more higher, not the 1.5 feet (half a meter) anticipated at the end of this century by the 2013 IPCC report.

Why is there a yawning gap between end-century projections and what happened in Earth’s past?  Are past climates telling us we’re missing something?

One big reason for the gap is simple:  time.

Earth takes time to respond to changes in greenhouse gases.  Some changes happen within years, while others take generations to reach a new equilibrium.  Ice sheets melting, permafrost thawing, deep ocean warming, peat formation, and reorganizations of vegetation take centuries to millennia.

These slow responses are typically not included in climate models.  That’s partly because of the computing time they would take to calculate, partly because we’re naturally focused on what we can expect over the next few decades, and partly because those processes are uncertain.  And even though climate models have been successful at predicting climate change observed so far, uncertainties remain for even some fast responses, like clouds or the amplification of warming at the poles.

Earth’s past, on the other hand, shows us how its climate actually changed, integrating the full spectrum of our planet’s fast and slow responses.  During past climate changes when Earth had ice sheets (like today) it typically warmed by around 5ºC to 6ºC for each doubling of CO2 levels, with the process taking about a millennium.  That’s roughly double the “Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity” (ECS) values used in climate model projections for 2100, which are calculated mainly from historical observations.

“We do expect the Earth System Sensitivity (change CO2 and have all the systems react—including ice sheets, vegetation, methane, aerosols, etc.) to be larger than ECS.  Work we did on the Pliocenesuggested about 50 percent bigger, but it could be larger than that,” Gavin Schmidt, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, told me.

Or, as Dana Royer of Wesleyan University put it, “In short, climate models tend to under-predict the magnitude of climate change relative to geologic evidence.”

Read more at What Happened Last Time It Was as Warm as It’s Going to Get Later This Century?

Path to Zero Emissions Starts Out Easy, but Gets Steep

Energy innovation necessary to overcome biggest zero emissions challenges.
Carbon dioxide emissions from human activities must approach zero within several decades to avoid risking grave damage from the effects of climate change.  This will require creativity and innovation because some types of industrial sources of atmospheric carbon lack affordable emissions-free substitutes, according to a new paper in Science from team of experts led by University of California Irvine's Steven Davis and Carnegie's Ken Caldeira.

In addition to heating, cooling, lighting, and powering individual vehicles--subjects that are often the focus of the emissions discussion--there are other major contributors to atmospheric carbon that are much more challenging to address.  These tough nuts to crack include air travel; long-distance freight by truck, train, or ship; and the manufacture of steel and cement.

"We wanted to look closely at the barriers and opportunities related to the most difficult-to-decarbonize services," said lead author Davis.

Read more at Path to Zero Emissions Starts Out Easy, but Gets Steep

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Thursday 28

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 Huge Stretch of the Arctic Ocean Is Rapidly Turning Into the Atlantic.  That’s Not a Good Sign

The northern Barents Sea shifts over to an Atlantic climate and becomes sea-ice free. (Credit: Sigrid Lind) Click to Enlarge.
Scientists studying one of the fastest-warming regions of the global ocean say changes in this region are so sudden and vast that in effect, it will soon be another limb of the Atlantic Ocean, rather than a characteristically icy Arctic sea.

The northern Barents Sea, to the north of Scandinavia and east of the remote archipelago of Svalbard, has warmed extremely rapidly — by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit just since the year 2000 — standing out even in the fastest-warming part of the globe, the Arctic.

“We call it the Arctic warming hot spot,” said Sigrid Lind, a researcher at the Institute of Marine Research in Tromso, Norway.

Now Lind and her colleagues have shown, based on temperature and salinity measurements taken on summer research cruises, that this warming is being accompanied by a stark change of character, as the Atlantic is in effect taking over the region and converting it into a very different entity.

Their results were published this week in Nature Climate Change by Lind and two colleagues at Norway’s Institute of Marine Research and University of Bergen.  They underscore that the divide between the Atlantic and the Arctic isn’t just a geographical one — it’s physical in nature.

While the Southern Barents is milder, the northern Barents has — until recently — had all the characteristics of an Arctic sea.  It featured floating sea ice that, when it melted, helped to provide an icy, freshwater cap atop the ocean.  This kept internal heat from escaping to the atmosphere, and also kept the ocean “stratified” — cold, fresher waters in the upper part of the ocean and warmer, Atlantic-originating waters down below.

This situation, which occurs in much of the Arctic, was reinforced by the fact that freshwater is less dense than salt water, preserving stratification.

But that’s changing.  Less sea ice is floating down through the northern Barents Sea from higher Arctic latitudes, the research shows.

Read more at A Huge Stretch of the Arctic Ocean Is Rapidly Turning Into the Atlantic.  That’s Not a Good Sign

BP to Buy UK’s Largest EV Charging Company

EV charging (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
Oil supermajor BP said on Thursday that it would buy the UK’s largest electric vehicle (EV) charging company, Chargemaster, in the latest show of Big Oil’s move into EV charging networks.

Chargemaster, which has more 6,500 EV charging points across the UK, also designs, builds, sells, and maintains EV charging units for a wide range of locations, including for home charging.

After the acquisition is completed, Chargemaster will be re-branded to BP Chargemaster and will operate as a wholly owned BP entity.  BP Chargemaster will combine Chargemaster’s EV charging network with BP’s 1,200 service stations in a move that will widen access to electric vehicle charging in the UK, BP said.

BP Chargemaster will rollout ultra-fast charging infrastructure, including 150 kW chargers capable of delivering 100 miles of range in 10 minutes.

Read more at BP to Buy UK’s Largest EV Charging Company

Half of South Asia Living in Vulnerable Climate 'Hotspots':  World Bank

A women carries firewood as she walks through a dried-up portion of the Sabarmati river on a hot summer day in Ahmedabad, India, May 16, 2018. (Credit: Reuters/Amit Dave/File photo) Click to Enlarge.
Changes in temperature and rainfall will impact almost half of South Asia in the coming decades, reducing economic growth in one of the world’s poorest regions, the World Bank said.

A World Bank report released on Thursday analyses two scenarios - “climate sensitive”, based on collective action by nations to limit greenhouse gas emissions, and “carbon intensive”, which assumes no action on climate change.

The report combines future changes in temperature and rainfall with household survey data linking living standards to weather conditions for the first time.

More than 800 million people now live in areas predicted to become moderate-to-severe “hotspots”, or affected areas, by 2050 under the carbon intensive scenario, with India accounting for almost three quarters of them, the report said.

Moderate hotspots are areas where projected consumption spending declines by 4-8 percent and severe ones are where the drop exceeds 8 percent.

Read more at Half of South Asia Living in Vulnerable Climate 'Hotspots':  World Bank

11 States Sue Trump Administration Over Climate Super-Pollutants Used in Cooling

The lawsuits over HFCs are the latest legal challenges to a far-reaching agenda of rolling back environmental regulations, especially relating to climate change.

HFCs, used in air-conditioning and refrigeration, have become the world's fastest growing greenhouse gases. A 2015 rule aimed to phase them out. (Credit: Justin Sullivan) Click to Enlarge.
Eleven states and the District of Columbia sued the Trump administration on Wednesday, demanding enforcement of regulations on super-polluting greenhouse gases in air conditioners and refrigerators.

A similar lawsuit was filed by environmentalists on Tuesday.  Both challenge an attempt by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to roll back federal regulations on the class of chemicals known as hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.

The HFC lawsuits are the latest in a string of legal challenges to the Trump administration's far-reaching agenda of rolling back environmental regulations, especially those relating to climate change.

Instead of launching a new formal rulemaking procedure to rescind or replace the HFCs rule, Pruitt announced in April that the agency would no longer enforce the Obama-era rule, which a federal court had partially struck down in a case brought by two foreign HFCs manufacturers.

The court had struck down only part of the HFCs rule, leaving some elements in place, yet Pruitt's move essentially eliminated the rule entirely.  By using "guidance" to do that rather than going through the formal rulemaking process, Pruitt violated administrative law, the NRDC's Lissa Lynch wrote in a blog post explaining her group's lawsuit over the move.

"Throwing out these commonsense restrictions on this potent pollutant is contrary to the law and science, and it is disruptive to the manufacturers that have invested in alternatives," Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in announcing the states' lawsuit.  "We are suing to protect the health of our residents and the planet."

Read more at 11 States Sue Trump Administration Over Climate Super-Pollutants Used in Cooling

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Wednesday 27

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.

Warming of 2C ‘Substantially’ More Harmful than 1.5C – Draft UN Report

Latest version of major UN science report concludes the upper temperature goal of the Paris Agreement does not represent a climate safe zone.

Walrus use sea ice to rest while hunting. But at 2C the Arctic is "very likely" to be ice-free one year in ten, scientists have found (Photo Credit: )Brad Benter/USFWS) Click to Enlarge.
A leaked draft of a major UN climate change report shows growing certainty that 2C, once shorthand for a ‘safe’ amount of planetary warming, would be a dangerous step for humanity.

The authors make clear the difference between warming of 1.5C and 2C would be “substantial” and damaging to communities, economies, and ecosystems across the world.

In 2015 the Paris Agreement established twin goals to hold temperature rise from pre-industrial times “well below 2C” and strive for 1.5C.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has since been working to assess the difference between those targets, with a view to publishing a sweeping analysis of all available research in October this year.

The report summary, which Climate Home News published on Wednesday, is a draft and subject to change.  The IPCC said it would not comment on leaked reports.  An earlier draft from January was also published by CHN.

CHN has compared the January and June drafts.  The new version builds a stronger case for governments to rapidly cut carbon pollution.  It also strikes a marginally more optimistic tone on the attainability of the 1.5C target.

Read more at Warming of 2C ‘Substantially’ More Harmful than 1.5C – Draft UN Report

Here’s Why the Bay Area Lost Its Lawsuit Against Big Oil

Chevron gas pump (Credit: Reuters / Joshua Lott) Click to Enlarge.
The judge who famously convened a climate tutorial threw out a case against Big Oil on Tuesday.  San Francisco and Oakland had sued BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell to help pay for the costs of building seawalls and other projects to adapt to climate change.

This decision dims hopes for those pursuing lawsuits against companies for damages tied to climate change.  At least nine other cities and counties have brought similar lawsuits, including New York City, Boulder, Colorado, and King County, Washington.

From the beginning, U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup took an expansive approach.  He had each side fly in experts to give him a personal masterclass on climate change in his San Francisco courtroom.  During that tutorial, he seemed sympathetic to the argument that oil companies have done real harm.  You can glimpse that sympathy in his 16-page decision : “[T]his order accepts the science behind global warming.  So do both sides.  The dangers raised in the complaints are very real.”

So why throw out the lawsuit?

Well, Alsup sees a danger that worries him more than climate change — the danger of a single unelected judge deciding that countries around the world are better off without oil.

Alsup wrote that a ruling against Big Oil would trigger a cascade of other lawsuits, and eventually put petroleum producers out of business.  And this, he argued, would trample on the policies of countries that are actively encouraging oil production.  While the harms of fossil fuels are clear, so are the benefits, Alsup argued.  “Without those fuels, virtually all of our monumental progress would have been impossible,” he wrote.  “All of us have benefitted.”

San Francisco and Oakland’s lawsuit Alsup wrote, are effectively asking the court to “conduct and control energy policy on foreign soil.”  If any branch of government is going to do something as big as shutting down global oil production, Alsup reasons, it needs to be done by elected representatives, not one judge and jury making a decision for the entire world.

Read more at Here’s Why the Bay Area Lost Its Lawsuit Against Big Oil

30 Years Later, Deniers Are Still Lying About Hansen’s Amazing Global Warming Prediction

Koch paychecks seem to be strong motivators to lie.

Scenario B from Hansen’s 1988 paper, with the trend reduced by 27% to reflect the actual radiative forcing from 1984 to 2017, compared to global surface temperature data from Cowtan & Way. (Illustration Credit: Dana Nuccitelli) Click to Enlarge.
30 years ago, James Hansen testified to Congress about the dangers of human-caused climate change.  In his testimony, Hansen showed the results of his 1988 study using a climate model to project future global warming under three possible scenarios, ranging from ‘business as usual’ heavy pollution in his Scenario A to ‘draconian emissions cuts’ in Scenario C, with a moderate Scenario B in between.

Changes in the human effects that influence Earth’s global energy imbalance (a.k.a. ‘anthropogenic radiative forcings’) have in reality been closest to Hansen’s Scenario B, but about 20–30% weaker thanks to the success of the Montreal Protocol in phasing out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).  Hansen’s climate model projected that under Scenario B, global surface air temperatures would warm about 0.84°C between 1988 and 2017.  But with a global energy imbalance 20–30% lower, it would have predicted a global surface warming closer to 0.6–0.7°C by this year.

The actual 1988–2017 temperature increase was about 0.6°C.  Hansen’s 1988 global climate model was almost spot-on.

The incredible accuracy of Hansen’s climate model predictions debunks a number of climate denier myths.  It shows that climate models are accurate and reliable, that global warming is proceeding as climate scientists predicted, and thus that we should probably start listening to them and take action to address the existential threat it poses.

Hansen’s predictions have thus become a target of climate denier misinformation.  It began way back in 1998, when the Cato Institute’s Patrick Michaels – who has admitted that something like 40% of his salary comes from the fossil fuel industry – arguably committed perjury in testimony to Congress.  Invited by Republicans to testify as the Kyoto Protocol climate agreement was in the works, Michaels was asked to evaluate how Hansen’s predictions were faring 10 years later. 

In his presentation, Michaels deleted Hansen’s Scenarios B and C – the ones closest to reality – and only showed Scenario A to make it seem as though Hansen had drastically over-predicted global warming.  Deleting inconvenient data in order to fool his audience became a habit for Patrick Michaels, who quickly earned a reputation of dishonesty in the climate science world, but has nevertheless remained a favorite of oil industry and conservative media.

Last week in the Wall Street Journal, Michaels was joined by Ryan Maue in an op-ed that again grossly distorted Hansen’s 1988 paper.  Maue is a young scientist with a contrarian streak who’s published some serious research on hurricanes, but since joining the Cato Institute last year, seems to have sold off his remaining credibility to the fossil fuel industry.

In their WSJ opinion piece, Michaels and Maue claimed:
Global surface temperature has not increased significantly since 2000, discounting the larger-than-usual El Niño of 2015-16.  Assessed by Mr. Hansen’s model, surface temperatures are behaving as if we had capped 18 years ago the carbon-dioxide emissions responsible for the enhanced greenhouse effect.
They provided no evidence to support this claim (evidence and facts seem not to be allowed on the WSJ Opinion page), and it takes just 30 seconds to fact check.  In reality, global surface temperatures have increased by about 0.35°C since 2000 – precisely in line with Hansen’s 1988 model projections, as shown above.  And it’s unscientific to simply “discount” the El Niño of 2015-16, because between the years 1999 and 2014, seven were cooled by La Niña events while just four experienced an El Niño warming.  Yet despite the preponderance of La Niña events, global surface temperatures still warmed 0.15°C during that time.  There’s simply not an ounce of truth to Michaels’ and Maue’s central WSJ claim.

It’s also worth noting that Hansen’s 1988 paper accurately predicted the geographic pattern of global warming, with the Arctic region warming fastest and more warming over land masses than the oceans.  And climate deniers in the 1980s like Richard Lindzen were predicting “that the likelihood over the next century of greenhouse warming reaching magnitudes comparable to natural variability seems small.”  If anyone deserves criticism for inaccurate climate predictions, it’s deniers like Lindzen who thought there wouldn’t be any significant warming, when in reality we’ve seen the dramatic global warming that James Hansen predicted.

Michaels’ and Maue’s misinformation didn’t stop there:
And it isn’t just Mr. Hansen who got it wrong. Models devised by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have, on average, predicted about twice as much warming as has been observed since global satellite temperature monitoring began 40 years ago.
Once again, this unsupported assertion is completely wrong.  I evaluated the IPCC’s global warming projections in my book, and showed in detail that theirs have been among the most accurate predictions.  The climate model temperature projections in the 1990, 1995, 2001, and 2007 IPCC reports were all remarkably accurate; the IPCC predicted global warming almost exactly right.

Read more at 30 Years Later, Deniers Are Still Lying About Hansen’s Amazing Global Warming Prediction

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Tuesday 26

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.

Atlanta Charts a Path to 100 Percent Renewable Electricity

Three proposals are headed to the City Council on Tuesday.  The goals:  Make this Southern city a leader in renewable power and fight climate change.

Atlanta city officials are recommending a 2050 deadline for shifting the city to all-renewable electricity. They have a blueprint for how to get there, but they can't do it alone. (Credit: Mike Downey/CC-BY-2.0) Click to Enlarge.
If Atlanta can get to 100 percent clean electricity, then any city can, Al Gore said.  Now that signature Southern city in a deep red state has a plan to do just that.

On Tuesday, city officials will take their new road map for a greener future to the Atlanta City Council, outlining options that they say can fight climate change, improve health and bolster the economy all at once.

They are recommending a 2050 deadline—15 years slower than the pace the council agreed to a year ago for cleaning up the city's use of electricity.

That would allow time to tackle political challenges and to make the kinds of changes needed for a homegrown energy transformation.  The alternative is to rely mostly on merely buying credits from wind farms beyond Georgia's borders, a less desirable alternative, according to the report.

Atlanta is now among more than 70 U.S. cities to adopt a 100 percent renewable electricity goal, according to a tally by the Sierra Club.  That number has more than doubled in the last year as mayors and cities have reacted to President Donald Trump's announcement that he was pulling the United States out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

"It's encouraging to see this, and it provides an opportunity for hope," said John C. Dernbach, a professor at Widener University Commonwealth Law School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and an expert in the legal aspects of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables such as wind and solar.  "The more cities that do this and the more aggressively they do it, the faster we are going to get a tipping point on the economics and technology and, frankly, the politics."

Other cities that have pledged to get all their electricity from renewable sources include Salt Lake City, San Diego, St. Louis, and Orlando.

'Cities Must—and Can—Lead the Way'
Atlanta last year became the largest city in the South to make the pledge and, according to the Sierra Club's Georgia director, Ted Terry, it is among the first to develop a blueprint showing how to get there.  The plan was drawn up by the city's Office of Resilience after an extensive public outreach effort and has the blessing of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

"Cities must—and can—lead the way in accelerating this critical transition to clean and renewable energy sources," she wrote in a message that was included in the plan, noting the oversized roles that cities play in the global economy.  "We not only have the capacity to act; it is morally incumbent that we do so."

Read more at Atlanta Charts a Path to 100 Percent Renewable Electricity

Warmer World Needs More Protected Habitat

With climate change soon to be the main threat to biodiversity, protected habitat will be a higher priority than ever to give wildlife a chance.

Mozambique’s Niassa reserve: The world needs many more. (Image Credit: JB Deffontaines) Click to Enlarge.
Some time later this century, the world’s need for protected habitat will be more acute even than today.

The greatest danger to the wild vertebrates that roam the planet will not be the intruding humans, their livestock and their pesticides and herbicides.  It will be human-induced global warming and climate change.

The conversion of wilderness – forest, grassland and swamp – to urban growth, agriculture and pasture has already caused losses of perhaps one species in 10 in the natural ecosystems disturbed by humankind.

But what could be catastrophic climate change driven by profligate human burning of fossil fuels could by 2070 overtake the damage delivered by changes in the way land is used, with catastrophic consequences for birds, reptiles, mammals and other vertebrates.

Losses could reach 20% or even 40%, according to a new study in an academic journal, the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

And a second, separate study in another journal spells out the challenge for governments, communities and conservators:  the present targets for biodiversity conservation are simply inadequate.  They leave 83% of the land surface unprotected, and 90% of the oceans not effectively conserved.

There have been calls to set at least half of the globe aside for the wild animals, plants and fungi that – until human numbers began to expand – dominated the planet.  But the latest study, in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, suggests that even a half-share for nature might not be enough to save many species from extinction.

Read more at Warmer World Needs More Protected Habitat

Europe's First Solar Panel Recycling Plant Opens in France

Solar panel components are seen at Veolia’s solar panel recycling plant in Rousset, France, June 25, 2018. (Credit: Reuters/Jean-Paul Pelissier Click to Enlarge.
French water and waste group Veolia has opened what it says is Europe’s first recycling plant for solar panels and aims to build more as thousands of tonnes of ageing solar panels are set to reach the end of their life in coming years.

The new plant in Rousset, southern France, has a contract with solar industry recycling organization PV Cycle France to recycle 1,300 tonnes of solar panels in 2018 - virtually all solar panels that will reach their end of life in France this year - and is set to ramp up to 4,000 tonnes by 2022.

“This is the first dedicated solar panel recycling plant in Europe, possibly in the world,” Gilles Carsuzaa, head of electronics recycling at Veolia, told reporters.

The first ageing photovoltaic (PV) panels - which have lifespans of around 25 years - are just now beginning to come off rooftops and solar plants in volumes sufficiently steady and significant to warrant building a dedicated plant, Veolia said.

Up until now, ageing or broken solar panels have typically been recycled in general-purpose glass recycling facilities, where only their glass and aluminum frames are recovered and their specialty glass is mixed in with other glass.  The remainder is often burned in cement ovens.

In a 2016 study on solar panel recycling, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said that in the long term, building dedicated PV panel recycling plants makes sense.  It estimates that recovered materials could be worth $450 million by 2030 and exceed $15 billion by 2050.
Veolia said it aims to recycle all decommissioned PV panels in France and wants to use this experience to build similar plants abroad.

Installed solar capacity is growing 30 to 40 percent per year in France, with 53,000 tonnes installed in 2016 and 84,000 tonnes in 2017, Veolia said.

Worldwide, Veolia expects tonnage of decommissioned PV panels will grow to several ten of millions of tonnes by 2050.

IRENA estimated that global PV waste streams will grow from 250,000 tonnes in 2016 - less than one percent of installed capacity - to more than five million tonnes by 2050.  By then, the amount of PV waste will almost match the mass contained in new installations, it said.

Read more at Europe's First Solar Panel Recycling Plant Opens in France

India Targets 21% Power Consumption from Renewable Energy by 2022

Like China, India also aggressively revised its renewable energy targets.  The latest policy decision comes from the Ministry of Power in India that sets out an ambitious new target for the share of renewable energy in the country’s electricity consumption.

The Ministry of Power, Government of India, issued order no. 23/03/2016-R&R dated 14 June 2018 stating the revised Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) targets at the national level.  As per the order, the country has target of 21% share of renewable energy in its total electricity consumption by March 2022.

The order also sets targets for each financial year between 2019-20 and 2021-22.  Targets for 2016-17 to 2018-19 have already been specified in a similar order issued 22 July 2016.

Evolution of India’s RPO trajectory
Over the last few years, India has aggressively increased its RPO targets as it has also increased its capacity targets.  Until May 2014, India had set a target to have 15% of total electricity consumption from renewable energy sources by March 2022.  The share of solar power was envisaged at 3%, which was inclusive of the 15%.  The solar power capacity target was 22 gigawatts by March 2022.

After the current government came to power, the solar RPO target was increased to 8% by March 2022, and installed capacity target was increased by nearly five times to 100 gigawatts.  A detailed timeline for auctions and commissions of projects was issued last year to help the federal as well as state agencies to match their own targets with the national targets.

Now, the latest revision notified by the Ministry of Power will require states to revisit their current trajectory and realign them to the national targets.  The jump in non-solar RPO target is insignificant — 10.25% in 2018-19 to 10.50% in 2021-22.  However, the jump in solar RPO target is massive — 6.75% in 2018-19 to 10.50% in 2021-22.

While India continues to set aggressive renewable energy procurement targets at the federal level states have been rather slow to adapt.  According to CARE Ratings, only six of the 29 states have aligned their own targets as per the national guidelines for FY2018-19.  This is one of the reasons that the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy was forced to create a new body to check RPO target compliance of states.

There have been cases earlier when obligated entities failed to meet RPO target due to lack of adequate supply of solar power or other renewable power.  To address this, the order states that at least 85% of the target, in each category, must be fulfilled.  The balance 15% obligation can be met from other renewable power, in case of any shortfall from the original source.

At the end of FY2017-18, the share of renewable power generated in total power consumed in India was around 8.5%.  The share of renewable power consumed would slightly lower given the transmission losses.  The cumulative RPO target for FY2017-18 was 14.25%.

Read more at India Targets 21% Power Consumption from Renewable Energy by 2022