Sunday, May 19, 2019

Car Giant Plumps for Carbon Neutrality

Germany’s major automotive supplier chooses to go for carbon neutrality as it joins the climate change fast lane.

Robert Bosch Gmbh Ceo Volkmar Denner (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
Bosch, the German engineering conglomerate which is the world’s largest supplier to the car industry, says it is aiming for full carbon neutrality by next year, in order to meet the challenge posed by climate change.

Volkmar Denner, Bosch’s chief executive, says it’s vital that companies act now in order to stop the planet from overheating and endangering global stability.

“Climate change is not science fiction; it’s really happening”, Denner said in a statement reported by Reuters news agency.

“If we are to take the Paris Agreement seriously, then climate action needs to be seen not just as a long-term aspiration.  It needs to happen here and now.”

Bosch says that at present it emits around 3.3 million tonnes of climate-changing carbon dioxide each year, while its annual energy consumption is equivalent to the combined total of the power used by all private households in the cities of Berlin and Munich.

Read more at Car Giant Plumps for Carbon Neutrality

Hayhoe:  Climate Hope Comes from People

 Katharine Hayhoe (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
Professor Katharine Hayhoe is visiting the UK and delivering a lecture as part of the Cambridge Climate Lecture Series on the 15th may at 3pm.  The lecture is open to the public and can also be watched live online.  Nick Breeze caught up with her before the event. 

Nick Breeze (NB):  Here in the UK, in the last month or two, hundreds of people have been arrested and climate change is in the news.  In some ways that is good but it also creates another polarity because some people don’t agree with the methods. 

How do we get past this impasse of what is a social system of high carbon consumption, that people are protesting against, and the overwhelming desire to just stop making climate change worse?

Katharine Hayhoe (KH): Yes, the level of concern and urgency is growing with the Extinction Rebellion and the children’s climate strikes.  It is because the urgency is growing to the point where we scientists are standing up and saying we need to do something about it. 

And then, there was the 1.5-degree report where it is shown that even a 0.5 degree of change carries quantifiable impacts that should be avoided.  The scientific urgency has increased and our personal experience of the impacts has changed rapidly in the last decade, and I think that is even more important.

The vast majority of people surveyed in the US agree that climate is changing, plants and animals will be affected, future generations will be affected, even people in the developing countries will be affected.  But then you say, ‘do you think climate change will affect you personally?’  And the majority still answer ‘no’. 

It is up to 41 per cent saying yes though, and it has gone up from 30 per cent to 40 per cent in the last 10 years.  And this year we saw the biggest jump in that number.  And that is because we are experiencing impacts in the places where we live, and we are recognizing that it really does affect us and we do need to fix it. 

NB: Ok, and you think it is the tangible impacts that are really contributing now to the dialogue?

KH: I think so, I think it is the tangible impacts coupled with the increasing clarity of the scientific messaging and also, the involvement of so many different voices.  So, in the UK as well as around the world, we see voices from the business sector, we see voices talking about divestment from the fossil fuel sector. 

You know, the Rockefeller Foundation divested for climate change reasons away from fossil fuels.  We see countries like Norway taking tremendous steps forward.  We see faith leaders of all kinds from the Anglican Church across the spectrum speaking about climate change. 

We are starting to see these discussions happening in almost every sphere, so climate change is no longer considered to be an environmental issue that only environmentalists care about.  And of course, climate change is a human issue.  We already have all the values we need to care about it. 

So we are starting to see these discussions in many different places where we didn’t see it before and that is also contributing to this growing awareness and groundswell of demand for meaningful action.

Read more at  Hayhoe:  Climate Hope Comes from People

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Saturday 18

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

Air Pollution, Diseases, Drought, Climate Change, and Earthquakes Are Creating Risks "in a Way that We Have Not Anticipated"

Agiro Cavanda looks at his flooded home in the aftermath of Cyclone Kenneth, at Wimbe village in Pemba, Mozambique, April 29, 2019. (Credit: Reuters/Mike Hutchings) Click to Enlarge.
Increasingly complex, growing and related risks, from global warming to pollution and epidemics, threaten human survival if left to escalate, the United Nations warned on Wednesday.

A biennial assessment report on how the world is dealing with disasters said the past could no longer be relied on as a guide to the future, with new risks emerging "in a way that we have not anticipated".

It identified a range of major threats to human life and property, including air pollution, diseases, earthquakes, drought, and climate change.

There is also growing potential for one type of disaster to produce or exacerbate another, as when heavy rains trigger mudslides after wildfires, warned the report launched at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva.

"If we continue living in this way, engaging with each other and the planet in the way we do, then our very survival is in doubt," said Mami Mizutori, special representative of the U.N. secretary-general for disaster risk reduction.

Extreme weather events have doubled over the last 20 years, causing economic losses that are making it "an uphill battle" to maintain development gains in low and middle-income countries, she added in a statement.

Meanwhile, the gap between how well rich and poor cope with wild weather and other threats is widening due to poorly planned urbanization, environmental degradation, and population growth.

That "complex cocktail of risk" is destroying homes and displacing people, or pushing them to migrate in search of a better life, Mizutori said.

Air Pollution, Diseases, Drought, Climate Change and Earthquakes Are Creating Risks "in a Way that We Have Not Anticipated"

‘Extraordinary Thinning’ of Ice Sheets Revealed Deep Inside Antarctica

New research shows affected areas are losing ice five times faster than in the 1990s, with more than 100m of thickness gone in some places.

The Antarctic’s Thwaites glacier. More than 50% of the Pine Island and Thwaites glacier basins have been affected by thinning in the past 25 years. (Photograph Credit: PA) Click to Enlarge.
Ice losses are rapidly spreading deep into the interior of the Antarctic, new analysis of satellite data shows.

The warming of the Southern Ocean is resulting in glaciers sliding into the sea increasingly rapidly, with ice now being lost five times faster than in the 1990s.  The West Antarctic ice sheet was stable in 1992 but up to a quarter of its expanse is now thinning.  More than 100 meters of ice thickness has been lost in the worst-hit places.

A complete loss of the West Antarctic ice sheet would drive global sea levels up by about five meters, drowning coastal cities around the world.  The current losses are doubling every decade, the scientists said, and sea level rise are now running at the extreme end of projections made just a few years ago.

Read more at ‘Extraordinary Thinning’ of Ice Sheets Revealed Deep Inside Antarctica

U.S. Democratic Hopeful Inslee Unveils Second Climate Change Plan

U.S. 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and Governor Jay Inslee participates in a moderated discussion at the We the People Summit in Washington, U.S., April 1, 2019. (Credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria) Click to Enlarge.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee, a 2020 Democratic presidential contender whose campaign is focused on climate change, unveiled a plan to invest $9 trillion in 10 years in modern manufacturing and green infrastructure to “revitalize America’s economy for the 21st century.”

This is the second plank of Inslee’s broader “Climate Mission” agenda, which sets a goal of achieving 100 percent zero-emission electricity by 2035.

The 38-page plan calls for $300 billion in average annual federal spending to leverage around $600 billion more each year to invest in industries and manufacturing, infrastructure, and skilled labor, which it estimates would create 8 million jobs.

“America must rise to this 21st century challenge with a bold plan to:  create jobs; protect workers’ rights; repower the economy; rebuild our infrastructure; and reinvest in innovation,” according to his proposed strategy.

Read more at U.S. Democratic Hopeful Inslee Unveils Second Climate Change Plan

California Threatens Gasoline Car Ban

(Credit: Click to Enlarge
California might ban gasoline-powered cars if the federal government goes ahead with a plan to relax emission and fuel economy standards, Bloomberg reports, citing the chair of the California Air Resources Board.

“CARB will be exploring ways to ensure communities get the reductions of air pollution they so desperately need to keep the air clean and breathable -- and continue to fight climate change,” Mary Nichols said.  “That might mean, for example, tougher requirements for low-carbon fuels, looking at tighter health-protective regulations on California refineries, doubling down on our enforcement efforts on mobile and stationary sources -- and might lead to an outright ban on internal combustion engines.”

The fight over fuel economy standards has been going on since the Trump administration said it planned to freeze the standard at 2020 levels and is part of a wider confrontation between the state and the federal administration that has since Trump’s inauguration seen California file as many as 49 lawsuits against the federal government.  Of these, almost half, or 24, are against policies by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Read more at California-Threatens-Gasoline-Car-Ban.html

A Quarter of West Antarctica’s Ice Now Considered Unstable, Scientists Find

 An iceberg in the process of calving off the Getz Ice Shelf, West Antarctica in 2016. (Credit: NASA/Jeremy Harbeck) Click to Enlarge.
Rising temperatures have sped up the melting of West Antarctica’s ice fivefold in the past 25 years, resulting in a quarter of the region’s glaciers being classified as unstable, according to a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Parts of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet have thinned by as much as 400 feet since 1992, with some of the most dramatic changes happening to the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers.  According to Earther, West Antarctica has shed enough ice over the past quarter-century to fill Lake Erie 12 times over.

The study, led by scientists at the University of Leeds in the UK, used more than 800 million satellite measurements of Antarctic ice height taken between 1992 and 2017.  Those measurements provide a detailed picture of ice loss and snow accumulation.

“We can see clearly now that a wave of thinning has spread rapidly across some of Antarctica’s most vulnerable glaciers, and their losses are driving up sea levels around the planet,” Andy Shepherd, director of the UK Center for Polar Observation and Modeling and lead author of the new study, said in a statement.  “Altogether, ice losses from East and West Antarctica have contributed 4.6 mm to global sea level rise since 1992.”

Read more at A Quarter of West Antarctica’s Ice Now Considered Unstable, Scientists Find

Thursday, May 16, 2019

IEA:  Low-Carbon Spending Must ‘More than Double’ to Meet Climate Goals

Thailand has an installed capacity of 223MW, including the Theppana wind farm (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
Investment in low-carbon energy sources, such as wind, solar and nuclear, must more than double by 2030 if the world is to meet its Paris Agreement climate goals, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

This is one of the many insights to emerge from the agency’s latest World Energy Investment report, which is published today.  Besides the trend in low-carbon spending, the analysis shows that overall energy investment is also not keeping up with consumption trends.  [Carbon Brief also covered the IEA’s reports in 2017 and 2018.]

Global investment in low-carbon energy and electricity networks needs to rise significantly if the world is to meet the IEA’s sustainability benchmark, known as the Sustainable Development Scenario. In this chart, low-carbon energy investment includes energy efficiency, renewable power, renewables for transport and heat, nuclear, battery storage and carbon capture utilisation and storage. Source: IEA.
Here, Carbon Brief has picked out key charts to illustrate these trends, as well as some of the IEA’s findings on everything from electric car sales to the spread of air conditioning units and battery storage.

Missing sustainability targets
Overall, the research found that global investment in all forms of energy supply and demand stabilized in 2018 at around $1.85tn, after three years of decline.  Within that total, investment in low-carbon energy was also stable at around $620bn, as the chart below shows.

Read more at IEA:  Low-Carbon Spending Must ‘More than Double’ to Meet Climate Goals

European Forests Could ‘Live Fast and Die Young’ in a Warming Climate

Lake Teletskoye is located in the south of Western Siberia (Altai Republic). It is the fifth deepest lake in Russia (maximum depth – 325 meters).
Climate change could cause trees to grow faster, accelerating the rate at which they absorb carbon from the atmosphere.  But these trees may be likely to die sooner, a study finds.

The research, conducted in high-altitude conifer forests in Spain and Russia, suggests that climate change could cause the trees to “live fast and die young”, the authors say – reducing the ability of these forests to act as a carbon sink over long timescales.

The findings show that planting forests to soak up greenhouse gas emissions could have more limited potential than previously thought, the lead author tells Carbon Brief.

The research is “impressive”, but may be too “bold” in its conclusions, another scientist tells Carbon Brief.

Going green
When humans release CO2 into the atmosphere, around one quarter of it is absorbed by plants.

Plants use CO2 during photosynthesis to create new materials, such as leaves, shoots and roots.  Because of this, forests act as “carbon sinks” – storing vast amounts of carbon over long timescales.

Climate change is likely to increase the rate at which trees grow.  The study focuses on one reason for this, which is that warming temperatures may increase the overall length of the growing season in temperate regions, explains Prof Ulf Büntgen, a researcher of environmental systems analysis from the University of Cambridge and lead author of the study published in Nature Communications.  He tells Carbon Brief:
“The common belief is that in a warmer and a more CO2-enriched world, trees will uptake more carbon from the atmosphere.  Based on this, people are starting political actions to plant trees.  What we are adding to this debate, is to say:  ‘This is correct but it’s only half of the story.’

“What is neglected is the ‘carbon residence time’ – how long the carbon taken up by terrestrial vegetation is actually captured. In our study, we show that faster growing trees and other types of vegetation will die younger.  By doing that, they are going to release all of the carbon that they have sequestered.”

Read more at European Forests Could ‘Live Fast and Die Young’ in a Warming Climate

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Wednesday 15

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

New Map Shows All the Cities Leading the World in Climate Action

Have you heard about the A list?  It’s harder to clinch a spot on it than it is to score an invite to the Met Gala.  And your city may be on it.

An environmental impact nonprofit called the CDP (formerly known as the carbon disclosure project) just released a list of cities that led the world in environmental performance last year.  Only 43 metropolises got As in the organization’s first-ever assessment, and nearly half of them are in the United States!

Twenty-one cities in the United States made the list.  And a whopping nine cities in the San Francisco Bay area got As, too — making up 21 percent of all the cities on the list. Cities all across the map — like Cape Town, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, and Paris — qualified as A-listers, as well.

So what kind of policies get you on the A list?  Five of the U.S. cities are on the path to carbon neutrality by 2050 — a target that is emerging as the gold standard of decarbonization:  Boston; Indianapolis; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; and West Palm Beach, Florida.  Those cities may be leading the charge, but they are not alone:  the Sierra Club’s Ready For 100 campaign has calculated that more than 90 U.S. cities have set or are in the process of setting 100 percent renewable energy targets.

Read more at New Map Shows All the Cities Leading the World in Climate Action 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Tuesday 14

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

Australia's Islanders Complain to U.N. over Australia's Climate Change Inaction

Jaran Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Dance Company (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
A group of islanders off Australia’s north coast filed a human rights complaint to the United Nations against the Australian government on Monday over inaction on climate change, which they say is threatening their homes, their lawyers said.

The complaint by eight Torres Strait Islanders marks the first climate change litigation brought against Australia based on human rights, said ClientEarth, the UK-based environmental law charity handling the complaint.

“We’re currently seeing the effects of climate change on our islands daily, with rising seas, tidal surges, coastal erosion and inundation of our communities,” said Kabay Tamu, one of the eight islanders bringing the case.

Torres Strait Islanders are part of Australia’s indigenous population, along with Aborigines, who live on small islands dotted between Australia and Papua New Guinea.

The Australian government is investing A$3 million in environmental management for the Torres Strait Islands and would invest a further A$3.5 billion to help cut Australia’s carbon emissions if re-elected on May 18, Environment Minister Melissa Price’s spokesman said in emailed comments.

The claimants, backed by U.S. environmental group, also launched a petition highlighting they want the Australian government to commit at least A$20 million ($14 million) for measures such as seawalls to shield the islands from rising sea levels.
The complaint is the latest in a string of climate change cases worldwide targeting companies and governments, which lawyers expect will proliferate.

“I think that probably these types of actions will fail initially,” said Andrew Korbel, a partner at law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

Read more at Australia's Islanders Complain to U.N. over Australia's Climate Change Inaction

Monday, May 13, 2019

Monday 13

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

Joe Biden’s Rivals in Democratic Race Reject His ‘Middle Ground’ on Climate Policy

Former Vice President Joe Biden listens to voter in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The vice president is reportedly preparing a climate plan that he believes can appeal to blue-collar Trump voters. (Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS/JAE C. HONG)) Click to Enlarge.
Three of former Vice President Joe Biden’s rivals in the Democratic presidential race took issue with his approach to combating climate change following a Friday report that he plans to pursue a “middle ground” to reduce carbon emissions.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), who has staked his candidacy on addressing climate change, was the first to explicitly argue against Biden’s approach.  He issued a statement on Friday calling for “a bold climate plan for our future.”

“Facing a crisis does not permit half-measures,” he said.  “Half measures mean full extinction of millions of species and full economic damage to communities across America.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who polls second behind Biden in most polls on the Democratic race, also counts climate change as an area of significant disagreement with Biden.

“Joe talks about a ‘middle road’ on climate change,” Sanders said on MSNBC’s “Politics Nation with Al Sharpton” on Saturday.  “Well, I think climate change is an existential threat to our planet.  And the scientists tells us we’ve got 12 years to aggressively transform our energy system before we have irreparable harm to our country and the planet.

“We have real differences,” he added.  “I like Joe,  I respect Joe, and I look forward to an issue-oriented campaign.”

Sanders’ remarks followed a Friday afternoon tweet he posted that, without naming Biden, criticized the idea of a “middle ground” on climate change policy.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) also dismissed the idea of an approach to climate change that tries to split the difference between inaction and the most ambitious proposals for change.

Asked by reporters after a campaign event in Warner, New Hampshire, on Saturday what she thought of Biden’s reported plans, GIllibrand replied, “I disagree.”

She continued,  “Global climate change is the greatest threat to humanity that exists today, and we need solutions that are as bold and as urgent as the problem we actually face.”

Gillibrand went on to discuss her support for the Green New Deal, a plan popular among progressives that would use massive infrastructure investments to transition the economy to entirely renewable energy within a decade.  (She also supports re-entering the Paris climate accords and enacting a carbon tax.)

Read more at Joe Biden’s Rivals in Democratic Race Reject His ‘Middle Ground’ on Climate Policy

U.N. Secretary-General Warns World 'Not on Track' to Limiting Temperature Rise to 1.5 Percent

Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres speaks to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (not pictured) during their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, April 26, 2019. (Credit: Parker Song/Pool via Reuters) Click to Enlarge.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said the world was “not on track” to limiting global temperature rises to 1.5%, TVNZ reported on Sunday, during his visit to New Zealand.

Speaking to the media in Auckland alongside New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Guterres warned about the dangers of not addressing climate change.

“Climate change is running faster than what we are ... the last four years have been the hottest registered,” TVNZ quoted Guterres as saying.

Read more at U.N. Secretary-General Warns World 'Not on Track' to Limiting Temperature Rise to 1.5 Percent

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Sunday 12

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

As More Diverted Floodwaters Head Their Way, Dolphins Keep Dying in Louisiana

dead dolphin (Credit: Julie Dermansky for DeSmog) Click to Enlarge.
As an unprecedented amount of floodwater makes its way down the Mississippi River, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway for the second time this year.  Done to prevent New Orleans from being flooded, the action marks the first time the spillway, which diverts the Mississippi’s nutrient- and pollutant-heavy freshwater into Lake Pontchatrain, has been opened twice in the same year. 

The historic opening of the spillway is happening in the midst of an ongoing and mysterious dolphin die-off in the Gulf of Mexico and the same week that the United Nations released its most comprehensive report on the state of biodiversity.

The report warns that the rate species are going extinct is speeding up and can only be slowed by simultaneously combating climate change and directly protecting species and their habitats.  But in Louisiana, despite more frequent and intense extreme weather and the current dolphin die-off, the local, state, and federal governments are showing little political appetite to deal with either.  

Only yesterday the Corps announced it would open the spillway again this year, but quickly moved up the planned date of May 14 to May 10 after regional rainfall caused the Mississippi River to rise 6 inches in 24 hours, with more rain expected this weekend. 

Read more at As More Diverted Floodwaters Head Their Way, Dolphins Keep Dying in Louisiana

Nothing in Today’s Headlines Compares to the Coming Catastrophe

A polar bear walks on ice last month near Tilichiki, Russia. (Credit: Alina Ukolova/AP) Click to Enlarge.
A new United Nations report projecting the extinction of one-eighth of all animal and plant species should rattle the cages of any remaining skeptics regarding climate change and the central role humans have played in Earth's accelerating destruction.

The report is by far the most depressing and frightening bit of news among an exhausting list of dire predictions and seemingly incessant fire alarms, including threatened increases to U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports, market plunges, North Korea’s missile tests and President Trump’s affronts to the Constitution.  Just when you thought you couldn’t take any more.

Finding out that 1 million species face extinction without radical corrective changes in human behavior is akin to finding out you have a fatal disease.  One day you have a thousand problems; the next, you have just one.  Nothing in today’s headlines compares to the catastrophic potential posed by climate change and the decimating effects of careless consumerism around the globe.

Read more at Nothing in Today’s Headlines Compares to the Coming Catastrophe

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Saturday 11

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

Media Release:  Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’

(Credit: Click to Enlarge.
Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely, warns a landmark new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the summary of which was approved at the 7th session of the IPBES Plenary, meeting last week (29 April – 4 May) in Paris.

“The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture,” said IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson.  “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever.  We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health, and quality of life worldwide.”

“The Report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global,” he said.  “Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably – this is also key to meeting most other global goals.  By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”

“The member States of IPBES Plenary have now acknowledged that, by its very nature, transformative change can expect opposition from those with interests vested in the status quo, but also that such opposition can be overcome for the broader public good,” Watson said.

The IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is the most comprehensive ever completed.  It is the first intergovernmental Report of its kind and builds on the landmark Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of 2005, introducing innovative ways of evaluating evidence.

Compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years, with inputs from another 310 contributing authors, the Report assesses changes over the past five decades, providing a comprehensive picture of the relationship between economic development pathways and their impacts on nature.  It also offers a range of possible scenarios for the coming decades.

Based on the systematic review of about 15,000 scientific and government sources, the Report also draws (for the first time ever at this scale) on indigenous and local knowledge, particularly addressing issues relevant to Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.

“Biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people are our common heritage and humanity’s most important life-supporting ‘safety net’.  But our safety net is stretched almost to breaking point,” said Prof. Sandra Díaz (Argentina), who co-chaired the Assessment with Prof. Josef Settele (Germany) and Prof. Eduardo S. Brondízio (Brazil and USA).  “The diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems, as well as many fundamental contributions we derive from nature, are declining fast, although we still have the means to ensure a sustainable future for people and the planet.”

The Report finds that around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.

The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900.  More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reefforming corals, and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened.  The picture is less clear for insect species, but available evidence supports a tentative estimate of 10% being threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction since the 16th century and more than 9% of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds still threatened.

“Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties, and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing.  The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed,” said Prof. Settele.  “This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.”

Read more at Media Release: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’

Friday, May 10, 2019

Friday 10

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

US Breaks from Arctic Consensus on Climate Change

At a meeting of the Arctic Council, secretary of state Mike Pompeo refused to identify global warming as a threat, instead hailing an oil rush as sea ice melts

With sea ice in retreat, the Arctic is opening up to shipping and exploitation (PictureCredit: Patrick Kelley, US Coast Guard) Click to Enlarge.
The US refused to join other Arctic countries in describing climate change as a key threat to the region, as a two-day meeting of foreign ministers drew to a close on Tuesday in Ravaniemi, Finland.

Founded in 1996, the Arctic Council seeks to encourage cooperation between Arctic countries, especially in the area of environmental protection.  Member states include Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States, while six indigenous groups also sit in the negotiations as permanent participants.

Addressing the Council on Monday, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo did not mention climate change once, but instead welcomed the opportunities unlocked by rapidly receding ice sheets.

Read more at US Breaks from Arctic Consensus on Climate Change0

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

1 in 5 Americans Now Live in Places Committed to 100% Clean Power

jay-inslee (Credit: AP Photo / Ted S. Warre) Click to Enlarge.
On Tuesday, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington state (and presidential contender) signed legislation that aims to make the state’s electricity carbon neutral by 2030.  It’s the most recent in a series of similar moves.  A couple of weeks ago, on Earth Day, Nevada’s governor signed into law a measure banning fossil-fuel generated electricity by 2050.  In March New Mexico committed to 100 percent clean electricity by 2045.  California, Hawaii, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, passed similar laws a bit further back.

“One in five U.S. residents now live in places committed to 100-percent clean electricity,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, on a conference call with reporters before Inslee signed the legislation.

There are similar bills pending in Illinois, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Florida, and Massachusetts.  And don’t forget the 100-odd cities — Orlando, Florida, and Pueblo, Colorado, among them — that have vowed to kick their fossil-fuel addiction.

“Voters and state legislatures are being pretty darn clear that there’s widespread support for getting the electricity sector to 100 percent clean,” said Josh Freed, who runs the energy program at the Third Way think tank in Washington, D.C.  “In our wildest expectations, we couldn’t have anticipated this much action this quickly.”

It’s a seismic shift from the 1990s and 2000s, when states made goals to get get a certain share of their electricity from renewable power.  Those laws were designed to help the nascent renewables industry find its footing, Freed said.  Now that the industry is up and running, “the next question is, how do we get carbon off the grid?”

There’s more than one good reason to focus on building a carbon-free electric system.  Though there are still hurdles to leap, states basically know how to eliminate emissions from the electrical grid, said Mike O’Boyle, head of electricity policy at the think tank Energy Innovation in San Francisco.  You can’t say the same about eliminating emissions from air-travel or concrete production, at least not yet. So squeezing the greenhouse gases out of electricity is a clearly achievable goal.  And there are beneficial knock-on effects:  It paves the way to clean up transportation (by switching to electric vehicles) and buildings (by switching to electric heating and cooling).

“It think its a robust and meaningful trend,” O’Boyle said.  “A lot of gubernatorial candidates, and presidential candidates, have campaigned on 100-percent clean electricity.  It’s become part of the conventional wisdom that it’s a realistic and effective policy goal.”

Read more at 1 in 5 Americans Now Live in Places Committed to 100% Clean Power

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Washington Commits to 100% Clean Energy and Other States May Follow Suit

At least six other states are considering similar legislation to fight climate change by shutting down coal power and ramping up renewable energy.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee meets with an organization that trains solar installers. He is running for U.S. president on a climate platform and just signed legislation committing his state to 100 percent clean power by 2045. (Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
In the absence of federal action on climate change, more states are setting ambitious targets to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.  Washington became the latest on Tuesday when Gov. Jay Inslee signed a law requiring that 100 percent of the state's electricity come from clean energy sources by 2045.

Washington is now the fifth state or territory—following Hawaii, California, New Mexico, and Puerto Rico—to commit to 100 percent clean electricity, and at least six other states are considering similar legislation.

"This means we can have a fighting chance at saving the things we cherish most — our land, our air, our water, and our children's health," Inslee said in a prepared statement.  "We aren't done.  Our success this year is just a harbinger of successes to come.  But we're ready.  We can do this."

Inslee has an even more ambitious plan for a nationwide conversion to clean energy:  Last week, his presidential campaign issued a proposal to get the country to 100 percent zero-emissions electricity by 2035. while also requiring all new vehicles and buildings to be zero emissions.  That followed another 2020 candidate, former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke's announcement of his own climate plan with a goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.  Activists and some congressional Democrats supporting a Green New Deal want an even faster timeline: transform the nation's electric grid to 100 percent clean energy in just 10 years.

Read more at Washington Commits to 100% Clean Energy and Other States May Follow Suit

New Renewable Capacity Additions In 2018 Disappoint

Solar Panels (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
The rate of addition new renewable energy capacity globally last year disappointed by failing to register any increase on 2017, the International Energy Agency reported, adding that the finding was unexpected after almost two decades of strong and steady growth.

Last year new renewable capacity additions–including solar, wind, biomass, and hydropower—totaled 180 GW, the same as a year earlier.  But what’s more worrying than the lack of annual growth is the fact this amount of new capacity only represents 60 percent of the necessary renewables capacity that the world has to add in order to meet long-term climate change goals, the IEA said.

Among the different types of renewable energy, solar was by far the leader, with total additions at 97 GW last year, unchanged on 2017.  Wind power capacity additions, however, inched up to 50 GW last year, from 48 GW in 2017.  New hydropower capacity additions, however, declined to 20 GW in 2018, from 25 GW in 2017.

If the Paris Agreement 2050 climate goals are to be met, however, total renewable capacity in the world needs to expand by 300 GW annually until 2030.  That’s under the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario, which seems increasingly unlikely to play out especially after last year carbon emissions from the energy industry increased by 1.7 percent to a record high of 33 gigatons.  That was despite a 7-percent increase in power generation from renewable sources.  To add insult to injury, emissions from the power generation sector also rose to record highs last year.

“The world cannot afford to press “pause” on the expansion of renewables and governments need to act quickly to correct this situation and enable a faster flow of new projects,” the IEA’s head, Fatih Birol said, commenting on the findings.  “Thanks to rapidly declining costs, the competitiveness of renewables is no longer heavily tied to financial incentives.  What they mainly need are stable policies supported by a long-term vision but also a focus on integrating renewables into power systems in a cost-effective and optimal way.”

Read original at New Renewable Capacity Additions In 2018 Disappoint

Humanity Faces a Biodiversity Crisis. Climate Change Makes It Worse.

People are destroying the world’s natural wealth so fast that society must change radically to meet development goals, the UN says in a landmark scientific report.

On Indonesia's Borneo Island, vast tracts of species-rich forests have been cleared for production of palm oil. A new UN report warns of a devastating loss to biodiversity as global warming, deforestation, unsustainable food production and other threats continue. (Credit: BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Saving natural systems, the biodiversity report said, "requires urgent and concerted efforts fostering transformative change."

Read more at Humanity Faces a Biodiversity Crisis. Climate Change Makes It Worse.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Sunday 5

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

Toon of the Week - Ask me about my grandparents / The climate we're leaving them

2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #18

Poster of the Week - Failure to take climate action is Psycho

2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #18

Why Your Gasoline Won’t Take You as Far as It Used To - by Robert Rapier

The EIA doesn’t directly tabulate the energy content of gasoline.  But they do provide two pieces of data that let us calculate it ourselves from two relevant tables in the April 2019 Monthly Energy Review.

Table 3.5 provides Petroleum Products Supplied by Type in thousands of barrels per day, while Table 3.6 provides Heat Content of Petroleum Products Supplied by Type in trillion Btus per year.

 The energy content of gasoline 1949-2018 Desktop: (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
From the annual numbers, doing the appropriate conversions (which includes accounting for leap years) provides the energy content of gasoline, in BTUs per gallon, since 1949.  What we find is that the EIA reported a constant energy content of gasoline from 1949 to 1992 of 125,071 Btu/gallon. I have always typically used 125,000 Btu/gal as the standard value for gasoline.

The energy content of gasoline
Starting in 1993, the EIA shows the energy content start to decline.  The decline accelerates in 2006.  What happened then? I have seen two explanations floated.

I have heard some suggest that the shale oil boom in the U.S., which created an abundance of light oil, ultimately lowered the BTU value of gasoline.  This is unlikely for a couple of reasons.

First, to change the energy content of gasoline you must change the composition.  As I explained in a previous article, adding butane is a recipe change that takes place seasonally.  It impacts the vapor pressure of the gasoline, but it also impacts the energy content.  Butane has an energy content of 103,000 BTU/gal, so the more butane, the lower the energy content of the gasoline blend.  This means that winter gasoline, which contains more butane, has a lower energy content.

But the other reason that shale oil can’t be the culprit is that U.S. oil production didn’t start to move higher until 2009.  By then, the EIA was already reporting that U.S. gasoline’s energy content had fallen to 121,167 BTU/gal.

Read more at Why Your Gasoline Won’t Take You as Far as It Used To

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Saturday 4

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

Insurance Experts Rank Climate Change as Top Risk for 2019

It’s no secret that climate change comes at a cost — so much so that even the insurance industry has flagged it as a priority.  According to a new industry survey, actuaries (the people who calculate insurance risks and premiums based on available data) ranked climate change as the top risk for 2019, beating out concerns over cyber damages, financial instability, and terrorism.

When actuaries correctly measure and manage climate risks, they can help nudge societies away from poor planning — such as overbuilding in high-risk coastal flood zones — and towards better choices — like building more resilient infrastructure designed to withstand anticipated sea level rise.

“The survey shows actuaries are engaged and tackling this risk frontier,” Steve Kolk, actuary and climate data scientist, told Grist.  “It thrills me to see actuaries join the effort and help us all build a sustainable planet more quickly.”

The survey, published by the Joint Risk Management Section and two other organizations that represent professional actuaries, found that out of 267 actuaries surveyed, 22 percent identified climate change as their top emerging risk.  It was also the top-ranked choice for combination risk and tied with cyber/interconnectedness of infrastructure for top current risk. It’s a dramatic shift from previous years, when climate change lagged well behind other dangers to people and property. In last year’s survey, only 7 percent of respondents rated climate change as the top emerging risk.

The survey results align with several current and future projections of climate change’s impact on the global economy.  According to one estimate, natural disasters caused about $340 billion in damage across the world in 2017, with insurers paying out a record $138 billion.  The insurance industry plays a huge role in the U.S. economy at $5 trillion (Insurance spending in 2017 made up about 11 percent of America’s GDP).  Climate change can make a sizable dent on economic growth by disrupting supply chains and demand for products, and creating harsh working conditions, among other issues.

“Actuaries, on the whole, are recognizing not only the magnitude of rising climate-related risks but, more importantly, that they can play a positive role in helping society actively manage those risks,” said Robert Erhardt, associate professor of statistics at Wake Forest University.

While the report could signal a potential change in risk awareness, it may also have come down to timing:  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report was released in October 2018, a few weeks before the survey.

“The effects of climate change became a common front-page story in the past year — and risk managers are taking notice,” Max Rudolph, a fellow with the Society of Actuaries who prepared the report, told E&E News.

Read more at Insurance Experts Rank Climate Change as Top Risk for 2019