Monday, September 30, 2019

Monday 30

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

Other than Cutting Down Carbon Emissions, What Exactly Is the Current Scientific Consensus on Steps to Combat Climate Change?

Other than Cutting Down Carbon Emissions, What Exactly Is the Current Scientific Consensus on Steps to Combat Climate Change?


(Image Credit:  Zach Shahan | CleanTechnica.com) Click to Enlarge.
What’s emerging is the following:
  • Electrify everything. Convert all energy services to work directly from electricity instead of fossil fuels. Transportation, industry and agriculture. All of it. All gas appliances must go. All road transport must be electric. Most trains and a lot of planes must shift to electric. All heat from electricity. The USA throws away two thirds of all primary energy, mostly in the form of waste heat from fossil fuels used in inherently inefficient combustion processes. We only have to replace a third of the actual primary energy we use today to maintain our lifestyle and economy.
  • Overbuild renewable generation. All other forms of generation with the exception of nuclear were overbuilt, so we’ll do the same with wind and solar, and they are really cheap, so that’s not that expensive. After all, $3 trillion USD would provide all primary energy for everything the US does.
  • *Build continent-scale electrical grids and markets, and improve existing ones. HVDC became much more viable with high-speed hybrid circuit breakers in 2011, and is an essential technology for long-distance, low-loss electrical transmission.
...
Where statements diverge from the above, question what lobbying groups are involved, where revenue will be lost or gained and in general what the motivations of the people or organizations involved are.  This is all empirically grounded analysis.  It’s not rocket science.  We have the solutions.  We just need the will to execute, which is being sapped by the losers in this necessary transformation, dominantly the fossil fuel industry.

Read more at Other than Cutting Down Carbon Emissions, What Exactly Is the Current Scientific Consensus on Steps to Combat Climate Change?

Goldman Sachs Released a 34-Page Analysis of the Impact of Climate Change. And the Results Are Terrifying.

  • A Goldman Sachs report on the impact of climate change on cities across the world makes for grim reading.
  • Rising temperatures would lead to changing disease patterns, more intense and longer-lasting heatwaves, more destructive weather events, and pressure on the availability and quality of water for drinking and agriculture.
  • Major cities were also highlighted at risk of flooding with parts of New York, Tokyo, and Lagos all at risk of being partially submerged.
(Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson) Click to Enlarge.
The bank's Global Markets Institute, led by Amanda Hindlian, warned of "significant" potential risks to the world's largest cities, which are especially vulnerable to more frequent storms, higher temperatures, rising sea levels, and storm surges.  

Cities generate about 80% of global GDP and are home to more than half of the world's population, a share that Goldman says, citing the United Nations, is projected to reach two-thirds by 2050.  About 40% of the global population lives within 100 kilometers of a coast, it says, and 1 in 10 live in areas less than 10 meters above sea level.

Goldman highlighted three cities which would be subject to those storm surges and in the future could face harmful flooding — New York, Tokyo, and Lagos.  Miami, Alexandria, Dhaka, and Shanghai face major flood risks due to being less than 11 meters above sea level. 

Read more at Goldman Sachs Released a 34-Page Analysis of the Impact of Climate Change.  And the Results Are Terrifying.

China Aims to Shut 8.7 GW of Coal Power by Year-End

A coal-fired power plant in Shanxi, China, in 2015. (Credit: nytimes.com) Click to Enlarge.
China will aim to shut a total of 8.66 gigawatts (GW) of obsolete coal-fired power capacity by the end of this year, its energy regulator said, part of its efforts to curb smog and greenhouse gas emissions.

The National Energy Administration didn’t say how much of the target, equal to just under 1 percent of total capacity, had already been met.

All provinces and regions have been ordered to shut coal-fired power units with a capacity of less than 50,000 kilowatts (kW), the regulator said on its website on Sunday.

Larger units of up to 100,000 kW in regions covered by large-scale power grids will also be eliminated, along with those that have reached the end of their designed service period, it said.

Central China’s Henan province, one of the country’s most polluted regions, is under pressure to shut 1.6 GW this year, while southeastern Guangdong province near Hong Kong will shut 2.3 GW.

China has promised to ease its dependence on coal, and it has also forced most of its coal-fired power plants to install ultra-low emissions technology in a bid to curb smog.

Read more at China Aims to Shut 8.7 GW of Coal Power by Year-End - Regulator

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Nestle Launches Plant-Based Burger in the United States

A logo is pictured during the 152nd Annual General Meeting of Nestle in Lausanne, Switzerland April 11, 2019. (Credit: Reuters/Denis Balibouse) Click to Enlarge.
Food giant Nestle launched its “Awesome” vegan burgers in the United States on Thursday, seeking to tap into the country’s growing craze for plant-based meat.

The announcement by the Swiss-based company coincided with the launch of tests of Beyond Meat patties in North American restaurants by McDonalds, which is Nestle’s partner in the plant-based category in Germany.

Nestle's Sweet Earth brand will also roll out "Awesome Grounds," made with the same plant-based protein that goes in to the burgers.

Read original at  Nestle Launches Plant-Based Burger in the United States

Procter & Gamble and PureCycle Collaborate on Polypropylene Recycling Process

PureCycle Lifecycle (Credit: PureCycle Technologies) Click to Enlarge.
As of 2015 approximately 6,300 million metric tons of plastic waste had been generated, of which only 9% had been recycled, 12% had been incinerated, and 79% had accumulated in landfills or been dumped in the ocean according to a study published in Science Advances.

Procter & Gamble uses a lot of plastic in its business, much of it for containers and packaging.  Many of those containers are made from polypropylene, an especially tough, long-lasting plastic that is hard to recycle.  Even when recycling is attempted, the colors and aromas embedded in the original waste products remain, turning the end product into a gray or black substance that still has a powerful odor to it, which is hardly something other companies are willing to pay good money for.

Working in collaboration with PureCycle Technologies, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Innventure, Procter & Gamble says it has perfected a process that results in recycled polypropylene that is odor-free and snowy white or clear in color — which makes it highly desirable to a range of manufacturers.  The process could potentially be adapted to other hard to recycle plastics.

It involves a decontamination and deodorization process that originated in Procter & Gamble’s laboratory that resulted from the company’s desire to use more recycled content in its products and packaging.

“As we were working toward this goal, we discovered that we can remove color contamination and odor from recycled plastics, which opens the door for broad uses of recycled polypropylene and, in time, other plastics like polyethylene (PE) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET),” says John Layman, section head of corporate research and development for P&G.

At scale, PureCycle will be able to process more than 105 million pounds of recycled polypropylene every year.  “We put a lot of recycled content in our packaging today.  And we were wanting to figure out problems involving color, odor and consumer safety,” says Layman.

Read more at Procter & Gamble and PureCycle Collaborate on Polypropylene Recycling Process

Climate Movement Now 'Too Loud to Handle' for Trump and Critics, Greta Thunberg Says

La jeune Suédoise devenue symbole de la lutte pour l’environnement, Greta Thunberg, était à Montréal pour la grande marche pour le climat, vendredi. (Credit: tvanouvelles.ca) Click to Enlarge.
Teenage activist Greta Thunberg hit back at critics including U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday, saying their mockery of children shows her message has become “too loud to handle”.

The 16-year-old Swede also told a huge Montreal rally that world leaders had disappointed young people with empty words and inadequate plans.

“Today we are millions around the world, striking and marching again, and we will keep on doing it until they listen,” Thurnberg told a crowd that organizers estimated to be about half a million people in the Canadian city.

Trump mocked Thunberg this week and Canadian Member of Parliament Maxime Bernier called her alarmist and mentally unstable.

“I guess they must feel like their world view or their interests or whatever... is threatened by us.  We’ve become too loud for people to handle so they try to silence us,” she told reporters before the rally.  “We should also take that as a compliment.”

On Friday, the climate strikes she inspired started in Asia and continued in Europe after similar strikes a week earlier.  Tens of thousands of students kicked things off in New Zealand.

About 500 students in the South Korean capital, Seoul, urged more government action to address climate change, marching towards the presidential Blue House after a downtown rally, where they said the government gets an “F” in climate action.

Thousands of Dutch children also skipped school to join a global climate strike on Friday, blocking traffic and asking their leaders “how dare you?” in a reference to Thunberg’s speech at the United Nations.

Read more at Climate Movement Now 'Too Loud to Handle' for Trump and Critics, Greta Thunberg Says

It’s All About 2020 Now

If the world someday gets its act together on climate change, this week may be the nadir from which hope bounced.


UN secretary general António Guterres at a UN summit on climate action this week (Photo Credit: UN) Click to Enlarge.
Alister Doyle reports from a meeting of the UN science panel in Monaco that oceans are rising faster than expected.  Meanwhile, in New York, the UN’s attempt to get leaders to collectively step up by bringing them all to a summit failed.

Developing countries, in their dozens but with tiny emissions, did their best to set an example.  Russia finally joined the Paris Agreement.  But the EU, China, and India made no big moves.  The US, Australia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil said nothing at all.

Read more at It’s All About 2020 Now

Meet the Millionaires Helping to Pay for Climate Protests

Demonstrations in Washington today. (Credit: Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Climate change protesters from Extinction Rebellion snarled traffic in Washington on Monday and again on Friday.  You might find yourself asking, “Who helps pays for this activism?”

The answer, in part, is the scions of some of America’s most famous families, including the Kennedys and the Gettys.

On Friday, climate protesters marched through parts of downtown Washington, D.C., blocking intersections and causing road closures, according to news reports and the Metropolitan Police.  By about 9 a.m., the marchers had made their way down parts of 13th Street NW, after pausing earlier in the morning at the Trump International Hotel at 1100 Pennsylvania Ave.

The protesters also gathered at McPherson Square, not far from the White House, and stopped in front of BlackRock’s D.C. offices and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Three wealthy donors formed the Climate Emergency Fund this year to support “disruptive activists,” as Trevor Neilson, one of the founders, put it.  For years, he said, they have individually given money to more traditional environmental organizations like Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, but concluded that these groups were taking a too-gradual approach to the fight against climate change and that the crisis demanded greater urgency.

“The smartest place for philanthropists to invest is in this new generation of activists who refuse to accept the excuses of the adults whose lazy approach to climate is leading us off a cliff,” Mr. Neilson said.  “The era of gradualism in environmental activism is over.”

Read more at Meet the Millionaires Helping to Pay for Climate Protests

The Climate Legislation this Congress Could Realistically Pass

Building batteries for electric vehicles. (Photo Credit: Julian Stratenschulte / picture alliance via Getty Images)) Click to Enlarge.
Many members of Congress (Rs and Ds) have made public calls for encouraging clean energy.  A new analysis points to a tool that Congress could feasibly get behind which would slash carbon emissions.

That’s right.  Tax credits!  A report from the Rhodium Group, an independent research outfit, shows that passing a few tax incentives for electric cars, nuclear plants, and renewable power could lead to big carbon cuts.  The crazy thing is, both Democrats and Republicans adore them.

The federal government has given tax credits to power industries for wind (since 1991) and solar (since 2006), but those will start to phase out at the end of this year.  If Congress extended those credits another decade, it would spur the construction of enough turbines and solar panels to provide between 19 and 31 percent of the country’s electricity — up from 8 percent today, according to the report.  That could reduce greenhouse gas pollution from power plants to about half the level it was in 2005.

Read more at The Climate Legislation this Congress Could Realistically Pass

Climate Risk in the Housing Market Has Echoes of Subprime Crisis, Study Finds

A roofer working on a home in Mexico Beach, Fla., that was damaged by Hurricane Michael in 2018. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Banks are shielding themselves from climate change at taxpayers’ expense by shifting riskier mortgages — such as those in coastal areas — off their books and over to the federal government, new research suggests.

The findings echo the subprime lending crisis of 2008, when unexpected drops in home values cascaded through the economy and triggered recession.  One difference this time is that those values would be less likely to rebound, because many of the homes literally would be underwater.

In a paper to be released Monday, the researchers say their findings show “a potential threat to the stability of financial institutions.”  They warn that the threat will grow as global warming leads to more frequent and more severe disasters, forcing more loans to go into default as homeowners cannot or would not make mortgage payments.

“We’re talking about a loss that’s going to be borne by United States taxpayers,” said Amine Ouazad, a professor in the department of applied economics at HEC Montreal and one of the paper’s authors.  He added that with between $60 billion to $100 billion in new mortgages issued for coastal homes each year, “we’re not talking about a small number.”

Read more at Climate Risk in the Housing Market Has Echoes of Subprime Crisis, Study Finds

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Greta Thunberg Asks World Leaders at UN:  “How Dare You?”

Greta Thunberg speaks to the UN (Screenshot Credit: CHN) Click to Enlarge.
“This is all wrong.  I shouldn’t be standing here.  I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean.  Yet you all come to us for hope?  How dare you.”

Swedish school girl Greta Thunberg made an angry, accusatory speech to world leaders on Monday in New York.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.  And yet I’m one of the lucky ones.  People are suffering.  People are dying.  Entire ecosystems are collapsing.  We are in the beginning of a mass extinction.  And all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth.  How dare you.”

Read more at Greta Thunberg Asks World Leaders at UN: “How Dare You?”

UN Climate Summit:  Dozens of Countries Commit to Cut Short-Lived Climate Pollutants

The pollutants, including methane and the coolants HFCs, are many times more potent than carbon dioxide but don't last as long.  Cuts could have a powerful impact.


Methane, a primary component of natural gas and a powerful short-lived climate pollutant, comes from oil and gas operations, landfills, agriculture and livestock. (Credit: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Environment ministers from dozens of countries agreed this week to hasten their efforts to reduce a class of greenhouse gases that, until now, has been largely overlooked in international climate agreements but could play a crucial role in limiting the worst effects of climate change.

They're called short-lived climate pollutants, because they linger in the atmosphere for only a short time, but they are highly potent, both in warming the planet and in their local impacts on public health.  These pollutants include methane, which escapes from oil and gas systems, agriculture and livestock; hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are used in refrigeration and cooling; and black carbon, a major component of soot. 

A recent IPCC report determined that the world won't succeed in limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7°F) above pre-industrial levels without reducing them.

Read more at UN Climate Summit:  Dozens of Countries Commit to Cut Short-Lived Climate Pollutants

UN Climate Action Summit 2019

UN Climate Action Summit (Credit: insideclimatenews.org) Click to Enlarge.
Global emissions are reaching record levels and show no sign of peaking.  The last four years were the four hottest on record, and winter temperatures in the Arctic have risen by 3°C since 1990.  Sea levels are rising, coral reefs are dying, and we are starting to see the life-threatening impact of climate change on health, through air pollution, heatwaves, and risks to food security.

The impacts of climate change are being felt everywhere and are having very real consequences on people’s lives.  Climate change is disrupting national economies, costing us dearly today and even more tomorrow.  But there is a growing recognition that affordable, scalable solutions are available now that will enable us all to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies.

The latest analysis shows that if we act now, we can reduce carbon emissions within 12 years and hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C and even, as asked by the latest science, to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Thankfully, we have the Paris Agreement – a visionary, viable, forward-looking policy framework that sets out exactly what needs to be done to stop climate disruption and reverse its impact.  But the agreement itself is meaningless without ambitious action.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres is calling on all leaders to come to New York on 23 September with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.

Read more at UN Climate Action Summit 2019

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Tuesday 24

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

Local Weather Forecasters Have Become the Unsung Heroes of the Climate Crisis

Danger of Denial (Credit: Keithcarsonmet) Click to Enlarge.
Local TV weather forecasters have become foot soldiers in the war against climate misinformation.  Over the past decade, a growing number of meteorologists and weathercasters have begun addressing the climate crisis either as part of their weather forecasts, or in separate, independent news reports to help their viewers understand what is happening and why it is important.

And the reports are having an impact.

Studies by the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication show that in communities where local weather forecasters are reporting on the climate crisis, “public opinion is changing more rapidly,” said Ed Maibach, director of the center and an author of the studies.  “We showed a really strong impact — people who saw the climate reporting came to understand climate change was more personally relevant,” he said.

The change has come as meteorologists and weather forecasters themselves have changed their opinions on the climate crisis and its causes.  In 2008 a survey of some American Meteorological Society members found that only 24 percent of weathercasters agreed with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that warming was caused by humans.  In 2010, a study by Maibach found that 54 percent agreed that global warming is happening.  But by 2017 a full 90 percent agreed that climate crisis is happening, and 80 percent indicated it was human-caused.

“There’s been an enormous shift,” he said.

The change has been partially brought about by Climate Central’s Climate Matters reporting program founded after Maibach released a study showing that the public has a high degree of trust in local forecasters.

“All TV weather forecasters are really good science communicators,” Maibach says.  Not only are they scientists, but they are trusted by their viewers because they don’t generally report on politics or other controversial topics, he says.

Today, more than 600 TV weathercasters participate in the program, which provides training, scientific information, charts, and videos for education and newsroom use.

Read more at Local Weather Forecasters Have Become the Unsung Heroes of the Climate Crisis

Why 10,000 Farmers Have Gotten Behind the Green New Deal

Farmers and Ranchers for a Green New Deal (Credit: Caroline Brehman / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
A coalition that unites farmers and ranchers behind the Green New Deal hopes to set a new tone for how the agriculture sector relates to policy solutions to address the climate crisis, and ensure farmers have a voice in the debate.

Farmers and Ranchers for the Green New Deal (GND) officially launched on Wednesday with a press conference at the Capitol and a letter to Congress urging members to support the GND resolution.

Leaders of the coalition say it represents nearly 10,000 farmers and ranchers who want to be part of the conversation as Congress considers how and whether to move forward with the GND.  Farmers from across the country spoke at the press conference, as did a member of Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate action group, and several members of Congress.

A major theme of the press conference was the essential role of farmers in addressing the climate crisis.  Agricultural and land use practices have been identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as major contributors to climate change.  And climate-friendly strategies like sequestering carbon in the soil and expanding the use of regenerative farming practices require buy-in from farming communities.

“We’re not going to solve the climate crisis without addressing agriculture,” said Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, an original cosponsor of the Green New Deal resolution and a longtime advocate for local and sustainable food.

Speakers also noted the urgent challenge farmers face as the effects of climate change — such as rising temperatures, drought, irregular and severe storms, and flooding — become more commonplace.

“The debate about whether or not to act on the climate crisis should have ended a long time ago,” said Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts. “Our farmers are the ones who live every day with the impacts of the crisis. … Our farmers should be the ones who get to have a say in our future, not the people who want to maintain the disastrous status quo.”

The Green New Deal resolution calls for a 10-year mobilization to transition away from reliance on fossil fuels and boost the economy by creating jobs in clean energy and other climate-friendly sectors. The resolution was introduced in the House in February by New York City Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and now has 95 cosponsors.

Read more at Why 10,000 Farmers Have Gotten Behind the Green New Deal

'We See Your Greed':  Global Climate Strike Draws Millions Demanding Action

The massive youth-led strikes in cities around the world are believed to be the biggest protest over climate change in history.


In New York City, climate strikers marched through the financial district, chanting “fossil fuels have got to go” and "Wall Street, we see your greed”.  (Credit: Kristoffer Tigue/InsideClimate News) Click to Enlarge.
Millions of young people took to the world's cities Friday, flooding streets, blocking traffic and skipping school to take part in what is believed to be the biggest global climate protest in history.

The Youth Climate Strike drew potentially record crowds in several cities.  In Australia, nearly 200,000 people protested in Melbourne and Sydney.  Hundreds of thousands more—in Islamabad, Nairobi, Berlin, London, La Paz, New York, and as many as 1,500 other cities on every continent—joined in a global plea for elected leaders and governments to take action on the climate crisis.

It was "even bigger than we dared dream," said Bill McKibben, environmentalist, author and founder of 350.org, which helped organize some of Friday's protests.  "At a minimum, 5 million people were out around the planet to show their determination to bend the curve of history.  A remarkable day."

Read more at 'We See Your Greed': Global Climate Strike Draws Millions Demanding Action

Hello From the Year 2050. We Avoided the Worst of Climate Change — But Everything Is Different / By Bill McKibben

(Illustration Credit: David Doran (Background photo: Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Let’s imagine for a moment that we’ve reached the middle of the century.  It’s 2050 and we have a moment to reflect—the climate fight remains the consuming battle of our age, but its most intense phase may be in our rearview mirror.  And so we can look back to see how we might have managed to dramatically change our society and economy.  We had no other choice.

There was a point after 2020 when we began to collectively realize a few basic things.

One, we weren’t getting out of this unscathed.  Climate change, even in its early stages, had begun to hurt:  watching a California city literally called Paradise turn into hell inside of two hours made it clear that all Americans were at risk.  When you breathe wildfire smoke half the summer in your Silicon Valley fortress, or struggle to find insurance for your Florida beach house, doubt creeps in even for those who imagined they were immune.

Two, there were actually some solutions.  By 2020 renewable energy was the cheapest way to generate electricity around the planet—in fact, the cheapest way there ever had been.  The engineers had done their job, taking sun and wind from quirky backyard DIY projects to cutting-edge technology.  Batteries had plummeted down the same cost curve as renewable energy, so the fact that the sun went down at night no longer mattered quite so much—you could store its rays to use later.

And the third realization?  People began to understand that the biggest reason we weren’t making full, fast use of these new technologies was the political power of the fossil-fuel industry.  Investigative journalists had exposed its three-decade campaign of denial and disinformation, and attorneys general and plaintiffs’ lawyers were beginning to pick them apart.  And just in time.

Read more at Hello From the Year 2050. We Avoided the Worst of Climate Change — But Everything Is Different

Climate 2019:  Why TIME Devoted an Entire Issue to Climate Change

Time:  How Earth Survived (Credit: flipboard.com) Click to Enlarge.
Hello From the Year 2050.  We Avoided the Worst of Climate Change — But Everything Is Different

This issue, if civilization can get its act together, might just mark a midpoint in TIME’s coverage of the biggest crisis facing our planet.

Three decades ago—at a moment when much of the world was only beginning to wake up to the damage humanity had been wreaking on its home—TIME convened a group of 33 scientists and political leaders from five continents in Boulder, Colo., to discuss the threat.  The result was one of the best-known issues TIME has ever produced, sounding one of the louder alarms to date.  In the Jan. 2, 1989, issue, the editors named “Endangered Earth” the most important story of the year, replacing the annual “Person of the Year” with a planet, our own.  The cover, by the artist Christo, showed a 16-in. globe wrapped in plastic and rag rope.

Three decades from now, we will be on the cusp of 2050, the year by which we must have already acted—with urgency as outlined by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—to have any chance of keeping average global warming to 1.5°C above 19th century levels.  That is the line above which scientists agree that the effects of climate change—extreme weather, rising seas, wildfires, a deepening refugee crisis—will be even more disastrous.

Human nature, like journalism, is deadline-­oriented.  Our intent with this issue—only the fifth time in our history that we have turned over every page of a regular issue, front to back, to a single topic—is to send a clear message:  we need to act fast, and we can.  As TIME did 30 years ago, we’ve assembled some of the world’s most influential voices on climate to lay a path forward, from former Vice President Al Gore (who also contributed to the 1989 issue) to the African activist Graça Machel to Chinese environmentalist Ma Jun.

We also explore the essential role of innovation in solving the crisis.  And there is deep reporting from every continent on the planet.  Correspondent Matt Sandy journeyed thousands of miles by road, boat, and small plane to the front lines of Amazon deforestation.  Cape Town–based Aryn Baker visited the Great Green Wall of Africa, an $8 billion agricultural project to transform the lives of millions of people living on another major climate-change front.  Aryn also ventured to one of the hottest cities on earth:  Jacobabad, Pakistan, where summer temperatures regularly exceed 122°F.

At time.com/2050, you can download an immersive 3-D journey into the Amazon narrated by famed conservationist Jane Goodall, and see what it’s like to be in Pakistan in the middle of a deadly summer heat wave.  We hope you will also sign up for our new newsletter, One.Five, from TIME climate correspondent Justin Worland; it will explore the interconnectedness of climate with other major issues and track progress against the U.N.’s 2050 goals.  And TIME will be hosting two major summits in New York this fall, with climate high on both agendas.

Read more at Climate 2019:  Why TIME Devoted an Entire Issue to Climate Change

Friday, September 20, 2019

Friday 20

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

Kids Face Rising Health Risks from Climate Change, Doctors Warn as Juliana Case Returns to Court

A federal appeals court heard arguments as the government tried again to get the children’s climate lawsuit dismissed.


Young plaintiffs in the children's climate lawsuit are already feeling the effects of climate change. Public health experts, including major health organizations and former U.S. surgeons general, warn the health risks will only get worse. (Credit: Robin Loznak) Click to Enlarge.
The 21 children and young adults suing the federal government over climate change argue that they and their generation are already suffering the consequences of climate change, from worsening allergies and asthma to the health risks and stress that come with hurricanes, wildfires and sea level rise threatening their homes.
With the case back in court on Tuesday, some of the heaviest hitters in the public health arena—including 15 major health organization and two former U.S. surgeons general—have been publicly backing them up.


Today's children will feel the health impacts of climate change into adulthood if the federal government doesn't transition away from fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, public health experts wrote in a letter published May 30 in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), echoing a larger court brief signed onto by major health organizations.

Read more at Kids Face Rising Health Risks from Climate Change, Doctors Warn as Juliana Case Returns to Court

With Greenland's Extreme Melting, a New Risk Grows:  Ice Slabs that Worsen Runoff

More meltwater is now pouring off these hardened surfaces and toward the ocean, a new study finds. That will have an impact on sea level rise.


Meltwater pools form on Greenland's surface as temperatures rise and feed into rivers that funnel water toward the ocean. New research shows ice slabs are now forming in areas where water used to sink into the snow layer, increasing runoff. (Credit: Dave Walsh/VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Scientists have added a new item to the long list of Greenland Ice Sheet woes.  Along with snow-darkening algae and increasing rainfall, giant slabs of ice have been thickening and spreading under the Greenland snow at an average rate of two football fields per minute since 2001, new research shows.

The slabs prevent surface meltwater from trickling down and being absorbed by the snow.  Instead, more water pours off the surface of the ice sheet and into the ocean.

That's speeding Greenland's contribution to sea level rise, said University of Liege climate researcher Xavier Fettweis, a co-author of a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.  "It is very likely that the current climate models overestimate the meltwater retention capacity of the ice sheet and underestimate the projected sea level rise coming from Greenland ... by a factor of two or three," he said.

Read more at With Greenland's Extreme Melting, a New Risk Grows:  Ice Slabs that Worsen Runoff

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Thursday 19

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

Trump:  We're Stripping California’s Right to Set Tougher Auto Standards

Auto industry experts say the uncertainty would likely dampen the market for electric vehicles.  Nine other states could lose their tougher rules, too.


Coupled with the administration's plan to freeze fuel-economy improvements, President Trump's move against California's auto standards would negate one of the largest steps any nation has made to cut carbon emissions. (Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that his administration would strip California of its authority to enact the nation's toughest auto pollution standards, setting the stage for an epic legal battle that could squelch the nascent U.S. market for petroleum-free vehicles at a critical time.

The long-anticipated move, which Trump touted on Twitter just days before a United Nations summit on climate change, could prove to be his administration's most consequential policy retreat from efforts to rein in greenhouse gas emissions.  When coupled with the administration's planned freeze on fuel-economy improvements, it will negate one of the largest steps that any nation has made to cut carbon emissions.

California has led the nation in a slow, but steady move toward electric vehicles—a turnover that experts believe is essential for gaining control of rising U.S. carbon emissions from transportation.  Nine other states have adopted its rules requiring automakers to sell a certain number of electric cars and trucks, based on each manufacturer's overall in-state sales.

But California and those other states could now lose the power to enforce those zero-emissions vehicle requirements—at least temporarily.

Auto industry experts and analysts expect the uncertainty that would create would dampen the market for zero-emissions vehicles.

Improvements in U.S. fuel economy so far have not been sufficient to curb carbon emissions from transportation, which grew 1.2 percent in 2017 even as the nation's overall carbon emissions fell 0.5 percent, according to the latest figures from the Environmental Protection Agency.

As long as more consumers are driving more miles each year, only electric and other zero-emissions vehicles can reverse the trend that has made transportation the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

"You can't get serious about climate change unless you get serious about vehicle emissions," California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday at a news conference in Sacramento.  "This is such a pivotal moment in the climate change debate, not just for California, but for our leadership around the world.  It is a legacy moment."

Newsom vowed to fight the Trump administration's move in court.  "We will prevail," he said.  "It may take years, more uncertainty and more anxiety."

In August, four automakers, comprising 30 percent of the market, struck a deal with California to voluntarily implement annual fuel economy improvements across their fleets if the federal rules were weakened.

Under that agreement, made in anticipation of Trump's action, Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen would continue to improve gas mileage—although at a slower rate than under the Obama administration's rules.  The deal, which served to isolate the Trump administration in its battle with California, reportedly enraged the president.  And although California has continued talks with the remaining automakers, the Trump Justice Department has been using the threat of antitrust enforcement to dissuade automakers from cooperating with the state, Newsom said.

"The innovation genie is out of the bottle," the governor said.  "Every single one of these companies knows where the country is going, and where the world is going ... and that's the elimination of the internal combustion engine."

Read more at Trump:  We're Stripping California’s Right to Set Tougher Auto Standards

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Wednesday 18

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

Cutting Air Pollution Would Not Cause ‘Near-Term Spike’ in Global Warming

(Credit: CCO Public Domain) Click to Enlarge.
A reduction in air pollution brought about by shifting away from fossil fuels would not inadvertently cause a short-term acceleration of global warming, a new study says.

Earlier modeling work using scenarios where fossil-fuel burning ends instantaneously had suggested that a rapid decline in aerosol emissions could remove their cooling impact on the climate and cause a spike in warming.

However, the new study, published in Nature, finds that “even the most aggressive” shift from fossil fuels to clean alternatives to limit warming to 1.5C “provides benefits for climate change mitigation and air quality” at all timescales.

The study makes the “clear and important point” that “aerosol cooling is no reason not to mitigate our emissions”, another scientist tells Carbon Brief, but “we need to be mindful of the potential regional climate implications of rapid removal of air pollution”.

Read more at Cutting Air Pollution Would Not Cause ‘Near-Term Spike’ in Global Warming

Carbon Emitters Face Higher Legal Risks

 Emitters and investors share responsibility for climate change. (Image Credit: Agustín Lautaro on Unsplash) Click to Enlarge.
Climate change risk for big companies − and their investors − is often seen in terms of physical risk:  sea level rise, temperature increases, or extreme weather events.  But a spate of court cases around the world has highlighted a different kind of risk.  Carbon emitters, and the big investors that support them, could find themselves on the wrong end of the law if they don’t take action on climate change.

18 September, 2019 − When, two weeks ago, a New Zealand environmental activist started court action against our top carbon emitters, Kiwi companies became just the latest to find themselves under fire for not doing enough to stop climate change.

Mike Smith, chair of the Climate Change Kiwi Leaders Group, hopes to force Fonterra, Genesis Energy, NZ Steel, NZ Refining, Z Energy, Dairy Holdings, and BT Mining to reduce their total net greenhouse gases by 50 percent by 2030.  Then he wants them to get them to zero by 2050.

Smith’s action follows a case in Australia last year where a 23-year-old ecology graduate is suing his superannuation provider − $A50 billion fund REST − for not telling him what it’s doing to protect his savings from the impact of climate change.

The year before, two Commonwealth Bank of Australia shareholders launched court action against the bank for not adequately disclosing climate change risks in its 2016 annual report.

In the US a group of fishing companies are suing oil giant Chevron and others for their contribution to climate change.  And the state of New York is suing Exxon Mobil for misleading investors over the company’s climate change risks.

And these are not isolated cases.

In its climate change litigation update, released earlier this year, the US’ second largest law firm, Norton Rose Fulbright, said the number of climate change-related cases has now reached more than 1300.

The majority of these are against governments, and so affect business only indirectly.

But increasingly, companies are also being taken to court.

Read more at Carbon Emitters Face Higher Legal Risks

September, 2019:  A Tipping Point Moment for the Earth?

Stop Fossil Fuels. Build 100% Renewables. (Credit: 350.org) Click to Enlarge.
Now, thanks to the unceasing efforts of people like Bill McKibben, Michael Mann, Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion, the Sunrise Movement, and many others, there is a sense that attitudes toward global warming and climate change may be shifting.

The Los Angeles Times this week published a story entitled “The Climate Apocalypse Is Here.  You Have One Last Chance To Stop It.”  We can’t reprint the graphic that accompanies that story, but we can show you the tweet Bill McKibben published to promote the story.  It’s a pretty bold graphic.

McKibben, who founded 350.org, has been busy bringing his patented brand of distressing climate news wrapped in easy to swallow format to mainstream news outlets like The New Yorker and most recently Time Magazine.  His latest essay for Time is entitled “Hello From the Year 2050. We Avoided the Worst of Climate Change — But Everything Is Different.”  It offers a sort of sci-fi analysis of how global warming was tamed and the changes that process brought to the environment and human society.

Read more at September, 2019:  A Tipping Point Moment for the Earth?

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tuesday 17

Atmospheric CO2 and Global Surface Temperature 800 to 2020

Naomi Klein:  ‘We Are Seeing the Beginnings of the Era of Climate Barbarism’

Naomi Klein (Image Credit: Mariusz Kubik, mariuszkubik.pl, via Wikimedia Commons) Click to Enlarge.
Read an extract from Naomi Klein’s new book, On Fire:  The Burning Case for a Green New Deal here.

Why are you publishing this book now?
I still feel that the way that we talk about climate change is too compartmentalised, too siloed from the other crises we face.  A really strong theme running through the book is the links between it and the crisis of rising white supremacy, the various forms of nationalism and the fact that so many people are being forced from their homelands, and the war that is waged on our attention spans.  These are intersecting and interconnecting crises and so the solutions have to be as well.

The book collects essays from the last decade, have you changed your mind about anything?
When I look back, I don’t think I placed enough emphasis on the challenge climate change poses to the left.  It’s more obvious the way the climate crisis challenges a rightwing dominant worldview, and the cult of serious centrism that never wants to do anything big, that’s always looking to split the difference.  But this is also a challenge to a left worldview that is essentially only interested in redistributing the spoils of extractivism [the process of extracting natural resources from the earth] and not reckoning with the limits of endless consumption.

What’s stopping the left doing this?
In a North American context, it’s the greatest taboo of all to actually admit that there are going to be limits.  You see that in the way Fox News has gone after the Green New Deal – they are coming after your hamburgers!  It cuts to the heart of the American dream – every generation gets more than the last, there is always a new frontier to expand to, the whole idea of settler colonial nations like ours.  When somebody comes along and says, actually, there are limits, we’ve got some tough decisions, we need to figure out how to manage what’s left, we’ve got to share equitably – it is a psychic attack.  And so the response [on the left] has been to avoid, and say no, no, we’re not coming to take away your stuff, there are going to be all kinds of benefits.  And there are going to be benefits:  we’ll have more livable cities, we’ll have less polluted air, we’ll spend less time stuck in traffic, we can design happier, richer lives in so many ways.  But we are going to have to contract on the endless, disposable consumption side.

Read more at Naomi Klein:  ‘We Are Seeing the Beginnings of the Era of Climate Barbarism’