climate change

Wed, 2014-05-21 09:31Chris Rose
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California Governor Brown Warns of Increasing Drought, Wildfire Costs, Decries Climate Denial

Alarmed by California’s intensifying wildfires and withering drought, Governor Jerry Brown has lashed out at Republicans and other politicians who continue to deny that destructive climate change is already occurring.

In a series of recent comments, Brown also said California is at “the epicenter of climate change” and urged other states and nations to work to halt the rising temperatures that are threatening the future of humankind.

We live in a world that is not just government or not just business, it’s natural, the natural systems. And as we send billions and billions of tons of heat-trapping gases, we get heat and we get fires and we get what we’re seeing,” Brown was quoted as saying on ABC News.

So we’ve got to gear up. We’re going to deal with nature as best we can, but humanity is on a collision course with nature and we’re just going to have to adapt to it in the best way we can.”

Brown added he believes California is taking steps to reduce greenhouse gases in a way that exceeds any other state in the nation.

A Democrat, Brown said it is difficult to create a consensus to act on climate change when Republicans deny global warming exists and that humans are largely responsible for temperature increases in the atmosphere.

That’s a challenge. It is true that there’s virtually no Republican who accepts the science that virtually is unanimous. I mean there is no scientific question. There’s just political denial for various reasons, best known to those people who are in denial.

Whatever the thoughts of the Republicans, we here in California are on the front lines. We’ve got to deal with it. We’ve already appropriated $600 million. We have 5,000 firefighters. We’re going to need thousands more. And in the years to come, we’re going to have to make very expensive investments and adjust. And the people are going to have to be careful of how they live, how they build their homes and what kind of vegetation is allowed to grow around them.”

Mon, 2014-05-19 12:47Julie Dermansky
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Photos of Superstorms and Extreme Events, Inspired by Years of Living Dangerously

The release of Showtime's “Years of Living Dangerously” series about climate change inspired me to edit a collection of my climate change related photographs. They include the aftermath of extreme storms and drought.

Although the United Nations has acknowledged the threat of climate change, as have President Obama and other leaders around the world, the fossil fuel industry forges ahead with business as usual, apparently without real concern for impending catastrophic change. 

Focusing on a wide range of issues, from the continued expansion of the fossil fuel industry to the destruction of forests, these photos serve as a warning call to the growing number of imminent disasters we face. 

“Years of Living Dangerously” episode six airs tonight at 8pm on Showtime. Brendan DeMelle, DeSmogBlog's Executive Director and Managing Editor, was interviewed by host America Ferrera for the segment airing tonight called “Against the Wind.” DeMelle and Center for Media and Democracy executive director Lisa Graves talk with Ferrera about the attacks on renewable energy by the climate denial group Heartland Institute.

You can watch episode one of the series for free here:

My photo slideshow is below.
  

Sun, 2014-05-18 23:08Graham Readfearn
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Environment Journal Editor Responds To Conservative Media Storm Over Rejected Climate Manuscript

Lennart Bengtsson

THERE’S an old proverb that suggests it’s always the lie that gets half way around the world while the truth is still pulling its boots on.

But if evidence from the latest conservative media beat-up on climate science is anything to go by, even if the truth is only a couple of blocks behind, the myth can just keep on running.

We’re talking about a story that sprinted out of the blocks from the offices of The Times newspaper in Britain.

The newspaper’s environment editor Ben Webster was writing about the University of Reading’s Professor Lennart Bengtsson (pictured), who had a research manuscript rejected by the prominent Environmental Research Letters journal earlier this year. 

Webster’s front page story claimed Bengtsson’s research had been “deliberately suppressed” because it didn’t sit well with the views of the vast majority of climate scientists.

Bengtsson’s manuscript had reportedly concluded that the sensitivity of the climate to added carbon dioxide was on the lower end of projections, a conclusion one reviewer of the paper said “substantially underestimated the committed [global] warming”.

As DeSmogBlog and several others have written, as mainstream media outlets were following-up on The Times the story’s two main actors – Bengtsson and the journal’s publisher IOP – were making it clear that the story was highly questionable. After publishing one of the reports from the reviewer of Bengtsson's paper, now IOP has released the second reviewer's report which described the manuscript as showing “troubling shallowness in the arguments”.

The UK’s Science Media Centre (UK SMC), a service for journalists, issued a bulletin of statements from experts responding to the story.  One of those was from Bengtsson, who amongst other things said:

I do not believe there is any systematic “cover up” of scientific evidence on climate change or that academics’ work is being “deliberately suppressed”, as The Times front page suggests. I am worried by a wider trend that science is gradually being influenced by political views. Policy decisions need to be based on solid fact.

The Times followed-up their story and included a quote from Bengtsson, but left out the bit where he said he didn’t believe the main thrust of The Times’ story. Funny that.

The statement from IOP Publishing included the full report from the reviewer of Bengtsson’s manuscript.  The statement made it clear that Bengtsson’s work had been rejected on scientific grounds.

In the Mail on Sunday, climate skeptic reporter David Rose wrote as a statement of fact that “Environmental Research Letters had rejected his paper because it would be seized on by climate ‘sceptics’ in the media” even after this had been demonstrated to be false.

I asked Environmental Research Letters’ Editor-in-Chief Professor Daniel Kammen, of the University of California, about the saga.

Wed, 2014-05-14 13:50Kevin Grandia
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Republican Senator Inhofe Dismisses Top US Military Strategists on Climate Change Concerns

Republican Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), is dismissing a report out yesterday on the human security threats of climate change, authored by 11 three and four-star US Admirals and Generals, saying the group is desperate for “publicity.” 

The report, National Security and the Threat of Climate Change, issued by the non-profit group CNA Corporation, concludes that:

~ Projected climate change poses a serious threat to America's national security. 

~ Climate change acts as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world.

~ Projected climate change will add to tensions even in stable regions of the world.

~ Climate change, national security and energy dependence are a related set of global challenges.

One of the reports authors, Gen. Charles F. Wald told the New York Times that:

In the past, the thinking was that climate change multiplied the significance of a situation. Now we’re saying it’s going to be a direct cause of instability.”

The report authors are all retired high-ranking US military — eleven retired three-star and four-star Admirals and Generals.

Senator Inhofe is dismissing the collective wisdom of this group, telling the New York Times that:

There is no one in more pursuit of publicity than a retired military officer. I look back wistfully at the days of the Cold War. Now you have people who are mentally imbalanced, with the ability to deploy a nuclear weapon. For anyone to say that any type of global warming is anywhere close to the threat that we have with crazy people running around with nuclear weapons, it shows how desperate they are to get the public to buy this.”

Over the years Senator Inhofe has made his delusion around the realities of climate change famous by making public proclamations like “global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” 

Wed, 2014-05-14 09:18Farron Cousins
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Marco Rubio Wants To Let The Planet Burn

Republican Senator Marco Rubio isn’t convinced that human beings are responsible for climate change.  But don’t get him wrong. Marco Rubio firmly believes that climate change is happening.  In fact, as he said in two separate interviews this past week, the climate “is always changing.” 

Rubio, who represents the climate change-imperiled state of Florida in the U.S. Senate, has taken a lot of heat for denying the role that humans are playing in climate change, but at the same time, he has received partial credit for acknowledging that the climate is changing.  Rubio’s semantic trickery is not an admission that he believes in climate change.  It is simply a tool that allows him to play both sides.  He can construe his statement to “prove” that he accepts the reality of climate change, or he can downplay its meaning and say that he was referring to something as simple as weather patterns. 

In either scenario, Rubio comes out the winner.  His denial of the role of human beings will be forgotten quickly, and all that will remain on the record is his statement that the climate is always changing. 

Rubio’s assertion that human beings don’t play a role in climate change has already been thoroughly debunked.  But what’s even more alarming is the fact that Rubio’s denial is putting his constituents at risk.

Reports show that Florida, the state Rubio represents in the Senate, is going to experience the impacts of climate change, possibly more so than any other state in the country.  As the NRDC points out, everything from real estate, health, and tourism will be destroyed as climate change becomes worse:

Tue, 2014-05-13 16:58Graham Readfearn
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Is Hector the Lump of Coal The World's Most Inappropriate Mascot For Kids?

With his thumbs pointing almost permanently skywards, the copyrighted mascot Hector the Lump of Coal wants to talk to kids about the arts, dental hygiene, bullying, sun safety and pretty much anything else the PR people at one of the world’s biggest coal export facilities can think of.

In one segment of his own mini-TV series, Hector’s sidekick presenter tells kids* how to save energy at home to “save the environment” and how you shouldn’t leave the tap running when you’re cleaning your teeth because “water is precious.”

His TV slots are screened on the popular Seven free-to-air Australian television network in the Mackay region of Queensland where kids have been served The Hector Show sandwiched between segments of Saturday Disney.

There is not a sliver of irony or sarcasm in sight but, then again, this is the state of Queensland that — according to its Premier Campbell Newman — is “in the coal business.”

Hector is the property of Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal (DBCT) which last year enabled the export of more than 60 million tonnes of coal used for energy and making steel.

DBCT is one of two facilities at Hay Point, one of the world’s biggest coal ports. Coal combustion, as if this needs pointing out, is the world’s biggest single contributor to climate change.

Not only did the state export 192 million tonnes of coal last year, but it has been revealed that a coal company employee is actually writing the environment policy for Newman’s Liberal National party.

Perhaps this is why Hector sports a permanent grin on his Facebook page where he is pictured at community events, sports games, schools, libraries and inside any building with a door wide enough to fit his considerable girth. It seems wherever there are children and families, there's a grinning six foot lump of coal in a high-visibility vest. 

Tue, 2014-05-13 11:14Chris Rose
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Scientists Fear Massive Sea Level Rise from "Unstoppable" Melt of West Antarctica Ice Sheet

thwaites glacier, west antarctic ice melt, nasa, climate change

Two new academic studies released Monday reveal that the crucial West Antarctic ice sheet is now melting, a seemingly unstoppable disaster that could eventually trigger sea levels to rise by more than 14 feet (4.3 metres).

The studies could finally make politicians rethink how climate change is affecting humankind and how society is going to deal with the increasingly expensive cost of mitigating climate change caused by burning fossil fuels overheating our atmosphere.

One of the studies indicates the glaciers in the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica “have passed the point of no return,” according to glaciologist and lead author Eric Rignot, of UC Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. The new study has been accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

NASA says the glaciers already contribute significantly to sea level rise, releasing almost as much ice into the ocean annually as the entire Greenland ice sheet. “They contain enough ice to raise global sea level by four feet (1.2 metres) and are melting faster than most scientists had expected,” according to a press release.

Sat, 2014-05-10 09:07Chris Rose
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New Study Links California Drought to Climate Change and Burning of Fossil Fuels

California, widely considered the U.S. state that most promoted the American Dream, may turn into a nightmare this summer as a result of the worst drought in at least 15 years.

And a new academic study suggests there may be a direct connection between the persistent drought and climate change caused by burning fossil fuels.

The study shows that, beginning with unusually cold waters off Southeast Asia, a persistent high-pressure ridge, or dipole, built up late last year and anchored over the Gulf of Alaska, preventing usual levels of moisture from reaching the West Coast of North America.

Reviewing weather data and sea surface temperatures, the study also determined that the dipole generated a low-pressure ridge built up north of the Great Lakes, eventually resulting in so-called freezing Polar Vortex events in central Canada and the U.S.

Thu, 2014-05-08 18:01Ben Jervey
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Climate Change is Clear and Present Danger That The Fossil Fuel Industry Would Like You To Ignore

Climate change is no longer a distant threat, but a clear and present danger. That’s the main takeaway from the third installment of the National Climate Assessment (NCA), released this week by the White House.

The report itself is a feat of both exhaustive climate science and creative science communications. The 840-page document is packed with illustrative graphics, and the web-based version features interactivity and video. Beyond painting the national picture, the NCA presents, in the words of White House science advisor John Holdren, “unprecedented detail about regional impacts” of climate change.

Climate change is not a distant threat, but is affecting the American people already,” says Holdren in a video introducing the report. “Summers are longer and hotter, with longer periods of extended heat. Wildfires start earlier in the spring and continue later into the fall. Rain comes down in heavier downpours. People are experiencing changes in the length and severity of allergies. And climate disruptions to water resources and agriculture have been increasing.”

Some quick background: The U.S. Global Change Research Program was formed by Congressional mandate in 1990, and charged with producing regular “National Climate Assessments” in order to “highlight key knowledge that can improve policy choices and identify significant gaps that can limit effective decision making.” The NCA reports are compiled by a 60-member federal advisory committee made up some scientists, business leaders, and other climate experts, and the content itself is written by nearly 300 scientists, academics, government and private sector experts. The document itself is subjected to exhaustive review, including by the National Academy of Sciences. And as a consensus-based document, the findings must be approved by representatives of such disparate parties as environmental groups and fossil fuel companies. If anything, this report is conservative in its findings.

Thu, 2014-05-08 08:10Carol Linnitt
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New Report Names Alberta Oilsands as Highest Cost, Highest Risk Investment in Oil Sector

A total of $1.1 trillion USD earmarked for risky carbon-intensive oil sector investments need to be challenged by investors, according to a new report released today by the Carbon Tracker Initiative.

The research identifies oil reserves in the Arctic, oilsands and in deepwater deposits at the high end of the carbon/capital cost curve. Projects in this category “make neither economic nor climate sense” and won’t fit into a carbon-constrained world looking to limit oil-related emissions, Carbon Tracker states in a press release.

The report highlights the high risk of Alberta oilsands investment, noting the reserves “remain the prime candidate for avoiding high cost projects” due to the region’s landlocked position and limited access to market.

The isolated nature of the [oilsands] market with uncertainty over export routes and cost inflation brings risk.”

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