Climate Change News - October 2008
October 22, 2008
- Can the economic crisis perhaps be a doorway into a much more sustainable world? See also this article. However, Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Climate Secretariat, thinks it will make it harder for developing countries to begin moving toward decreasing their GHG emissions. A leading Republican in the House suggests scraping any attempt at a climate bill next year. And the San Francisco Chronicle also suggests that fiscal woes could delay climate efforts. All this is enough to make you wonder whether Sen. McCain's retreat from his strongest green proposals is just a campaign ploy to satisfy the right wing of his party or truly reflects his current beliefs. Andy Revkin at the NYT has an informative article on where the two candidates stand with regard to global warming. And Thomas Friedman of the NYT has just written a column about this issue.
- This UN report re-emphasizes the disutility of growing food crops for biofuel.
- Well, I don't know if it is just my pessimism, but looking at the draft of the Dingell-Boucher bill on climate change (which allows large offsets that do not in fact lead to emissions reductions) makes me more and more convinced that there will not be a significant near term reduction in GHGs in the US. This means that SC could very well be looking at a 1-2 meter rise in sea level by the end of the 21st century. For more information about offsets see Richard Conniff's article at Yale Environment 360, in which he argues offsets are a necessary indulgence.
- The National Marine Fisheries Service in Seattle has ruled that FEMA must revamp its regultions regarding human developments on flood plains to better protect endangered species. A McClatchy News article speculates that this might lead to a reduction in the rate of flood plain development in "all National Flood Insurance Programs jurisdictions."
- Elizabeth Kolbert, author of one of the better short books on climate change, Field Notes From a Catastrophe, has a very good interview with Thomas Friedman on Yale Environment 360 about his new book, Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution — and How It Can Renew America.
- Bill McKibbin, author of the must-read Deep Economy, had an extensive, informative question and answer session with viewers of Slate.com back in April that I missed. In addition, he has a very informative review of Thomas Friedman's new book, Hot, Flat and Crowded, in the New York Review of Books.
- Here's an article from MyrtleBeachOnline.com about a recent meeting at which John Clark, Director of the SC Energy Office, touted the value of developing renewable energy sources.
- George Monbiot, columnist for the UK Guardian newspaper, writes that compared to what nature is going to soon begin bringing us, the current financial crisis is petty stuff. For a view of what the world might look like in 2030, check out the report from the Forum for the Future that this article describes. Meanwhile, nearly 80% of asian primates (presumably excluding the human primates) are immediately threatened with extinction. See also this NYT editorial.
- Activist groups say we must immediately agree on a post-Kyoto treaty that will begin actually reducing global GHG emissions within the next five years to avert catastrophe. Our next chance will the the UN meeting in Poland in early December.
- Meanwhile the Bush Administration is moving to prevent any protection of animals from global warming effects via the Endangered Species Act. Great job Georgie!
- Has warming in the Arctic passed a tipping point? This McClatchy Newspapers article notes unprecedented temperature rise along with huge discharges of ice from the Greenland Ice Sheet. Meanwhile, according to an article in the UK Telegraph, a WWF report documents that climate change globally is "faster and more extreme" than originally feared.
October 6, 2008
- Andy Revkin, the author of the DotEarth blog at the NYT, has received a prestigious journalism award for his long labors addressing climate change and global warming. His links to some of his early articles are especially interesting.
- RealClimate has had some interesting forth and backs with the authors of a recent paper that has been reported in the media to debunk ideas of large sea level rise this century. What is important is that the paper predicted a sea level rise of from 2.6 to 6.6 feet (0.8-2.0 meters), enough to make problematic the continued existence of Charleston, SC by century's end.
- Are sunspot numbers, which have been at zero for a couple of months, about to increase again as the new solar cycle begins? Recent calculations by the NASA's Solar Physics section of the Marshall Space Flight center show that that should be the case very soon. And, in fact, an active region was currently seen traversing the face of the sun. However, there is much uncertainty.
- Read it and weep: John McCain suggests that Sarah Palin will be put in charge of our country's energy security. Joseph Romm's article in Salon suggests that might not be such a good idea in view of her poor grasp of the facts of the energy situation in the US.
- Oh, oh, here comes the methane! Can you spell "tipping point?" However, is global warming the main cause of what seem to be large increases in releases from Arctic sites? On this point there is uncertainty.
- In so far as each coal fired electric plant is a global warming machine that threatens the lives and livelihoods of our children and grandchildren are individuals then justified in preventing their construction by whatever means possible? Al Gore suggests civil disobedience to stop construction of plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration capability.
- CO2 emissions have reached 9.34 billion tons per year and are reported to be up by 3% for 2007. China, for the second year in a row, has become the world's largest emitter of GHGs, due mostly to a surge in coal use and cement making. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that talks aimed at setting post-Kyoto emissions limits do not seem to be making much progress.
- In Columbia, legislators are getting exercised about taking advantage of the pending expiration of the congressional ban on offshore drilling.
- In Washington, the White House has decided not to mandate a nation-wide switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs, claiming that to do so might hinder innovation of even more efficient technologies.
- Both Vice Presidential candidates said at their recent 'debate,' that they supported "clean coal." DotEarth reports their comments about it and climate change in a recent post. There is not much agreement about what the term "clean coal" means, but here is an informative article from the Rocky Mountain Institute. The Government Accountability Office estimates in a recent report (pg. 38) that including carbon capture and sequestration at a gasified coal plant would increase the cost of the electricity it generates by 21% - 78%.
- A recent comprehensive report indicates that up to 25% of earth's mammals may be faced with extinction, mostly due to the effects of habitat destruction and hunting. Populations of about 50% of earth's mammals are in decline.
- And that's nothing compared to Alaska's glaciers, 99% of which are retreating or thinning or both according to a new book just published by the American Geological Survey. The MSNBC article reporting this has some spectacular photographs comparing Alaskan glaciers now and in the past.
- And finally, just in case you've forgotten why "Friends don't let friends eat imported shrimp!" here's an article from Britain that you should read.