IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Another round of UN climate talks begins in Doha, Qatar with more bad news: Permafrost is melting; PLUS: ALEC & Heartland Institute mobilize to kill clean energy ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Study links autism to air pollution from traffic; 'Rising seas to swallow NYC if we don’t act'; Rare earths: The rush to production; Superstorm Sandy: Why NY ran out of gas; 7 reasons climate change is ‘even worse than we thought’; Florida's fresh water springs are dying; Saudi Arabia invests $109B in solar ... PLUS: Ocean Acidification: Marine animals are already dissolving in Southern Ocean ... and much, MUCH more! ...
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- ALEC & Heartland Institute Mobilize to Kill Clean Energy:
- Climate skeptic group works to reverse renewable energy mandates (Washington Post):
The Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank skeptical of climate change science, has joined with the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council to write model legislation aimed at reversing state renewable energy mandates across the country.
- Conservative Groups Team Up To Fight Renewable Energy: ‘We’re Going To See A Knock-Out, Drag-Out Fight’ (Climate Progress)
- Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist (NY Times):
Most of the attention has focused on ALEC’s role in creating model bills, drafted by lobbyists and lawmakers, that broadly advance a pro-business, socially conservative agenda. But a review of internal ALEC documents shows that this is only one facet of a sophisticated operation for shaping public policy at a state-by-state level. The records offer a glimpse of how special interests effectively turn ALEC’s lawmaker members into stealth lobbyists, providing them with talking points, signaling how they should vote and collaborating on bills affecting hundreds of issues like school vouchers and tobacco taxes.
- Flashback May 9, 2012: Unabomber billboard continues to hurt Heartland Institute (LA Times):
The withdrawals are part of what has become a small-scale defection from the institute since it launched what it called an “experiment” in the form of a Maywood, Ill., billboard featuring a photo of convicted “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski and the words, “I still believe in global warming. Do you?”
- UN COP18: Next Phase of Climate Negotiations in Doha, Qatar:
- UNFCC Main Page: Video and Text (United Nations)
- VIDEO: UN COP18 Webcast MainPage: (United Nations)
- UN News Centre (United Nations)
- UN Talks Inch Forward, As Scientists Warn Window Is Closing:
- Deep Emissions Cuts Urged at Climate Summit (Reuters' Alertnet):
Extreme weather disasters, including floods and droughts intensified by climate change, have totalled many billions of dollars in damages this year.
And much worse is yet to come, warned the World Bank, International Energy Agency and even the big accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited (PwC) in a separate reports detailing the consequences of failing to make major reductions in the fossil fuel emissions that cause climate change.
Those reports also urged all countries attending the U.N. climate change negotiations here in Doha, Qatar to agree to do far more to reduce emissions.
- U.S. holds to climate goals despite poor nations' pleas (Reuters) [emphasis added]:
A U.N. study last week said the world was on target for a rise in temperatures of between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius (5.4 to 9F) because of increasing emissions.
Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, said countries need to act now to keep down costs of confronting climate change. "All reports say that it is much more preferable to act now because it is safer and much less costly," she said.
- U.N. Global Warming Summit: Heading Over the Climate Cliff (Time's Eco-Centric Blog):
What’s the climate connection? The fiscal crisis and global warming are both, to put it bluntly, problems for tomorrow. Even if Congress can’t come to an agreement to avert the fiscal cliff, the economy won’t collapse immediately and the U.S. will still be able to borrow money, just as climate change won’t render the world uninhabitable next year the world can’t reduce carbon emissions overnight anyway. As a society—and as a species—we tend not to be very good at addressing problems of tomorrow, but in one very important respect, the climate cliff and the fiscal cliff are very different.
- Doha climate talks open amid warnings of calamity (Irish Examiner)
- At Doha Climate Talks, U.S. Touts ‘Enormous’ Progress Cutting Carbon Pollution. Seriously. (Climate Progress)
- Africa Wants World Carbon Emissions Cut (All Africa.com) [emphasis added]:
The temperature rise affects rain patterns in Africa causing flooding, landslides, prolonged drought, famine and disease. Africa is the least able to cope with the impact of climate change yet its population of a billion people contributes less than 4% of the emissions.
United States of America alone accounts for 20% of the global greenhouse gases emissions. The developed countries on the whole account for 70% of the emissions.
- Global warming talks progress is 'slow but steady' – UN climate chief: UN's Christiana Figueres thinks the world community is slowly inching its way toward a climate change agreement (Guardian UK)
- Outcome of UN climate talks 'lies in hands of rich nations': Brazil, China, India and South Africa say developed nations must produce more ambitious emissions targets for Doha summit (Guardian UK)
- China's emissions expected to rise until 2030, despite ambitious green policies: The world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases has taken steps to boost renewables, but GDP growth is still the priority (Guardian UK)
- Why a global climate treaty remains worth fighting for: Governments, businesses and civil society have much to gain from a spirit of determination within the international community (Guardian UK)
- Doha climate talks: US defends 'enormous' efforts: Negotiator Jonathan Pershing says America deserves more credit for the 'scale and extent' of its action (Guardian UK)
- The Kyoto protocol is not quite dead: As phase one of the agreement comes to an end, the entrenched positions of countries must now be reconsidered (Guardian UK)
- Time's Running Out: UN Study Says World Emissions Targets Not Enough:
- READ IT: The Emissions Gap Report 2012: A UNEP Synthesis Report (UN Environment Programme) [PDF]
- Ahead of climate talks, UN report warns greenhouse gas emissions still increasing (UN News Centre):
“If no swift action is taken by nations, emissions are likely to be at 58 gigatonnes (Gt) in eight years’ time,” states the report, which has involved 55 scientists from more than 20 countries.
Previous assessment reports have underlined that emissions need to be on average at around 44 Gt or less in 2020 to lay the path for the even bigger reductions needed at a cost that is manageable.
- Global warming targets further out of reach, UN says (Phys.org):
Based on current pledges, global average temperatures could rise by three to five degrees Celsius (5.4 to 9.0 degrees Fahrenheit) this century—way above the two degrees Celsius being targeted, said a UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report.
- Slow pace of carbon cuts brings catastrophic climate change closer: UN: The gap between the carbon emission cuts pledged and the cuts scientists say are needed has widened, report warns (Guardian UK)
- Climate Change Report Warns of Dramatically Warmer World This Century (The World Bank):
"Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided," (pdf) (eBook version) warns we’re on track for a 4°C warmer world marked by extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise.
- IEA World Energy Outlook 2012 (Int'l Energy Agency):
Action to improve energy efficiency could delay the complete ‘lock-in’ of the allowable emissions of carbon dioxide under a 2oC trajectory – which is currently set to happen in 2017 – until 2022, buying time to secure a much-needed global climate agreement. It would also bring substantial energy security and economic benefits, including cutting fuel bills by 20% on average," said Fatih Birol, IEA Chief Economist and the WEO’s lead author.
- Future temperature rises underestimated by current climate projections (Yahoo News Canada):
"Because we have more reliable observations for humidity than for clouds, we can use the humidity patterns that change seasonally to evaluate climate models," said Trenberth. "When examining the impact of future increases in heat-trapping gases, we find that the simulations with the best fidelity come from models that produce more warming."
- UN Study: Permafrost Melting, Feedback Will Last for Centuries:
- Thawing of permafrost to be ‘major factor’ in global warming, warns UN report (UN News Centre) [emphasis added]:
Massive stores of carbon trapped under the northern hemisphere’s frozen expanses risk being unleashed and significantly contributing to global warming should thawing of the region’s permafrost continue to accelerate, a United Nations report warned today....[T]he threat posed by carbon dioxide and methane emissions from warming permafrost has only begun to enter mainstream scientific discourse in recent years and, as a result, has not been included in climate prediction modelling.
- READ IT: UNEP: Policy Implications of Melting Permafrost [PDF] (UN Environment Programme)
- UN: methane released from melting ice could push climate past tipping point: Doha conference is warned that climate models do not yet take account of methane in thawing permafrost (Guardian UK):
Thawing permafrost releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, but this has not yet been included in models of the future climate. Permafrost covers nearly a quarter of the northern hemisphere at present and is estimated to contain 1,700 gigatonnes of carbon – twice the amount currently in the atmosphere. As it thaws, it could push global warming past one of the key "tipping points" that scientists believe could lead to runaway climate change.
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- Study: Autism Linked to Air Pollution From Traffic: USC study suggests air pollution may contribute to autism (USA Today):
Using data from Califonia's Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment, University of Southern California researcher Heather Volk found that pregnant women who were exposed to high levels of traffic-related air pollution were nearly three times as likely to have a child with autism as people who were in the lowest quartile of exposure.
Scientists are split about what causes autism, but most agree that there is both a genetic and environmental component to the disease. Volk says her study suggests, but does not confirm, that air pollution may play a role in whether a child develops autism.
- Shortcomings of study linking autism to air pollution highlight need for better research (Boston Globe):
While all of these caveats don’t necessarily invalidate the findings, they do point to a larger issue: the need for better designed, better funded studies to determine with more finality what’s leading to the precipitous rise in autism in American children.
- NY Times Warns On Climate Change: ‘Fear Death By Water’, Rising Seas Likely To Swallow Up City If We Don’t Act Soon (Climate Progress):
The NY Times (finally) goes apocalyptic on climate change.
- Rare earths: The rush to production (SF Gate):
Their value isn't in their beauty (though they can be pretty enough as faux gemstones) or in their scarcity (they're anything but rare). Their value is in their cultural necessity. Could we live an hour without them? If you ignore their magic for a moment, they become mere commodities - mined, refined, sold and shipped. That's the first problem with rare earths. The second? China supplies more than 97 percent of the global market.
- Superstorm Sandy: Why New York ran out of gas (Grist)
- Washington state confronts ocean acidificationWashington state confronts ocean acidification (Washington Post)
- New Scientist: 7 Reasons Climate Change Is ‘Even Worse Than We Thought’ (Climate Progress):
Nearly 3 years ago, the late William R. Freudenburg discussed in a AAAS presentation how new scientific findings since the 2007 IPCC report are found to be more than twenty times as likely to indicate that global climate disruption is “worse than previously expected,” rather than “not as bad as previously expected.”
- Florida's vanishing springs (Tampa Bay Times):
A century ago Florida's gin-clear springs drew presidents and millionaires and tourists galore who sought to cure their ailments by bathing in the healing cascades. Now the springs tell the story of a hidden sickness, one that lies deep within the earth:
All of it — particularly the saltiness — is a dark omen for the future of the state's water supply.
- Saudi Arabia announces $109bn solar strategy: Work is due to start on the country's first solar farm early next year, officials say (Guardian UK)
- Ocean Acidification: Animals are already dissolving in Southern Ocean (New Scientist):
"This is actually happening now," says Geraint Tarling of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK. He and colleagues captured free-swimming sea snails called pteropods from the Southern Ocean in early 2008 and found under an electron microscope that the outer layers of their hard shells bore signs of unusual corrosion.
As well as warming the planet, the carbon dioxide we emit is changing the chemistry of the ocean.
- COVER STORY: It's Global Warming, Stupid (Businessweek):
Yes, yes, it's unsophisticated to blame any given storm on climate change. Men and women in white lab coats tell us-and they're right-that many factors contribute to each severe weather episode. Climate deniers exploit scientific complexity to avoid any discussion at all.
If all that doesn't impress, forget the scientists ostensibly devoted to advancing knowledge and saving lives. Listen instead to corporate insurers committed to compiling statistics for profit.
- Skeptical Science: Get the FULL DEBUNKING of ALL Climate Science Denier Arguments
- Report: Humans near tipping point that could dramatically change Earth (CS Monitor):
Human activity is affecting Earth in many ways, but a new study suggests that continued population growth and its impact on climate and ecology could trigger a more profound chain reaction of effects within little more than a decade.
- VIDEO: James Hansen: Why I must speak out about climate change (TED Talks):
Top climate scientist James Hansen tells the story of his involvement in the science of and debate over global climate change. In doing so he outlines the overwhelming evidence that change is happening and why that makes him deeply worried about the future.
- VIDEO ANIMATION: Time history of atmospheric CO2 (NOAA Carbon Tracker YouTube channel):
- VIDEO: Animation Charts Modern Global Warming (NYT Green)
- Thinking Big: NREL Study Shows 80 Percent Renewables Possible By 2050 (Climate Progress)
- Must-Read: Economist William Nordhaus Slams Global Warming Deniers, Explains Cost of Delay is $4 Trillion (Climate Progress):
Nordhaus's blunt piece - "Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong" - is worth reading because he is no climate hawk.
"The skeptics' summary is based on poor analysis and on an incorrect reading of the results."
- Part 1: The brutal logic of climate change (David Roberts, Grist) [emphasis added]:
It's simple: If there is to be any hope of avoiding civilization-threatening climate disruption, the U.S. and other nations must act immediately and aggressively on an unprecedented scale. That means moving to emergency footing. War footing. "Hitler is on the march and our survival is at stake" footing. That simply won't be possible unless a critical mass of people are on board. It's not the kind of thing you can sneak in incrementally.
It is unpleasant to talk like this. People don't want to hear it.
- Part 2: The brutal logic of climate change mitigation (David Roberts, Grist)
- How to Buy Time in the Fight against Climate Change: Mobilize to Stop Soot and Methane: A short list of relatively simple actions taken to reduce greenhouse gases other than CO2 could help put the brakes on global warming--if implemented globally (Scientific American)
- Climate Scientists Rebuke Rupert Murdoch: WSJ Denier Op-Ed Like 'Dentists Practicing Cardiology' (Think Progress Green)
- Saudi Oil Minister Calls Global Warming "Humanity's Most Pressing Concern" (Climate Progress):
"We know that pumping oil out of the ground does not create many jobs. It does not foster an entrepreneurial spirit, nor does it sharpen critical faculties."
- VIDEO: Behold: The World's First 24/7 Solar Plant is Up and Running (Treehugger)
- World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns: If fossil fuel infrastructure is not rapidly changed, the world will 'lose for ever' the chance to avoid dangerous climate change (Guardian UK) [emphasis added]:
The world is likely to build so many fossil-fuelled power stations, energy-guzzling factories and inefficient buildings in the next five years that it will become impossible to hold global warming to safe levels, and the last chance of combating dangerous climate change will be "lost for ever", according to the most thorough analysis yet of world energy infrastructure.
"The door is closing," Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, said. "I am very worried - if we don't change direction now on how we use energy, we will end up beyond what scientists tell us is the minimum [for safety]. The door will be closed forever."
- Concise Overview: The IPCC report on extreme climate and weather events (Real Climate)
- READ the IPCC Report: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)
- The Real Global Warming Signal (Tamino)
- No, global warming hasn't stopped (New Scientist)
- Top UN Climate Official Blasts U.S. Climate Policy: Americans Must Realize "This Is Their Future They're Compromising" (Think Progress Green)
- VIDEO: Climate Scientists Michael Mann on "A Look Into Our Climate: Past To Present To Future" (TEDx, YouTube)
- Earth's Plant Growth Fell Because of Climate Change, Study Finds (NYT Green)
- Heads in the Sand: Warning: "Climate change is occurring … and poses significant risks to humans and the environment," reports the National Academy of Sciences. As climate-change science moves in one direction, Republicans in Congress are moving in another. Why?
(National Journal) [emphasis added]:Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, says there's no question that the influence of his group and others like it has been instrumental in the rise of Republican candidates who question or deny climate science. "If you look at where the situation was three years ago and where it is today, there's been a dramatic turnaround. Most of these candidates have figured out that the science has become political," he said.
Groups like Americans for Prosperity have done it."