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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

For centuries to come, ice sheets will keep melting

we cannot ignore it, because the sheer volume of land ice on Earth is enormous – equivalent to more than 65m of global sea level rise; Greenland alone accounts for 6 to 7m, West Antarctica for some 5-6m, and East Antarctica for the remainder. These melting ice sheets will dominate major sea level changes for centuries to come.

ice-sheets-melting

Why ice sheets will keep melting for centuries to come,Skeptical Science By Eelco Rohling, University of Southampton 17 Oct 14    Ice sheets respond slowly to changes in climate, because they are so massive that they themselves dominate the climate conditions over and around them. But once they start flowing faster towards the shore and melting into the ocean the process takes centuries to reverse. Ice sheets are nature’s freight trains: tough to start moving, even harder to stop. Continue reading

October 18, 2014 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

World Bank leader calls for development banks to mobilise climate funds

piggy-ban-renewablesDevelopment banks should mobilize climate funds: World Bank’s Kim  BY VALERIE VOLCOVICI   REPORTING BY VALERIE VOLCOVICI,; EDITING BY ROS KRASNY AND FRANCES KERRY) WASHINGTON Thu Oct 16 (Reuters) – The World Bank and other multilateral financeinstitutions should pool their resources to help developing countries combat and adapt to climate change, helping smooth the path to a global climate agreement in Paris next year, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said on Thursday.

One important disagreement looming over the climate talks is how countries will reach an agreed target of raising $100 billion in annual funding for climate change projects in developing countries by 2020, Kim told the Reuters Global Climate Change Summit.

The World Bank, other multilateral organizations, climate funds and regional development banks can help mobilize money prior to the Paris talks to give developing countries confidence in the negotiating process, he said.

“We are doing everything we can to really make sure that issue doesn’t stop the proceedings,” Kim said.

“Can we take all of the money that is floating around out there, and put it together in a package that would make the developing countries feel a lot better about the available financing for tackling both mitigation and adaptation?”……….

Beyond the financing question, Kim said strong signs of an agreement between the United States and China on climate would set a “strong foundation” for the Paris meeting.

He added that a declaration by 74 countries and over 1,000 private companies announced at the U.N. Climate summit in September, in support of carbon pricing measures such asmarkets and taxes, could also bolster prospects for success in Paris.

Kim said the decision by China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, to sign the declaration was a surprise to World Bank officials, and had raised the pressure on other countries……..http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/16/us-climatechange-summit-worldbank-idUSKCN0I52QK20141016

October 18, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, climate change, renewable | Leave a comment

2015 Paris climate deal must be a real one – or no deal!

globe-warmingflag-franceNo Paris climate deal better than bad one – former French climate minister, Guardian, 10 Oct 14 
Serge Lepeltier saysglobal warming deal at Paris in 2015 must be binding, as capital hosts pre-summit meeting AFrench diplomatic effort to seal a deal on cutting carbon emissions at next year’s Paris climate change summit has opened with a warning from the country’s former climate change ambassador that it would be better to have no deal at all, than a bad one.

The World Summit for the Regions on Climate in the French capital on Friday and Saturday is a showcase for efforts to mobilise business sectors in a ‘bottom-up’ initiative to enable commitments on carbon cuts ahead of the 2015 UN climate conference.

The approach is in line with the ‘pledge and review’ idea proposed by the US in which countries would put the emissions reduction measures they are prepared to offer on the table for review at a later date. EU negotiators hope a climate deal next year will include a mechanism that could trigger moves to binding cuts if countries’ emissions go too high.

But Serge Lepeltier said that without agreed minimum ambitions to curb man-made global warming in 2015, the bottom-up approach could be “an excuse” for the lack of a comprehensive effort, with scattered results.

“There has to be a global agreement with binding constraints,” he told the audience of policy-makers, businesses and environmentalists on Friday. “Without those commitments, what is done by local authorities and companies will remain marginal.”

“Can we risk non-agreement in Paris? We can’t have a minimal agreement that won’t truly combat climate change,” he said. “We should take the risk of no agreement rather than accept a weak agreement.”……Because of the wide differences between states with some commitment to cutting emissions and those such as Russia, Canada, Australia and Japanwhich have withdrawn from international treaties, UN officials have played down the chances of material emissions cuts emerging from next year’s Paris summit.

Bernard Spitz, the president of the French Insurance companies association, AFA, told the conference that if global warming continued on present trends, an estimated 20% of world GDP could be lost by the end of the century.

“In 2007, the cost of natural disasters represented €34bn, or 16% of the [French] insurance budget. In the next 20 years, that could double to more than €60bn,” he said. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/10/no-paris-climate-deal-better-than-bad-one-former-french-climate-minister

October 13, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Australia’s Tony Abbott government out of step on climate change

Government drops ball on climate change http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-age-editorial/government-drops-ball-on-climate-change-20141007-3hhgq.html 8 oct 14 Two weeks ago, when Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke before the General Assembly of the United Nations, he named four dire problems facing the world: the dangers posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Russia’s destabilising influence in eastern Ukraine, the outbreak and spread of the Ebola virus in western Africa and the economic malaise that continues to afflict many countries.

But Mr Abbott did not mention climate change at all. That failure was conspicuous because just two days earlier, at the same podium, US President Barack Obama had outlined the same four threats to the world (”terrorism, instability, inequality and disease”) but added one more. Mr Obama told more than 120 leaders attending the UN Climate Summit that ”there’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate”. Mr Obama said the US had a duty to lead on emissions reduction strategies, and he urged other nations to do their part, saying no nation could afford to pretend climate change was not real.

Mr Abbott, though, did not even bother to attend the Climate Summit. He sent Foreign Minister Julie Bishop instead, and she chose to promote the government’s Direct Action strategy, under which businesses would be paid to cut their emissions. Sure, there are several other nations – India, for one – that obstinately shuck off any responsibility for initiating emissions-abatement strategies and which do so because they perceive their economies would be significantly disadvantaged. But Australia under the Abbott government has become an international joke on matters related to climate change. Only last year, for example, Mr Abbott suggested the UN’s climate chief, Christiana Figueres, was ”talking out of her hat” when she said bushfires in Australia were linked to climate change. Soon after, Environment Minister Greg Hunt sought to defend the PM in an interview with the BBC. During that interview, Mr Hunt said he had ”looked up what Wikipedia says”, and then sought to downplay the notion that climate change could influence the likelihood of bushfires.

Map-Abbott-climate

But as Fairfax Media reported this week, Mr Hunt was thoroughly briefed just weeks before the interview by officials of the Bureau of Meteorology who explained the effects of climate change on weather patterns. They told the minister that a pattern of recent episodes of extreme heat was ”consistent with the general pattern of warming”. Last week, five separate studies published by Australian universities all concluded that record temperatures in Australia in 2013 were almost certainly caused by man-made climate change.

The governments of the world’s biggest economies and biggest emitters – the United States and China – are focused on emissions reduction strategies. In Australia, while the Abbott government says it supports the science indicating man’s influence on climate change, there is a distinctly grudging aspect to its attitude, a deliberate effort to minimise the scale or urgency of the problem and a clear intention to focus instead on the economic impact of emissions abatement strategies. The government has scrapped the carbon tax and it wants to wind back the renewable energy target, which is intended to ensure that one-fifth of Australia’s energy supply in 2020 will come from renewable sources.

This is a highly educated nation, whose scientists have made valuable contributions to the growing body of knowledge on climate change, and it is a wealthy nation with great economic opportunity. But it is being governed by a party that refuses to acknowledge the vital role it must play at this point in history.

October 8, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Heating of Southern oceans much faster than previously thought

ocean-heatingOceans heating up faster than we thought: study, SMH  October 6, 2014  Hannah Francis   Oceans in the southern hemisphere are warming faster than anticipated, with implications for rising sea levels and climate modelling.

A team of scientists in California has studied rising temperatures of the southern hemisphere over the decades between 1970 and 2004, and recommended lifting estimates of ocean heat content by between 48 and 152 per cent.

Lead author Paul Durack said it was the first time scientists have been able to quantify how big the gap is between earlier estimates and the reality of rising ocean temperatures.

Sea temperatures are a crucial yardstick for global warming as the ocean stores more than 90 per cent of human-induced excess heat.

Higher sea level temperatures are also closely linked with rising sea levels, because water expands as it warms.

Ocean warming down to two kilometres below the surface accounts for around a third of the annual rate of global mean sea-level rises.

The study by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology, published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Monday, attributed the missed estimates to a history of poor sampling of temperatures in the southern hemisphere oceans, which make up 60 per cent of the world’s oceans.

The region, which includes the Indian and South Pacific oceans as well as the South Atlantic and Southern oceans, has not been sampled nearly as frequently to date as oceans in the northern hemisphere……..  http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/oceans-heating-up-faster-than-we-thought-study-20141005-10qgfn.html#ixzz3FPcZ9tZW

October 6, 2014 Posted by | climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Australia’s 2013 was brought on by global warming – researchers conclude

heat_waveAustralia’s 2013 heatwave due to climate change, researchers conclude http://www.theage.com.au/environment/australias-2013-heatwave-due-to-climate-change-researchers-conclude-20140930-10o1sj.html September 30, 2014   National political reporter Record temperatures in Australia in 2013 were almost certainly caused by man-made climate change, five separate studies have found.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University and the University of NSW have concluded it is “virtually impossible” that the heatwaves that hit Australia in 2013 would have occurred were it not for carbon emissions caused by human activity.

The reports have been published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society as part of a global project examining the impact of climate change on extreme weather.

The results, which are the strongest statement yet on the impact of climate change on Australia’s weather patterns, are a wake-up call for the Abbott government a week after it was criticised for failing to take beefed-up emissions reduction targets to a special summit of world leaders in New York.

Five teams of researchers examined the heat that baked Australia for much of 2013, leading to the hottest day, month, spring and summer since records began.

They concluded that the record temperatures for the whole of that year would almost certainly not have occurred without man-made climate change and that the chance of heatwaves occurring was more than 2000 times greater because of human-caused climate change.

Professor David Karoly, one of the authors, said the results mark the first time that researchers had concluded that a specific weather event couldn’t or most likely couldn’t have occurred in Australia without the increase in greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity.

“The Prime Minister last year said that studies hadn’t been done and the CSIRO cautioned against attributing individual extreme weather events to climate change,” Professor Karoly said.

“Now the studies have been done and the results are very clear.”

The teams of researchers used a variety of computer-based simulations that modelled 20th and early 21st century temperatures.

One set of models factored in natural variations in climate and human influences on climate, while another set showed what temperatures would have looked like without man-made climate change.

Out of 12,500 simulated years, only one result in the latter group produced temperatures higher than those seen in Australia in 2005 – the hottest year before 2013 – and none as hot as 2013.

“There was an increase in the frequency of heatwaves in 2013 and the intensity of heatwaves due to climate change,” Professor Karoly said “It was three times the frequency and two times the intensity.”

October 1, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Australia most unpopular at Climate Change Summit

Australia’s climate stance savagely condemned at New York summit SMH  September 27, 2014  Nick O’Malley US correspondent for Fairfax Media  “…….in his address to the General Assembly, Leonardo DiCaprio sought to buttress his call for drastic and immediate action to reduce carbon emissions with a voice harder to challenge than his own.

“The Chief of the US Navy’s Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, recently said that climate change is our single greatest security threat,” said DiCaprio. “My friends, this body – perhaps more than any other gathering in human history – now faces that difficult task. You can make history, or be vilified by it.”The speech was well given and well received, but it turned out that his prediction was not entirely correct. Australia did not have to wait for history, it was vilified for its stance on climate change on the spot…….”I’m disappointed but not surprised with Australia,” Pa Ousman Jarju, Gambia’s Climate Change Minister who represents the 54 least developed nations at UN climate talks, told the Responding to Climate Change analysis website later. “What the Foreign Minister [Julie Bishop] said was as good as not coming. It’s nothing… as good as not attending.”Indeed Tony Abbott did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, though many attendees detected a reference to Australia – among a handful of other notable recalcitrants – in Barack Obama’s keynote speech……..

it was Australia and to an extent Canada that were subject to most of the opprobrium, in part because they have already enjoyed the economic benefits of carbon emissions, in part because China is perceived to be on the brink of significant action.

One of the successes of Tuesday’s meeting was China’s announcement for the first time ever that it would set an emissions target, aiming to reduce its emissions of carbon per unit of GDP by 45 per cent by 2020, compared with levels in 2005.

“As a responsible major country, a major developing country, China will make even greater effort to address climate change,” Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli said.

“All countries need to follow the path of green and low carbon development that suits their national conditions, [and] set forth post-2020 actions in light of actual circumstances.”

An adviser who attended a meeting of small island states that excoriated Australia’s inaction on climate said the group now viewed China’s commitments optimistically.

The reaction to Australia’s presence could not have been more different. Tony de Brum, the Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, told Fairfax that small islands states were frustrated and baffled by Australia’s stance, especially as they had regarded the nation as a “big brother down south” and advocated for its seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Asked if “betrayal” was too strong a word, he paused and said, “Now it is, maybe not soon.”

On Tuesday the Pulitzer Prize-winning climate change news website Inside Climate News published a story about the “Canada-Australia axis of carbon”. It suggested that not only were the two nations not willing to pull their weight, but that they were seeking to derail the binding agreement on emissions reductions at next year’s talks in Paris that many view as the world’s last best hope to prevent catastrophic climate change.

“Neither the prime ministers of Canada nor Australia will speak at the summit, and the subordinates they have sent will not be offering the kind of “bold” new steps that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is seeking on the way to a treaty in Paris late next year,” it reported.

“Instead, these two governments, with their energy-rich domains sprawling across opposite ends of the earth, will present strikingly similar defences against what much of the rest of the world is offering. And their stance is earning them opprobrium among advocates of strong and immediate action.”

The online magazine Slate published a story headlined, “The Saudi Arabia of the Pacific, How Australia became the dirtiest polluter in the developed world.”

It charted Australian climate politics since the last election – noting for an international audience Australia’s history as a leader in solar technology, the creation and then scrapping of a carbon trading scheme, the promotion of climate change sceptics to key advisory roles, the attacks on the solar industry, the scrapping of the mining tax, the failed bid to expand logging in Tasmanian wilderness.

“Let’s hope that the rapacious policies of the current government represent only a temporary bout of insanity,” Slate concluded. “If the Australian people cannot recover some of their earlier regard for their environment they may find in time that their great land is no longer merely apathetic toward their residence there but openly hostile.” http://www.smh.com.au/world/australias-climate-stance-savagely-condemned-at-new-york-summit-20140926-10mc0x.html#ixzz3Eac7HHfN

September 27, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Climate policy now getting support from big business

Sea change: big US businesses now support climate policy theguardian.com, Saturday 27 September 2014   Climate Week might have been a washout politically, but insiders found reasons for optimism in the business discussions Plenty of attendees expressed disappointment with the United Nations climate talks this week in New York. “The bottom line is I’m not turning cartwheels after the talks yesterday,” said Greg Barker, UK prime minister David Cameron’s envoy on climate change, at a Climate Week session on clean energy investment Wednesday. “This hasn’t been the show many of us hoped it would be.”

But while the political commitments may have fallen short of the “bold new announcements and action” that UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon called for, several industry insiders found reasons for optimism in the business discussions.

Kevin Moss, head of UK-based telco BT’s Net Good program, said he’s seen a major shift in sentiment from US companies leading up to Climate Week. “In the last few weeks, I’ve been much more encouraged than I was a year ago,” he said. “I think we’re at a turning point.”

It’s an interesting viewpoint from someone who witnessed – and actively supported – climate change policy in Europe, which has outpaced that in the US. There’s still less business resistance to regulation in Europe, Moss said. “But I’m really feeling that changing here (in the US),” he said. “American companies are supporting a price on carbon.”…….

There’s also more objective proof that opinions are changing: the World Bank on Monday announced it had received pledges of support for carbon pricing from 1,000 companies and investors, as well as 73 national and 11 regional governments. And a report from nonprofit CDP earlier this month found that 150 major companies already have put an internal price on carbon.

What has spurred this change?

Compared to 2010, when a US climate bill failed and climate talks were held in Cancun, Mexico, clean energy has grown a lot cheaper and has become a far more mainstream investment, Juska said. Meanwhile, successful state and local climate policies – such as in New York, California and Hawaii – have instilled more confidence, he added…….

Meanwhile, the private sector has made “stunning advances”, such as dramatically cutting the cost of clean energy, Barker said. And the perceived risk from climate policy has also fallen as several countries – such as the UK – have demonstrated the ability to cut emissions while growing the economy.

“There are reasons to be cheerful, but I think one of the strongest reasons to be cheerful is finance,” Barker said during a session on clean energy investment at Bloomberg on Wednesday. “There is without doubt a growing appetite and interest in finding ways to harness the great growth industry of the 21st century, which is clean energy.”……http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/sep/25/business-came-out-on-top-during-climate-week?commentpage=1

September 27, 2014 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear power as solution to Climate Change? Quite the reverse

Nuclear solutions to climate change are anything but, Aljazeera Americaby Gregg Levine   @GreggJLevine 23 Sept 14 “……While major climate polluting nations such as China, India and Canada have declined to send a top-level official to this year’s summit, the U.S. was expected to go all in, with President Obama touting his recent proposals to curtail the nation’s carbon output.

That plan to limit CO2 production has already come under fire from fossil fuel-friendly corporations, trade groupsand politicians who balk at the regulation, and from climate scientists and activists who point out that the president’s plan does not do enough to meet the maximum-2-degrees-of-warming goal, but a group you will not hear complaining is the nuclear energy sector.

Buried in the proposal and absent from many initial reports on the plan is a series of programs and pledges thatencourage the preservation and possible expansion of the nation’s nuclear electrical generation capacity. The president’s proposed carbon rules assume nuclear power to be a clean, low-carbon energy option, and so put forth a nuclear industry Christmas list of subsidies, incentives and financial backstops that potentially funnels billions of public dollars into private industry hands and risks missing emissions targets while increasing the danger of a nuclear mishap.

The inventory of specifics that make nuclear power a terrible option in the fight to stem global warming would almost work as a joke if the consequences of this wrong turn weren’t so serious. Here are but some of the many reasons why nuclear power is a terrible way to deal with climate change.

First and foremost, nuclear power is not greenhouse neutral. Nuclear boosters of late have grabbed hold of climate change as their latest raison d’être, if not their last best hope of restoring relevance to their half-century-old technology. And sure, the fission going on inside a nuclear reactor is not a major source of greenhouse pollution, but nuclear reactors do not exist in a vacuum.

Beyond the operation of the reactor, the nuclear fuel cycle includes the mining, milling, processing, enrichment, fabrication and transport of the uranium-based fuel — each step is energy intensive and greenhouse pollution rich.

The plants themselves have huge carbon footprints, requiring in most cases over a decade of heavy construction, large staffs and elaborate waste-handling protocols. The operation of the plant and the storage of the waste both require a constant flow of electricity — a loss of power for any significant amount of time creates a scenario much like that seen in Fukushima, Japan. In fact, it is one of the most paradoxical parts of the world’s light-water reactor fleet — in order to safely generate electricity, the plants need a significant and consistent supply of electricity. Sometimes the plant can supply that electricity — meaning the net output of the plant is lower than the announced rate — and sometimes it cannot, in which case, the plant becomes an energy consumer.

climate-and-nuclear

Another thing nuclear plants consume in copious amounts is water, making them particularly ill suited to a warming climate. Reactors need water to keep their cores and condensers cool — not to mention their spent fuel storage pools — and that water needs to be plentiful, circulating, and relatively cool. Over the last decade, as the globe has warmed, nuclear plants have experienced numerous shutdowns and many more days of reduced output because there was simply no effective heat sink.

In some cases, especially in some European plants set on rivers, droughts caused the water level to drop too low for a plant’s intake valves. In the case of plants that rely on lakes, warmer days and, perhaps more importantly, warmer nights have meant the water is simply not cold enough to effectively cool the reactors. In recent summers across the U.S., this has become a regular problem, especially during prolonged heat waves, which, ironically, are when demand for electricity is highest.

Even nuclear facilities built on the coasts are vulnerable to warming water. In recent years, plants in Connecticut and Massachusetts have had to reduce output or shut down entirely because of water temperature.

But plants near the oceans have other headaches exacerbated by climate change. Rising sea levels, increasingly severe hurricanes and superstorms, and the surges that come with them all threaten to overwhelm the cooling systems and the plants themselves. Superstorm Sandy caused seven plants in the eastern U.S. to shutdownbecause of flooding, storm debris, wind damage, or interruptions to the external power supply. In the case of one aging reactor in southern New Jersey, rising waters came within inches of breaching flood walls, and external pumps and hoses were brought in to provide water for the reactors when the cooling system’s intake valves were clogged with flotsam.

Clogging is also a major concern for southern and west-coast reactors. In those cases, fish, jelly fish and an invertebrate called salp, made more numerous by warming seas, have completely blocked cooling system intakes, requiring weeks of plant shutdown, cleaning, and filter replacements.

But even if all these problems, insurmountable though they seem, could somehow be solved, nuclear power is a poor investment for a world on the brink of climate disaster.

Numerous studies predict that something like 1,500 to 2,000 new nuclear reactors would need to be up-and-running to have a significant affect on greenhouse emissions (there are currently fewer than 400 reactors operating worldwide). If those reactors replaced coal plants, it is predicted the world would see realize a 20 percent decrease in CO2 production. But if the new plants were just there to service new demand, there would actually be an increase in carbon emissions (because, as noted, these are not greenhouse-neutral endeavors).

What would such an undertaking cost? Well, the only new plants under construction in the US, the Vogtle reactors in Georgia, were projected to cost around $15 billion, but only a couple of years into production, those plants are already billions of dollars over budget. They are also already years behind schedule.

And that brings up the time it would take to build the new nuclear capacity. It takes 6 to 10 years in the best cases to bring a new reactor online. Some of the newer plants in the US (which means they are still decades old) took more than twenty years to begin operation. Building 1,500 reactors would mean firing up a new one every two weeks for the next 60 years, which is not only an impossible schedule to meet, it puts the planet long past its drop-dead date for zero greenhouse emissions.

But let’s say, through the magic of magical thinking, you get all of that out of the way, what will you do with the waste? http://america.aljazeera.com/blogs/scrutineer/2014/9/23/nuclear-solutionstoclimatechangeareanythingbut.html

September 24, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | 1 Comment

Global carbon emissions to hit record high in 2014

globe-warmingGlobal carbon report: emissions will hit new heights in 2014, The Conversation, Pep Canadell Executive director, Global Carbon Project at CSIRO Michael Raupach Director of the Climate Change Institute at Australian National University, 22 September 2014,

As heads of state gather in New York for tomorrow’s United Nations climate summit, a new report on the state of the world’s carbon budget tells them that greenhouse emissions hit a new record last year, and are still growing.

The Global Carbon Project has released its annual report card on the global and national trends in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

It shows that global emissions from burning fossil fuels and cement production reached a new record of 36 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2013, and are predicted to grow by a further 2.5% in 2014, bringing the total CO2 emissions from all sources to more than 40 billion tonnes. This is about 65% more fossil-fuel emission than in 1990, when international negotiations to reduce emissions to address climate change began……..

Is it too late to tame the climate?

Our estimates (see here and here) show that, at current emissions levels, average global warming will hit 2C in about 30 years.

Despite this apparently imminent event, economic models can still come up with scenarios in which global warming is kept within 2C by 2100, while both population and per capita wealth continue to grow. Are these models playing tricks on us?…

http://theconversation.com/global-carbon-report-emissions-will-hit-new-heights-in-2014-31834?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+21+September+2014+-+1934&utm_content=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+21+September+2014+-+1934+CID_cc30f6107f0d3fcd110e8e0dd6549531&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Global%20carbon%20report%20emissions%20will%20hit%20new%20heights%20in%20201

September 22, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Obama to press for climate action, at UN Climate Summit

Obama-and-windAt UN, Obama to urge nations to go big on climate SF Gate, By JOSH LEDERMAN, Associated Press , September 18, 2014 WASHINGTON (AP) — Having spent political capital fighting climate change at home, President Barack Obama will turn his sights overseas next week, urging fellow heads of state to be as ambitious as possible as they negotiate a make-or-break global treaty to be finalized in Paris next year.

Obama will attend a United Nations climate summit where he will announce new U.S. commitments, aiming to ramp up the pressure on other major polluters like India and China to demonstrate they’re not laggards in the global campaign against climate change.

White House officials said the U.S. will offer tangible contributions such as American technology to help vulnerable populations deal with food security, sea level rise and other negative effects of climate change.

“Our hope is that others will do the same and that can build momentum toward an agreement in Paris,” Dan Utech, Obama’s top adviser on climate and energy issues, said in an interview…….

By taking time out at the U.N. for climate change, Obama is working to keep the issue at the top of the global agenda even after the crises of the day recede from memory. More than 100 heads of state will join Obama at the summit, which U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is hosting…….http://www.sfgate.com/news/science/article/At-UN-Obama-to-urge-nations-to-go-big-on-climate-5765158.php

September 20, 2014 Posted by | climate change, USA | 2 Comments

Amazon to guzzle fossil fuelled electricity in new “server farm”

text-cat-questionMaybe we should all be concerned at the absurdity of this idea of all our data “in the cloud”.  It’s not up    in the clouds – it’s in dirty great computers taking up acres of space, and using up ever more electricity.  In this sense, we are all complicit in pollutting the planet.  Why on Earth can’t the IT ndustry grow up, and learn to chuck out unwanted stuff – instead of this mindless, endles storage of DIGITAL STUFF!

fossil-fuel-industryAmazon’s cloud is about to get dirtier http://grist.org/news/amazons-cloud-is-about-to-get-dirtier/By 17 Sep 2014 In the latest effort to satisfy our desire to save every photo, thought, and fragment of information in cyberspace, Amazon plans to build a fat new server farm that will offer “cloud” storage for such companies as Yelp, Netflix, Pinterest, Dropbox, Spotify, Soundcloud, Tumblr, and Vine, to name more than a few.

According to the Seattle Times, the $1.1 billion server farm will be located in Dublin, Ohio. The city is served by an electric utility that gets two-thirds of its juice from coal-fired power plants, and has a history of lobbying for the coal industry.

As a Greenpeace report from earlier this year shows, not all energy-hogging data centers warm the climate equally, and Amazon’s are among the worst of the worst. Fossil fuel burning provides over half the energy used by Amazon’s colossal digital network — and nuclear power supplies another quarter. Here’s the breakdown: (diagram)

By contrast, the Greenpeace report raves that Apple powers the iCloud with 100 percent renewables; Facebook put a data center in Iowa to spark the world’s largest purchase of wind turbines; and Google is signing long-term contracts to buy cleaner power for some of its centers. What’s more, these three web giants teamed up in North Carolina to pressure Duke Energy, the largest U.S. utility and one of the country’s biggest emitters, to offer customers — including their data warehouses — the choice to buy greener electricity.

(Before heaping too much praise on all that progress, recall that these companiesand their founders don’t have perfect track records when it comes to caring for the climate.)

To avoid adding to Amazon’s dirty energy use (and supporting its labor-abusing,writer-exploitingbookstore-bullying, and publisher-extorting ways) we can host our websites and store our digital stuff elsewhere until the company cleans up its act — and maybe even shop in a real store like back in the old days.

Yet given Amazon’s’s dominion over many of the apps and sites we use for fun, entertainment, information, and procrastination, we’d basically have to give up our computers and all other devices to steer clear of its sovereign realm.

If all the less desirable impacts of the internet were as palpable as the gratification we get from instantly streaming the last five Parks and Recreation episodes (made possible by Amazon’s web infrastructure), it would be a lot easier to make an informed decision about how much digital property we really want.

Maybe we need an app that’ll kick a could of smoke out of the back of our laptops every time we order a bag of groceries from Amazon Fresh.

September 18, 2014 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Pacific Islanders face need to eventually migrate, due to rising sea levels

climate-changePacific Islanders reject ‘climate refugee’ status, want to ‘migrate with dignity’, SIDS conference hears ABC News 4 Sept 14 They have long been described as climate refugees: the hundreds of thousands of people living on low-lying Pacific islands who may be forced to migrate if rising sea levels leave their homes uninhabitable.

But it is a term Pacific leaders say is loaded with political connotations and does not reflect the true dimensions of the problem.

“They see [refugee] as a negative term that connotes victimhood and people in need of protection by the international community,” Professor Jane McAdam, director of the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW, told the ABC.

“For them it signifies that they’ve become people who don’t have any agency or aren’t able to contribute.

They can be worthwhile citizens when we relocate them as a community, not as refugees.

Kiribati’s president Anote Tong

“What Pacific Islanders have told me is that, ‘we want to be seen as active economic and social contributors to any country to which we might need to move. We would like to have opportunities to migrate with dignity rather than have to wait until the situation becomes so dire that we are forcibly displaced’.”

The sentiment was echoed at the International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) which wrapped up in Apia, Samoa, on Thursday………

Australia has joined the steering group of the Nansen Initiative on Disaster-Induced Cross-Border Displacement, which aims to “build consensus on the development of a protection agenda” for those forced to flee natural disasters and the effects of climate change.

“We do need to enable people to have opportunities to migrate … but we also need to combine that with disaster risk reduction strategies, with adaptation strategies and with good development practices so that we have a holistic approach to the issue,” said Professor McAdam, who sits on the Nansen Initiative’s consultative committee.

She said the Nansen Initiative will put forward “a comprehensive framework of solutions” next year.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-05/pacific-islanders-reject-calls-for-27climate-refugee27-status/5723078

September 6, 2014 Posted by | climate change | Leave a comment

China to start huge carbon trading scheme

China’s national carbon market to start in 2016, official says SMH, September 1, 2014  China plans to roll out its national market for carbon permit trading in 2016, an official said Sunday, adding that the government is close to finalising rules for what will be the world’s biggest emissions trading scheme.

The world’s biggest-emitting nation, accounting for nearly 30 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, plans to use the market to slow its rapid growth in climate-changing emissions.

China has pledged to reduce the amount of carbon it emits per unit of GDP to 40-45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.

It has already launched seven regional pilot markets in a bid to gain experience ahead of a nationwide scheme…….The Chinese market, when fully functional, would dwarf the European emissions trading system, which is currently the world’s biggest.

It would be the main carbon trading hub in Asia and the Pacific, where Kazakhstan and New Zealand already operate similar markets. South Korea will launch a national scheme on Jan. 1, 2015, while Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam are drawing up plans for markets of their own. http://www.smh.com.au/business/carbon-economy/chinas-national-carbon-market-to-start-in-2016-official-says-20140901-10arz1.html#ixzz3CDBKLO8u

September 2, 2014 Posted by | China, climate change | Leave a comment

UN’s latest report – global warming might now be irreversible

climate-changeGlobal warming is already here and could be irreversible, UN panel sayshttp://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/aug/26/global-warming-irreversible-un-panel-report A 127-page draft report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change describes what can be done about it

Global warming is here, human-caused and probably already dangerous – and it’s increasingly likely that the heating trend could be irreversible, a draft of a new international science report says.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Monday sent governments a final draft of its synthesis report, which combines three earlier, gigantic documents by the Nobel Prize-winning group. There is little in the report that wasn’t in the other more-detailed versions, but the language is more stark and the report attempts to connect the different scientific disciplines studying problems caused by the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas.

The 127-page draft, obtained by The Associated Press, paints a harsh warning of what’s causing global warming and what it will do to humans and the environment. It also describes what can be done about it.

“Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” the report says. The final report will be issued after governments and scientists go over the draft line by line in an October conference in Copenhagen.

Depending on circumstances and values, “currently observed impacts might already be considered dangerous,” the report says. It mentions extreme weather and rising sea levels, such as heat waves, flooding and droughts. It even raises, as an earlier report did, the idea that climate change will worsen violent conflicts and refugee problems and could hinder efforts to grow more food. And ocean acidification, which comes from the added carbon absorbed by oceans, will harm marine life, it says.

Without changes in greenhouse gas emissions, “climate change risks are likely to be high or very high by the end of the 21st century,” the report says.

In 2009, countries across the globe set a goal of limiting global warming to about another 2 degrees Fahrenheit (-16.67C) above current levels. But the report says that it is looking more likely that the world will shoot past that point. Limiting warming to that much is possible but would require dramatic and immediate cuts in carbon dioxide pollution.

The report says if the world continues to spew greenhouse gases at its accelerating rate, it’s likely that by mid-century temperatures will increase by about another 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) compared to temperatures from 1986 to 2005. And by the end of the century, that scenario will bring temperatures that are about 6.7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer (3.7 degrees Celsius).

August 27, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

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