How Nuclear Worsens Climate Change, Sierra Club, Dave Andrews May 28, 2014 The nuclear industry has been selling the world a story that nuclear power is a solution to climate change because it does not generate carbon dioxide (CO2), a major greenhouse gas. While this is true of the nuclear chain reaction itself, the front and back ends of nuclear power generate a large volume of CO2 and leave a trail of endlessly dangerous radioactivity along the way.
☢ Nuclear power has a big carbon footprint. At the front end of nuclear power, carbon energy is used for uranium mining, milling, processing, conversion, and enrichment, as well as for transportation, formulation of rods and construction of nuclear reactors (power plants). At the back end, there is the task of isolation of highly radioactive nuclear waste for millennia—a task which science has so far not been able to address. Large amounts of water are also used, first in mining and then in cooling the reactors.
All along the nuclear fuel chain, radioactive contamination of air, land and water occurs. Uranium mine and mill cleanup demands large amounts of fossil fuel. Each year 2,000 metric tons of high-level radioactive waste and twelve million cubic-feet of low-level radioactive waste are generated in the U.S. alone. None of this will magically disappear. Vast amounts of energy will be needed to isolate these dangerous wastes for generations to come.
☢ Nuclear power takes too long to deploy. Construction of the 1500 new reactors that the nuclear industry claims are needed to address global warming would mean opening a new reactor once every 2 weeks for the next 60 years. Reactors can take 10-15 years to build with an estimated cost of $12-15 billion each. In the past, cost and time needed for construction have each more than doubled from original estimates. We need to supply low-carbon energy sources NOW.
☢ Nuclear power is not suited for warming climates. Nuclear reactors need enormous amounts of cool water to continually remove heat from their cores. Reactors have been forced to close during heat waves due to warmth of sea, lake or river water — just when electricity is being used most. Low water levels during heat and drought have also forced reactors to shut down. In addition, cooling causes serious damage to aquatic life, killing millions of fish and untold numbers of macroinvertebrates, aquatic eggs and larvae.
☢ Six times as much carbon can be saved with efficiency or wind. Benjamin Sovacool from the Institute for Energy and Environment at Vermont Law School averaged the high and low estimates of carbon pollution from nuclear power. His study revealed that nuclear power’s carbon emissions are well below scrubbed coal-fired plants, natural gas-fired plants and oil. However, nuclear emits twice as much carbon as solar photovoltaic and six times as much as onshore wind farms. Energy efficiency and some of the other renewables also beat nuclear by sixfold or more.
☢ Nuclear power is not flexible. Nuclear is all-or-nothing power. A reactor can’t be geared to produce less power when electricity from renewables (like wind and solar) increases on the grid. This can make it challenging to increase renewables past a certain point. (continued on page 2)
When a reactor shuts down due to accident, planned upgrade or permanent closure, a large amount of power has to be found elsewhere. And nuclear plants are being closed, not opened — some because they no longer are making a profit. It’s important to develop renewablesNOW to be able to replace the electricity when utilities announce plans to close reactors.
☢ Nuclear subsidies rob research on renewables. Nuclear power has been subsidized throughout most of its fuel chain. In 2011 the Union of Concerned Scientists published Nuclear Power, Still Not Viable without Subsidies. This report shows that in some cases subsidies were greater than the value of the electricity produced. Subsidies are supposed to be for new innovations — not for propping up outdated technologies like fossil fuels and nuclear. Nuclear is also a dirty extractive industry – and like coal, oil and gas, nuclear depends on a limited supply of natural resources (uranium) in the ground.
☢ Cost of nuclear is going up, while cost of renewables is going down.Estimates for new reactors are, on average, four times higher than estimates from just eight years ago. Estimates for new reactors are invariably far less than the final cost, with the final cost often doubling. Sometimes, as in the cases of the Columbia Generating Station, Cherokee, and Perry, billions were spent while the reactors were never finished. Costs of renewables continue going down while their efficiency increases. ……. http://content.sierraclub.org/grassrootsnetwork/sites/content.sierraclub.org.activistnetwork/files/teams/documents/SierraNuclearClimate%20%284%29.pdf
June a global scorcher as records melt, The Age July 22, 2014 Peter Hannam Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald Last month was a scorcher for global temperatures with warmth over land and sea breaking records for June while sea-surface temperatures posted their largest departure from long-term averages for any month.
Combined average temperatures over land and sea were 0.72 degrees above the 20th century average of 15.5 degrees, making it the hottest June and adding to the record May and equal record April, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
More striking for climatologists, though, were the sea-surface temperatures. These came in 0.64 degrees above the 20th century average of 16.4 degrees – the first time any month had exceeded the long-run norm by more than 0.6 degrees.
Parts of all major ocean basins notched their warmest June, with almost all the Indian Ocean and regions off south-eastern Australia the hottest on record.
An El Nino event remains about a 70 per cent chance of forming during the northern summer, which could see more records tumble. The weather pattern sees the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean becoming relatively warm compared with western regions, and typically brings hotter, drier than usual conditions to south-east Asia and Australia.
Australia posted its hottest 12 months on record in the year to June, while 2013 was the hottest calendar year in more than a century of records, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
While June was another month of above-average temperatures, Western Australia and the Northern Territory were cooler than normal – breaking a sequence begun in February in which every state or territory had above-average warmth, NOAA noted.
June was the 352nd month when global temperatures were above the 20th century average – with the last below-average month in February 1985……….
The Billionaire War Heats Up Slate.com 17 July 14 The richest people in America are turning on one another—over climate change.By Eric Holthaus Move over, Al Gore. There’s a new wealthy environmentalist whom conservatives love to hate. If you haven’t heard of him yet, meet Tom Steyer…….In a biographical post on his super PAC’s website labeled “accountability,” Steyer says “climate change has not always been on my radar.” In 2012, after founding Farallon Capital Management and running it for more than 25 years (amassing a billion-dollar fortune in the process), he left his post to work on global warming full time.
As the Washington Post reported last year, to reduce his footprint (which is probably still pretty big), Steyer chooses to take the red eye. He doesn’t shy away from the occasional environmental campaign rally, but he’s not about to guilt trip you for not switching out your light bulbs, either. His target is much bigger: the American political process itself.
In response to his efforts to make global warming a major political issue in the runup to the 2014 midterm elections,
Climate change challenge tSteyer is fast drawing the ire of the political landscape’s resident oil-money billionaires, the Koch brothers. Their talking point is simple: Tom Steyer is one of us, so lefties should demonize him, too. As Slate’s David Weigel wrote, “Republicans are trying to Koch-ify Tom Steyer in just five or six months.”
Ever since February, when Steyer announced a $100 million campaign to fight climate change, critics have been eager to pick at anything that may tarnish his green label. Steyer’s campaign—$50 million of his own, and $50 million from his super PAC, NextGen Climate—is primarily meant to encourage action on global warming……….
teyer doesn’t dispute that he “was for coal before he was against it.” In an op-ed in Politico on Monday, Steyer explained his about-face from hedge fund capitalist to environmental crusader, in an attempt to set the record straight:
[I]t’s true—Farallon did make fossil fuel investments under my watch. But the more I learned about the energy and climate problems we currently face, the more I realized I had to change my life. I concluded that the best way to align my work with my beliefs was to make a real change—leaving my role managing a firm with investments across the industrial spectrum, and instead joining in the global effort to find a solution to climate change once and for all.
Steyer says that he’s completely divested his personal holdings from the fossil fuel industry as of June 30 though certainly that won’t stop the right from claiming that he’s being hypocritical. But that’s missing the point. It’s not Steyer’s dollars (or even the source of those dollars) that will make the biggest difference but his example of putting his money where his mouth is. In his Politico piece, he offers an incredibly personal description of his epiphany and his decision to dedicate himself to tackling global warming on behalf of his children’s generation. Steyer has done something that’s still far too unusual: He’s admitting he was wrong on climate change and that he wants to rectify it. It’s that kind of honesty that we’ll all need to embrace if we’re to face the steep climb of remaking the global economy into one that isn’t tied to carbon with a full head of steam (or, electrons, as the case may be).
Meanwhile, in a world where money defines political clout, most billionaires aren’t as eager to ruffle the status quo. The few who are stand out. Last month, Steyer joined billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and near-billionaire former Goldman Sachs CEO and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to release a high-profile report on the economic effects of climate change in the United States. That report called for the leaders of the business community to address the growing specter of climate change out of their own self-interest: to avoid economic risk. With their billions in annual revenue as part of the fossil fuel industry, the Koch brothers may want to take note……….http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/07/tom_steyer_koch_brothers_billionaires_are_battling_over_climate_change.html
Computer Models Show What Exactly Would Happen To Earth After A Nuclear War Let’s take a detailed look at some of these super-fun conclusions, shall we? Francie Diep Australian Popular Science
Jul 19 2014 You’ve seen what a nuclear winter looks like, as imagined by filmmakers and novelists. Now you can take a look at what scientists have to say. In a new study, a team of four U.S. atmospheric and environmental scientists modeled what would happen after a “limited, regional nuclear war.” To inexpert ears, the consequences sound pretty subtle—two or three degrees of global cooling, a nine percent reduction in yearly rainfall. Still, such changes could be enough to trigger crop failures and famines. After all, these would be cooler temperatures than the Earth has seen in 1,000 years.
First, what happened?
The team imagines 100 nuclear warheads, each about the size of the atomic bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima, detonate over the Indian subcontinent. The team members are imagining an India-Pakistan nuclear war. It seems unfair to single out these nations, but I guess they’re the poster children because they have relatively small nuclear stockpiles compared to countries such as the U.S., Russia and China. The idea is, If these lightweights can do this to Earth, imagine what the bigwigs can do.
After the Indian-Pakistani nuclear exchange…
- Five megatons of black carbon enter the atmosphere immediately. Black carbon comes from burned stuff and it absorbs heat from the sun before it can reach the Earth. Some black carbon does eventually falls back to Earth in rain…………..
Australia’s drought – yes, it’s climate change http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2483139/australias_drought_yes_its_climate_change.html Tim Radford 18th July 2014 Australia’s prime minister thinks climate change is ‘crap’ and has just abolished his country’s carbon-pricing system. But scientists say that it’s rising levels of CO2 that are leaving the south of the country parched and sweltering – and it’s only going to get worse.
American scientists have just confirmed that parts of Australia are being slowly parched because of greenhouse gas emissions.
A report in Nature Geoscience shows that the long-term decline in rainfall over south and south-west Australia is a consequence of fossil fuel burning and depletion of the ozone layer by human activity. Such a finding is significant for two reasons. One remains contentious: it is one thing to make generalised predictions about the consequences overall of greenhouse gas levels, but it is quite another to pin a measured regional climatic shift directly on human causes, rather than some possible as-yet-unidentified natural cycle of climatic change.
The other is contentiously political.
Bush fires and catastrophic flooding
Tom Delworth, a research scientist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, reports in Nature Geoscience that he and a colleague conducted a series of long-term climate simulations to study changes in rainfall across the globe.
One striking pattern of change emerged in Australia, where winter and autumn rainfall patterns are increasingly a cause of distress for farmers and growers in two states.
The simulation showed that the decline in rainfall was primarily a response to man-made increases in greenhouse gases, as well as to a thinning of the stratospheric ozone layer in response to emissions of destructive gases by human sources.
The computer simulations tested a series of possible causes for this decline, such as volcanic eruptions and changes in solar radiation. But the only cause that made sense of the observed data was the greenhouse explanation.
It began in 1970, and it hasn’t stopped yet
South Australia has never been conspicuously lush and wet, but decline in precipitation set in around 1970, and this decline has increased in the last four decades.
The simulations predict that the decline will go on, and that average rainfall will drop by 40% over south-west Australia later this century.
Dr Delworth described his model as “a major step forward in our effort to improve the prediction of regional climate change”.
In May, scientists proposed that greenhouse gas emissions were responsible for a change in Southern Ocean wind patterns, which in turn resets the thermostat for the world’s largest island.
Australian scientists report in Geophysical Research Letters that they, too, have been using climate models to examine Antarctic wind patterns and their possible consequences for the rest of the planet.
Another consequence: accelerated ice sheet melt
“When we included projected Antarctic wind shifts in a detailed global ocean model, we found water up to 4°C warmer than current temperatures rose up to meet the base of the Antarctic ice shelves”, said Paul Spence, a researcher at Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science. This temperature rise is twice previous estimates.
“This relatively warm water provides a huge reservoir of melt potential right near the grounding lines of ice shelves around Antarctica. It could lead to a massive increase in the rate of ice sheet melt, with direct consequences for global sea level rise.”
Since the West Antarctic ice sheet holds enough water to raise sea levels by 3.3 metres, the consequences would indeed be considerable.
“When we first saw the results it was quite a shock”, said Dr Spence. “It was one of the few cases where I hoped the science was wrong.”
History will condemn climate change denialists Robert Manne theguardian.com, Wednesday 16 July 2014 Tony Abbott was elected by the right-wing of his party for a single purpose: to destroy any meaningful action in Australia against the threat of climate change
The argument for radical action on climate change– which Australia will soon at least temporarily reject with the shameful decision to repeal the carbon tax – is embarrassingly simple.
For the past 200 years, western culture has granted science pre-eminent cultural authority. A quarter century ago, a consensus formed among contemporary scientists specialising in the study of the climate. The consensus comprised one principal idea: the primary source of energy on which industrial civilisation relied – the burning of fossil fuels – was dangerously increasing the temperature of the earth.
Thousands upon thousands of scientific studies have been conducted estimating the impact of this warming. Hundreds of outstanding books have been published making the conclusions of the scientists available to the general public. To anyone willing to listen, these scientists have explained that unless human beings derive their energy from sources other than fossil fuels, the future that we face over the next decades and centuries involves the rendering of large parts of the earth uninhabitable to humans and other species – through the melting of the ice caps and glaciers and thus steadily rising sea levels, the acidification of the oceans, the destruction of forests and coral reefs, and the increase in the prevalence and intensity of famines, insect-borne diseases, droughts, bush fires, floods, hurricanes and heat-waves.
Climate scientists also explained that radical action on climate change could not be delayed. …….
As global emissions increased, something surpassingly strange occurred in the realm of politics in the US – something without parallel in the history of the post-Enlightenment west since the Darwinian controversy. The emergence of a broad-based movement of thought challenging the sovereignty of science in one specialised field.
Anti-science climate change denialism began with money cynically and strategically supplied by the massive American fossil fuel corporations. From there it spread to the powerful US network of neo-liberal “think-tanks” whose purpose was to produce the ideas helping to make the world safe for the wealthiest members of the society – the so-called 1%. And from the think-tanks climate change denialism steadily spread downwards to American society more generally, thanks to rabid right wing media like Fox News, until it was powerful enough to capture, almost in its entirety, one of America’s traditional political parties, the republicans.
As a consequence of the spread of climate change denialism, tens of millions of American citizens now base their opinions on the kind of pseudo-knowledge manufactured by the climate change denialist blogs and disseminated daily by the right-wing media. They have come to treat the questions of whether the earth is warming, and if so why, as political matters concerning which those without any genuine scientific understanding or training are as qualified to form an opinion as professors who have devoted their lives to one of the disciplines of climate science.
Climate change denialism soon spread beyond the US, especially to the countries of the English-speaking world. As Australia is a country extremely sensitive to the cultural winds blowing in from the US, reliant on the export and consumption of coal, and where the denialist Murdoch newspapers exercise enormous unhealthy influence, it is hardly surprising that over the past decade climate change denialism quickly sunk deep roots here.,,,,,
The right-wing denialists, now dominant within the Coalition, often call themselves conservatives. They are not. At the heart of true conservatism is the belief that each new generation forms the vital bridge between past and future, and is charged with the responsibility of passing the earth and its cultural treasures to their children and grandchildren in sound order. History will condemn the climate change denialists, here and elsewhere, for their contribution to the coming catastrophe that their cupidity, their arrogance, their myopia and their selfishness have bequeathed to the young and the generations still unborn. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/16/history-will-condemn-climate-change-denialists
Coal Mine’s Rejection on Global-Warming Grounds Has Major Implications http://insideclimatenews.org/carbon-copy/20140701/coal-mines-rejection-global-warming-grounds-has-major-implications If the judge’s reasoning holds up in other cases it could undermine the rationales for much bigger projects, such as the Keystone XL pipeline.
U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Johnson’s decision halts exploration proposed by Arch Coal that would have bulldozed six miles of roads on 1,700 untrammeled acres of public land.
When the agencies touted the supposed economic benefits of expanded coal mining in the Sunset Roadless Area, Johnson ruled, they should also have considered any global-warming costs.
The decision was a significant judicial endorsement of a policy tool known as the “social cost of carbon,” which economists and climate scientist use to put a price in today’s dollars on the damages from drought, flood, storm, fire, disease and so forth caused by future global warming due to our emissions from burning fossil fuels.
“It is arbitrary to offer detailed projections of a project’s upside while omitting a feasible projection of the project’s costs,” Johnson decreed.
The Obama administration has increasingly used the social-cost figure to help decide whether restraints on carbon dioxide emissions are worthwhile. Industry groups and their allies in Congress have sought to limit its use. Environmentalists call it a useful device for making clear that there are high costs as well as benefits to burning fossil fuels.
“This decision means that these agencies can’t bury their heads in the sand when confronting the very real impacts of climate change,” said Ted Zukoski, an attorney with Earthjustice, which represented conservationists who sued to block the mining expansion. f the judge’s reasoning holds up in other challenges to agency decisions, it could undermine the rationales for much bigger projects, such as the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. In its environmental review of the KXL, the State Department ignored repeated requests by the Environmental Protection Agency to estimate the social cost of carbon from burning the unusually dirty fuel the pipeline would deliver from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
In the Colorado case, the judge wrote, “by deciding not to quantify the costs at all, the agencies effectively zeroed out the cost.”
That violated a key precept of the National Environmental Policy Act, the judge said, which requires a “hard look” at all the environmental costs of government decisions.
That this can be difficult or contentious does not allow agencies “completely to ignore a tool in which an interagency group of experts invested time and expertise,” he wrote. “Common sense tells me that quantifying the effect of greenhouse gases in dollar terms is difficult at best. The critical importance of the subject, however, tells me that a ‘hard look’ has to include a ‘hard look’ at whether this tool, however imprecise it might be, would contribute to a more informed assessment of the impacts than if it were simply ignored.”
But – let’s pretend that nuclear reactors really could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
TIME: To do that, 1500 one thousand megawatt-electric new reactors would be needed within a few yeas to displace a significant amount of carbon-emitting fossil generation
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology Study on “The Future of Nuclear Power” projected that a global growth scenario for as many as 1500 one thousand megawatt-electric new reactors would be needed to displace a significant amount of carbon-emitting fossil generation. Average 115 built per year would reduce our CO2 use by only 16%.
When we talk about Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – that 1500 reactors needed translates to millions, (and these SMRs are already shown to be more costly than large ones,)
COSTS: historically and now, the costs of the nuclear industry are staggering. Cost estimates have increased in the past decade from $1,000 to $7,000 per kW installed. And that’s before additional costs – e.g new safety measures, decommissioning are added. U.S. Vogtle project originally budgeted at $660 million, by 2013 cost $9 billion. Rating agencies consider nuclear investment risky and the abandoning of nuclear projects explicitly “credit positive”.
Meanwhile – if the nuclear “climate cure” were to be pursued, the enormous costs and efforts involved would take away from the clean, fast, and ever cheaper solutions of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
These and other risks from climate change are spelled out in a new bipartisan report that attempts to tally the potential toll on the economy and to push what has been a highly politicised issue into corporate boardrooms for serious consideration.
The report, titled “Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change to the United States,” comes from a coalition of high-powered business and political figures, including three former Treasury secretaries.
The money men who backed the project are Risky Business Project co-chairs Henry M. Paulson Jr., Treasury secretary under President George W. Bush; former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; and Thomas F. Steyer, a hedge fund manager and big Democratic donor. The trio commissioned the Rhodium Group, an economic research firm, to study the economic impact of global warming.
A key conclusion of the report is that the risks vary, sometimes widely, by region and industry sector. By 2050, it warns, Americans could face double or triple the number of extremely hot days (temperatures exceeding 35 degrees celsius) compared with the annual average in the past 30 years.
The study estimates that communities in the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf Coast could see storm-related property damage jump by as much as $US3.5 billion ($3.74 billion) a year by 2030 and possibly more than double that given likely hurricane conditions.
USA Tea Party types created Tony Abbott the world’s new warrior on behalf of the fossil fuel industries
How Rupert Murdoch created the world’s newest climate change villain, Salon Australia was once a leader on climate action. Thanks to American conservative powerhouses, that’s no longer true ALEXANDER WHITE 21 June 14, Australia, the sunburned country, is uniquely vulnerable to the dangers and risks of global warming. Whether it is the severe effects of flooding, unseasonal heat waves, devastating bush fires or decade-long droughts, Australia’s people, economy and natural environment have all keenly felt the impact of extreme weather and climate change.
Australia’s national scientific organizations have been raising the alarm for more than a decade, and the previous government accepted that scientific consensus and enacted a cap-and-trade scheme in 2012. But after a divisive election last year — one that saw native-born Rupert Murdoch exercise his considerable influence in Australian media markets to disastrous effect — the country is now governed by a deeply unpopular Liberal-National government, crafted in the image of the most climate-denying elements of the Tea Party. And its position on climate change has significant impacts on global efforts to reduce carbon emissions: Australia is not only the chair of the G-20 group of nations, but also holds a place on the U.N. Security Council.
How the insurance industry sees climate change, LA Times, EUGENE LINDEN 16 June 14 Twenty years ago, I interviewed Frank Nutter, then and now president of the Reinsurance Assn. of America, on the threat climate change posed to the $2-trillion-plus global property and casualty insurance industry.
“It is clear,” he said back then, “that global warming could bankrupt the industry.”
But in the two decades since, the industry mostly limited itself to talk, sponsoring innumerable reports on the threat. Now a major insurance company has moved to protect itself, and it may be the most important milestone yet in the struggle to contend with global warming. FOR THE RECORD
The Op-Ed said Farmers is owned by Zurich Group. It is not; Zurich Group owns Farmers Management Co., which provides administrative oversight to Farmers……….
While Floridians wait for the next big storm, sea levels — the most obvious worldwide signal of global warming — continue their inexorable rise. Rising waters have already created Venice-like conditions in the Miami area.
All the nation’s taxpayers have assumed this risk as insurers routinely exclude flood and storm surge damage from policies. This forces homeowners to seek coverage with the National Flood Insurance Program, a tax-dollar backed program also forced by political pressure to under-price its coverage.
Between the state program and federal flood insurance, the American middle class has been given the burden of insuring and subsidizing the affluent. Let’s call it climate change socialism for the rich.
After news of the Farmers’ lawsuit broke, I spoke again with Nutter. He said he too was surprised at how long it has taken for the risk of climate change to percolate through the insurance community. He also pointed out that Farmers is owned by the Zurich Group, which is noteworthy because European insurers, with global reach and exposure, tend to be more attentive to the risks of climate change than domestic insurers.
Is it possible that U.S. insurers are also affected by climate-change deniers? A number of recent studies by the Insurance Information Institute have singled out Florida as having the most exposure to the combined impacts of climate change, but its governor, Rick Scott, and Sen. Marco Rubio are on record dismissing the threat.
And yet everyone can see that sea levels are rising. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine told the New York Times last month, “We are past the point of debating climate change.”
Now, as insurers begin to shift the costs of that reality through rate increases, exclusions, lawsuits and market retreat, consumers can ask such politicians, “Why, if climate change is a hoax, are we paying for it?”http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-linden-insurance-climate-change-20140617-story.html
STUDY: US Reporters Use More Weasel Words in Covering Climate Change, Mother Jones,A new paper finds that our journalists are constantly hedging on a scientifically settled issue—considerably more so than reporters in Spain.By Chris Mooney Jun. 3, 2014 It’s no secret that different countries have different densities, so to speak, of global warming denial. In particular, English-language speaking nations like the US and the UK tend to be relative denialist hotbeds, and their media include a considerable amount of global warming skepticism. By contrast, media researchers have found that in Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico and Chile, as well as in European nations, journalists tend to cast much less doubt on climate research.
And now, a new paper captures the US media’s relative discomfort with climate science in a new way: By comparing the preponderance of words that suggest scientific uncertainty about climate change in two US newspapers, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, with the concentration in two Spanish ones, El País and El Mundo. The study, by Adriana Bailey and two colleagues at the University of Colorado-Boulder, is just out in the journal Environmental Communication. It finds a considerably greater concentration of such uncertainty-evoking words in the US papers in their 2001 and 2007 coverage of two newly released reports from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The study contained several other troubling findings as well. As suggested by the figure at right, the total “epistemic density” of US articles in actually increased from 2001 to 2007, even as scientific uncertainty about climate science declined. “Contrary to expectation, we saw increases in hedging, or constant amounts of hedging, in all four papers we analyzed,” says Bailey.
Here’s why that’s so odd. This was, after all, the period in which the IPCC went from saying it is “likely” that humans are driving global warming, to saying it is “very likely.” Yet hedging was more prevalent in the latter time period, not less. What’s more, it looks as though the increase in hedging words in US papers from 2001 to 2007 occurred solely at the New York Times—where it grew from 141 words in 10,000 to 297 in 10,000—even as the Wall Street Journal did not show a change over time (236 words versus 235 words per 10,000). (The study did not examine how papers covered the 2013 release of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, which jacked up the scientific certainty even further.)
EPA Proposes New Power Generation Emissions Rules http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4329 The USA’s Environmental Protection Agency has proposed regulations with a goal of slashing carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal fired power plants by as much as 30 percent by 2030.
The USA’s power generation sector is the nation’s biggest source of carbon emissions; representing around 38 percent of the total load.
According to the EPA, the average age of the nation’s coal plants is 42 years. Under the EPA’s proposal, which was directed by President Barack Obama; emission targets for power plants could be met in a few different ways – through power plant upgrades, changing from using coal as a fuel to natural gas, enhancing energy efficiency or increasing uptake of renewable energy.
Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said the announcement marked a defining moment in American history.
“As a nation, we’re poised to finally turn the page from sooty smokestacks to sunnier skies,” he said.
Mr. Resch says the nation’s solar industry is ready to help states meet the challenge.
“Simply put, solar can be a real game-changer for regulators looking to meet the changing needs of their state. Why? Because solar energy is reliable, cost competitive, environmentally friendly and easily scalable, fitting the needs of any state’s Section 111 (d) compliance plan.”
As we reported earlier, cumulative operating solar PV capacity reached 13,395 MW at the end of Q1 2014 in the USA and 74% of new electricity generation capacity in the USA added during the period was solar.
“Solar is now the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the United States, employing 143,000 Americans and accounting for nearly 30 percent of all new electric generation capacity installed in 2013 – second only to natural gas. All totalled, solar is generating enough clean, reliable and affordable electricity to power 3 million homes,” said Mr. Resch.
The EPA says the proposed regulations will result in the avoidance of up to 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed work or school days – and this will provide up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits. It also states the efforts will reduce electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system.
With the renewable energy revolution gaining pace and spurred on by initiatives such as the EPA proposes, it seems investing in coal is becoming an increasingly risky affair.
• Proposed regulations could cut carbon pollution by up to 25%
• President still faces potential opposition from Republicans
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent theguardian.com, Friday 30 May 2014 President Barack Obama will unveil a plan on Monday that will cut carbon pollution from power plants and promote cap-and-trade, undertaking the most significant action on climate change in American history.
The proposed regulations Obama will launch at the White House on Monday could cut carbon pollution by as much as 25% from about 1,600 power plants in operation today, according to those claiming familiarity with the plan.
Power plants are the country’s single biggest source of carbon pollution – responsible for up to 40% of the country’s emissions.
The rules, which were drafted by the Environmental Protection Agency and are under review by the White House, are expected to do more than Obama, or any other president, has done so far to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions responsible for climate change.
They will put America on course to meet its international climate goal, and put US diplomats in a better position to leverage climate commitments from big polluters such as China and India, Obama said in a speech to West Point graduates this week.
“I intend to make sure America is out front in a global framework to preserve our planet,” he said. “American influence is always stronger when we lead by example. We can not exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everyone else.”
It won’t be without a fight. Obama went on in his remarks at West Point to take a shot at Republicans who deny climate change is occurring, and the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, on Thursday accused critics of making “doomsday claims” about the costs of cutting carbon…….
Obama had originally hoped to cut carbon pollution by moving a bill through Congress. Four years after that effort fell apart, campaigners say the EPA rules could deliver significant emissions cuts – near the 17% Obama proposed at the Copenhagen climate summit – and the cap-and-trade programmes that were so reviled by Republicans.
The EPA, using its authority under the Clean Air Act, proposed the first rule phase, covering future power plants, last September.
In this the more politically contentious phase of the plan, it is widely believed the EPA will depart from the “inside the fence-line” convention of earlier environmental regulations for mercury and other pollutants, which focused on emissions-scrubbing on specific power plants.
The EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, is seeking steep reductions – as much as 25% – but she has hinted repeatedly that she will allow states latitude in how they reach those targets.
The plan would allow electricity companies to reduce pollution by shutting down the oldest and most polluting coal plants. They can install carbon-sucking retrofits. They can expand wind and solar energy, upgrade the electrical grid, encourage customers to update to more efficient heating and cooling systems, or more efficient appliances and lightbulbs.
“They have recognised huge emissions reductions opportunities are often cheaper than trying to do it all inside the plant,” said David Doniger, who heads the climate programme at the NRDC. “If you want to get substantial reductions and you want to get it economically, you have to take into account a system-wide approach.”…….http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/may/29/obama-unveil-historic-climate-plan-carbon-pollution
Warm Pacific may cause US winter freeze, study finds SMH, 24 May 14 Unusually warm western Pacific waters linked to global warming may be the paradoxical cause of a bone-chilling winter in parts of the United States this year, a scientific study said on Thursday.
The theory contrasts with other experts’ views, including that the freeze was simply a freak natural event or that it was linked to a thawing of the Arctic in recent years that sent a blast of cold air south.
“People’s reaction when they sit under 10 feet of snow is to say ‘this cannot be man-made climate change’,” said Professor Tim Palmer of Oxford University, who published his research in the journal Science. “But there is a plausible link,” he told Reuters.
He said a strengthening of trade winds had led to a build-up of warm water in the western tropical Pacific, aggravated in recent years by global warming from man-made emissions of greenhouse gases.
Thunderstorms linked to the warmth in turn disrupted the jetstream, high altitude winds which flow in vast meandering loops around the northern hemisphere, and sucked cold air from the Arctic. Detroit, for instance, suffered record snows and the coldest January since 1977.
Pinpointing the causes of the US chill, when climate change should make cold winters less likely, would help companies, farmers, city planners or even home owners wondering if they should invest in extra roof insulation.
Two other experts were unconvinced by Palmer’s study………
So far there is limited understanding of how weather in one part of the world can affect another.
Weather experts agree, however, that the El Nino weather phenomenon that mainly cools the eastern Pacific Ocean every few years can cause droughts or downpours on other continents.
Palmer told Reuters that his theory, building on a 1980s study he wrote suggesting a link between a chill 1976-77 US winter and a warm Pacific, could be tested because there are signs that an El Nino will form later this year.
An El Nino would also cool the western Pacific and that meant a cold US winter was less likely in 2014-15, he said.
A U.N. panel of climate scientists says it is at least 95 per cent probable that human activities, led by burning fossil fuels, are the main cause of warming since the 1950s, and will cause more heatwaves, floods and rising sea levels. http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/warm-pacific-may-cause-us-winter-freeze-study-finds-20140523-zrlnj.html#ixzz32fmyw5TO
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