What science can tell us about the links between global warming and massive heat waves, WP, By Chris Mooney July 21 The United States is witnessing a massive, dangerous heat wave, as a huge system of high pressure covers the central part of the country. It’s a big enough deal that yesterday President Obama even tweeted about it, including a map showing the maximum heat index in some parts of the Midwest and Southeast reaching 110 or 115 degrees on Saturday.
Here in Washington, temperatures could break 100 degrees Friday or over the weekend.
This will, inevitably, lead to much talk of climate change in the coming days. So it’s important to separate the scientific wheat from the chaff and figure out what science can, and can’t, reliably say about the link between an event like this and a warming planet — especially in a year that, on a global scale, has shattered past temperature records for six out of the last six months.
And the gist is that when it comes to extreme heat waves in general — heat waves that appear out of the norm in some way, for instance in their intensity, frequency, or duration — while scientists never say individual events are “caused” by climate change, they are getting less and less circumspect about making some connection….
[It’s official: We can now say global warming made some weather events worse]……we’ve definitely already had changes in not only “long-term mean conditions,” but in heat waves themselves. The U.S. National Climate Assessment found that U.S. heat waves have already “become more frequent and intense,” that the U.S. is shattering high temperature records far more frequently than it is shattering low temperature records (just as you’d expect), and that it is seeing correspondingly fewer cold spells.
As for future projections, meanwhile, the assessment added that “Climate models project that the same summertime temperatures that ranked among the hottest 5% in 1950-1979 will occur at least 70% of the time by 2035-2064 in the U.S. if global emissions of heat-trapping gases continue to grow.”…..
“With every heat wave, probably the number one question is, is it climate change, or is it not? Well the answer is, it’s both,” said Texas Tech University climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe on a press call Thursday. “We get heat waves naturally, but climate change is amping them up, it’s giving them that extra energy, to make them even more serious, and have even greater impacts.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/07/21/what-science-can-tell-us-about-the-links-between-global-warming-and-massive-heat-waves/?wpisrc=nl_green&wpmm=1
Russian wildfires put key climate change resource at risk, Japan Times, 22 July 16 AFP-JIJI, REUTERS JUL 22, 2016 MOSCOW – Russia’s practice of leaving massive wildfires to burn out of control in sprawling stretches of Siberia puts at risk a key global resource for absorbing climate-warming emissions: its trees.
The blazes are consuming millions of hectares of pristine Boreal forests in Russia, which are second only to the world’s tropical jungles in capturing planet-warming carbon emissions.
At the same time, the drier and harsher conditions associated with a warmer climate — June was the hottest ever recorded — are contributing to the fires becoming ever bigger and more common.
The World Meteorological Organization said Thursday that not only is the Earth on track for its hottest year on record, it is warming at a faster rate than expected.
Temperatures for the first six months of the year, coupled with an early and fast Arctic sea ice melt and “new highs” in heat-trapping carbon dioxide levels, point to quickening climate change, it said.
Russia’s forests annually absorb a net 500 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere, said Anatoly Shvidenko, who spent decades in the Soviet forestry system and served as an expert for the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC).
That figure is the equivalent to the emissions put off over a year by 534 coal-burning power plants.
With expected climate change and current levels of forest protection in Russia, “forest fire danger and carbon emissions will double or triple by the end of the century,” added Shvidenko, saying authorities pay less attention to the problem now than in the 1990s or the Soviet era.
The thinning forests are most evident in northern Siberia, where fires can ravage plant life and shallow roots, making it impossible for trees to regrow for centuries.
Russian forest scientists call the process “green desertification,” said Shvidenko……
Scientists have been sounding the alarm over the fate of the planet’s boreal forests, also called taiga, which wrap around the northern hemisphere covering vast areas mainly in Canada and Russia, where they constitute 90 percent of all forest cover.
Wildfires in Canada this year have already amounted to the costliest disaster in the country’s history by causing $2.75 billion in damage, displacing about 100,000 people and sweeping through more than a million acres (405,000 hectares) of forest.
In Russia, 43 million hectares of forest managed by the national forest agency was lost between 2000 and 2011, mostly in the Far North, Shvidenko said, an area almost the size of Iraq.
This, combined with growing wildfires, could alter the role of Russia’s forests as a carbon sink, currently second only to the world’s tropical forests…….http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/07/22/world/science-health-world/russian-wildfires-put-key-climate-change-resource-risk/#.V5LjXdJ97Gi
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Hotter Temperatures Threaten Southeast Asian Economies: Chart http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-19/too-hot-to-work, Jessica Shankleman July 19, 2016 Rising global temperatures may cost global economies more than $2 trillion by 2030, restricting working hours in some of the poorest parts of the world, according to United Nations research published Tuesday. As many as 43 countries, especially those in Southeast Asia, will experience declines in their economies because of heat stress, says Tord Kjellstrom, a director at the Health and Environment International Trust, based in Nelson, New Zealand.“With heat stress, you cannot keep up the same intensity of work, and we’ll see reduced speed of work and more rest in labor-intensive industries,” he said.
Déjà vu: as with tobacco, the climate wars are going to court Skeptical Science
18 July 2016 by dana1981, JohnMashey Investigative journalism has uncovered a “web of denial” in which polluting industries pay “independent” groups to disseminate misinformation to the public and policymakers. The same groups and tactics were employed first by the tobacco industry, then fossil fuel companies. Big Tobacco has been to court and lost; now it’s Big Oil’s turn. Political leaders are choosing sides in this war.
Elizabeth Warren Rips Think Tanks & Policy Groups For Fake Climate Change Research
Research by Inside Climate News revealed that Exxon did top notch climate science research in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which revealed the dangers its products posed via climate change. Soon thereafter, Exxon launched misinformation campaigns by funding “think tanks” and front groups to manufacture doubt about climate science and the expert consensus on human-caused global warming.Exxon wasn’t alone. Koch Industries, Peabody Energy, and other fossil companies have similarly funneled vast sums of money to these groups. Last week, Senate Democrats, including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and vice presidential contenders Elizabeth Warren and Al Franken signed a Resolution expressing congressional disapproval of the fossil fuel industry’s misinformation campaign.19 Senate Democrats also took to the floor of the Senate to speak out against the web of denial, with repeated references to the tobacco/fossil connections.
Senator Elizabeth Warren speaking about the web of denial on the Senate floor.
The climate battle goes to court
The fossil fuel industry has already put forth its best scientific argument in court,and lost. Now 17 state attorneys general, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, have formed a coalition to investigate ExxonMobil’s activities. As Schneiderman put it:
The First Amendment, ladies and gentlemen, does not give you the right to commit fraud
However, Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Science Committee, along with his Republican colleagues last week issued subpoenas to Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, accusing them of violating Exxon’s First Amendment rights. As Smith claimed:
The Committee has a responsibility to protect First Amendment rights of companies, academic institutions, scientists, and nonprofit organizations. That is why the Committee is obligated to ask for information from the attorneys general and others.
In this battle of First Amendment claims, Big Oil & Coal use the same argument as Big Tobacco, who lost.
The fossil fuel industry copied the tobacco playbook
Last century, we saw a similar battle with tobacco. By the 1950s, the tobacco industry knew that its products caused cancer and other diseases. They still marketed their harmful products to children, and soon created pseudo-academic institutes like the Council for Tobacco Research to cast doubt on smoking’s damage. However, the institutes’ connections to the tobacco industry were too obvious; they wanted “independent” voices.In the 1980s the Koch brothers started creating a vast web of “think tanks” that could simulate credible independence, funded via dark money, often tax-exempt. Big Tobacco eagerly joined, to “quarterback behind the scenes.” They contributed great marketing talent, some later hired by Kochs.As extensively documented at DeSmogBlog, Big Tobacco has long funded science-denying think tanks, such as the Heartland Institute, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, George Marshall Institute, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and Manhattan Institute, to name a few. ExxonMobil later funded these same groups.The fossil fuel industry has adopted the tobacco industry’s playbook, and shared the same web of denial. The Senate Resolution made this point, calling out both the tobacco and fossil fuel industries for having:
(A) developed a sophisticated and deceitful campaign that funded think tanks and front groups, and paid public relations firms to deny, counter, andobfuscate peer-reviewed science; and(B) used that misinformation campaign to mislead the public and cast doubt in order to protect their financial interest
Their tactics have grown more sophisticated, for example using money anonymizers like Donors Trust to ensure their “dark money” becomes even harder to trace.
The tobacco industry lost in court
In 1999, the US Justice Department filed a civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) lawsuit against the major tobacco companies and their associated industry groups. In 2006, US District Court Judge Gladys Kessler ruledthat the tobacco industry’s campaign to “maximize industry profits by preserving and expanding the market for cigarettes through a scheme to deceive the public” about the health hazards of smoking amounted to a racketeering enterprise. She wrote a clear statement, appealed fruitlessly by tobacco companies:
The First Amendment Does Not Protect Defendants’ False and Misleading Public Statements
The attorneys general investigating Exxon have a strong case that the fossil fuel industry is similarly guilty of racketeering by deceiving the public in order to maximize profits. Exxon and other fossil fuel companies knew of the dangers of carbon pollution more than three decades ago, and yet funneled tens of millions of dollars to think tanks that disseminate misinformation to try to convince the public and policymakers otherwise.Sharon Eubanks led the Justice Department trial team, as documented in the book Bad Acts: The Racketeering Case Against the Tobacco Industry and was a key contributor to the report Establishing Accountability for Climate Change Damages. Of the Exxon case, she said:
I think a RICO action is plausible and should be consideredThe First Amendment defense of the fossil fuel industry by House Republicans simply doesn’t hold water. Defending the fossil fuel industry today is no different than defending the tobacco industry in the 1990s, as did Lamar Smith’s colleague“Smokey Joe” Barton (R-TX).Unsurprisingly, oil & gas is the top industry donor to Lamar Smith. History books will reflect poorly on those who sold out millions of peoples’ health for personal gain or industry profits, and on those who worked to destabilize the climate on which future generations will rely for the sake of their own political power orExxonMobil’s record profits. http://www.skepticalscience.com/deja-vu-climate-wars-going-to-court-like-tobacco.html
Rising temperatures caused by climate change may cost the world economy over $US2 trillion ($A2.63 trillion) in lost productivity by 2030 as hot weather makes it unbearable to work in some parts of the world, according to UN research.
It showed that in Southeast Asia alone, up to 20 per cent of annual work hours may already be lost in jobs with exposure to extreme heat with the figures set to double by 2050 as the effects of climate change deepen.
Across the globe, 43 countries will see a fall in their gross domestic product (GDP) due to reduced productivity, the majority of them in Asia including Indonesia, Malaysia, China, India and Bangladesh, Tord Kjellstrom, a director at the New Zealand-based Health and Environment International Trust, said. Indonesia and Thailand could see their GDP reduced by six per cent in 2030, while in China GDP could be reduced by 0.8 per cent and in India by 3.2 per cent.
Kjellstrom authored one of six papers on the impact of climate change on health that were put together by the United Nations University’s International Institute for Global Health in Kuala Lumpur and published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health.
Kjellstrom warned that the lowest-paid workers – those in heavy labour, agricultural and manufacturing – were most at risk of exposure to extreme heat.
The other papers in the series showed around 2.1 million people worldwide died between 1980 and 2012 due to nearly 21,000 natural catastrophes such as floods, mudslides, extreme heat, drought, high winds or fires.
In Asia Pacific, 1.2 billon people have been affected by 1215 disasters – mostly floods, cyclones and landslides – since 2000.
The first three months of 2016 have broken temperature records and 2015 was the planet’s warmest year since records began in the 19th century.
UN criticises UK and Germany for betraying Paris climate deal
Climate change envoy singles out both countries for subsidising the fossil fuel industry and says the UK has lost its position as a climate leader, Guardian, Adam Vaughan, 18 July 16, Ban Ki-moon’s climate change envoy has accused the UK and Germany of backtracking on the spirit of the Paris climate deal by financing the fossil fuel industry through subsidies.
Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and UN special envoy on climate change and El Niño, said she had to speak out after Germany promised compensation for coal power and the UK provided tax breaks for oil and gas.
Governments in Paris last year not only pledged to phase out fossil fuels in the long term but to make flows of finance consistent with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
“They’ve [the British government] introduced new tax breaks for oil and gas in 2015 that will cost the UK taxpayer billions between 2015 and 2020, and at the same time they’ve cut support for renewables and for energy efficiency,” she told the Guardian…..
The criticism comes as Theresa May’s government has come under fire at home and abroad for its leadership on climate change after it abolished the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Senior figures such as the outgoing UN climate change chief have urged the UK not to abandon its climate commitments as it leaves the EU. “Let us remember that the Brexit vote was not about climate change,” said Christiana Figueres.
Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green party, said: “This damning indictment of the UK’s energy policy comes just days after our new prime minister scrapped the Department of Energy and Climate Change and appointed an environment secretary who has consistently voted against measures to tackle climate change.
“I urge Theresa May to listen carefully to Robinson’s remarks and start reversing the damaging policies put in place by her predecessor – like giving tax breaks to fossil fuel companies while cutting subsidies for renewables.”
Robinson said that while Germany had made some positive steps such as aiding developing countries on climate change, it was sending mixed messages.
Germany says its on track to end coal subsidies by 2018 but the German government is also introducing new mechanisms that provide payment to power companies for their ability to provide a constant supply of electricity, even if they are polluting forms, such as diesel and coal,” she said. She called on Germany to make a real commitment to get out of coal.
But she said her criticism was far from limited to the two countries. “We want all countries to end [fossil fuel] subsidies,” she said…..
The likely US Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, has said he would try to unpick the deal, but Robinson said if it was ratified by the US this year “unwinding it would be very prolonged and difficult. I sincerely hope we won’t be facing that problem.”
However Hillary Clinton would be good on climate because she had been pushed by Bernie Sanders to adopt an ambitious climate change platform, she said.
Robinson said she been to Ethiopia recently and seen firsthand the way manmade climate change was exacerbating natural climate phenomenons such as El Niño, which brings drought to some parts of the world, and flooding to others. “I saw so many malnourished children, and it’s not tolerable.”…….https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/18/un-criticises-uk-and-german-for-betraying-the-spirit-of-the-paris-climate-deal
The world is poised to take the strongest action of this year against climate change, WP, By Chris Mooney July 18 When the world moved to phase out ozone-destroying chlorofluorcarbons, or CFCs, it solved one enormous and urgent environmental problem — but it left behind another. CFCs were bad for the ozone layer and also caused a great deal of global warming to boot. But a key substitute — hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs — spare the ozone layer but are still powerful greenhouse warming agents.
That’s why diplomats and leading national ministers have assembled in Vienna this week for negotiations under the Montreal Protocol, the treaty that led to the phaseout of CFCs and is now aiming its sights at HFCs. If an amendment to the treaty can be adopted this year, advocates say, it could represent the single largest tangible piece of climate progress in all of 2016.
HFCs are used in refrigerants in car and home air conditioners, as well as in foams, solvents and other products. They are being used more and more — in large part because they are the heirs to the CFC phaseout — and when they get into the atmosphere, they are far more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the planet.
According to the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, which focuses on the issue, the “most abundant and fastest growing” of these gases, HFC-134a, remains in the atmosphere for 13.4 years (not nearly as long as carbon dioxide) but causes 1,300 times as much warming as carbon dioxide does over a span of 100 years. One recent study noted that by 2050, if nothing is done, HFC-134a could add 9 to 19 percent to the warming caused by carbon dioxide.
For the broader group of HFCs, one recent study found that HFC emissions as a whole grew from 198 million tons (as measured in carbon-dioxide equivalents) in 2007, to 275 million tons by 2012.
“The HFCs effect now is very small. The problem with the HFCs is it’s the fastest-growing greenhouse gas,” said Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “So by banning HFCs, you prevent another disaster downstream. It could be as high as half to one degree [Celsius] by the end of the century.”
Data like these explain why diplomats and leading national ministers have assembled in Vienna this week for negotiations under the Montreal Protocol, the treaty that led to the phaseout of CFCs and is now aiming its sights at HFCs. And signs look positive that a phase-down amendment could happen this year, giving a key boost to climate-change momentum, said Durwood Zaelke, head of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development……….
Granted, an amendment to phase out HFCs is not expected to be formally adopted this month in Vienna. Rather, that is more likely to occur at a second meeting, in October, in Kigali, Rwanda, meeting observers say.
If it is successful, then when the parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change meet in Marrakesh, Morocco, in November to start the process of putting the Paris agreement into action, they will be riding a wave of accomplishment and be able to think rather optimistically about the work before them. Doniger wrote recently that achieving an HFC phaseout would represent “the biggest climate protection achievement of 2016.”
“The ozone treaty has been effectively a climate treaty also,” he said in an interview. “So it can be another win for the climate from the treaty that saved the ozone layer.”
Read more at Energy & Environment:
The diversity of life across much of Earth has plunged below ‘safe’ levels https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/07/18/this-could-do-more-to-save-the-planet-this-year-than-any-other-action/
Climate change department closed by Theresa May in ‘plain stupid’ and ‘deeply worrying’
move Campaigners called for ‘urgent reassurance from the new government’ that the fight against climate change and pollution will not be ‘abandoned’ Independent Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent , 15 July 16 The decision to abolish the Department for Energy and Climate Change has been variously condemned as “plain stupid”, “deeply worrying” and “terrible” by politicians, campaigners and experts.
One of Theresa May’s first acts as Prime Minister was to move responsibility for climate change to a new Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
Only on Monday, Government advisers had warned of the need to take urgent action to prepare the UK for floods, droughts, heatwaves and food shortages caused by climate change.
The news came after the appointment of Andrea Leadsom – who revealed her first question to officials when she became Energy Minister last year was “Is climate change real? – was appointed as the new Environment Secretary……..
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas described the decision as “deeply worrying”.
“Climate change is the biggest challenge we face, and it must not be an afterthought for the Government,” she said.
“Dealing with climate change requires a dedicated Minister at the Cabinet table. To throw it into the basement of another Whitehall department, looks like a serious backwards step.”
She said she would work with any Minister “willing to take climate change seriously”, but added she would seek to hold Government to account for “any backpeddling on our climate change commitments”.
Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth, pointed out that a major report into the effects of climate change on Britain had made clear that it was already happening.
“This is shocking news. Less than a day into the job and it appears that the new Prime Minister has already downgraded action to tackle climate change, one of the biggest threats we face,” he said…….
A letter by DECC’s permanent secretary, Alex Chisholm, to staff in his department, which was leaked to Civil Service World, confirmed that its responsibilities were being transferred to the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, under its new Secretary, Greg Clark…….http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change-department-killed-off-by-theresa-may-in-plain-stupid-and-deeply-worrying-move-a7137166.html
Pacific atolls ‘could be underwater by 2050 Radio New Zealand Chris Bramwell, Deputy Political Editor – @chrisbramwell, 15 July 16 The government is being warned to prepare for an impending stream of refugees from the Pacific as low-lying atolls are swamped by sea-level rise over the coming decades.
Labour is also calling for the government to take a humanitarian approach to people from the region
who are overstayers in New Zealand.
United Nations warns if sea level rise continues at the current rate, the Pacific atolls of Kiribati and Tuvalu could be completely submerged within decades……
Labour’s Su’a William Sio said the people of the Pacific were fighting a losing battle. The government could take a more sympathetic approach to overstayers from Kiribati and Tuvalu and not send them back to islands already under pressure, he said.
“The main islands they’ve got issues not just with climate change, but with population growth and waste on both Tuvalu and Kiribati, so I think we’ve got to seriously look at what we do with that, and my view is that we need to adopt a humanitarian stance with the overstayers that are here.”
Climate change refugees might not be a serious issue now, but they would become one, he said.
“The overwhelming scientific evidence is telling us these islands will be underwater by 2050 or 2070, so we actually do need to have a strategic long term plan in preparation to help these islanders because we can’t just sit around once those islands are underwater.”…..http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/308703/pacific-atolls-could-be-underwater-by-2050
Government axes climate department By Paul RinconScience editor, BBC News website, 14 July 16, The government has axed the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) in a major departmental shake-up.
The brief will be folded into an expanded Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy under Greg Clark.
Ed Miliband, the former energy and climate secretary under Labour, called the move “plain stupid”.
It comes at a time when campaigners are urging the government to ratify the Paris climate change deal…….One of the most pressing items on the environment agenda is the ratification of the Paris climate deal, which was inked last year.
The climate “sceptic” group Global Warming Policy Forum has long demanded the demise of Decc, so alarm bells are ringing loudly for some green groups……
The Green Party and Friends of the Earth, for instance, see the move as potentially a major downgrade for climate as a government priority.
Decc has made the UK a world leader in climate policy, and scrapping the department removes the words “climate change” from the title of any department. Out of sight, out of mind, in the basement, perhaps…….http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-36788162
TIP proposal casts doubt on G20 climate pledge, leaked EU draft shows Draft proposal reveals new loopholes on a pledge to phase out fossil fuel subsidies within a decade, Guardian, Arthur Neslen, 13 July 16, Trade negotiators in Brussels are proposing new loopholes on a G20 pledge to phase out fossil fuel subsidies within a decade, in the latest leaked TTIP proposalsseen by the Guardian.
The EU’s draft text for a trade and sustainable development chapter also appears to draw an equivalence between the need to prevent trade distortions and the fight against climate change.
The leak will provide fresh ammunition to critics of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade deal, who fear that its provisions could undermine hard-won climate commitments.
One of these was a pledge in May to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 – which currently run at $10m (£7.5m) a minute – by G7 ministers at a summit in Japan……..https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/13/ttip-proposal-casts-doubt-on-g20-climate-pledge-leaked-eu-draft-shows
Researchers are increasingly concerned that the Amazon rain forest — the world’s largest tropical forest, a huge repository of carbon and a vital cycler of water into rainfall across much of South America — will soon burn in a way that has not been seen in many years.
The reason is the lingering effect of the recent El Nino event. Forecasts from NASA and the University of California-Irvine, and from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society suggest that because of how El Nino reduced precipitation in the region earlier this year, the Amazon is far drier than usual, and primed to burn once the dry season reaches its height this summer (the fire season runs from June through November with a September peak).
According to the NASA/U.C. Irvine forecast, the Amazon is currently “far drier than 2005 and 2010 — the last years when the region experienced drought.” The years 2005 and 2010 also saw major blazes in the Amazon.
Indeed, the NASA/U.C. Irvine researchers shared data suggesting that the storage of water in the Amazon in March of 2016, as measured by NASA’s twin GRACE satellites (which detect gravitational anomalies at the Earth’s surface), is far lower now than it was in March during these prior years.
“We have the possibility of killing hundreds of thousands of trees in the Amazon in 2016, if you let these fires start,” says Paulo Brando, an Amazon fire expert at the Woods Hole Research Center and Ipam (the Amazon Environmental Research Institute).
If these forecasts are verified, there will be a great deal at stake. It isn’t just that huge, dangerous clouds of smoke could reach major urban areas ranging from Manaus to Rio. It’s that the fires risk helping to tip the Amazon into a new state that scientists fear — one in which it will be drier, store less carbon, cycle less water and generate less rainfall.
That would be disastrous for the Earth’s climate overall. The Amazon alone stores an enormous amount of carbon, 120 billion tons worth. Put that stuff in the atmosphere and the result would be justly termed catastrophic………
It is important to note that so far, what we are looking at are bad fire forecasts for this summer in the Amazon — but not a catastrophe at this point. The forecasts may not be realized. (That happens!) And the forecasts could also drive at least some action in Brazil and other Amazon countries to take steps to prevent people from starting fires, blunting the potential consequences of drought.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that scientists continue to talk about the Amazon in the same way they talk about, say, West Antarctica or the overturning circulation of the Atlantic Ocean — as a delicate system that we could tip, with enormous consequences. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/07/12/the-ultimate-forest-fire-whatll-happen-when-the-amazon-burns/
US Senators detail a climate science “web of denial” but the impacts go well beyond their borders
Australians have been both helpers and victims of the fossil fuelled web of climate science denial being detailed in the U.S Senate, Guardian, Graham Readfearn, 12 July 16, By the middle of this week, about 20 Democratic Senators in the US will have stood up before their congress to talk about the fossil fuelled machinery of climate science denial.
The Senators are naming the fossil fuel funders, describing the machinery and calling out the characters that make up a “web of denial”.
“The web is so big, because it has so much to protect,” said the Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who bookended the first evening of speeches.
The senate heard how fossil fuel companies such as ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy and the billionaire oil brothers Charles and David Koch had funnelled millions into groups that had spread doubt about the causes of climate change.
In a resolution also being tabled, the upper house will be asked to acknowledge that the fossil fuel industry had done just what the tobacco industry had done – “developed a sophisticated and deceitful campaign that funded think tanks and front groups, and paid public relations firms to deny, counter, and obfuscate peer-reviewed research” and “used that misinformation campaign to mislead the public and cast doubt in order to protect their financial interest.”
Groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), the Heartland Institute, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and many, many others are under scrutiny for the way they have attacked the science linking fossil fuel burning to climate change while accepting cash from fossil fuel interests.
Whitehouse also took time to describe the large body of work in peer-reviewed journals that have examined the funding, the networks and the tactics of organised climate science denial. Climate science denial is itself a live area of academic research.
But the impact of climate science denial – the decades of policy delays, the confusion among the general public and the deliberate politicization of the science – does not stop at the US border. Continue reading
We just broke the record for hottest year, nine straight times http://www.skepticalscience.com/broke-hottest-year-record-9-straight-times.html 11 July 2016 by dana1981
2014 and 2015 each set the record for hottest calendar year since we began measuringsurface temperatures over 150 years ago, and 2016 is almost certain to break the record once again. It will be without precedent: the first time that we’ve seen three consecutive record-breaking hot years.
But it’s just happenstance that the calendar year begins in January, and so it’s also informative to compare all yearlong periods. In doing so, it becomes clear that we’re living in astonishingly hot times.
June 2015 through May 2016 was the hottest 12-month period on record. That was also true of May 2015 through April 2016, and the 12 months ending in March 2016. In fact, it’s true for every 12 months going all the way back to the period ending in September 2015, according to global surface temperature data compiled by Kevin Cowtan and Robert Way. We just set the record for hottest year in each of the past 9 months.
These record temperatures have been assisted by a very strong El Niño event, which brought warm water to the ocean surface, temporarily warming global surface temperatures. But today’s temperatures are only record-setting because the El Niño was superimposed on top of human-caused global warming.
For comparison, 1997–1998 saw a very similar monster El Niño event. And similarly, the 12-month hottest temperature record was set in each month from October 1997 through August 1998. That was likewise a case of El Niño and global warming teaming up to shatter previous temperature records.
The difference is that while September 1997–August 1998 was the hottest 12-month period on record at the time; it’s now in 60th place. It’s been surpassed by yearlong periods in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015, and 2016. Many of those years weren’t even aided by El Niño events; unassisted global warming made them hotter than 1998.
Global surface temperatures are now more than 0.3°C hotter than they were in 1997–1998. That’s a remarkable rise over just 18 years, in comparison to the 1°C the Earth’s average surface temperatures have risen since the Industrial Revolution began.
This has all happened during a time when ‘no significant warming in 18 years’ has been one of the rallying cries of climate denial. In reality, when we compare apples to apples – El Niño years to El Niño years – we’ve seen more than 0.3°C global surface warming over the past 18 years, which is in line with climate model predictions. ‘Climate models are wrong’ has been another now-debunked climate denial rallying cry.
Now that the past year’s El Niño event is over, the streak of record-breaking yearlong periods appears to have ended. Nevertheless, 2016 remains on track to break that record for the hottest calendar year, for an unprecedented third consecutive year, following record years in 2010 and 2005 as well.
With the Earth warming dangerously rapidly, at a rate 20–50 times faster than the fastest rate of natural global warming, one can’t help but wonder when the influence of the small minority of disproportionately powerful climate denial groups will wane.
195 countries pledged to curb their carbon pollution in the tremendously successful Parisclimate negotiations, but climate denial is still predominant in one of America’s two political parties, and may be gaining foothold in other regions of the Anglosphere like the UK and Australia. Fortunately, many other countries like China, India, and Canada seem to be moving in the right direction with their climate and energy policies.
May warned on climate threats to Brexit Britain Climate Home 12/07/2016, The incoming government must prepare for floods and heatwaves even as EU negotiations dominate politics, say advisers By Megan Darby
When Theresa May takes over as prime minister of Britain on Wednesday, climate change might not be top of her agenda.
The former home secretary has to renegotiate relations with the EU, the rest of the world and heal a divided country. But the impacts of global warming are not going away, a report by the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) warns.
Heatwaves like the one that killed an estimated 2,000 British citizens in 2003 are projected to become the norm by the 2040s. To prevent more excess summer deaths, government needs to regulate for cooler buildings today, the CCC advises.
It is one of six priorities for action, in a review of evidence pulled together by 80 authors over three years.
Many of the issues are unchanged since the CCC last undertook a similar assessment five years ago.
Flooding remains at the top of the list, a status only reinforced by hundreds of millions of pounds worth of damage wreaked by storms in Cumbria last December. “The risks don’t change because of Brexit,” said Lord Krebs, chair of the adaptation sub-committee. But he added: “Some of the legislation that might underpin our resilience and preparation for future climate changes is EU legislation and therefore there will be a need in due course to replace that with national legislation.”
Meanwhile, the uncertainty is denting confidence for investment in resilient infrastructure, said report co-author Swenja Surminski, from the London School of Economics………
While May has not been vocal on the issue, as a member of the National Security Council, she was involved in a 2015 review that outlined how global warming could trigger political instability, conflict and migration.
“Our long-term objective is to strengthen the resilience of poor and fragile countries to disasters, shocks and climate change,” it concluded. “This will save lives and reduce the risk of instability.” http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/07/12/may-warned-on-climate-threats-to-brexit-britain/
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