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Release of methane off East Siberian coast has been triggered,

‘Sleeping giant’ Arctic methane deposits starting to release, scientists find

Exclusive: expedition discovers new source of greenhouse gas off East Siberian coast has been triggered,    Guardian,  Jonathan Watts Global environment editor  28 Oct 20 Scientists have found evidence that frozen methane deposits in the Arctic Ocean – known as the “sleeping giants of the carbon cycle” – have started to be released over a large area of the continental slope off the East Siberian coast, the Guardian can reveal.High levels of the potent greenhouse gas have been detected down to a depth of 350 metres in the Laptev Sea near Russia, prompting concern among researchers that a new climate feedback loop may have been triggered that could accelerate the pace of global heating.

The slope sediments in the Arctic contain a huge quantity of frozen methane and other gases – known as hydrates. Methane has a warming effect 80 times stronger than carbon dioxide over 20 years. The United States Geological Survey has previously listed Arctic hydrate destabilisation as one of four most serious scenarios for abrupt climate change.

The international team onboard the Russian research ship R/V Akademik Keldysh said most of the bubbles were currently dissolving in the water but methane levels at the surface were four to eight times what would normally be expected and this was venting into the atmosphere.

“At this moment, there is unlikely to be any major impact on global warming, but the point is that this process has now been triggered. This East Siberian slope methane hydrate system has been perturbed and the process will be ongoing,” said the Swedish scientist Örjan Gustafsson, of Stockholm University, in a satellite call from the vessel.

The scientists – who are part of a multi-year International Shelf Study Expedition – stressed their findings were preliminary. The scale of methane releases will not be confirmed until they return, analyse the data and have their studies published in a peer-reviewed journal.

But the discovery of potentially destabilised slope frozen methane raises concerns that a new tipping point has been reached that could increase the speed of global heating.

The Arctic is considered ground zero in the debate about the vulnerability of frozen methane deposits in the ocean.

With the Arctic temperature now rising more than twice as fast as the global average, the question of when – or even whether – they will be released into the atmosphere has been a matter of considerable uncertainty in climate computer models.

The 60-member team on the Akademik Keldysh believe they are the first to observationally confirm the methane release is already under way across a wide area of the slope about 600km offshore………………

Temperatures in Siberia were 5C higher than average from January to June this year, an anomaly that was made at least 600 times more likely by human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide and methane. Last winter’s sea ice melted unusually early. This winter’s freeze has yet to begin, already a later start than at any time on record.  https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/oct/27/sleeping-giant-arctic-methane-deposits-starting-to-release-scientists-find

October 29, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Pressure on UK Prime Minister to show strong climate leadership

Business Green 28th Oct 2020, Pressure is mounting on Boris Johnson to come up with an ambitious
decarbonisation plan ahead of COP26 next year, with a major coalition of
health professionals, academics, faith and youth leaders today joining
calls from Conservative MPs and former world leaders for UK to demonstrate
strong climate leadership in the run up to the critical UN summit.

In a
series of letters to the Prime Minister today, various groups representing
millions of people in the UK and overseas urge the government to deliver a
“world-leading” climate plan to the UN in support of the Paris Agreement
“as early as possible this year” or well ahead of COP26 in November 2021.
Such a plan – or Nationally-Determined Contribution (NDC) in UN jargon –
should “at the very least” aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5C by
the end of the century and the UK’s 2050 net zero target, and should be
achieved entirely through domestic action without the use of international
carbon credits, according to the letter from faith groups.

https://www.businessgreen.com/news/4022373/pressure-mounts-pm-ambitious-uk-climate-plan-soon

October 29, 2020 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

South Korea to end dependence on coal, switch to renewables

October 29, 2020 Posted by | climate change, South Korea | Leave a comment

World climate at the crossroads – much depends on USA election result

Guardian 26th Oct 2020, Among the myriad reasons world leaders will closely watch the outcome of a fraught US presidential election, the climate crisis looms perhaps largest of all. The international effort to constrain dangerous global heating will hinge, in large part, on which of the dichotomous approaches of Donald Trump or Joe Biden prevails.
On 4 November, the day after the election, the US will exit the Paris climate agreement, a global pact that has wobbled but not collapsed from nearly four years of disparagement and disengagement under Trump.
Biden has vowed to immediately rejoin the Paris deal. The potential of a second Trump term, however, is foreboding for those whose
anxiety has only escalated during the hottest summer ever recorded in the northern hemisphere, with huge wildfires scorching California and swaths of central South America, and extraordinary temperatures baking the Arctic.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/26/world-climate-crossroads-trump-biden-different-directions

October 27, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Climate change a big threat to nuclear reactors – as water supplies at risk

Climate change poses big water risks for nuclear, fossil-fueled plants, S and P Global, Esther Whieldon Taylor Kuykendall, 23 Oct 20,

Exelon Corp.’s Clinton Power Station nuclear plant in Illinois uses about 248.5 billion gallons of water annually, the utility said in its 2020 report to CDP.to CDP. The plant is in an area projected to face increased water stress by 2030.
As global warming climbs and humanity’s water consumption increases, nuclear and fossil-fueled power plants that rely on freshwater for cooling may not be able to perform at their peak capacity or could be forced to shut down temporarily even as demand for their supplies for indoor cooling and other uses increase, according to researchers and industry experts.
Climate change-exacerbated water shortage issues pose a near-term and longer-term performance risk to power plants, such as hydropower and nuclear, around the world. And in the Lower 48, more than half of the fossil-fueled and nuclear fleet is located in areas forecast to face climate-related water stress by the end of this decade under a business-as-usual scenario, according to an analysis by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

But electric utilities’ overall exposure to power plant water stress risks could diminish as they pursue decarbonization strategies and replace water-dependent plants with wind and solar generation that require little to no water. Some companies are also implementing water management and related investment strategies to reduce their exposure. ……..

According to projections from the World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, water stress — when humanity’s competition for water exceeds the rate at which nature can replenish its stocks — could grow materially by 2030 in the drought-prone Western U.S., as well as the upper Midwest and portions of the Northeast and Florida, due to climate change.

About 61.8% of existing fossil-fueled and nuclear power plants in the Lower 48, or a combined 535 GW of operating capacity, is in areas that could face medium-high to extremely high water stress in 2030, based on an analysis of Market Intelligence’s power plant data paired with the Aqueduct water stress projections.

Moreover, 68.6% of the Lower 48’s natural gas-fired fleet, 73.3% of its oil-fueled fleet, 61.0% of its nuclear fleet, and 44.6% of its coal-fired fleet are in areas expected to face medium-high to extremely-high water stress that year.

“As we’re seeing snowpack decline — a natural mountainous reservoir of water — and as we’re getting lower amounts of total precipitation and available water in the U.S. West, this is going to be a really serious issue for the power sector,” said Betsy Otto, director of the Global Water Program at the World Resource Institute, or WRI. Moreover, scientists have said the West is entering a megadrought that could last more than 20 years.

Otto also noted that several other U.S. regions not normally thought of as facing water supply issues are already experiencing chronic water challenges that, if left unchecked, could become a problem if extended droughts, heatwaves, and other major extreme weather events should occur.

A number of utilities use WRI’s Aqueduct tool to assess their water risks in their annual reports to the CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, and other organizations. But those reports typically focus on the WRI’s current water stress models and not the tool’s future climate projections.

WRI’s current water stress models show a number of regions that are facing water stress will be in the same situation, or worse, at the end of the decade.

Along those lines, Moody’s Investors Service in August reported that about 48 GW of nuclear capacity across the U.S. face elevated exposure to combined heat and water stress, including plants owned by Exelon Corp., Vistra Corp., Entergy Corp., and the Arizona Public Service Co.

In hot water

A plant’s location is not the only factor that will determine its vulnerability to water stress. A plant’s water source, cooling technology and the temperature of the water when it is withdrawn are also key factors, according to scientific reports. The Market Intelligence analysis using the WRI tool does not account for those three factors.

In addition, rising ambient air and water temperatures can also create operational and legal issues for plants. Because plants primarily use water to cool their systems, “if that water is hot or warmer to start with, that’s not so good. That makes the power plant less efficient” and it also means the plant risks violating federal restrictions on how hot water can be when it is discharged, said Auroop Ganguly, director of the Northeastern University College of Engineering Sustainability and Data Sciences Laboratory.

Ganguly co-authored a study that found that by the 2030s, climate-induced water stress in the form of increased water temperatures and limited freshwater supplies will hurt the power production of thermoelectric plants in the South, Southwest, West and West North Central regions of the U.S. According to the 2017 study, U.S. nuclear and fossil-fueled plants at that time used about 161 billion gallons per day, or 45% of the nation’s daily freshwater usage, 90% of which was for cooling.

The technologies used by a power plant can also make a big difference in how much water it needs. Dry-cooling technology uses very little water but is costlier and less efficient than alternatives. And while once-through cooling systems withdraw more water than recirculating systems, once-through cooling returns nearly all of the water to the source while recirculating systems consume more water due to evaporation………. https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/blog/street-talk-episode-69-banks-left-with-pockets-full-of-cash-and-few-places-to-go

October 24, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | 2 Comments

Delayed freezing of Arctic sea due to continued freakish warm weather

October 24, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, oceans | 1 Comment

Largest wildfires in Colorado’s history

October 24, 2020 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

USA: Millions of jobs in clean energy and infrastructure – analysis finds.

Investing $2 Trillion in US Clean Energy and Infrastructure Could Create Millions of ‘Good Jobs,’ Analysis Finds

“We don’t have to choose between a strong economy or a healthy environment—we can have both,” says an EPI data analyst.  Common Dreams, byJessica Corbett, staff writer   – 20 Oct 20, Pursuing trade and industrial policies that boost U.S. exports and eliminate the trade deficit while investing $2 trillion over four years in the nation’s infrastructure, clean energy, and energy efficiency improvements could support 6.9 to 12.9 million “good jobs” annually by 2024, according to an analysis published Tuesday.

The new report from a trio of experts at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a U.S.-based think tank, comes as the country continues to endure the public health and economic consequences of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed more than 220,000 lives and millions of jobs in the United States alone this year.

As hurricanes and wildfires made worse by human-caused climate change have ravaged communities in the U.S. and around the world throughout the pandemic, demands have mounted for policymakers to use the Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity to #BuildBackBetter by incorporating ambitious plans to address the planetary emergency in relief and recovery packages.

“Our policymakers urgently need to confront climate change and the deep recession caused by a global pandemic. One way to do this is investing a substantial part of our budget to reduce our carbon emissions while also creating good jobs,” EPI data analyst Zane Mokhiber, who co-authored the report, said in a statement. “We don’t have to choose between a strong economy or a healthy environment—we can have both.”……….   https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/10/20/investing-2-trillion-us-clean-energy-and-infrastructure-could-create-millions-good?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=twitter

October 22, 2020 Posted by | climate change, employment, renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Queensland, Australia to get the ‘world’s greenest city’

Renew Economy 21st Oct 2020, French energy giant Engie backs Greater Springfield development, aiming to be ‘world’s greenest city’, with zero emissions transport plan. The post Energy giant Engie supercharges green city development with support for EVs, hydrogen transport appeared first on RenewEconomy.

A new city being developed in south-east Queensland aiming to become one of
the world’s greenest is set to get a boost, with a new roadmap launched with the backing of one of the world’s largest energy companies.

Greater Springfield, which is located around 30km south-west of Brisbane and has
grown to a population of 45,000 has released a new master plan that will see electric vehicle charging infrastructure and a hydrogen fuelled bus network rolled out, in an effort to create the ‘world’s greenest city’ by 2038.

The city is one of Australia’s largest privately funded city developments, including a mix of residential and business districts, and has attracted a campus of the University of Southern Queensland.
Energy giant Engie supercharges green city development with support for EVs, hydrogen transport — RenewEconomy

October 22, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, renewable | Leave a comment

UK’s Conservative politicians want strong action on climate change

October 22, 2020 Posted by | climate change, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Scientific women get together in plan for marine protected area for Antarctica Peninsula

All-female scientific coalition calls for marine protected area for Antarctica Peninsula Plus other ways to help penguins, whales, and seabirds, EurekAlert, UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY, Research News  19 Oct 20, The Western Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest warming places on earth. It is also home to threatened humpback and minke whales, chinstrap, Adélie and gentoo penguin colonies, leopard seals, killer whales, seabirds like skuas and giant petrels, and krill – the bedrock of the Antarctic food chain.With sea ice covering ever-smaller areas and melting more rapidly due to climate change, many species’ habitats have decreased. The ecosystem’s delicate balance is consequently tilted, leaving species in danger of extinction.

Cumulative threats from a range of human activities including commercial fishing, research activities and tourism combined with climate change is exacerbating this imbalance, and a tipping point is fast approaching.

Dr Carolyn Hogg, from the University of Sydney School of Life and Environmental Sciences, was part of the largest ever all-female expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula, with the women in STEMM initiative, Homeward Bound, in late 2019. There, she witnessed the beauty and fragility of the area, and the negative impacts of climate change and human activity on native species, first-hand. As part of the Homeward Bound program she learnt about the science, conservation and governance of Antarctica.

In a new commentary piece published in Nature, Dr Hogg and her colleagues from the expedition outline these threats, and importantly, offer ways to counter them. More than 280 women in STEMM who have participated in the Homeward Bound initiative are co-signatories to the piece.

A global initiative, Homeward Bound ‘aims to elevate the voices of women in science, technology, engineering mathematics and medicine in leading for positive outcomes for our planet’.

Women are noticeably absent in Antarctica’s human history, which is steeped in tales of male heroism. Female scientists are still a minority in the region’s research stations.

“Now, more than ever, a broad range of perspectives is essential in global decision-making, if we are to mitigate the many threats our planet faces,” said Dr Hogg.

“Solutions include the ratification of a Marine Protected Area around the Peninsula, set to be discussed on 19 October, at a meeting of a group of governments that collectively manage the Southern Ocean’s resources,” said Dr Hogg. “The region is impacted by a number of threats, each potentially problematic in their own right, but cumulated together they will be catastrophic.”

Decreasing krill affects whole ecosystem

The Peninsula’s waters are home to 70 percent of Antarctic krill. In addition to climate change, these krill populations are threatened by commercial fishing. Last year marked the third largest krill catch on record. Nearly 400,000 tonnes of this animal were harvested, to be used for omega-3 dietary supplements and fishmeal.

“Even relatively small krill catches can be harmful if they occur in a particular region, at a sensitive time for the species that live there,” said Dr Cassandra Brooks, a co-author on the comment from the University of Colorado, Boulder. “For example, fishing when penguins are breeding lowers their food intake, and affects their subsequent breeding success. A Marine Protected Area will conserve and protect this unique ecosystem and its wildlife, and we need to implement it now.”

Climate change is fundamentally altering the Western Antarctic Peninsula:……

Three ways to protect the Peninsula

1. A Marine Protected Area (MPA) designation for the waters………

2. Protect land areas ………

3. Integrate conservation efforts…….

….https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-10/uos-asc101520.php

October 20, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, ANTARCTICA, climate change, environment | Leave a comment

Anti-science in America – climate denial to coronavirus denial

America  re-discovers anti-science in its midst, Environmental Health News,16 Oct 20 

Fauci, Birx, Redfield & Co. are in the middle of a political food fight. They could learn a lot from environmental scientists.

Let’s start with the story of a scientist who beat back a powerful global denial movement without any help from social media or modern, sophisticated organizing campaigns.

It took Galileo 359 years to wrangle an apology out of the Vatican for his heretical belief that the Earth revolved around the sun.

I’m glad he didn’t take it personally. Science denial is neither new nor purely American—but we sure are finding ways to make it lethal and lasting.

Climate scientists have been dealing with anti-science, largely unnoticed by the general public, for 20 years. Doctors face a growing wave of anti-vaccination zealots. Now a pandemic with a seven-figure global death toll and a stranglehold on the world’s economy has opened the doors wide for some multi-front anti-science blowback.

Americans, many refusing to wear masks and ignoring social distancing guidelines, appear to be gathering at frat parties, raves, political rallies, nightclubs and more in defiance of what credentialed experts say are the most vital ways to restrict the spread of COVID-19.

Major sporting events, notably college football, are backing down from previously self-imposed restrictions.

And, lo and behold, positive test rates are going back up in a big way.

Past is deadly prologue

Here are a couple recent, high profile examples of anti-science fervor in the U.S.:………

But nothing in science can quite match the decades-long assault on climate science and climate scientists. On the high end, there are PR campaigns backed by fossil fuel money, well-heeled litigation, and unhinged attacks from national pols and pundits. Then, there are the confounding, face-palming antics of the Coal Rollers—pickup truck owners who modify their rides with “Prius Repellent”—thick sooty black smoke intended to make a bizarre anti-science, pro-climate denial statement. Yes, people do this.

Penn State’s Michael Mann is arguably the highest-profile climate scientist in the U.S. Let’s make a minor leap of faith and say Mann’s climate stature is the closest equivalent to Dr. Anthony Fauci’s standing on coronavirus.

Right now, Dr. Fauci’s main public tormentor is President Trump. Their conflicts are tame compared to the deniers’ gang-up on Mann, which has lasted more than a decade and may offer Fauci a few tips on being a scientist in the middle of a political peeing match…….

Make no mistake, Fauci’s a heroic public servant in an awful bind who, as far as I know, may not even be interested in the killer tell-all book that now resides in his head.

But after COVID-19 is finally conquered, Mike Mann and a thousand others will still be getting bashed, and the worst impacts of climate change will still be ahead of us.

Peter Dykstra is our weekend editor and columnist and can be reached at pdykstra@ehn.org or @pdykstra

October 19, 2020 Posted by | climate change, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Climate change: Arctic Circle teens call for help to save their homes

Climate change: Arctic Circle teens call for help to save their homes

Teenagers living in remote Arctic communities say they’re worried about the effects of climate change. Scientists warn that melting ice and warming temperatures show rapid climate change is taking place.

Rarely heard young people from multiple countries within the Arctic Circle say their way of life is at risk and governments must act.  https://www.bbc.com/news/av/science-environment-54572400

October 19, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

International Monetary Fund recommends a carbon price, for the economy as well as for the climate

Observer 18th Oct 2020, In its latest world economic outlook, the IMF revealed that acting on
climate change will actually help us deal with the recession. Acting on
climate change boosts growth in the short term and massively prevents
economic destruction later.
The outlook noted that at the current rate,
global temperatures will increase “well above the safe levels agreed to
in the Paris agreement, raising the risk of catastrophic damage for the
planet.” the IMF report is not all doom and gloom – it actually
proposes a way out – a carbon price.
We need a price on carbon, and we
need massive investment. Together they can prevent catastrophic climate
change while also getting us out of a recession. Win-win. And no political
party has any excuse not to act.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/commentisfree/2020/oct/18/acting-climate-change-can-get-us-out-of-recession-there-are-no-excuses-left

October 19, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, climate change | Leave a comment

Carbon emissions are deeply embedded in our lifestyle – the challenge post-pandemic

Observer 18th Oct 2020, The fall in global carbon emissions since the coronavirus outbreak may
appear to be one of the few silver linings from the pandemic, but even this
wafer-thin glimmer looks set to fade. The International Energy Agency (IEA)
estimated last week that carbon emissions from the energy industry had
fallen by up to 7% this year, but warned in the same breath that this
seemed unlikely to last.

As global economies emerge from lockdown,
factories will whir back to life, the world’s steel furnaces and power
plants will fire up once again, and passenger planes will return to the
air. The brief reprieve from rising emissions in 2020 could be followed by
the greatest surge in emissions growth on record.

Perhaps the most important lesson governments can learn from the current emissions lull is
how deeply embedded the sources of carbon dioxide are in the systems of our
everyday lives. That it has taken an unprecedented upending of society to
shave 7% from the world’s carbon footprint reveals the challenge ahead if
we hope to eliminate carbon entirely.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/oct/18/the-bank-must-not-fear-radical-action-britain-needs-negative-interest-rates

October 19, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment