Climate Change News Digest Links to the latest news on global climate change Climate Change News Digest 144 144 Hansen Study: Climate Sensitivity Is High, Burning All Fossil Fuels Would Make Most Of Planet 'Uninhabitable' James Hansen, the country's most prescient climatologist, is out with another must-read paper, "Climate sensitivity, sea level and atmospheric carbon dioxide." The paper, co-authored by a number of Hansen's former colleagues at NASA, is an antidote to the rosy scenarios the mainstream media have recently been pushing. The key findings are The Earth's actual sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 levels from preindustrial levels (to 550 ppm) - including slow feedbacks - is likely to be larger than 3-4°C (5.4-7.2°F). Given that we are headed towards a tripling (820 ppm) or quadrupling (1100 ppm) of atmospheric CO2 levels, inaction is untenable. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Unless we curtail carbon emissions, every attempt to adapt is doomed Opinion: Weather records being broken all around the world for heat and drought Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT November Was the Hottest on Earth Since 1880 It's confirmed: November 2013 was the hottest November on Earth since at least 1880. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Warren Buffett Bought Stake in Pipeline Company on Same Day as North Dakota Oil Train Explosion On December 30, the same day a Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) oil train derailed and exploded in Casselton, North Dakota, Warren Buffett - owner of holding company giant Berkshire Hathaway, which owns BNSF - bought a major stake in pipeline logistics company Phillips Specialty Products Inc. Owned by Phillips 66, a subsidiary of ConocoPhillips, Phillips Specialty Products' claim to fame is lubricating oil's movement through pipelines, increasingly crucial for the industry to move both tar sands crude and oil obtained via hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in an efficient manner. "Phillips Specialty Products the global leader in the science of drag reduction and specializes in maximizing the flow potential of pipelines," explains its website. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Australia endures hottest year on record Australia experienced its hottest year on record in 2013, the Bureau of Meteorology said Friday, enduring the longest heatwave ever recorded Down Under as well as destructive bushfires. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Climate change: news and resources round up New research shows that the earth is warming up faster than than anticipated. If you want to explore the issues in your classroom, here's a collection of handy links and lesson ideas. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Why Climate Deniers Have No Scientific Credibility: Only 1 of 9,136 Recent Peer-Reviewed Authors Rejects Global Warming This is a guest post by James Lawrence Powell. I have brought my previous study up-to-date by reviewing peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals over the period from Nov. 12, 2012 through December 31, 2013. I found 2,258 articles, written by a total of 9,136 authors. Only one article, by a single author in the Herald of the Russian Academy of Sciences, rejected man-made global warming. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT A Dash of Cold Weather Is No Excuse to Argue That Extreme Climate Change Won't Happen This is a guest post by James Lawrence Powell. I have brought my previous study (see here and here) up-to-date by reviewing peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals over the period from Nov. 12, 2012 through December 31, 2013. I found 2,258 articles, written by a total of 9,136 authors. (Download the chart above here.) Only one article, by a single author in the Herald of the Russian Academy of Sciences, rejected man-made global warming. I discuss that article here. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Harassment of Climate Scientists Needs to Stop Climate change denialists are suing scientists, seeking access to their private emails. They will stifle inquiry and scientific progress. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT 100,000 Bats Fall from the Sky in Australia Due to Extreme Heat Wave On the opposite side of the world from the 'polar vortex,' dangerously high temperatures are wreaking havoc. In a scene that could come straight out of Alfred Hitchcock's imagination, about 100,000 bats were found littering the ground after a major heatwave hit Australia this week, causing the bats to fall from the sky and die upon impact. In addition to the bats, the heatwave—which struck the north-east state of Queensland earlier this week and hit temperatures as high as 135 degrees fahrenheit—meant mass deaths for the country’s flying foxes across an estimated 25 colonies. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Uproar Over "60 Minutes" Hit Piece on Clean Energy The report was only the latest in a series of "60 Minutes" reports that have been subject to stinging critiques in recent months. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Noam Chomsky: The Richest Countries Are Racing Us Towards Disaster While 'Primitive' Societies Are Trying to Stop It <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> Chomsky on the NSA, earth's destruction and more.<!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> In his 85th year, political theorist and linguist Noam Chomsky remains a fiercely busy polymath and dedicated activist. Indeed, his schedule is so demanding, our interview had to be booked a good number of weeks in advance and my time on the phone with the MIT professor was sandwiched between another press interview and another one of his many commitments.Happily, though, speaking with Chomsky in late December gave occasion to look back on this year ... Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT New Greenhouse Gas Discovered That Is 7,100 Times Worse than CO2 With a name like perfluorotributylamine, the latest greenhouse gas to be discovered is a tongue twister. But you should learn how to say it, as this synthetic chemical could mean dangerous business for the climate.Perfluorotributylamine (or PFTBA) is an artificial compound commonly used since the 1950's in electrical equipment and heat transfer agents. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Factoring climate change into flood insurance Homeowners' deal doesn't take into account the increasing risk from rising sea and shifts in rainfall due to climate changeBob Ward Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT 2014 preview: The key to surviving climate change Bye bye bigger dams, hello versatile crops: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's next report will emphasise versatility over fine-tuned mitigation Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT A failure in communicating the impact of new findings I was disappointed by the recent summary for policymakers (SPM) of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) assessment report 5, now that I finally got around to read it. Not so much because of the science, but because the way it presented the science. The report was written by top scientists, so what went wrong? I guess we need to recognise the limitations of the format of the SPM, and the constraints that they have to work under (word by word approval from 190 country representatives) may not have been helpful this time. The specified report length, combined with attempts from lots of people to expand on the content, may have complicated the process. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Arctic and American Methane in Context Lots of interesting methane papers this week. In Nature Geoscience, Shakhova et al (2013) have published a substantial new study of the methane cycle on the Siberian continental margin of the Arctic Ocean. This paper will get a lot of attention, because it follows by a few months a paper from last summer, Whiteman et al (2013), which claimed a strong (and expensive) potential impact from Arctic methane on near-term climate evolution. That economic modeling study was based on an Arctic methane release scenario proposed in an earlier paper by Shakhova (2010). In PNAS, Miller et al (2013) find that the United States may be emitting 50-70% more methane than we thought. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Sea-level rise: What the experts expect In the long run, sea-level rise will be one of the most serious consequences of global warming. But how fast will sea levels rise? Model simulations are still associated with considerable uncertainty - too complex and varied are the processes that contribute to the increase. A just-published survey of 90 sea-level experts from 18 countries now reveals what amount of sea-level rise the wider expert community expects. With successful, strong mitigation measures, the experts expect a likely rise of 40-60 cm in this century and 60-100 cm by the year 2300. With unmitigated warming, however, the likely range is 70-120 cm by 2100 and two to three meters by the year 2300. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Discovering a Legal Tool to Curb Climate Change Corporations are created by state-issued charters. Where corporations are violating their duty to the public trust - governments have an obligation to stop them from doing so or to revoke their charters. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Group Wants To Label Gas Pumps Like Cigarettes, Warn Consumers About Danger To Planet's Health Smoking tobacco causes cancer. Greenhouse gases warm the planet. These are things that scientists are at least 95 percent sure of. The tobacco industry and the fossil fuel industry have other things in common besides extremely high levels of certainty regarding their negative externalities. Both are deeply ingrained in the political and economic system, both use campaigns of disinformation to confuse the public, and both rely heavily on wealthy donors who fund special interest groups that are averse to any change that could negatively impact their profits. Now the Bay Area chapter of, an international group trying to help solve climate change, wants to make another connection between smoking and greenhouse gases - this time in the form of a warning label. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Calif. officials see 'scary' drought outlook click image to zoom The Drought Monitor map released on Jan. 9, 2014. One-third of the nation is in drought, marking what could be another dry year for states desperate for precipitation. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Seeping Arctic Methane May Not Be Linked to Climate Change In 2008, scientists discovered methane bubbling up from the seabed off the coast of Norway, raising new concerns that climate change could lead to large escapes of the greenhouse gas. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Baucus Tax Reform Cuts $46 Billion in Oil Breaks SOURCE: AP/Matt RourkeA refinery is shown in Trainer, Pennsylvania. On November 21, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, unveiled a discussion draft of tax reform legislation that focuses on cost recovery and accounting rules as part of a comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. tax code. This draft package includes the elimination of some longstanding tax breaks for Big Oil companies. The discussion draft proposes to eliminate as much as an estimated $46 billion in unnecessary tax breaks for hugely profitable Big Oil companies over the next decade. The White House just announced that Sen. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Climate fix could make warming worse New research suggests that attempts to artificially cool the planet could have unforeseen and damaging consequences. Rainfall around the tropics could be cut by 30% with significant impacts on rainforests in South America and Asia and increasing drought in Africa. The changes would happen so quickly there would be little time to adapt, say the researchers. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT China Approves Major Increase in Huge Coal Mining Projects In 2013, the Chinese government approved 15 large coal mining projects that will produce more than 100 million new tons of coal a year. The expansion will lead to a 2 to 3 percent growth in coal production over the next several years, even as the country announced moves to reduce the severe air pollution choking major cities such as Beijing. Chinese officials will increase coal production while reducing pollution in population centers by closing outdated coal plants and creating huge "coal bases" that will mine and burn coal in remote regions of northwestern China, such as Inner Mongolia. Those bases, which will cost $8.9 billion to build, will generate electricity that will be transferred over an improved electricity grid to cities in China's central and eastern regions. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Hydropower "Battery" Could Even Out Wind Energy Supply, Researchers Say Norwegian hydropower stations could be linked to wind farms and serve as giant "batteries" to even out power supply fluctuations, a Scandinavian research organization says. A major hurdle for renewable energy suppliers is intermittent power production - sometimes too much power is generated, other times too little, and periods of peak demand often don't coincide with periods of peak supply. By using excess electricity from windy periods to pump water uphill into reservoirs, hydroelectric power stations could smooth out the intermittent power supplied by large wind farms, Scandinavian researchers from the firm SINTEF say. At times of low wind energy supply, the stored water could be released through dam turbines and hydroelectricity would fill the gap. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Atlantic Ocean Zooplankton Are Now Reproducing in Arctic Waters For the first time, scientists have discovered species of Atlantic Ocean zooplankton reproducing in Arctic waters. German researchers say the discovery indicates a possible shift in the Arctic zooplankton community as The amphipod Themisto compressa the region warms, one that could be detrimental to Arctic birds, fish, and marine mammals. Studying traps that have been suspended for 13 years in the Fram Strait, scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute found that small species of crustaceans common to the Atlantic are increasingly moving into Arctic waters. The researchers found fertile females as well as individuals at all stages of development, showing that the Atlantic species is reproducing in the frigid waters. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Organic battery hailed as cheap renewable energy solution A cheap rechargeable battery that harnesses energy by using the electrochemistry of organic molecules rather than metals is being touted by Harvard researchers as a breakthrough for renewable energy. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Europe warned of severe drought by end of century Drought could become a serious problem in Europe by the end of the century, scientists have warned. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT The Only Way to Stop Climate Change Now May Be Revolution Fed up with slow (or in some cases, backwards ) progress on climate change, environmental advocates are mulling desperate measures. Emerging at the head of this pack is arguably the world's most prominent climate scientist: James Hansen, a former NASA researcher turned activist. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Climate change: How does soil store carbon dioxide? Global carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise -- in 2012 alone, 35.7 billion tons of this greenhouse gas entered the atmosphere. Some of it is absorbed by the oceans, plants and soil. They provide a significant reservoir of carbon. Scientists have now discovered how organic carbon is stored in soil: The carbon only binds to certain soil structures. This means that soil's capacity to absorb ... Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Plants 'could stop being brake on global warming' Earth's vegetation could be saturated with carbon by the end of the century and stop acting as a brake on global warming, scientists warn. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Exposed: The myth of the global warming 'pause' Scientists can now explain the "pause" in global warming that sceptics have used to bolster their arguments. Sceptics had claimed we have nothing to fear from climate change because it has stopped being a problem. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT MidAmerican's giant California Solar Star power plant enters service (Reuters) - Renewable power companies MidAmerican Solar and SunPower Corp said they have connected the first 57 megawatts to the power grid from California's 579-MW Solar Star solar power plant, one of the biggest in the United States. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT China pledges further support for solar industry SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China pledged further support support for its ailing solar power industry on Saturday as the government seeks to revive a sector struggling with overcapacity and falling prices. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Curmudgeons Happen I was talking with people at my friend's big birthday bash yesterday. I mentioned I'm writing about Renewable Gas, and this led to a variety of conversations. Here is a kind of summary of one of the threads, involving several people. Why do people continue to insist that the wind turbine at Reading uses more energy than it generates ? Would it still be there if it wasn't producing power ? Does David Cameron still have a wind turbine on his roof ? No. It wasn't working, so it was taken down. I would ask - what are their sources of information ? Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT Fiscal Meltdown The government is betting the farm on a nuclear technology that might soon look as hip as the traction engine. By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 22nd October 2013 Seven years ago, I collected all the available cost estimates for nuclear power. The US Nuclear Energy Institute suggested a penny a kilowatt hour(1). The Royal Academy of Engineering confidently predicted 2.3p(2). The British government announced that in 2020 the price would be between 3 and 4p(3). The New Economics Foundation guessed that it could be anywhere between 3.4 and 8.3p(4). Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:09:36 GMT