Week ending 29 July 2012
Erratic Weather Across Globe Fueling Impending Food Crisis
Common Dreams, July 23, 2012
In addition to the ongoing drought in the United States, experts warn that the potential for a worldwide food crisis is heightened by extreme and erratic weather across the globe.
Extreme Drought Areas in US Nearly Triple in One Week
Mat McDermott, Treehugger, 27 July 2012
The drought gets worse: The US Drought Monitor reports that areas on the nation under extreme drought conditions in key agricultural states has tripled in the past week. Furthermore, the amount of land experiencing drought conditions more broadly has increased to nearly two-thirds of the nation, up from 56% just a week ago.
When National Climate Disasters Go Global: On Drought, Food, And Global Insecurity
PICKS OF THE WEEK
The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic
Joe Romm, Climate Progress, 28 July 2012
Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.
Climate results convert sceptic: ‘let the evidence change our minds’
Why climate change doesn’t spark moral outrage, and how it could
David Roberts, Grist, 27 July 2012
Perhaps the single biggest barrier to action on climate change is the fact that it doesn’t hit us in the gut. We can identify it as a great moral wrong, through a chain of evidence and reasoning, but we do not instinctively feel it as one.
Federal cash pulled from Latrobe Valley power station
Kellie Lazzaro, ABC News, 27 July 2012
The Federal Government has withdrawn funding for a proposed brown coal-fired power station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley. In 2007, the Howard government allocated $100 million to power company HRL towards a coal drying and gasification plant.
Australia’s energy future by 2050? The scary vision of the right
Giles Parkinson, ReNewEconomy, 27 July 2012
Former Senator Nick Minchin, that gave the scariest insights into Conservative thinking on clean energy. He said that even the Labor government’s relatively conservative predictions of 40 per cent renewables in 2050 were “ridiculous, laughable and a joke.”
Macfarlane: There needs to be more to renewables than wind and solar
Giles Parkinson, ReNewEconomy, 26 July 2012
The Coalition energy spokesman says wind and solar are unreliable and expensive, and CEFC will be canned along with carbon price. Has Tea Party energy politics landed in Australia?
Climate change and Victoria: high time to innovate, adapt, and cope
Tim Flannery, The Conversation, 24 July 2012
Victoria has entered a critical decade in the race to adapt for the stresses of climate change, according to a new report from the Climate Commission.
Climate politics in Australia: where we are, how we got here and what to do about it
A 3-part series by “Climate Code Red” co-author David Spratt. Climate denier governments have taken power in eastern Australia and in WA, and will likely do so In Canberra in 2013. How did this happen, what lessons can we learn, and how can we build a united mobilisation with clear messages and objectives?
Loss of Arctic sea ice ‘70% man-made’
Alok Jha, The Guardian, 26 July 2012
Study finds only 30% of radical loss of summer sea ice is due to natural variability in Atlantic – and it will probably get worse
Arctic wilderness faces pollution threats as oil and gas giants target its riches
Robin McKie, Guardian, 21 July 2012
Melting ice caps, the influx of trawlers and tourists, and Shell’s £4bn investment to drill for fossil fuels in the Chukchi Sea all raise fears
Greenland melts, open water in Arctic Ocean -scientists
Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters, 25 July 2012
Most of the previous events were clustered around a period 7,000 years ago known as the Holocene Thermal Maximum, when variations in the sun’s tilt on its axis sent more sunshine to extreme northern latitudes, warming them up.
ABC News On Stunning Greenland Ice Melt: ‘Scientists Say They’ve Never Seen Anything Like This Before’
Is Recent Greenland Ice Sheet Melting ‘Unprecedented’? Absolutely. Is It ‘Worrisome’? You Bet It Is.
The whole story behind Greenland’s record ice loss
Andrew Freedman, Climate Central, 26 July 2012
The news that an unusually widespread melt occurred in Greenland during mid-July, when 97 percent of the Greenland ice sheet – including normally frigid high-elevation areas – experienced some degree of melting, has made international headlines, and for good reason.
Scientists find Grand Canyon-sized rift under Antarctic ice
AFP, 26 July 2012
Scientists have discovered a rift the size of the Grand Canyon hidden under the Antarctic ice sheet, which they say is contributing to ice melt and a consequent rise in the sea level.
ENERGY AND INNOVATION
Carbon capture’s days may be numbered
Nils Markusson, ABC Environment, 26 Jul 2012
Several setbacks to planned demonstration projects, protests from local communities and other stakeholders, and a dearth of financing from industry and national governments have meant that the pace of deployment has fallen short of expectations. CCS is thus facing a crisis, and it is important to consider what its future may be.
Waves could power Melbourne by 2050: CSIRO
The Age, July 25, 2012
Australia’s ocean waves have the potential to produce enough energy to power a city the size of Melbourne by 2050, a new CSIRO study says.
Solely solar: Victoria could get all its electricity from sun
Adam Morton, The Age, 23 July 2012
Victoria could capture enough energy from the sun to meet its electricity needs twice over and trails other parts of the world in harnessing wind power, says the national Climate Commission.
Fracking company paid Texas professor behind water contamination study.
Terence Henry, StateImpact Texas, 23 July 2012
Earlier this year, a study led by Dr. Charles Groat for the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin made headlines for saying there was no link between fracking and groundwater contamination. Groat did not disclose significant financial ties to the fracking industry.
Pulling CO2 from Air Vital, but Lower-Cost Technology a Stumbling Block So Far, Experts Say
ScienceDaily, July 24, 2012
Emerging techniques to pull carbon dioxide from the air and store it away to stabilize the climate may become increasingly important as the planet tips into a state of potentially dangerous warming, researchers from Columbia University’s Earth Institute argue in a paper out this week.
Baillieu silent on solar power goals
Adam Morton, The Age, July 24, 2012
The Baillieu government has refused to say whether it remains committed to an election policy of 5 per cent of Victoria’s energy coming from solar power by 2020.
POLITICS AND POLICY
Climate change and the soothing message of luke-warmism
Clive Hamilton, The Conversation, 25 July 2012
We are familiar with the tactics, arguments, and personnel of the denial
industry. Yet there is a perhaps more insidious and influential line of
argument that is preventing the world from responding to the warnings of
Australia lags on carbon tax rules
Adam Morton, The Age, July 26, 2012
South Korea has banned the use of international offsets in its emissions trading scheme, leaving Australia isolated as one of the few places planning to allow in a large number of carbon credits from projects in developing countries.
Why The Dice Are Loaded Against Telling The Climate Change Story To Americans
Anthony Wing Kosner, Forbes, 23 July 2012
In his Op-Ed in the New York Times this morning, Loading The Climate Dice, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman clearly defines the problem with telling the climate change story: It’s about probabilities.
‘On shaky ground’: Australians hate coal, so what do we do now?
Cathy Alexander, Crikey, 23 July 2012
Research released by The Climate Institute today has found that coal is Australia’s most hated energy source. Focus groups and an online poll gauged the views of more than 1000 people in April and May this year on their preferred energy sources, and coal came last. Even nuclear power fared better.
Climate of the Nation 2012
In short, this research finds that Australians are sick of the politics and scared about rising costs of living. They are uncertain about the science, unconvinced by carbon pricing solutions, but remain ‘up for grabs’ on both. How these concerns mix with underlying values, views of prosperity and trust in messengers will determine the climate of the nation in coming months and years.
EU bids to rescue carbon trading scheme
AAP/SBS News, 26 July 2012
Europe is moving to fix its emissions trading scheme, as certificates fail to find buyers amid the region’s economic crisis.
Emission cuts not enough: report
Ben Cubby, SMH, July 24, 2012
The greenhouse gas cuts promised by developed countries will not be enough to stop the world’s temperatures from rising by 2 degrees and crossing a threshold into dangerous climate change, new analysis shows.
Laggard to Leader
Are you sick of hearing? Australia is only a small part of the climate problem. We shouldn’t act before the rest of the world. Our actions won’t make a difference, anyway. BZE’s new report, Laggard to Leader, challenges these excuses, exposing the true extent of Australia’s contribution to the climate problem and demonstrating our extraordinary potential to forge solutions at home and abroad.
Australia has power to lead world to zero carbon prosperity
SCIENCE AND IMPACTS
Himalayan glaciers are melting rapidly after all, say scientists
Geoffrey Lean, Telegraph, July 27, 2012
Remember those infamous Himalayan glaciers? The ones which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) erroneously predicted would have disappeared by 2035, doing grave damage to the reputation of climate science? New research suggests that they are rapidly melting after all as the world warms up.
Zombie reefs as a harbinger for catastrophic future
Gary Pearce, ABC Unleashed, 25 July 2012
In a recent New York Times op-ed, ANU scientist Roger Bradbury writes, “It’s past time to tell the truth about the state of the world’s coral reefs.” He argues that coral reefs are now largely “zombie ecosystems” beyond any hope, and will be gone within a generation.
Global CO2 emissions rise 3 percent in 2011: report
Stian Reklev, Planet Ark, 20 July 2012
Global carbon dioxide emissions rose 3 percent to 34 billion tonnes in 2011, according to a new EU report, undermining a U.N. goal to limit the rise in global average temperatures to 2C above industrial levels by 2050.
Clear skies fade to grey as Games begin
Adrian Lowe, The Age, 26 July 2012
It may not have felt so, but Melbourne has had its warmest July spell this year. There were 19 consecutive days this month where the maximum temperature was 14 degrees or more — beating the Melbourne average of 13.4 degrees. It is the longest spell since records began in 1855.
In India’s Farming Heartland, Barely a Raindrop Falls
Biman Mukherji, WSJ, 26 July 2012
With monsoon rains late and lackluster, swaths of the nation’s most fertile farmlands are parched, including areas that grow sugarcane, corn and rice and grain. More than 60 percent of India’s farmland is dependent on monsoon rainfall, and already severe damage is being done
In Drought-Stricken Midwest, It’s Fodder Vs. Fuel
Evidence for climate extremes, costs, gets more local
Alister Doyle, Reuters, 27 July 2012
Scientists are finding evidence that man-made climate change has raised the risks of individual weather events, such as floods or heatwaves, marking a big step towards pinpointing local costs and ways to adapt to freak conditions.
Record Summer Temperatures, By The Numbers
Andrew Freedman, Climate Central, 21 July 2012
The weather this summer has been so extreme that it has rivaled the most destructive and unbearable summers in U.S. history, years that are infamous in weather lore.