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Nuclear, coal power face climate change risk-study

Nuclear, coal power face climate change risk-study | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

Warmer water and reduced river flows will cause more power disruptions for nuclear and coal-fired power plants in the United States and Europe in future, scientists say, and lead to a rethink on how best to cool power stations in a hotter world.

In a study published on Monday, a team of European and U.S. scientists focused on projections of rising temperatures and lower river levels in summer and how these impacts would affect power plants dependent on river water for cooling.

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Heat wave kills more than 1,100 in India - CNN.com ("toll doubles in just 2 days")

Heat wave kills more than 1,100 in India - CNN.com ("toll doubles in just 2 days") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
More than 1,100 people have lost their lives in a sustained and severe heat wave in India.

The worst-hit area is the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, where authorities say 852 people have died in the heat wave. Another 266 have died in the neighboring state of Telangana.

India recorded its highest maximum temperature of 47 degrees Celsius -- 117 degrees Fahrenheit -- at Angul in the state of Odisha on Monday, according to B.P. Yadav, director of the India Meteorological Department.

Hot, dry conditions are being made worse by winds blowing in from Pakistan's Sindh province across the northern and central plains of India. "This extreme, dry heat is being blown into India by westerly winds," Yadav said.

The high temperatures are expected to continue for another two days before any respite, the meteorological department warned Tuesday. However, the agency said that another hot spell would likely soon follow.

Among the worst-hit states are Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in the south. The northern states of Rajasthan and Haryana are also reeling from the intense summer as is India's capital, New Delhi, Yadav said.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The poor continue to be the victims of extreme warming.


"India recorded its highest maximum temperature of 47 degrees Celsius -- 117 degrees Fahrenheit -- at Angul in the state of Odisha on Monday, according to B.P. Yadav, director of the India Meteorological Department.

"The high temperatures are expected to continue for another two days before any respite, the meteorological department warned Tuesday. However, the agency said that another hot spell would likely soon follow."

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Heatwave claims 600 lives in India - CNN.com ("mostly poor people suffer the most")

Heatwave claims 600 lives in India - CNN.com ("mostly poor people suffer the most") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

More than 600 people have lost their lives in the past week in a sustained and severe heatwave in India.

The worst-off areas are the southeastern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in southern India, where state authorities say more than 400 people have died in the past few days. There are additional reports of some 200 people dying in the state of Delhi, toward the north.

Temperatures have been recorded as high as 48 degrees Celsius, or 118 degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperatures have been at a sustained high over the past few days, with little respite at night, and are expected to remain this high for days, CNN meteorologist Tom Sater said.

India's monsoons will provide some relief, but the rains are projected to arrive in one more week. Once they hit India's southeastern coastline, they will likely take a few more weeks to hit the drier northern parts of India.

State authorities have been advising people to stay indoors and drink water.

Experts say that hot conditions should not normally lead to this many fatalities. But many of affected areas in India are humid, which worsens the level of stress caused by excessive heat.

The heatwave also underscores India's long-running battle with poverty and inadequate infrastructure.

Early reports from state governments indicate a majority of the fatalities so far are poor laborers and workers, or people without access to adequate shelter and water.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Extreme weather hits the poor people who have nowhere to go. They just suffer.


"Early reports from state governments indicate a majority of the fatalities so far are poor laborers and workers, or people without access to adequate shelter and water."

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How microbes acquire electricity in making methane ("using 'cultured' methane that is carbon neutral")

How microbes acquire electricity in making methane ("using 'cultured' methane that is carbon neutral") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

In a new study, the Stanford team demonstrates for the first time how methanogens obtain electrons from solid surfaces. The discovery could help scientists design electrodes for microbial "factories" that produce methane gas and other compounds sustainably.

"The overall goal is to create large bioreactors where microbes convert atmospheric carbon dioxide and clean electricity from solar, wind or nuclear power into renewable fuels and other valuable chemicals," said study co-author Alfred Spormann, a professor of chemical engineering and of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford. "Now that we understand how methanogens take up electricity, we can re-engineer conventional electrodes to deliver more electrons to more microbes at a faster rate."

The study also provided new insights on microbially influenced corrosion, a biological process that threatens the long-term stability of structures made of iron and steel.

Methane is an important fuel for heating, transportation, cooking and generating electricity. Most methane comes from natural gas, an abundant fossil fuel extracted from wells. However, burning natural gas emits carbon dioxide, which accelerates global warming.

Methanogens offer a promising alternative. These single-celled organisms resemble bacteria but belong to a genetically distinct domain called Archaea.

Commonly found in sediments and sewage treatment plants, methanogens thrive on carbon dioxide gas and electrons. The byproduct of this primordial meal is pure methane gas, which the microbes excrete into the air.


Bert Guevara's insight:

This is a fantastic "carbon-neutral" development -- using carbon dioxide (from energy emissions) to produce methane that becomes energy again.


"Scientists have solved a long-standing mystery about methanogens, unique microorganisms that transform electricity and carbon dioxide into methane. The results could pave the way for microbial 'factories' that produce renewable biofuels and chemicals."

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Philippines leads in renewable electricity share, accdg to Green Innovation Index ("a welcome info")

Philippines leads in renewable electricity share, accdg to Green Innovation Index ("a welcome info") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
Got a tip? Send it to us at manila@coconuts.co. Who would have thunk? The Philippines has been cited as a worldwide leader in renewable electricity share and emissions per person in the Green Innovation Index (International Edition) of Next 10, a California-based non-partisan organization that advocates sustainable economic growth. Could it be because of Western Visayas' new selfie spot, the Guimaras Windmills? Renewable energy is any energy source generated form natural resources such as solar, wind, ocean, geothermal, hydro and biomass. According to one columnist familiar with this issue, the country souced around 26 per cent of its power consumption from hydropower and geothermal plants in 2013, while wind, solar and biomass contributed less than a per cent.

Next 10's report findings will be presented on Tuesday at the Unesco headquarters in Paris, on the eve of Business & Climate Summit, the main event at Climate Week Paris. Next 10’s GII charts country GDP, emissions, energy productivity, renewable energy generation, clean tech investments and other key metrics.

Other Southeast Asia nations ranked poorly for high carbon intensity and low energy productivity levels. Top findings for the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia are:

Philippines ranks #3 in the world for lowest emissions per capita and lowest electricity use per capita. The nation ranks #5 among top emitters worldwide for its share of electricity from renewables—it gets 15.1 percent from clean sources.

Indonesia ranks #4 in the world for lowest electricity use per capita. While Indonesia is the 15th largest emitter of total greenhouse gas emissions, it also ranks #6 for lowest emissions per capita.

Thailand ranks poorly (#41) in terms of energy productivity (GDP relative to energy consumption), but #13 and #14 in the world for low electricity use per capita and emissions per capita.

Singapore ranks poorly in a number of key indicators including emissions per capita (#47), carbon intensity (#38) (emissions relative to GDP), and total energy use per capita (#47).

Malaysia ranks poorly in terms of carbon intensity (#32) and energy productivity (#32), and in the middle of the top 50 emitters for energy and electricity use per capita (#20 and #23). Photo: John Jethro Alejano

Bert Guevara's insight:

Since we have a 100M population, our RE share and emissions per person is one of the lowest in the world. In fact, we are #3.


"The Philippines has been cited as a worldwide leader in renewable electricity share and emissions per person in the Green Innovation Index (International Edition) of Next 10, a California-based non-partisan organization that advocates sustainable economic growth."

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Global Carbon Dioxide Levels Just Hit A Disturbing New Threshold ("400 ppm just became new average")

Global Carbon Dioxide Levels Just Hit A Disturbing New Threshold ("400 ppm just became new average") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
New figures show that March was the first month ever to globally exceed 400 ppm in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels every day.

Four hundred: it’s a number that will go down in climate history while also continuing to rise.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 400.83 parts per million (ppm) was the average concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide in March. This news from NOAA marks the first time that the entire planet has surpassed the 400 ppm benchmark for an entire month.

With the rate of growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations steadily increasing — rising from about 0.75 ppm per year in 1959 to about 2.25 ppm per year in 2015 — this milestone will soon be surpassed. Still, the 400 ppm average has been a long time coming.

“It was only a matter of time that we would average 400 parts per million globally,” Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network, said in a statement. “Reaching 400 parts per million as a global average is a significant milestone.”

“This marks the fact that humans burning fossil fuels have caused global carbon dioxide concentrations to rise more than 120 parts per million since pre-industrial times,” he continued. “Half of that rise has occurred since 1980.”

As the climate change activist group 350.org — named after what they deem to be a safe level of atmospheric carbon dioxide — states, at the beginning of human civilization the atmosphere contained about 275 ppm of carbon dioxide. This concentration began to rise during the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, and the large-scale emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere remains a critical part of human societies across the world.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The (atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations) level at the beginning of human civilization was 275 ppm. The climate experts targeted 350 ppm as the tolerable level.

Now the planet's average is 400 ppm! Should we start to worry?


“Reaching 400 ppm doesn’t mean much in itself, but the steady increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases should serve as a stark reminder of the task facing politicians as they sit down in Paris later this year,...” 

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GOP Attacks Earth Science At NASA, Climate Change Research In Peril ("this is politics over science")

GOP Attacks Earth Science At NASA, Climate Change Research In Peril ("this is politics over science") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
The GOP made an attack on NASA’s climate change research on Thursday, voting for a $300 million to $500 million cut to the agency’s Earth science research. The

The GOP made an attack on NASA’s climate change research on Thursday, voting for a $300 million to $500 million cut to the agency’s Earth science research. The proposal has Democrats up in arms, but the proposal does attempt to protect some parts of the NASA budget from the White House.

The Democrats in the committee claim they were left out of the loop, allegedly to prevent a debate on climate change.

The committee’s ranking Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson wrote in an op-ed for the Hill, “Democrats on the committee did not even know existed until late last Friday. Needless to say, there was no bipartisan negotiating. After we saw the bill, we understood why.”

The division is responsible for more than just climate change research.

According to the Los Angeles Times, after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, it tracked the oil spilling into the coastal regions from the Gulf of Mexico. It also works to better understand natural hazards like earthquakes and severe storms.

The American Geophysical Union pointed out before the vote that aside from climate change research, the division’s research “provide a basis for knowledge and understanding of natural hazards, weather forecasting, air quality, and water availability.”

Aside from the cuts pointed at climate science, the House Republicans’ budget isn’t entirely a slash to NASA, but instead gives different priorities than the White House.

Bert Guevara's insight:

As an outsider, I can only regret how democratic institutions are being used for political agenda over environmental protection. The implications are worrisome, to say the least.


“It’s hard to believe that in order to serve an ideological agenda, the majority is willing to slash the science that helps us have a better understanding of our planet.”

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UK Supreme Court orders Government to take “immediate action” on air pollution ("no time to waste")

UK Supreme Court orders Government to take “immediate action” on air pollution ("no time to waste") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
ClientEarth means Justice for the Planet. We are an organisation of activist environmental lawyers committed to securing a healthy planet. We work in Europe and beyond, bringing together law, science and policy to create pragmatic solutions to key environmental challenges.

The UK Supreme Court has quashed the Government’s ineffective plans to cut illegal levels of air pollution in Britain and ordered it to deliver new ones by the end of the year. 
The Supreme Court Justices were unanimous in their decision, handed down this morning, saying: “The new Government, whatever its political complexion, should be left in no doubt as to the need for immediate action to address this issue.”
The historic ruling is the culmination of a five year legal battle fought by ClientEarth for the right of British people to breathe clean air. 
The ruling will save thousands of lives a year by forcing the Government to urgently clean up pollution from diesel vehicles, the main source of the illegal levels of Nitrogen Dioxide found in many of the UK’s towns and cities.
ClientEarth Lawyer Alan Andrews said: “Air pollution kills tens of thousands of people in this country every year. We brought our case because we have a right to breathe clean air and today the Supreme Court has upheld that right.”  
“This ruling will benefit everyone’s health but particularly children, older people and those with existing health conditions like asthma and heart and lung conditions.
“The next Government, regardless of the political party or parties which take power, is now legally bound to take urgent action on this public health crisis. Before next week’s election all political parties need to make a clear commitment to policies which will deliver clean air and protect our health.”

Bert Guevara's insight:

If the Philippine Supreme Court has the Manila Bay Mandamus, in UK they have the Clean Air Mandamus!

This is a victory for the environment and the people!


"The Supreme Court ruling means the Government must start work on a comprehensive plan to meet pollution limits as soon as possible. Among the measures that that it must consider are low emission zones, congestion charging and other economic incentives.
"ClientEarth is calling for action to clean up the worst polluting diesel vehicles, including through a national network of low emission zones."

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State of Earth in 4 Climate Trends ("even the pope has raised the concern for climate action")

State of Earth in 4 Climate Trends ("even the pope has raised the concern for climate action") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
On Earth Day, four climate trends reveal what's happening to our changing climate

But to really understand climate change, the trends are what matter. Here are four that make it clear how our planet is changing.

The Number: 400 ppm
The Trend: Current level of CO2, up from pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm
Even though carbon dioxide doesn’t make up much of the Earth’s atmosphere, its heat-trapping ability helps prevent Earth from being cold and barren, like Mars. But there can be too much of a good thing: Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, the amount of carbon dioxide in the air has been steadily rising due to human activities like burning coal for electricity, with the excess CO2 trapping ever more heat and raising global temperatures. It is the trend that drives all of the others associated with global warming.

The Number: 1.6°F
The Trend: Rise in global temperatures since 1880
Since the advent of modern recordkeeping in 1880, the global average temperature has risen 1.6°F. The trend is one of the hallmarks of global warming and tightly tied with the rise in human CO2 emissions.

The Number: 361
The Trend: Consecutive months of above-normal temps
Every month, the story writes itself when it comes to the global average temperature: it’s above normal. Occasionally—and more frequently in recent years—it’s record-setting.

The Number: 10
The Trend: The 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 1998
If you take those monthly temperature numbers and average them over a year, another notable trend emerges. All 10 of the warmest years on record have come since 1998. What’s more, 13 of the 15 warmest years have come since 2000, including the exclamation point of 2014, the hottest year on record (though its rein may be short-lived as 2015 is on track to take the crown). The odds of that happening by chance alone? About 1-in-27 million.


Bert Guevara's insight:

While we celebrate Earth Day, how is our planet doing?


"It’s easy to get caught up in individual records or wondering what influence climate change has on extreme weather events. But to really understand climate change, the trends are what matter. Here are four that make it clear how our planet is changing."

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Dosage may make the poison, but low exposures to these toxins may still pack a punch ("loaded air")

Dosage may make the poison, but low exposures to these toxins may still pack a punch ("loaded air") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
The dose may make the poison, but a new study finds even low levels of certain toxins might affect our health.

Researchers from the Endocrine Disruption Exchange and the University of Colorado, Boulder reviewed 40 studies on those four chemicals, which are found at oil and gas wells and within everyday products such as gasoline, glues, detergents, dyes, and pesticides. Large doses of these substances can cause reproductive problems and cancer, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says they won’t harm us in smaller amounts. Not so, say the paper’s authors. They found that exposure levels lower than the EPA’s threshold could be linked to health issues like asthma, heart disease, and low birth weight.

The findings are cause for concern, says lead author Ashley Bolden, a research associate at the Endocrine Disruption Exchange.

The biggest danger, the report suggests, comes from exposure indoors, where Americans on average spend more than 80 percent of their time. Pollution can blow into homes through open windows, come in on dust from shoes, or off gas from toys and other products. The four chemicals studied are present in 90 percent of air samples, yet you’d never know it because they are odorless at low doses. Ethylbenzene, for example, is one of the top 10 chemicals used in kids’ toys and on playgrounds, where, according to the EPA, it can waft into the air or get onto little sneakers.

The review is important because the effects of low-level exposure to pollutants—especially these four—haven’t received much attention, says Ruthann Rudel, a toxicologist with the Silent Spring Institute, which studies environmental links to breast cancer. A spokesperson for the EPA told Environmental Health News that the agency would review Bolden’s paper and possibly incorporate some of its findings into its own work. With enough data, the agency could ban the chemicals from certain products or limit how much is allowed, depending on factors such as the likelihood to cause cancer or exacerbate other health issues.

Bert Guevara's insight:

You will find small amounts of poisons in the air, through the windows, in your shoes, in toys, etc. Even in small amounts, they can be harmful to the health.


"Until we know more about what we’re inviting in from outside, Bolden suggests making sure our buildings are well ventilated—a simple enough precaution, and hopefully in this case, too, a little will go a long way."

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Looking for Global Warming? Check the Ocean | Climate Central (93% of warming absorbed by oceans")

Looking for Global Warming? Check the Ocean | Climate Central (93% of warming absorbed by oceans") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
Greenhouse gases are trapping a lot of heat in the climate system and most is ending up in the ocean.

But surface heat is but a fraction of the climate change equation. Only 7 percent of the heat being trapped by greenhouse gases is sticking around in the surface and atmosphere of the planet. The other 93 percent? That's ending up in the ocean, though some scientists expect some of that heat will eventually find its way back to the surface andtrigger even more warming.

“We continue to be stunned at how rapidly the ocean is warming,” Sarah Gille, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography professor, told Climate Central last year. 

Not only has the ocean been absorbing more heat than the surface of the earth, it's been absorbing ever greater quantities of it. Earlier this year, the ocean's heat literally went off the charts. The y-axis on a graphic that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration uses to measure ocean heat wasn't high enough to accomodate the latest measurements. Luckily, it was an easy fix to just add a few more zettajoules to the axis. 

Unfortunately it won't be quite as easy to fix the ocean, which has a long memory. It will take decades or even centuries after humans stop burning fossil fuels and emitting greenhouse gases for the ocean to reach equilibrium. In the meantime, all that extra stored heat will cause seawater to expand, raising sea levels, and altering the ecosystemsthat marine plants and animals have adapted to for eons.


Bert Guevara's insight:

This is worrisome because the world tends to be complacent with the thought that the oceans will always be there to absorb the heat. Well, that is not true forever.


"But surface heat is but a fraction of the climate change equation. Only 7 percent of the heat being trapped by greenhouse gases is sticking around in the surface and atmosphere of the planet. The other 93 percent? That's ending up in the ocean, though some scientists expect some of that heat will eventually find its way back to the surface andtrigger even more warming."

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Big Insurance Companies Are Warning The U.S. To Prepare For Climate Change ("this applies to the rest of the world")

Big Insurance Companies Are Warning The U.S. To Prepare For Climate Change ("this applies to the rest of the world") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
Insurance companies are telling the U.S. to stop wasting so much money on responding to disasters after they happen.

According to a report released Tuesday by the SmarterSafer coalition, the U.S. needs to increase how much it spends on pre-disaster mitigation efforts and infrastructure protection. That way, it asserts, the U.S. can stop wasting so much money on cleaning up after a disaster happens.

“Our current natural disaster policy framework focuses heavily on responding to disasters, rather than putting protective measures in place to reduce our vulnerability and limit a disaster’s impact,” the report reads. “This needlessly exposes Americans to greater risks to life and property and results in much higher costs to the federal government.”

The SmarterSafer coalition is made up of more than 30 different groups, including some of the biggest insurance companies in the world: Allianz, Liberty Mutual, SwissRe, and USAA, to name a few. Adequately dealing with the risks of climate change is inherently important to the insurance industry, as failure to prepare can lead to increased costs for insurance companies when storms wipe out basements and take out walls.

Making sure the government is prepared is important for private insurers too. Because if governments don’t fortify their infrastructure, the damage can fall onto the companies. A good example is Farmers Insurance Co., which sued local governments in the Chicago area last year for failing to prepare for climate change (the lawsuits have since been dropped). That lack of preparedness, the lawsuits said, caused sewers to burst into people’s homes and property values to decline — damage that Farmers had to pay for.

The report suggested changing FEMA’s payment system so that states that have taken the most mitigation and preparation efforts are rewarded with more federal aid when disasters strike. “[R]ather than simply writing a blank check after every disaster,” it says, “disaster assistance must be provided on a sliding scale so that communities can get a full share of funding only if they have taken significant steps to protect its residents from harm.”

Bert Guevara's insight:

No room for climate denial when big insurance companies start counting the real costs of unpreparedness.

 

"One of the biggest climate risks is sea level rise, which has increased both the frequency and length of minor coastal flooding — also called “nuisance flooding.” Whereas nuisance flooding along the Atlantic, Gulf, and West Coasts only occurred less than once per year at any given location in the 1950s, it now occurs on average about once every three months, the report says.

"In addition, periods of very heavy precipitation have increased in every region of the country except Hawaii since 1958, according to the National Climate Assessment. That’s been particularly bad in the Northeast and Midwest, which have seen 71 percent and 37 percent increases in very heavy precipitation, respectively.

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Fossil Fuels Just Lost the Race Against Renewables ("numbers show a clear trend for renewables")

Fossil Fuels Just Lost the Race Against Renewables ("numbers show a clear trend for renewables") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
This is the beginning of the end.

The race for renewable energy has passed a turning point. The world is now adding more capacity for renewable power each year than coal, natural gas, and oil combined. And there's no going back. 

The shift occurred in 2013, when the world added 143 gigawatts of renewable electricity capacity, compared with 141 gigawatts in new plants that burn fossil fuels, according to an analysis presented Tuesday at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance annual summit in New York. The shift will continue to accelerate, and by 2030 more than four times as much renewable capacity will be added. 

"The electricity system is shifting to clean,'' Michael Liebreich, founder of BNEF, said in his keynote address. "Despite the change in oil and gas prices there is going to be a substantial buildout of renewable energy that is likely to be an order of magnitude larger than the buildout of coal and gas."

The price of wind and solar power continues to plummet, and is now on par or cheaper than grid electricity in many areas of the world. Solar, the newest major source of energy in the mix, makes up less than 1 percent of the electricity market today but could be the world’s biggest single source by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency.

The question is no longer if the world will transition to cleaner energy, but how long it will take. In the chart below, BNEF forecasts the billions of dollars that need to be invested each year in order to avoid the most severe consequences of climate change, represented by a benchmark increase of more than 2 degrees Celsius. 

The blue lines are what's needed, in billions; the red lines show what's actually being spent. Since the financial crisis, funding has fallen well short of the target, according to BNEF. 

Bert Guevara's insight:

The price of wind and solar power continues to plummet, and is now on par or cheaper than grid electricity in many areas of the world. Solar, the newest major source of energy in the mix, makes up less than 1 percent of the electricity market today but could be the world’s biggest single source by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency.

The question is no longer if the world will transition to cleaner energy, but how long it will take. In the chart below, BNEF forecasts the billions of dollars that need to be invested each year in order to avoid the most severe consequences of climate change, represented by a benchmark increase of more than 2 degrees Celsius. 

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New Studies Reveal Climate Extremes From Fire to Ice | Climate Central ("CO2 & the snowball earth theory")

New Studies Reveal Climate Extremes From Fire to Ice | Climate Central ("CO2 & the snowball earth theory") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
Two new studies show how drastically CO2 has affected Earth's climate in the distant past.

Climate scientists don't just rely on computer models and contemporary observations to understand the intimate relationship between CO2 in the atmosphere and environmental conditions on Earth. They also look to the ancient past — and two reports in recent days have made it clear how intimate that relationship is. One chronicles an episode 2.4 billion years in the past, when the entire planet was covered in a layer of ice hundreds of feet thick, oceans and all, while global average temperatures hovered around 40° F below zero.

A massive infusion of heat-trapping CO2 from powerful volcanoes — more CO2 than we're likely to emit in many hundreds of years, to be sure — saved the planet from this so-called Snowball Earth environment. The second report covers an event that happened about 250 million years ago, and this time the effects weren't so benign. Another set of gigantic eruptions poured enough CO2 into the air not only to warm the planet drastically, but also to acidify the oceans so profoundly that some 90 percent of all ocean species died off, followed by two-thirds of land species. It's the worst mass extinction, as far as we know, in history.

These monumental episodes of climate change, both linked intimately to levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, are a testament to the dramatic effects this greenhouse gas has on the entire planet. So it's no surprise that the smaller amounts we're emitting could have a significant effect as well.

What the new paper adds is a good estimate of where temperatures stood at the time. “Nowadays,” said lead author Daniel Hewartz, a geologist with the University of Göttingen, “you can measure past temperatures by looking at ice cores” — that is, samples of ancient ice drilled from the ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica.

Bert Guevara's insight:

For serious climate students, here is an interesting theory about carbon dioxide and how it shaped the planet's climate.


"Both of these reports on ancient CO2 and climate will need confirmation from future studies, since both involve difficult measurements at the edge of what’s technically possible. But both are entirely consistent with the picture climate scientists have been putting together for more than a century. Carbon dioxide was a key driver of the climate system billions of years ago, and it still is."

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Beijing promises coal-free power by 2017 to fight pollution ("symbolic gesture but not enough")

Beijing promises coal-free power by 2017 to fight pollution ("symbolic gesture but not enough") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing will build four gas-fired power and heating plants by next year and shut the last of its coal-fired generators by 2017 as part of its campaign against hazardous air pollution,

However, while progress has been made in cutting major pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, China's sprawling capital will still need many years to bring smog down to acceptable levels as the authorities struggle to find alternative energy supplies.

"The level of small particulate matter or PM2.5 that we monitored is 1.5 times higher than the standard," Zhang Dawei, director of the monitoring center at the municipal environmental bureau, said late on Thursday during a media tour of facilities.

"It will still need two decades to clean up the smog."

Beijing is on the frontline of a "war on pollution" launched by central government last year, amid fears that public disquiet about the state of the country's sky, water and soil could spill over into political unrest.

The city authorities have already promised to relocate big polluting industries into neighboring Hebei province and slash total coal use to less than 10 million tonnes by 2017, a fall of 13 million tonnes in just four years.

Beijing will also invest 47.7 billion yuan ($7.70 billion) to build four natural-gas-fired cogeneration plants by this year to provide cleaner heat and power for its 20 million citizens.

The switch to gas for the generation of power will help Beijing meet 70 percent of its planned coal cuts.

Bert Guevara's insight:

It was a political move to clean the air, otherwise the people may not be able to take it anymore.

 

"It will still need two decades to clean up the smog."

"Beijing is on the frontline of a "war on pollution" launched by central government last year, amid fears that public disquiet about the state of the country's sky, water and soil could spill over into political unrest."

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Vital Signs: Land Ice ("134b tons of ice per year lost in the Antarctic & Greenland")

Vital Signs: Land Ice ("134b tons of ice per year lost in the Antarctic & Greenland") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
Vital Signs of the Planet: Global Climate Change and Global Warming. Current news and data streams about global warming and climate change from NASA.

Data from NASA's Grace satellites show that the land ice sheets in both Antarctica and Greenland are losing mass. The continent of Antarctica has been losing about 134 billion tons of ice per year since 2002, while the Greenland ice sheet has been losing an estimated 287 billion tons per year. 

Bert Guevara's insight:

If it's getting too hot in the Philippines, check out how much ice melting is happening in the Antarctic and in Greenland. (Read graphs.) 


"Data from NASA's Grace satellites show that the land ice sheets in both Antarctica and Greenland are losing mass. The continent of Antarctica has been losing about 134 billion tons of ice per year since 2002, while the Greenland ice sheet has been losing an estimated 287 billion tons per year."

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Bayan ng Matalam, isinailalim sa state of calamity dahil sa tindi ng init | Video ("El Niño's havoc")

Bayan ng Matalam, isinailalim sa state of calamity dahil sa tindi ng init | Video ("El Niño's havoc") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
Bayan ng Matalam, isinailalim sa state of calamity dahil sa tindi ng init. Home of GMA News Online listing top breaking Philippine and international headlines, videos and photos encompassing sections of current events, sports, economy and business, science & technology, pinoy abroad, showbiz entertainment, lifestyle, weather, traffic and local region stories. Also includes foreign exchange rates, lotto results, board exam results.
Bert Guevara's insight:

State of calamity now declared in Matalam, North Cotabato because of drought. El Niño is hitting them hard.

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'Substantial' El Nino event predicted - BBC News ("the mild prediction is now upgraded to severe")

'Substantial' El Nino event predicted - BBC News ("the mild prediction is now upgraded to severe") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
The El Nino event, which can drive droughts and flooding, is under way in the tropical Pacific, say scientists.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology predicted that it could become a "substantial" event later in the year.

The phenomenon arises from variations in ocean temperatures.

The El Nino is still in its early stages, but has the potential to cause extreme weather around the world, according to forecasters.

US scientists announced in April that El Nino had arrived, but it was described then as "weak".

Australian scientists said models suggested it could strengthen from September onwards, but it was too early to determine with confidence how strong it could be.

"This is a proper El Nino effect, it's not a weak one," David Jones, manager of climate monitoring and prediction at the Bureau of Meteorology, told reporters.

"You know, there's always a little bit of doubt when it comes to intensity forecasts, but across the models as a whole we'd suggest that this will be quite a substantial El Nino event."

Prof Eric Guilyardi of the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading said it would become clear in the summer whether this year might be different.

"The likelihood of El Nino is high but its eventual strength in the winter when it has its major impacts worldwide is still unknown," he said.

"We will know in the summer how strong it is going to be."

Bert Guevara's insight:

We all thought it was going to be a "mild" El Niño, but indicators are revealing that it may become a "substantial" one -- resulting in droughts and flooding extremes.

Although the El Niño phenomenon happens in 5 to 7 year cycles, it is always a different one.

 

"The likelihood of El Nino is high but its eventual strength in the winter when it has its major impacts worldwide is still unknown," he said.

"We will know in the summer how strong it is going to be."

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Church Of England Divests From Coal And Tar Sands, Citing ‘Moral Responsibility’ ("get the point?")

Church Of England Divests From Coal And Tar Sands, Citing ‘Moral Responsibility’ ("get the point?") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
"Climate change is already a reality," a church leader said in a statement.

The mother church of the world’s Anglican Communion divested a total of $18.42 million in coal and tar sands investments from its holdings, a move that the church said is part of a larger goal of helping the globe make the transition to a lower-carbon economy. From now on, the church — which counts about 26 million baptized English residents as its members — will not invest in companies that generate more than 10 percent of their revenue from thermal coal or tar sands.

“Climate change is already a reality,” Reverend Canon Professor Richard Burridge, deputy chair of the church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group, said in a statement. “The Church has a moral responsibility to speak and act on both environmental stewardship and justice for the world’s poor who are most vulnerable to climate change.”

The church’s investment portfolio totals about $12.1 billion. According to theGuardian, if the church divested its portfolio of all fossil fuel stock, including oil and gas companies, it would be the largest institution in the world to do so.

Bishop Nick Holtam, the Church of England’s lead Bishop on the environment, said in a statement that climate change “is the most pressing moral issue in our world.”

Bert Guevara's insight:

After Pope Francis' encyclical; now comes the Church of England preaching by way of declaring investment diversion.

Can't we get the point? The churches are reading the "writing on the wall."

 

"This isn’t the first strong statement the Church of England has made on climate change. In 2014, when the church was deliberating over whether or not to divest its holdings, it said that it would stop investing in companies that fail to fight the “great demon” of climate change. The church also made clear, however, that it believed divestment was a “final option,” and that ultimately, humans must examine their way of life, which relies on “plentiful, cheap energy,” if climate change is to be addressed."

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UN, Vatican team up for climate change agenda ("it's good that they are on the same side")

UN, Vatican team up for climate change agenda ("it's good that they are on the same side") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The United Nations and Vatican joined forces Tuesday to warn about the dire effects of climate change, gathering religious leaders, Nobel laureates and heads of state to present a united front ahead…

The United Nations and Vatican joined forces Tuesday to warn about the dire effects of climate change, gathering religious leaders, Nobel laureates and heads of state to present a united front ahead of make-or-break environment talks later this year in Paris.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Pope Francis for framing the need to combat global warming as an urgent moral imperative, saying his upcoming encyclical provided an "unprecedented opportunity" to create a more sustainable future for the planet.

Ban opened a Vatican conference on the environment that is a key part of the Holy See's rollout of Francis' eagerly awaited encyclical, which is expected in June. While popes past have all taken strong stands in favor of environmental protection, Francis will be the first to address climate change in a pontiff's most authoritative teaching document.

The conference gathered Francis' key environmental advisers, the presidents of Italy and Ecuador, religious leaders from different faiths, Nobel laureates and respected climate change scientists. They were unanimous in agreeing that climate change is real, it's mostly human-induced, the poorest suffer the most from it and collective action is needed to stop it..

Bert Guevara's insight:

It's good that they are both on the same side of the climate divide.


"U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Pope Francis for framing the need to combat global warming as an urgent moral imperative, saying his upcoming encyclical provided an "unprecedented opportunity" to create a more sustainable future for the planet."

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Laura Rathe's curator insight, May 3, 9:48 AM

El Papa Francisco y Ban Ki Moon, secretario general de la ONU concuerdan que el combate al cambio climático es un imperativo moral

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UN News - Air pollution in Europe costs $1.6 trillion a year in deaths and diseases, UN study shows

UN News - Air pollution in Europe costs $1.6 trillion a year in deaths and diseases, UN study shows | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
The United Nations health agency reported today in first-of-its-kind study that air pollution across Europe is costing “a staggering” $1.6 trillion a year in deaths and diseases, which amounts to nearly one tenth of the region’s gross domestic product.

The economic cost of the health impact of air pollution in Europe is the first assessment of the economic burden of deaths and diseases resulting from outdoor and indoor air pollution in the 53 countries of the region, according to the study, which was carried out by the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The study was published as more than 200 representatives from European countries and international and non-governmental organizations gathered in Haifa, Israel, from 28 to 30 April to look at achievements, gaps and challenges and set future priorities. The cost of the health impacts of air pollution is one of many studies that will provide evidence on the environmental impacts on health to be released at the Haifa meeting.

“Reducing air pollution has become a top political priority,” Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) said.

According to the WHO announcement, “a staggering $1.6 trillion is the economic cost of the approximate 600,000 premature deaths and of the diseases caused by air pollution in the WHO European Region in 2010, according to the first-ever study of these costs conducted for the Region.”

“The economic cost of deaths alone accounts for over $1.4 trillion,” according to the study. “Adding another 10% to this, as the cost of diseases from air pollution, results in a total of almost $1.6 trillion.”

In addition, the study showed that “in no less than 10 of the 53 countries of the Region, this cost is at or above 20 per cent of national gross domestic product (GDP), and amounted to nearly one tenth of the GDP of the entire European Union in 2013.

Bert Guevara's insight:

In pursuit of cheap fossil fuel and energy, Europe is losing more in deaths and diseases borne out of air pollution. Economic managers should begin to look at the bigger picture and promote investments in clean fuel and energy.


“The economic value of deaths and diseases due to air pollution – $1,600,000, 000, 000 – corresponds to the amount societies are willing to pay to avoid these deaths and diseases with necessary interventions,” it explained. “In these calculations, a value is attached to each death and disease, independent of the age of the person and which varies according to the national economic context.”

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Simon BdR's curator insight, May 15, 5:29 AM

"$1.6 trillion is the economic cost of the approximate 600,000 premature deaths and of the diseases caused by air pollution in the WHO European Region in 2010". Enven though it is always a touchy topic to put a price on human lives, it is clearly what the economy we live in does. Air pollution caused directly by human activities costs us a lot of lives as well as a lot of money. Air pollution (both outdoor and indoor) has to quickly become a priority topic for citizens as well as politics!

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New Ozone Destroying Gases On The Rise Says Study ("coming from production of HFCs but damages ozone")

New Ozone Destroying Gases On The Rise Says Study ("coming from production of HFCs but damages ozone") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

At present, naturally-emitted VSLS account for around 90% of the total ozone loss caused by VSLS in the lower stratosphere. However, the contribution from man-made VSLS compounds is increasing and appears set to increase further in coming years. 

Study co-author Dr Stephen Montzka from the NOAA added: “The increases observed for dichloromethane are striking and unexpected; concentrations had been decreasing slowly in the late 1990s, but since then have increased by about a factor of two at sites throughout the globe.”

Dr Hossaini said: “It is uncertain what is driving this growth. However, it could be partly due to the fact that dichloromethane is used in the manufacturing process of some HFCs, the 'ozone-friendly' gases which were developed to replace CFCs. This would mean, ironically, that production of ozone-friendly chemicals is actually releasing some ozone-destroying gases into the atmosphere.”

The researchers found that while the amount of ozone depletion arising from VSLS in the atmosphere today is small compared to that caused by longer-lived gases, such as CFCs, VSLS-driven ozone depletion was found to be almost four times more efficient at influencing climate.

Dr Hossaini explained: “Due to their short atmospheric lifetimes, VSLS break down and destroy ozone in the lowermost part of the stratosphere. This is important, as a molecule of ozone lost in this region has a far larger impact on climate than a molecule destroyed at higher altitudes by longer-lived gases.”

The researchers also separated out natural sources of VSLS – such as seaweed in the ocean – and those released due to human activity – such as industrial processes – in order to determine the relative importance of each.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The battle to save the ozone just became complicated! For serious climate advocates, read the article and learn more about "dichloromethane".

 

Dr Hossaini said: “It is uncertain what is driving this growth. However, it could be partly due to the fact that dichloromethane is used in the manufacturing process of some HFCs, the 'ozone-friendly' gases which were developed to replace CFCs. This would mean, ironically, that production of ozone-friendly chemicals is actually releasing some ozone-destroying gases into the atmosphere.”

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California drought, lack of snow got you down? Try rock skiing ("sad reality met w/ jokes to light up")

California drought, lack of snow got you down? Try rock skiing ("sad reality met w/ jokes to light up") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
A group of filmmakers poked gentle fun at California skiers who were recently photographed skiing on an anemic patch of snow on the state’s drought-ridden mountains, by promoting a new sport: rock skiing.

In the film from Happy United and Groove Guild, a skier and a snowboarder donning winter gear are seen climbing a steep, rocky mountain, then leaping off. The pair ski down the sharp rock edges, landing in gravel instead of snow.

Jumping off boulders, the snowboarder and skier appear to navigate every turn and twist with considerable skill despite the lack of snow.

Then things take a turn for the worse as the pair plunge to the ground. They can barely hold themselves as they slip on rocks down the mountain. The skier ends up spitting dirt.

The short film ends with "No snow," "No Water," "#Climatechangeisreal."

The filmmakers say the video illustrates "the effects of climate change on our once snow-capped peaks."

The nearly three-minute video refers to a series of photographs taken at ski resorts in Northern California in March, showing skiers gliding on thin patches of snow surrounded by dirt.

Officials say the dismal snow conditions are the result of four years of drought.

"This is arguably one of the driest winters we have had," Bob Roberts, president and chief executive of the California Ski Industry Assn., told the Los Angeles Times.


Bert Guevara's insight:

Don't worry; be happy! Can skiers take a joke? 

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Changing Climate Moving People - YouTube ("forced migration is the normal response in critical areas")

Changing Climate, Moving People is a 35-minute film made by The Energy Resource Institute (TERI), for UNESCO, which looks at disaster or climate stress relat...

Changing Climate, Moving People is a 35-minute film made by The Energy Resource Institute (TERI), for UNESCO, which looks at disaster or climate stress related migration from three different regions in the country – Uttarakhand, Bundelkhand and Odisha. These three states are already amongst the leading sources for internal migration and have been hit by extreme weather events like floods (Uttarakhand), drought (Bundelkhand region) and cyclones (Odisha), which are likely to become more recurrent and stronger as a result of climate change. The film is divided in three parts, each of these looking at a specific region and the nature of migration happening out of the said region.

Bert Guevara's insight:

This is how climate is changing people's lives. There will be more migration due to rising sea levels, drought, landslides, etc.

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Dry spell to intensify in May, warns PAGASA | Manila Bulletin | Latest Breaking News | News Philippines

Dry spell to intensify in May, warns PAGASA | Manila Bulletin | Latest Breaking News | News Philippines | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned over the weekend that the dry spell will intensify in the next couple of weeks and affect more provinces in May.

“It’s possible. That the areas will increase by May due to the peak of the summer,” PAGASA Weather Forecaster Samuel Duran told PNA last Saturday.

He said that PAGASA will assess other areas by the end of the month to determine if dry spell affected them.

Duran also said that the dry spell became drought upon reaching months of minimum rains.

He pointed out the end of the dry spell in 30 provinces cannot be estimated yet and will be based on further evaluation.

Earlier, PAGASA announced a dry spell mostly in Mindanao, some areas in Luzon, and a few more areas in the Visayas.

The low rainfall areas are: Abra, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Batanes, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Palawan, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Bohol, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, South Cotabato, Sarangani, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, Basilan, Lanao del Sur and Sulu.

Bert Guevara's insight:

More bad news for agriculture.

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Climate plans put world on track for warming above agreed limits ("almost all countries failed")

Climate plans put world on track for warming above agreed limits ("almost all countries failed") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
Russia's strategy is especially weak because it lets greenhouse gas emissions rise, experts say

The United States, the 28-nation European Union, Russia, Mexico, Switzerland, Norway and Gabon have so far submitted strategies to the United Nations, meant as the building blocks of a global deal to be agreed in December at a summit in Paris.

"We regret that so few ... have been submitted," said Miguel Arias Canete, European Climate Action and Energy Commissioner. So far, national plans cover about 30 percent of world emissions.

March 31 was a first, informal deadline for plans, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), that are meant to help slow the effects of climate change. Most nations are waiting to submit their plans.

The Climate Action Tracker (CAT), compiled by scientists, said pledges so far put the world on track for average temperatures in the year 2100 three to four degrees Celsius (5.4 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than they were in pre-industrial time. That is well above a U.N. goal of a maximum 2 degrees C (3.6F) rise.

"Hopefully, there can be a dynamic to increase ambition" in coming months, said Niklas Hoehne, a founding partner of the New Climate Institute, which helps compile the CAT.

CAT gave Russia an "inadequate" rating and assessed others as "medium". It said reports that Japan was considering cuts of only 20 percent by 2030 would also be "inadequate". 

Russia's goal is to limit emissions to 25 to 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. But its emissions were 32 percent below the 1990 benchmark in 2012, a legacy of the collapse of Soviet-era smokestack industries, meaning a rise by 2030.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The world is still short in climate action! The people of the world have to suffer the consequences, whether guilty or not, some more than the others.

Climate justice is not fair in terms of punishment for the guilty.


"The Climate Action Tracker (CAT), compiled by scientists, said pledges so far put the world on track for average temperatures in the year 2100 three to four degrees Celsius (5.4 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than they were in pre-industrial time. That is well above a U.N. goal of a maximum 2 degrees C (3.6F) rise."

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