"China couldn’t have invented global warming as a hoax to harm U.S. competitiveness because it was Donald Trump’s Republican predecessors who started climate negotiations in the 1980s, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said. U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush supported the Intergovernmental Panel on • Climate Change in initiating global warming talks even before China knew that negotiations to cut pollution were starting, Liu told reporters at United Nations talks on Wednesday in Marrakech, Morocco. • Ministers and government officials from almost 200 countries gathered in Marrakech this week are awaiting a decision by President-elect Trump on whether he’ll pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change. The tycoon tweeted in 2012 that the concept of global warming “was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” China’s envoy rejected that view."
Here’s something I’ll say: Are there people who would cynically use climate change as a pretext to expand government? Maybe. I think it’s more likely they earnestly think government is the best way to address an urgent problem, but I can’t really prove it. Personally, I go back and forth on how much of a role government should play. The most exciting potential solutions to me tend to be innovations coming out of universities, startups and corporate R&D labs, but often the folks working on private sector solutions also see a need for new regulations (and yes, a carbon tax probably would help Elon Musk’s bottom line, I get it).
What type of actions to take on climate is a policy argument worth having, but it’s one that’s very different from the one about whether the science is settled or not. We should be able to look at the data and the science and at least agree on what’s happening. So let’s take a look at it together now.
Think I’m wrong on climate and Trump is right? Let me know why. If you can, present your evidence. Show your work. Then we’ll discuss. Maybe one of us will even change our minds.
You can leave a comment here or you can add to an open Google Doc I’ve setup (I will be moderating abusive contributions to at least attempt to keep things civil and productive). Let’s finally settle this so we can get busy figuring out what to do next, whether it’s tackling climate change in earnest or focusing on something else (like most of you, I also think cancer, unemployment and ISIS all suck, too).
Look for more updates on this dialogue here from time to time as well.
KIGALI, Rwanda — Negotiators from more than 170 countries on Saturday reached a legally binding accord to counter climate change by cutting the worldwide use of a powerful planet-warming chemical used in air-conditioners and refrigerators.
The talks in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, have not drawn the same spotlight as the climate change accord forged in Paris last year. But the outcome could have an equal or even greater impact on efforts to slow the heating of the planet.
President Obama called the deal “an ambitious and far-reaching solution to this looming crisis.”
Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking to fellow negotiators in Kigali, said, “It is likely the single most important step we could take at this moment to limit the warming of our planet and limit the warming for generations to come.”
“It is,” Mr. Kerry added, “the biggest thing we can do in one giant swoop.”
While the Paris agreement included pledges by nearly every country to cut emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the fossil fuels that power vehicles, electric plants and factories, the new Kigali deal has a single target: chemical coolants called hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, used in air-conditioners and refrigerators.
"The world’s wealthiest countries, known as the Group of 20, largely set any new rules for the global financial system.
And because they also account for 85 percent of carbon emissions, they might also soon [scheduled release before the end of 2016] set another kind of standard: how companies should disclose information about the impact of climate change on their businesses.
At a minimum, the proposed standards would need to be reliable and comparable across industries. But they will also probably come up with ways for companies to show how they are planning for three possible events: physical damage from climate change, liability from climate events, and government actions that would curb carbon emissions and promote green energy.
A report examining the many ways climate change threatens coffee and coffee farmers has alarmed people who are now imagining what it would be like getting through the day without their caffeine fix.
The report, released this month by the Climate Institute, a nonprofit organization in Australia, was commissioned by Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand, the regional hub of the global Fairtrade system.
Though it contains little new research, it has made waves by collating an array of available literature indicating that climate change will have a stark effect on the world’s coffee supply.
The report emphasizes the threat warming temperatures pose to farmland, citing a study from the March 2015 issue of the journal Climatic Change that found climate change “will reduce the global area suitable for coffee by about 50 percent across emission scenarios.”
In addition to the disappearing land on which to grow coffee, the report highlights the way warmer weather is exacerbating the threat of diseases like coffee rust and pests like the coffee berry borer, a type of beetle that a 2011 report said caused annual losses of hundreds of millions of dollars in coffee beans.
“The extra warmth is enabling those sorts of lines of attack to be strengthened,” said John Connor, the chief executive of the Climate Institute.
In a report outlining climate risks, the group state: “The military has long had a tradition of parsing threats through a ‘Survive to Operate’ lens, meaning we cannot assume the best case scenario, but must prepare to be able to effectively operate even under attack. Dealing with climate risks to operational effectiveness must therefore be a core priority.”
Organized by the non-partisan Center for Climate and Security, the group includes Geoffrey Kemp, former national security adviser to Reagan, Dov Zakheim, former under secretary of defense under Bush, and retired general Gordon Sullivan, a former army chief of staff.
Recommendations to the federal government include the creation of a cabinet-level official dedicated to climate change and security issues and the prioritization of climate change in intelligence assessments.
Last year, the Department of Defense called climate change a “threat multiplier” which could demand greater humanitarian or military intervention and lead to more severe storms that threaten cities and military bases and heightened sea levels that could imperil island and coastal infrastructure. In January, the Pentagon ordered its officials to start incorporating climate change into every major consideration, from weapons testing to preparing troops for war.
This new focus has not been warmly welcomed by Republicans, with Colorado congressman Ken Buck proposing an amendment that would bar the Pentagon from spending money on adapting to climate change.
“When we distract our military with a radical climate change agenda, we detract from their main purpose of defending America from enemies like Isis,” Buck said in July. Meanwhile, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has labeled climate change a “hoax”.
But military figures are increasingly expressing concern over potential disruption to the 1,774 coastal military installations the US operates at home and abroad. A mass of military infrastructure in Virginia is at particular risk of being soaked, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warning that by 2050 a majority of US coastal areas are likely to be threatened by 30 or more days of flooding each year due to “dramatically accelerating impacts from sea level rise”.
“The conclusions are clear: climate risks are accelerating in their likelihood and severity,” said retired rear admiral David Titley of the US navy. “The next administration, whomever is elected, has the duty and obligation as commander-in-chief to manage this risk in a comprehensive manner.”
"Teachers can be a powerful influence, shaping their students views on literature, history and science. But if they’re spreading misinformation about the causes of climate change, that could be a problem. However, a new study shows, many tweens’ assessments on climate appear to rely on more than what they hear in class.
Middle-school students are more likely to believe that climate change is underway if their teachers do, the new study finds. But as for what’s behind the heat, many tweens are making up their own minds in favor of the science.
Middle- and high-school teachers are devoting time to talking about climate change in their classrooms. But many give about equal weight to both human and natural causes, a March 2016 study showed. This attempting to balance “both sides” doesn’t reflect the scientific consensus, though. That consensus argues that human activity is the primary factor.
Those findings made Kathryn Stevenson concerned. She’s an environmental-education researcher at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. When it comes to climate change, “science teachers are just as polarized as the general public,” she observes. And, she adds, “One of the biggest drivers for how they present climate change is based on their ideology.” If teachers are presenting views based on local social attitudes — not data — what might the students be taking away?
To find out, Stevenson and her colleagues collected data from 24 middle-school teachers at 20 schools along the North Carolina coast. The scientists surveyed those teachers and 369 of their students about their beliefs and knowledge of climate change.
"For several decades, more energy has been absorbed than emitted at the top of Earth’s atmosphere. According to Gregory Johnson, an oceanographer at NOAA, the rate of energy gained between 1971 and 2010 was roughly equal to the power required to run 140 billion 1,500-watt hair dryers over the same number of years. The rate has only increased in the past decade. • This excess energy has largely been sucked up by the oceans, which have a huge capacity to store heat. As the oceans store more heat, however, they expand. Scientists have shown that over the past decade, this thermal expansion has caused about one-third of the rise in sea levels. • What Hotter Oceans Bring • So far, the oceans have acted as Earth’s enormous heat sponge, sheltering continents and the people who live on them from atmospheric extremes. But as the oceans continue to warm, their ability to absorb energy may dwindle. Warmer ocean temperatures may also increase the destructive potential of extreme weather, like cyclones and hurricanes. • In fact, the effects of warmer waters are already widespread."
Well, you won. You were not my choice, but you’re soon going to be my president. I have no intention of forgetting or forgiving the abhorrent things you said and did during the campaign. They hurt real people, debased our political process and erased social norms vital for keeping our diverse society together. I am not done resisting all that just because you won.
However, I’m not going to spend every day hoping you fail. Too much is at stake. Since you’re clearly rethinking some of your extreme campaign promises, the right response for me is principled engagement. So let’s start now: Please revisit your claim that climate change is a hoax.
Nothing would get the attention of your opponents more than if you declared your intent to take a fresh look at the climate issue. It would force many of them to give you a second look — and virtually none of your supporters would care, because few voted for you on this issue and they all know that their kids understand the climate is changing and would be heartened if you did, too.
The mug-shot posters, pasted on walls and lampposts around Paris by an activist group during the United Nations climate talks last year, were hardly flattering. They depicted Myron Ebell, a climate contrarian, as one of seven “climate criminals” wanted for “destroying our future.”
But in his customary mild-mannered way, Mr. Ebell, who directs environmental and energy policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian advocacy group in Washington, brushed it off.
“I’ve gotten used to this over the years,” he told an interviewer at the talks. “But I did go out and get my photo taken with my poster, just so I have it as a memento.”
In looking for someone to follow through on his campaign vow to dismantle one of the Obama administration’s signature climate change policies, President-elect Donald J. Trump probably could not have found a better candidate for the job than Mr. Ebell.
Mr. Ebell, who revels in taking on the scientific consensus on global warming, will be Mr. Trump’s lead agent in choosing personnel and setting the direction of the federal agencies that address climate change and environmental policy more broadly.
Mr. Ebell, whose organization is financed in part by the coal industry, has been one of the most vocal opponents of the linchpin of that policy, the Clean Power Plan. Developed by the Environmental Protection Agency, the plan is a far-reaching set of regulations that, by seeking to reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation, could result in the closing of many coal-burning power plants, among other effects.
"Despite the vulnerability of many of his own properties to sea level rise, on the campaign trail President-elect Donald Trump stuck with Republican orthodoxy in questioning human-driven climate change, and criticizing the steps the Obama administration has taken to combat it.
Trump has promised to "cancel" the Paris agreement, the recently adopted global deal to curb global warming, and to curb climate regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including the Clean Power Plan to cut emissions from coal-fired power plants, during his first 100 days in office.
How much of this can he really do after he assumes the presidency on 20 January, along with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate?"
"Speaking at an international meeting in Rome on environmental justice and climate change attended by senior Vatican officials, Stern said that the “moral arguments” for action to combat climate change were overwhelming.
“Discounting future welfare or lives means weighting the welfare of lives of future people lower than lives now, irrespective of consumption and income levels, purely because their lives lie in the future,” he said.
“This is discrimination by date of birth, and is unacceptable when viewed alongside notions of rights and justice.” Stern is the former chief economist of the World Bank, who authored the influential 2006 Stern review commissioned by the then UK chancellor Gordon Brown. It found that ignoring climate change would eventually damage economic growth, also said that global warming presented huge potential risks related to mass migration and conflict.
Stern is now the chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and president of the British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences.
“We live and work where we do in large measure, because of where rivers, shores, and ports are located ... climate change could radically alter all of that,” he said."
Ebell is sometimes described as climate denier-in-chief, and he revels in it, crowing in his biography that he’s been called one of the leading “misleaders” on climate change and “villain of the month” by one environmental group. David Goldston, a policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, says Ebell “doesn’t believe in climate change and wants to reverse the advances we’ve had in environmental protection and decimate—if not utterly destroy—the Environmental Protection Agency.” The Competitive Enterprise Institute, Ebell’s employer, “has done everything it can politically and through litigation to block any forward movement on climate and to try to harass anybody who is trying to get forward movement,” Goldston says.
Ebell is also the chairman of the Cooler Heads Coalition, more than two dozen nonprofit groups “that question global warming alarmism and oppose energy rationing policies,” according to the coalition’s website. Those positions line up nicely with Trump’s goals, which include “saving” the coal industry, reviving the Keystone XL oil pipeline and expanding offshore oil drilling.
Ebell has attacked nearly every aspect of Obama’s environmental policies and accomplishments. He has said that the president’s decision in September to sign the Paris climate accord—which commits nations to sharp reductions in the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change—was “clearly an unconstitutional usurpation of the Senate’s authority” because treaties need approval by two-thirds of the Senate. (The White House argued that it was an agreement, not a treaty.) In a speech in August at the Detroit Economic Club, Trump said he would cancel the agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. climate change programs.
"At the end of the Permian, at many of these mass extinction boundaries, this is what we find: isorenieratene. It's very specific. It can only occur if the surface of the ocean has no oxygen, and is totally saturated with hydrogen sulfide -- enough, for instance, to come out of solution. This led Lee Kump, and others from Penn State and my group, to propose what I call the Kump Hypothesis: many of the mass extinctions were caused by lowering oxygen, by high CO2. And the worst effect of global warming, it turns out: hydrogen sulfide being produced out of the oceans.
Well, what's the source of this? In this particular case, the source over and over has been flood basalts. This is a view of the Earth now, if we extract a lot of it. And each of these looks like a hydrogen bomb; actually, the effects are even worse. This is when deep-Earth material comes to the surface, spreads out over the surface of the planet. Well, it's not the lava that kills anything, it's the carbon dioxide that comes out with it. This isn't Volvos; this is volcanoes. But carbon dioxide is carbon dioxide.
So, these are new data Rob Berner and I -- from Yale -- put together, and what we try to do now is track the amount of carbon dioxide in the entire rock record -- and we can do this from a variety of means -- and put all the red lines here, when these -- what I call greenhouse mass extinctions -- took place. And there's two things that are really evident here to me, is that these extinctions take place when CO2 is going up. But the second thing that's not shown on here: the Earth has never had any ice on it when we've had 1,000 parts per million CO2. We are at 380 and climbing. We should be up to a thousand in three centuries at the most, but my friend David Battisti in Seattle says he thinks a 100 years. So, there goes the ice caps, and there comes 240 feet of sea level rise. I live in a view house now; I'm going to have waterfront."
President Obama moved toward solidifying his climate change legacy this week by requiring federal defense and intelligence agencies to consider the effects of a warming planet on national security in the policies, plans and doctrines they develop.
The executive order, issued yesterday, comes in the form of a presidential memorandum requiring 20 federal agencies to collaborate to make sure decisionmakers have the best available information on climate change impacts and their potential threats to national security (E&ENews PM, Sept. 21). The agencies are as varied as NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which gather scientific observations on climate, and the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Department of Defense, which analyze intelligence and develop national security policy.
It’s no longer enough to work on reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, said John Holdren, assistant to the president for science and technology as well as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The facts dictate it, Holdren said. The warmest year on Earth in the modern record, 2015, occurred during Obama’s presidency, and the past 10 years have been the warmest on record.
Those temperature changes aren’t just about readings on a thermometer, he said. There are national security threats in the increasing amount and intensity of heat waves, droughts, wildfires, torrential downpours and floods. There are threats, as well, from the spread in geographic range of tropical pathogens, like the Zika virus, and the coastal erosion, flooding and saltwater intrusion brought about by sea-level rise. Even ocean acidification and warming have an effect on the food source, and therefore security, of billions of people worldwide.
“It’s gratifying to have the Paris agreements serving as the global policy framework for limiting climate change and its impacts,” Holdren said, “but it’s clear nonetheless that climate is going to continue to change for some time to come in ways that will negatively impact our security at home and abroad.”
OXFORD, England (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The planet could pass a key target on world temperature rise in about a decade, prompting accelerating loss of glaciers, steep declines in water availability, worsening land conflicts and deepening poverty, scientists said this week.
Last December, 195 nations agreed to try to hold world temperature rise to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius, with an aim of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
But the planet is already two-thirds of the way to that lower and safer goal, and could begin to pass it in about a decade, according to Richard Betts, head of climate impacts research at the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre.
The UNFCCC secretariat is organizing a series of four webinars to inform stakeholders and other interested Parties about the success story of countries’ national climate action plans, known as INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) and NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions), as a major step forward in tackling climate change. The webinars will have the following themes and the following dates:
The aggregate effect of climate action: Where do all INDCs take us? (Wednesday 5 October)
The Paris Agreement in the longer term: Understanding the “NDC cycle” (Tuesday 11 October)
Update on capacity building and support for implementing NDCs (Tuesday 18 October)
Sharing information on the adaptation component of the INDCs (Tuesday 25 October)
All four webinars will be 90 minutes in length and speakers will include UNFCCC secretariat staff, as well as representatives from countries and organizations. Each will conclude with a Q&A session.
"That obstinacy confronts a new wave of research showing that climate change is much more harmful than we had imagined. • Until now, the focus has been on rising seas, more intense hurricanes, acidification of oceans, drought and crop failures. But new studies are finding that some of the most important effects will be directly on our bodies and minds.
A clever new working paper by Jisung Park, a Ph.D. student in economics at Harvard, compared the performances of New York City students on 4.6 million exams with the day’s temperature. He found that students taking a New York State Regents exam on a 90-degree day have a 12 percent greater chance of failing than when the temperature is 72 degrees.
The Regents exams help determine whether a student graduates and goes to college, and Park finds that when a student has the bad luck to have Regents exams fall on very hot days, he or she is slightly less likely to graduate on time.
Likewise, Park finds that when a school year has an unusual number of hot days, students do worse at the end of the year on their Regents exams, presumably because they’ve learned less. A school year with five extra days above 80 degrees leads students to perform significantly worse on Regents exams."
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