Archive for the ‘Global warming’ Category

Huge Coal Company Misled Investors on Climate Change Risk, According to Investigation

November 14, 2015

A coal mine. (photo: Lyntha Scott Eiler)
A coal mine. (photo: Lyntha Scott Eiler)

By Tim McDonnell, Grist

14 November 15


ust days after President Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, environmentalists were handed another victory Monday morning when New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released the results of an investigation that found one of the world’s largest coal companies had misled the public and its shareholders about the risks climate change could pose to its bottom line.

After several years of investigations, Schneiderman reached an agreement with Peabody Energy that won’t require the company to admit it broke the law and does not entail a fine or other penalty. Instead, Peabody must file revised shareholder disclosures to the Securities and Exchange Commission with new language acknowledging that “concerns about the environmental impacts of coal combustion … could significantly affect demand for our products or our securities.”

Climate change could pose a serious risk to investors in publicly traded fossil fuel companies, as governments around the world move to restrict carbon emissions. Many climate change advocacy groups say those companies have an obligation to their shareholders to be transparent about how demand for their product could diminish in the near future.

According to Schneiderman’s findings, Peabody had known since at least 2013 that policies enacted in the United States and abroad to fight climate change could significantly diminish demand for coal — one of the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions. For example, one internal projection from that year found that climate regulations could slash sales at two of the company’s U.S. coal mines by one-third or more, according to the findings. But at the same time, the company filed disclosures with the SEC that claimed it was “not possible for [Peabody] to reasonably predict the impact that any such laws or regulations may have on [Peabody’s] results of operations, financial condition or cash flows.”

That mixed messaging, Schneiderman found, violates New York laws prohibiting false or misleading claims in the company’s financial statements.

“As a publicly traded company whose core business generates massive amounts of carbon emissions, Peabody Energy has a responsibility to be honest with its investors and the public about the risks posed by climate change, now and in the future,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

In its own response, Peabody said the agreement represented “no admission or denial of wrongdoing” and that “the company has always sought to make appropriate disclosures.”

The agreement comes just days after Schneiderman issued a subpoena to ExxonMobil, kicking off an investigation into whether the oil giant has misled investors and the public about the basic science of climate change for decades. Exxon has denied any wrongdoing. While the two investigations have some similarities, Exxon could face tougher penalties than Peabody, said Andrew Logan, director of oil and gas programs at Ceres, an investor advocacy group. The allegations against Exxon stretch back much further in time and could potentially be more serious, so the attorney general could pursue more aggressive action against the company, Logan said.

Even with the Peabody investigation over, the coal company is hardly in a happy place. Its share price has tanked 87 percent this year, squeezed by the shrinking global market for coal. Many of Peabody’s coal-industry peers are also gravely wounded. In fact, coal demand may soon hit its fastest decline in history, according to data released today by Greenpeace. And while Peabody escaped financial penalties this time around, it could still face litigation from aggrieved shareholders, Logan said.

“They’re going back in time to change what they said [in their disclosure statements],” he said. “It’s a very unusual thing in the securities world, and tends to bring real liability.”

Meanwhile, the agreement could put pressure on the SEC to step up its enforcement of climate-related statements (or the lack thereof) made not only by other energy companies, but also by corporations in other climate-sensitive sectors, such as property insurance and agriculture.

“On the one hand, this action has been directed at two companies. But the reasons they were targeted could be applied to whole other industries,” Logan said. “This is a huge victory for investors.”


Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions Won’t Slow Global Economic Growth – Report

September 27, 2015

Increased use of low-carbon energy sources instead of fossil energy sources is making it easier for countries to decouple economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report. (photo: Mick Tsikas/Reuters)
Increased use of low-carbon energy sources instead of fossil energy sources is making it easier for countries to decouple economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report. (photo: Mick Tsikas/Reuters)

By Bruce Watson, Guardian UK

26 September 15


New report from green think tank Heinrich Boll shows OECD countries grew their economies 16% in last decade – and cut greenhouse gas emissions 6.4%

s the world works out how to avoid catastrophic climate change, one of the biggest questions remaining is whether we can continue to grow economically without also increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

New research released this week at Climate Week NYC offers more hope that the answer might be yes. Prepared for green thinktank Heinrich Böll by DIW Econ, a German institute for economic research, the study found that, as a whole, countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have already decoupled their economic growth from emissions.

From 2004 to 2014, OECD countries grew their economies by 16% all together, while cutting fossil fuel consumption by 6% and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 6.4%, according to the report. The findings echo the results of an International Energy Association study earlier this year, which found that global emissions remained flat in 2014 while global GDP rose, marking a historical milestone.

Four major factors have contributed to this decoupling, according to the Heinrich Böll study: increased use of low-carbon energy sources instead of fossil energy sources; increased efficiency in energy generation; increased energy efficiency on the consumer side; and a move away from energy-intensive manufacturing towards less energy-intensive service sector work.

The biggest driver has been the reduced cost of renewable energy, particularly solar power, says Bastian Hermisson, executive director of the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s North America office.

“Renewables are the only source of energy that is continually getting cheaper,” Hermisson says. “In many parts of the world, solar and wind power have become cost competitive with coal. Renewables are, increasingly, offering the best return for your money, in terms of new investments.”

In Germany, for example, which has been a world leader in renewable energy policy, renewable energy costs have dropped 74% since 2006. Since 2004, Germany’s GDP has grown by 13% and its emissions have dropped by 11%. Conventional energy usage, including nuclear power, has dropped by 15% over the same period, while renewable energy usage has grown by 185%, and now represents 12% of the country’s total energy consumption.

In the US, GDP grew 17% between 2004 and 2007, while energy consumption dropped 2%; conventional energy usage dropped 4% and emissions related to fossil fuel combustion dropped 7.4%.

But the question of whether the world can continue to decouple economic growth and emissions depends largely on developing countries, which have taken on an increasing share of manufacturing. For the most part, developing countries’ economies are more dependent on fossil fuels, and they are growing to make up an increasing proportion of the total world economy.

Here, again, the Heinrich Böll study offers a glimmer of hope: it found that China, a major manufacturing economy, has also used renewables to begin decoupling its economy and emissions. The report stated that a stronger decoupling “seems possible in the near future”.

In 2004, China accounted for 9% of world GDP and 13% of energy consumption. Ten years later, those numbers had risen to 16% of GDP and 23% of energy consumption. This growth was, to a great extent, fueled by coal: in the same 10 years, China’s coal consumption grew by 74%.

But in the last two years, a major shift has occurred, according to the report: China has increased its use of renewables by 27%, and its use of natural gas by 22%, while its coal usage has remained flat. In other words, China’s rapid industrial growth, which previously depended mainly on fossil fuels, now appears to be taking a more renewable path.

This contrasts starkly with the energy picture in India, which is developing rapidly with a focus on coal. Since 2004, India’s coal consumption has more than doubled to account for over 57% of the country’s energy generation, according to the study. This has steeply raised emissions and has more than canceled out the benefits of its renewable energy growth.

Hermisson emphasizes the importance of helping developing countries to move toward more sustainable models. “If we do not find a way to combine sustainability with the developmental ambitions of billions of people in the world, the future looks bleak,” he says.

The secret may lie in exporting energy efficiency, along with manufacturing.

“The goal is to make sure that, when heavy manufacturing moves to developing countries, the old way of doing things doesn’t follow it,” Hermisson says. “We don’t want to repeat the developmental model of the OECD countries.”


‘Unheard of Fire Behavior’ Devastates West, Entire Towns Gone

September 19, 2015

Burned out remains of a vehicle and swing set scorched by the Valley Fire line Jefferson St. in Middletown. (photo: Noah Berger/Reuters)
Burned out remains of a vehicle and swing set scorched by the Valley Fire line Jefferson St. in Middletown. (photo: Noah Berger/Reuters)

By Noah Berger, Reuters

14 September 15


rapidly spreading wildfire destroyed hundreds of homes and other buildings as it roared through the northern California village of Middletown and several nearby communities, chasing thousands of residents from their homes, fire officials said on Sunday.

The so-called Valley Fire, now ranking as the most destructive among scores of blazes that have raged across the drought-stricken Western United States this summer, came amid what California fire officials described as “unheard of fire behavior” this season.

Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in areas ravaged by the blaze, and officials expanded mandatory evacuations as shifting winds sent flames and ash toward a number of towns in the hills north of Napa Valley wine country.

The Valley Fire has consumed more than 50,000 acres since erupting Saturday afternoon in rural Lake County, California, about 50 miles west of Sacramento, the state capital, fire officials said on Sunday.

Thousands of evacuees from Middletown, Cobb, Hidden Valley Lake and the Harbin Hot Springs resort gathered in shelters, restaurants and friends’ houses in nearby Kelseyville and Calistoga waiting to hear about their homes, horses and dogs.

Middletown and the town of Cobb, just to the north, were reported to be hardest hit by the flames, with large swaths of Middletown left in ruins, according to officials, eyewitnesses and local media reports.

Video footage from Middletown showed a smoking, devastated landscape of blackened, burned-out vehicles and the charred foundations of buildings that had been reduced to ash.

“While crews have not had a chance to do a full damage assessment … we know 100s of structures have been destroyed,” Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said in a Twitter post.

“This has been a very destructive fire. It has destroyed countless homes and other buildings,” he said in a video news briefing released a short time later. “Evacuations are widespread in the area.”

He said a combination of prolonged drought and a heat wave baking the region in triple-digit temperatures last week had left vegetation tinder dry and highly combustible, setting the stage for a conflagration that thwarted the best efforts of firefighters to contain it.

“Every time they made progress, the fire would burn right past them,” he said, adding that stiff winds were carrying hot embers beyond the leading edge of the flames, sparking additional blazes that quickly enlarged the fire zone.

Four firefighters were hospitalized with second-degree burns after they were dropped off by helicopter to battle the fire, authorities said.

Laura Streblow, 27, an evacuee who fled the nearby town of Hidden Valley with her boyfriend on Saturday night and has been tracking developments on social media and through friends, told Reuters she had heard that “Middletown is basically gone.”

Recounting her own evacuation ordeal, Streblow said, “I saw flames all around. Because we weren’t moving in traffic, you sat for 30, 40 minutes, flames on both sides of me. The wind was insane. I have never been so scared.”

Mark Donpineo, 54, a project manager, said he and two friends were trapped by the fire for four hours Saturday evening at a golf course in the Hidden Valley Lake gated community, taking cover in a culvert.

“We got some towels, wetted down them down, and basically saw the fire coming. You could hear explosions of propane tanks, the ridge was totally on fire, trees were blowing up,” he said.

The fire eventually moved on, and Donpineo, a resident of Harbin Hot Springs, drove through falling ash to Kelseyville.


Nearly Half the World’s Largest Corporations Are Obstructing Climate Change Legislation

September 19, 2015

The Koch brothers, who head Koch Industries, a company which received the lowest grade on the Union of Concerned Scientists list of companies blocking climate change legislation. (photo: AP)
The Koch brothers, who head Koch Industries, a company which received the lowest grade on the Union of Concerned Scientists list of companies blocking climate change legislation. (photo: AP)

By Cole Mellino, EcoWatch

18 September 15


ew research reveals that nearly half (45 percent) of the world’s 100 largest companies are “obstructing climate change legislation.” And those that aren’t actively obstructing climate policy are members of trade associations that do. A full 95 percent of these companies are members of trade associations “demonstrating the same obstructionist behavior.”

With help from the Union of Concerned Scientists, UK-based nonprofit InfluenceMap has released a report identifying the best and worst of the world’s major companies when it comes to climate policy.

“More and more, we’re seeing companies rely on their trade groups to do their dirty work of lobbying against comprehensive climate policies,” said Gretchen Goldman, lead analyst at Union of concerned Scientists. “Companies get the delay in policy they want, while preventing nations from acting to fight climate change. It is unacceptable that companies can obstruct climate action in this way without any accountability.”

The researchers found that corporate influence over climate policies extended “beyond the activities normally associated with lobbying, including intervention in the public discourse on climate change science and policy via advertising, PR, social media, and access to decision makers, as well as the use of influencers, such as trade associations and advocacy groups.”

The companies were graded on an A to F scale. None of the companies received an A. The top three companies, which all received a B, were Google, Unilever and Cisco Systems. GlaxoSmithKline, Deutsche Telekom, National Grid, Vodafone Group, Nestle, Apple and Anheuser Busch InBev rounded out the top 10. But even Apple, which has been praised in recent months for its sustainability efforts received a paltry C+. It should also be noted that of those top 13 companies, only three are headquartered in the U.S.: Google, Apple and Cisco Systems. The rest are headquartered in Europe.

Sustainable report on major corporations. (photo: EcoWatch)

Sustainable report on major corporations. (photo: EcoWatch)

“There is a lack of detailed analysis available in this area and sadly great companies sometimes do bad things by lobbying against government action to avoid dangerous climate change,” said Paul Dickinson, executive chairman of CDP.

As mentioned early, nearly all of the companies (95 percent) are members of trade associations that are fighting against climate action. Those associations include BusinessEurope (recently under attack in the UK for their obstructionist stance towards climate legislation) and the secretive U.S. industry group, NEDA/CAP, “who have been suing the U.S. EPA to prevent them using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions,” according to InfluenceMap.

Other trade associations include the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), European Automobile Manufacturers Association, American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Council of Australia and Japan 2 Business Federation.

InfluenceMap’s research found that “despite their public communications, few corporations have actually supported the progressive climate policies being proposed by governments globally. There also remains a lack of transparency around their relationships with trade associations, with very few companies willing to publicly challenge them despite clear misalignment between their climate positions and the actions of the associations.”

The companies receiving the lowest grades come as no surprise. Among them are major fossil fuel companies such as Chevron, BP, Duke Energy and Phillips 66. And at the bottom of the list is climate denying extraordinaire Koch Industries. Interestingly, two media companies even make the list: 21st Century Fox and Comcast.

Here are the 10 worst companies on InfluenceMap’s list:

Sustainable report on major corporations. (photo: EcoWatch)

Sustainable report on major corporations. (photo: EcoWatch/InfluenceMap)


Climate Change: Don’t read this if you don’t want to know how bad it is

August 24, 2015

General News 8/23/2015 at 08:31:09

By Daily Kos (about the author) Permalink (Page 1 of 2 pages)
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Reprinted from by rktect

Abrupt Climate Change forced by 30 some odd self reinforcing feedback loops is making it possible to observe what was projected by the IPCC to occur by the end of the century now.

You may have missed this news as there is a lot going on with the Donald.

(image by NOAA) DMCA

These Methane releases are what Hansen warned of as the Clathrate Gun, or in other words the tipping points have tipped.

(image by NOAA) DMCA


Methane Hydrate releases in the arctic as warned of by Sam Carana are now reported by NOAA to be 150 miles across. You will remember that even slight releases of methane in the arctic were enough to cause polar researchers like Jason Box to freak out a little over a year ago.

Jason Box
If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we’re f’d.

8:43 AM – 29 Jul 2014

Methane is orders of magnitude worse than CO2 and its being released in 50 Gigaton bursts farts that by themselves can cause an instant 1.3 degrees C global temperature rise.

(image by Sam Carana) DMCA

A year ago we began to observe warmer arctic water temperatures high enough to melt sea ice because of the Methane releases.

Sea surface temperatures as high as 18.8 degreesC are now recorded at locations where warm water from the Pacific Ocean is threatening to invade the Arctic Ocean.

(image by NOAA) DMCA
That was all a year ago but like many people I was still looking at the IPCC projections which would be reasonably accurate if you cut the time scale in half.

Its good that while Trump continues to be all the media is interested in, we now have the ability here to teach each other to recognize that Black Lives Matter and Black and Brown people in the United States are being shot dead by cops every day or maybe worse incarcerated in private prisons where men women and children are being forced to perform slave labor as if the plantations of the Civil War had just been moved to some private penitentiary but meanwhile our Life Expectancy as a species may now be compared to that of someone in their seventies who has stage four cancer.

Now we have El Nino acting like a blowtorch raising the temperature of the whole Pacific Ocean 4-8 degrees C and directing its focus towards the west coast.

Fish can’t adapt to temperatures rising that much that fast, neither can the plant life that recycles our oxygen. We ourselves are running out of drinking water even as the people making decisions for us have decided to irrigate our crops with fracking waste water. Maybe its a good thing peak oil is here because fossil fuel use has been part of the problem and changing over to solar and wind might have been good if we had done it in time, but Methane releases are now on the order of 1000 times more damaging even than all that CO2 from cars.


The result is the California drought extending up into Canada and the Canadian fires which may themselves be both releasing and fueled by a self reinforcing methane release loop.

(image by NDMC) DMCA

In the Persian Gulf we get heat indexes in the 170 plus range with a combination of desert heat , ocean humidity and direct sunlight

(image by NOAA) DMCA

I wish I had a big enough voice that I could stand on a soapbox someplace and make the point that as temperature rises so do sea levels, maybe 5-9 meters in our now much shorter than expected lifetimes. Then there are the 400 some odd nuclear reactors that require maintenance they won’t be getting when our cities sink beneath the waves. On top of that there may be many more storms with huge rogue waves of up to 30 meters making life on the oceans interesting. There are a lot of things that can kill us as individuals, but this is the first time its become really obvious the decision making about our imminent extinction as a species that is one component of all the life on this planet has been taken out of our hands.



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Speed of Glacier Retreat Worldwide ‘Historically Unprecedented’

August 5, 2015

The Rhone glacier, Switzerland. Sea levels are rising as a consequence of the rapid loss of glacial ice worldwide. (photo: REX Shutterstock)
The Rhone glacier, Switzerland. Sea levels are rising as a consequence of the rapid loss of glacial ice worldwide. (photo: REX Shutterstock)

By Tim Radford, Guardian UK

05 August 15


Researchers have recorded rapid rises in meltwater and alarming rates of glacial retreat, which are accelerating at a pace double that of a decade ago

he world’s glaciers are in retreat. The great tongues of ice high in the Himalayas, the Andes, the Alps and the Rockies are going back uphill at ever greater speeds, according to new research.

And this loss of ice is both accelerating and “historically unprecedented”, say scientists who report in the Journal of Glaciology.

In the past year or so, researchers have identified rapid rises in meltwater and alarming cases of glacial retreat in Greenland, West Antarctica, the Canadian and Alaskan coastal mountains, in Europe and in the Himalayan massif. They have also watched glaciers pick up speed downhill. One satellite-based study, confirmed by on-the-ground measurements, of the Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland, confirms that the river of ice is now moving at the rate of 46 metres a day, 17 kilometres a year, which is twice the speed recorded in 2003, which in turn was twice as fast as measured in 1997.

The World Glacier Monitoring Service, based at the University of Zurich in Switzerland and with partners in 30 countries, has been compiling data on changes in glaciers over the last 120 years. And it has just compared all known 21st century observations with data from site measurements, aerial photography and satellite observations and evidence from pictorial and written sources. Altogether, the service has collected 5,000 measurements of glacier volume and changes in mass since 1850, and 42,000 records of variations in glacier fronts from records dating back to the 16th century.

And the evidence is clear: the glaciers are in retreat, worldwide, and the retreat is accelerating.

“The observed glaciers currently lose between half a metre and one metre of ice thickness every year – this is two to three times more than the corresponding average of the 20th century,” says the study’s lead author, Michael Zemp, who directs the monitoring service. “Exact measurements of this ice loss are reported from a few hundred glaciers only. However, these results are qualitatively confirmed from field and satellite observations for tens of thousands of glaciers around the world.”

The great ice sheets help maintain the climate zone differences that drive weather patterns. They provide distinct ecosystems that support precisely adapted lifeforms, from mountain wildflowers to snow leopards. They offer a source of tourist income for mountain communities and deliver spring and summer meltwater to irrigate crops in the fertile valleys downstream. And as long as ice is safely stored in mountain ranges, it isn’t contributing to sea level rise.

But sea levels are creeping up inexorably every year, as a consequence of galloping glacial retreat in the polar, temperate and tropical zones.

This loss of ice is not uniform: researchers recorded cases of glacier advance, sometimes of a few hundred metres, in the 1990s. But these intermittent glacial gains are nothing like the return of the ice recorded during the so-called “little Ice Age” that began in the 16th century, when the Thames froze hard enough to support annual winter fairs. The big picture is one of retreat, everywhere.

Some glaciers may now be doomed. In the last century, because of fossil fuel emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, global average temperatures have crept up by almost 1C to trigger wide-scale melting. Even were the world to abandon fossil fuel use right now, some melting would continue. “Glaciers in many regions will very likely suffer further ice loss, even if climate remains stable,” the researchers conclude.


Investors Could Lose $4.2 Trillion Due to Climate Change

July 29, 2015

The future is grim for private holdings in fossil fuel companies over action - or inaction - around climate change. (photo: Daniel Reinhardt/EPA)
The future is grim for private holdings in fossil fuel companies over action – or inaction – around climate change. (photo: Daniel Reinhardt/EPA)

By Terry Macalister, Guardian UK

28 July 15


Investments in fossil fuel companies face serious risk from global warming, research by the Economist Intelligence Unit shows

rivate investors stand to lose $4.2tn (£2.7tn) on the value of their holdings from the impact of climate change by 2100 even if global warming is held at plus 2C, a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has warned.

If firm action is not taken at the forthcoming climate change talks in Paris and the Earth’s temperature warms by a further 5C then investors are facing losses of almost $7tn at today’s prices, new research shows.

This is more than the total current market capitalisation of the London Stock Exchange with impacts on company holdings that will come not just through extreme weather damage but also through lower economic growth.

The report argued that financial regulators should properly recognise “systematic environmental risk”. It also called for a proper carbon price to be established as well as a tough new climate change treaty to be agreed in Paris.

The latest assessments of the rising risks posed to the global financial system lends enormous new weight to those who are already arguing that companies must be made to disclose their carbon emissions.

“Investors currently face a stark choice. Either they will experience impairments to their holdings in fossil fuel companies should robust regulatory action on climate change take place, or they will face substantial losses across the entire portfolio of manageable assets should little mitigation be forthcoming,” said Brian Gardner, the editor of an EIU report, entitled The cost of inaction: recognising the value at risk from climate change.

The $4.2tn figure is roughly the equivalent to the value of the world’s publicly listed oil and gas companies or the annual gross domestic product of Japan, the world’s third largest economy.

Nick Robins, co-director of the Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System at the UN Environment Programme said that financial markets are not treating the threat posed by climate change seriously enough. “We wouldn’t get on a plane if there was a 5% chance of the plane crashing,” he said. “But we’re treating the climate with that same level of risk in a very offhand, complacent way.”

The EIU concludes that there are widespread opportunities for investors to reduce their exposure to environmental risk – one way is to invest in projects that finance a transition to a lower carbon economy.

But it also believes that climate change is likely to represent “an obstacle” for many asset owners and managers to fulfil their fiduciary duties to act in the best interests of those who lend their cash to invest.

According to estimates by the Asset Owners Disclosure Project, only 7% of asset owners calculate the carbon footprint of their investment portfolios and only 1.4% have an explicit target to reduce it.

The EIU follows warnings from the Bank of England about the financial risks posed to fossil fuel companies if global climate action renders their reserves of oil, coal and gas worthless. On Thursday, a report from the London assembly warned that the city was particularly vulnerable to financial risks posed by climate change because its economy is particularly well-connected globally.



July 27, 2015


[DIGEST: NASA, Gizmodo]

With all the talk of climate change, most people do not have a clear picture of what the earth might look like at the end of the century. But experts at NASA Earth Exchange (NEX) believe they do. Earlier this summer, they released aclimate dataset, along with an disconcerting map showing some predicted temperatures. The visual result is perhaps the most alarming yet presented.

This shows predictions for Earth’s daily maximum temperatures estimated for July 2099. As reported in Gizmodo, by that time, the Earth’s CO2 concentrations will have topped 900 parts per million, comprising nearly 0.1 percent of our atmosphere. As a disquieting benchmark, in the early part of this year, we hit 400. The thermometer scale that accompanies the map shows just how much hotter we are talking.


The NASA climate projections offer a detailed view of future temperature and precipitation patterns around the world at a 15.5 mile (25 kilometer) resolution, covering the time period from 1950 to 2100. The 11-terabyte dataset provided daily records and estimates of maximum and minimum temperatures and precipitation over the entire globe. It integrates actual measurements from around the world with data from climate simulations created by the international Fifth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, or CMIP, which is a standard experimental protocol for studying the output of coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models.

The data can be filtered to the level of individual cities and towns on a daily timescale. This can help developing nations predict and prepare for the local effects of changing patterns in weather, floods and droughts. On a global scale, it will help both scientists as well as the general population see that we are in for an extremely warm century ahead.

NASA intended the information not only to be a warning, but a tool.  “NASA is in the business of taking what we’ve learned about our planet from space and creating new products that help us all safeguard our future; with this new global dataset, people around the world have a valuable new tool to use in planning how to cope with a warming planet.”

The question for the rest of us, and for the generations ahead of us, remains whether we have the collective will to stop this map from happening.

If you’re interested in how future events can affect the present, read Physicists Demonstrate How Time Can Seem To Run Backward, and the Future Can Affect the Past.

Earth’s Most Famous Climate Scientist Issues Bombshell Sea Level Warning

July 25, 2015

A new study shows greatly increased chances for catastrophic near-term sea level rise. Here, Miami Beach, among the most vulnerable cities to sea level rise in the world. (photo: Joe Raedle/Getty)
A new study shows greatly increased chances for catastrophic near-term sea level rise. Here, Miami Beach, among the most vulnerable cities to sea level rise in the world. (photo: Joe Raedle/Getty)

By Eric Holthaus, Slate

24 July 15


n what may prove to be a turning point for political action on climate change, a breathtaking new study casts extreme doubt about the near-term stability of global sea levels.

The study—written by James Hansen, NASA’s former lead climate scientist, and 16 co-authors, many of whom are considered among the top in their fields—concludes that glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica will melt 10 times faster than previous consensus estimates, resulting in sea level rise of at least 10 feet in as little as 50 years. The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, brings new importance to a feedback loop in the ocean near Antarctica that results in cooler freshwater from melting glaciers forcing warmer, saltier water underneath the ice sheets, speeding up the melting rate. Hansen, who is known for being alarmist and also right, acknowledges that his study implies change far beyond previous consensus estimates. In a conference call with reporters, he said he hoped the new findings would be “substantially more persuasive than anything previously published.” I certainly find them to be.

To come to their findings, the authors used a mixture of paleoclimate records, computer models, and observations of current rates of sea level rise, but “the real world is moving somewhat faster than the model,” Hansen says.

Hansen’s study does not attempt to predict the precise timing of the feedback loop, only that it is “likely” to occur this century. The implications are mindboggling: In the study’s likely scenario, New York City—and every other coastal city on the planet—may only have a few more decades of habitability left. That dire prediction, in Hansen’s view, requires “emergency cooperation among nations.”

We conclude that continued high emissions will make multi-meter sea level rise practically unavoidable and likely to occur this century. Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea level rise could be devastating. It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization.

The science of ice melt rates is advancing so fast, scientists have generally been reluctant to put a number to what is essentially an unpredictable, nonlinear response of ice sheets to a steadily warming ocean. With Hansen’s new study, that changes in a dramatic way. One of the study’s co-authors is Eric Rignot, whose own study last year found that glacial melt from West Antarctica now appears to be “unstoppable.” Chris Mooney, writing for Mother Jones, called that study a “holy shit” moment for the climate.

One necessary note of caution: Hansen’s study comes via a nontraditional publishing decision by its authors. The study will be published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, an open-access “discussion” journal, and will not have formal peer review prior to its appearance online later this week. [Update, July 23: The paper is now available.] The complete discussion draft circulated to journalists was 66 pages long, and included more than 300 references. The peer review will take place in real time, with responses to the work by other scientists also published online. Hansen said this publishing timeline was necessary to make the work public as soon as possible before global negotiators meet in Paris later this year. Still, the lack of traditional peer review and the fact that this study’s results go far beyond what’s been previously published will likely bring increased scrutiny. On Twitter, Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist whose work focuses on Greenland and the Arctic, was skeptical of such enormous rates of near-term sea level rise, though she defended Hansen’s decision to publish in a nontraditional way.

In 2013, Hansen left his post at NASA to become a climate activist because, in his words, “as a government employee, you can’t testify against the government.” In a wide-ranging December 2013 study, conducted to support Our Children’s Trust, a group advancing legal challenges to lax greenhouse gas emissions policies on behalf of minors, Hansen called for a “human tipping point”—essentially, a social revolution—as one of the most effective ways of combating climate change, though he still favors a bilateral carbon tax agreed upon by the United States and China as the best near-term climate policy. In the new study, Hansen writes, “there is no morally defensible excuse to delay phase-out of fossil fuel emissions as rapidly as possible.”

Asked whether Hansen has plans to personally present the new research to world leaders, he said: “Yes, but I can’t talk about that today.” What’s still uncertain is whether, like with so many previous dire warnings, world leaders will be willing to listen.


Pope Francis Blasts Global Warming Deniers in Leaked Draft of Encyclical

June 16, 2015

Pope Francis. (photo: Alessandra Tarantino/AP)
Pope Francis. (photo: Alessandra Tarantino/AP)

ALSO SEE: NASA Scientist: Pope Francis’s Encyclical Could Have
Bigger Impact Than the Paris Climate Talks

By Michelle Boorstein, Anthony Faiola and Chris Mooney, The Washington Post

16 June 15


draft of a major environmental document by Pope Francis says “the bulk of global warming” is caused by human activity and calls on people — especially the world’s rich — to take steps to mitigate the damage by reducing consumption and reliance on fossil fuels.

In words likely to anger some of his conservative critics, the pope backs the science of climate change, saying “plenty of scientific studies point out that the last decades of global warming have been mostly caused by the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxide and others) especially generated by human action.”

“The poor and the Earth are shouting,” reads the draft of the encyclical, the first of its kind dedicated to the environment. The Washington Post translated portions of the draft.

The encyclical release had been planned for Thursday and was highly anticipated, given Francis’s enormous popularity and what many see as his potential to significantly affect policy in such areas as energy use and economic globalization.

It was timed to influence global meetings later this year about climate, unusual for such a high-level document. It was also seen as an opening salvo on the topic before the pope’s planned trip to the United States in late September.

Then the Italian magazine L’Espresso leaked the draft on its Web site, linking to it in a piece by conservative analyst Sandro Magister. The leak set off a global scurry by environmentalists, theologians, reporters and others attempting to translate it.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, told journalists Monday that the document was an “intermediate version” and warned that some provisions contained in the leaked draft may be different from those in the final version.

Many religious and environmental experts — particularly those more aligned with the pope’s views on climate — declined to comment until the official document is released, in some cases voicing concern about offending the Vatican.

The draft reveals Francis as part policy wonk, part lyricist, calling explicitly in places for more investment in

renewable energy

and in others for evening the “ecological debt” between the Northern and Southern hemispheres, wealthy and poor countries.

“Enlighten the masters of power and money so that they should not fall prey to the sin of indifference, so that they should love the common good, support the weak, and care about this world that we inhabit,” the draft reads.

Part of the reason for managing the document’s release so tightly — even close allies of the pope said they hadn’t seen it — was because of its potentially explosive content. And translated portions of the document seemed to confirm economic conservatives’ fears that Pope Francis would frame the issue as one defined by sinful overconsumption, unrestrained free markets and unending reliance on fossil fuels.

Rumors of sabotage

The leak by Magister immediately fueled rumors about schemes to take down a pope many see as left-leaning on some issues.

The Rev. Bernd Hagenkord, head of the German-speaking section of Vatican Radio, blogged that the leak was “sabotage — somebody wants to actively undermine the pope’s message.” Citing Vatican sources, the Italian news outlet La Stampa described the leak as an attempt by elements within the Holy See to harm the pope and dull the impact of the encyclical.

In the draft encyclical, the pope states that there may be some natural reasons for global warming but strongly chastises climate skeptics.

“The attitudes hindering the paths toward a solution, even amongst the believers, go from negating the problem to indifference, to an easy resignation, or to a blind faith in technical solutions,” he writes in the draft.

The document associates polluted environments with global inequality. “I’d like to point out that the problems that hit harder at those who are excluded are often not very clear. They are the majority of those who live on the planet, they’re billions of people. They get mentioned during international political and economic debates, but their problems are mostly introduced as an addendum, something you add almost out of duty or as something peripheral. But today we can’t avoid stating that a true ecological approach must always become a social approach, integrating justice in the debate around environment, so that we listen to the cry of Earth as much as we listen to the one of the poor.”

Reliance on papal teaching

The encyclical follows centuries of papal teachings that care for creation is a core Catholic value. Francis drew on previous papal remarks on the environment almost as a Supreme Court ruling would cite legal precedent.

“Pope Benedict proposed we should recognize that the natural environment is full of wounds produced by our irresponsible behavior,” the document reads.

In the draft, Francis openly lobbies for renewable energy and blames global warming in part on “a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels.” The draft calls for “urgent action” to develop policies to reduce greenhouse gases, including “substituting fossil fuels and developing renewable energy sources.”

The pope’s encyclical has been widely anticipated by environmentalists and climate scientists as a possible victory in the climate debate that could finally help to break a political logjam and shift public opinion more strongly in favor of climate-change action.

There has been much speculation about how the document could especially move Catholic voters in the United States.

George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication found that about 70 percent of U.S. Catholics think global warming is happening, a slightly higher percentage than for Americans as a whole (63 percent). Francis was the most trusted individual leader on climate change, according to the George Mason poll.

The encyclical also comes in a year with high potential for international climate action. At the end of 2015, nations will assemble in Paris for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, where they will try to hammer out a global agreement to ratchet down greenhouse gas emissions. During his U.S. visit, the pope is expected to speak at the United Nations and before Congress.

A just-released report from the International Energy Agency has amped up the pressure by showing that nations’ current pledges to reduce their emissions — without further action — would fall short of keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a widely accepted international target. Beyond 2 degrees Celsius, it is feared, the impacts of climate change could become increasingly severe.

Sam Gregg of the Acton Institute, a faith-based group that works to promote free markets, said the leak will focus attention on potential differences between the draft text and the actual encyclical.

“If this is indeed not the final text, as the Holy See’s press office is stating, then much of the attention will be on differences between the draft text and the actual encyclical. That will fuel ultimately unprovable speculation on why the things that were changed were altered, thereby potentially distracting from the messages of the final text,” he said.

Although Francis is often assailed by Catholics who see his talk about income and climate coming at the expense of talk about issues such as abortion, some conservative theologians Monday praised the draft.

“It’s a metaphysical, poetic document,” said Chad Pecknold, a Catholic University theologian. “Being in dominion can never mean like a slave owner owns a slave. It has to be a protector, a steward, a servant, one who cares [for] and cultivates the Earth so that we have something to pass on to the next generation.”

Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh called the document “a lament for a lost connectedness.”

“It’s a very powerful argument that much that has gone wrong in our world is the consequence of forgetting that we are creatures rather than masters,” Ivereigh said Monday. “The pope is almost saying: ‘You may not believe in God, but if you believe in ecology, you can’t ignore this.’ ”



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