Monday, December 16, 2013

Tree find confirms Italian Alpine melt

It was only a single, withered conifer needle, but it told a dramatic story of climate change. Glaciologists found it in a set of ice cores drilled through a glacier on top of Mount Ortles, in the Italian Alps.

It lay about 80 metres below the glacial surface, encased in solid ice, and carbon dating confirmed that it had blown from the branches of Larix decidua, the European larch, 2,600 years earlier.

It was found about 30 kms from a far more dramatic exposure: the body of Ötzi the Iceman, a mummified bronze age corpse revealed by a melting glacier in 1991.

Both finds deliver the same uncompromising message: for at least 5,000 years – because Ötzi perished around that time – the Italian Alps had continued to stay frozen throughout the year.

And now they are melting. Or, to put it the scientific way, in the words of Paolo Gabrielli, of Ohio State University, who led the project: "Our first results indicate that the current atmospheric warming at high elevation in the Alps is outside the normal cold range held for millennia. This is consistent with the rapid, ongoing shrinking of glaciers at high elevation in this area."

The problem for all climate scientists – and for glaciologists in particular – is that direct measurements are relatively recent: the oldest thermometer readings date back little more than three centuries, and consistent world coverage began only in the 20th century.

Since climates undergo natural cycles of change on a scale of centuries, measurements over a short period are not, in themselves, of much use. Glaciers, in particular, are a problem: retreat or advance would have been imperceptible to the small populations likely ever to have observed them.

Visual records – paintings dating from the early 19th century, in most cases – indicate that today's glaciers are in retreat, but romantic age painters weren't particularly interested in climate or precision topography, so the evidence from paintings is limited.

But direct measurement of surviving ice really can tell a story, and Gabrielli's team produced a fragment of this narrative in San Francisco at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

The Alps are warming at twice the global rate, and the glaciers are everywhere in retreat. Alto dell'Ortles is the highest glacier in the eastern Alps, at 3,900 metres: its ice is likely to hold much more evidence of climate change and human impact.

As they drilled into the glacier, the research scientists from six nations found that the first 30 metre layer was composed of grainy compacted snow that had partly melted. Below that was nothing but solid, enduring ice all the way down to frozen bedrock. More


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

More than 100 organisations call on ministers from key developed countries to act on climate change 'loss and damage'

In total, 120 organisations from around the world, including the Cayman Institute the joined the call, which shows the depth of support for this issue, joint call to action on loss and damage.

We wanted to give you a quick update and let you know that:

  • You can now see the full list of organisations who signed the call (attached).
  • The call was presented to journalists yesterday afternoon during a joint press conference where we also highlighted the key countries who are blocking progress to achieving a loss and damage mechanism (US, Japan, Canada, Norway, EU, Australia).
  • The press conference was fairly well attended and colleagues were able to do a number of interviews afterwards. We will share any media coverage as/when it becomes available.
  • You can find a photo of the banner we presented at the press conference attached.
  • We also personally handed over the call from 120 organisations to the six key delegations mentioned above.
  • Please continue to help us drive interest in this issue – in particular, if your communications colleagues can continue to help us by posting the joint call on websites and engaging on social media. The banner photo has been retweeted a number of times already.
  • Further updates will follow as the loss and damage issue unfolds over the course of the week.
Best wishes,




More than 100 organisations call on ministers from key developed countries to act on climate change 'loss and damage'

In total, 120 organisations from around the world, including the Cayman Institute the joined the call, which shows the depth of support for this issue, joint call to action on loss and damage.

We wanted to give you a quick update and let you know that:

  • You can now see the full list of organisations who signed the call (attached).
  • The call was presented to journalists yesterday afternoon during a joint press conference where we also highlighted the key countries who are blocking progress to achieving a loss and damage mechanism (US, Japan, Canada, Norway, EU, Australia).
  • The press conference was fairly well attended and colleagues were able to do a number of interviews afterwards. We will share any media coverage as/when it becomes available.
  • You can find a photo of the banner we presented at the press conference attached.
  • We also personally handed over the call from 120 organisations to the six key delegations mentioned above.
  • Please continue to help us drive interest in this issue – in particular, if your communications colleagues can continue to help us by posting the joint call on websites and engaging on social media. The banner photo has been retweeted a number of times already.
  • Further updates will follow as the loss and damage issue unfolds over the course of the week.
Best wishes,




Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Climate Change Driving Weather off the Charts

Meteorologists are calling the typhoon that slammed into the Philippines with 195-mile-an-hour winds on November 8, 2013, the most powerful tropical storm to make landfall on record. Super Typhoon Haiyan had gusts reaching 235 miles per hour and a storm surge swelling as high as 20 feet, so the destruction it left behind matched that of a tornado combined with a tsunami.

Three days later, at the opening of the United Nations climate negotiations in Warsaw, Poland, the lead delegate from the Philippines, Yeb Saño, spoke of the “hellstorm” that left “a vast wasteland of mud and debris and dead bodies.” He continued: “Despite the massive efforts…in preparing for the onslaught of this monster of a storm, it was just a force too powerful and, even as a nation familiar with storms, Haiyan was nothing we have ever experienced before, or perhaps nothing that any country has ever experienced before.”

Haiyan arrived less than a year after Super Typhoon Bopha, which at that point was the costliest storm in Philippine history with $1.7 billion in damages and some 1,900 deaths. Bopha was then outdone monetarily by Trami, which in August 2013 brought the Philippines torrential rains and flooding, leaving some $2.2 billion in damages in its wake. Early estimates put Haiyan’s destruction tab at $14 billion. With more than 4 million people displaced and thousands feared dead, Haiyan looks to be a record on multiple fronts.

The commonly used tropical storm wind speed scale goes up to category 5: more than 156 miles per hour. But as Yeb Saño notes, “if there [were] a category 6, [Haiyan] would have fallen squarely in that box.”

The world is literally moving off the charts. With the global average temperature up over half a degree Celsius since the 1970s and with more warming in store, we are starting to witness weather anomalies so severe we need to update our metrics and extend our graphs.

The warming is the result of a buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—largely from burning coal, oil, and natural gas—that trap heat from the sun. The extra warmth is taken up by the oceans and also heats the atmosphere, the former faster than the latter, creating a temperature differential that can create more-forceful storms. A warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor—all the better to produce punishing rainstorms. Warmer sea surfaces provide more energy for storms to grow stronger. The surface waters where Haiyan formed measured up to 1 degree Celsius above normal—that is, until the storm sucked up heat to use as fuel as it passed over the sea.

Physics dictates that warmer water also takes up more space; thus excess heat in the world’s oceans has raised sea level, a process that is compounded by the accelerating melting of the Earth’s polar ice caps and mountain glaciers. By the end of this century, sea level could rise by some 6 feet, making storm surge all the more dangerous.

In recent years, intense storms have showed up in unprecedented locations. Brazil was struck by its first recorded hurricane in 2004, and Spain and the Canary Islands experienced their first-ever tropical storms in 2005. In 2007, a fierce tropical cyclone in the Arabian Sea brought torrential rain to parts of Oman and Iran. In 2008, the first severe tropical storm to hit Myanmar’s densely populated Irrawaddy Delta left 90,000 people dead. And 2012’s Superstorm Sandy was unusual in both its span and its pathway—an unexpected left-hand turn directly into New Jersey.

Like these freak storms, we are in uncharted territory. Big storms occurred prior to human-induced climate change, of course, but raising the Earth’s temperature is like putting the weather on steroids. We might not see more tropical storms, but the ones that form are likely to pack a more-powerful punch. Heat waves are predicted to last longer and become more intense. Rainfall could come fast and furious in some places, while other parts of the globe could see very little at all.

Globally, high temperature records already are being set five times as often as what would be expected in the absence of global warming. In the last decade, daily record high temperatures outnumbered record lows in the United States two to one, and that ratio is increasing. Earlier this year, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology had to add a deeper shade to its temperature mapping color code that had maxed out at 122 degrees Fahrenheit: the Bureau extended the range to 129 degrees after a nationwide heat wave brought scorching temperatures that broke records in every state.

Governments everywhere agreed in 2009 to work to keep the rise in global average temperature below a 2-degree-Celsius threshold to avoid “dangerous” climate change. The United Nations warns that to meet this goal, immediate cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are needed. The problem is that international negotiations move slowly, while temperatures are rising fast—faster, in fact, than at any time since civilization began. The least-common-denominator model of negotiations, in which countries endeavor to concede as little as possible, will just make things worse.

The costs of retooling economies to run more efficiently on renewable energy are negligible compared with the damage the world will incur from runaway global warming. Haiyan and other recent weather extremes are wake-up calls to the urgency of ending our fossil fuel addiction. If we continue to ignore them, the costs of dealing with climate change will surely extend far off the charts. More


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Super Typhoon Haiyan

The Climate Reality Project
Super Typhoon Haiyan

On November 8, the devastating Super Typhoon Haiyan came ashore in the Philippines, killing more than 2,000 people, displacing 660,000 more, and impacting nearly 10 million throughout the islands.

Those who have been affected are now struggling to survive without access to power, food, shelter or clean drinking water. The storm is being described by disaster management experts as one of the most intense and strongest of its kind to make landfall.

On November 11, Yeb Sano, the Philippines' delegate at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change now underway in Poland spoke out powerfully and poignantly, saying:

"To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare you to get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of your armchair. I dare you to go to the islands of the Pacific, the islands of the Caribbean and the islands of the Indian Ocean and see the impacts of rising sea levels ... to the hills of Central America that confront similar monstrous hurricanes, to the vast savannas of Africa where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death as food and water becomes scarce ... And if that is not enough, you may want to pay a visit to the Philippines right now."

To underscore the urgency of the situation, Sano has chosen to fast until the UN makes real progress on a plan for action to solve the climate crisis.

Our hearts and thoughts go out to everyone who has been impacted by this terrible event. Some of our own Climate Reality Leaders are among those affected by the devastation, and I hope you'll join me in keeping them in your thoughts as we wait for more news.

Although the full extent to which climate change influenced Super Typhoon Haiyan has not yet been determined, the storm is another reminder of how climate change has already made extreme weather more extreme. This horrific example of dirty weather shows just how critical your work to put a market price on carbon and a political price on denial is.

There are other and equally important ways for us all to help right away. By joining the relief effort, you can help provide immediate assistance to those impacted by the typhoon and now living with its aftermath. Please contact the Philippine Red Cross, Team Rubicon, or UNICEF to donate and find out about other ways to help.

The Climate Reality Project family




Provisional Statement on Status of Climate in 2013

Provisional Statement on Status of Climate in 2013: Continuing high temperatures globally and many climate extremes worldwide

Ar | Es | Fr | Ru | Zh

Geneva, 13 November 2013 - The year 2013 is currently on course to be among the top ten warmest years since modern records began in 1850, according to the World Meteorological Organization. The first nine months, January to September, tied with 2003 as the seventh warmest such period on record, with a global land and ocean surface temperature of about 0.48 C (0.86 F) above the 1961 - 1990 average.

WMO’s provisional annual statement on the Status of the Global Climate 2013 [PDF] provides a snapshot of regional and national temperatures. It also includes details on precipitation, floods, droughts, tropical cyclones, ice cover and sea-level. The statement was released today to inform negotiators at the United Nations climate change conference in Warsaw, Poland.

January-September 2013 was warmer than the same period in both 2011 and 2012, when La Niña had a cooling influence. Neither La Niña nor El Niño conditions were present during the first nine months of 2013 and are not expected to emerge by the end of the year. El Niño/La Niña is a major driver of our climate and the hottest years on record, 2010 and 1998, both had El Niño events.

In contrast with 2012, when the United States, in particular, observed record high annual temperatures, the warmth in 2013 was most extreme in Australia.

“Temperatures so far this year are about the same as the average during 2001-2010, which was the warmest decade on record,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “All of the warmest years have been since 1998 and this year once again continues the underlying, long-term trend The coldest years now are warmer than the hottest years before 1998,” he said.

“Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases reached new highs in 2012, and we expect them to reach unprecedented levels yet again in 2013. This means that we are committed to a warmer future,” added Mr Jarraud.

“Surface temperatures are only part of the wider picture of our changing climate. The impact on our water cycle is already becoming apparent – as manifested by droughts, floods and extreme precipitation.”

“The Philippines is reeling from the devastation wreaked by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), the most powerful tropical cyclone ever to hit the country and one of the most intense ever recorded anywhere. It is still struggling to recover from Typhoon Bopha (Pablo) one year ago. Although individual tropical cyclones cannot be directly attributed to climate change, higher sea levels are already making coastal populations more vulnerable to storm surges. We saw this with tragic consequences in the Philippines,” said Mr Jarraud. He added that, although the relationship between climate change and the frequency of tropical cyclones is a matter of much research, it is expected that their impact will be more intense.

The provisional WMO statement confirms that global sea level reached a new record high. Sea level has been rising at an average rate of about 3.2 milimeters per year (mm/yr), with inter-annual variability, since altimeter satellite measurements began in 1993. This is close to the observed rate of about 3 mm/yr of the most recent decade of 2001−2010 and double the observed 20th century trend of 1.6 mm/yr.

“Sea levels will continue to rise because of melting ice caps and glaciers. More than 90% of the extra heat we are generating from greenhouse gas is absorbed by the oceans, which will consequently continue to warm and expand for hundreds of years,” said Mr Jarraud.

Arctic Sea Ice

Arctic sea ice recovered slightly after the dramatic and unprecedented melt in 2012, but 2013 still saw one of the lowest levels on record. Since the beginning of satellite measurements in 1979, the decade 2001−2010 has seen the greatest average annual melting of Arctic sea ice on record and all seven of the lowest Arctic sea ice extents have occurred since 2007.

Arctic sea ice extent reached its annual maximum on 15 March at 15.13 million square kilometers, according to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center. This was approximately 0.5 million square kilometers below the 1981–2010 average. According to the University of Colorado-Boulder (USA), ice that is more than four years old has decreased from 18 per cent of the March peak ice cover in 1984 to 3 per cent in 2013 – evidence of a faster melt rate.

The Arctic reached its lowest sea ice extent in its annual cycle on 13 September, at 5.10 million square kilometers, the sixth smallest on record. This was 18 per cent, or nearly 1.1 million square kilometers, below the 1981–2010 average minimum. However, it was higher than the record low of 3.41 million square kilometers of September 2012. During June−August 2013, lower-than-average atmospheric pressure dominated over much of the Arctic Ocean, which limited heat transport from the south and brought more cloud cover, contributing to lower temperatures compared to the previous year. The associated winds also caused the ice cover to spread out and cover a larger area.

Antarctic Sea Ice

For the second year in a row, Antarctic sea ice extent in September reached a record maximum of 19.47 million square kilometers according to NSIDC. This is approximately 30,000 kilometers larger than the previous record set in 2012, and is 2.6 per cent higher than the 1981−2010 average.

September Antarctic sea ice extent is increasing at an average rate of 1.1 per cent per decade. The changes in the atmospheric circulation observed in the past three decades, which resulted in changes in the prevailing winds around Antarctica, are considered by scientists as factors related to this increase. However, it is possible that this increase is due to a combination of factors that also include effects of changing ocean circulation.

Antarctica differs from the Arctic in that the Arctic is comprised of water surrounded by land. Conversely, the Antarctic is comprised of land surrounded by open ocean water. Wind patterns and ocean currents tend to isolate Antarctica from global weather patterns, keeping it cold.

Regional Temperatures

During the first nine months of 2013, most of the world’s land areas had above-average temperatures, most notably in Australia northern North America, northeastern South America, northern Africa, and much of Eurasia. Cooler-than-average temperatures were observed across a concentrated region of North America, central South America and the eastern Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of Ecuador, a small region of northern Russia, and parts of northeastern Asia.

The Arctic Oscillation was a major driver of weather patterns during early 2013 across the Northern Hemisphere, bringing cooler-than-average spring temperatures to much of Europe, the south-east United States, north-west Russia, and parts of Japan. The Arctic region in contrast was considerably warmer than average. This so-called warm Arctic-cold continents pattern is characteristic of the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation, which causes cold Arctic air to flow to lower latitudes.

Temperatures across North America were above average during 2013, but more moderate than 2012. In South America, temperatures were near to above average. This includes Argentina, which had record warmth in 2012.

In the South-west Pacific, Australia reported its hottest month ever observed in January 2013, leading to the hottest summer (December−February) on record.On 7 January a new national area-averaged daily maximum temperature of 40.3°C was set, and Moomba in South Australia, reached 49.6°C. Warmer-than-average temperatures continued through the year and the country recorded its all-time warmest 12-month period from November 2012−October 2013.

In Asia, Japan had its hottest summer on record. China recorded its warmest August on record (tied with 2006). Republic of Korea observed its 4th warmest July and warmest August, contributing to a record-high summer temperature.

Regional Precipitation

For the first ten months of 2013, there was below-average rainfall across the western United States. During 9–16 September, there was record-breaking precipitation in Boulder, Colorado, with widespread flooding. Parts of Mexico experienced above average rainfall due to tropical cyclones .

In South America, much-below-average rainfall was recorded in northeastern Brazil, where parts of the region suffered their worst drought in the past half century in early 2013. The Brazilian Plateau, the core monsoon region in South America experienced its largest rainfall deficit since records began in 1979.

Extreme precipitation in Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, and Switzerland caused the most intense and extended flooding in late May and early June in the Danube and Elbe river catchments since at least 1950.

The southern African countries of Angola and Namibia were gripped by one of the worst droughts in the past 30 years. An active West-African summer monsoon season (July−September) brought average to above-average rainfall over most of central and western parts of the Sahel.

Large areas in south west Asia including India, Pakistan, and western China experienced above-average rainfall due to the active Southwest Asian monsoon, which was one of the longest on record. The monsoon season had an early onset and brought the worst flooding and devastation in the past half century to regions near the India-Nepal border.

From the end of July to mid-August 2013, unusually heavy rain fell near the Amur River, which marks the border between China and Russia. The river reached a record level, surpassing the previous high set in 1984, as heavy flooding hit parts of the region.

Along with extreme heat, most of Australia had drier-than-average conditions throughout the year. With little significant rainfall in northern and eastern parts of New Zealand since October 2012, by early 2013 the country was suffering its worst drought in decades.

Tropical Cyclones

As of early November 2013, the 2013 global tropical cyclone activity was closing in on the 1981–2010 average of 89 storms, with a total of 86 storms in the year to date (wind speeds equal or greater than 63 km/h).

In the North Atlantic, with the season officially ending on 30 November, there have been a total of 12 named storms, compared to the 1981‒2010 seasonal average of 12 storms.

The Eastern North Pacific basin had above-average hurricane activity in 2013. There were a total of 17 storms, eight of which intensified to hurricane status, and one (Raymond) became a major hurricane.

Two tropical cyclones from two separate basins (Ingrid in the North Atlantic and Manuel in the Eastern North Pacific) struck Mexico nearly simultaneously on 15 September, an unusual event that last occurred in 1958. In total, 24 of Mexico’s 31 states were impacted.

As of early November, the Western North Pacific typhoon season recorded 30 storms, including 13 typhoons, above the 1981−2010 average of 26. Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Yolanda) was one of the most intense tropical cyclones ever to make landfall, and the most powerful cyclone of the year, cutting a devastating trail through the Philippines and seriously impacting on Viet Nam.

The North Indian Ocean had a below-average season with only two tropical cyclones compared with the 1981−2010 average of four. Phailin evolved into the strongest storm in the North Indian basin since 1999. Improved meteorological early warning systems and preparedness were credited with avoiding a major humanitarian disaster.

Background Note:

The provisional statement is being released at the 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, taking place in Warsaw, Poland. Final updates and figures for 2013 will be published in March 2014. Temperatures are from January to September, but data on tropical cyclones is up to October 2013. The WMO global temperature analysis is principally based on three complementary datasets maintained by the Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office and the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom (combined); the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Climatic Data Centre; and the Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) operated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Additional information is drawn from the ERA-Interim reanalysis-based data set maintained by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).

WMO released its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin 6 November 2013. It is available at WMO Global Atmosphere Watch Programme Web page:

Monday, November 11, 2013

Our Perpetual Ocean

This is an animation of ocean surface currents from June 2005 to December 2007 from NASA satellites. Watch how bigger currents like the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean and the Kuroshio in the Pacific carry warm waters across thousands of miles at speeds greater than four miles per hour (six kilometers per hour); how coastal currents like the Agulhas in the Southern Hemisphere move equatorial waters toward Earth's poles; and how thousands of other ocean currents are confined to particular regions and form slow-moving, circular pools called eddies. Credit: NASA/SVS
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The swirling flows of tens of thousands of ocean currents were captured in this scientific visualization created by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

"There is also a 20-minute long tour, which shows these global surface currents in more detail," says Horace Mitchell, the lead of the visualization studio. "We also released a three-minute version on our NASA Visualization Explorer iPad app."

Both the 20-minute and 3-minute versions are available in high definition here:

The visualization covers the period June 2005 to December 2007 and is based on a synthesis of a numerical model with observational data, created by a NASA project called Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, or ECCO for short. ECCO is a joint project between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. ECCO uses advanced mathematical tools to combine observations with the MIT numerical ocean model to obtain realistic descriptions of how ocean circulation evolves over time.

These model-data syntheses are among the largest computations of their kind ever undertaken. They are made possible by high-end computing resources provided by NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

ECCO model-data syntheses are being used to quantify the ocean's role in the global carbon cycle, to understand the recent evolution of the polar oceans, to monitor time-evolving heat, water, and chemical exchanges within and between different components of the Earth system, and for many other science applications.

In the particular model-data synthesis used for this visualization, only the larger, ocean basin-wide scales have been adjusted to fit observations. Smaller-scale ocean currents are free to evolve on their own according to the computer model's equations. Due to the limited resolution of this particular model, only the larger eddies are represented, and tend to look more 'perfect' than they are in real life. Despite these model limitations, the visualization offers a realistic study in both the order and the chaos of the circulating waters that populate Earth's ocean.

Data used by the ECCO project include: sea surface height from NASA's Topex/Poseidon, Jason-1, and Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason-2 satellite altimeters; gravity from the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment mission; surface wind stress from NASA's QuikScat mission; sea surface temperature from the NASA/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-EOS; sea ice concentration and velocity data from passive microwave radiometers; and temperature and salinity profiles from shipborne casts, moorings and the international Argo ocean observation system. More


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Experts say nuclear power needed to slow warming

Some of the world's top climate scientists say wind and solar energy won't be enough to head off extreme global warming, and they're asking environmentalists to support the development of safer nuclear power as one way to cut fossil fuel pollution.

Traveling Wave Reactor

Four scientists who have played a key role in alerting the public to the dangers of climate change sent letters Sunday to leading environmental groups and politicians around the world. The letter, an advance copy of which was given to The Associated Press, urges a crucial discussion on the role of nuclear power in fighting climate change.

Environmentalists agree that global warming is a threat to ecosystems and humans, but many oppose nuclear power and believe that new forms of renewable energy will be able to power the world within the next few decades.

That isn't realistic, the letter said.

"Those energy sources cannot scale up fast enough" to deliver the amount of cheap and reliable power the world needs, and "with the planet warming and carbon dioxide emissions rising faster than ever, we cannot afford to turn away from any technology" that has the potential to reduce greenhouse gases.

The letter signers are James Hansen, a former top NASA scientist; Ken Caldeira, of the Carnegie Institution; Kerry Emanuel, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Tom Wigley, of the University of Adelaide in Australia.

Hansen began publishing research on the threat of global warming more than 30 years ago, and his testimony before Congress in 1988 helped launch a mainstream discussion. Last February he was arrested in front of the White House at a climate protest that included the head of the Sierra Club and other activists. Caldeira was a contributor to reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Emanuel is known for his research on possible links between climate change and hurricanes, and Wigley has also been doing climate research for more than 30 years.

Emanuel said the signers aren't opposed to renewable energy sources but want environmentalists to understand that "realistically, they cannot on their own solve the world's energy problems."

The vast majority of climate scientists say they're now virtually certain that pollution from fossil fuels has increased global temperatures over the last 60 years. They say emissions need to be sharply reduced to prevent more extreme damage in the future.

In 2011 worldwide carbon dioxide emissions jumped 3 percent, because of a large increase by China, the No. 1 carbon polluting country. The U.S. is No. 2 in carbon emissions.

Hansen, who's now at Columbia University, said it's not enough for environmentalists to simply oppose fossil fuels and promote renewable energy.

"They're cheating themselves if they keep believing this fiction that all we need" is renewable energy such as wind and solar, Hansen told the AP.

The joint letter says, "The time has come for those who take the threat of global warming seriously to embrace the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems" as part of efforts to build a new global energy supply.

Stephen Ansolabehere, a Harvard professor who studies energy issues, said nuclear power is "very divisive" within the environmental movement. But he added that the letter could help educate the public about the difficult choices that climate change presents.

One major environmental advocacy organization, the Natural Resources Defense Council, warned that "nuclear power is no panacea for our climate woes."

Risk of catastrophe is only one drawback of nuclear power, NRDC President Frances Beinecke said in a statement. Waste storage and security of nuclear material are also important issues, he said.

"The better path is to clean up our power plants and invest in efficiency and renewable energy."

The scientists acknowledge that there are risks to using nuclear power, but say those are far smaller than the risk posed by extreme climate change.

"We understand that today's nuclear plants are far from perfect." More



Friday, November 1, 2013

Amira Willighagen on Holland's Got Tallent

I watched this video for the first time a few moments ago and I was so overwhelmed by the talent this your lady has that there were tears streaming down my face. Her voice is amazing, just so incredibly talented.

You may well question why this video is on a climate chenge blog. However, I think to myself of all the wonderful talented young people that I have met in just the last year in training courses and workshops that I have attended, or the young lady of twelve that I watched last night giving a speech on political representation for young people in her hometown. She was an incredible speaker,

And I, like James Hansen, former director of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies and author of Storms of my Grandchildren, who retired rather than be censored, have children and dammit, I want this world preserved for them. If the corporations cannot conduct business ethically and with Corporate Social Responsability, then they shall go down in history as murderers, and they shall go down.

And then I realize that we are destroying their world. Through burning fossil fuel, polluting the atmosphere and destroying the environment.

Let us all work to preserve this planet in an almost pristine state for these youngsters, who I would say are a lot smarter and talented than we are, They are the future so let us give them a chance.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Naomi Klein: Why Science Is Telling All of Us to Revolt and Change Our Lives Before We Destroy the Planet

People scream outside the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in

Stockholm to demand immediate political action on the climate on September 27, 2013

In December 2012, a pink-haired complex systems researcher named Brad Werner made his way through the throng of 24,000 earth and space scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held annually in San Francisco.

This year’s conference had some big-name participants, from Ed Stone of Nasa’s Voyager project, explaining a new milestone on the path to interstellar space, to the film-maker James Cameron, discussing his adventures in deep-sea submersibles.

But it was Werner’s own session that was attracting much of the buzz. It was titled “Is Earth F**ked?” (full title: “Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism”).

Standing at the front of the conference room, the geophysicist from the University of California, San Diego walked the crowd through the advanced computer model he was using to answer that question. He talked about system boundaries, perturbations, dissipation, attractors, bifurcations and a whole bunch of other stuff largely incomprehensible to those of us uninitiated in complex systems theory. But the bottom line was clear enough: global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that “earth-human systems” are becoming dangerously unstable in response. When pressed by a journalist for a clear answer on the “are we f**ked” question, Werner set the jargon aside and replied, “More or less.”

There was one dynamic in the model, however, that offered some hope. Werner termed it “resistance” – movements of “people or groups of people” who “adopt a certain set of dynamics that does not fit within the capitalist culture”. According to the abstract for his presentation, this includes “environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups”.

Serious scientific gatherings don’t usually feature calls for mass political resistance, much less direct action and sabotage. But then again, Werner wasn’t exactly calling for those things. He was merely observing that mass uprisings of people – along the lines of the abolition movement, the civil rights movement or Occupy Wall Street – represent the likeliest source of “friction” to slow down an economic machine that is careening out of control. We know that past social movements have “had tremendous influence on . . . how the dominant culture evolved”, he pointed out. So it stands to reason that, “if we’re thinking about the future of the earth, and the future of our coupling to the environment, we have to include resistance as part of that dynamics”. And that, Werner argued, is not a matter of opinion, but “really a geophysics problem”.

Plenty of scientists have been moved by their research findings to take action in the streets. Physicists, astronomers, medical doctors and biologists have been at the forefront of movements against nuclear weapons, nuclear power, war, chemical contamination and creationism. And in November 2012,Nature published a commentary by the financier and environmental philanthropist Jeremy Grantham urging scientists to join this tradition and “be arrested if necessary”, because climate change “is not only the crisis of your lives – it is also the crisis of our species’ existence”.

Some scientists need no convincing. The godfather of modern climate science, James Hansen, is a formidable activist, having been arrested some half-dozen times for resisting mountain-top removal coal mining and tar sands pipelines (he even left his job at Nasa this year in part to have more time for campaigning). Two years ago, when I was arrested outside the White House at a mass action against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, one of the 166 people in cuffs that day was a glaciologist named Jason Box, a world-renowned expert on Greenland’s melting ice sheet.

“I couldn’t maintain my self-respect if I didn’t go,” Box said at the time, adding that “just voting doesn’t seem to be enough in this case. I need to be a citizen also.”

This is laudable, but what Werner is doing with his modelling is different. He isn’t saying that his research drove him to take action to stop a particular policy; he is saying that his research shows that our entire economic paradigm is a threat to ecological stability. And indeed that challenging this economic paradigm – through mass-movement counter-pressure – is humanity’s best shot at avoiding catastrophe.

That’s heavy stuff. But he’s not alone. Werner is part of a small but increasingly influential group of scientists whose research into the destabilisation of natural systems – particularly the climate system – is leading them to similarly transformative, even revolutionary, conclusions. And for any closet revolutionary who has ever dreamed of overthrowing the present economic order in favour of one a little less likely to cause Italian pensioners to hang themselves in their homes, this work should be of particular interest. Because it makes the ditching of that cruel system in favour of something new (and perhaps, with lots of work, better) no longer a matter of mere ideological preference but rather one of species-wide existential necessity.

Leading the pack of these new scientific revolutionaries is one of Britain’s top climate experts, Kevin Anderson, the deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, which has quickly established itself as one of the UK’s premier climate research institutions. Addressing everyone from the Department for International Development to Manchester City Council, Anderson has spent more than a decade patiently translating the implications of the latest climate science to politicians, economists and campaigners. In clear and understandable language, he lays out a rigorous road map for emissions reduction, one that provides a decent shot at keeping global temperature rise below 2° Celsius, a target that most governments have determined would stave off catastrophe.

But in recent years Anderson’s papers and slide shows have become more alarming. Under titles such as “Climate Change: Going Beyond Dangerous . . . Brutal Numbers and Tenuous Hope”, he points out that the chances of staying within anything like safe temperature levels are diminishing fast.

With his colleague Alice Bows, a climate mitigation expert at the Tyndall Centre, Anderson points out that we have lost so much time to political stalling and weak climate policies – all while global consumption (and emissions) ballooned – that we are now facing cuts so drastic that they challenge the fundamental logic of prioritising GDP growth above all else.

Anderson and Bows inform us that the often-cited long-term mitigation target – an 80 per cent emissions cut below 1990 levels by 2050 – has been selected purely for reasons of political expediency and has “no scientific basis”. That’s because climate impacts come not just from what we emit today and tomorrow, but from the cumulative emissions that build up in the atmosphere over time. And they warn that by focusing on targets three and a half decades into the future – rather than on what we can do to cut carbon sharply and immediately – there is a serious risk that we will allow our emissions to continue to soar for years to come, thereby blowing through far too much of our 2° “carbon budget” and putting ourselves in an impossible position later in the century.

Which is why Anderson and Bows argue that, if the governments of developed countries are serious about hitting the agreedupon international target of keeping warming below 2° Celsius, and if reductions are to respect any kind of equity principle (basically that the countries that have been spewing carbon for the better part of two centuries need to cut before the countries where more than a billion people still don’t have electricity), then the reductions need to be a lot deeper, and they need to come a lot sooner.

To have even a 50/50 chance of hitting the 2° target (which, they and many others warn, already involves facing an array of hugely damaging climate impacts), the industrialised countries need to start cutting their greenhouse-gas emissions by something like 10 per cent a year – and they need to start right now. But Anderson and Bows go further, pointing out that this target cannot be met with the array of modest carbon pricing or green-tech solutions usually advocated by big green groups. These measures will certainly help, to be sure, but they are simply not enough: a 10 per cent drop in emissions, year after year, is virtually unprecedented since we started powering our economies with coal. In fact, cuts above 1 per cent per year “have historically been associated only with economic recession or upheaval”, as the economist Nicholas Stern put it in his 2006 report for the British government.

Even after the Soviet Union collapsed, reductions of this duration and depth did not happen (the former Soviet countries experienced average annual reductions of roughly 5 per cent over a period of ten years). They did not happen after Wall Street crashed in 2008 (wealthy countries experienced about a 7 per cent drop between 2008 and 2009, but their CO2 emissions rebounded with gusto in 2010 and emissions in China and India had continued to rise). Only in the immediate aftermath of the great market crash of 1929 did the United States, for instance, see emissions drop for several consecutive years by more than 10 per cent annually, according to historical data from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre. But that was the worst economic crisis of modern times.

If we are to avoid that kind of carnage while meeting our science-based emissions targets, carbon reduction must be managed carefully through what Anderson and Bows describe as “radical and immediate de-growth strategies in the US, EU and other wealthy nations”. Which is fine, except that we happen to have an economic system that fetishises GDP growth above all else, regardless of the human or ecological consequences, and in which the neoliberal political class has utterly abdicated its responsibility to manage anything (since the market is the invisible genius to which everything must be entrusted).

So what Anderson and Bows are really saying is that there is still time to avoid catastrophic warming, but not within the rules of capitalism as they are currently constructed. Which may be the best argument we have ever had for changing those rules.

In a 2012 essay that appeared in the influential scientific journal Nature Climate Change, Anderson and Bows laid down something of a gauntlet, accusing many of their fellow scientists of failing to come clean about the kind of changes that climate change demands of humanity. On this it is worth quoting the pair at length:

. . . in developing emission scenarios scientists repeatedly and severely underplay the implications of their analyses. When it comes to avoiding a 2°C rise, “impossible” is translated into “difficult but doable”, whereas “urgent and radical” emerge as “challenging” – all to appease the god of economics (or, more precisely, finance). For example, to avoid exceeding the maximum rate of emission reduction dictated by economists, “impossibly” early peaks in emissions are assumed, together with naive notions about “big” engineering and the deployment rates of low-carbon infrastructure. More disturbingly, as emissions budgets dwindle, so geoengineering is increasingly proposed to ensure that the diktat of economists remains unquestioned.

In other words, in order to appear reasonable within neoliberal economic circles, scientists have been dramatically soft-peddling the implications of their research. By August 2013, Anderson was willing to be even more blunt, writing that the boat had sailed on gradual change. “Perhaps at the time of the 1992 Earth Summit, or even at the turn of the millennium, 2°C levels of mitigation could have been achieved through significant evolutionary changes within the political and economic hegemony. But climate change is a cumulative issue! Now, in 2013, we in high-emitting (post-)industrial nations face a very different prospect. Our ongoing and collective carbon profligacy has squandered any opportunity for the ‘evolutionary change’ afforded by our earlier (and larger) 2°C carbon budget. Today, after two decades of bluff and lies, the remaining 2°C budget demands revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony” (his emphasis).

We probably shouldn’t be surprised that some climate scientists are a little spooked by the radical implications of even their own research. Most of them were just quietly doing their work measuring ice cores, running global climate models and studying ocean acidification, only to discover, as the Australian climate expert and author Clive Hamilton puts it, that they “were unwittingly destabilising the political and social order”.

But there are many people who are well aware of the revolutionary nature of climate science. It’s why some of the governments that decided to chuck their climate commitments in favour of digging up more carbon have had to find ever more thuggish ways to silence and intimidate their nations’ scientists. In Britain, this strategy is becoming more overt, with Ian Boyd, the chief scientific adviser at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, writing recently that scientists should avoid “suggesting that policies are either right or wrong” and should express their views “by working with embedded advisers (such as myself), and by being the voice of reason, rather than dissent, in the public arena”.

If you want to know where this leads, check out what’s happening in Canada, where I live. The Conservative government of Stephen Harper has done such an effective job of gagging scientists and shutting down critical research projects that, in July 2012, a couple thousand scientists and supporters held a mock-funeral on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, mourning “the death of evidence”. Their placards said, “No Science, No Evidence, No Truth”.

But the truth is getting out anyway. The fact that the business-as-usual pursuit of profits and growth is destabilising life on earth is no longer something we need to read about in scientific journals. The early signs are unfolding before our eyes. And increasing numbers of us are responding accordingly: blockading fracking activity in Balcombe; interfering with Arctic drilling preparations in Russian waters (at tremendous personal cost); taking tar sands operators to court for violating indigenous sovereignty; and countless other acts of resistance large and small. In Brad Werner’s computer model, this is the “friction” needed to slow down the forces of destabilisation; the great climate campaigner Bill McKibben calls it the “antibodies” rising up to fight the planet’s “spiking fever”. More