2014-09-21. Rockefellers, Heirs to an Oil Fortune, Will Divest Charity of Fossil Fuels. Excerpt: John D. Rockefeller built a vast fortune on oil. Now his heirs are abandoning fossil fuels. The family whose legendary wealth flowed from Standard Oil is planning to announce on Monday that its $860 million philanthropic organization, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is joining the divestment movement [http://gofossilfree.org/] that began a couple years ago on college campuses. The announcement, timed to precede Tuesday’s opening of the United Nations climate change summit meeting in New York City, is part of a broader and accelerating initiative. [See also Taking a Call for Climate Change to the Streets.] In recent years, 180 institutions — including philanthropies, religious organizations, pension funds and local governments — as well as hundreds of wealthy individual investors have pledged to sell assets tied to fossil fuel companies from their portfolios and to invest in cleaner alternatives. In all, the groups have pledged to divest assets worth more than $50 billion from portfolios, and the individuals more than $1 billion, according to Arabella Advisors, a firm that consults with philanthropists and investors to use their resources to achieve social goals.... http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/22/us/heirs-to-an-oil-fortune-join-the-divestment-drive.html. By John Schwartz, The New York Times.
2014-03-18. Scientists Sound Alarm on Climate. Excerpt: ...a committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society, ... will release a stark report Tuesday on global warming. The report will warn that the effects of human emissions of heat-trapping gases are already being felt, that the ultimate consequences could be dire, and that the window to do something about it is closing. “The evidence is overwhelming: Levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are rising,” says the report, which was made available early to The New York Times. “Temperatures are going up. Springs are arriving earlier. Ice sheets are melting. Sea level is rising. The patterns of rainfall and drought are changing. Heat waves are getting worse, as is extreme precipitation. The oceans are acidifying.” ...the report contains no new science. But the language in the 18-page report, called “What We Know,” is sharper, clearer and more accessible than perhaps anything the scientific community has put out to date. And the association does not plan to stop with the report. The group, with a membership of 121,200 scientists and science supporters around the world, plans a broad outreach campaign to put forward accurate information in simple language. The scientists are essentially trying to use their powers of persuasion to cut through public confusion over this issue. Polls show that most Americans are at least somewhat worried about global warming. But people generally do not understand that the problem is urgent — that the fate of future generations (not necessarily that far in the future) is being determined by emission levels now. Moreover, the average citizen tends to think there is more scientific debate about the basics than there really is. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/18/science/scientists-sound-alarm-on-climate.html. Justin Gillis, New York Times.
2014-01-06. Suburban sprawl cancels carbon-footprint savings of dense urban cores. Excerpt: According to a new study by UC Berkeley researchers, population-dense cities contribute less greenhouse-gas emissions per person than other areas of the country, but these cities’ extensive suburbs essentially wipe out the climate benefits. Dominated by emissions from cars, trucks and other forms of transportation, suburbs account for about 50 percent of all household emissions – largely carbon dioxide – in the United States. ...Interactive carbon footprint maps for more than 31,000 U.S. zip codes in all 50 states are available online at http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/maps.... http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2014/01/06/suburban-sprawl-cancels-carbon-footprint-savings-of-dense-urban-cores/. By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News Center.
2013-10-07. How to Slice a Global Carbon Pie? Excerpt: ...the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change... report released in Stockholm on Sept. 27 was their fifth since 1990, .... In its draft form, the fought-over paragraph declared that, to have the best chance of not exceeding the international target for global warming of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, society can burn no more than about 1 trillion tons of carbon, in the form of fossil fuels, and spew the resulting gases into the atmosphere. More than half that carbon budget has been used already. ...At the rate things are going, we will exceed the budget in 30 years or fewer. .... http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/08/science/how-to-slice-a-global-carbon-pie.html. Justin Gillis, The New York Times.
2013-03-13. The Price of Carbon | Movie hosted at The Climate Reality Project. Excerpt: Movie about huge hidden costs of fossil fuel based energy systems and the rationale for including such costs in the "price of carbon." .... See full article at http://climaterealityproject.org/the-price-of-carbon/.
2013-01-05. Pulling Carbon Dioxide Out of Thin Air | Anne Eisenberg, The New York Times. Relevant to GSS Climate Change chapter 10. Excerpt: …a Canadian company …Carbon Engineering … plans to build a complete pilot plant by the end of 2014 for capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere…. …the oil industry … buys the gas to inject into oil fields to force out extra oil. ...The recovered carbon dioxide may be sold one day, not only for enhanced oil recovery, but also to feed algae to produce biofuel. It may also be sequestered in places like unmineable coal seams and oil and gas reservoirs, says a new Energy Department report. Gas capture would be extremely important in developing a rational price for carbon emissions, said Dr. Fox of the British mechanical engineering society. “Whatever it costs to take it out of the air and store it away,” Dr. Fox said, “that’s the price polluters would pay if they want to put carbon into the air.” … Another advantage of direct air capture is geographic flexibility. “It doesn’t matter where you take the carbon dioxide out,” he said, since the gas is mixed evenly in the earth’s atmosphere. “You could have air capture machines in the Australian desert to account for New York City car emissions.” …. Read the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/business/pilot-plant-in-the-works-for-carbon-dioxide-cleansing.html
2012-12-05. American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting—Union Frontiers of Geophysics Lecture - Professor Sir Bob Watson, Chief Scientific Advisor to the United Kingdom Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
Highlights: we're probably not going to hit the 2°C target, and we can't even rule out a 5°C world. Research suggests that every 1C warming increases the risk of extinction for 10% of all species. Even if that's a 4-fold overestimate, it's still a profound result. Events that are already occurring at only 0.8°C above pre-industrial: wildfires, more intense hurricanes, droughts, the July 2012 Greenland melt, accelerating polar ice loss, arctic sea ice decline, ocean acidification, etc. It seems that even 2°C isn't "safe". There is a new understanding of aerosol forcings, which might increase the total anthropogenic radiative forcing from previous estimate ~1.6 W/m^2 to something more like 2.1 W/m^2. The last part of the talk is about finding ways to build a broad coalition of support for improving the efficiency and robustness of our infrastructure while we simultaneously try to decarbonize and feed more people with increasingly less food productivity. Sir Robert Watson also spoke at a session "The Anthropocene: Confronting the Prospects of a +4°C World." That is a 12 minute talk, starting at about 1hr 3min into the recording.
2012 November. Climate Change—Do the Math. This movie has recent climate change impacts on humanity, and a comparison of the cost of addressing climate change compared to the costs we currently incur every year to continue using fossil fuels.
2012 Oct 18. A Rogue Climate Experiment Outrages Scientists. By Henry Fountain, The NY Times. Excerpt: A California businessman chartered a fishing boat in July, loaded it with 100 tons of iron dust and cruised through Pacific waters off western Canada, spewing his cargo into the sea in an ecological experiment that has outraged scientists and government officials… The entrepreneur, Russ George, calling it a “state-of-the-art study,” said his team scattered iron dust several hundred miles west of the islands of Haida Gwaii, in northern British Columbia, in exchange for $2.5 million from a native Canadian group. The iron spawned the growth of enormous amounts of plankton, which Mr. George, a former fisheries and forestry worker, said might allow the project to meet one of its goals: aiding the recovery of the local salmon fishery for the native Haida. Plankton absorbs carbon dioxide, the predominant greenhouse gas, and settles deep in the ocean when it dies, sequestering carbon. The Haida had hoped that by burying carbon, they could also sell so-called carbon offset credits to companies and make money....
2012 July 19. Global Warming's Terrifying New Math | by Bill McKibben, Rolling Stone magazine. Excerpt: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe. Meteorologists reported that this spring was the warmest ever recorded for our nation…. Scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by midcentury and still have some reasonable hope of staying below two degrees [C] …the amount of carbon already contained in the proven coal and oil and gas reserves of the fossil-fuel companies, and the countries … that act like fossil-fuel companies… the fossil fuel we're currently planning to burn… is … 2,795 [gigatons] – is higher than 565. Five times higher. …If you told Exxon or Lukoil that, in order to avoid wrecking the climate, they couldn't pump out their reserves, the value of their companies would plummet. John Fullerton, a former managing director at JP Morgan who now runs the Capital Institute, calculates that at today's market value, those 2,795 gigatons of carbon emissions are worth about $27 trillion. Which is to say, if you paid attention to the scientists and kept 80 percent of it underground, you'd be writing off $20 trillion in assets…. Read the full article: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719
2012 Jun 07. Warming nears point of no return, scientists say. By David Perlman, SF Gate. Excerpt: The Earth is reaching a "tipping point" in climate change that will lead to increasingly rapid and irreversible destruction of the global environment unless its forces are controlled by concerted international action, an international group of scientists warns. Unchecked population growth, the disappearance of critical plant and animal species, the over-exploitation of energy resources, and the rapidly warming climate are all combining to bring mounting pressure on the Earth's environmental health…scientists from five nations, led by UC Berkeley biologist Anthony Barnosky, report their analysis Thursday in the journal Nature….
2012 Apr 12. Fuel to Burn: Now What?. By Jad Mouawad, The New York Times. An article relevant to GSS Energy
Use chapter 3. Excerpt: The reversal of fortune in America’s energy
supplies in recent years holds the promise of abundant and cheaper fuel,
and it could have profound effects on what people drive, domestic
manufacturing and America’s foreign policy. …High energy prices led to a
wave of successful oil and gas exploration in North America, including
in fields that were deemed uneconomical only a few years ago. Using
techniques like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, oil
companies are tapping into deeply buried reserves in shale rocks and in
the ocean’s depths. …Ed Morse, head of global commodity research at
Citigroup and a longtime energy analyst, says North America has the
potential to become a "new Middle East." "The reduced vulnerability of
North America — and the world market — to oil price spikes also has deep
consequences geopolitically, including the reduced strategic importance
to the U.S. of changes in oil- and natural gas-producing countries
worldwide," Mr. Morse said in a recent 92-page report called Energy
2020. …The glut of natural gas supplies ... has effectively put an end
in the United States to any new investment in coal plants, which produce
much more emissions. But it also makes the economics of alternative,
noncarbon energy sources like wind power or solar power difficult to
justify without public support and subsidies. …Natural gas prices have
fluctuated wildly in recent years, rising to $14 for a thousand cubic
feet from $2 within a few years. The current glut, however, has driven
prices back down again, to near $2 for a thousand cubic feet. …Shipping
costs may be lower, particularly if transportation companies shift their
fleets to natural gas-powered or electric vehicles. …. Read the full
2012 Mar 18. Focus on technology overlooks human behavior when addressing climate change. University of Oregon Media Relations. Excerpt: Technology alone won't help the world turn away from fossil fuel-based energy sources, says University of Oregon sociologist Richard York. In a newly published paper, York argues for a shift in political and economic policies to embrace the concept that continued growth in energy consumption is not sustainable….
…"In terms of governmental policies, we need to be thinking about social context, not just the technology," York said. "We need to be asking what political and economic factors are conducive to seeing real displacement. Just developing non-fossil fuel sources doesn't in itself tend to reduce fossil fuel use a lot — not enough. We need to be thinking about suppressing fossil fuel use rather than just coming up with alternatives alone."…
2012 February 28. Belief in Global Warming on the Rebound: National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change. By Christopher P. Borick and Barry Rabe, Issues in Government Studies No. 44, The Brookings Institute. Excerpt: As 2012 begins, a growing number of Americans believe global warming is occurring. This is one of the key findings from the latest National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change (NSAPOCC). [PDF of full paper].
2012 Feb 15. Leak Offers Glimpse of Campaign Against Climate Science. By Justin Gillis and Leslie Kaufman, The NY Times. Excerpt: Leaked documents suggest that an organization known for attacking climate science is planning a new push to undermine the teaching of global warming in public schools, the latest indication that climate change is becoming a part of the nation’s culture wars.
The documents, from a nonprofit organization in Chicago called the Heartland Institute, outline plans to promote a curriculum that would cast doubt on the scientific finding that fossil fuel emissions endanger the long-term welfare of the planet….
2012 January 27. Climate Change Debate Brewing in American Classrooms. By Sam Favate, Wallstreet Journal Law Blog. Excerpt: …State boards of education in Texas and Louisiana have established standards to require the presentation of climate change denial as a valid scientific position, while legislators in Tennessee, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Kentucky have introduced bills to mandate equal time for climate change skeptics’ views in the classroom….
…While courts have held that some criticism of evolution in public schools is a violation of the separation of church and state, deniers of climate change argue that they are simply pushing academic freedom….
…In many ways, the fight over this is just beginning, since new national science standards for grades K-12 are due at the end of the year, and are expected to include climate change. That’s expected to increase resistance at the local and state levels in some areas. The legal fight — at the legislative and judicial levels — will surely intensify….
(See also Oregon Public Broadcasting report: http://news.opb.org/article/climate_change_the_new_battlefield_in_science_education/)
2012 Jan 9. Real-World Learning Through Solar Power. NSTA Reports—Lynn Petrinjak. Schools across the country are turning to solar power as a way to simultaneously conserve energy and excite students about science. In Massachusetts, Diversified Construction Services, LLC, is erecting Solar Learning Labs (SLL) at 12 schools with support from a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the Department of Education. …“We’re trying to connect the curriculum to as pragmatic a situation as possible,” says Nick Young, superintendent of Hadley Public Schools in Hadley, Massachusetts. He anticipates about half of the district’s 300 middle and high school students will participate in courses using the SLL program. “This is a higher-end kind of program. It’s a way to connect to advanced subject matter. It’s a great opportunity for [self-motivated] students to be validated, and the hands-on application will appeal to some different learning styles, too.” During the installation of the solar panels, science teachers worked with Diversified. “It’s a school-based project. There’s an educational component built into construction,” explains Young. Although the panels will produce electricity on-site, Young admits it will be a “very modest amount.”
2012 Jan 6. The Technology Path to Deep Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cuts by 2050: The Pivotal Role of Electricity. By James H. Williams et al. Science. Abstract: Several states and countries have adopted targets for deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but there has been little physically realistic modeling of the energy and economic transformations required. We analyzed the infrastructure and technology path required to meet California’s goal of an 80% reduction below 1990 levels, using detailed modeling of infrastructure stocks, resource constraints, and electricity system operability. We found that technically feasible levels of energy efficiency and decarbonized energy supply alone are not sufficient; widespread electrification of transportation and other sectors is required. ...This transformation demands technologies that are not yet commercialized, as well as coordination of investment, technology development, and infrastructure deployment.
2011 June 20. NSF Press Release 11-122: Fastest Sea-level Rise in Two Millennia Linked To Increasing Global Temperatures. National Science Foundation News. Excerpt: The rate of sea level rise along the U.S. Atlantic coast is greater now than at any time in the past 2,000 years--and has shown a consistent link between changes in global mean surface temperature and sea level….
…Andrew Kemp and colleagues developed the first continuous sea-level reconstruction for the past 2,000 years, and compared variations in global temperature to changes in sea level over that time period….
2010 Sep 10. Polluter-Funded Evolution & Climate Exhibit at the Smithsonian. National Wildlife Federation. Excerpt: A "scientific" exhibit ignoring the threat of global warming at the taxpayer-funded Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC? Reports The New Yorker: "The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, is a multimedia exploration of the theory that mankind evolved in response to climate change. At the main entrance, viewers are confronted with a giant graph charting the Earth’s temperature over the past ten million years, which notes that it is far cooler now than it was ten thousand years ago. …The message… is that “key human adaptations evolved in response to environmental instability.” Only at the end of the exhibit, under the headline “OUR SURVIVAL CHALLENGE,” is it noted that levels of carbon dioxide are higher now than they have ever been, and that they are projected to increase dramatically in the next century. No cause is given for this development; no mention is made of any possible role played by fossil fuels. The exhibit makes it seem part of a natural continuum. …
Joseph Romm, a physicist who runs the Web site ClimateProgress.org, is infuriated by the Smithsonian’s presentation. “The whole exhibit whitewashes the modern climate issue,” he said. “I think the Kochs wanted to be seen as some sort of high-minded company, associated with the greatest natural-history and science museum in the country. But the truth is, the exhibit is underwritten by big-time polluters, who are underground funders of action to stop efforts to deal with this threat to humanity. I think the Smithsonian should have drawn the line.”
Cristián Samper, the museum’s director, said that the exhibit is not about climate change, and described Koch as “one of the best donors we’ve had, in my tenure here, because he’s very interested in the content, but completely hands off.” He noted, 'I don’t know all the details of his involvement in other issues.'…"
2010 July 15. Bad science: Global-warming deniers are a liability to the conservative cause. By Jonathan Kay, National Post. Excerpt: Have you heard about the “growing number” of eminent scientists who reject the theory that man-made greenhouse gases are increasing the earth’s temperature? It’s one of those factoids that, for years, has been casually dropped into the opening paragraphs of conservative manifestos against climate-change treaties and legislation.
…Fine-sounding rhetoric--but all of it nonsense. In a new article published in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences, a group of scholars from Stanford University, the University of Toronto and elsewhere provide a statistical breakdown of the opinions of the world’s most prominent climate experts. Their conclusion: The group that is skeptical of the evidence of man-made global warming “comprises only 2% of the top 50 climate researchers as ranked by expertise (number of climate publications), 3% of researchers in the top 100, and 2.5% of the top 200, excluding researchers present in both groups …”
…Too many of us treat science as subjective — something we customize to reduce cognitive dissonance between what we think and how we live.
...The appropriate intellectual response to that challenge — finding a way to balance human consumption with responsible environmental stewardship — is complicated and difficult. It will require developing new technologies, balancing carbon-abatement programs against other (more cost-effective) life-saving projects such as disease-prevention, and — yes — possibly increasing the economic cost of carbon-fuel usage through some form of direct or indirect taxation. It is one of the most important debates of our time. Yet many conservatives have made themselves irrelevant in it by simply cupping their hands over their ears and screaming out imprecations against Al Gore.
2010 June 8. The Climate Majority. By Jon A. Krosnick, The NY Times. Excerpt: Stanford, CA -- …National surveys released during the last eight months have been interpreted as showing that fewer and fewer Americans believe that climate change is real, human-caused and threatening to people. But a closer look at these polls and a new survey by my Political Psychology Research Group show just the opposite: huge majorities of Americans still believe the earth has been gradually warming as the result of human activity and want the government to institute regulations to stop it.
…When respondents were asked if they thought that the earth’s temperature probably had been heating up over the last 100 years, 74 percent answered affirmatively. And 75 percent of respondents said that human behavior was substantially responsible for any warming that has occurred.
…Fully 86 percent of our respondents said they wanted the federal government to limit the amount of air pollution that businesses emit, and 76 percent favored government limiting business’s emissions of greenhouse gases in particular. Our findings might seem implausible in light of recent polls that purport to show that Americans are increasingly skeptical about the very existence of climate change.
the most publicized question from a 2009 Pew Research Center poll: “From what you’ve read and heard, is there solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades, or not?” This question measured perceptions of scientific evidence that the respondent has read or heard about, not the respondents’ personal opinions about whether the earth has been warming.
...88 percent of the climate change issue public in our survey believed that global warming has been happening; 88 percent attributed responsibility for it to human action; 92 percent wanted the federal government to limit the amount of greenhouse gases that businesses can emit. Put simply, the people whose votes are most powerfully shaped by this issue are sending a nearly unanimous signal to their elected representatives.
2010 May 6. Leading scientists condemn 'political assaults' on climate researchers. By Celia Cole, The Guardian. Excerpt: A group of 255 of the world's top scientists today wrote an open letter aimed at restoring public faith in the integrity of climate science.
In a strongly worded condemnation of the recent escalation of political assaults on climatologists, the letter, published in the US Journal Science and signed by 11 Nobel laureates, attacks critics driven by "special interests or dogma" and "McCarthy-like" threats against researchers. It also attempts to set the record straight on the process of rigorous scientific research.
The letter is a response to negative publicity following the release of thousands of hacked emails from climate scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and two mistakes makes by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN climate body.
The letter sets out some basic features of the scientific method. "Like all human beings, scientists make mistakes, but the scientific process is designed to find and correct them. But when some conclusions have been thoroughly and deeply tested, questioned, and examined, they gain the status of 'well-established theories' and are often spoken of as 'facts'," it says....
2010 March 29. Among Weathercasters, Doubt on Warming. By Leslie Kaufman, NY Times. Excerpt: ...Climatologists, who study weather patterns over time, almost universally endorse the view that the earth is warming and that humans have contributed to climate change. There is less of a consensus among meteorologists, who predict short-term weather patterns.
Joe Bastardi, for example, a senior forecaster and meteorologist with AccuWeather, maintains that it is more likely that the planet is cooling, and he distrusts the data put forward by climate scientists as evidence for rising global temperatures.
...Such skepticism appears to be widespread among TV forecasters, about half of whom have a degree in meteorology. A study released on Monday by researchers at George Mason University and the University of Texas at Austin found that only about half of the 571 television weathercasters surveyed believed that global warming was occurring and fewer than a third believed that climate change was “caused mostly by human activities.”
More than a quarter of the weathercasters in the survey agreed with the statement “Global warming is a scam,” the researchers found.
...A study released this year by researchers at Yale and George Mason found that 56 percent of Americans trusted weathercasters to tell them about global warming far more than they trusted other news media or public figures like former Vice President Al Gore or Sarah Palin, the former vice-presidential candidate....
2010 Feb 10. Climate-Change
Debate Is Heating Up in Deep Freeze. By John
M. Broder, NY Times. Excerpt:
WASHINGTON — As
millions of people along the East
Coast hole up in their snowbound
homes, the two sides in the climate-change
debate are seizing on the mounting
drifts to bolster their arguments.
Skeptics of global warming are using
the record-setting snows to mock
those who warn of dangerous human-driven
climate change — this looks
more like global cooling, they taunt.
Most climate scientists respond that
the ferocious storms are consistent
with forecasts that a heating planet
will produce more frequent and more
intense weather events.
But some independent climate experts
say the blizzards in the Northeast
no more prove that the planet is
cooling than the lack of snow in
Vancouver or the downpours in Southern
California prove that it is warming....
2009 Dec 9. Science
and Politics of Climate Change. New York Times.
Interactive Feature. From Joseph Fourier
to James Hansen, NOAA to I.P.C.C.,
and Kyoto to Copenhagen, a look at
the history of climate study and
diplomacy in the modern age of global
2009 November 3. Religion’s
Role in the Climate Challenge. By Andrew
C. Revkin, The NY Times. Excerpt:
A remarkable conclave of leading
figures from nine of the world’s
major religions is under way at Windsor
Castle in Britain, under the auspices
of Prince Philip and the United
Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon.
Called “Many Heavens, One Earth,” the
meeting is intended to generate commitments
for actions by religious organizations,
congregants and countries that could
reduce emissions of greenhouse gases
or otherwise limit the human impact
on the environment.
...Olav Kjorven, an assistant secretary
general at the United Nations involved
with the meeting, spent the last
year visiting religious orders around
the world to see what faiths could
bring to the climate table. The answer,
Mr. Kjorven told me, is a lot, and
not simply in prayer.
Religions, he explained, run more
than half the world’s schools,
so tweaking a curriculum to include
more on the environment can have
a big impact. Their vast financial
holdings provide leverage and capital
for investments with environmental
or social benefits. At the conference,
which ends on Wednesday, many faiths
will be announcing long-term
plans to make more of an impact in
an arena that has not tended to be
a top priority....
2009 August 10. The
Earth Is Warming? Adjust the Thermostat. By John Tierney,
The NY Times. Excerpt: ...geoengineering...used
to be dismissed as science fiction
fantasies: cooling the planet with
sun-blocking particles or shades;
tinkering with clouds to make them
more reflective; removing vast quantities
of carbon from the atmosphere.
Today this approach goes by the slightly
less grandiose name of climate engineering,
and it is looking more practical.
Several recent reviews of these ideas
conclude that cooling the planet
would be technically feasible and
...The National Academy of Sciences
and Britain’s Royal Society
are preparing reports on climate
engineering, and the Obama administration
has promised to consider it. But
so far there has been virtually no
government support for research and
development — certainly nothing
like the tens of billions of dollars
allotted to green energy and other
programs whose effects on the climate
would not be felt for decades.
For perhaps $100 million, climate
engineers could begin field tests
within five years, says Ken Caldeira
of the Carnegie Institution for Science.
Dr. Caldeira is a member of a climate-engineering
study group that met last year at
the Kavli Institute for Theoretical
Physics under the leadership of Steven
E. Koonin, who has since become the
under secretary for science at the
United States Department of Energy.
The group has just issued a report,
published by the Novim research organization,
analyzing the use of aerosol particles
to reflect shortwave solar radiation
back into space.
These particles could be lofted into
the stratosphere to reproduce the
effects of sulfate aerosols from
volcanic eruptions like that of Mount
Pinatubo in 1991, which was followed
by a global cooling of nearly 1 degree
Fahrenheit. Just as occurred after
that eruption, the effects would
wane as the particles fell back to
Earth. Keeping the planet cooled
steadily (at least until carbon emissions
declined) might cost $30 billion
per year if the particles were fired
from military artillery, or $8 billion
annually if delivered by aircraft,
according to the Novim report....
2009 August 8. Climate
Change Seen as Threat to U.S. Security. By John
M. Broder, The NY Times. Excerpt:
WASHINGTON — The
changing global climate will pose
profound strategic challenges to
the United States in coming decades,
raising the prospect of military
intervention to deal with the effects
of violent storms, drought, mass
migration and pandemics, military
and intelligence analysts say.
Such climate-induced crises could
topple governments, feed terrorist
movements or destabilize entire regions,
say the analysts, experts at the
Pentagon and intelligence agencies
who for the first time are taking
a serious look at the national security
implications of climate change.
Recent war games and intelligence
studies conclude that over the next
20 to 30 years, vulnerable regions,
particularly sub-Saharan Africa,
the Middle East and South and Southeast
Asia, will face the prospect of food
shortages, water crises and catastrophic
flooding driven by climate change
that could demand an American humanitarian
relief or military response.
An exercise last December at the
National Defense University, an educational
institute that is overseen by the
military, explored the potential
impact of a destructive flood in
Bangladesh that sent hundreds of
thousands of refugees streaming into
neighboring India, touching off religious
conflict, the spread of contagious
diseases and vast damage to infrastructure. “It
gets real complicated real quickly,” said
Amanda J. Dory, the deputy assistant
secretary of defense for strategy,
who is working with a Pentagon group
assigned to incorporate climate change
into national security strategy planning....
If the United States does not lead
the world in reducing fossil-fuel
consumption and thus emissions of
global warming gases, proponents
of this view say, a series of global
environmental, social, political
and possibly military crises loom
that the nation will urgently have
2009 July. Atomic
Tracers. By Kathleen
M. Wong, ScienceMatters@Berkeley.
crime scene investigators use blood,
mud and other environmental clues
to find their suspects, Berkeley
professor Donald DePaolo uses isotopes
to reveal the history of rocks, water
and even the atmosphere....
2009 June 15. A
Climate (Communication) Crisis? By
Andrew C. Nevkin, The NY Times.
As debates over national and global
climate and energy policy continue
to drag out, there’s
been an intensifying exploration
of climate miscommunication among
those seeking concrete actions that
will make a noticeable difference
in the atmosphere someday. If the
science pointing to a rising risk
of dangerous human interference with
climate is settled, the thinking
goes, then why aren’t people
and the world’s nations galvanized?
Maybe it’s a language problem?...
...Randy Olson, a marine scientist
turned filmmaker and now author,
said...his overall reaction was that
the commentators focusing on changing
how the climate issue is “framed” were
far too detached from the public
to have a meaningful idea of how
to make an impact. (Dr. Olson’s
forthcoming book, “Don’t
Be Such a Scientist,” aims
to help scientists communicate more
effectively with the rest of society.)
Below I’ve pasted what Dr.
Olson said he would have written
if asked whether there is a better
word, in the climate context, for
associated with environmental communication
needs to read The Cluetrain
Mainfesto of 1999 and take it to
heart. The environmental struggle
is one big exercise in persuasion.
What the Cluetrain folks pointed
out is that humans respond to human
voices. You can “frame” all
you want, but if the communication
is coming from robots, the only ones
who will respond will be the robots....The
bottom line is it only takes a few
seconds for people to listen to a
voice and decide whether they trust
it or not. If that voice is devoid
of human qualities, and worse if
there is a clear sense that the voice
is speaking with “messages” that
have been “framed” and “focus
grouped,” it just ain’t
gonna work for the masses. And
double that for the younger masses.
...You can come up
with all the clever terms you want,
but if they are spoken by environmental
leaders who are perceived as cold,
calculating, and manipulative,
the broader audience will simply
disconnect. Not because of the
language, but because of their
basic instincts leading them to
not trust the voice they are hearing....
2009 January 19. More-Reflective
Crops May Have Cooling Effect. By
Henry Fountain, The New York Times.
Some of the most imaginative solutions
to the problem of global climate
change involve planetary-scale geoengineering
projects to reduce the sunlight reaching
surface. But proposals like building
a huge sunshade in space or seeding
the atmosphere with sulfate particles
would cost enormous sums and require
a degree of international cooperation
that is difficult to achieve.
Andy Ridgwell and colleagues at the
University of Bristol in England
have another idea, one they call
bio-geoengineering. Rather than developing
infrastructure to help cool the planet,
they propose using an existing one:
Their calculations, published in
Current Biology, suggest that by
planting crop varieties that reflect
more sunlight, summertime cooling
of about 2 degrees Fahrenheit could
be obtained across central North
America and a wide band of Europe
...Plants reflect slightly different
amounts of light depending on factors
like how waxy the leaves are. Even
differences in growth patterns between
two varieties of a crop — the
way leaves are arranged — can
Existing varieties could be used,
Dr. Ridgwell said, or crops could
be bred or genetically engineered
for greater reflectivity (without
affecting yields, nutritional values
or other important characteristics)....
But it wouldn’t cost much,
and it wouldn’t require much
international cooperation. “It’s
very practical, and it could just
be done,” he said. “It’s
not some trillion-dollar pie-in-the-sky
2008 October 30. Antarctica
hit by climate change. By Daniel Cressey,
Nature News. Excerpt:
In its landmark Fourth Assessment
Report, the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC) declared
in 2007 that human influence on climate "has
been detected in every continent
except Antarctica". Now a paper
in Nature Geoscience says that our
impact can be found even in the last
..."The scarcity of observations
in the Antarctic makes it harder
to identify and attribute temperature
trends, but it does not make it impossible," says
climatologist Nathan Gillett of Environment
Canada, lead author of the new study.
Previous work has seen Antarctica
temperature records ranging from
1900 to the present day collated
into one data set. Gillett and his
colleagues compared changes detailed
in that data set with temperature
changes simulated in four different
climate models, running the models
both with and without human influence
Changes actually observed did not
fit with the models when only natural
climate changes and variability were
present. They were only explainable
when human influence on the climate
was taken into account.
..."Warming in both polar regions
has many potential impacts - for
example on ice-sheet melting, sea
level and on polar ecosystems," says
Gillett, who conducted the research
while working at the University of
East Anglia in Norwich, UK....
2008 August 30. Swimmer
aims to kayak to N Pole. BBC News. Excerpt:
Long-distance swimmer Lewis Pugh
plans to kayak 1200km (745 miles)
to the North Pole to raise awareness
of how global warming has melted
the ice sheet....
Lewis Pugh has spent his life swimming
Now, after months of tuition from Hungarian
kayaking champion Robert Hegedus, Mr
Pugh wants to become the first man
to paddle to the North Pole.
"Nobody has ever attempted to
kayak to the pole before. In fact,
it would have been impossible last
year because it was frozen over," he
This year, for the first time, scientists
predict that the North Pole could briefly
be ice free and that has inspired Mr
Pugh to try to find a way through.
On Saturday he is due to set off on
the 1200km (745 mile) expedition from
Norway to the North Pole - a journey
expected to take between two and three
weeks. A support ship will follow the
kayak to provide Mr Pugh with food
and respite from the brutal conditions.
...Until now, Lewis Pugh has been famous
for completing long distance swims
in all of the world's oceans. In 2006
the former lawyer swam the length of
the River Thames and then in 2007 he
swam 1km (0.6 miles) at the North Pole.
On both occasions Mr Pugh said he wanted
to raise awareness of global warming
and its affect on the polar regions....
2008 June 6. $45
trillion needed to combat warming. By Joeseph Coleman,
Associated Press. Excerpt: TOKYO
- The world needs to invest $45 trillion
in energy in coming decades, build
some 1,400 nuclear power plants and
vastly expand wind power in order
to halve greenhouse gas emissions
by 2050, according to an energy study
"Meeting this target of 50 percent
cut in emissions represents a formidable
challenge, and we would require immediate
policy action and technological transition
on an unprecedented scale," IEA
Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka said.
Environment ministers from the Group
of Eight industrialized countries
and Russia backed the 50 percent
target in a meeting in Japan last
month and called for it to be officially
endorsed at the G-8 summit in July.
The study said that an average of
35 coal-powered plants and 20 gas-powered
power plants would have to be fitted
with carbon capture and storage equipment
each year between 2010 and 2050.
In addition, the world would have
to construct 32 new nuclear power
plants each year, and wind-power
turbines would have to be increased
by 17,000 units annually. Nations
would have to achieve an eight-fold
reduction in carbon intensity — the
amount of carbon needed to produce
a unit of energy — in the transport
Such action would drastically reduce
oil demand to 27 percent of 2005
demand. Failure to act would lead
to a doubling of energy demand and
a 130 percent increase in carbon
dioxide emissions by 2050, IEA officials
"This development is clearly
not sustainable," said Dolf
Gielen, an IEA energy analyst and
leader for the project.
Gielen said most of the $45 trillion
forecast investment — about
$27 trillion — would be borne
by developing countries, which will
be responsible for two-thirds of
greenhouse gas emissions by 2050...
2008 May 15. NASA
SATELLITE FINDS INTERIOR OF MARS
NASA RELEASE: 08-128. Excerpt:
WASHINGTON -- New observations
from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance
Orbiter indicate that the crust
and upper mantle of Mars are stiffer
and colder than previously thought.
The findings suggest any liquid
water that might exist below the
planet's surface and any possible
organisms living in that water, would
be located deeper than scientists
had suspected. [and here's the climate
part...] ...The radar pictures also
reveal four zones of finely spaced
layers of ice and dust separated
by thick layers of nearly pure ice.
Scientists think this pattern of
thick ice-free layers represents
cycles of climate change on Mars
on a time scale of roughly one million
years. Such climate changes are caused
by variations in the tilt of the
planet's rotational axis and in the
eccentricity of its orbit around
the sun. The observations support
the idea that the north polar ice
cap is geologically active and relatively
young, at about 4 million years.
2008 April 29. Court
Forces Government to Move on Polar
Bear Status. By
ANDREW C. REVKIN, NY Times. Excerpt:
...a Federal Court ruling today ...
forces the Bush administration to
decide by mid-May whether polar bears
deserve protection under the Endangered
Species Act because of Arctic impacts
from the warming climate. ...Dana
Perino, the White House press secretary,
...[said] in a briefing preceding
Mr. Bush's latest speech on climate,
the result was a looming "regulatory
train wreck. ...This would have the
Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species
Act, and the National Environmental
Policy Act all addressing climate
change in a way that is not the way
that they were intended to"
...the administration... is pushing
for new oil and gas drilling in polar
bear habitat while biologists for
Interior Department, prodded by legal
action, recommended the bear be given
threatened status under the species
act because of the warming of the
Arctic and summer retreat of sea
"Today's decision is a huge
victory for the polar bear," said
Kassie Siegel, climate program director
at the Center for Biological Diversity
and lead author of the 2005 petition,
filed by various environmental groups....
According to ...the Natural Resources
Defense Council, which joined in
the suit, the court rejected a request
by the Interior Department for more
time, saying: "Defendants offer
no specific facts that would justify
the existing delay, much less further
delay. To allow Defendants more time
would violate the mandated listing
deadlines under the ESA and congressional
intent that time is of the essence
in listing threatened species."
...The Bush administration has argued
in various courts, including the
Supreme Court, that such efforts
will fail because, among other things,
the "remedy" for limiting
global warming must be applied globally,
not just in the United States.
2008 April 12. Hurricane
Expert Reassesses Link to Warming.
By ANDREW C. REVKIN. The NY
A fresh study by a leading hurricane
researcher has raised new questions
about how hurricane strength and
frequency might, or might not, be
influenced by global warming. Eric
Berger of the Houston Chronicle nicely
summarized the research on Friday… That
work was supported by some subsequent
studies, but refuted by others. Despite
the uncertainty in the science, hurricanes
quickly became a potent icon in environmental
campaigns, as well as in "An
Inconvenient Truth," the popular
climate documentary featuring former
Vice President Al Gore. The message
was that global warming was no longer
a looming issue and was exacting
a deadly toll now.
The new study, in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological
Society, is hardly definitive in its own right, essentially raising
more questions than it resolves. But it definitely rolls back
Dr. Emanuel's sense of confidence about a recent role for global
warming. (The abstract
is here. A pdf
is downloadable on Dr. Emanuel's ftp page.)
On his SciGuy blog, Eric discusses some
of the ramifications of Dr. Emanuel's new storm study… They
are solid points that hold lessons for advocates on both sides
of the charged debate over climate science and its implications
for society. There are lessons here for journalists, too. Science
is a trajectory toward understanding, not a set of truths. Sometimes
that can be inconvenient, whether writing a headline or advocating
for a climate bill.
But somehow society has to learn how to be comfortable with this
aspect of the scientific enterprise, while not fuzzing out because
things aren't crystal clear. As Stephen Schneider, a veteran
climatologist at Stanford, recently mused, the question is, "Can
democracy survive complexity?" It's
clear that Dr. Emanuel's admonition about the need for a lot
more work applies beyond the realm of science,
2008 March 25. Link
to Global Warming in Frogs' Disappearance
By ANDREW C. REVKIN, NY Times. Excerpt:
The amphibians, of the genus Atelopus
- actually toads despite their common
name - once hopped in great numbers
along stream banks on misty slopes
from the Andes to Costa Rica. After
20 years of die-offs, they are listed
as critically endangered by conservation
groups and are mainly seen in zoos.
It looked as if one research
a winner in 2006 when global warming
was identified as the "trigger" in
the extinctions by the authors of
a much-cited paper in
The "bullet," the researchers
said, appeared to be a chytrid fungus
that has attacked amphibian populations
in many parts of the world but thrives
best in particular climate conditions.
The authors, led by J. Alan Pounds
of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve
in Costa Rica, said, "Here we
show that a recent mass extinction
associated with pathogen outbreaks
is tied to global warming." The
study was featured in reports last
year by the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change.
Other researchers have been questioning
that connection. Last year, two short
responses in Nature questioned facets
of the 2006 paper.... Now, in the
25 issue of PLoS Biology,
another team argues that the die-offs
of harlequins and some other amphibians
reflect the spread and repeated introductions
of the chytrid fungus. They question
the analysis linking the disappearances
to climate change. In interviews
and e-mail exchanges, Dr. Pounds
and the lead author of the new paper,
Karen R. Lips of Southern Illinois
University, disputed each other's
Ross A. Alford, a tropical biologist
at James Cook University in Townsville,
Australia, said such scientific tussles,
while important, could be a distraction,
particularly when considering the
uncertain risks attending global
warming. "Arguing about whether
we can or cannot already see the
effects," he said, "is
like sitting in a house soaked in
gasoline, having just dropped a lit
match, and arguing about whether
we can actually see the flames yet,
while waiting to see if maybe it
might go out on its own."
2008 Mar 18. Melting
Pace of Glaciers Is Accelerating,
Report Says By ANDREW
C. REVKIN Excerpt: Most of the world's
mountain glaciers, many of which
feed major rivers and water supplies,
are shrinking at an accelerating
pace as the climate warms, according
to a new report... issued Monday
by the World Glacier Monitoring Service,
which is based at the University
of Zurich and supported by the United
Nations Environment Program. ...The
study included data from 30 glaciers
spread around nine mountainous regions.
...The big danger ahead, several
glacier experts said, is that the
loss of glaciers would take away
a summertime source of river water,
drinking water and hydroelectric
power in populous, relatively poor
places like South Asia and the cities
along the western slope of the Andes.
"Millions of people depend on
the runoff from mountain snow and
ice in the warm seasons," said
Peter Gleick, who has studied water
and climate for two decades and is
the president of the Pacific Institute,
a private research group in Oakland,
Calif. "Climate change is going
to make that runoff disappear."
of Past Articles for Chapter
2007 November 28. McKinsey Report on Carbon Reductions.
2007 November 20. "The
Sky is Falling." Short video that won
the Ecospot Award.
2007 December 10. Al
Gore's Nobel Prize acceptance speech.
2007 December 3. Climate
Talks Take on Added Urgency
After Report. By PETER GELLING and ANDREW
C. REVKIN, NY Times. Excerpt:
JAKARTA, Indonesia, Dec. 2 - Thousands of
government officials, industry lobbyists,
environmental campaigners and observers are
arriving on the Indonesian island of Bali
for two weeks of talks starting Monday that
are aimed at breathing new life into the troubled
15-year-old global climate treaty.
A heightened sense of urgency surrounds the
meeting in light of a report issued last month
by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change, which detailed the potentially
devastating effects of global warming in the
panel's strongest language yet.
...By far, the biggest obstacle to forging
a new accord by 2009 is the United States,
analysts say. Senior Bush administration officials
say the administration will not agree to a
new treaty with binding limits on emissions.
Instead, President Bush recently proposed
that the world's biggest countries work toward
a common, long-term goal set decades in the
future, without specific targets or limits,
and more immediate goals set by individual
nations using whatever means they choose.
In his latest statement on climate change
last Wednesday, Mr. Bush said, "Our guiding
principle is clear: we must lead the world
to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions,
and we must do it in a way that does not undermine
economic growth or prevent nations from delivering
greater prosperity for their people."
...The United States will soon stand alone
among industrialized nations in its refusal
to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, with the new
Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd, having
said in no uncertain terms that his country
would now ratify it.
"The Bush administration is the only government in the
world that is opposed to mandatory emissions reductions being
included in a new treaty," said Philip Clapp, the deputy
managing director of the Pew Environment Group, based in Washington. "The
question is, will they block others from moving forward."
While most developing countries - including
China, which is poised to overtake the United
States as the largest source of greenhouse
gases - have agreed to negotiate treaties
that require richer nations to reduce emissions,
they remain opposed to taking on such mandatory
2007 November 23. The 'Geo-Engineering' Scenario. Why even a desperate measure is starting to look reasonable. By Sharon Begley, Newsweek Web Exclusive. Excerpt: After decades spent studying volcanoes, Alan Robock can list 20 reasons why humans should not try to play God with the world's climate by, well, mimicking Krakatoa. Proponents of "geo-engineering" actually like the idea because the eruptions spread sulfate aerosols and other particles throughout the planet's atmosphere, reflecting incoming sunlight. The resulting cooling might counter the global warming caused by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. But that's not all sulfates do, which is where Robock's list comes in. The particles also deplete the planet's ozone layer, which is just starting to repair itself now that ozone-shredding chemicals are banned. They cause acid rain, too. And by cooling large land masses like Asia and Africa, the heat-reflecting particles reduce the temperature difference between them and the already-cooler oceans, which could stifle the monsoons that millions of people depend on for agriculture. Because the particles block direct sunlight more than diffuse rays, they also alter the balance of radiation reaching Earth's surface, with unknown consequences for plants that can be kind of finicky about the kind of sunlight they need.
And yet É In a sign of how dangerous global warming is starting to look and of how pitiful the world's efforts to control greenhouse gases are, even Robock-list and all-hedges his bets. Geo-engineering, allows the Rutgers University meteorologist, "might be held in reserve for an emergency."
...Studies of volcanoes established what amount of particles produces how much cooling, as well as how the particles spread and how long they remain aloft (a year or two). Knowing this, it should be possible to roll back the global warming projected for 2100 enough to return the planet to its climate of 1900, Damon Matthews and Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution reported in June.
The devil, however, is in the details. Injecting sulfates into the atmosphere-by lofting big, aerosol-filled balloons or rockets-would reduce global precipitation to below the levels of 1900, their study showed, threatening agriculture. Cooling would be uneven, with some regions benefiting more than others....
2007 November 17. IPCC
- 4: the final, synthesis report from
the International Panel on Climate Change.
2007 November 13. Challenges
to Both Left and Right on Global Warming. By ANDREW C. REVKIN. NY Times. Excerpt: For many years, the battle over what to think and do about human-caused climate change and fossil fuels has been waged mostly as a yelling match between the political and environmental left and the right.
The left says global warming is a real-time crisis requiring swift curbs on smokestack and tailpipe gases that trap heat, and that big oil, big coal and antiregulatory conservatives are trashing the planet.
The right says global warming is somewhere between a hoax and a minor irritant, and argues that liberals' thirst for top-down regulations will drive American wealth to developing countries and turn off the fossil-fueled engine powering the economy.
Some books mirror the divide, like the recent "Field Notes from a Catastrophe," ...by Elizabeth Kolbert, and "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming" by Chris Horner, a lawyer for the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Ms. Kolbert sounds a strong warning call, and Mr. Horner's book fits with the position of the institute, a libertarian and largely industry-backed group that strongly opposes limits on greenhouse gases.
But in three other recent books, there seems to be a bit of a warming trend between the two camps. Instead of bashing old foes, the authors, all influential voices in the climate debate with roots on the left or the right, tend to chide their own political brethren and urge a move to the pragmatic center on climate and energy.
All have received mixed reviews and generated heated Internet debate ... "A Contract With the Earth," Mr. Gingrich, ... a manifesto challenging conservatives not just to grudgingly accept, but to embrace, the idea that a healthy environment is necessary for a healthy democracy and economy.
... Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger in "Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility." ...call for an aggressive effort to invest in energy research, while also building societies that can be resilient in the face of the warming
that is already unavoidable....
2007 October 8. Expert
Studies Climate Change in Arctic. By THE
ASSOCIATED PRESS. Excerpt:
OTTAWA (AP) -- Climate change may make Arctic
energy resources easier to reach but it could
also make them harder to exploit because of
changes to sea ice, a U.S. scientist said
ahead of an international oil and ice conference
Hajo Eicken, a University of Alaska scientist,
is one of the presenters from at least five
countries scheduled to speak about oil spills
in ice-choked waters at a conference in Anchorage,
Alaska, that starts Wednesday.
Eicken said ...''Conditions are more variable,
less predictable. Even in winter, when normally
you would expect to see the landfast ice to
be stable and locked in place, we're starting
to see ... larger tracts of landfast ice detach
from shore and drift out to sea,'' Eicken
The conference is organized by Ottawa-based
SL Ross Environmental Research Ltd.
2007 September 20. STUDENTS
DISPLACED BY KATRINA TO ASSESS CLIMATE CHANGE. The
World Wildlife Fund and the Allianz Foundation
for North America have announced a new opportunity
for high school students displaced by Katrina
and now residing in nine U.S. cities to assess
the climate change vulnerability of the Southeastern
United States. "As these displaced students
know from being on the frontlines, we're all
increasingly vulnerable to climate change," said
Dr. Lara Hansen chief climate scientist, World
Wildlife Fund. "Now they have a unique
chance to shape the future of their region
-- by exploring the science of what's happening
and using what they discover to inspire action." The
project will give participating youth an opportunity
this spring to learn more about the science
of climate change by working closely with
scientists, using scientific tools for exploring
and explaining regional vulnerability.
Through this project, 25 students will be
chosen to assess the vulnerability of the
Southeastern United States to climate change
from public schools in New Orleans and Baton
Rouge, LA; Gulf Port, Jackson, and Biloxi,
MI; Mobile and Birmingham, AL; Atlanta, GA;
and Nashville, TN. Participants will receive
a $1500 stipend and an HP laptop computer
for their college studies. Selected students
will also attend Climate Camp in June 2008
as well as a Youth Summit in Washington D.C.
July 7-11, 2008. Nationally, teachers can
use a curriculum on climate change designed
for high school students to integrate climate
change into their lessons and equip students
for future responsibility and leadership.
July - August 2007. Global
Meltdown. By Andrew Revkin, for AARP magazine. Excerpt:
It's becoming a legacy issue for older Americans:
what type of planet are we leaving our children?
One of the nation's top reporters on the environment
reveals the latest science behind climate
KANGERLUSSUAQ, GREENLAND ...Great warmings
and coolings have sent ocean levels rising
and falling as enormous amounts of water were
locked in glaciers or released like the flows
we see here in Greenland.
But the current warming trend is happening
much faster than previous hot spells, says
[snow scientist, Joe] McConnell, and none
of the forces that usually affect climate-such
as variations in the sun's strength-are in
sync with this recent change. Should these
patterns continue, he believes, the consequences
are clear. "If Greenland melted, it'd
raise sea levels by twenty feet," he
explains. "There goes most of the Mississippi
embayment. There go the islands in the South
Pacific. Bangladesh is obliterated. Manhattan
would have to put up dikes." A similar
amount of ice is vulnerable in western Antarctica,
another focus of McConnell's work. While this
would most likely be a slow-motion sea change
taking many centuries, gases being pumped
into the atmosphere by cars, planes, factories,
and power plants could raise the odds of such
...It may be that what we face is less a climate
crisis than an energy challenge. Many experts
believe the key to limiting climate risks
and solving a host of momentous problems-including
the end of abundant oil-is to begin an ambitious
quest for new ways to conserve, harvest, and
store energy without creating pollution.
Harnessing the power of the sun remains the
Holy Grail of most energy experts. But research
on solar technologies remains tiny in scale,
though the potential has been clear for decades.
Consider this incredibly prescient quote: "I'd
put my money on the sun and solar energy.
What a source of power! I hope we don't have
to wait until oil and coal run out before
we tackle that."
The year? 1931. The speaker? Thomas Edison....
2007 July 31. A
CONVERSATION WITH HEIDI CULLEN--Into the Limelight, and the Politics of Global Warming. By CLAUDIA DREIFUS, NY Times. Excerpt: Heidi Cullen is the only climatologist with a Ph.D. in the country who has her own weekly show, a half-hour-long video-magazine focused on climate and the environment. ...In June 2002, Heidi Cullen, a researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., received a telephone call from an executive at the Weather Channel. Would she audition for a program on climate and global warming that producers at the Atlanta-based cable television network were contemplating?...
Q: What were you studying when you got that call from the Weather Channel?
A: I was trying to understand the large-scale mechanisms that had caused a drought in Afghanistan from 1999 to 2001. I was also working with engineers in Brazil and Paraguay to apply climate forecasts to optimize water resource management at Itaipu Binacional, the largest operational hydropower facility in the world. I hesitated when I got that call. Television was a world I couldn't imagine. No one I knew had ever done anything like that....
Q: Your coverage of global warming has been controversial. Are you surprised?
A: In a way, yes. To me, global warming isn't a political issue, it's a scientific one. But a lot of people out there think you're being an advocate when you talk climate science....
Q: Rush Limbaugh accused you of Stalinism. Did you suggest that meteorologists who doubt global warming should be fired?
A: I didn't exactly say that. I was talking about the American Meteorological Society's seal of approval. I was saying the A.M.S. should test applicants on climate change as part of their certification process. They test on other aspects of weather science.
A lot of viewers want to know about climate change. They are experiencing events they perceive as unusual and they want to know if there's a connection to global warming. Certainly when Katrina hit, they wanted to know if it was global warming or not. Most Americans get their daily dose of science through their televised weather report. Given that fact, I think it's the responsibility
of broadcast meteorologists to provide viewers
with scientific answers....
2007 July 8. Wealthy
Nantucket Homeowners Stake $25 Million in a War With the Sea. Cornelia Dean, The New York Times. "When erosion became a serious threat to bluff-top homes in the village of Siasconset on the island's southeast shore and homeowners decided to fight back by replenishing the beach, cost was not an issue. About two dozen of the owners joined with other island residents to form the Sconset Beach Preservation Fund, whose members are seeking permission to spend at least $25 million of their own money to dredge 2.6 million cubic yards of sand from a few miles offshore and pump it onto a 3.1-mile stretch of beach in Siasconset, or Sconset, as it is called here. They realize that the sand will inevitably wash away, so they are prepared to do much of the work all over again, perhaps as often as every five years. If the sand had to be transported by dump trucks, it could take 260,000 trips at 10 cubic yards a trip. Instead, it will be dredged up from the ocean bottom, mixed with water and pumped to shore as a slurry that will spew out onto
2007 May 1. Recruiting
Plankton to Fight Global Warming. The
New York Times - MATT RICHTEL. Excerpt:
SAN FRANCISCO, April 30 - Can plankton help
save the planet? ...Planktos, an "ecorestoration
company," will deploy a ship to dissolve
tons of iron, an essential plankton nutrient,
over a 10,000-square-kilometer patch of ocean.
...In an effort to ameliorate the effects
of global warming, several groups are working
on ventures to grow vast floating fields of
plankton intended to absorb carbon dioxide
from the atmosphere and carry it to the depths
of the ocean. ... the first commercial project
is scheduled to get under way this month when
the WeatherBird II, a 115-foot research vessel,
heads out from its dock in Florida to the
Gal‡pagos and the South Pacific. The
ship plans to dissolve tons of iron, an essential
plankton nutrient, over a 10,000-square-kilometer
patch. ...When the trace iron prompts growth
and reproduction of the tiny organism, scientists
on the WeatherBird II plan to measure how
much carbon dioxide the plankton ingests.
The idea is similar to planting forests full
of carbon-inhaling trees, but in desolate
stretches of ocean. "This is organic
gardening, not rocket science," said
Russ George, the chief executive of Planktos,
the company behind the WeatherBird II project. "Can
it possibly be as easy as we say it is? We're
about to find out."....
2007 April 28. It's
Maple Syrup Time, So Why the Whiff of French
Fries? The New York Times - SAM HOOPER
WESTMINSTER, Vt. - ...To do his bit to stave
off global warming, Mr. Crocker this year
converted his sugar house from regular fuel
oil to used vegetable oil. Such oil, sometimes
pumped into the tanks of environmentally friendly "grease
cars," can also be used as an alternative
to heating oil. While a dwindling number of
small, traditional sugar makers still boil
their sap over wood fires, the majority burn
heating oil, a fossil fuel that contributes
to global warming. Derived from living plants
rather than fossil fuels, used vegetable oil
adds little or no carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
Mr. Crocker buys his from a company that collects
it as a waste product from restaurants, then
filters and processes out the dirt and impurities.
By converting from traditional oil, Mr. Crocker
is taking a stand for the environment. As
an industry, Vermont's maple sugaring is highly
vulnerable to climate change. Last year, of
the 1.45 million gallons produced in the United
States, nearly a third came from Vermont.
The entire year's harvest of sap is gathered
during a short season, which generally begins
in March and ends by early April. ...That
short season of daily freeze-thaw cycles is
getting shorter. "Right now, the season
is starting about a week earlier throughout
New England than it did 40 years ago," said
Timothy Perkins, director of the Proctor Maple
Research Center at the University of Vermont,
who has been warning of the challenge posed
by global warming for a while now. "And
it's ending about 10 days earlier than it
did. Over 40 years, we've lost a net of three
days of the season." Three days may not
sound like much. But because the season lasts
only about a month, it represents about a
10 percent reduction in the crop....
2007 April 3. Reports
From Four Fronts in the War on Warming.
By ANDREW C. REVKIN. NY Times. Excerpt:
Over the last few decades, as scientists have
intensified their study of the human effects
on climate and of the effects of climate change
on humans, a common theme has emerged: in
both respects, the world is a very unequal
place. ...Those most vulnerable countries
also tend to be the poorest. And the countries
that face the least harm - and that are best
equipped to deal with the harm they do face
- tend to be the richest. ...Around the world,
there are abundant examples of how wealth
is already enabling some countries to gird
against climatic and coastal risks, while
poverty, geography and history place some
of the world's most crowded, vulnerable regions
directly in harm's way. ...[Article contains]
four views of the climate divide. Malawi ...Australia
...India ...The Netherlands....
2007 April 1. Poor
Nations to Bear Brunt as World Warms.
The New York Times. By ANDREW C. REVKIN Excerpt:
The world's richest countries, which have
contributed by far the most to the atmospheric
changes linked to global warming, are already
spending billions of dollars to limit their
own risks from its worst consequences, like
drought and rising seas. But despite longstanding
treaty commitments to help poor countries
deal with warming, these industrial powers
are spending just tens of millions of dollars
on ways to limit climate and coastal hazards
in the world's most vulnerable regions - most
of them close to the equator and overwhelmingly
poor. ..."The inequity of this whole
situation is really enormous if you look at
who's responsible and who's suffering as a
result," said Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman
of the United Nations climate panel. ...The
lack of climate aid persists even though nearly
all the world's industrialized nations, including
the United States under the first President
Bush, pledged to help when they signed the
first global warming treaty, the Framework
Convention on Climate Change, in 19927 March
we want to save the planet, we need a five-year
freeze on biofuels. George Monbiot, The
Guardian. Excerpt: Oil produced from plants
sets up competition for food between cars
and people. People - and the environment -
will lose....The governments using biofuel
to tackle global warming know that it causes
more harm than good. But they plough on regardless.
In theory, fuels made from plants can reduce
the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by cars
and trucks. Plants absorb carbon as they grow
- it is released again when the fuel is burned.
By encouraging oil companies to switch from
fossil plants to living ones, governments
on both sides of the Atlantic claim to be "decarbonising" our
transport networks. ...So what's wrong with
these programmes? ...Already we know that
biofuel is worse for the planet than petroleum.
The UN has just published a report suggesting
that 98% of the natural rainforest in Indonesia
will be degraded or gone by 2022. Just five
years ago, the same agencies predicted that
this wouldn't happen until 2032. But they
reckoned without the planting of palm oil
to turn into biodiesel for the European market.
This is now the main cause of deforestation
there and it is likely soon to become responsible
for the extinction of the orangutan in the
2007 March 14. Renewing
a Call to Act Against Climate Change.
By FELICITY BARRINGER, NY Times. Excerpt:
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - ...Bill McKibben ... is
46, his role as the philosopher-impresario
of the program of climate-change rallies called
Step It Up, .... His online call for locally
inspired, locally run demonstrations on April
14 has generated plans for a wave of small
protests under the Step It Up banner - 870
and counting, in 49 states (not South Dakota)
- to walk, jog, march, ski, swim, talk, sing,
pray and party around the idea of cutting
national emissions of heat-trapping gases
80 percent by 2050. Skiers in Wyoming plan
to descend a shrinking glacier. New Yorkers
plan to form an unbroken human line (dress
code: blue shirts) along what might be the
new southern shoreline of Manhattan. A group
of Dominican sisters and a Wisconsin environmental
group are organizing a conference on Sisinawa
Mound overlooking the Mississippi River....
Mr. McKibben also noted in a column on the
environmental Web site Grist.org that popular
momentum had lagged. "We don't have a
movement," he wrote. "The largest
rally yet held in the U.S. about global warming
drew a thousand people. If we're going to
make the kind of change we need in the short
time left us, we need something that looks
like the civil rights movement, and we need
it now. Changing light bulbs just isn't enough." ...Van
Jones, director the Ella Baker Center for
Human Rights in Oakland, Calif., is one of
relatively few black community organizers
to find common cause with those calling for
drastic cuts in emissions from the country's
tailpipes and smokestacks. Such changes could
make poor peoples' electrical bills go up.
But Mr. Jones says climate change will hit
the poor first and harder than any increase
in their electricity. "Two thousand seven
is the year that global warming will become
a marching issue; 2008 is the year it will
become a voting issue," Mr. Jones said. "McKibben
is one of the main drivers in moving this
thing from the cafes and blogs into the streets."....
13 March 2007. From
a Rapt Audience, a Call to Cool the Hype.
By WILLIAM J. BROAD. NY Times. Excerpt:
Hollywood has a thing for Al Gore and his
three-alarm film on global warming, "An
Inconvenient Truth," .... But part of
his scientific audience is uneasy... alarmed,
some say, at what they call his alarmism. "I
don't want to pick on Al Gore," Don J.
Easterbrook, an emeritus professor of geology
at Western Washington University, told hundreds
of experts at the annual meeting of the Geological
Society of America. "But there are a
lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are
seeing, and we have to temper that with real
data." ...Some backers concede minor
inaccuracies but see them as reasonable for
a politician. James E. Hansen, ...director
of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies
and a top adviser to Mr. Gore, said, "Al
does an exceptionally good job of seeing the
forest for the trees," adding that Mr.
Gore often did so "better than scientists." Still,
Dr. Hansen said, the former vice president's
work may hold "imperfections" and "technical
flaws." He pointed to hurricanes, an
icon for Mr. Gore, who highlights the devastation
of Hurricane Katrina and cites research suggesting
that global warming will cause both storm
frequency and deadliness to rise. Yet this
past Atlantic season produced fewer hurricanes
than forecasters predicted (five versus nine),
and none that hit the United States. "We
need to be more careful in describing the
hurricane story than he is," Dr. Hansen
said of Mr. Gore. "On the other hand," Dr.
Hansen said, "he has the bottom line
right: most storms, at least those driven
by the latent heat of vaporization, will tend
to be stronger, or have the potential to be
stronger, in a warmer climate."...the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change...
estimated that the world's seas in this century
would rise a maximum of 23 inches - down from
earlier estimates. Mr. Gore, citing no particular
time frame, envisions rises of up to 20 feet
and depicts parts of New York, Florida and
other heavily populated areas as sinking beneath
the waves, implying, at least visually, that
inundation is imminent. ..."Nowhere does
Mr. Gore tell his audience that all of the
phenomena that he describes fall within the
natural range of environmental change on our
planet," Robert M. Carter, a marine geologist
at James Cook University in Australia, said....
12 March 2007. Cooling Off Global Warming From Space. By John C. Cramer, Analog Science Fiction and Fact Magazine. Excerpt: …Is there anything that can be done to avert this global calamity? Several technical fixes have been suggested. One of them is based on the cooling effects of volcanic eruptions… The side-effects of such a remedy, however, appear to be as bad as the problem it is intended to fix. Acid rain form the sulfuric acid formed from the sulfur dioxide would become the standard kind of rainfall, irreversibly altering the ecology of the planet.
…Prof. Roger Angel of the University of Arizona, a prominent astronomer and creator of some of the world’s largest telescope mirrors, has proposed an interesting alternative. He would like to place scatterers at the L1 Lagrange point of the Earth-Sun system that would remove about 1.8% of the ambient sunlight.
…What goes into the L1 orbit and how much will it cost? The cheapest solution would be to place a light-absorbing dust cloud there. However …one must instead use a “cloud” of autonomous sunshade spacecraft with “station-keeping” capabilities. Angel’s unit sunshade spacecraft design is essentially a navigable sheet of silicon nitride containing holes with their centers placed 15 mm apart in a vast hexagonal planar array, so that light passing through the holes is coherently deflected in an interference pattern by a few degrees. Each unit has a mass of about a ton (1000 kg) and has a shade area of about 2.4 square kilometers.
…If the lifetime of the project is 50 years, than average annual cost would be $100 billion, about 0.2% of the world’s gross domestic product… Nevertheless, it’s an interesting idea, and it certainly has implications for science fiction as well as geopolitics.
March 2007 Exxon
Exposed. Catalyst magazine, Union of Concerned
Scientists. By Emily Robinson.Excerpt:
While publicly expressing concern about global
warming, oil giant ExxonMobil has quietly funded
organizations that portray climate science as
uncertain. The disinformation strategy parallels
the tobacco industry's campaign to confuse the
public about the dangers of smoking. ...As concern
over global warming has grown, some oil companies
such as BP, Occidental Petroleum, and Shell
have made public commitments to reducing their
heat-trapping emissions and have begun investing
in clean energy technologies. ExxonMobil has
made no such commitment, instead choosing to
confuse the public's understanding of the problem.
...Scientific Spokespeople Affiliated with
Sallie Baliunas Annapolis Center for Science
Based Public Policy; Committee for a Constructive
Tomorrow; Competitive Enterprise Institute;
George C. Marshall Institute; Global Climate
Coalition; Heartland Institute; Heritage Foundation;
Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and
Peace; Tech Central Station
Robert C. Balling, Jr. Cato Institute; Committee
for a Constructive Tomorrow; Heritage Foundation;
International Policy Network; Tech Central
Station John Christy Competitive Enterprise
Institute; Independent Institute....
March 2007. Will
the Northeast Be the Next Dixie? Catalyst
magazine, Union of Concerned Scientists. By
Erika Spanger-Siegfried. Excerpt:
Without deep cuts in heat-trapping emissions,
summers in New York near the end of the century
may feel as hot as Georgia summers do today.
it's not too late to preserve the traditional
character of our northeastern states.
...In recent decades, ... the characteristic
climate of the Northeast has begun to change
dramatically. Between 1970 and 2000 alone,
summer temperatures rose about one degree
Fahrenheit (¼F) and winter temperatures
rose nearly 4 ¼F. Spring is arriving
sooner, summers are growing hotter, and winters
are becoming warmer and less snowy.
...If global warming emissions continue unabated,
a number of large northeastern cities could
experience triple the number of days over
90 ¡F by mid-century. In the latter
part of the century, most of these cities
could experience more than 60 days per year
with temperatures topping 90 ¡F, and
some could experience as many as 80 days.
With lower emissions, roughly half this increase
...Emphasizing the regional consequences of
global warming can motivate local policy makers.
The findings of the October 2006 NECIA report
Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast have
not only received the attention of the region's
media but its policy makers as well.
...To download the full report (in PDF format)
visit the Union of Concerned Scientists' Climate
Choices website (http://www.climatechoices.org/ne).
March 2007. Carbon
offset calculator - Native Energy
13 February 2007. Companies
Pressed to Define Green Policies. By CLAUDIA
H. DEUTSCH, NY Times. Excerpt:
Tracey C. Rembert, the coordinator of corporate
governance and engagement for the Service
Employees International Union, acknowledges
that Wells Fargo is the country's largest
purchaser of renewable energy offsets and
has specialists on staff studying all of the
implications of climate change on its businesses.
Still, Ms. Rembert's union has filed a shareholder's
resolution asking Wells Fargo to specify how
it is addressing both the risks and market
opportunities presented by global warming.... "We
want them to rethink their business, and set
themselves up to take strategic advantage
of climate change," Ms. Rembert said.
The New York City Comptroller's Office feels
the same way about Dominion Resources, an
electric power and natural gas company, and
Massey Energy, a coal mining company. The
Sierra Club Mutual Fund feels that way about
the retailer Bed Bath & Beyond, and the
Calvert Group about ACE Insurance. All of
them are calling upon companies to provide
proof that their business decisions also consider
issues involving climate change.... According
to Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmental
groups, investors have filed 42 resolutions
asking for such information during the 2007
proxy season, up from 31 last year. And today,
Ceres will issue a list of 10 companies that
shareholders say are not looking at climate
change through an investor's eye and may not
be investing in alternative energy technologies. "This
has nothing to do with social investing," the
president of Ceres, Mindy S. Lubber, said. "These
investors are owners who want the companies
to stop being laggards when it comes to minimizing
risk and taking advantage of opportunities."....
13 February 2007. A
Cool $25 Million for a Climate Backup Plan.
By JOHN TIERNEY, NY Times. Excerpt:
On Friday, when Richard Branson offered a
$25 million prize to anyone who figures out
how to remove a billion tons of carbon dioxide
per year from the atmosphere, Al Gore sat
by his side and called it an "important
and welcome" initiative. ...may be the
start of competitions that ultimately yield
nanobots or microbes capable of gobbling up
carbon dioxide. As far-fetched as it seems
today, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
could turn out to be a lot more practical
than the alternative: persuading six billion
people to stop putting it there. ...the Gulf
Stream scenario ...about it shutting down
and sending Europe into an ice age, ..., originated
by a 19th-century oceanographer, is "the
earth-science equivalent of an urban legend," in
the words of Richard Seager, a climate modeler
at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of
February 2007. Political
Science: A Report on Science and Censorship
at National. Produced by Coalition
Against Censorship. NCAC
promotes and defend First Amendment values
of freedom of thought, inquiry and expression.
Cost of an Overheated Planet. By STEVE LOHR.
Published: NY Times. Excerpt:
The iconic culprit in global warming is the
coal-fired power plant. It burns the dirtiest,
most carbon-laden of fuels, and its smokestacks
belch millions of tons of carbon dioxide, the
main global warming gas. So it is something
of a surprise that James E. Rogers, chief executive
of Duke Energy, a coal-burning utility in the
Midwest and the Southeast, has emerged as an
unexpected advocate of federal regulation that
would for the first time impose a cost for emitting
carbon dioxide. But he has his reasons. "Climate
change is real, and we clearly believe we are
on a route to mandatory controls on carbon dioxide," Mr.
Rogers said. "And we need to start now
because the longer we wait, the more difficult
and expensive this is going to be." ..."Setting
a real price on carbon emissions is the single
most important policy step to take," said
Robert N. Stavins, director of the environmental
economics program at Harvard University. "Pricing
is the way you get both the short-term gains
through efficiency and the longer-term gains
from investments in research and switching to
cleaner fuels." ...Mr. Rogers, who is also
chairman of the Edison Electric Institute,...
are also pushing for a carbon dioxide-pricing
policy to reduce the risk to their companies.
...The two methods of pricing carbon are to
charge a tax on each ton of carbon dioxide emitted
into the air, or to place a cap on total emissions
and then let polluters trade permits to emit
a ton of carbon dioxide. Economists like William
D. Nordhaus of Yale and Mr. Cooper of Harvard
... suggested an initial tax around $14 a ton
of carbon dioxide emitted, which he calculated
would translate roughly into a 100 percent tax
on coal and add 12 cents to each gallon of gasoline.
Such a tax would raise as much as $80 billion
a year in the United States. ...a cap-and-trade
system ... limit would be placed on overall
emissions, with polluters allocated permits.
Then, companies able to go below their emission
targets would be allowed to sell their unused "permits
to pollute" to companies that could not.
... developing nations like China and India,
energy specialists say, would certainly avoid
joining any international effort on global warming
without an emphatic move by the United States....
27 November 2006. Changing
Climate Is Forcing World Cup Organizers to Adapt,
By NATHANIEL VINTON Excerpt:
Nov. 26 - High temperatures in Europe have disrupted
the Alpine skiing World Cup, throwing the calendar
of the sport's premier circuit into disarray
and raising questions about the future of a
sport so vulnerable to climate change. "It
will very quickly be a big crisis for us if
we continue canceling races in December," said
Atle Skaardal, who oversees the women's portion
of the tour for the International Ski Federation.
On Saturday, race organizers in St. Moritz,
Switzerland, canceled World Cup races scheduled
for Dec. 9-10, saying temperatures were too
high for them to make artificial snow. Men's
races scheduled for that weekend in Val d'Isere,
France, are in peril, too, and the International
Ski Federation, which runs the World Cup, will
make a decision about that race Wednesday. There
is a chance that some of the canceled events
will be relocated to Colorado, where forecasters
predict a heavy snowstorm over the early part
of the week. Until Wednesday, when the F.I.S.
makes its final decision about the European
races, a number of World Cup athletes are stranded
in the United States, looking for training venues
and accommodations. Others will go home, and
possibly fly back if the races are indeed rescheduled
at Aspen or Beaver Creek - the two resorts considering
adopting the canceled European races. In recent
years, managers of some of the highest ski resorts
in the Alps have taken the extreme measure of
wrapping glaciers and snowfields with foam insulation
to decelerate the ravages of summer heat. Resorts
that do chose to have World Cup races - especially
those early in the season - have always cast
a worried eye on late-arriving winters. They
run the risk of a major financial hit, both
in operational costs and lost television marketing
value. Resorts playing host to World Cup events
must provide at least 100,000 Euros ($131,352)
in prize money for each race, production of
a live television broadcast feed, and accommodations
for athletes and team staff.
22 November 2006. Co-op
America's 12-Step Plan for Climate Action. Excerpt:
...Scientists at the Princeton University's
Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI) ...propose
stabilizing carbon emissions by ... doable
action "wedges" of equal size-each
with the capacity to reduce carbon emissions
by 1 billion tons/year by 2054. ...Here at
Co-op America, we ... screened out measures
that are too dangerous, costly, and slow (like
nuclear power plants, synfuels, and "clean" coal),
and we beefed up those that are safe and cost-effective.
...Here's our 12-step plan:
1. Increase fuel economy for the world's 2
billion cars ... 30 mpg to 60 mpg.
2. Cut back on driving. Decrease from 10,000
to 5,000 miles per year....
3. Increase energy efficiency ...in existing
buildings and appliances....
4. Decrease tropical deforestation to zero,
...double ...new tree plantings.
5. Stop soil erosion. ...Encourage local,
6. Increase wind power. Add 3 million 1-MW
windmills, 75x current....
7. ...solar power. Add 3,000 GW-peak ...photovoltaic
units, 1,000x current....
8. Increase efficiency of coal plants from
...32% efficiency to 60%....
9. Replace 1,400 GW of coal with natural gas,
a 4x increase ....
10. Sequester carbon dioxide at existing coal
11. Develop ...plug-in hybrids and electric
vehicles powered by renewable energy.
12. Develop biomass as a short-term replacement
for fossil fuel....
12 September 2006. A
CONVERSATION WITH JAMES E. LOVELOCK: Updating
Prescriptions for Avoiding Worldwide Catastrophe,
By ANDREW C. REVKIN. NY Times.
September 2006. Arctic
sea ice continues "drastic" melting. Earth & Sky
27 June 2006. THE
ENERGY CHALLENGE | EXOTIC VISIONS - How to
Cool a Planet (Maybe). By WILLIAM J. BROAD. Excerpts:
In the past few decades, a handful of scientists
have come up with big, futuristic ways to
fight global warming: Build sunshades in orbit
to cool the planet. Tinker with clouds to
make them reflect more sunlight back into
space. Trick oceans into soaking up more heat-trapping
...Dr. Angel outlined a plan to put into orbit
small lenses that would bend sunlight away
from earth - trillions of lenses, he now calculates,
each about two feet wide, extraordinarily
thin and weighing little more than a butterfly.
... Paul J. Crutzen ...paper newly examines
the risks and benefits of trying to cool the
planet by injecting sulfur into the stratosphere.
...Dr. Broecker of Columbia proposed doing
so by lacing the stratosphere with tons of
sulfur dioxide, as erupting volcanoes occasionally
do. The injections, he calculated in the 80's,
would require a fleet of hundreds of jumbo
jets and, as a byproduct, would increase acid
rain. By 1997, such futuristic visions found
a prominent advocate in Edward Teller, a main
inventor of the hydrogen bomb. "Injecting
sunlight-scattering particles into the stratosphere
appears to be a promising approach," Dr.
Teller wrote in The Wall Street Journal. "Why
not do that?" ... John Latham, an atmospheric
physicist at the National Center for Atmospheric
Research in Colorado, told how he and his
colleagues had unsuccessfully sought for many
years to test whether spraying saltwater mists
into low ocean clouds might increase their
reflectivity. ...Other plans called for reflective
films to be laid over deserts or white plastic
islands to be floated on the world's oceans,
both as ways to reflect more sunlight into
space. Another idea was to fertilize the sea
with iron, creating vast blooms of plants
that would gulp down tons of carbon dioxide
and, as the plants died, drag the carbon into
the abyss. ...Critics of geoengineering argued
that it made more sense to avoid global warming
than to gamble on risky fixes. They called
for reducing energy use, developing alternative
sources of power and curbing greenhouse gases....
13 June 2006. Atlantic
Hurricane Trends Linked to Climate Change.
Michael E. Mann, EOS TRANSACTIONS, AMERICAN
GEOPHYSICAL UNION, Vol. 87, No. 24, pp. 233-244. Excerpt:
Increases in key measures of Atlantic hurricane
activity over recent decades are believed
to reflect, in large part, contemporaneous
increases in tropical Atlantic warmth [e.g.,
Emanuel, 2005]. Some recent studies [e.g.,
Goldenberg et al., 2001] have attributed these
increases to a natural climate cycle termed
the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO),
while other studies suggest that climate change
may instead be playing the dominant role [Emanuel,
2005; Webster et al., 2005]. Using a formal
statistical analysis to separate the estimated
influences of anthropogenic climate change
from possible natural cyclical influences,
this article presents results indicating that
anthropogenic factors are likely responsible
for long-term trends in tropical Atlantic
warmth and tropical cyclone activity. In addition,
this analysis indicates that late twentieth
century tropospheric aerosol cooling has offset
a substantial fraction of anthropogenic warming
in the region and has thus likely suppressed
even greater potential increases in tropical
cyclone activity. climate data [e.g., Delworth
and Mann, 2000].
24 April 2006. Earth's
Big Heat Bucket. By Michon Scott ·for
NASA Earth Observatory. Excerpt:
... Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
and Goddard Institute for Space Studies have
learned to think of the ocean as ... Earth's "biggest
heat bucket." And like a bucket placed
under an overflowing sink, the ocean is filling
up with the heat that increasing levels of
greenhouse gases are preventing from escaping
to space. By comparing computer simulations
of Earth's climate with millions of measurements
of ocean heat content collected by satellites
and in-the-water sensors, a team of climatologists
and oceanographers has provided what leading
NASA climate scientist James Hansen calls
the "smoking gun" of human-caused
global climate change: a prediction of Earth's
energy imbalance that closely matches real-world
observations. ..."It turns out that the
atmosphere, the air, really can't hold that
much heat," explains Josh Willis, an
oceanographer with the California Institute
of Technology working at NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory. Heat capacity is the amount of
energy that must be put into something to
change its temperature, and air has a very
low heat capacity. "If you put energy
into the ocean, on the other hand, its temperature
changes only very slightly."
December 2005. CO2:
Should We? Could We? by Seth Fisher.
Pollution Engineering Newsletter. In
Pollution Engineering's October newsletter,
we asked two survey questions:
"Should we control CO2 emissions," and "Is
current technology available to adequately
control CO2 emissions?"
Your answers painted a grim picture;
67.9 percent believing we need to
cut down on this greenhouse gas,
but only 37.2 percent thought that
currently available technology could
do the job. ... Atmospheric CO2 content
is up to 379 ppm from an estimated
280 ppm at the onset of the industrial
age. ... there's a very good chance
that Global Warming is being caused
by human activity. So doing something
about it now, if we can, hedges our
bets.But don't take that last qualifier
too lightly. According to our survey,
the readers of Pollution Engineering,
whom I would believe should know
more about this kind of thing than
the readers of MAD, or even National
Geographic for that matter, don't
think that currently available technology
can control CO2.
Certainly, international attempts
to do so support this position. Of
the 141 nations to ratify the Kyoto
Protocol, many are having a hard
time meeting their quotas - at last
count, only four European Union countries
were on track to meet their emissions
target - and some of those that aren't
can blame an economic crash (e.g.
Russia) more than regulatory efforts
for their success....The thinking
is that this act of global solidarity
can create an economic incentive
to produce new technology, and even
if we don't meet the official goal,
the effort will have done more than
enough good to justify itself. That
seems a lot more responsible than
a nation of SUVs pulling out because
the treaty's unfairly kind to a nation
of bicycles. ...the Department of
Energy has been researching a plan
to literally pump their CO2 to
the bottom of the ocean, where it
will supposedly create a static cloud.
...The best solution I've heard so
far is to put grass gardens on top
of our buildings. This would mean
installation and maintenance cost
hikes galore. But supposedly, grass
on the roof can significantly help
with insulation - lowering heating
costs to a degree - while also giving
residents and workers a pleasant
October 2005. "Americans and Climate
Change -- Closing the Gap Between Science
and Action" - an
interesting book that looks at American attitudes
around this issue. It's a synthesis of insights
and recommendations from the 2005 Yale School
of Forestry & Environmental Studies Conference
on Climate Change. Free download, linked from http://environment.yale.edu/climate/
12 July 2005. Exxon
Mobil Becomes Focus of a Boycott. By
Felicity Barringer. Washington,
July 11 - A coalition of environmental and
liberal lobbying groups is planning a boycott
of Exxon Mobil products to protest the company's
challenges to warnings about global warming
and its support for oil and gas exploration
in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The boycott is part of a public relations
campaign to brand Exxon Mobil, the nation's
biggest oil company, as an "outlaw," the
groups say...A spokesman for Exxon Mobil
said in an e-mail message that the company
did recognize the risk of climate change.
The spokesman, Russ Roberts, said Exxon
Mobil had committed to "investments
and strategic planning that address emissions
today, as well as industry-leading research
on technologies with the potential to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions in the future."
18 February 2005. Experts:
Global Warming is Real. Sharon
Smith of the University of Miami found melting
Arctic ice was taking with it algae that
formed an important base of the food supply
for a range of animals. And the disappearing
ice shelves meant big animals such as walruses,
polar bears and seals were losing their
homes. "In 1997 there was a mass die-off
of a bird called the short-tailed shearwater
in the Bering Sea," Smith told the
news conference. The birds, which migrate
from Australia, starved to death when warmer
waters caused a plankton called a coccolithophore
to bloom in huge numbers, turning the water
an opaque turquoise color. "The short-tailed
shearwater couldn't see its prey," Smith
February 2004. Global
Warming "Undo-it". Twenty
steps people can take to reduce global warming
-- Environmental Defense Action Fund.
January 2003. Solar
Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) SCHEDULED
FOR LAUNCH. The
Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE)
is a NASA-sponsored satellite mission, scheduled
for launch January 25, 2003, that will provide
state-of-the-art measurements of incoming
x-ray, ultraviolet, visible, near-infared,
and total solar radiation. The measurements
provided by SORCE specifically address long-term
climate change, natural variability and enhanced
climate prediction, and atmospheric ozone
and UV-B radiation. These measurements are
critical to studies of the Sun; its effect
on our Earth system; and its influence on
July 2002. LOOKING
AT CLOUDS FROM ALL SIDES NOW. NASA-led
research of cirrus clouds by more than 450
scientists could lead to improved forecasts
of future climate change -- forecasts of your
weather today, tomorrow and years into the
future. RELEASE: 02-125
June 2001. A
cloud of African dust crossing the Atlantic
and raining bits of the Sahara Desert over
the Caribbean. TOMS
aerosol movie, which spans the interval June
13 through 21, 2001.
[This was chapter 9 in original GSS series.]
Archive of Past Articles for Chapter 10
Apps for Climate:
– Making Science Heard and Understood. This is a a nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering the scientific understanding of Earth systems and global environmental change, funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the ClimateWorks Foundation. A project of the Aspen Global Change Institute.
Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millennia (2011). Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC). National Academies Press.
Do the Math
“Earth: The Operators’ Manual” is an uplifting antidote to the
widespread “doom and gloom” approach to climate change. Host Richard
Alley leads the audience on a one-hour special about climate
change and sustainable energy.
your carbon (or climate) footprint
to become part of the solution to climate
supporting the reduction of carbon dioxide
equal to your carbon footprint.
on carbon offsets.
3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization" by Lester R. Brown. A book
about how to build a more just world and save the planet from climate
change in a practical, straightforward way. Available for purchase and
Arguments and What the Science Says from Skeptical Science.
The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism
by John Cook, from Skeptical Science.
Volcanoes--do they emit more CO2 than humans? See also article: Volcanic
Versus Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide
Voices on Climate Change - videos (3-6 minutes each) present
positive success stories of youth, 11-17, finding local solutions to the
global warming crisis, reducing the CO2 emissions of their homes,
schools and communities. The videos document win-win scenarios such as
four Florida middle school girls who do an energy audit and save their
school $53,000. Produced
and directed by author/ illustrator Lynne Cherry, co- author of How
We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate: Scientists and Kids
Explore Global Warming. http://YoungVoicesonClimateChange.com.