10. What Do You Think?

What Do You Think About Global Climate Change?
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 article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/11/business/energy-environment/energy-boom-in-us-upends-expectations.html?_r=1&ref=businessspecial2&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120411

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.
…But 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 warming.

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 economically affordable.
...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 to address....

2009 July. Atomic Tracers. By Kathleen M. Wong, ScienceMatters@Berkeley. Just as 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. Excerpt: 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 doom....

Everyone 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. Excerpt: Some of the most imaginative solutions to the problem of global climate change involve planetary-scale geoengineering projects to reduce the sunlight reaching the Earth’s 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: agriculture.
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 and Asia.
...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 affect reflectivity.
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 idea.”

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 wilderness.
..."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 factors.
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 long distances.... 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 said.
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 released Friday.
"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 sector.
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 said.
"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 IS COLDER. 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 ice.
"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 Times. Excerpt: 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, as well.

2008 March 25. Link to Global Warming in Frogs' Disappearance Is Challenged. 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 team was a winner in 2006 when global warming was identified as the "trigger" in the extinctions by the authors of a much-cited paper in Nature...
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 March 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 analysis....
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."

 

Carbon Offsets

Archive of Past Articles for Chapter 9

TOP

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 limits themselves....

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 in Alaska.
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 said.
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 change.
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 a shift.
...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 the beach."

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 SAMUELS. Excerpt: 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 2007. If 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 wild....2....

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 ExxonMobil-funded Groups
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. Fortunately,
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 is expected.
...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 Columbia University....

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.

12 December 2006. The 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, organic agriculture.
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 plants....
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 Radio Show.

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 greenhouse gases.
...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 leisure area....

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 said.

February 2004. Global Warming "Undo-it". Twenty steps people can take to reduce global warming -- Environmental Defense Action Fund.

25 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 humankind.

16 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

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26 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.

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[This was chapter 9 in original GSS series.]

Archive of Past Articles for Chapter 10

Apps for Climate:

Climate Change Education.org

Climate Communication
– 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.
http://earththeoperatorsmanual.com/
.

Offsetting your carbon (or climate) footprint allows you to become part of the solution to climate change by supporting the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions equal to your carbon footprint.

See more on carbon offsets.

"Plan B 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 free download.

Skeptic 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

Young 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.