Environment

A Push for Diesel Leaves London Gasping Amid Record Pollution

Every winter, as if on cue, the coughing begins. As soon as the weather turns cold, Tara Carey, an international aid worker living in London, ritually places cough syrup on her bedside table because she knows her sleep will be punctuated by hacking coughs. She also coughs at work. And she coughs while cycling to her office, on a road so toxic that for a brief period last month the air pollution there was greater than in infamously smoggy Beijing.

Mexico City, Parched and Sinking, Faces a Water Crisis

17 Feb 2017   Climate, Mexico

On bad days, you can smell the stench from a mile away, drifting over a nowhere sprawl of highways and office parks. When the Grand Canal was completed, at the end of the 1800s, it was Mexico City’s Brooklyn Bridge, a major feat of engineering and a symbol of civic pride: 29 miles long, with the ability to move tens of thousands of gallons of wastewater per second. It promised to solve the flooding and sewage problems that had plagued the city for centuries. Only it didn’t, pretty much from the start. The canal was based on gravity. And Mexico City, a mile and a half above sea level, was sinking, collapsing in on itself. It still is, faster and faster, and the canal is just one victim of what has become a vicious cycle. Always short of water, Mexico City keeps drilling deeper for more, […]

Exclusive: China mulls radical steps targeting metals, coal in war on smog – document

13 Feb 2017   China, Climate

China is considering forcing steel and aluminum producers to cut more output, banning coal in one of the country’s top ports and shutting some fertilizer and drug plants as Beijing intensifies its war on smog, a draft policy document shows. The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) has proposed the measures in a draft policy document seen by Reuters. If implemented, they would be some of the most radical steps so far to tackle air quality in the country’s most polluted cities. The move comes after China’s northeast has battled some of the worst pollution in years as emissions from heavy industry, coal burning in winter and increased transport have left major cities including Beijing blanketed in […]

Republican grandees make case for US emissions tax

8 Feb 2017   Climate, USA

A group of former senior US officials from past Republican administrations has backed a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, with revenues used to pay hundreds of dollars to every American citizen each year, as the way to make the conservative case for tackling the threat of climate change.  The group includes James Baker, who was Treasury secretary for President Ronald Reagan and secretary of state for President George H.W. Bush; George Shultz, who was secretary of state under Mr Reagan; Hank Paulson, who was Treasury secretary under George W Bush; Martin Feldstein, who was the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for Mr Reagan, and Greg Mankiw, who performed the same role for the younger Mr Bush.

Some of them are meeting officials from President Donald Trump’s White House on Wednesday, to present a plan for addressing global warming that they say would “embody the principles of free markets and limited government.”  Their package includes a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, starting at $40 per ton, with all of the revenue recycled in dividends paid back to the public. The group, known as the Climate Leadership Council, argues that the tax, which could rise over time, would send “a powerful signal to businesses and consumers, while generating revenue to reward Americans for decreasing their collective carbon footprint.”

EPA Scientists Worry Their New Boss Doesn’t Want Science

7 Feb 2017   Climate, USA

Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, is probably going to be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. The full Senate will almost certainly vote to confirm him to the cabinet-level job this week. And that has the scientists who work for the EPA freaking out. The problem is, well, that whole protecting-the-environment thing. Advocacy groups complain Pruitt ignored scientific reports that showed oil and gas drilling have caused an epidemic of earthquakes in Oklahoma and failed to enforce pollution rules that would have stopped waste from Arkansas chicken farms from floating downriver into Oklahoma. As Oklahoma’s AG, Pruitt sued the EPA over mercury, methane, and other environmental rules, although he lost. And he doesn’t seem to think climate change is a threat worth studying , […]

A Crack in an Antarctic Ice Shelf Grew 17 Miles in the Last Two Months

7 Feb 2017   Climate

A rapidly advancing crack in Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf has scientists concerned that it is getting close to a full break. The rift has accelerated this year in an area already vulnerable to warming temperatures. Since December, the crack has grown by the length of about five football fields each day. The crack in Larsen C now reaches over 100 miles in length, and some parts of it are as wide as two miles. The tip of the rift is currently only about 20 miles from reaching the other end of the ice shelf. Once the crack reaches all the way across the ice shelf, the break will create one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, according to Project Midas, a research team that has been monitoring the rift since 2014. Because of the amount of stress the crack is placing on the remaining 20 miles of the shelf, […]

NRDC: States should lead low-carbon economy

3 Feb 2017   Climate

It may be up to the governments of U.S. states to take the lead in the effort to advance a low-carbon economy, the Natural Resources Defense Council said. A review of federal data from the NRDC finds the U.S. renewable energy sector was one of the largest job creators in recent years. The estimated 350,000 people tied to the solar energy sector is greater than some parts of the conventional fossil fuels industry and wind energy was moving in a similar employment direction. Lara Ettenson, a California policy director for the NRDC, said President Donald Trump should look to the low-carbon sector if he aims to fulfill a campaign promise of creating more jobs for middle class Americans. “Unfortunately, President Trump […]

‘Beyond the extreme’: Scientists marvel at ‘increasingly non-natural’ Arctic warmth

2 Feb 2017   Climate

Arctic temperature difference from normal during January. (WeatherBell.com) The Arctic is so warm and has been this warm for so long that scientists are struggling to explain it and are in disbelief. The climate of the Arctic is known to oscillate wildly, but scientists say this warmth is so extreme that humans surely have their hands in it and may well be changing how it operates. Temperatures are far warmer than ever observed in modern records, and sea ice extent keeps setting record lows. Unfortunately, influxes of “warm” air from both the Pacific/Atlantic Oceans this week will likely continue preventing #Arctic sea ice growth pic.twitter.com/QU4wQPwejo 2016 was the warmest year on record in the Arctic, and 2017 has picked up right where it left off. “Arctic extreme (relative) warmth continues,” Ryan Maue, a meteorologist with WeatherBell Analytics, tweeted on Wednesday , referring to January’s temperatures. Veteran Arctic climate scientists […]

EU ahead of the curve on climate fight

2 Feb 2017   Climate, Europe

The European Union is taking the lead in the transition to a low-carbon era by meeting many of its stated goals, commissioners said Wednesday. In a report on its progress toward a low-carbon economy, the European Union said it was well on its way to meeting its climate and energy targets for 2020. “Despite the current geopolitical uncertainties, Europe is forging ahead with the clean energy transition,” Climate Action and Clean Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said in a statement. “There is no alternative.” Two years ago, greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union were 22 percent below a benchmark set to 1990 levels, beating the bloc’s goal ahead of schedule. The share of renewable energy on the collective […]

A Climate Change Economist Sounds the Alarm

31 Jan 2017   Climate

Some people who study climate change believe that addressing it later — when economic growth has made humanity wealthier — would be better than taking drastic measures immediately. Now, though, one of this group’s most influential members appears to have changed his mind. In the early 1990s, Yale’s William Nordhaus was among the first to examine the economics of reducing carbon emissions. Since then, he and colleagues have mixed climate physics with economic modeling to explore how various policies might play out both for global temperatures and growth. The approach attempts to weigh, in present-value terms, the costs of preventative measures against the future benefit of avoiding disaster. Nordhaus has mostly argued for a small carbon tax, aimed at achieving a modest reduction in emissions, followed by sharper reductions in the medium and long term. Too much mitigation now, he has suggested, would damage economic growth, making us less […]

Trump adviser predicts clash with Tillerson on climate change

30 Jan 2017   Climate

Donald Trump’s vow to pull the US out of the Paris climate change accord could be thwarted by his pick for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, according to a member of the US president’s transition team. “We’ll have to see who wins that particular debate, the president or the secretary of state,” Myron Ebell , a longstanding critic of policies to combat global warming who led the Environmental Protection Agency transition for the new administration, told the Financial Times in an interview. Mr Trump has called climate change a “hoax” devised by China to hurt US industry. He also pledged to “cancel” the Paris climate deal signed by almost every country in 2015 which aims to cut greenhouse gases enough to prevent risky global warming. However, Mr Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil chief executive nominated by Mr Trump to be secretary of state, told senators during his confirmation hearings in […]

Trump Adviser Calling for Overhaul of ‘Junk Science’ at EPA

28 Jan 2017   Climate

A former adviser to President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency transition team called for shrinking the regulator and overhauling the way it uses science to set policy. “They’ve really gotten away with murder in misusing science and justifying regulations on the basis of junk science,” Myron Ebell, who left the transition team he led last week, said in an interview in his Washington office. Ebell, who made clear he wasn’t speaking on behalf of the Trump administration, said he believed most of the goals of the agency created in 1970 during the presidency of Republican Richard Nixon, had been achieved, and that the number of employees should be reduced to 5,000 from the roughly 15,000 currently employed. “If the Trump administration is serious about keeping Trump’s promises, they will have to reform the use of science,” said Ebell, director of the Center for […]

U.S. EPA aims to end freeze on contracts, grants on Friday

27 Jan 2017   Climate, USA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has told several lawmakers it aims to end its freeze on grants and contracts late Friday, congressional aides said. The freeze had led to widespread concerns in states and cities about whether there would be delays in efforts to monitor and clean up toxic pollution, particularly lead pollution in drinking water, that would put the health of citizens at risk. President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday had asked the EPA to temporarily freeze grants, contracts and interagency agreements pending a review. The EPA allocates $4 billion worth of contracts annually on projects ranging from cleaning up polluted industrial sites, and testing of air and water quality. The […]

Trump Wants to Downplay Global Warming. Louisiana Won’t Let Him

27 Jan 2017   Climate

Sea-level rise threatens the future of homes and businesses in Plaquemines Parish and surrounding coastal areas. On a recent morning in Baton Rouge, a thousand miles from where Senate Democrats were jousting with Donald Trump’s nominee to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about whether humans are warming the planet, the future of U.S. climate policy was being crafted in a small room in the east wing of the Louisiana Capitol. The state’s 7,700-mile shoreline is disappearing at the fastest rate in the country. Officials had gathered to consider a method of deciding which communities to save—and which to abandon to the Gulf of Mexico. Bren Haase, chief of planning for the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), was presenting his team’s updated Coastal Master Plan. Five years in the making and comprising 6,000 pages of text and appendices, the […]

Exxon appoints climate steward to board of directors

27 Jan 2017   Climate

As it faces pressure over its environmental legacy, Exxon Mobil announced it appointed a new member to its board with strong climate credentials. The company announced the appointment of Susan Avery to its board of directors, effective Feb. 1. Touting her resume, Exxon said Avery served in a wide-range of positions as an atmospheric scientist, serving in a national capacity as an advisor to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She serves also on the advisory committee for the National Research Council Global Change Research Program. “Avery’s leadership experience in multiple academic and scientific organizations, coupled with her breadth of scientific and research expertise, reinforce the corporation’s long-standing technical and scientific foundation,” Exxon stated. Her appointment to the Exxon […]

Antarctic Tipping Points for a Multi-Metre Sea Level Rise

27 Jan 2017   Sea Level Rise

The Amundsen Sea sector of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has most likely been destabilized and ice retreat is unstoppable for the current conditions. No further acceleration in climate change is necessary to trigger the collapse of the rest of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet on decadal time scales. Antarctica has the potential to contribute more than a metre of sea-level rise by 2100. A large fraction of West Antarctic basin ice could be gone within two centuries, causing a 3–5 metre sea level rise. Mechanisms similar to those causing deglaciation in West Antarctica are now also found in East Antarctica. Partial deglaciation of the East Antarctic ice sheet is likely for the current level of atmospheric carbon dioxide, contributing to 10 metres of more of sea level rise in the longer run, and 5 metres in the first 200 years. INTRODUCTION The West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), […]

For Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Leader, Revival of Keystone XL Upsets a Balancing Act

26 Jan 2017   Canada, Climate, Tar Sands

If there is such a thing as unwelcome good news, President Trump may have handed some to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada on Tuesday when he revived a cross-border oil pipeline project . The move is likely to complicate a delicate balancing act Mr. Trudeau has been trying to keep up: He has long maintained that Canada needs to develop its energy industry, but he also stands for aggressively cutting the country’s carbon emissions.

Trump Admin Orders EPA Contract Freeze And Media Blackout – Bloomberg

25 Jan 2017   Climate, USA

The Trump administration has instituted a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency and barred staff from awarding any new contracts or grants, part of a broader communications clampdown within the executive branch.  The prohibitions came to light Tuesday as the agency moved to delay implementation of at least 30 environmental rules finalized in the closing months of President Barack Obama’s term, a potential first step to seeking to kill the regulations.

A summary of the actions posted in the Federal Register includes a long list of regulations that include updated air pollution rulings for several states, renewable fuel standards and limits on the amount of formaldehyde that can leach from wood products. President Donald Trump signed a directive shortly after his inauguration on Friday ordering a “regulatory freeze pending review” for all federal agency rules that had been finalized that have not yet taken effect.  Emails sent to EPA staff and reviewed by The Associated Press also detailed specific prohibitions banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency’s social media accounts.

Europe to take up climate investment mantle

25 Jan 2017   Climate, Europe

European lenders will be among the world leaders in supporting efforts to address the impact of climate change in an era of naysayers, the EIB president said. The World Meteorological Organization reported last week that global average temperatures in 2016 hit records highs for the third consecutive year. Werner Hoyer, the president of the European Investment Bank, told delegates in Brussels the lender was doing its part by hitting its lending targets for climate action every year since 2010. “Over the next five years we’re determined to deliver $100 billion of climate-action finance, the largest contribution to climate action of any single multilateral institution,” he said. His speech comes during the first full week in office for […]

Xinhua: U.S. wasting opportunity in clean energy

24 Jan 2017   China, Climate, USA

Decoupling the U.S. economy from the renewable energy sector might not work as designed, a column in China’s official Xinhua News Agency read. U.S. President Donald Trump put the fossil fuels industry at the forefront of his economic agenda, nominating several key oil and gas figures to top Cabinet positions. “President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule,” a White House policy statement read. “Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next seven years.” Xinhua cited several clean-energy policy advocates and government advisors who were critical of Trump’s emphasis on fossil fuels. Julia King, a climate advisor for […]

China is shaping up to be a world leader on climate change

21 Jan 2017   China, Climate

On Tuesday in Davos, all eyes were on Xi Jinping, the first Chinese president to attend the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting. His appearance came at an important moment for China, as it increasingly takes on a global leadership role, including, critically, on climate change. In his speech, President Xi stood up to defend the Paris climate agreement and called for stronger international co-operation to meet today’s global problems. The entire world needs to build cities in which we can move, breathe and be productive. It must also ensure better access to clean energy, use it more efficiently and protect the natural resources that are the foundation of our economy. China’s role will be key, not only as the world’s largest emitter but also as its largest investor in sustainable infrastructure. China has come so far so fast that many people are unaware of how much progress it has made, from investing in renewable energy to tackling air pollution. It still faces significant adjustment challenges, particularly around reducing coal consumption, but it is displaying the commitment and creativity needed to tackle this urgent and complex challenge. China has recognised not only the grave risks of unmanaged climate change, to which it is very vulnerable, but also the great attractions of an alternative path for growth which is cleaner, more efficient, innovative and dynamic.

What happened to the cold winter the U.S. was promised?

21 Jan 2017   Climate, USA

Last fall, the general consensus among weather forecasters was that most of the Central and Eastern United States would likely endure a colder, snowier winter than it is used to. But instead, the third week in January – climatologically the coldest week of the year – is ushering in temperatures some 20 degrees Fahrenheit above average across the eastern two-thirds of the country. For example, Chicago may hit 55 F (12.8 C) on Saturday. The recent milder temperatures have also diminished snow cover to below-average levels everywhere east of the Rocky Mountains – save the Dakotas – and any snow that is left is almost certain to melt over the next week or so. What has happened is that several of the atmospheric “ingredients” that would power the chilly season have instead opted to go rogue from what the outlooks had originally predicted. The winter started off cold and […]

California Aims for 40% Reduction in Greenhouse Gases by 2030

21 Jan 2017   Climate

California on Friday released a blueprint for meeting an aggressive climate-change goal: a 40% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. The plan, released by the California Air Resources Board, is “designed to continue to shift the California economy away from dependence on fossil fuels to a thriving sustainable future,” according to the plan’s executive summary. By extending the state’s…

Trump’s Energy Pick Perry Softens Stance On Climate Change

20 Jan 2017   Climate

Rick Perry, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to run the U.S. Energy Department, said during his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday that global warming caused by humans is real, but that efforts to combat it should not cost American jobs. The comment marks a shift for the former Texas governor who had previously called the science behind climate change “unsettled” and a “contrived, phony mess”. It also clashes with Trump’s statements during his campaign for the White House that global warming is a hoax meant to weaken U.S. business. “I believe the climate is changing. I believe some of it is naturally occurring, but some of it is also caused by man-made activity. The question is how do […]

Last Year Was Warmest on Record, Climate Experts Say

19 Jan 2017   Climate

Rising global temperatures in 2016 set a record for the third year in a row, as federal climate experts rated it the warmest year world-wide since modern record keeping began. In a new federal climate report, researchers from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which independently track annual climate trends for the federal government, said Wednesday that global land and sea surface temperatures were boosted by a powerful El Niño current in the Pacific…

Global temperatures in 2016 break record for third year in a row

19 Jan 2017   Climate

The world has passed another global-warming milestone, according to new figures showing that temperatures rose to their hottest on record for the third year in a row in 2016. Global surface temperatures were nearly 1C warmer in 2016 than the mid-20th century average said scientists from Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US. Pending Senate approval, the agencies could soon be overseen by new cabinet secretaries appointed by incoming US president, Donald Trump, who has called global warming a hoax invented by China to hurt US industry. The hottest year on record is such a clear warning siren that even president-elect Trump cannot ignore [it]. The idea of a pause or a hiatus in global warming must now be abandoned Mark Maslin, UCL But Mr Trump’s choice to head the US Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, told his confirmation hearing on Wednesday that climate change was real, breaking with both the president-elect’s and his own past statements. Scientists said there was no doubt the world was warming, largely because of the greenhouse gases released by burning fossil fuels and other human activities.

Global sea ice is at lowest level ever recorded

18 Jan 2017   Climate

t’s a new low point. The area of the world’s oceans covered by floating sea ice is the smallest recorded since satellite monitoring began in the 1970s. That means it is also probably the lowest it has been for thousands of years.  The latest observations from the US National Snow & Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, show how the ice extent has fallen to a new low this year.

In the Arctic, the low in sea ice coverage is a result of both global warming and unusual weather events probably influenced by global warming.  But in the Antarctic, the current low in seasonal sea ice could just be a result of natural variability.  The extent of Arctic sea ice should be growing rapidly during the northern hemisphere winter. But not only has the Arctic been warming rapidly, this winter repeated incursions of warm air have pushed temperatures even further above average.  It has been so warm that on occasions this winter the sea ice coverage has actually temporarily shrunk, as shown by dips in the blue line in the graph below.

View full article at www.newscientist.com

EPA Locks in Tougher Fuel-Economy Rules

16 Jan 2017   Climate, USA

Environmental regulators issued a final decision Friday to hold to tougher fuel-economy standards, rushing to lock in one of President Barack Obama’s signature climate policies a week before President-elect Donald Trump assumes office. The Environmental Protection Agency affirmed targets calling for auto makers to sell light vehicles averaging 54.5 miles per gallon, or roughly 40 mpg in real-world driving, by 2025. The…

Bone-Chilling Winter From Berlin to Davos Causes Energy Scramble

14 Jan 2017   Climate

From the rivers criss-crossing eastern Europe to the Mediterranean ports of Greece and France, everyone is hunting for energy supplies. Blizzards, gale force winds, arctic temperatures and river ice thicker than a house has left the stewards of the European energy business frenzied. Prices of natural gas, primarily a heating fuel, has soared to the highest in more than two years. Blackouts across Eastern Europe caused electricity rates to spike to record levels. It’s chaotic, but yet familiar. While energy grid operators, producers and traders prepare for winter’s chill every year, they tend to rely on meteorological forecasts that sometimes turn out to be dead wrong. So when a winter that’s expected to be mild develops into an extended deep freeze, a mad dash to meet demand ensues. “Those who became sure that such a cold spell was unlikely given the overall trend in global warming are like those […]

EPA Accuses Fiat Chrysler of Diesel-Emissions Violations

13 Jan 2017   Climate, USA

U.S. regulators accused Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV of using software on its diesel-powered Jeeps Cherokees and Ram pickups that allowed them to spew illegal amounts of pollution into the air, the latest broadside from the government over emission standards.  The Environmental Protection Agency, with little more than a week before President Barack Obama leaves office, delivered a violation notice to Fiat Chrysler accusing it of using illegal software in 104,000 vehicles. The accusation could cost the company $4.63 billion in fines, the EPA has estimated.

VW close to $4.3bn US criminal settlement over emissions scandal

11 Jan 2017   Air Quality

Volkswagen said on Tuesday it was in advanced talks to pay $4.3bn in penalties and plead guilty to criminal charges to settle with the US Department of Justice over the German carmaker’s diesel emissions scandal. The company would also be subject to supervision by an independent monitor for the next three years. VW said that the settlement could result in the company’s financial obligations stemming from the scandal exceeding its “current provisions”. In October it said it had set aside more than €18.2bn. The final agreement is subject to approval by VW’s management and supervisory board, which are expected to do so late on Tuesday or Wednesday. VW, which admitted in September 2015 to installing software in its diesel cars to cheat emissions tests, is eager to resolve potential criminal charges before the DoJ political appointees overseeing the settlement talks depart with the Obama administration. A criminal settlement in the US would be a milestone in VW’s efforts to draw a line under the affair, in which up to 11m of the company’s diesel cars worldwide were fitted with software designed to understate harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides in official tests.

China’s Clean Air Bid Scares Rivals in Duel Over Dirty Fuel

10 Jan 2017   China, Climate

China’s recent push to clean up its air is leaving some of its neighbors feeling threatened. The Asian country’s road to cleaner air has been gradual, with lead-free gasoline only becoming a requirement in 2000, almost three decades behind the U.S. This month, China imposed new curbs on the amount of sulfur in vehicle fuels to about a fifth of the previous standard, putting it on par with Europe, which has the world’s strictest emissions controls. While the change helps China battle the smog that’s choking residents from Beijing to Xian, many of its refiners still produce the dirtier fuel. That’s causing concern in both South Korea and Japan that China will boost exports of low-quality diesel to markets such as Indonesia and Malaysia, where standards are laxer. Both depend on southeast Asia as a key customer for their diesel. “Competition will surely heat up next year and we […]

Texas $1 billion carbon project to curb emissions, up oil recovery

10 Jan 2017   Air Quality, Climate

NRG Energy Inc and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp said on Tuesday they had begun operations at a $1.04 billion carbon capture facility at a Texas coal-fired power plant and were using the emissions to extract crude from a nearby oilfield. The facility, the largest of its kind in the world, is the latest in efforts by the power industry to curb carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as pressure mounts from regulators, investors and consumers to stem climate change. The carbon capture facility could become a model for CO2 collection at existing power plants in China and India, analysts said. By pumping the […]

Secretary of State Kerry: Science confirms climate change

10 Jan 2017   Climate

Scientific data show the atmosphere may be past a tipping point when it comes to global climate change, outgoing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said. With his tenure coming to an end, Kerry warned students and leaders at Massachusetts Institute of Technology of the dangers of climate change. By his account , sea levels are rising up to three times faster than they did during the previous century and storms like Hurricane Sandy that were once rare are more commonplace. “This is not some crazy coincidence,” he said. “This is actually what scientists have been warning us was going to happen for a long time.” […]

Climate Deniers and Oil Flacks Who Love Trump’s EPA Pick

10 Jan 2017   Climate

Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general and Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, has been a longtime opponent of federal environmental regulations and a denier of climate change. Not surprisingly, as Pruitt’s confirmation hearing approaches, many of his most prominent supporters are on the fringe of leading scientific consensus on climate change, and many are closely aligned with the fossil fuel industry that the EPA is responsible for regulating. “As far as we can tell there’s literally nothing in his record showing any indication of protecting the environment in any way that matters,” Natural Resources Defense Council’s director of government affairs David Goldston said on a call with reporters on Wednesday. Democrats and environmentalists have accused Pruitt of being too extreme to lead an agency charged with protecting public health and the environment. They point to his work as Oklahoma’s attorney general: Since 2011 he has sued […]

As Donald Trump Denies Climate Change, These Kids Die of It

9 Jan 2017   Climate

She is just a frightened mom, worrying if her son will survive, and certainly not fretting about American politics — for she has never heard of either President Obama or Donald Trump. What about America itself? Ranomasy, who lives in an isolated village on this island of Madagascar off southern Africa, shakes her head. It doesn’t ring any bells. Yet we Americans may be inadvertently killing her infant son. Climate change, disproportionately caused by carbon emissions from America, seems to be behind a severe drought that has led crops to wilt across seven countries in southern Africa. The result is acute malnutrition for 1.3 million children in the region, the United Nations says. Trump has repeatedly mocked climate change, once even calling it a hoax fabricated by China. But climate change here is as tangible as its victims. Trump should come and feel these children’s ribs […]

More Beijing schools to install air filters due to smog

7 Jan 2017   China, Climate

Beijing’s education authorities have said the city will accelerate the installation of air purifiers in schools and kindergartens to protect student health on polluted days. The municipal education commission of Beijing has urged districts to begin the installation work at selected schools before the program benefits more schools. The city government will allocate money to help schools cover the costs. Some kindergartens, primary and middle schools in districts such as Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chaoyang, Haidian and Fengtai have already installed such devices, with financial support from the government, enterprises and parents. The middle school affiliated with Tsinghua University said Tuesday it has installed the first batch of air filtration devices in 11 classrooms on New Year’s Day. The school plans to install such devices in all its classrooms. Fengtai district finance bureau said it has earmarked 5 million yuan (730,000 U.S. dollars) to cover the […]

Top Ten Weather Events of 2016: #1 is No Surprise; #2 Will Surprise You | Category 6™

7 Jan 2017   Climate

The top weather story of 2016: Earth had its warmest year on record (again!) While the final numbers are not officially tabulated, 2016 appears certain to be the warmest year in every major dataset scientists use to track global warmth. The previous warmest year on record for Earth’s surface was set in 2015, which in turn broke the record set in 2014. The 3-year string of warmest years on record is the first time such an event has happened since record keeping began in 1880. One official record has already been announced: Earth’s warmest year in the 38-year satellite-measured lower atmosphere temperature record was 2016, beating a record had stood since 1998, according to the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH.)

The first seven months of 2016 all set new monthly records for global heat in the NOAA database, giving the planet an unprecedented streak of fifteen consecutive record-warm months. February 2016 had the warmest departure from average of month in recorded history, and July 2016 was the warmest month in recorded history in absolute terms. According to theWorld Meteorological Organization (WMO), 2016’s global temperatures were approximately 1.2°C above pre-industrial levels. About 0.2°C of this warming was due to the strong El Niño event that ended in May 2016, and the remainder was due to the long-term warming of the planet from human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide. Assuming that all nations who agreed to the Paris Climate Accord in 2015 fulfill their pledges, Earth is on track to see 2.3°C of warming over pre-industrial levels by 2050. This is above the “dangerous” 2°C level of warming considered likely to greatly increase the risk of hunger, thirst, disease, refugees, and war.

View full article at www.wunderground.com

The crack in this Antarctic ice shelf just grew by 11 miles. A dramatic break could be imminent.

7 Jan 2017   Climate

An enormous rift in one of Antarctica’s largest ice shelves grew dramatically over the past month, and a chunk nearly the size of Delaware could break away as soon as later this winter, British scientists reported this week. If this happens, it could accelerate a further breakup of the ice shelf, essentially removing a massive cork of ice that keeps some of Antarctica’s glaciers from flowing into the ocean. The long term result, scientists project, could be to noticeably raise global sea levels by 10 centimeters, or almost four inches. It’s the latest sign of major ice loss in the fast warming Antarctic Peninsula, which has already seen the breakup of two other shelves in the same region, events that have been widely attributed to climate change. The crack in […]

Huge Antarctic iceberg poised to break away

6 Jan 2017   Sea Level Rise

A huge iceberg, a quarter the size of Wales, is poised to break off from the Larsen C ice shelf An iceberg expected to be one of the 10 largest ever recorded is ready to break away from Antarctica, scientists say. A long-running rift in the Larson C ice shelf grew suddenly in December and now just 20km of ice is keeping the 5,000 sq km piece from floating away. Larsen C is the most northern major ice shelf in Antarctica. Researchers based in Swansea say the loss of a piece a quarter of the size of Wales will leave the whole shelf vulnerable to future break-up. Larsen C is about 350m thick and floats on the seas at the edge of West Antarctica, holding back the flow of glaciers that feed into it. Researchers have been tracking the rift in Larsen C for many years, watching it with […]

Weak Federal Powers Could Limit Trump’s Climate-Policy Rollback

2 Jan 2017   Climate, USA

With Donald J. Trump about to take control of the White House, it would seem a dark time for the renewable energy industry. After all, Mr. Trump has mocked the science of global warming as a Chinese hoax, threatened to kill a global deal on climate change and promised to restore the coal industry to its former glory. So consider what happened in the middle of December, after investors had had a month to absorb the implications of Mr. Trump’s victory. The federal government opened bidding on a tract of the ocean floor off New York State as a potential site for a huge wind farm. Up, up and away soared the offers — interest from the bidders was so fevered that the auction went through 33 rounds and spilled over to a second day. In the end, the winning bidder offered the federal Treasury $42 million, more than […]

Shallow water again troubles Rhine, Danube shipping in Germany

2 Jan 2017   Climate

Shallow water after dry weather in December continues to prevent cargo vessels from sailing fully loaded on the Rhine and Danube rivers in Germany, traders said on Monday. All of the Rhine and Danube in Germany is too shallow for normal sailings with some barges in central Germany only able to sail 30 percent full, they said. Loads are being divided among several vessels instead of being carried by a single craft, increasing transport costs for cargo owners. “This is a cost problem. Cargo is still being delivered but it has to be transferred to land transport,” one German grain trader said. Mostly dry weather is forecast in river catchment areas in Germany and Switzerland in coming days and little immediate improvement in water levels is in sight. The Rhine is an important shipping route for commodities including grains, minerals, coal and oil products including heating oil. The Danube […]

Tillerson called to testify on climate issues

31 Dec 2016   Climate

Exxon Mobil CEO and U.S. secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson should testify before the inauguration on his climate change knowledge, lawyers said. Lawyers representing more than a dozen U.S. teens called on Tillerson to testify in a case arguing there is a “fundamental constitutional right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life.” A notice to testify was served on Sidley Austin , a law firm representing the American Petroleum Institute, the National Association of Manufactures and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers. “Tillerson serves on the board of API and he and other Exxon executives also serve on the board of NAM. The youth plaintiffs seek to prove these trade associations have known about the dangers of climate change since the 1960s and have successfully worked to prevent the government from taking the necessary steps to fully address climate change,” […]

California, at Forefront of Climate Fight, Won’t Back Down to Trump

28 Dec 2016   Climate, USA

Foreign governments concerned about climate change may soon be spending more time dealing with Sacramento than Washington. President-elect Donald J. Trump has packed his cabinet with nominees who dispute the science of global warming . He has signaled he will withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. He has belittled the notion of global warming and attacked policies intended to combat it. But California — a state that has for 50 years been a leader in environmental advocacy — is about to step unto the breach. In a show of defiance, Gov. Jerry Brown , a Democrat, and legislative leaders said they would work directly with other nations and states to defend and strengthen what were already far and away the most aggressive policies to fight climate change in the nation. That includes a legislatively mandated target of reducing carbon emissions in California to […]

The Burning Issue: The Energy Transition From Fire to Electricity

28 Dec 2016   Climate

Fire is at the root of our climate problems and it is time we put it out, writes Walt Patterson , Associate Fellow at Chatham House. “We need to switch from using fire to using electricity. ” Is climate complicated? Yes – except in one key respect. Countless reams of disputed text preceded the Paris Agreement of December 2015. Media coverage before, during and after the summit was hectic with controversy. Yet all the furious disputation that surrounds the climate issue can be traced back to a single common fourletter word. The word is fire. Why fire? In the headlong climate debate worldwide, no one talks about fire. They talk about fossil fuels, about emissions, about carbon dioxide, about increasing global temperature, about floods and droughts, about sea-level rise, about melting glaciers and collapsing ice sheets. These, however, are symptoms of what is wrong. They are not the cause. […]

China issues yellow alert for ocean waves

27 Dec 2016   Climate

China’s National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center on Monday issued a yellow alert for ocean waves brought by Typhoon Nock-Ten and a cold front. Starting early morning on Tuesday, Nock-Ten, the 26th typhoon this year, and the cold front are expected to bring waves of 3.5-5 meters in the East China Sea as well as waters surrounding the Diaoyu Islands , Taiwan Strait, northern areas of the South China Sea and Bashi Strait, according to the center. Waves of 5-7 meters are expected in the central and eastern areas of the South China Sea. The center also issued a blue alert for ocean waves expected in waters off the coasts of Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong provinces. In China’s […]

China’s war on smog sends shivers across commodities sector

26 Dec 2016   Air Quality, China

China’s crackdown on exhaust-spewing factories that shut or slashed output this week at sites including steel mills, textile and cement factories and coal-fired power plants will ripple across major bulk commodity markets into 2017. City and regional governments shut thousands of plants in China’s industrial heartland, from Hebei province that surrounds Beijing to Shandong southeast of the capital, to combat smog that blanketed the country’s north for five days this week. Many plants reopened on Thursday as winds cleared the polluted air. But closures on this scale could put the brakes on China’s better-than-expected output of major commodities, hurt demand for raw materials, like iron ore and coal, clog global supply chains and get business for the world’s second-largest economy off to a subdued start in 2017. “It does present a downside risk to commodity […]

China’s war on smog sends shivers across commodities sector

23 Dec 2016   China, Climate

China’s crackdown on exhaust-spewing factories that shut or slashed output this week at sites including steel mills, textile and cement factories and coal-fired power plants will ripple across major bulk commodity markets into 2017. City and regional governments shut thousands of plants in China’s industrial heartland, from Hebei province that surrounds Beijing to Shandong southeast of the capital, to combat smog that blanketed the country’s north for five days this week. Many plants reopened on Thursday as winds cleared the polluted air. But closures on this scale could put the brakes on China’s better-than-expected output of major commodities, hurt demand for raw materials, like iron ore and coal, clog global supply chains and get business for the world’s second-largest economy off to a subdued start in 2017. “It does present a downside risk to commodity […]

Weather buoy near North Pole hits melting point

23 Dec 2016   Climate

Temperature difference from normal as analyzed by GFS model on Dec. 22. (University of Maine Climate Reanalyzer) (This story has been been updated.) Santa may need water skis instead of a sleigh this year. A weather buoy about 90 miles south of the North Pole registered a temperature at the melting point of 32 degrees (0 Celsius) early Thursday, as a giant storm east of Greenland drew abnormally warm air northward. Weather models had predicted temperatures could get this warm and this buoy, part of the North Pole Environmental Observatory , provides validation. “It seems likely areas very close to or at the North Pole were at the freezing point” Thursday, said Zachary Labe, a doctoral student researching Arctic climate and weather at the University of California at Irvine. Data from the buoy (No. 300234064010010, which can be downloaded here ) show that air temperatures have risen more than […]

NASA Produces First 3D Animation of Global Carbon Emissions

23 Dec 2016   Climate

A model of the behaviour of carbon in the atmosphere. Credit: NASA. NASA, the US space agency, has released an “eye-popping” three-dimensional animation showing carbon dioxide emissions moving through the Earth’s atmosphere over the course of a year. It says the 3-D visualisation is “one of the most realistic views yet” of the “complex patterns in which carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, decreases and moves around the globe”. The data used to produce the visualisation was collected by NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite from September 2014 to September 2015. The data was then modelled and visualised by the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Carbon Brief emailed some questions to NASA about the visualisation, which it says is the first of its kind. The answers below are provided by Dr Lesley E Ott , a carbon cycle scientist at […]