DATE: November 14, 2017
SNIP: “My belief is that we will see a renaissance of violent conflict in the 21st century, and that many of these conflicts will spring from climate change. It’s hard to predict the rate of decline or where or when conflicts will emerge, but we can say with some confidence that climate change will render huge parts of the world less hospitable to human beings, and that as a consequence, humans will have to change how and where they live.
These sorts of changes will produce tensions among groups of people struggling to adapt to a new environment. Again, that’s why I see climate as a fundamental driver of conflict in this century.” — Harald Welzer
SOURCE: Fast Company
DATE: November 14, 2017
SNIP: After Hurricane Irma hit Florida–and one of his Florida-based remote employees was forced to evacuate with his family–Anil Dash, CEO of the software company Fog Creek, called the employee and told him to do whatever he needed to do to be safe. Dash also realized that as climate change makes hurricanes and other disasters more destructive, it was a situation his employees would likely face again.
Fog Creek now offers “climate leave”: up to five days of leave for extreme weather each year, or longer in the case of an extended, officially declared state of emergency.
During Irma, Dash heard about people at other companies who were worried about evacuating because they didn’t want to lose their jobs. “For our team, hopefully that’s never a concern,” he says. “But then I said, you know, I don’t blame people for wondering, because if it’s not in writing, it can change at any time. You want to be able to trust as an employee.
The company is also trying to prepare for climate change in other ways, including researching renewable energy and looking at data center efficiency. Because employees telecommute (and those who live in New York City can take public transportation) in a typical week, no one commutes by car.
A remote workforce also makes the company more resilient: In the case of a wildfire or flood or other disasters in one location, employees elsewhere can still keep working.
Since Fog Creek announced the new program, Dash says that other companies have reached out to ask about creating something similar. He plans to watch what they do, and to also tweak Fog Creek’s program as it’s tested in future disasters.
SOURCE: Think Progress and The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and CEMUS (PDF)
DATE: November 13, 2017
SNIP: The evidence is overwhelming that natural gas has no net climate benefit in any timescale that matters to humanity.
In fact, a shocking new study concludes that just the methane emissions escaping from New Mexico’s gas and oil industry are “equivalent to the climate impact of approximately 12 coal-fired power plants.” If the goal is to avoid catastrophic levels of warming, a recent report by U.K. climate researchers finds “categorically no role” to play for new natural gas production.
Back in 2014, a comprehensive Stanford study published in Science concluded “A review of more than 200 earlier studies confirms that U.S. emissions of methane are considerably higher than official estimates. Leaks from the nation’s natural gas system are an important part of the problem.”
The Stanford analysis found a leakage rate of 5.4 percent (plus or minus 1.8 percent) — enough to give natural gas no net climate benefit for decades, even if it only replaced coal (which it doesn’t).
These conclusions have been confirmed by data and observations from a later 2014 study as well as 2016 satellite data and surface observations analyzed by Harvard researchers. Certainly there is not complete agreement between every study, but there is little doubt that U.S. methane leakage rates are considerably higher than the official numbers from the EPA, which themselves are mostly based on industry-provided estimates, not actual measurements.
DATE: November 13, 2017
SNIP: More than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries warn the evidence is clear: Current and future human health and wellbeing are at serious risk from climate change, deforestation, loss of access to freshwater, species extinctions, and human population growth.
Eminent scientists Jane Goodall, E.O. Wilson, and James Hansen are among those who have cosigned the warning, published Monday in the journal BioScience. The article, titled “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice,” has 15,372 signatories in total, from a range of scientific disciplines. It is thought to be the largest-ever formal support by scientists for a journal article.
“Climate change is here. It is dangerous. And it is about to get much worse,” said Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, an international centre for sustainability science, in a statement.
DATE: November 13, 2017
SNIP: The burning of fossil fuels around the world is set to hit a record high in 2017, climate scientists have warned, following three years of flat growth that raised hopes that a peak in global emissions had been reached.
The expected jump in the carbon emissions that drive global warming is a “giant leap backwards for humankind”, according to some scientists. However, other experts said they were not alarmed, saying fluctuations in emissions are to be expected and that big polluters such as China are acting to cut emissions.
Global emissions need to reach their peak by 2020 and then start falling quickly in order to have a realistic chance of keeping global warming below the 2C danger limit, according to leading scientists. Whether the anticipated increase in CO2 emissions in 2017 is just a blip that is followed by a falling trend, or is the start of a worrying upward trend, remains to be seen.
Estimates for 2017 put it at about 40.8 billion tons (37 billion metric tons). Sixty years ago , the world spewed only 9.2 billion tons (8.3 billion metric tons).
“It’s a bit staggering,” said co-author Ralph Keeling, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist, noting in an email that levels have increased fourfold since he was born in the 1950s. “We race headlong into the unknown.”
The ability to monitor emissions quickly and accurately is of growing importance. The Paris agreement is based on voluntary cuts by nations, and without verification that pledges have been fulfilled, the trust that underpins the deal could be eroded. “This puts immense pressure on the scientific community to develop methods that can truly verify changes in emissions,” said Prof Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the UK’s University of East Anglia and who led the new research.
DATE: November 8, 2017
SNIP: One of the Arctic’s most important storytellers in the age of climate change can now foresee how the story might end.
Since 1975, when seabird biologist George Divoky discovered black guillemots nesting on Cooper Island, an uninhabited strip of land 5 miles (8km) offshore near Utqiagvik (Barrow), Alaska, he has returned every summer to observe them. For years, he’s watched the colony decline. Now he’s worried about its collapse.
Global warming is a story built around data, small and fluctuating environmental changes that add up to a bigger picture over decades. The world accepted that the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide concentration was increasing only after Charles Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography began taking consistent measurements in the 1950s, barely scraping together enough funds at first for work that is foundational today.
In the more than 40 summers that Divoky, a researcher who received a PhD at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, has spent on Cooper Island, alone in a tent and later in a cabin, he was also cobbling together a global-warming narrative, although he didn’t know it for a long time.
SOURCE: The Guardian
DATE: November 7, 2017
SNIP: Governments have drastically underestimated methane emissions from natural gas and will miss the Paris agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 2C unless they urgently scale down its use, a major new study has found.
Continuing natural gas emissions at present levels will add 0.6C to global warming and, with other fossil fuel use, exhaust Europe’s carbon budget – the amount it can safely and fairly emit – in less than a decade, says the report (PDF) by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.
It concludes that Europe must phase out all fossil fuels including gas by 2035 and decrease emissions by 12% per year – far beyond its current ambitions – to keep to the Paris 2C pledge.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera
DATE: November 7, 2017
SNIP: Water shortages in Jordan are likely to get far worse over the coming years, according to a recent study by Stanford University.
The researchers said that, in the absence of international climate policy action, the country could receive 30 percent less rainfall by 2100 and annual temperatures could increase by 4.5 Celsius.
This would double the number and duration of droughts when compared with the 1981-2010 period, raising concerns in a country already dealing with water shortages.
Currently, the reservoirs in Jordan are at a record low – only one-fifth full – and the vital winter rains are becoming increasingly erratic.
There seems little respite for the country, which draws 160 percent more water from the ground than is replenished by nature.
DATE: November 6, 2017
SNIP: The year 2017 is “very likely” to be in the top three warmest years on record, according to provisional figures from the World Meteorological Organization.
The WMO says it will likely be the hottest year in the absence of the El Niño phenomenon.
The scientists argue that the long-term trend of warming driven by human activities continues unabated.
They say many of the “extraordinary” weather events seen this year bear the hallmarks of climate change.
While the new study only covers January to September, the WMO says the average global temperature was 1.1C above the pre-industrial figure.
This is getting dangerously close to the 1.5 degrees threshold that many island states feel temperatures must be kept under to ensure their survival.