The Paris Climate Accords Are Looking More and More Like Fantasy

The Paris Climate Accords Are Looking More and More Like Fantasy

SOURCE: New York Magazine DATE: March 25, 2018 SNIP: Remember Paris? It was not even two years ago that the celebrated climate accords were signed — defining two degrees of global warming as a must-meet target and rallying all the world’s nations to meet it — and the returns are already dispiritingly grim. This week, the International Energy Agency announced that carbon emissions grew 1.7 percent in 2017, after an ambiguous couple of years optimists hoped represented a leveling off, or peak; instead, we’re climbing again. Even before the new spike, not a single major industrial nation was on track to fulfill the commitments it made in the Paris treaty. To keep the planet under two degrees of warming — a level that was, not all that long ago, defined as the threshold of climate catastrophe — all signatory nations have to match or better those commitments. But this winter has brought even worse news than the abject failure of Paris compliance, in the form of a raft of distressing papers about what beyond compliance is required to stay below two degrees. Were each of those 195 countries to suddenly shape up, dramatically cutting back on fossil fuels to bring emissions in line with targets, that would still be not nearly enough to hit even Paris’s quite scary target. We don’t just need to draw down fossil fuels to stay below two degrees; doing so also requires “negative emissions” — extracting carbon from the atmosphere, essentially buying back some amount of existing fossil-fuel pollution through a combination of technological and agricultural tools. [I]n 2014, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on...
Climate science’s official text is outdated. Here’s what it’s missing.

Climate science’s official text is outdated. Here’s what it’s missing.

SOURCE: Grist DATE: March 22, 2018 SNIP: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the gold-standard for mainstream climate science. Problem is, the last IPCC report came out way back in 2013. As it turns out, we’ve learned a lot about our climate since then, and most of that new information paints an increasingly urgent picture of the need to slash fossil-fuel emissions as soon as possible. The next IPCC report isn’t planned for public release until the fall of 2019. Gathering consensus takes time, and the result is that IPCC reports are out of date before they’re published and necessarily conservative. Actually, a helluva lot has changed in our understanding of the Earth’s climate system since the 2013 IPCC report. Here are some of the highlights: Sea level rise is going to be much worse than we thought. Antarctica’s massive ice sheets could collapse much more quickly than we thought. Extreme weather is here and can now be linked to climate change in real time. Global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius is pretty much locked in. We’ve already lost entire ecosystems, most notably coral reefs. The climate system is moving much more quickly than we thought, and human action to curb climate change is moving much too...
Climate change ‘will push European cities towards breaking point’

Climate change ‘will push European cities towards breaking point’

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: Feb 20, 2018 SNIP: Major British towns and cities, including Glasgow, Wrexham, Aberdeen and Chester, could be much more severely affected by climate change than previously thought, according to new research. The study, by Newcastle University, analysed changes in flooding, droughts and heatwaves for every European city using all climate models. After around three years of analysing the information across hundreds of cities in Europe, they found every outcome was worse than previously thought. Wrexham, Carlisle, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Derry and Chester were the worst-hit UK towns and cities for river flooding, with Dublin, Cork and Waterford the worst in Ireland. All 571 cities studied saw a worsening in heatwaves and the high-impact scenario predicted southern Europe experiencing droughts 14 times worse than today. The lead author, Selma Guerreiro, said: “Although southern European regions are adapted to cope with droughts, this level of change could be beyond breaking...
Trump’s budget wants the US to stop watching the planet

Trump’s budget wants the US to stop watching the planet

SOURCE: Ars Technica DATE: February 12, 2018 SNIP: Today, the Trump administration released a proposed budget that called for massive cuts to science research across the federal government. But Trumps’s budget was accompanied by a second document that rescinded some of the cuts, even while complaining that doing so was a bad idea. Meanwhile, drastic cuts to environmental and renewable energy programs remain in both budget versions. Among the items targeted for elimination is the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope, or WFIRST. The plan was to build this using the optical hardware of a spy satellite that was donated by the intelligence community. Once in orbit, it would scan the entire infrared sky using a wide-field lens, allowing large catalogs of different objects, including near-Earth asteroids, to be generated. The budget document more or less says that NASA is getting the James Webb Telescope and shouldn’t expect another so soon: “developing another large space telescope immediately after completing the $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope is not a priority for the Administration.” If you think it’s only a joke to suggest that the Trump administration would terminate an active observatory once we’ve gone through the expense of putting it in orbit, well, then you haven’t read the rest of the budget proposal, which attempts to follow through on earlier threats to gut NASA’s Earth-observing missions. Two are not yet launched. One is a satellite called CLARREO pathfinder, which is intended to develop instruments for a follow-on satellite to produce detailed climate records. Another, PACE, would track ocean-atmosphere interactions. Two other satellites would have specific instruments shut down—one of them...
We Can Pull CO2 from Air, But It’s No Silver Bullet for Climate Change, Scientists Warn

We Can Pull CO2 from Air, But It’s No Silver Bullet for Climate Change, Scientists Warn

SOURCE: Inside Climate News DATE: February 6, 2018 SNIP: While technologies are being developed that can remove carbon dioxide from the air, they aren’t yet feasible on the scale needed to slow global warming, Europe’s national science academies warn in a new report. A wide array of technologies—from land management to ocean fertilization to capturing carbon dioxide from the air and storing it—are in various stages of testing and use, but according to the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council, climate scientists and policymakers are being “seriously over-optimistic” about how much these approaches can help deal with the global warming crisis. In recent years, climate experts have suggested that it’s not enough to just decrease the amount of greenhouse gases emitted. To avoid more than 2 degrees Celsius of global warming this century, they say, net emissions will have to fall to zero within a few decades, and it’s worth considering “negative emissions”—steps that subtract pollution from the atmosphere to offset what is being added. But despite the appeal of that notion, which in theory allows the world to overshoot its emissions budget for a while and make up the difference later, the new report warns against banking on it. “These technologies offer only limited realistic potential to remove carbon from the atmosphere, and not at the scale envisaged in some climate scenarios,” wrote the report’s authors, a group of experts representing the national science academies of the European Union member states, Norway and Switzerland. That’s troubling, because most of the pathways laid out by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) rely on deploying negative emissions approaches by...