One of the clearest climate graphics I’ve seen. It describes in simplest terms how much carbon we can afford to dump into the air before doom. Answer: about 13 years-ish at current rate and then systems begin collapsing. The columns show which cities, crops, and species will be impacted and when. Unfortunately, these estimates are fairly low.
Posts tagged carbon.
Climate Change 101: Fundamentals of Climate Change
The recent climate conference in Doha has sparked much interest with the adoption of the second Kyoto protocol. Larger nations may now be taxed for their environmental actions in order to compensate the smaller nations who maintain a more active role in their local environmental conservative activities.
A new video on Vimeo (courtesy: Dark Igloo) is going viral and is looking to explain climate change on a more fundamental level.
Really good climate explainer. Long time followers know I’m skeptical about the solutions Bill Nye discusses at the end of this video. Carbon emissions are simply not decreasing, not even a little. In fact, we’re burning much more than thought possible. And we have to stop fooling ourselves in thinking that it’s going to stop. China and India are getting richer and Africa and the Middle East are experiencing populations booms. They want cars, computers, houses, and gadgets, all of which means higher demand for energy. We need to be honest and clear headed about this reality.
In any case, this is a good video and well worth watching.
Streaming right now for 24 hours! 4 million are tuned in. Watch special reports on climate change from around the world via the Climate Reality Project.
The best explainer of climate science I’ve seen in a long while. It explains ice core samples work in clear terms. Then explains how scientists use those samples to help predict changes to the climate in the future. There’s a bit about the science of carbon, but it’s presented in a way that’s easy to understand.
So, why does this matter? Well, it helps us figure out safe places to live, how much food we can grow and where, which animals will be in trouble so we can help, and where diseases might spread due to hotter temperatures. For example, it might not be a good idea to rebuild parts of Far Rockaway after Hurricane Sandy. It’s irresponsible of the government to continue this type of development when people’s homes (and lives) are at risk from bigger storms and aggressive beach erosion.
For more on the impacts, visit The Daily Climate.
Decent (not great) primer on geoengineering. Worth a skim since my next post is on that batshiat crazy guy who dumped 100 tons of rusty iron dust into the ocean last week - just to see what would happen.
I know, it’s a carbon story - not my style. What’s most interesting to me, though, is the legal questions behind geoengineering.
For example, let’s say that geoengineering is a good option, one that could counter global warming and cool the earth just enough to make things safer. There are dozens of ways to do this, as the article points out. Like, the dudes (and they are mostly dudes) from DARPA send a big mirror into orbit to reflect the sun’s rays. Or someone figures out a way to create more clouds in the sky, which would then reflect the sun’s energy back into spaceblivion. Aaannd a presto! No more climate change.
Great news, right? But, and this is the legal bit, which country should be in control of such projects? Who decides how much geoengineering is just right?
What happens if a rogue nation decides to mess with the earth’s atmosphere for geo-political-advantage-of-doomy-doom??! How (and whom) would legally enforce this system, especially if someone screwed up? Should China or, say, Afghanistan hold the keys to geoengineering technology? Conversely, one can easily imagine a coalition of states - China, USA, the EU, maybe Brazil etc. - getting together to run this system. Which court system would hold this coalition responsible for our doomed existence? And other rhetorical, legal mind-fucks.
What Is Geoengineering and Why Is It Considered a Climate Change Solution?
Geoengineering is a word that means many different things to many different people. Typically what people call geoengineering is divided into two major classes. There are approaches which attempt to reduce the amount of climate change produced by an increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and there are approaches that try to remove greenhouse gases that have already been released to the atmosphere.
The Earth is warmed by sunlight and the heat that is absorbed by the Earth is later re-radiated back to space. Greenhouse gases make it more difficult for the Earth to radiate energy to space. So the two main ways you can cause Earth to cool are either to create conditions such that Earth absorbs less sunlight or make it easier for the Earth to radiate heat energy back to space.
The first category of approaches typically includes things like: putting giant satellites in space to deflect sunlight away from Earth, putting tiny particles in the stratosphere, whitening clouds over the ocean, or perhaps whitening roofs or planting lighter [colored] crops. They are all attempts to deflect sunlight away from Earth.
The second allows more heat energy to escape.
There is one more category that some people propose: that we might take heat that exists near the surface of the Earth and stuff it down deep into the ocean. This hasn’t been looked at very much. But it’s another way of altering Earth’s surface temperatures.
Why do we even need to think about this?
This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through…a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuelsU.S. President Lydon B. Johnson to Congress, February 1965
Great idea to help pay for adaptation projects in developing countries.
In one of the most radical climate programmes yet by an oil-producing nation, the Norwegian government has proposed increasing its carbon tax on offshore oil companies by £21 to £45 (Nkr410) per tonne of CO2 and a £5.50 (Nkr50) per tonne CO2 tax on its fishing industry.
Norway will also plough an extra £1bn (Nkr10bn) into its funds for climate change mitigation, renewable energy, food security in developing countries and conversion to low-carbon energy sources, Environmental Finance reported.
It will step up spending on new projects to combat deforestation in developing countries to £44m, taking up its spending overall on forestry programmes to £327m. Previous forestry projects have involved Brazil, Indonesia and Ethiopia.
Full story at The Guardian
“Bangladesh believes it’s found a way to hold the industrialised world accountable for damages caused by climate change.
They are hoping the UN General Assembly will support a motion to take countries who fail to reduce their emissions.”
Everyone should read Al Jazeera every day.
Shell Alaska said Monday it has abandoned its efforts to drill into hydrocarbon deposits in the offshore Arctic after the latest in a series of glitches on the company’s troubled oil containment barge resulted in damage to the high-tech dome designed to contain oil in the event of an underwater spill.
Company officials said they will continue to drill “top holes” off the Alaskan coast through the end of this season’s drilling window, but will not attempt to reach any oil deposits this year — a serious but not fatal setback for the company, which has spent six years attempting to explore its outer continental shelf leases off the coast of Alaska.
“This critical program … could be an important national resource for the next several decades, and we are committed to doing it safely and responsibly,” Shell spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “We’re not going to rush things for the sake of a few days this season.”
The latest setback involves the oil containment barge, the Arctic Challenger, which has been delayed in Bellingham, Wash., undergoing a trouble-plagued retrofit overseen by Superior Marine Technical Services, a Shell contractor.
The vessel has been unable for weeks to win U.S. Coast Guard certification, following problems with some onboard safety systems, along with trouble fixing good stowage for the ship’s anchor chocks and the boom designed to flare gas in the event of a spill. Coast Guard officials documented four minor illegal fluid discharges from the vessel while it was moored in Bellingham.
Federal authorities have not allowed Shell to plumb into hydrocarbon deposits until the barge is on site in the Arctic, but the multimillion-dollar upgrade has been delayed with one problem after another while attempting to win certification from the Coast Guard.
What if everyone lived like the UAE?
“if all 7 billion of the earth’s population lived like the way we do here in the UAE we would need a whopping 5.4 times more land than we currently have on Earth.”
The reasoning for adaptation is getting clearer, to some.
Global greenhouse emissions continue to rise
2011’s increase to 37.5 billion tons of CO2 was driven by China and India, which saw their carbon dioxide emissions jump by 9 and 6 percent, respectively.
Along with other concerned groups, Our Children’s Trust brought a very important climate change lawsuit against the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to (basically) begin regulating CO2. “The lawsuit is part of legal action in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and against the federal government on behalf of youth to compel reductions of CO2 emissions that will counter the negative impacts of climate change.”
What’s really interesting to me is the case reinforces that the air outside is a “Public Trust” that ought to be managed for quality. The concept of the “Public Trust” is one of the oldest and most important legal doctrines in human existence. The public trust is embedded into US law, was formalized from English Common Law, and can be traced back to the Greeks. Several international treaties, and ocean and coastal policies are based on the public trust doctrine.
Our Children’s Trust, which won the lawsuit and put out a press release just moments ago, states, “The case relies upon the long established principle of the public trust doctrine, which requires all branches of government to protect and maintain certain shared resources fundamental for human health and survival.”
It’s long been established that open bodies of water are “in trust” of the public, and therefore must be managed for protection in perpetuity by the government. The case is huge. It expands (or reaffirms) that air is also a public trust, and therefore falls under protection for all. It probably affects all SEPAs in 50 states, territories, and DC. From the press release:
Austin, TX – Yesterday, Judge Gisela Triana issued a written decision finding that all natural resources are protected under the Public Trust Doctrine and the state constitution of Texas in a climate change lawsuit brought by youth (Angela Bonser-Lain, et al. v Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Case No. D-1-GN-11-002194).
In deferring to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ), decision to deny the Plaintiffs’ petition for rulemaking while other ongoing litigation over regulations ensues, the Judge concluded that the TCEQ’s determination that the Public Trust Doctrine is exclusively limited to the conservation of water, was legally invalid. The three Texas youth sought judicial review in a lawsuit against the TCEQ for rejecting Plaintiffs’ proposed rule that would require reductions in statewide carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels consistent with what current scientific analysis deems necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change.
“This is a blockbuster move for a Texas judge to take the position that all natural resources should be protected under the public trust doctrine. This may well be one of those judicial actions like Brown v. Board of Education that future generations will look to as a turning point for our planet. I am grateful to Judge Triana on behalf of my children and all future generations,” said Brigid Shea, mother of plaintiff, Eamon Brennan Umphress.
You can read the rest, here.
“Though most attention last week focused on the Supreme Court ruling upholding federal reform of the health-care system, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued the most important judicial decision on climate change in five years. That decision upholds the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate greenhouse gases, and it is very good news for those who favor this approach.
In 2007 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in the landmark case of Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, that a statute enacted by Congress in 1970 — the Clean Air Act — authorizes EPA to regulate greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. Not much happened for the balance of the Bush administration, but shortly after Barack Obama took office in January 2009, EPA issued an “endangerment finding” — a formal determination that greenhouse gases pose a danger to public health and welfare. That finding is a prerequisite to further regulation.
With that in hand, EPA proceeded to issue a set of major new rules. Among other things, it and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued new standards (the first in decades) for fuel economy of automobiles and light trucks. EPA also required major stationary sources of air pollution, such as power plants and factories, to obtain permits for their greenhouse-gas emissions.
Industries (led by the fossil fuel lobby) and states (led by Texas) that oppose such regulation reacted furiously. They filed more than 100 lawsuits against EPA. Some claimed that the “Climategate” e-mails and a handful of errors in reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had cast doubt on the integrity of the climate science underlying the endangerment finding. They also took an opposite tack, and said EPA’s regulations of stationary sources were too lax, because they regulated only the largest sources and not the millions of small sources that exceed certain statutory thresholds.
The court held a highly unusual two days of argument on February 28-29, 2012, in its largest courtroom, but still, many would-be spectators could not get in. The fate of the regulations hung in the balance as legions of lawyers argued before the three-judge panel — one appointed by President Reagan and two by President Clinton.
The suspense ended on June 26, with the unanimous opinion in what came to be known as Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA. It was a complete win for EPA.”
Good read of the day at Columbia Earth Institute