25 years of climate talk history in one comic: Richard Monastersky & Nick Sousanis explore the history of climate treaty negotiations in Nature's special Paris Climate Talks issue. The goal of the Paris Talks is to limit emissions so that Earth won't warm by more than 2°C, and there are many reasons to be optimistic about the prospects for an agreement - but what will it really take to limit warming to 2°C??
The inconveniences of daily life are not the significant problems.Bret Victor: What can a technologist do about climate change?
The world that scrolls past you on Twitter is not the real world.
You cannot calibrate your sense of what’s valuable and necessary to the current fashions in your field.
The Paris-based magazine Télérama have published a conversation between Thom Yorke and author/activist George Monbiot. Yorke is a professed fan of Monbiot's writing, and throughout the interview, the two men discussed climate change.Throughout the conversation, Yorke and Monbiot discuss how they've responded to climate change in their day-to-day lives—becoming vegetarian, Radiohead's carbon neutral touring initiative, and so on. Yorke said that for a time, figuring out how to reduce his carbon footprint became an obsession.
This week, in an article for The Nation, Bill McKibben reports the story of how two separate teams of reporters at Inside Climate News and The Los Angeles Times have, “reached the same bombshell conclusion: ExxonMobil, the world’s largest and most powerful oil company, knew everything there was to know about climate change by the mid-1980s, and then spent the next few decades systematically funding climate denial and lying about the state of the science.”
The world's coral is suddenly and rapidly starting to die - "This is only the third time we've seen what we would refer to as a global bleaching event. [The prior events] were in 1998 and 2010, and those were pretty much one year events. We're looking at a similar spatial scale of bleaching across the globe, but spanning across at least 2 years. So that means a lot of these corals are being put under really prolonged stress, or are being hit 2 years in a row." Can 'manually breeding supercorals capable of living in increasingly inhospitable waters' help in time? (via/via)
The risk here is not that millions of people in Britain are suddenly going to die of thirst. It is that after all those years in which humans settled by rivers and thrived, we are now locked in conflict with our natural surroundings. Either the humans or the rivers have to suffer. At the moment, it is the rivers, although in the longer term a sick river will produce less water, so the humans will end up in trouble as well. (longformGrauniad)
Breaking the Tragedy of the Horizon – climate change and financial stability: Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warns investors face 'huge' climate change losses - "The Financial Stability Board, an international body monitoring the global financial system that Mr Carney chairs, may recommend G20 countries make it easier for investors to compare the 'carbon intensity' of different assets." [more inside]
President Obama recently made a somewhat historical visit to the State of Alaska. While there, he posted a travelogue, met an adorable husky puppy, talked about the very real threat of climate change, but mostly just got jiggy with it.
This year, my summer visit to Idaho was swallowed, most days, in a thick, gauzy haze. It was as though the sky was overlaid with a bleakest of Instagram filters; the smoke was often so dense, it blocked the blue light spectrum entirely, washing everything in a pale, flat yellow, a creepy, apocalyptic tint that contrasted well with the redness in your eyes and the gray dryness of your throat. [more inside]
The Weight of the World: Can Christiana Figueres persuade humanity to save itself? by Elizabeth Kolbert [New Yorker]
Of all the jobs in the world, Figueres’s may possess the very highest ratio of responsibility (preventing global collapse) to authority (practically none). The role entails convincing a hundred and ninety-five countries—many of which rely on selling fossil fuels for their national income and almost all of which depend on burning them for the bulk of their energy—that giving up such fuels is a good idea. When Figueres took over the Secretariat, in 2010, there were lots of people who thought the job so thankless that it ought to be abolished. This was in the aftermath of the fifteenth COP, held in Copenhagen, which had been expected to yield a historic agreement but ended in anger and recrimination.
It's been posited that one way to deal with climate change is to be rich, or, failing that, to live in a country that can afford to take protective measures. However, a new study published in the journal Science concludes that mega-engineering projects along river systems -- particularly near river deltas -- will actually worsen the eventual impact of flooding. The underlying reason is simple: when you prevent flooding in a delta system, you also prevent fresh sediment from being deposited. The land that's already there compacts, erodes, and subsides. [more inside]
Historians may look to 2015 as the year when shit really started hitting the fan. Some snapshots: In just the past few months, record-setting heat waves in Pakistan and India each killed more than 1,000 people. [...] London reached 98ºF during the hottest July day ever recorded in the UK. [...] In California, suffering from its worst drought in a millennium, a 50-acre brush fire swelled seventyfold in a matter of hours, jumping across the I-15 freeway during rush-hour traffic. Then, a few days later, the region was pounded by intense, virtually unheard-of summer rains. Puerto Rico is under its strictest water rationing in history as a monster El Niño forms in the tropical Pacific Ocean, shifting weather patterns worldwide. [more inside]
Fix sexism in air conditioning, save the planet: A quick article from Ars Technica (UK) talks about the frustration we've all experienced where buildings are often air conditioned to be too cold. Dress for summer and bring a sweater for the office. Enjoy the temperature preferred by your (likely older white male) managers. Original article is paywalled but the abstract can be found here. Finally, some (more) science to point out more obvious issues in the workplace. Not the genre-defining paper to lay all doubts to rest...but a good place to start.
Scott K. Johnson, an Hydrologist and freelance writer for Ars Technica attended the Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-10) held on June 11-12.
For a science writer, however, the event was fundamentally a tedious experience. On the first night of the conference, one of the presenters actually invaded my dreams. In the dream, I was in some sort of friendly geology group, gathering to discuss some interesting research. When this fellow announced his topic, I interrupted him. “Wait—is this more of that retired medical doctor’s weird theory about volcanoes that you talked about for two hours last time?” I asked. The presenter blinked, puzzled by my tone, and said, “Well, yeah. Of course.” The rest of the group shot me pained glances and sank down in their chairs.That’s kind of what the conference was like.
About once a year he has nightmares of earth becoming a very alien planet. "Part of being a scientist is you don't want to believe there is a problem you can't solve."
In the past few years, science has lurched closer to envisioning habitable Mars, though at the moment estimates for creating breathable oxygen range from hundreds to 100,000 years in the future, the soil is currently toxic to astronauts, and travel is so unwieldy that scientists have proposed "printing" humans on Mars. Meanwhile, I wondered why not make Earth's increasingly inhospitable deserts greener.[more inside]
This is an extract from Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si. Here are some of the early analyses.
Grist: Seattle: City Of The Future series includes -
Is Seattle a model for sustainable cities, or just a mess?
Is Seattle a model for sustainable cities, or just a mess?
In reality, of course, change is a complicated and messy thing. With that in mind, the crew at Grist decided a few months back to use our hometown as something of a laboratory. We abandoned our work stations and set off in search of stories that would illustrate how Seattle is changing, for better or worse, and how the city and its residents are coping. It was a chance to get to know the place better, put our theories and prognostications to the test, and see what lessons Seattle holds for other cities.[more inside]
But to a growing cadre of A-list winemakers, there’s actionable intelligence in the data. Many of Fruition’s clients are altering their irrigation techniques, turning laggard vineyards into top performers and using far less water than they ever imagined. Along the way they’re extracting lessons that could extend far beyond this rarified corner of agriculture. By gaining insight into the relationships between water, sunlight, yield, and taste, Fruition Sciences is showing the way for farmers of all stripes to increase productivity and quality in a world of shifting weather patterns and decreasing supplies of freshwater.
Tesla Powerwall Battery Economics: Almost There - "Elon Musk announced Tesla's home / business battery today. [video] tl;dr: It'll get enthusiastic early adopters to buy. The economics are almost there to make it cost effective for a wide market... That said, for large scale grid deployment (outside of the home), it still looks like flow batteries and advanced compressed air are likely to be far cheaper in the long run." [more inside]
Carbon Capture by Jonathan Franzen [New Yorker] Has climate change made it harder for people to care about conservation?
And so I came to feel miserably conflicted about climate change. I accepted its supremacy as the environmental issue of our time, but I felt bullied by its dominance. Not only did it make every grocery-store run a guilt trip; it made me feel selfish for caring more about birds in the present than about people in the future. What were the eagles and the condors killed by wind turbines compared with the impact of rising sea levels on poor nations? What were the endemic cloud-forest birds of the Andes compared with the atmospheric benefits of Andean hydroelectric projects?
The Chinchorro mummies are found in northern Chile and southern Peru; the oldest of them date to thousands of years before the first Egyptian mummies. Some of them mummified naturally, but most were intentionally mummified. The hot, arid conditions of the Atacama desert aided in this process. However, these mummies are now the latest victims of climate change, as increased humidity encourages bacterial growth that is transforming them into black ooze.
Writing for The Guardian, Charles Eisenstein argues that regenerative agriculture is crucial to an effective response to climate change, which in his view includes both technological and philosophical shifts: [more inside]
Comparing photographs of glaciers from the 1920's to today: Repeat photography is a technique in which a historical photograph and a modern photograph, both having the same field of view, are compared and contrasted to quantitatively and qualitatively determine their similarities and differences. The following sections depict how this technique was used at a number of locations in Alaska... to document and understand changes to glaciers and landscapes as a result of changing climate. [more inside]
If enough of us decide that climate change is a crisis worth of Marshall Plan levels of response, it will be. [more inside]
For years, politicians wanting to block legislation on climate change have bolstered their arguments by pointing to the work of a handful of scientists who claim that greenhouse gases pose little risk to humanity. [more inside]
Blake Morrison on the literature of the east coast. - "Writers from Crabbe to Sebald have been drawn to the fragile beauty of the east coast of Britain – and have immortalised it in words"
What the collapse of ancient capitals can teach us about the cities of today — Warnings from history: Angkor was a thriving metropolis of 750,000 before a series of mega-monsoons made it unliveable. Can modern flood-threatened cities learn from its downfall?
Treading Water by Laura Parker [National Geographic]
Phil Stoddard, in his third term as mayor of South Miami, is one of the few politicians willing to talk about when that time might come... He drew a graph with three lines that show population, property values, and sea level all rising. Then abruptly, population growth and property values plummet. “Something is going to upset the applecart,” he says. “A hurricane, a flood, another foot of sea rise, the loss of freshwater. People are going to stop coming here and bail.”[more inside]
In the 21st century, it almost goes without saying the past year was the hottest year on record. But it's worth mentioning 2014 was the hottest ever recorded, according to NASA and NOAA who independently confirmed. Drum roll: it was the 38th consecutive year of above-average temperatures. 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have occurred since 2000. Nobody born since 1976 has experienced a colder-than-average year on Earth. The coldest spot on Earth during 2014 (on average) was the eastern half of the United States. The hottest on average was most of Europe. British wine growers rejoice. [more inside]
Ted Cruz, Senator from Texas, global warming denier, and (attempted) NASA funding slasher, has been appointed to chair the Senate subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness. In other words, he will be overseeing NASA. [more inside]
Three visualizations of CO2 emissions: Here’s a cool way to visualize carbon emissions. New York's carbon emissions - in real time. NASA found a way to visualize the most important process behind global warming.
Neither Thucydides, Gibbon, von Ranke, nor Braudel ever cited a paper appearing in Geophysical Research Letters. They did not worry themselves about fluctuations in the Siberian High or the Southern Oscillation. The vast majority of more recent historians also remained untroubled by such concerns. However, in the past five years, a handful of highly distinguished historians have come out with new books that put climate at the center of historical explanation. What on Earth is going on? [more inside]
"The Nazca Lines are a set of giant images of plants and animals, such as a monkey, a spider and a hummingbird, excavated in the soil some 1,500 years ago. " This week, as a message to the climate change summit it Lima, Greenpeace activists entered a restricted area near one of the sets of lines and placed a message in the sand: TIME FOR CHANGE: THE FUTURE IS RENEWABLE Of course, the problem is that the lines are located in a fragile desert. "You walk there and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years," said Deputy Culture Minister Luis Castillo. Peru is attempting to bar the activists involved in the Greenpeace stunt from leaving the country while asking prosecuters to file charges against them for "attacking archelogical monuments". [more inside]
Drought-stricken California is bracing for the strongest storm it has experienced in five years, with school districts preemptively canceling Thursday classes. The storm is the result of an "atmospheric river," a weather phenomenon that has only recently been identified/defined, but which is now suspected of being the cause of other major historical weather events.
Coyote Booms, Bear Attacks And How Climate Change Is Wreaking Havoc On The Animal Kingdom. "'The long-term drought impacts on vegetation that affect the prey of the animals that predators feed on is also a reason for encroachment,' said Crabtree. He said he thinks all large carnivores have this problem, especially the ones that depredate, or plunder — such as coyotes, bears, mountain lions and wolves. 'The drought decreases natural forage for herbivores like deer,' said Crabtree. 'There will be a relatively higher density of deer in urban areas where there are lawns.'" [more inside]
The Yamal Crater (previously) mysteriously appeared on the Yamal Peninsula in northern Siberia sometime in early 2014. Thought to be the result of methane accumulation in thawing permafrost, when first discovered the giant hole was too dangerous for people to enter. Now that the ground has frozen, scientists have explored the hole and released a a set of otherworldly photographs documenting their expedition.
About half of the people fighting wildland fires on the ground for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) are incarcerated: over 4,400 prisoners, housed at 42 inmate fire camps, including three for women. Together, says Capt. Jorge Santana, the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) liaison who supervises the camps, they save the state over $1 billion a year. This year, California has had over 5,300 wildfires, which is about 700 more than had occurred by this time in 2013, and a thousand more than the five-year average. Now, as the West is coming to the end of one of the driest, hottest years in recorded history, the work of inmate firefighters has become essential to California’s financial and environmental health. (SLBuzzfeedNews)
Sea levels are rising, the land is sinking. It's going to become a big problem for some cities on the US East Coast, so in Boston people are thinking the unthinkable - copying Venice and Amsterdam, and becoming a city of canals. [more inside]