"So by this analysis dead-tree magazines have a smaller net carbon footprint than web media. We cut down trees and put them in the ground. From a climate change perspective, this is a good thing" explains Chris Anderson, Wired Magazine's editor-in-chief. While some decry this type of carbon footprint accounting as "cheating", the paper industry has lately been eager to convince the public that they are carbon-neutral.
2007 was a year of extreme weather records, and 2008 could be worse, for example an unrelenting southeast drought could be devastating. 2008 will also be Bush's last year, and as the evidence for global warming mounts, Bush's agenda appears to be greening. "If global warming turns out to be a defining issue of this generation, advisers said, Bush does not want to be remembered as a roadblock."
The dangers of living in a zero-sum world economy - naked capitalism reprints (with added commentary) an FT article by Martin Wolf on why it's vital for (civilised) society to sustain a 'positive-sum' world, otherwise: "A zero-sum economy leads, inevitably, to repression at home and plunder abroad." Wolf's solution? "The condition for success is successful investment in human ingenuity." Of course! Some are calling for more socialism, while others would press on to build more megaprojects. For me, at least part of the solution lies in environmental accounting and natural capitalism :P
The new UN Human Development Report is out. Lots of interesting stuff on climate change. But for me, nothing beats the Human Development Index, a number that means different things to different people.
The historically significant* "4th IPCC report on global warming" was published in full last weekend to wide publicity. Part 1 "The Science". Part 2 "The Impacts" and Part 3 "The Solutions" - each about a 1000 page 6 pound brick, but summaries make it accessible. Beyond its gloomy dire warnings and calls for immediate action, observed global measurements of CO2 levels are already worse than the worse case scenarios and some say the report is overly conservative and already outdated. However there is a surprising idea for "solving" climate change (TED) that may be inevitable.
CARMA, released today, is a map/database that shows the carbon emissions of more than 50,000 power plants and 4,000 power companies in every country on Earth, showing not only the worst but the best. Find out how much CO2 comes from electricity plants in a particular city, county, congressional district, company, town, ZIP code, or an individual plant.
300,000 people are stranded due to massive flooding in Tabasco, Mexico. More from UNICEF. Video from Reuters. [more inside]
So you've all heard about how global warming will lead to rising sea-levels, but what about falling freshwater levels? [more inside]
In what it calls "the final wake-up call to the international community," a UN report (press release, website, 21 MB PDF) warns that damage to the environment is reaching a "point of no return" and now threatens "humanity's very survival." Oh, c'mon, tell us what you really think.
Warming Climate Fuels Mega-Fires (11-minute video) 60-Minutes reports. "Recently there has been an enormous change in Western fires. In truth, we've never seen anything like them in recorded history. It appears we're living in a new age of mega-fires -- forest infernos ten times bigger than the fires we're used to seeing."
Georgia's going dry -- and we're not talking liquor stores. Record temperatures in Georgia and a long drought have left many Georgia cities wondering when the taps will run dry. Some towns have only a few weeks of water left, while rivers near Athens have nearly dried up. A broken water main hasn't helped the problem, and some fear that the University of Georgia campus there may shut down for lack of water. What's more, Atlanta itself is already feeling the pressure, as Lake Lanier, a water source for 3 million residents, falls by 1.5 feet per week and has only a three month supply remaining. While there have been more severe (pdf) droughts in Georgia's history, rising population numbers have increased demand to now unsustainable levels.
Video (8MB, MPEG) of arctic sea ice extent, recorded from January to September 2007. [other formats] This summer a dramatic decrease compared to previous years in the extent of the north pole ice cap was observed. Scientists are freaked out [bugmenot]. This summer, the Northwest Passage was open for a few weeks, allowing three ships to traverse it. [more inside]
Venter made an artificial chromosome and may have already created artificial life in his lab. Is it a solution for global warming, or a plot for world domination? Anyway, it's a lot to think about and discuss.
A record number of floods, droughts and storms around the world has been characterized as a climate change "mega disaster" by a senior UN official, a measure based on 13 emergency "flash" appeals (PDF, map) issued so far this year (pic gallery) - three more than in 2005 which held the previous record. Sir John has expressed frustration at how little media attention in the west is being devoted to what he terms a global "creeping climatic catastrophe".
The Catholic Church is traditionally not seen as a progressive institution, but when it comes to global warming, Vatican City is aiming to become the worlds first fully carbon-neutral state, and the Pope is expected to use his first address to the United Nations next April to deliver a powerful warning over climate change in a move to adopt protection of the environment as a "moral" cause for the Catholic Church and its billion-strong following.
Not ones for subtlety, the Death of Environmentalism guys (previously) are at it again with a Manifesto for a New Environmentalism. Their Apollo Alliance is getting early support from both Clinton and Obama. But it's not the only "new environmentalism" out there. There's this New Environmentalism, while others would include both market-based approaches among the the idols of old environmentalism.
As the global climate changes, agriculture is sure to be affected. The Stern Review explains that "developing countries - in particular the poorest - are heavily dependent on agriculture, the most climate-sensitive of all economic sectors." Working Group II of the IPCC says that: "Smallholder and subsistence farmers, pastoralists and artisanal fisherfolk will suffer complex, localised impacts of climate change (high confidence)." Meanwhile, some important staple crops are especially threatened by rising temperatures (though genetic engineering may help). You can experience a taste of it yourself, with a climate change awareness fast, taking place on Tuesday, September 4th.
The "Great Climate Change Debate" finally on the cover of Newsweek - what's new, you ask? This is the story of the denial that global warming exists and how exactly the science behind the undeniable facts of increasing hurricanes, tsunamis, droughts, heatwaves and monsoons was muddied for profit. Bonus links from the same issue: Timeline of global warming and its denial and a slideshow of images from around the world on the effects but its one of those fancy interactive thingamajigs that doesn't allow it to be linked by an URL so be sure to take a look at it. Extra bonus! Quiz your knowledge on global warming
HighWater Line is a public art installation in New York City that will be a 70-mile chalk line marking the boundary of a 10-foot sea level rise. More pictures under Timeline.
The Climate Engineers. "Efforts to manipulate the climate and weather have a long history of exaggerated claims and beliefs, and a dangerous tendency to become militarized. Even if they succeed, who will control the global thermostat?" Public policy scholar James R. Fleming explores the issues in a Wilson Quarterly article.
The Green Leap Forward "Environmentalism is China’s fastest-growing citizen movement. Beijing isn’t cracking down on these new activists—it’s empowering them."
Unnatural Disaster: Global Warming and Our National Parks (PDF). A new report from the National Parks Conservation Association explores the impact of global warming on America's national parks. [Via Gristmill.]
Personally, I always thought the whole global warming thing was a little bit overblown. Got to admit this guy makes a very compelling argument without debating any details. (via)
vivoleum ExxonMobil has hit upon a novel and renewable source of fuel "Attendees paid 50 dollars a head to hear a speech from the National Petroleum Council, a group that also advises the White House on oil and gas matters. It was rumoured a new joint energy policy from the Canadian and American governments was coming."
Federal Aviation Administrator Marion Blakey is valiantly fighting European attempts to extend the EU's emission trading scheme to aviation. Those silly Europeans, Ms. Blakey has argued, are so overexcited about global warming that they are even using helicopters with thermal imaging systems to enforce a green tax on outdoor BBQs! Unfortunately for her argument, it turns out that the story she quoted is a complete hoax. Now, unlike Brownie, nobody would ever accuse Ms. Blakey of being a novice. Apart from previous tenures at, among others, the Department of Transportation and the NTSB, Ms. Blakey also founded Blakey & Agnew, a "public affairs" firm with a special focus on transportation issues.
SUV sales are up. In spite of higher gas prices and concern about global warming, Americans still want bigger cars. It might not be enough to save the Hummer H2, though.
The Canadian government has released its new Turning the Corner plan for regulating greenhouse gases, setting mandatory intensity-based emission targets (18% reduction over three years) for major industrial sectors. Firms exceeding their targets will be required to pay $15/tonne starting in 2010. Expected cost: $7-8B per year, offset by an expected $6B benefit from improved health. Kyoto targets won't be reached until 2020, eight years late. Reaction from industry, Alberta, the Opposition. Previous proposal from Opposition leader Stephane Dion. Previously.
Connie Meskimen of Hot Springs, Arkansas has a down-to-earth explanation for climate change! What the scientists and the Fifth Column environmentalists bent on wrecking American industry hope that you'll overlook!
Weather warfare. [more inside]
In a 5-4 opinion [pdf], the Supreme Court concluded today that the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases that may contribute to global warming, and must examine the scientific evidence of a link between those gases contained in the exhausts of new cars and trucks and climate change. Justice Stevens wrote the majority opinion, and Justice Scalia wrote a dissent, joined by Roberts, Thomas, and Alito. ScotusBlog summary here.
A contrarian documentary on climate change produced by UK Channel 4 called "The Great Global Warming Swindle (Google Video) has been making the rounds in the internets. Prominent among the scientists featured in the documentary is one of the most highly regarded physical oceanographers active today, Carl Wunsch (MIT). Unlike his colleague Richard Lindzen, though, it seems that Prof. Wunsch is not exactly pleased with being cast as a global warming skeptic. It turns out that selective editing made him seem to be saying exactly the opposite of what he was hoping to convey. Wunch is pissed.. Also, reviews of the documentary: Real Climate, The Guardian (Monbiot).
After two big Antarctic ice shelves broke off several years ago, a world of new species was found underneath. Pictures and a press release came out yesterday, showing spindly orange starfish among other interesting creatures. Here is some more information on the expedition. The fact that the shelves melted when they did is most likely a result of global warming, but having them out of the way gave researchers a golden opportunity to study what lives beneath the ice. Other occassions where a disaster has simultaneously been a great research opportunity include radioactive fallouts: at Chernobyl the evacuated area has been monitored for the past decades to see which species move in and how they thrive (previously on Metafilter)
Want to increase your energy efficiency and use more renewable energy? Want to install solar panels on your roof, buy a hybrid car, put in new storm windows, or make any number of other green improvements to your home or business? Want to save money doing it? DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Just click on your state and take it from there.
Scientists claim that cosmic rays from outer space play a far greater role in changing the Earth's climate than global warming experts previously thought. For a demonstration of how cosmic rays affect cloud formation, you can build a Cloud Chamber.
Everyone complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. What are the climate change policy options? Paul Krugman on tax-shifting. William Nordhaus on carbon taxes vs. cap-and-trade (PDF). Mark Jaccard, Nic Rivers, and Matt Horne note that in Canada, voluntary measures and subsidies haven't worked, and propose a detailed policy package (PDF). [more inside]
Cheatneutral. "When you cheat on your partner you add to the heartbreak, pain and jealousy in the atmosphere. Cheatneutral offsets your cheating by funding someone else to be faithful and NOT cheat. This neutralises the pain and unhappy emotion and leaves you with a clear conscience." [Via Gristmill.]
Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman has endorsed the recent IPCC report, reversing the White House stance on the existence of global warming. Bodman claims that the Bush administration has always accepted scientific studies pointing to man-made climate change, even as Henry Waxman, House oversight committee chair, has been holding hearings on the White House's misleading the public on global warming for the last six years; hearing documents. Bodman also rejects caps on CO2 emissions, claiming that the US is "a small contributor when you look at the rest of the world," when in fact it's the largest contributor worldwide (and has an even greater share of cumulative CO2 emissions). Previously: IPCC, Waxman.
IPCC's 4th Assesment Report Summary for Policymakers [PDF] is now avaiable online, offering a necessarily simplified view of the scientific finding supporting the idea that global warming isn't just the theory of some lone scientist. Certain think-thanks are now allegedly attempting to finance disconfirming opinion. Previously on Meta.
Climate change a 'questionable truth'. Margaret Wente looks beyond the hysteria surrounding the climate change debate. Hysteria her own newspaper has been contributing to.
Instead of reducing emissions, maybe we can block out the sun. This is a proposal offered by the United States in response to a draft of a UN report on climate change, prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. According to the linked article, the U.S. has resisted a treaty that would involve binding targets for emissions reductions, and is instead pushing for the exploration of techniques for blocking out the sun, including (according to the Sydney Morning Herald article) "putting a giant screen into orbit, thousands of tiny, shiny balloons, or microscopic sulfate droplets pumped into the high atmosphere to mimic the cooling effects of a volcanic eruption." This is via Yale Law professor Jack Balkin, who speculates that there is Biblical precedent for this proposal.
The Independent has some anticipations on the soon to be released first volume of IPCC's 4Th Assesment Report , concerning matters such as climate change and global warming. Quoting the article : It is virtually certain (there is more than a 99 per cent probability) that carbon dioxide levels and global warming is far above the range of natural variability over the past 650,000 years. It is virtually certain that human activity has played the dominant role in causing the increase of greenhouse gases over the past 250 years.
Vegetarian is the New Prius : following a report from the UN indicating that the billions of livestock raised for meat are wreaking more havoc on the environment than fossil fuels, environmental activists are linking vegetarianism with fighting global warming.
Global warming skeptic Ronald Bailey--Reason's science correspondent, adjunct scholar at CATO and CEI, and editor of the 2002 book Global Warming and Other Myths: How the Environmental Movement Uses False Science to Scare Us to Death--has changed his mind.
When you drive on local streets you can be a Wingman for Grandma. Help make Grandma safer when she goes out for a walk. Drive the speed limit on local streets. Help set the pace for your community. Small increases in vehicle speed increase the threat to pedestrians. By helping to calm your local streets you can make it safer and more pleasant for you and your family.
A revised U.S. plant hardiness map has been put out by the National Arbor Day Foundation, based on numbers from 5,000 cooperative climate observation stations throughout the United States. The foundation forged ahead with their own revisions since the official USDA map update has stalled. One unofficial draft [PDF] does exist. A USDA spokesperson said their map delay is because of fine-tuning where to draw the zone lines; the agency also plans to incorporate other data such as wind.
ThreatDown! Scientists and other liberals reporting BEARS no longer hibernating in Spain! Global warming deniers, however, determined to continue their hibernation.
It may feel hip to go carbon neutral, but are carbon offsets real? Now you can find out by reading Clean Air Cool Planet's Consumer's Guide to Carbon Offsets which asseses 30 providers of carbon neutrality and sets out criteria for understanding which are doing the best to help you save the planet. The consumer's guide reads more like an enviro geeks master's thesis, but it quickly becomes clear that the core of the matter is additionality, i.e. to what extent will this investment create emission reductions in addition to those that would have occured in its absence. If this is all too much for you and just want to cut to chase and save the world, you should just take the pledge at Treasure Our Planet. It's pretty simple stuff.