According to the paper, every complex system, whether it be climate, asthma attacks and epileptic seizures, or systemic crashes in financial markets, exhibits the same basic precursor signs of a tipping point, at least mathematically speaking. Continue reading →
EPA officials interviewed for the LATimes article are dismissive of the Chamber’s petition, referring to it in the article as “frivolous” and a “waste of time.” However, given that the Chamber has threatened to take the EPA to federal court to force them to hold this trial-like hearing, it’s unlikely that the Chamber considers their petition “frivolous.” Continue reading →
Before the House voted on the American Climate and Energy Security Act (ACES) earlier this year, someone hired Bonner & Associates (hereafter Bonner) to manufacture some grassroots opposition against ACES. At least one employee did so by forging letters from non-existent people to Representative Tom Perriello of Virginia. These letters were discovered, Bonner claims to have fired the employee, and a partner at Bonner apologized to the two minority groups from which the letters were supposedly sent. The apologies were, it’s fair to say, emphatically not accepted.
Since the Bonner story broke last Friday, there have been a lot of new information about who hired them, whether there were other Congresspeople who received forged letters, the legality or lack thereof, and an official response from a House committee with subpoena powers. Continue reading →
The authors of the study analyzed two unrelated observational methods and found that both showed a decrease in cloud cover over the Northeast (NE) Pacific as a result of climate changes in sea surface temperature (SST), sea level pressure (SLP), and two measurements of the troposphere (the lower atmosphere). Continue reading →
“Fracking” is the slang term used for hydraulic fracturing, a process by which the gas industry injects a slurry of unknown composition into a gas well in order to break up the rock and release the natural gas contained within. At present, the EPA exempts fracking from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), but Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado has introduced legislation into the House (H.R.2766) to force the EPA to regulate fracking. In response, the gas industry has pushed back with studies that purport to show that regulation is both unnecessary and costly.
Cassava and sorghum are tubers that form the protein base for hundreds of millions of people. But while there’s a great deal of protein in the plant, there’s also cyanide in the plant’s leaves. Whether the leaves are poisonous or not depends partly on how much protein there is – more protein means that the cyanide is less toxic and the plants are safe to eat for man and beast alike. But according to a new study reported in Reuters, higher carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations means both less protein and more cyanide, a toxic combination. Continue reading →
Michael Shellenberger is one of environmentalism’s persona non grata de jour. He and Ted Nordhaus founded the Breakthrough Institute in order to push for technological solutions to environmental problems instead of policy solutions that both men have argued are doomed to failure from the word “Go.” This was not exactly a popular thing to say in the halls of Congress or around the water cooler at any number of large environmental organizations dedicated to creating policy solutions.
An analysis of the American Climate and Energy Security Act (ACES) by Shellenberger and Jesse Jenkins, Breakthrough’s Director of Energy and Climate Policy, found that the offset provisions of the legislation are so loose that they essentially make the carbon cap portion of the ACES-defined “cap-and-trade” system almost meaningless. Continue reading →
Maritime shipping is responsible for emitting 3% of global carbon emissions, roughly equal to air travel and more than most nations. Worse than that, however, is the fact that most oceangoing vessels burn heavy fuel oil (aka bunker fuel), the heavy sludge that’s left after every other useful product has been refined from petroleum. Bunker fuel emits a truly massive amount of nitrogen oxide compounds (NOx) and, due to its high sulfur content, a huge amount of sulfur dioxide (SO2). According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, one of the ways to reduce emissions at port was to implement “shore-side electricity” in port. This enables a suitably equipped shipping vessel to operate off of comparably clean electricity instead of extremely dirty bunker fuel.
According to the article, the direct benefit comes down to the creation of a federal Carbon Storage Research Corporation that is funded by per-kilowatt charges on electric bills instead of a tax on fossil fuel-burning utilities. Continue reading →
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the the Global Positioning System (GPS) could degrade significantly as early as next year. The GAO report says that the existing GPS satellites are aging and need to be replaced, but new satellites are years late and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget. For this reason, the constellation of 31 GPS satellites has a chance of falling below the minimum number needed (24 satellites) to provide the required accuracy for military uses starting in 2010.
Normally, the trials and tribulations of the GPS system might not be considered a climate issue, given that most people only know about the everyday items that use GPS signals – smart phones and car navigation systems for starters. But GPS is used for thousands of lesser known applications. Continue reading →
There’s a few reasons that I prefer the phrase “climate disruption” over “global warming” or even “climate change.” One of those reasons is that “climate disruption” describes what’s happening around the world in a way that people immediately understand – the climate they’ve grown accustomed to is going to be disrupted in some fashion, but not necessarily in a way that’s immediately obvious. One place that’s historically warm and wet could turn hot and even wetter (something that might reasonably be predicted by your average climate layperson) while another area could actually cool off and dry out as a result of climate disruption. The effects of climate disruption may be counter intuitive, thus the term “disruption.”
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is well known for producing strictly non-partisan, tightly controlled and pretty conservative (as in careful not to overreach) economic forecasts for the effects of legislation on the national economy. These forecasts are usually quantitative in nature, giving dollar estimates for costs, benefits, savings, growth, and so on. Which is one of the reasons why last week’s release of the CBOs Potential Impacts of Climate Change in the United States was relatively unusual – it’s remarkably quantitative for a body whose products are usually numbers.
Perhaps more unusual, however, is the fact that the CBO produced the summary in the first place. Scientific summaries are usually the domain of the National Academies, NOAA, NASA, et al, not the budget office. But this time Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, requested that the CBO produce “an overview of the current understanding of the impacts of climate change in the United States,” with an emphasis on the uncertainties surrounding those impacts and the policy difficulties that fall out of the difficulties. Continue reading →
Today was the first of what will probably be many, many hearings on the Waxman-Markey climate change bill in the House of Representatives. One of the more… interesting exchanges occurred when Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) asked Energy Secretary Stephen Chu to explain where the oil in the Arctic came from. Here’s Chu’s response: Continue reading →
“I was in Siberia a few weeks ago, and I am now just back in from the field in Alaska. The permafrost is melting fast all over the Arctic, lakes are forming everywhere and methane is bubbling up out of them.”
“Lakes in Siberia are five times bigger than when I measured them in 2006. It’s unprecedented. This is a global event now, and the inertia for more permafrost melt is increasing.”
Limit development in low-lying coastal areas. Consider abandoning existing development in coastal areas likely to be affected by sea level rise. Require structures built along the coast to be able to adapt to higher sea levels. Discontinue federally subsidized flood insurance for existing property in low-lying coastal areas. Those are some of the recommendations made last week in the first report by California’s Climate Action Team and reported by the LA Times. Continue reading →