It hits you in the face and clings to you. It makes tall buildings whine as their air conditioning plants struggle to cope. It makes the streets deserted and the ice-cold salons of corner pubs get crowded with people who don’t like beer. It is the Aussie heatwave: and it is no joke.
Temperatures in the western suburbs of Sydney, far from the upmarket beachside glamour, reached 47C (117F) last week, topping the 44C I experienced there the week before.
Physicist Steven Desch has come up with a novel solution to the problems that now beset the Arctic. He and a team of colleagues from Arizona State University want to replenish the region’s shrinking sea ice – by building 10 million wind-powered pumps over the Arctic ice cap. In winter, these would be used to pump water to the surface of the ice where it would freeze, thickening the cap.
The pumps could add an extra metre of sea ice to the Arctic’s current layer, Desch argues. The current cap rarely exceeds 2-3 metres in thickness and is being eroded constantly as the planet succumbs to climate change.
“Thicker ice would mean longer-lasting ice. In turn, that would mean the danger of all sea ice disappearing from the Arctic in summer would be reduced significantly,” Desch told the Observer.
Desch and his team have put forward the scheme in a paper that has just been published in Earth’s Future, the journal of the American Geophysical Union, and have worked out a price tag for the project: $500bn (£400bn).
But geoengineering is wrong, isn’t it?
And if it isn’t wouldn’t we be better off spending $20 million (perhaps) on iron seeding the Southern Ocean to capture a billion tonnes a year of CO2?
So, let’s have a carbon tax for America. New report out today or tomorrow.
OK, but now for the PR.
Now that’s a good piece of PR hustle.
Beyond destroying our politics and corroding public trust in science, climate change denial also threatens the future of a habitable planet and a viable global economy. As a growing body of research has revealed, the maintenance of a “fossil fuels forever” mentality has real implications for the future of global food production, biodiversity, social functioning and geopolitical security. Leading economies around the world have recognised that the decarbonisation of energy and transport systems are key to the future prosperity of human civilisation.
The dramatic fall in the cost of renewable energies and commitment to large-scale investment in solar and wind energy highlight a pathway away from coal, oil and gas. But government leadership is badly needed to take the threat of climate change seriously and ramp up the scale of economic transformation on a par with the political and economic mobilisation we have applied to other existential threats in the past.
As the actual IPCC reports (specifically, the SRES) point out, and as every economist who has turned their attentions to the subject insists, all we have ever needed to do is make non-fossil fuels cheap and we’re done. True, the economists have been saying we should aid this process by sticking a tax of the social costs of carbon on the fossil side but that’s a matter of efficiency in reaching the goal, not the goal itself.
If, for example, solar is cheaper than coal then we’re done. Simply because people will naturally install solar off into the future, not coal.
And we are told, repeatedly, that solar is now cheaper than coal. Thus we’re done in active measures. We can just sit back and allow the market to carry the weight for us. True, if solar isn’t cheaper then the market won’t, but then that means that all those people telling us it is cheaper are being economical with the actualite, doesn’t it?
In the US and Australia, we must shift away from a culture of politically motivated climate change denialism to an acceptance of the truly existential threat now facing humanity.
But this is the point. Given the advances that have been made in non-fossil electricity generation we don’t face an existential crisis. We have already shifted from A1FI to something more like A1T, or from RCP 8.5 to 4.5 or even 2.6.
This is, of course, only true if what we’re being told about renewables is true. But if it is then we’re pretty much done here.
OK, so, climate change, data faked for the paper that insisted there was no pause and all that.
And then this:
“the computer used to process the software had suffered a complete failure,” which means the study cannot be replicated.
Ecksie? Go get that gallows would you? We’re going to need it.
Won’t this all be terribly fun? The first public executions for the new crime of “taking the piss”.
Deutsche Bank, the biggest bank in Germany, has said it will stop financing coal projects as part of its commitments under the Paris agreement to tackle global warming.
“Deutsche Bank and its subsidiaries will not grant new financing for greenfield thermal coal mining and new coal-fired power plant construction,” it said in a statement.
Is this a victory for green campaigners or a victory for the market? Given that thermal coal looks like a money sink from now off into the future?
The idea is to make us all stop and think. For example, we commentators on politics and society need to ask ourselves what’s wrong with us? Why is it that we mostly ignore this fast-approaching cataclysm, as we write about daily political dramas instead – Theresa May’s Brexit speech in Davos today, Jeremy Corbyn’s failed joke at PMQs yesterday, Boris Johnson comparing the potential behaviour of the French president to that of a Nazi prison camp guard.
The trouble with climate change as a political issue is that it’s too big to grasp, too ever-present. An occasional fixed point of global decision – the dramatic last-minute signing of the Paris climate change deal – briefly flashes up on the political grid, but once over, it falls back as if done and dusted. The planet is heating up fast – but not fast enough for the hungry 24-hour news cycle.
We already do too much about climate change. We’ve got solar down to cost comparison with coal, that’s the basic one thing that we needed to do. We’ve thus knocked the world off the RCP 8.5, or A1FI track. We’re onto something much more like A1T, or RCP 2 pointwhateveritis. And we’re done.
Haven’t you been paying attention?
Indian firm makes carbon capture breakthrough
Carbonclean is turning planet-heating emissions into profit by converting CO2 into baking powder – and could lock up 60,000 tonnes of CO2 a year
A breakthrough in the race to make useful products out of planet-heating CO2 emissions has been made in southern India.
A plant at the industrial port of Tuticorin is capturing CO2 from its own coal-powered boiler and using it to make soda ash – aka baking powder.
No, soda ash is sodium carbonate. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate.
Isn’t Roger Harrabin supposed to be a science reporter?
The 130 giant wind turbines that sprout from the peaks, slicing the air with a rhythmic sigh, have helped Portugal to a remarkable achievement. For four and a half days in May the country ran entirely on electricity from renewable sources: wind, hydro and solar power.
Despite fears of a blackout, the lights stayed on for a record 107 hours between 6.45am on Saturday 7 May and 5.45pm the following Wednesday.
What excellent news, isn’t it?
Sá da Costa traces Portugal’s interest in renewable energy back to 1970, when almost all the electricity consumed in the country was from renewable hydropower plants.
And, as someone who lives here, there’re a hell of a lot of them around. Everything above a stream that can be dammed is.
And will Greenpeace and FoE allow us to do the same to Britain?
Buckley said India’s “absolutely transformational” forecast was also driven by technological advancements that have led to the price of solar energy falling by 80% in the past five years.
We never did need to change the structure of our economy. We just needed to make non-fossil fuel generation cheap. Since we’ve done so, we’re done.
the iPCC has looked at a number of
different cases and it reports that temperatures
could be, in the worst case, up
to 4˚C higher by 2100. However, based
on Frank’s work, when considering the
errors in clouds and CO2 levels only, the
error bars around that prediction are
±15˚C. this does not mean—thankfully—
that it could be 19˚ warmer in 2100.
rather, it means the models are looking
for a signal of a few degrees when
they can’t differentiate within 15˚ in
either direction; their internal errors and
uncertainties are too large. this means
that the models are unable to validate
even the existence of a CO2 fingerprint
because of their poor resolution, just as
you wouldn’t claim to see DnA with a
household magnifying glass
This is why I stay away from this sciencey stuff, I have no inflation base from which to be able to judge such claims. But perhaps someone with more knowledge could do the judging?
After all, climate change is an existential threat in a way local pollution isn’t, and the installation of the Trump team in power may mean that we have lost our last, best chance for a cooperative international effort to contain that threat.
Everyone who contributed to this outcome — very much, if I may say, including the journalists who elevated the fundamentally trivial issue of Hillary Clinton’s emails into the dominant theme of campaign reporting — bears part of the responsibility for what may end up being a civilization-ending event. No, that’s not hyperbole.
The emails weren’t the dominant theme. Rather, what an oaf Trump was was. And re climate change, come along, you’re an economist for fucks sake. You know damn well that all we’ve got to do is get some non-fossil fuel method of electricity generation as cheap or cheaper than fossil and we’re pretty much done.
Looked at the price of solar recently?
Gruaniad piece, ooh, climate change is scary, we’re all deniers! And the solution?
That future is possible. It might even be probable. But it’s not inevitable. We can choose to see climate change, and we can choose to do this before it’s too late. So how can we escape the quagmire of denial? As it turns out, the first step isn’t that hard: just talk about it. To your friends, family, colleagues – even to yourself. By talking about climate change, you’ll make it feel less scary. By talking about it, we’ll unlock solutions. And, crucially, it’s by talking about climate change that we’ll break the silence that allows it to go unnoticed and ignored.
Err, talk to people while you’re knitting your yogurt.
Why not actually demand something is done?
Whadda we want?
A Carbon Tax
When do we want it?
Time is fast running out to stop irreversible climate change, a group of global warming experts warns today. We have only 100 months to avoid disaster. Andrew Simms explains why we must act now – and where to begin
If you shout “fire” in a crowded theatre, when there is none, you understand that you might be arrested for irresponsible behaviour and breach of the peace. But from today, I smell smoke, I see flames and I think it is time to shout. I don’t want you to panic, but I do think it would be a good idea to form an orderly queue to leave the building.
Because in just 100 months’ time, if we are lucky, and based on a quite conservative estimate, we could reach a tipping point for the beginnings of runaway climate change. That said, among people working on global warming, there are countless models, scenarios, and different iterations of all those models and scenarios. So, let us be clear from the outset about exactly what we mean.
So, err, what’s the disaster, where is it?
Or does the fact that The Guardian cancelled the series before Simms trousered 100 cheques mean the prediction is now inoperative?
France president Francois Hollande warned Donald Trump on Saturday that US commitments to reducing climate change and global warming are “irreversible”.
Anxiety over the new administration’s stance on climate change was heightened with his appointment of Myron Ebell as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s transition team.
Mr Ebell is a denier of climate change, currently works at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free market think tank.
The US doesn’t consider itself bound to anything until it’s been ratified by the Senate.
BTW, at least as far as I know, Ebell’s not a “climate denier.” A lukewarmist at worst…..
A global “greening” of the planet has significantly slowed the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the start of the century, according to new research.
So Freeman Dyson was right then?
But as with Bjorn Lomborg being right about the reduction in solar costs, won’t they all still shout at him for having been right?
Dutch inventors have unveiled what they called the world’s first giant outside air vacuum cleaner – a large purifying system intended to filter out toxic tiny particles from the atmosphere surrounding the machine.
“It’s a large industrial filter about eight metres long, made of steel … placed basically on top of buildings and it works like a big vacuum cleaner,” said Henk Boersen, a spokesman for the Envinity Group which unveiled the system in Amsterdam.
How much power does it use, what’s the power source and the emissions from the generation of that power?
One of the world’s leading institutes for researching the impact of global warming has repeatedly claimed credit for work done by rivals – and used it to win millions from the taxpayer.
An investigation by The Mail on Sunday also reveals that when the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP) made a bid for more Government funds, it claimed it was responsible for work that was published before the organisation even existed. Last night, our evidence was described by one leading professor whose work was misrepresented as ‘a clear case of fraud – using deception for financial gain’. The chairman of the CCCEP since 2008 has been Nick Stern, a renowned global advocate for drastic action to combat climate change.
Mail investigations are, of course, Mail investigations but still……
No doubt Bob Ward will Twitter all about it soon enough.
This is really, really, bad work here. It’s an almost Ritchie level of misunderstanding. For what is being done is to work from first principles without going out and looking to see whether other people had already worked through this problem. Those other people having, just possibly you know, come up with an answer to hte question being asked.
So, that question is, well, should we be having babies when the planet might boil? The answer is – yes.
Our philosopher here says no, perhaps not. And it is our philosopher who is wrong.
Yes, humans are producers, and many wonderful things have come from human genius. But each person, whatever else they are (genius or dunce, producer or drag on the economy) is also a consumer. And this is the only claim needed in order to be worried about climate change.
The problem here is that we have a finite resource – the ability of the Earth’s atmosphere to absorb greenhouse gases without violently disrupting the climate – and each additional person contributes to the total amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. So although humans will hopefully save us (we do, in fact, desperately need brilliant people to develop scaleable technology to remove carbon from the air, for instance), the solution to this cannot be to have as many babies as possible, with the hope that this raises our probability of solving the problem. Because each baby is also an emitter, whether a genius or not.
More humans means more emissions therefore we should have fewer humans. This is one of those things which is possibly true. But of course what we want to know is, well, is it true? And the answer is no.
For this has been considered. In the SRES which came out in, erm, 1992? And which is the economic skeleton upon which every IPCC report up to and including AR4 was built. And it specifically looks at the varied influences of wealth, population size and technology upon emissions. That’s what it’s actually for in fact. It can be thought of a working through of Paul Ehrlich’s I = PAT equation, impact equals population times affluence times technology. Except, of course, it gets that equation right, dividing by technology, not multiplying by it.
And the answer is that population isn’t the important variable. Nor is affluence, not directly, it’s technology which is. Move over to non-emitting forms of energy generation (and no, not some crash program, just the same sort of increase in efficiency which we had in the 20th century will do it) as in A1T and we’re done. Or if you prefer a bit more social democracy, as in B1.
Population size just isn’t the driving force behind the problem. Thus it’s also not the solution. And we’ve known this for more than 20 years.
A high-level Parliamentary inquiry has called for a massive national investment in carbon capture to revive depressed regions of the North and exploit Britain’s perfectly-placed network of offshore pipelines and depleted wells.
Lord Oxburgh’s cross-party report to the Government has concluded that the cheapest way to lower CO2 emissions from heavy industries and heating is to extract the carbon with filters and store it in the North Sea oil.
It’s not, at least not unless there’s been a major breakthrough just recently, economic to do this.
What is it that either AEP or I have misunderstood?