Meltdown:Terror at the Top of the World

I have mentioned Inside Climate Change (ICN) a few times in this blog and have used their stories in many of my posts. Since they are having a year end fund raising effort I thought I might promote them and one of their current efforts. That effort is the story of a Sierra Club outing to Canada's far Arctic that went terribly wrong. It is also the story of the melting Arctic ice and the effects of climate change on the Polar Bear. I just watched the full video called Polar Bear Man on ICN's website. It was actually a worthwhile documentary to see. Who knew that there is a Polar Bear Jail. I'm going to run part one of the video below in hopes it will peak your attention.

 

There is also an e-book by Sabrina Shankman Called Meltdown: Terror at the Top of the World. You can purchase a copy or read an excerpt at The ICN site.

Included, is a set of maps concerning the melting of the Arctic Icecaps. I can reproduce them below and you can read about them here.

 

Graphic credit: Paul Horn/InsideClimate News

 

I hate to repeat myself in two consecutive posts, but the story of Santa Claus will have to be changed for future generations.

 

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So—What’s The Hurry??

Inside Climate News just ran an update on a story that I covered last year. My thoughts were, “I wonder if I can do that?” The fact that you are reading this today is evidence that I can. I went back to read the old post and found various errors in the post. I’ve tried to clean it up a little. Some of those errors were caused by my inexperience in blogging. I’ve come a long way and hope that I’m not making as many errors theses days.

Inside Climate News has, since I first learned about them, won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting and just recently won an EPPY Award for investigative reporting. The Pulitzer Prize was their story on the Dilbert Disaster. A pipeline failure of Tar Sands type oil that polluted the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. The effects of this spill are still unknown. The EPPY Award was for their eight month investigative report on the air pollution problems associated with fracking. It is called, Big Oil + Bad Air.

The post below is important. It explains why we have to continue to fight projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline and promote clean energy. I have added several links at the end of the post to update current thinking. It is also one of the few posts that I’ve written that included no pictures.

 

I recently found a new(for me) website called, “Inside Climate News”. From their “about” section is this,

Our Mission

“Our mission is to produce clear, objective stories that give the public and decision-makers the information they need to navigate the heat and emotion of climate and energy debates”.

At the time I first found this site, I noticed that the most viewed story was, “The Most Important Climate Paper Few Have Ever Heard of”. The actual title of the article turned out to be,

“The Most Influential Climate Science Paper Today Remains Unknown to Most People”

The article is by Katherine Bagley. I’m going to copy/paste some of the article in hopes you will read it.

“The paper, “Greenhouse-Gas Emission Targets for Limiting Global Warming to 2C,” was published in April 2009 in Nature, the prestigious science journal. It was the work of researchers from Germany, the UK and Switzerland, led by Malte Meinshausen, a climatologist at Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact….Though just six pages long, it’s dense, technical writing makes it largely incomprehensible to non-experts. And yet this paper is transforming the climate change debate….behind its complicated terminology is a simple question that affects every aspect of society and business: How much time do we have before the burning of fossil fuels pushes the climate system past tipping points? In a worst-case scenario, about 11 years at current rates of fossil fuel use, according to the paper….The study filled a factual void in a simmering debate over climate change. By 2006, the year the scientists began their research, many world governments had endorsed the scientific consensus that global temperature rise should be kept below 2 degrees Celsius in this century. But governments didn’t know how far down the path of global warming they had already gone—and how much further they could safely go….What they found was stark: To have a 50-50 chance of keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees, humans would have to stick to a carbon budget that allowed the release of no more than 1,437 gigatons of carbon dioxide from 2000 to 2050.To have an 80 percent chance of avoiding that threshold, they would have to follow a stricter budget and emit just 886 gigatons.The paper found that by 2006, nations had already spent a quarter of that amount, or 234 gigatons. Meaning, the planet’s carbon budget would be exhausted by 2024, 11 years from now & if emissions levels stayed the same, or even earlier if they continue their upward trend….From a scientific point of view, burning all of the world’s proven fossil fuel reserves isn’t an option, the paper suggested. The reserves “vastly exceed the allowable CO2 emission budget for staying below 2C” of warming,…The paper has racked up more than 600 citations in Google Scholar, a more inclusive citation index that includes mentions in books, professional societies and on university websites….In science, that many citations reflects a rare consensus, according to Gavin Schmidt, deputy chief of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a climate modeler. He said that while a few minor details in the paper have raised discussion, the overall results are widely accepted….But what if governments buckled to activist pressure and decided to require firms to keep some of those reserves in the ground? What would that do to the market values of powerful energy companies? What would that do to the world’s financial systems? A newly formed group, made up of green-minded investors in London and called the Carbon Tracker Initiative, sought to assess those risks in a scientific way. They used Meinshausen’s paper as the basis of their own report, “Unburnable Carbon,” published in 2011….Using official records from U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, among other documents, Carbon Tracker discovered that the world’s top 200 fossil fuel companies have 2,795 gigatons of CO2 trapped in their fossil fuel reserves. And that figure didn’t include unconventional sources like tar sands, oil shale and methane hydrates.They also found that in the first 10 years of this century, humans had burned through one-third of Meinhausen’s 886 gigaton budget, leaving just 565 gigatons left to use over the next 40 years. In sum, 80 percent of all fossil fuel reserves would have to remain untouched to prevent uncontrollable warming,…Last month, global banking giant HSBC released a similar report using Meinshausen’s 50-50 carbon budget scenario. It found that the largest oil and gas companies, including BP, Shell and Statoil, could lose 60 percent of their market values if governments proceed with tough carbon reduction targets and force companies to leave reserves untapped….Bill McKibben, a mild-mannered college professor and one of the nation’s original climate activists, heard about Meinshausen’s findings in 2009. But it wasn’t until he read “Unburnable Carbon,” and saw just how much coal, oil and gas energy companies have in their reserves, that he decided to make the numbers the cornerstone of a campaign to break Washington’s silence on climate change….First, he repackaged Meinhausen’s science and the investors’ math into a Rolling Stone article called “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.” In November, he launched a Do the Math tour to introduce the public to the numbers….What’s been surprising, McKibben said, is “the fossil fuel industry and skeptics haven’t done the slightest thing to say the math isn’t true….Leaton of the Carbon Tracker Initiative said he isn’t surprised by the popularity of McKibben’s efforts. “The way the campaign has framed these issues makes it easy for anyone who has ever balanced a budget to understand the problem … When you run out of money, that’s it, you’re out. When we’ve burned through the carbon budget, that’s it, we can’t afford for the sake of our planet to use more.”

So there you have it. If we burn carbon at the current rate we will blow through the 2 degree rise in no time. Scientists say that that is too great of a rise. This explains the fossil fuel companies fight to deny climate change. Look at what’s happening now and we’re only at .8% rise. The current most read story at, “Inside Climate News” is, “2013:Nation’s Drought to Persist and Worsen“.

Welcome to our new world.

I’ve copy/pasted several links. At this time I’m not sure that they will work in this blog. If not this is a link to Bill McKibbon’s article in the Rolling Stone.

UPDATES:

UN: World Not Close to Avoiding Dangerous Warming.

The world still isn’t close to preventing what leaders call a dangerous level of man-made warming, a new United Nations report says. That’s despite some nations’ recent pledges to cut back on carbon dioxide emissions.

Most fossil fuels “unburnable,” says Governor of the Bank of England.

This legendary accounting firm ran the numbers on climate change.

With every year that passes, we’re getting further away from averting a human-caused climate disaster. That’s the key message in this year’s “Low Carbon Economy Index,” a report released by the accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The report highlights an “unmistakable trend.” The world’s major economies are increasingly failing to do what’s needed to to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels. That was the target agreed to by countries attending the United Nations’ 2009 climate summit; it represents an effort to avoid some of the most disastrous consequences of runaway warming, including food security threats, coastal inundation, extreme weather events, ecosystem shifts, and widespread species extinction.

The politcal climate in the United States is not going to make saving the planet easy.

WAIT! STOP THE PRESS! I DO HAVE A PICTURE THAT WE CAN ALL UNDERSTAND AND A LINK TO A CLIMATE CARBON BUDGET PRIMER.

According to the latest carbon budget estimate, nearly two-thirds of the budget has already been spent, and carbon emissions are on track to exhaust the budget in 30 years. Credit: Paul Horn.

Edited with BlogPad Pro

 

Contradictions–Continued

Today I’m going to feature a website that I think you should all follow. It’s InsideClimate News  (ICN) a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting.

You can go to this site and subscribe to daily and weekly updates on climate news. You can even download their ebooks on various subjects such as Germany’s break from fossil fuels and the Dilbit Disaster. 

In their Week In Review email that I received yesterday there were two reports mentioned (yes I know, more reports) that show the contradictions of our government’s plans to fight climate change.

One article is called, White House: $150 Billion a Year Will Be Cost of Climate Inaction. The other article is called, Obama Coal Sales to Cost Society Billions in Global-Warming Damage, Study Says. I think you can already see the contradictions.

The first report is put out by the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, a three-member group that counsels the president on economic policy. The second report is put out by Greenpeace. Both links take you to InsideClimate News with the full reports available.

The first report:

“Allowing warming to pass safe levels and reach 3 degrees Celsius could cause damage amounting to 0.9 percent of global economic output each year, according to the new report from the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, a three-member group that counsels the president on economic policy.

That level of warming would cost the United States about $150 billion a year in today’s dollars. It will come in the form of damage to public health and biodiversity, as well as physical impacts from rising seas and more severe storms, droughts and wildfires.”

The second report:
 
“The Federal Bureau of Land Management has already leased 2.2 billion tons of coal during the Obama administration, unlocking 3.9 billion tons of carbon dioxide that will be emitted into the atmosphere as the coal is burned, Greenpeace said. Plans on the drawing board would release billions of tons more.
Multiplying all that coal production by the environmental cost of burning the coal, Greenpeace estimates that coal leases approved under Obama would impose future costs of between $52 billion and $530 billion.”
 
Greenpeace is calling for “a moratorium and comprehensive review of the federal coal leasing program, including its role in fueling the climate crisis.”
 
So what’s the solution? ICN’s Week In Review has a third report. The article is called, IMF’s Blunt Message to Nations: Raise Fossil-Fuel Taxes to Fight Climate Change.
 
Countries all over the world, including the United States, should be collecting much higher pollution taxes on fossil fuels—stiff enough to reflect the long-term cost of global warming’s damage, the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday in an important new study…The agency estimated that its recommended tax levels would reduce global carbon emissions by 23 percent, cut fossil fuel related deaths around the world by 63 percent, and raise average national revenues by 2.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).”

ICN’s Week in Reviews continues with many other climate change news reports. I suggest you subscribe.
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pulitzer Prize

This blog did not win a Pulitzer Prize, but one of the sites I’ve found for climate change information did. InsideClimate News just won for “national reporting” with a report called, “Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You’ve Never Heard Of”. Congratulations to their reporters, Elizabeth McGovan, Lisa Song, and David Hasemyer. Here’s a link to my post, “So What’s the Hurry”.