Reality Check: The State of Climate Progress in Canada
Despite making progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Canada is not on track to achieve the federal government’s 2020 reduction target of 17% below 2005 levels. Canada will not achieve its 2020 GHG emission reductions target unless significant new, additional measures are taken. More will have to be done. No other conclusion is possible.
Reality Check: The State of Climate Progress in Canada was undertaken last year at the request of the federal Minister of the Environment to inform the government’s regulatory approach to reducing emissions. NRT’s research is based on original modelling using Environment Canada’s data as a principal source, as well as extensive consultations with the provinces and territories, academic and public policy experts.
The report serves as a reality check on the state of climate progress in Canada today. It reinforces some key truths about climate policy in Canada: that a national target needs a concerted national policy behind it, that policy uncertainty still exists and stifles progress, that the country has yet to implement effective policies to address some large sources of emissions, and that all this means progress has been and will remain difficult and uneven across the country. MORE
James Hansen: Why I must speak out about climate change
Top climate scientist James Hansen tells the story of his involvement in the science of and debate over global climate change. In doing so he outlines the overwhelming evidence that change is happening and why that makes him deeply worried about the future.
Environment Commissioner: Ontario government needs to "Climate-Proof" Ontario
Toronto, March 7, 2012 - In his report Ready for Change? An assessment of Ontario's climate change adaptation strategy released today at Queen's Park, Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, said the Ontario government is off to an encouraging start in preparing the province for the impacts of climate change. This is good news, says Miller, given the slow progress on other climate change issues. "The government is facing challenges in developing plans to further reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, but is doing a lot better with its strategy to adapt to climate change. We need actions to both reduce emissions and adapt to the changes—they are complementary."
While endorsing the government's plan, Climate Ready, Ontario's Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan, 2011-2014, the Environmental Commissioner pointed out there are gaps in its strategy to limit the damage that will be caused by fiercer and more frequent ice storms, heavy rains, and heat waves.
The Commissioner's report says the government must improve its strategic plan by prioritizing the actions that are needed, setting specific targets and timelines, identifying dedicated funding, and outlining the responsibilities of key government ministries.MORE
A group of five countries spearheaded by the U.S. aims to cut short-lived pollutants—such as methane, soot and hydrofluorocarbons—in an effort to slow global warming, and reduce lung and heart disease. Reducing levels of so-called black carbon, which are accountable for up to 40% of global warming, would also reduce global temperatures by 0.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, scientists say.
With global efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions stalled, the United States and five other countries are starting a new program to cut other pollutants—including methane, soot and hydrofluorocarbons—that contribute to global warming.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is set to announce the five-year initiative Thursday morning. Canada, Sweden, Mexico, Ghana and Bangladesh are also participating. The plan will be administered by the United Nations Environment Program, with a $12 million contribution from the United States for the first two years. Canada will add $3 million; contributions from the other countries are not known. MORE
Last August, Hurricane Irene spun through the Caribbean and parts of the eastern United States, leaving widespread wreckage in its wake. The Category 3 storm whipped up water levels, generating storm surges that swept over seawalls and flooded seaside and inland communities. Many hurricane analysts suggested, based on the wide extent of flooding, that Irene was a “100-year event”: a storm that only comes around once in a century
However, researchers from MIT and Princeton University have found that with climate change, such storms could make landfall far more frequently, causing powerful, devastating storm surges every three to 20 years. The group simulated tens of thousands of storms under different climate conditions, finding that today's “500-year floods” could, with climate change, occur once every 25 to 240 years. The researchers published their results in the current issue of Nature Climate Change.
MIT postdoc Ning Lin, lead author of the study, says knowing the frequency of storm surges may help urban and coastal planners design seawalls and other protective structures.
“When you design your buildings or dams or structures on the coast, you have to know how high your seawall has to be,” Lin says. “You have to decide whether to build a seawall to prevent being flooded every 20 years.” MORE
2011 lobbying retreat raises concerns
A taxpayer-funded pro-oil lobbying retreat, involving Canada's European diplomats and industry, has urged the federal government to deliver real climate change solutions to restore the country's sagging environmental reputation.
The two-day retreat, held Feb. 1-2, 2011, in London, concluded that Canada's foreign diplomats don't have enough resources to deliver on the federal government's aggressive lobbying strategy to promote the oilsands and fight foreign climate change policies. But participants at the meeting, including bureaucrats who travelled from Canada, suggested lobbying is not the only answer.
"There was a sense that the sooner the Canadian government is able to roll out information on anticipated new regulations on coal-fired generation and the oilsands, the better able Canada will be to demonstrate that it is taking action," wrote Sushma Gera, a trade adviser at the Canadian High Commission in London, in a widely distributed email that was released to Postmedia News through access to information legislation.
Gera's email summarized the February 2011 retreat - which brought together Canadian diplomats from 13 different European offices - along with officials from other federal departments in Ottawa, industry representatives, and Ron Liepert, who was Alberta's energy minister at that time.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade was not able to immediately provide the cost of the event that included a "training" session to give diplomats on the European lobbying team "an industry perspective" as well as that of the federal and Alberta governments. Another email from Gera sent in January 2011 said separate budgets within the department for European relations and "Strategy and Services" were used to pay some travel funding. But according to public records posted on the Natural Resources Canada website, the participation of at least one assistant deputy minister in the "energy discussion" in Europe cost $9,111.65, including $6,461.70 in airfare and $1,426.95 in hotel accommodations from Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2011. MORE
World could be 5 degrees hotter by century's end
French scientists unveiling new estimates for global warming said the 2 C goal enshrined by the United Nations was "the most optimistic" scenario left for greenhouse-gas emissions.
The estimates, compiled by five scientific institutes, will be handed to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for consideration in its next big overview on global warming and its effects.
The report—the fifth in the series—will be published in three volumes, in September 2013, March 2014 and April 2014.
The French team said that by 2100, warming over pre-industrial times would range from 2 to 5 C.
The most pessimistic scenarios fore-see warming of 3.5 to 5 C, the scientists said in a press release. MORE
A new NASA study underscores the fact that greenhouse gases generated by human activity —not changes in solar activity—re the primary force driving global warming.
The study offers an updated calculation of the Earth's energy imbalance, the difference between the amount of solar energy absorbed by Earth's surface and the amount returned to space as heat. The researchers' calculations show that, despite unusually low solar activity between 2005 and 2010, the planet continued to absorb more energy than it returned to space.
James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City, led the research. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics published the study last December.
Total solar irradiance, the amount of energy produced by the sun that reaches the top of each square meter of the Earth's atmosphere, typically declines by about a tenth of a percent during cyclical lulls in solar activity caused by shifts in the sun's magnetic field. Usually solar minimums occur about every eleven years and last a year or so, but the most recent minimum persisted more than two years longer than normal, making it the longest minimum recorded during the satellite era.
Pinpointing the magnitude of Earth's energy imbalance is fundamental to climate science because it offers a direct measure of the state of the climate. Energy imbalance calculations also serve as the foundation for projections of future climate change. If the imbalance is positive and more energy enters the system than exits, Earth grows warmer. If the imbalance is negative, the planet grows cooler. MORE
NASA's chief climate scientist built his career studying Earth's atmosphere and modeling humans' potential impacts on climate. Then he realized that laboratory work was only part of the equation.
A Climate Query for James E. Hansen
James E. Hansen never thought his decision to study atmospheric models would lead to his arrest. But there he was in handcuffs this summer, protesting at the White House against a pipeline that would carry crude oil from Alberta's oil sands to the Gulf of Mexico.
It wasn't the first arrest, either. Hansen, who has directed NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies for 31 years, earned the sobriquet "father of global warming" after testifying before Congress in 1988 on the dangers of global warming. He appeared again in 1989. Then he quietly returned to his work, turning aside television and media requests for the next 15 years because, as he said, "you have no time to do the science if you're talking to the media."
That approach changed in 2004, when he realized government climate policies worldwide failed to reflect the dangerous story his science was telling. Emerging from his lab, Hansen attacked Bush Administration officials for censuring and watering down climate findings. In 2008 he testified in British court on behalf of the "Kingsnorth Six," a group of Greenpeace activists who successfully claimed their effort to shut down a power plant was justified under British law because it prevented the greater harm of climate change. In 2009 and 2010, Hansen was arrested protesting mountaintop-removal coal mining.
DailyClimate.org editor Douglas Fischer caught up with Hansen in December at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, where the scientist previewed findings about impacts the world courts with its unslacked appetite for carbon-based fuels.MORE
Rain forest could go from sink to source
The Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia has erected towers in the Brazilian rain forest up to 65 meters high to measure carbon dioxide absorption and emissions.
In the struggle against global warming, the Amazon rain forest may be about to switch sides.
Its dense vegetation has long helped cool the planet by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But mass tree deaths brought about by recent droughts and deforestation may be pushing the region to a point at which it will give off more of the greenhouse gas than it absorbs.
“The Amazon might still be a sink for carbon, but if it is it's definitely moving towards being a source,” says Eric Davidson, director of the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Mass. Reporting in the Jan. 19 Nature, Davidson and 14 other researchers from the United States and Brazil weigh evidence that the world's largest rain forest has become increasingly vulnerable to change. MORE
“Global warming” and “climate change” succinctly describe a complicated phenomenon, and in just a few decades they have become common descriptors. But while global warming would be bad for the Earth as a whole, the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would affect different areas in different ways, and local climate change is what matters to many people. So let's look at the relative winners and losers.
Two factors will likely determine whether a particular region will prosper or suffer as climate change progresses: starting temperature and adaptability.
You don't hear much talk about it, but countries that are cold right now could see very real benefits from a few extra degrees. Consider the Northern Sea shipping route, which runs through the Arctic waters north of Europe and Asia. It's a faster and cheaper way to ship oil from Russia and Norway to markets around the world, but it's currently too icy to navigate for much of the year. Climate change could open the route earlier and keep it clear later. It may also allow companies to extract new oil and mineral wealth from beneath the sea. MORE
Bunmi Oloruntoba interviews Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and president of the Mary Robinson Foundation—Climate Justice.
How does climate change affect African women specifically?
I came to the climate change issue not as a scientist or an environmentalist but as a human rights person, so I really came to it from the impact it was having on women's lives. I was in Bangladesh and other places but actually most of my experience has been in a significant number of African countries.
I had been working in the small organization 'Realizing Rights' and was traveling to different African countries on issues of public health, women, peace and security. I kept hearing, how [people's] lives are so much worse now because of the change in seasons, the dramatic flooding, the long periods of drought.
It was my realization that this was a human rights issue, because these were communities that were not climate resilient. They didn't have insurance and they were already poor, so they had been undermined in their poverty by the impact of global warming, which is the result of the greenhouse gas emissions from the rich lifestyles elsewhere in the world. MORE
Many parts of Canada are predicted to see massive ecological changes over the next century, according to NASA.
Researchers from the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology investigated how Earth's plant life is likely to react over the next three centuries to changes in climate brought about by rising levels of human-produced greenhouse gases.
"While warnings of melting glaciers, rising sea levels and other environmental changes are illustrative and important, ultimately, it's the ecological consequences that matter most," said the study's lead scientist, Jon Bergengren, in a news release.
One of the consequences, their computer model predicts, is that most of the land not covered by ice or desert will undergo at least a 30% change in plant cover—changes that will require humans and animals to adapt and often relocate.
Besides significantly altering plant life, the study predicts climate change will "disrupt the ecological balance between plant and animal species, reduce biodiversity and adversely affect Earth's water, energy, carbon and other element cycles," NASA said.MORE
The very symbol of Canada could start to die in Ontario within a decade, the province's environment commissioner said Tuesday.
Gord Miller singled out the sugar maple tree among species under threat on two fronts.
In a special report on biodiversity, Miller said climate change and the impact of the Asian long-horned beetle, which is spreading northward through New York State, could start hurting maple trees in southern Ontario within 10 years.
While Miller said climate change may be a longer-term threat to the province's maple trees, local maple syrup farmers said they already seeing its impact. MORE
I'd suggest the growing body of research concluding that what was once seen as an inevitable descent into the next ice age has been put off for a very long time by the building blanket of greenhouse gases generated by humanity's burst of fossil fuel combustion.
A new addition to that literature—“Determining the natural length of the current interglacial”—is being published today in the online edition of Nature Geoscience.
The research, led by Chronis Tzedakis of University College, London, examined similarities between the current warm interval between ice ages and a particular point, around 780,000 years ago, during a past warm period known as Marine Isotope Stage 19. Using a variety of methods, the authors conclude that the onset of a new ice age would likely begin about 1,500 years from now, if the concentration of carbon dioxide was back below the levels produced since the Industrial Revolution. MORE
COPENHAGEN—Extreme weather is often said to be one of the main reasons for taking firm action on global warming. Nowadays, no hurricane or heat wave passes without a politician or activist claiming it as evidence of the need for a global climate deal, like the one that just got postponed until the end of the decade in Durban, South Africa.
By Bjørn Lomborg
Such claims merit close scrutiny. In 2007, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report on climate extremes that received considerable media attention. But, two years later, it was discovered that some of the IPCC report's key claims—for example, that global warming would cause the immense Himalayan glaciers to disappear by 2035, or halve African crop yields by 2020—were based on statements made in appeals by environmentalist organizations, and were backed by little or no evidence.
Despite this error, the IPCC has long been a fairly reliable source of sensible and responsible estimates in an otherwise histrionic debate. Unfortunately, sensible estimates are not breaking news. For example, according to the IPCC, sea levels will rise by a relatively manageable 18-59 centimeters (7-23 inches) by the end of the century, whereas news organizations and activists regularly claim that we should expect sea levels to rise by meters.
The media similarly misrepresented the findings of the IPCC's 2010 report on climate extremes. Sweden's most prestigious daily newspaper, Svenske Dagbladet, filled almost an entire Sunday front page with an eviscerated body showing exposed arteries, adorned with the warning: "Ever warmer climate threatens more death." Across two full pages inside, the paper presented a graph of seasonal deaths over the past decade, and indicated with alarming red spots how summer heat waves have killed dozens of Swedes. Yet, even a cursory reading of the graph showed clearly that many more people die from cold than from heat. MORE
Perceptions of Climate Change:The New Climate Dice
James Hansen has looked further at data on the effect of global warming on the frequency of climate extremes, and has put this in a form intended for publication.
Hansen et al have added an illustration of how the perception of change of the frequency of extreme events depends upon the base period chosen for "climatology". This presents an additional reason why it is not good to continually shift the base period to the most recent 3-decade period, as that is very misleading, concealing the change of the frequency of extreme events. They argue that the base period 1951-1980 is logical, it is still within the Holocene range, and plant and animal life are adapted to that climatology.
This draft paper as well as all previous discussions and presentations can be found on Jim Hansen's website at www.columbia.edu/~jeh1
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they've found an improved way to remove carbon dioxide, the major global warming greenhouse gas, from smokestacks and other sources.
Researchers at the University of Southern California, writing in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, say they've achieved some of the highest carbon dioxide removal capacity ever reported for real-world conditions.
Existing methods for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, as well as from smokestacks and other sources, are energy intensive, don't work well and have other drawbacks, they said.
The researchers turned to solid materials based on polyethylenimine, a readily available and inexpensive polymeric material, and found the inexpensive materials achieved some of the highest carbon dioxide removal rates ever reported for humid air, under conditions that defeated other related materials.
After capturing carbon dioxide, the researchers said, the materials give it up easily so the CO2 can be used in making other substances or permanently isolated from the environment.
The capture material can be recycled and reused many times over without losing efficiency, they said. MORE
Focus on the economic case, drop the activist-speak, talk about solutions rather than doom—and don't rely on politicians
....This failure to connect with the public is already having a dire effect on political will to deal with the problem. How should they do things differently?
First, the economy matters. With economic stagnation, scarce jobs and squeezed incomes predicted for several years in western countries, people will increasingly ask whether they can afford policies to deal with global warming. Public opinion could turn sourer if claims that jobs must be prioritised over global warming start to resonate wider.
This approach has become increasingly popular on the right. Secretive thinktanks are starting to bombard the press with research claiming it's too costly to deal with the problem. The Daily Mail has had to repeatedly apologise for exaggerating the cost of "green policies" on energy bills.
Scientists and environmentalists need to place a greater emphasis on the economic dangers of not dealing with the problem: household bills will rise exorbitantly if we don't invest in alternative energy; dealing with disruptive climate change will cost us billions and drive up food prices across the world.
Second, the language needs to change. Phrases such as "climate justice", association with anti-capitalist messages and a focus on living like a hermit are part of the problem. These approaches may be right and have appeal to some groups of people but not only reach the already converted: the drop in support for action on global warming is more on the right (especially in the US) than the left. MORE
Warming oceans and melting sea ice may have a major impact on harp seals, the doe-eyed animals that are the prime target for Canada's annual seal hunt.
Researchers from Duke University in the US found that sea ice in the seals' breeding grounds has shrunk by about 6% per decade over the last 30 years. MORE
The issue of intergenerational justice underpins the need to act on climate change. So would a "super-jury" stop us bequeathing a damaged and dangerous planet to our descendants?
It's a new year, so let's start with a new idea: a democratic body to safeguard the basic needs and fundamental interests of future people.
That is the proposal of Rupert Read, a philosopher at the University of East Anglia, in a report called Guardians of the Future for the think tank Green House. The core idea is both radical and straightforward: a council of "Guardians of Future Generations", chosen like a jury from the general public, would sit above the existing law-making bodies and have two core powers. A power to veto legislation that threatened the basic needs and interests of future people and the power to force a review, following suitable public petition, of any existing legislation that threatens the interests of future people.
"The proposal being made here is that we give future people en masse the nearest possible equivalent to the vote," he says. The need for democratic representation of unborn people led Read to the idea of a "super-jury". "Random selection would emphasise that we all share this responsibility for future people, and that none of us and all of us are ideally placed to do this vital job," he writes in the report....
The idea of Guardians of Future Generations joins a number of radical ideas which are starting to make small but real impacts in the world. Hungary appointed an Ombudsman for Future Generations in 2008. The concept of the crime of ecocide is being considered by the UN. And Bolivia has passed laws giving nature equal rights to those of humans.
"United Nations University Dr. James Hansen On Climate Change"
Dr. James E. Hansen (born March 29, 1941) heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, a part of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He has held this position since 1981. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University.
Stephane Dion pushed hard to get climate change atop on the political agenda in Canada, but voters rejected him.
MONTREAL—The year drew to a close with the United Nations climate-change talks, this time in Durban, again ending in failure to reach an international agreement. Instead, the 192 nations agreed to start work on a new climate-change deal that negotiators hope will be agreed on by 2015 and come into effect from 2020.
Earlier this year, a federal election came and went in Canada with very little discussion of climate change. The environment has not been a key element in any political party's platform here since the Liberals under Stephane Dion in 2008, when he lost to Stephen Harper's Conservatives.
The Conservative government announced in Durban that Canada was pulling out of the Kyoto emissions accord. It has called the Liberal decision to sign the treaty "one of the biggest blunders" made by that government. Meanwhile, every scientific study shows that the world is on a dangerous path toward catastrophic climate change. Scientists say Canada's mean temperature is increasing at a rate that will exceed by 2020 the 2 degrees Celsius rise that they believe is the tipping point.
We asked Dion, who presided over the 2005 climate-change negotiations in Montreal and who was the architect of the Liberals' Project Green and Green Shift programs, how his green plans would have changed the face of the nation had his government remained in power, and what it would take to get climate change back on the political agenda in Canada. MORE
Are environmentalists bad for the planet?
The BBC's 'Ethical Man' Justin Rowlatt asks if the environmental movement is bad for the planet. He explores the philosophical roots of a way of thinking that developed decades before global warming was an issue. He also examines some of the ideological baggage that environmentalists have brought to the climate change debate, from anti-consumerism and anti-capitalism to a suspicion about technology and a preference for natural solutions. Could these extraneous aspects of green politics be undermining the environmental cause, and are some environmentalists being distracted from the urgent task of stopping global warming by a more radical agenda for social change?
Justin speaks to green capitalists including the Conservative MP John Gummer, who thinks that technology and reinvented markets hold the answer to tackling global warming. He talks to Greenpeace chairman John Sauven about green attitudes to so-called techno fixes, including nuclear power, and discusses green conversion tactics such as so-called identity campaigning with Tom Crompton from the conservation charity WWF and Solitaire Townsend, co-founder of the green public relations company Futerra.
The programme also hears from the leading green thinkers Jonathon Porritt and Professor Mike Hulme, founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, and from the theologian and United Nations advisor on climate change and world religions Martin Palmer. Martin sees parallels between some parts of the green movement and millenarian cults who have claimed that 'the end of the world is nigh'. Justin also interviews Andrew Simms from the New Economics Foundation, who believes we can only tackle climate change if we are weaned off our addiction to consumption and economic growth. [duration: 30 min] HERE
Polly Higgins says a feasible amendment to international law could catapult global society into a sustainable future
Frustrated by a lack of progress at international climate change negotiations, lawyer Polly Higgins realised that a fundamental shift was needed in how we tackle the environmental crisis. And she realised it needs to happen quick.
Her solution is a new international law, which if implemented, would make damage and destruction of the environment a crime against peace. She's calling it the crime of ecocide.
“This is a real game changer,” says Polly, “it will shift the rules in a way that we can barely begin to imagine.”
The new law would result in government policy ushering companies causing large-scale habitat destruction, biodiversity loss, soil depletion, deforestation and the disruption of natural cycles, towards a new green economy. MORE
Nature is under constant attack from corporate forces. But Polly Higgins wants to find a capitalist to fight for the environment
William Wilberforce is popularly credited with the abolition of slavery. But the campaigners—far ahead of their time in their methods—had recognised the need for a major business figure to stand beside them and declare his (it was two centuries ago) support. That man was Charles Grant, chairman of the East India Company, which then controlled over half of world trade.
The British lawyer Polly Higgins often draws parallels between the campaign to outlaw slavery and her initiative—to abolish ecocide—the destruction of the natural world. Think poisoning a river, tropical deforestation, or the havoc wreaked by climate change. The comparison is not original but it is valid, concerning the protection of powerful business interests, the damage that they cause but often do not see, and the prevailing ideology that some people can have dominion over others or their environment without consequences.
Higgins's solution is also as simple as the outright outlawing of slavery: the campaign wants environmental destruction to be declared illegal by making it a fifth crime against peace in the international criminal court. MORE
If knowledge is enough, why did it take us nearly a century to get serious about climate change?
If knowledge is enough, why have the COP meetings in Copenhagen, Cancun, and now Durban failed to produce the kind of sweeping change that has to happen if we plan to keep temperatures down?
And if knowledge is enough, why are we even considering perpetuating any kind of new technology that will increase the amount of carbon emissions in our atmosphere?
The campaign to make Ecocide a crime can only happen with your help. We need people all around the world to take action. MORE
In the wake of the failed climate talks in South Africa, Polly Higgins reports an increasing interest in Ecocide as a way forward to control climate change and calls for support for the campaign to make Ecocide a new international law.
by Polly Higgins
I've just returned from the climate change talks in Durban. Like many I of course hoped for an unlikely breakthrough, and like many I was hoping to see our world leaders step up and face the challenge head on. Success can be measured in many ways. My measurement of success is when our leaders put in place laws to prevent massive climate change and assist those who are at risk of being most adversely impacted. That didn't happen.
There is another way. An international crime of Ecocide is a way that we can seek climate justice. Making Ecocide law was advocated in Durban by some important names including Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth, and Pablo Sólon, the former UN Ambassador for Bolivia. "This Ecocide law may be the only way to make climate criminals rethink their crimes of commission and omission," said Bassey.
To do this requires moral leadership. Leadership that puts people and planet first. More and more people are voicing this need. When our leaders act upon their duty to their people, closing the door to injustice will become the new norm. A wave of dialogue is now forming; one based on legacy, leadership and Earth law. If ever there was a time for humanity to demonstrate moral leadership, it is now.
Now, more than ever we need to build a campaign—but it's only possible with your support. In Durban I met with many who agreed that we need a new moral code based on laws for the Earth such as Ecocide and Earth Rights. I met with faith leaders, politicians, youths, people who are already changing their world and their businesses. We need to reach millions more by the time of the Earth Summit in June next year—the most important environment summit for 20 years and our best chance of getting a law of Ecocide. MORE
December 15, 2011
The data and information was posted December 15, 2011 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its National Climate Data Center (NCDC) in the USA.
Annually, 2010 is the warmest year on record—and tied statistically with 2005.
More details about global temperature are available in the State of the Climate reports (Global Analysis) at the NOAA-NCDC website. These reports present preliminary, global data that has been gathered from monitoring stations and leading institutions around the world. The reports include a Global Hazards section that gives a global update on drought & wildfires, flooding, storms, severe winter weather, and ecosystems impacts. A Snow and Ice section reports on snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere and sea ice extent in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. MORE
Recently, a classmate from the University of B.C. asked what I thought about Canada backing out of the Kyoto agreement, and if there was any connection between the insatiable bark beetles infesting the province's forests and the rising temperatures on Earth.
First, trees are effectively the greatest CO2 warehouses ever created. For every metric ton of wood grown, 1.5 metric tons of CO2 is absorbed and one metric ton of oxygen is released.
Bark beetles like the mountain pine or spruce beetles and lightning-induced fires are nature's emissaries of change. All forests must undergo a natural process of aging, facilitating regeneration - new life.
In order to fully understand what is happening in British Columbia and throughout the entire western North American continent, it is important to keep in mind that trees, insects and the climate are all inexorably linked; each plays a pivotal role in the feed-back loops on nature's gameboard. Any change in the behaviour of one or two of these players inevitably changes all of the triumvirate's inter-action along with it. With little opportunity to adapt to new conditions, instability can cause remarkable devastation to entire ecosystems. MORE
As Canada withdraws from the Kyoto Protocol and United Nations climate talks conclude - postponing carbon cuts until 2020 - it is clear that something more than mere nation-state commitments will be needed to counter climate change and reduce global warming. With some nations reluctant to recommit to another climate treaty, replete with binding tar-gets and a global trading scheme for car-bon emissions, it will be up to the private sector to pick up the slack. Thankfully, they seem up for the challenge.
Take, for instance, WindMade. This new consumer label was recently launched by the private sector, in partnership with the UN Global Compact and World Wildlife Fund, to encourage and increase demand in wind energy. WindMade is the first global label to certify use of wind power in manufacturing and operations. Much like the USDA's organic label created a more robust organics industry and consumer base, WindMade's intent is to generate an equally robust base for renewables.
Now, thanks to pioneering efforts like WindMade, a consumer who cares about climate action, energy security, or simply wants to reduce their environmental footprint, can prioritize purchases that are aligned with their principles. According to polling done in advance of WindMade's launch, a solid 67 per cent of consumers are already saying they would favour WindMade products.
Paper questionably assumes no add'l feedback to warming will occur, drops last five years of ocean data
Markus Huber and Reto Knutti, researchers at the ETH Zurich's Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, earlier this month published an interesting research letter in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Geoscience, entitled "Anthropogenic and natural warming inferred from changes in Earth's energy balance". This letter is significant, as it appears to be the first climatology work to try to extensively model warming from an energy balance perspective. This represents a major step forward in trying to understand a model global warming.
Global warming is symptomatic of either an excess incoming energy flow or an deficient outoging energy flow, thus the energy balance is a good means of examining warming.
Ultimately, the paper tries to assign a percent blame to mankind for the current warming. However, there is good cause to debate the validity of these final conclusions, given some of the paper's rather naïve methodology. It is here that the paper falls back on the mistakes of some of its predecessors in perhaps oversimplifying the system. MORE
VANCOUVER—In an open letter released today, 85 British Columbia business leaders call on the provincial government to reaffirm and strengthen its leadership on climate change.
The letter appears one week after Canada's federal government pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol, and highlights the opportunity that provinces have to create jobs while reducing the carbon pollution that causes global warming.
“British Columbia is globally recognized for implementing one of the most progressive carbon policies toward climate stability,” said MEC CEO David Labistour. “We all benefit -- businesses, communities and ecosystems alike -- from the province's continued leadership on the carbon tax, and we encourage Premier Christy Clark and her cabinet colleagues to stay the course with effective pricing.”
The letter calls British Columbia's carbon tax “one of the best tools we have at our disposal to fight climate change.” That tax is set to rise to $30 per tonne next year, but the provincial government has not yet indicated what will happen after that point. Today's letter urges the province to commit to a schedule of further increases, in a way that is fair and enables all B.C. businesses and communities to be part of the solution. MORE
OPINION: If You Care About Keystone and Climate Change, Occupy Exxon
by Paul Loeb
It seemed like the afterthought in the payroll tax cut extension fight, a small consolation prize to the Republicans on what should have been the easiest of bi-partisan votes. But the two-month clock is now ticking on whether Obama will approve the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada's environmentally disastrous tar sands. If we want him to make the right decision and deny the permit, maybe it's time to Occupy Exxon, with creative protests at local Exxon/Mobil stations. Of course we need to keep pressuring Obama. The bill's deadline precludes anything close to the kind of comprehensive environmental review that he called for after rallies and civil disobedience at the White House led him to delay approval for a year. But why not also go after the oil companies whose influence led the Republicans to hold the rest of the unemployment and payroll tax bill hostage to the fast-track requirement. Exxon/Mobil has long been the dirtiest of the dirty among these companies. This makes them a logical target. MORE
Dozens of teenagers too young to vote performed a holiday-themed flash mob in downtown Vancouver on Sunday as a way of calling on the Canadian government to take action on climate change after its decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol.
The group named Kids for Climate Action brought attention to its cause by singing and dancing to Christmas songs, which included reworking the lyrics to "Jingle Bell Rock" and chanting "climate change sucks."
"I may not have any political power right now. I can't vote yet, but the decisions my government makes right now are going to affect my future," organizer Sophie Harrison told CTV News.
The 17-year-old wanted the group to focus on how it's not too late to take the necessary steps to help our environment. MORE
"The paleoclimate record reveals a more sensitive climate than thought, even as of a few years ago. Limiting human-caused warming to 2 degrees is not sufficient," said NASA climatologist James Hansen at the American Geophysical Society meeting on December 6 2011, "It would be a prescription for disaster."
In a press conference at the American Geophysical Union Fall meeting 2011 in San Fransisco climate scientists James Hansen, Ken Caldeira and Eelco Rohling explained that the climate sensitivity may be greater than previously thought. This has implications particularly for action on climate change mitigation and adaptation with major impacts on sea level rise, ocean acidification and many other areas. The latest proposals and pledges from Durban put the world on the path of 4.3°C of warming by the end of the century.
Detailed examination of the paleoclimate record indicates that for every degree Celsius of global temperature rise will ultimately equate to 20 meters of sea level rise. However, that sea level increase due to ice sheet loss would be expected to occur over centuries, and large uncertainties remain in predicting how that ice loss would unfold. MORE
Canada ditching the Kyoto Protocol
The Issue: Early this week, Environment Minister Peter Kent finally proved the swirling political scuttlebutt true: Canada was bidding adieu to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change. While many critics blasted the decision as a step backward, others said the treaty had been dead for years.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin: “It is regrettable and flies in the face of the efforts of the international community for Canada to leave the Kyoto Protocol at a time when the Durban meeting, as everyone knows, made important progress by securing a second phase of commitment to the Protocol.”
Ian Fry, lead climate negotiator for Tuvalu, a nation of atolls that is threatened by rising sea levels: “For a vulnerable country like Tuvalu, its an act of sabotage on our future. . . . Withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol is a reckless and totally irresponsible act.”
Green Party leader Elizabeth May: “This is not just big, this is disastrous for Canada . . . . I'm embarrassed to be represented by this government.”
Financial Times Deutschland: “Canada has a reputation as the country of giant forests, clean air, clear lakes and rivers where salmon happily leap—a unique environmental idyll. The exact opposite is true. The conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol. In doing so, Canada is not only showing disdain for global climate-protection efforts, but is also undermining what to date has been the only binding climate agreement. The affront against all the states and organizations that are serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions could hardly be any greater. The country should be shunned because of its ignorant stance. Europe and all the other countries that want serious climate-protection measures must put Canada on the spot. … If Canada manages to get away with it without large protests, then all the international climate-protection efforts will be threatened.” MORE
from David Suzuki:
Like all of us at the Foundation, you are likely heartbroken by our government's reckless decision to break its international commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. Coming on the heels of Canada's attempts to scuttle the climate talks in Durban, South Africa, earlier this month, this decision may also leave you feeling angry and ashamed of our leaders. We feel that way, too.
We all understand that our future and that of our children and grandchildren hangs in the balance now and that the scales could be tipped by the resolve--or indifference--of the world leaders who recently came together, for the most part, to figure out ways to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate change. The world's scientists have been telling us this for decades, and the growing evidence of our warming biosphere, and its increasingly catastrophic impacts, are now the daily fodder of newscasts and weather reports.
The Kyoto Protocol was not perfect, but it was leading to progressive action on climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions have been going down in Europe, and many countries are shifting from polluting fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources. Awareness has grown worldwide about the threat of climate change. Successive Canadian governments, with their focus on a tar sands economy, ensured that we did not meet even the weak targets that they set. In fact, Canada's emissions have risen by 30 per cent over 1990 levels, leaving us way above our target of reducing levels by six per cent by 2012.
And, make no mistake, the world has been watching.
Canada's poor performance at the climate talks in Durban and its decision to become the first country to pull out of the international legal agreement have drawn criticism from people worldwide--and rightly so. That our government would be willing to sacrifice human lives and our future for the sake of short-term profits from a polluting and non-renewable resource is a slap in the face not only to Canadians but to people everywhere.
This is not hyperbole. Climate change and its disastrous effects--droughts, heat waves, flooding, spread of disease--are already killing 300,000 people a year and driving many more into poverty. Hundreds of thousands are becoming refugees as such impacts make their homelands uninhabitable. Experts believe that up to a billion people could become refugees in coming years if the trend continues. Many plants and animals--crucial to our own health and well-being--are going extinct as climate change wreaks havoc on their habitat.
But Canada is much more than its federal government. And our economy is much more than just the oil industry. Canada is you and me and provincial and municipal government leaders. It is businesspeople and union members and retired people and children. It is all of us. And we are making a difference. Some provincial governments have implemented plans to reduce emissions, spur economic activity in the green energy sector and slow climate change. B.C. and Quebec have implemented carbon taxes, Quebec is planning to cap and reduce industrial emissions, and Ontario has its Green Energy Act, a game-changing piece of legislation. Some municipal governments are taking climate change seriously, too. Vancouver's Greenest City Action Plan includes policies to increase the number of people who cycle or use transit rather than cars and to make homes and buildings more energy efficient.
And you have worked with organizations like the David Suzuki Foundation to put the focus on knowledge and solutions. With your support, we've encouraged governments at the municipal and provincial levels to take action, and we've worked with opposition parties to speak up for the majority who want a cleaner and healthier future. We've also teamed up with the Canadian Academy of Engineering and a range of interested parties, for the Trottier Energy Futures Project--an extraordinary initiative to analyze Canada's energy sources and options and identify ways to slash emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, through wiser energy choices. And we've been working with a wide range of Canadians, including young people and new Canadians, reaching out in different languages to share new ideas and discuss solutions.
You've all been a big part of this work, through your amazing support. You've written letters, signed petitions, taken part in forums, volunteered, talked to each other, and donated money. Equally important, you've walked the talk--taking transit, insulating your homes, buying local, and modelling other behaviour attuned to a sustainable future.
Please stay the course with us.
Canada's government may be turning its back on the global fight against climate change, but that makes it all the more important for us to take up the slack. We know that reducing emissions and combatting climate change is not just about human health--although that's important, both from the standpoint of climate change and pollution. We know that our government's inaction on climate change means more missed opportunities to become part of the burgeoning global green economy, with its focus on clean energy technology and knowledge. And we know that if our government is not willing to listen to the majority--and yes, we are the majority--if it cares more about keeping its friends in the fossil-fuel industry happy, then we must do all we can to make a difference.
In the coming days and weeks, please take action to affirm your convictions. This will embolden others to express their views and act as well. For example, you could:
Write to your elected representatives: municipal and provincial as well as federal, demanding to know "What is next?" in the wake of our withdrawal from Kyoto
Deepen your connection to our efforts by becoming a monthly donor or giving what you can. Your donations help us press harder and speak louder.
Talk to your friends and family about the Canada we envisage: one that acts on the understanding that we are interconnected and interdependent with nature
Together, we can mobilize many more Canadians in defence of our biosphere, and once again be proud of our country.
by Andrew C. Revkin
Naomi Klein, the author of a string of provocative and popular books including “The Shock Doctrine,” recently took on global warming policy and campaigns in “Capitalism vs. the Climate,” a much-discussed cover story for The Nation that has been mentioned by readers here more than once in the last few weeks.
Author and activist Naomi Klein. (Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times) The piece begins with Klein's conclusion, reached after she spent time at a conclave on climate sponsored by the libertarian Heartland Institute, that passionate corporate and conservative foes of curbs on greenhouse gases are right in asserting that a meaningful response to global warming would be a fatal blow to free markets and capitalism.
She challenges the environmental left to embrace this reality instead of implying that modest changes in lifestyle and shopping habits and the like can decarbonize human endeavors on a crowding planet.
Please dive in. The piece is particularly relevant this week given the continued standoffs and disconnect between stated goals and behavior at the climate treaty talks in Durban, South Africa. Whether you embrace or dispute her conclusions, the article is a worthy and substantive provocation. I disagree with her in pretty profound ways, yet some of her points echo my assertion awhile back that greenhouse-driven climate change is “not the story of our time” but a symptom of much deeper issues. I contacted Klein, who kindly spent quite a bit of time engaging in an e-conversation about her argument. Here's our chat: MORE
- Naomi's New Feature in The Nation: "Capitalism vs. the Climate"
- New York Times Q&A: "Naomi Klein's Inconvenient Climate Conclusions"
- Naomi's TED Talk, "Addicted To Risk," Makes Best of TED 2011 List
- Watch Naomi, Michael Moore, and Others Discuss What's Next for OWS
- Give To Combat Hunger and To Support Community Renewable Energy
Greater funding from industrialised countries and an international climate tribunal to punish ecocide among Africa's demands at the climate talks.
“Industrialised nations should cut emissions by a minimum of 50 percent to 85 percent. That would make an impact against runaway global warming. Emissions should be cut at source. Some negotiators instead come here and push for funding for adaptation and mitigation”—Nnimmo Bassey, the head of Friends of the Earth International
- European politicians may revisit raising the EU's target to cut carbon emission up to 30 percent from current levels of 20 percent.
- In order to achieve its target of 14 percent renewable energy by 2020, the Dutch government announced plans to increase the amount of money available for green energy to 1.7 billion euros in 2012, from 1.5 billion euros in 2011.
- Denmark is reportedly looking at offshore wind turbines as a key component of their plan to wean the nation from fossil fuels, and derive 100 per cent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2050.
- The Renewable Heat Incentive, which offers subsidies to support the use of renewable energy for heating, was officially launched in the U.K, following a two month delay. MORE
The retreat of Arctic ice has released the deadly greenhouse gas.
Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane - a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide - have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.
The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years.
In an exclusive interview with the Independent, Dr Igor Semiletov, of the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that he had never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed.
"Earlier, we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This is the first time that we've found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures, more than 1000m in diameter. It's amazing," Semiletov said. "I was most impressed by the sheer scale and high density of the plumes. Over a relatively small area, we found more than 100 but, over a wider area, there should be thousands."
Scientists estimate that there are hundreds of millions of tonnes of methane gas locked away beneath the Arctic permafrost, which extends from the mainland into the seabed of the relatively shallow sea of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf.
One of the greatest fears is that with the disappearance of the Arctic sea-ice in summer, and rapidly rising temperatures across the entire region, which are already melting the Siberian permafrost, the trapped methane could be suddenly released into the atmosphere, leading to rapid and severe climate change.
Semiletov's team published a study last year estimating that the methane emissions from this region were about 8 million tonnes a year, but the latest expedition suggests this is a significant underestimate of the phenomenon.
In late northern summer, the Russian research vessel Academician Lavrentiev conducted an extensive survey of about 25,900sq km of sea off the East Siberian coast. Scientists deployed four highly sensitive instruments, seismic and acoustic, to monitor the "fountains" - or plumes - of methane bubbles rising to the sea surface from beneath the seabed.
"In a very small area, less than [25,900sq km], we have counted more than 100 fountains, or torch-like structures, bubbling through the water column and injected directly into the atmosphere from the seabed," Semiletov said.
"We carried out checks at about 115 stationary points and discovered methane fields of a fantastic scale - I think on a scale not seen before. Some plumes were 1km or more wide and the emissions went directly into the atmosphere - the concentration was 100 times higher than normal."
Semiletov released his findings for the first time last week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.
A new study released Friday finds that Greenland has risen in recent years as the rate of ice melting has increased, a startling revelation that scientists attribute to global warming.
Speaking at a conference on Friday, a team of scientists from Ohio State University said a network of 50 GPS stations measured the uplift as the ice loss, noting that the rate of ice loss has accelerated in southern Greenland by 100 billion tons. The study was lead by Ohio State University researcher Michael Bevis.
Mr. Bevis noted that an unusually hot melting season in 2010 accelerated ice loss in southern Greenland by 100 billion tons, which led to large portions of the island's bedrock rising an additional quarter of an inch. The discovery was noted by the team in a paper released ahead of the conclusion of a key global climate change conference in Durban, South Africa.
“Pulses of extra melting and uplift imply that we'll experience pulses of extra sea level rise,” said Mr. Bevis. “The process is not really a steady process.”
Mr. Belvis said the only explanation for the strange uplift is the rate of ice melt caused, in part, by global warming. The melting and the resulting rise in sea level is one of the hallmarks of global warming, which has force researchers to resort to using some novel methods to overcome different seasonal and regional signals that obstruct their ability to measure the effect of rising temperatures. MORE
DURBAN, South Africa—For 17 years, officials from nearly 200 countries have gathered under the auspices of the United Nations to try to deal with one of the most vexing questions of our era—how to slow the heating of the planet.
Every year they leave a trail of disillusion and discontent, particularly among the poorest nations and those most vulnerable to rising seas and spreading deserts. Every year they fail to significantly advance their own stated goal of keeping the average global temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius, or about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels.
There is no denying the dedication and stamina of the environment ministers and climate diplomats who conduct these talks. But maybe the task is too tall. The issues on the table are far broader than atmospheric carbon levels or forestry practices or how to devise a fund to compensate those most affected by global warming.
What really is at play here are politics on the broadest scale, the relations among Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan and three rapidly rising economic powers, China, India and Brazil. Those international relations, in turn, are driven by each country's domestic politics and the strains the global financial crisis has put on all of them. And the question of “climate equity”—the obligations of rich nations to help poor countries cope with a problem they had no part in creating—is more than an “environmental” issue. MORE
A new CCPA report finds that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions embodied in Canadian exports of fossil fuels in 2009 were 15% greater than the emissions from all fossil fuel combustion within Canada, and almost four times the emissions from extracting and processing fossil fuels in Canada. The study, by Marc Lee and Amanda Card, concludes that if Canada is serious about mitigating the effects of climate change, both domestically and internationally, it needs to not only reduce domestic consumption of fossil fuels, but also to stop peddling fossil fuels in export markets.
To read the CCPA Press Release click HERE The full report, Peddling GHGs: What is the Carbon Footprint of Canada's Fossil Fuel Exports? is available by clicking HERE.
Media Misleads On Flawed Climate Sensitivity Study: Avoiding “Drastic Changes Over Land” Requires Emissions Cuts ASAP
A new, deeply flawed study on the climate's sensitivity to greenhouse gas emissions reveals just how poorly the media understand key climate science issues. It also reveals how eager some in the media are to push the mistaken message that failure to act quickly and aggressively on GHG emissions would not be catastrophic.
Here's what you need to know about the study by Schmittner et al in Science (subs. req'd):
- Its key finding is that the so-called “fast-feedbacks sensitivity” of the climate (to a doubling of CO2 levels) is on the low side. This finding is likely wrong, according to many leading climatologists (see below).
- Even if the study's findings hold up, we are headed toward high warming on our current GHG emissions path. That's because we are headed toward a tripling or higher of CO2 levels and because the slower feedbacks ain't so slow (see “NSIDC bombshell: Thawing permafrost feedback will turn Arctic from carbon sink to source in the 2020s, releasing 100 billion tons of carbon by 2100“).
- The study finds that small changes in Earth's temperature can have huge impacts on the land—that's why it finds a low sensitivity!
Study points to slapdash fact- and figure-checking in companies
Environment reports by some of the world's biggest companies are routinely including wrong statistics and leaving out vital information, according to the most comprehensive study yet carried out.
The examination of more than 4,000 corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports and company surveys by a team at Leeds University found "irrelevant data, unsubstantiated claims, gaps in data and inaccurate figures"—a finding that will cast serious doubt over the burgeoning sector.
Among the most colourful mistakes and omissions made by some of the world's biggest corporations were a company whose carbon footprint was four times that for the whole world, and a carmaker and power group which both, entirely legally, managed to excise a huge coal plant from their pollution record. MORE
Retreat of ice in the past 10 years exceeds any thaw in more than 14 centuries
A major study of Arctic ice trends over the past 1,450 years—published this week in the high-profile journal Nature, and confirming the "unprecedented" severity of the region's continuing meltdown - was carried out using a Canadian government-owned "archive" of glacial ice cores that was at the centre of a recent controversy over its future.
The study, co-authored by Geological Survey of Canada ice scientist Christian Zdanowicz and five other researchers from Canada, Chile, Norway and the U.S., concludes that the record-setting summertime retreat of sea ice witnessed during the past decade exceeds any Arctic thaw in more than 14 centuries.
While satellite imagery from the past 30 years provides the only direct record of the annual expansion and retraction of Arctic sea ice, the research team used a host of "proxy" indicators, including glacial ice cores from Canada and other countries, as well as tree rings and lake sediments, to reconstruct an approximate picture of annual ice retreats beginning around AD 560. MORE
Corporations exert 'undue influence' on the issue in both Canada and the U.S., Greenpeace charges
A handful of multinational corporations are "exerting undue influence" on the political process in Canada, the U.S. and other key nations to delay international action on climate change, a report released Tuesday by Greenpeace International says.
The report documents a series of alleged lobbying and marketing efforts led by major corporations and industry associations, representing oil and gas companies as well as other major sources of pollution in Canada, the U.S., Europe and South Africa, which is hosting an international climate-change summit that begins next Monday.
Industry stakeholders are investing about $3.5 billion a year to lobby the U.S. government and finance American politicians who "deny" scientific evidence linking human activity to dangerous changes in the atmosphere that contribute to global warming, estimates the report, titled: Who's holding us back? How carbon intensive industry is preventing effective climate legislation.
"Carbon-intensive corporations and their networks of trade associations are blocking policies that aim to transition our societies into green, sustainable, low risk economies," said the report, writ-ten by Greenpeace staff from around the world, based on national lobbying registries and other public records from government and industry. MORE
Heavier rainfall, storms and droughts could wipe billions off economies and destroy lives, says report by 220 scientists
Heavier rainfall, fiercer storms and intensifying droughts are likely to strike the world in the coming decades as climate change takes effect, the world's leading climate scientists said on Friday.
Rising sea levels will increase the vulnerability of coastal areas, and the increase in "extreme weather events" will wipe billions off national economies and destroy lives, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the body of the world's leading climate scientists convened by the United Nations.
Scientists have warned of these effects for years, but yesterday's report—the "special report on extreme weather" compiled over two years by 220 scientists—is the first comprehensive examination of scientific knowledge on the subject, in an attempt to produce a definitive judgment. The report contained stark warnings for developing countries in particular, which are likely to be worst afflicted in part because of their geography, but also because they are less well prepared for extreme weather in their infrastructure and have less economic resilience than developed nations. But the developed world will not be unscathed—heavier bursts of rainfall, heatwaves and droughts are all likely to take their toll. MORE
Canada facing violent weather; Intergovernmental panel sees worsening of conditions around the globe
Record-breaking temperatures, stronger winds and heavy precipitation in the form of rain and snow are becoming more frequent events in the 21st century due to climate change that evidence indicates is being caused by human activity, says a new assessment released Friday by governments from around the world.
Canadian scientists who contributed to the review, a special report on managing the risks of extreme weather events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation, also say Canada is facing more violent weather that could cause greater economic damage at home than in developing countries.
The assessment, agreed to by Canada and all other countries participating in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has reiterated scientific evidence confirming a warming trend that is increasing the number of warmer days and nights and decreasing the number of colder days and nights.
Many extreme events that can be caused by natural variability every 20 years - such as droughts in some seasons and regions - are also more likely to return more frequently, the assessment concluded. MORE
Adaptation key to limiting costs, report says
Climate change could cost Canada billions a year as early as 2020, depending on how severe it is and how well the country adapts, says a report released Thursday morning.
The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy looked at the cost of climate change on Canada's prosperity, public health and in coastal areas affected by weather events.
The government-funded think-tank estimates the cost of climate change for Canada could start at roughly $5 billion per year in 2020 and increase to between $21 billion and $43 billion per year by 2050.
The average annual cost of climate change is expected to be roughly 0.8 per cent to 1.0 per cent of GDP by 2050, the report says. MORE
On Sept. 29, 2011, research by a government-funded think-tank estimates climate change could cost Canada in the billions by 2020, depending on how well the country adapts. In this CBC Interactive here's a look at some of the key conclusions reached by the report. HERE
The world must brace for more extreme weather. That is the clear message from a new report that finds climate change is likely to bring more record-breaking temperatures, heat waves, and heavy downpours. The much-anticipated Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) -- the summary of which was released today by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- provides new evidence that links extreme weather events and climate change.
According to the summary for policymakers, the SREX report concludes that climate change will likely lead to global increases in extreme weather, along with heightened risks to livelihoods, human health, and infrastructure, both today and in the future. It also describes the costs -- in terms of lives lost and economic damages -- that have already occurred, plus those that will likely result from this phenomenon, and the societal implications of a warmer world, in which yesterday's extreme conditions become the new norm.
Below we provide five key takeaways from the report summary: MORE
"It is true that responding to the climate threat requires strong government action at all levels. But real climate solutions are ones that steer these interventions to systematically disperse and devolve power and control to the community level, whether through community-controlled renewable energy, local organic agriculture or transit systems genuinely accountable to their users." —Naomi Klein
If fossil fuel infrastructure is not rapidly changed, the world will 'lose for ever' the chance to avoid dangerous climate change
The world is likely to build so many fossil-fuelled power stations, energy-guzzling factories and inefficient buildings in the next five years that it will become impossible to hold global warming to safe levels, and the last chance of combating dangerous climate change will be "lost for ever", according to the most thorough analysis yet of world energy infrastructure.
Anything built from now on that produces carbon will do so for decades, and this "lock-in" effect will be the single factor most likely to produce irreversible climate change, the world's foremost authority on energy economics has found. If this is not rapidly changed within the next five years, the results are likely to be disastrous.
"The door is closing," Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, said. "I am very worried—if we don't change direction now on how we use energy, we will end up beyond what scientists tell us is the minimum [for safety]. The door will be closed forever." MORE
Mankind faces extinction, the Prince of Wales has warned, unless humans transform our lifestyles to stop mass consumption, run away climate change and destruction of wildlife.
In his first speech as the new President of the Worldwide Wildlife Fund (WWF) UK, Prince Charles suggested 'surviving ourselves' should be a priority.
Referring to himself as "an endangered species", he warned that the world is already in the "sixth extinction event", with species dying out at a much faster rate than at any time since the death of most of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
Despite campaigning for years on global warming, he said climate change was not the only problem but merely speeding up the "rapacious" destruction of natural resources like water, land and food that humans need to survive.
The Prince said if the world carries on "business as usual" then the human race itself could be in danger.
"We are, of course, witnessing what some people call the sixth great extinction event—the continued erosion of much of the Earth's vital biodiversity caused by a whole host of pressures, from the rising demand for land to the corrosive effects of all kinds of pollution," he said. MORE
Canada cuts environment spending
Stephen Harper's administration is cutting budgets for climate, conservation and ozone monitoring projects
Canada's Stephen Harper government is spending more than 60 billion dollars on new military jets and warships while slashing more than 200 million dollars in funding for research and monitoring of the environment.
Amongst the programmes now crippled is Canada's internationally renowned ozone monitoring network, which was instrumental in the discovery of the first-ever ozone hole over Canada last spring. Loss of ozone has been previously linked to increases in skin cancer.
"The proposed cuts go so far the network won't be able to do serious science," said Thomas Duck, an atmospheric scientist at Halifax's Dalhousie University.
Canada was the pioneer in ozone monitoring, developing the first accurate ozone measuring tool that led to the discovery that the world's ozone layer was dangerously thinning in the 1970s, which in turn led to the successful Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances. MORE
Former policy adviser Marion Fraser credits George Smitherman for Ontario's tilt toward green energy. Smitherman credits Premier Dalton McGuinty. But both also tip their hats to David Suzuki.
Whoever got the ball rolling, last month's Ontario election seems to have assured that renewable energy's prominence is assured and the province's ambitious plan to subsidize wind and solar power, the largest in the country, will continue.
Former energy minister Smitherman, now back in private life, is generally credited—or blamed—as the father of the Green Energy Act in 2009.
But Smitherman says he found fertile ground when he arrived, thanks to McGuinty's early promise, away back in 2002, to shut down the province's coal-burning generators. MORE
WASHINGTON—The global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record, the U.S. Department of Energy calculated, a sign of how feeble the world's efforts are at slowing man-made global warming.
The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago.
"The more we talk about the need to control emissions, the more they are growing," said John Reilly, co-director of MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.
The world pumped about 564 million more tons (512 million metric tons) of carbon into the air in 2010 than it did in 2009. That's an increase of 6 percent. That amount of extra pollution eclipses the individual emissions of all but three countries—China, the United States and India, the world's top producers of greenhouse gases.
It is a "monster" increase that is unheard of, said Gregg Marland, a professor of geology at Appalachian State University, who has helped calculate Department of Energy figures in the past. MORE
There is much we do not understand about Earth's climate. That is hardly surprising, given the complex interplay of physical, chemical and biological processes that determines what happens on our planet's surface and in its atmosphere.
Despite this, we can be certain about some things. For a start, the planet is warming, and human activity is largely responsible. But how much is Earth on course to warm by? What will the global and local effects be? How will it affect our lives?
In these articles, Michael Le Page sifts through the evidence to provide a brief guide to what we currently do—and don't—know about the planet's most burning issue. HERE
The Ratio of Scientists that Believe in Climate Change vs the Ones that Don't
Are scientists convinced?
Surveys have found that over 97% of actively publishing climate scientists are convinced humans are significantly changing global temperatures (Doran 2009). Not only is there a vast difference in the number of convinced versus unconvinced scientists, there is also a considerable gap in expertise between the two groups. (Anderegg 2010).There's a consensus of scientists because there's a consensus of evidence Global warming
Does reporting reflect the consensus?
Media coverage misrepresents scientific understanding of man-made global warming
28% of news coverage depicts human contribution to warming as significant
72% of news coverage includes a skeptic viewpoint or denies man-made warming
Are the public convinced?
Media coverage of global warming is not 'balanced' and is affecting public opinion throughout the world.
26% of people believe global warming is happening and humans are causing it
74% of people are not convinced or deny humans are causing global warming
A recent poll by the BBC / Populus suggests that since the 'climategate' coverage in the media there has been an increase in the amount of people sceptical about man-made global warming. However, the scientific consensus has not changed over this period (BBC News).
Paris - Meeting the target for global warming enshrined in the 2009 Copenhagen Accord will require carbon emissions to decline by more than 8% by 2020 compared to 2010 and then continue their fall, a study said on Sunday.
World leaders at the ill-starred UN climate-change summit in Copenhagen in December 2009 set a goal of limiting warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
The Copenhagen Accord does not set a timetable for reaching the objective and the national pledges of carbon cuts for achieving it are voluntary. MORE
By Zachary Shahan, October 19, 2011
Skeptical Science has another great post up this week that I just have to repost in full (which includes some pretty wicked graphics). It takes a look at how various climate scientists' predictions ended up comparing to what we've actually seen. As you'll be able to see, several skeptics basically failed, while leading scientists such as Dr. James Hansen (a regular climate activist, as well as the top climatologist at NASA) and those at the IPCC did pretty darn well. MORE
Climate Change: Challenges, and Opportunities
Climate change, caused by increasing greenhouse gases, has become the defining environmental, economic and social issue of the 21st century. It has now been established that the safe threshold of carbon dioxide concentration in Earth's atmosphere (350 parts per million, ppm) has been exceeded, with the current value of 390 ppm and steadily rising.
Unless halted through dramatic action, 'runaway' climate change will threaten the well-being, and possibly the survival of our planet.
Global warming is mainly the result of CO2 levels rising in the Earth's atmosphere. Both atmospheric CO2 and climate change are accelerating. Scientists say the threshold for potentially dangerous climate change is a rise in temperature of no more than 2 degrees Celsius. Climate scientists say we have years, not decades, to stabilize CO2 and other greenhouse gases.
Because of global warming, the Arctic ice caps are melting and sea levels are rising, now even faster than anticipated. Because we continue to increase the rate we burn carbon-based fuels, the Oceans are becoming more acidic. Because the Oceans are now warmer, more water evaporates into the atmosphere. Because of more water in the atmosphere, we now have entered a period of extreme weather. The relentless rise in global warming pollution means that the atmosphere now holds about four percent more water vapor than it used to, leading to torrential downpours becoming the norm. We have changed Earth's hydrological cycle. Ocean temperature is rising threatening sea life, currents and wind patterns are changing. The Amazon rainforest, previously a climate stabilizer, is shrinking daily. Mountain snow cover is quickly disappearing, threatening the source of drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people. Many key aquifers are rapidly being depleted.
Canada's huge Boreal forest, until recently thought of as a huge carbon sink, has now become a net carbon emitter. Russia's vast frozen peat bogs are emitting methane now as they melt. Methane is over 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Nobel Physicist and US Energy Secretary Steven Chu describes the potential global warming feedback from melting peremafrost and methane here
Just a few degrees in temperature can completely change the world as we know it, and threaten the lives of millions of people around the world.
"We're now a few tenths of a degree above the prior maximum of the Holocene," says James Hansen of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. The Anthropocene is also characterised by sediments bearing human traces, such as plastics and other refuse. MORE
In August 2004 Steve Pacala andRobert Socolow published a paper in Science about climate change mitigation. Its core messages are as valid today as seven years ago, but they have not led to action. Here,Socolow suggests that public resistance can be partially explained by shortcomings in the way advocates of forceful action have presented their case. Addressing these shortcomings might put the world back on the course they identified.
"The wedge concept fosters parallel discussion of alternatives and encourages the design of a portfolio of responses. Each wedge is an immense activity. In talks about this work, I like to say that we decomposed a heroic challenge into a limited set of monumental tasks.
"In short, in addition to a hopeful message that humanity is not helpless, the paper contains the sobering message that the job ahead is daunting." MORE
There is a compelling case to put businesses that cause extensive damage to the environment on trial. Andrew Raingold considers the justification for a new UN law
Top lawyers put fossil fue bosses on trial in the UK's supreme court in a mock case to explore if ecocide - environmetal destruction - could join genocide as a global crime
The Earth's right to life was for the first time given true voice in a court of law. The venue was the UK Supreme Court and the law was the crime of Ecocide. Two CEO's were charged with crimes against nature and future generations. The verdict was unanimous for ecocide of the Tar Sands. HERE
It's official, jury unanimous: the Athabasca Tar Sands found to be a crime.
On the 30th of September 2011, in the UK Supreme Court it took just 50 minutes for the jury to return with two unanimous guilty convictions of ecocide against the CEO's of the oil companies operating in the Athabasca Tar Sands. They returned a not guilty verdict for the charge of ecocide of the Oil Spill.
It was a tense moment waiting for the jury to return with their verdicts; this was not a guaranteed outcome. The court was packed, as was the hall outside where it was being live streamed online by SKY News. People around the world were watching online and following updates on twitter—120,000 tweets for #ecocidetrial were recorded by lunchtime. MORE
If global warming continues as expected, it is estimated that almost a third of all flora and fauna species worldwide could become extinct. Scientists from the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (Biodiversität und Klima Forschungszentrum, BiK-F) and the SENCKENBERG Gesellschaft für Naturkunde discovered that the proportion of actual biodiversity loss should quite clearly be revised upwards: by 2080, more than 80 % of genetic diversity within species may disappear in certain groups of organisms, according to researchers in the title story of the journal Nature Climate Change. The study is the first world-wide to quantify the loss of biological diversity on the basis of genetic diversity.
The biological diversity of organisms on Earth is not just something we enjoy when taking a walk through a blossoming meadow in spring; it is also the basis for countless products and services. MORE
Adaptation key to limiting costs, report says
Climate change could cost Canada billions a year as early as 2020, depending on how severe it is and how well the country adapts, says a report released Thursday morning.
The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy looked at the cost of climate change on Canada's prosperity, public health and in coastal areas affected by weather events.
The government-funded think-tank estimates the cost of climate change for Canada could start at roughly $5 billion per year in 2020 and increase to between $21 billion and $43 billion per year by 2050. The average annual cost of climate change is expected to be roughly 0.8 per cent to 1.0 per cent of GDP by 2050, the report says. MORE
Daily Changes You Can Make
Many of the activities we do every day like driving the car, turning the lights on, cooking food, or heating or cooling our homes rely on the combustion of fossil fuels like coal and oil, which emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases when burned. This is a major problem because global warming destabilizes the delicate balance that makes life on this planet possible. Just a few degrees in temperature can completely change the world as we know it, and threaten the lives of millions of people around the world. The small, incremental changes you make can make a difference.
Consider installing a geothermal heating system. You will save money and the environment.
Consider buying your power from Bullfrog Power, a renewable energy provider.
Turn off setup boxes for your television and other electronics after use. DVRs use about 40 percent more energy than typical HD TV set-top boxes.
Get an energy audit for your home. Take advantage of government programs to rebate money for home renovations that mlopmentake your home energy efficient.
Here are Many More Opportunities to Act!
- Think twice about printing – do you really need to print or can you read and save on-screen?
- Re-use old envelopes by sticking a label over the previous address.
- Use both sides of the paper when printing or photocopying.
- If you cannot reuse paper, use the recycled kind.
- Buy energy-saving office appliances and equipment, such as EnergyStar-approved computers, LCD monitors, printers and photocopiers.
- Set up a recycling program for used paper, aluminum and other materials.
- Request energy-efficiency upgrades and retrofits to office buildings.
- Fix leaking taps right away.
- Monitor how much water your workplace uses and look at how you can reduce use.
- Install devices in taps and showers that reduce the water volume.
- Turn lights on only when needed.
- Remind colleagues to switch off monitors when they're away from the desk and to switch off all unneeded appliances at the end of the work day.
- Encourage staff to commit to taking alternative modes of transportation for their daily commute. This can include options such as car-pooling, cycling, taking public transit or walking where possible.
- Reduce your staff's environmental impacts from air travel by using video-conferences for meetings.
- If you have a fleet of vehicles, try to use the most energy-efficient models possible.
- Set the thermostat at 19 degrees Celsius.
- Avoid heating the outdoors by leaving doors and windows open when it's hot inside.
- Keep windows and skylights clean and clear to make the most of daylight.
- Keep radiators clear. Don't block radiators with furniture; it reduces efficiency and output.
- If you can't measure it you can't manage it. Check your use of electricity, gas and oil, so you know how much energy your office uses and how much you can reduce.
- Buy energy efficient appliances
- Shut off lights and equipment when not in use
- Use fluorescent bulbs,
lower your thermostat and water heater temperature
- Insulate and weatherproof your home
- Conserve water
- Hang laundry
- Plant trees
- Reduce, reuse, recycle.
- Reduce your home heating and electricity use. A more energy- efficient home will lower your utility bills and reduce the emissions that cause climate change. Find out how you can increase energy efficiency in your home through the EnerGuide for Houses program.
- Choose energy-efficient appliances. New refrigerators, for example, use 40 per cent less energy than models made just 10 years ago.
- Eat wisely. Choose foods that are local, organic and low on the food chain whenever possible. Make the most of seasonal foods.
- Buy sustainable seafood.. Check out our handy wallet guide for tips on the best catches.
- Take care of your trash. Composting all organic waste—and recycling paper, cardboard, cans and bottles—will help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with landfills.
- Reduce the amount you drive
- Walk, bike, carpool and use public transit more often
- Don't idle your vehicle
- Keep you vehicle properly tuned and tires properly inflated
- Consider fuel efficiency when buying a vehicle.
- Check the Canadian government's Auto Smart ratings for the next car you intend to buy to make sure it's fuel efficient and low polluting. A typical SUV uses almost twice the fuel—and releases nearly twice the emissions—of a modern station wagon, although both seat the same number of passengers.
- Walk, bike, carpool or take transit to get to one of your regular destinations each week.
- Learn about the impacts of air travel and consider vacationing close to home.
- If you are moving, choose a home within a 30-minute bike, walk or transit ride from your daily destinations. A convenient place to live reduces the amount you drive, which means you'll lower your greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.
As individuals, we can green our homes, schools and offices and have a huge impact. But we also need policy movers and shakers to step up to the plate—with incentives for fuel efficient technologies, legislation banning toxic chemicals and strategies to protect endangered species, to name a few.
The David Suzuki Foundation even made it easy for you to send a message to our leaders on issues that are important to us and the environment.
Join a political party and lobby for robust policies to address climate change from within the party.
Join an environmental group to effectively protest against tar sands development. Click on the tabs below to see links to groups opposing tar sands development
No one's asking you to stay home and lock yourself in a closet. Get out in the world! Just try to lighten your footprint.
As You Sow
Canadian Parks And Wilderness Society
Clean Water Action
Communities for a Better Environment
Council of Canadians-Canada
David Suzuki Foundation
Dakota Rural Action West
Eco-Sol Consulting Inc.
Environmental Law And Policy Center
Friends of the Earth
Global Community Monitor
Green Century Capital Management, Inc.
Honor The Earth
Indigenous Environmental Network
Minnesota Center For Environmental Advocacy
Northern Plains Resource Council
Ontario Sustainable Energy Association
Oil Change International
Power Up Canada
Save Union County, LLC [blog]
Western Organization Of Resource Councils
Many of you may be familiar with the Skeptical Science website. It is an excellent resource for a reliable science based rebuttal to most of the assertions that Climate Change deniers make. It includes a “Skeptical Science” App for iPhones/iPads and other smart phones which is particularly convenient to consult when you are having a discussion.
Climate Post Weekly Provides Environmental News Summary
The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. HERE!
Make your voice heard! Amplify your voice HERE!