Climate Newsprint

The House Science Committee Chair is harassing climate scientists

The Guardian Climate Change - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 07:45

Lamar Smith has targeted government climate change researchers with a subpoena that demands all their notes and correspondence relating to a recent study

If you don’t like a particular scientific study, attack the scientists who produced it. It’s a tried and true method of manufacturing controversy around inconvenient scientific analysis. And now, Lamar Smith, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, is using the sledgehammer of a congressional subpoena to bully National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists for their research on climate change.

At issue is a paper published in Science earlier this year by NOAA scientists contradicting claims that the rate of global warming had recently slowed. The NOAA study is based on routine updates NOAA made to its surface temperature dataset, one of the many datasets that experts use to measure how fast the climate is changing. Scientists in many fields update datasets all the time to correct for differences in measurement techniques and to add new information. Multiple subsequent scientific papers derived from other data corroborate the NOAA scientists’ conclusions.

Although none of these investigations found any scientific misconduct, they did waste time and resources

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Yellowstone proposes controversial slaughter of 1,000 bison

Guardian Environment - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 05:45

National park authorities want to kill one in five animals to bring population down to target size

Yellowstone National Park is proposing to reduce its celebrated bison herd by 1,000 animals this winter by rounding up those wandering into adjacent Montana and delivering them to Native American tribes for slaughter, officials said on Wednesday.

The longstanding but controversial annual culling is designed to lessen the risk of straying Yellowstone bison infecting cattle herds in Montana with brucellosis, a bacterial disease carried by many bison, also known as buffalo.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Late bloomers in the lee

The Guardian Climate Change - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 05:29
Hawthorn Dene, Durham Clocks askew as a wild rose with ripe hips still bears petals and the elder’s blossom appears as birds strip its berries

There is something unsettling, finding a wild rose in bloom in November on a bare stemmed bush bearing ripe rose hips. We found this echo of summer in the lee of a hedge near the old limestone quarry, among the burnt umber and bistre shades of withered docks and grasses, and the crimson and blue-black fruits of hawthorn and sloe.

Generations of amateur botanists have taken part in annual winter wild flower hunts run by the Wild Flower Society, finding tenacious late bloomers like hogweed and yarrow in the darkest months. Such floral sightings used to excite just a little curiosity but lately awareness of the potential effects of climate change has brought speculation about the long-term biological implications of out-of-season flowering.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Late bloomers in the lee

Guardian Environment - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 05:29
Hawthorn Dene, Durham Clocks askew as a wild rose with ripe hips still bears petals and the elder’s blossom appears as birds strip its berries

There is something unsettling, finding a wild rose in bloom in November on a bare stemmed bush bearing ripe rose hips. We found this echo of summer in the lee of a hedge near the old limestone quarry, among the burnt umber and bistre shades of withered docks and grasses, and the crimson and blue-black fruits of hawthorn and sloe.

Generations of amateur botanists have taken part in annual winter wild flower hunts run by the Wild Flower Society, finding tenacious late bloomers like hogweed and yarrow in the darkest months. Such floral sightings used to excite just a little curiosity but lately awareness of the potential effects of climate change has brought speculation about the long-term biological implications of out-of-season flowering.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Kiribati president pushes Australia to back moratorium on new coalmines

Guardian Environment - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 05:16

Anote Tong says freeze on new coalmines before global climate summit in December ‘easiest, most reasonable’ way to help reduce emissions

The president of the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati, Anote Tong, has urged the Australian government to support a moratorium on new coalmines before the global climate summit in Paris in December.

Tong, who was in Melbourne for a public meeting hosted by the Australia Institute on Thursday, said it was the “easiest, most reasonable” measure world leaders could commit to to reduce emissions.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Australia's lead public servant for global climate talks reveals hopes and fears for Paris

The Guardian Climate Change - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 03:48

Ambassador for the environment Peter Woolcott says terrorist attacks in Paris ‘will only strengthen’ France’s desire for a strong climate deal

You don’t get to hear from Peter Woolcott all that much in public, even though he is a pivotal character in Australia’s international climate change negotiations.

Woolcott is Australia’s ambassador for the environment and for the past 14 months has led the country’s negotiating teams at UN climate talks.

Left unchecked, it will magnify existing problems and increase pressure on resources including land, water, energy, food and fish stocks. It has the potential to erode development gains, undermine economic growth and compound human security challenges.

Twenty years ago the US and Europe could often dictate the terms of the debate. If they wanted to push something through strongly enough, they could do so. Now it’s different and the game has changed. There are now no longer one or two hegemonic powers and power is shifting to coalitions.

We are also dealing with a much more fluid ideological landscape. A significant number of these emerging powers want the west’s material progress but they do not want to sacrifice their own cultural identities and political traditions.

The west’s vision of modernity and human rights is under challenge. Nationalism, state sovereignty, state capitalism and religious identity are growing forces and are being used to strike at fundamental concepts such as freedom of expression and responsibility to protect.

Secondly, behind this shift in the power dynamics is the increasing pace of globalisation and the extraordinary wealth transfer from west to east.

Third, not only is there a shift in national power, but there is a shift in the very nature of power. As a result of new communications technologies exemplified by social media, power is moving to coalitions and networks that are able to effectively influence state actions, particularly in liberal democratic societies.

The policy response will require coordinated action in an unprecedented way across economic and ideological divides. The stakes are high and the multilateral institutional tools that are at our disposal are somewhat compromised.

Part of the problem is history. In the multilateral setting, we tend to rely on the outcomes of old battles where they be previously agreed language, or previously agreed processes or the ways of conducting themselves and they tend to dictate or try and dictate the future.

What Australia wants in Paris is a strong and effective legal agreement that is applicable to all countries and drives serious reductions in emissions while ensuring economic prosperity.

It has to be an agreement that reflects the real world and the way it has changed and continues to change.

We are however stuck with an outmoded convention that divides the world into the developed and developing country camps – annex 1 and non-annex 1 countries.

Success at Paris is not a given. As I said, change is hard.

There is a strong sense that the world’s largest two emitters are working collaboratively to an agreement in Paris although they have slightly different visions as to what that agreement will look like.

These are all critical differences to what unfolded in Copenhagen. There are others, in particular what is the utilisation of a clever strategy of having states announce their intended nationally determined contributions – that is their post-2020 emissions targets – before Paris. To date 161 countries have announced post-2020 targets, which include all of the G20 countries and covers over 90% of global emissions. This is quite a remarkable statistic.

The international community is guided by the science and is seeking to limit the rise in global temperatures to below two degrees Celsius.

Now there is no expectation that Paris will show that we are on track to meet that two-degree goal … But what we want the agreement to do is to set out an agreement to build global action over time which has all countries similarly engaged and provides us with a pathway to stand the two-degree goal.

Australia has been working for three things in the agreement.

First, to seek that all countries, especially major economies, commit to mitigation efforts that are nationally determined but also meet minimum-quality criteria for mitigation.

Secondly, to ensure accountability and transparency in how states are meeting their commitments. We need this in order to judge how we are tracking collectively against the below-two degree goal, and to see whether our neighbours, trade partners and competitors are doing what they say.

For the small island states, particularly in the Pacific, climate change is an existential challenge.

Our development program in the Pacific is focused on climate resilience and building in disaster-response capacities. Despite the occasional heightened rhetoric from the South Pacific, at the practical level we work closely with them in pursuit of an ambitious Paris agreement.

We also know that Australia needs to prioritise resistance to climate impacts nationally and through international partnerships.

There are many contentious issues still to be resolved – things like loss and damage, legal form, transparency and accounting, cycles of compliance, review and long-term goals – but the two biggest issues are finance and differentiation.

These are inextricably linked. Ultimately it may well come down to the ask by the developing world in relation to climate finance in order to secure their participation in a common and legally binding agreement to tackle climate change.

The amounts required in the future are enormous both for adaptation and for a low emissions future. A recent Bloomberg energy report has stated that up until 2040 US$12.2tn will be required for power generation and some 78% of this to the developing world. We are dealing with vast sums of money.

Much of this finance will have to come from the private sector. And will also require an expanding country donor base.

Civil society has always played a highly constructive role and will continue to do so. They might be styled as observers but they are in fact often participants and not only pressure governments but are often part of developing countries’ negotiating teams.

What is changing dramatically now is the role of business and industry. The private sector and innovation are going to be critical if we are going to tackle climate change. They have viewed the UNFCCC as irrelevant at best ….

One of the things that has changed is that the national determination of targets has created the necessary domestic conversations with stakeholders.

This more expansive approach to engendering climate action beyond just states gets around a core criticism of multilateralism – that once institutional solution is imposed, it cauterises the need to think about the problem any more.

The Paris action days will seek to turn this criticism on its head by using an institutional process to think more deeply and widely about how to act on climate change.

While it is also changing the relationship between civil society and the corporate sector – and this is a very interesting development – there is an increasing understanding that civil society and corporate Australia do not need to be on opposing sides of the divide and they need to work constructively together.

In this context I refer to the statement of principles by the Australian Climate Roundtable which really is an impressive illustration of this collaboration.

These groups have real and growing power in the multilateral system and with power comes both responsibility and accountability.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Australia's lead public servant for global climate talks reveals hopes and fears for Paris

Guardian Environment - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 03:48

Ambassador for the environment Peter Woolcott says terrorist attacks in Paris ‘will only strengthen’ France’s desire for a strong climate deal

You don’t get to hear from Peter Woolcott all that much in public, even though he is a pivotal character in Australia’s international climate change negotiations.

Woolcott is Australia’s ambassador for the environment and for the past 14 months has led the country’s negotiating teams at UN climate talks.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

COP21 climate marches in Paris not authorised following attacks

The Guardian Climate Change - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 00:10

French government says demonstrations in closed spaces can go ahead but not those in public places

Major marches which had been planned to coincide with the COP21 international climate talks in Paris will not be authorised for security reasons, the French government has said.

Environmental activists – who had expected attract hundreds of thousands people on 29 November and 12 December – said that they accepted Wednesday’s decision with regret, but were now considering “new and imaginative” ways of making their voices heard.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

COP21 climate marches in Paris not authorised following attacks

Guardian Environment - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 00:10

French government says demonstrations in closed spaces can go ahead but not those in public places

Major marches which had been planned to coincide with the COP21 international climate talks in Paris will not be authorised for security reasons, the French government has said.

Environmental activists – who had expected attract hundreds of thousands people on 29 November and 12 December – said that they accepted Wednesday’s decision with regret, but were now considering “new and imaginative” ways of making their voices heard.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Victoria to review whether or not state will continue to fund coal projects

Guardian Environment - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 00:08

As a plan to make brown coal briquettes for export to China fails to attract private cash, the state will assess whether past projects gave value for money

The Victorian government has announced an independent review of coal development projects after a demonstration plant in the Latrobe Valley which was set to receive federal and state funding failed to attract private investment.

The project to make brown coal briquettes for export to China was withdrawn less than 12 months after Shanghai Electric Australia Power and Energy Development Pty Ltd was awarded state and federal government funding.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Climate change is 'single biggest threat' to polar bear survival

Guardian Environment - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 00:01

‘High probability’ of a 30% decline in polar bear numbers by 2050 due to retreating sea ice, IUCN study finds

Global warming is now the single most important threat to the survival of the polar bear with retreating sea ice set to decimate populations, according to a new study by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

It found a “high probability” that the planet’s 26,000 polar bears will suffer a 30% decline in population by 2050 due to the loss of their habitat, which is disappearing at a faster rate than predicted by climate models.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Bullying tactics: brands can't squeeze suppliers if they're serious about sustainability

Guardian Environment - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 00:00

A more sustainable supply chain is needed, but will only emerge when the breakdown in trust between suppliers and buyers is resolved

Majestic Wine this week announced the removal of its chief buyer after its pre-tax profits dropped by almost half. Supply chain relations at the ailing retailer have been tense ever since it asked suppliers to stump up cash towards its new warehouse.

Regrettably, such practices are all too common. Global brewer Carlsberg is also facing animosity from suppliers after following the likes of Diageo, Halfords and Mars and extending its payment terms to 93 days.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Congress to vote on bill to ban microbead hygiene products in US

Guardian Environment - Wed, 11/18/2015 - 22:06

House committee unanimously approves proposed legislation to phase out such personal care products, whose exfoliants can end up in rivers and lakes

US lawmakers are to decide whether to ban personal care products containing microbeads – minuscule pieces of plastic considered harmful to the environment – after proposed legislation was approved by a bipartisan committee.

Microbeads, typically under 5mm in size, are used as abrasive exfoliants in products such as toothpastes and facial cleaners. They often evade water filtration systems and flow into rivers, lakes and streams, where they can be mistaken for food by fish. Pollutants can bind to the plastic, causing toxic material to infect fish and, potentially, the humans that consume them.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Kipper Williams on the 'new energy model'

Guardian Environment - Wed, 11/18/2015 - 20:22

Gas-fired power given a big boost at the expense of coal … and renewables

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

The Guardian view on Paris, terror and climate change: shaping the future | Editorial

The Guardian Climate Change - Wed, 11/18/2015 - 19:38
It is hard for France’s capital to look beyond the terror attack, but the decisions taken at the UN climate change conference may in the end matter more

While Europe is on high alert against another murderous terrorist attack, it will be hard for Paris to look beyond the next 24 hours. But soon delegates start arriving in the French capital for preliminary meetings ahead of COP21, the United Nations climate change summit which will be launched on 30 November with all the grandeur attendant on a gathering of global leaders. There is a certain symmetry to the two events that goes beyond the nightmare task facing France’s overstretched security forces. As the UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond pointed out in an important speech in the US only days before the Paris attacks last Friday: “Unchecked climate change … could have catastrophic consequences – a rise in global temperatures … leading in turn to rising sea levels and huge movements of people fuelling conflict and instability.”

There are reasons to be optimistic about a useful outcome from these negotiations, not least the determination of President Barack Obama’s team to deliver a deal with some kind of legal force. But any deal will mark the start rather than the end of the process.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

The Guardian view on Paris, terror and climate change: shaping the future | Editorial

Guardian Environment - Wed, 11/18/2015 - 19:38
It is hard for France’s capital to look beyond the terror attack, but the decisions taken at the UN climate change conference may in the end matter more

While Europe is on high alert against another murderous terrorist attack, it will be hard for Paris to look beyond the next 24 hours. But soon delegates start arriving in the French capital for preliminary meetings ahead of COP21, the United Nations climate change summit which will be launched on 30 November with all the grandeur attendant on a gathering of global leaders. There is a certain symmetry to the two events that goes beyond the nightmare task facing France’s overstretched security forces. As the UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond pointed out in an important speech in the US only days before the Paris attacks last Friday: “Unchecked climate change … could have catastrophic consequences – a rise in global temperatures … leading in turn to rising sea levels and huge movements of people fuelling conflict and instability.”

There are reasons to be optimistic about a useful outcome from these negotiations, not least the determination of President Barack Obama’s team to deliver a deal with some kind of legal force. But any deal will mark the start rather than the end of the process.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

HS2’s impact on urban homes and hedgehogs | Letters

Guardian Environment - Wed, 11/18/2015 - 19:32

Patrick Barkham’s article about the HS2 route through the countryside (The long read, 17 November) was excellent – a compelling overview of its effect on rural communities. But, though any article about the omnishambles that is HS2 is welcome, it was incomplete. Perhaps Patrick could also now wander around Camden to see and record the devastation that HS2 will bring to urban residents: 24/7 working with all the associated noise and pollution that goes with such work through a conservation area; fragile houses – part of John Nash’s scheme for Regent’s Park – being drilled under for the purpose of installation of concrete staves; roads closed for years; tower blocks destroyed; Drummond Street (known for its Asian restaurants) destroyed; London Zoo car park taken over by HS2’s HGVs, which threatens the endangered hedgehog community.

Small local businesses will be jeopardised due to noise and lack of access, and there will be no compensation in any form for those living within the M25. An article on HS2’s effects on Camden would surely be an equally depressing but irresistible read.
Lorely Burkill
London

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Planning permissions and ancient woodland | Letters

Guardian Environment - Wed, 11/18/2015 - 19:31

I note the reference to my practice, Forbes-Laird Arboricultural Consultancy, in an article on your Opinion pages (Notebook: The animals of Smithy Wood, 18 November).

Any decision to grant planning permission affecting ancient woodland is taken after careful scrutiny of the proposals, with matters of need, benefits and harm – and whether this latter can be mitigated against or compensated for – all being considered.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Are Australia’s bushfire seasons getting longer?

The Guardian Climate Change - Wed, 11/18/2015 - 19:12

The length of fire seasons has increased globally, which may have implications for firefighting operations in Australia

Increasingly long fire seasons will require more firefighters and could place greater demands on firefighting equipment shared between countries, according to a report from the Climate Council.

Related: Fire warnings issued as heatwaves forecast for south-eastern Australia

Related: Australian insurers keep customers in the dark about climate risks, report finds

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Will the UK ever get a truly free market energy model? Pull the other one

Guardian Environment - Wed, 11/18/2015 - 18:47

The energy secretary’s announcement of a ‘new energy model’ leaves just as many questions as there were before

Amber Rudd’s “new model” for the UK’s energy market looks very like the old model. It is a mix of the legally necessary, the uncertain and the expensive.

At least it was served with an amusing garnish – the idea that government will one day be able to step back and let market forces supply the nation’s energy needs. Pull the other one. In the age of nuclear, renewables and internationally binding targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, energy infrastructure only gets built when the government agrees subsidies and sets economic incentives. Energy secretaries will be in the “reset” game for years.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint
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