The Guardian Climate Change

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The fate of Britain's environment rests on a cabinet tug of war

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 11:18

Free-market red tape slashers are pitched against ministers backing a clean, green economy as the UK’s best long term bet. But who will win out?

The cast has changed following Theresa May’s reshuffle, but the play remains the same. It’s a struggle pitching free-market red tape slashers against those backing a clean, green economy as the UK’s best long term bet. The big question is whether this performance will have a different ending.

The performance directed by David Cameron was full of good lines - “the greenest government ever” – but the reviews, even by him, were poor: “cut the green crap”.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Clean energy won’t save us – only a new economic system can do that

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 11:00

It’s time to pour our creative energies into imagining a new global economy. Infinite growth is a dangerous illusion

Earlier this year media outlets around the world announced that February had broken global temperature records by a shocking amount. March broke all the records, too. In June our screens were covered with surreal images of Paris flooding, the Seine bursting its banks and flowing into the streets. In London, the floods sent water pouring into the tube system right in the heart of Covent Garden. Roads in south-east London became rivers two metres deep.

With such extreme events becoming more commonplace, few deny climate change any longer. Finally, a consensus is crystallising around one all-important fact: fossil fuels are killing us. We need to switch to clean energy, and fast.

What would we do with 100% clean energy? Exactly what we’re doing with fossil fuels

Related: Forget 'developing' poor countries, it's time to 'de-develop' rich countries

If we keep growing at 3% a year, that means that every 20 years we need to double the size of the global economy

Related: The pope v the UN: who will save the world first?

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Humans are greening the planet, but the implications are complicated | John Abraham

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 10:00

New study shows humans are influence the growth patterns of plants, but it’s not as simple as ‘greener is better’

The Earth’s climate is changing – in fact, it always changes. But in the current context of human influence, scientists try to decipher how much of the change is natural compared to human-induced.

One clear way humans influence the Earth is through the biosystem. For instance, farming changes the biosystem. By removing natural growth and planting annual crops that are harvested, we change the system in a way that could in turn affect other parts of the Earth system. In addition, the use of nitrogen based fertilizers can increase growth rate and lead to a greening of areas that are subject to fertilization.

The study shows that humans have caused significant hemispheric-scale changes in vegetation characteristics over the past three decades, predominantly through the physiological effects of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration on plant growth.

About one quarter of the carbon dioxide placed annually into the atmosphere by fossil fuel combustion has been hypothesized to be removed through enhanced vegetation growth and accumulation of organic carbon in land ecosystems. This study provides statistically robust evidence that vegetation growth is enhanced by higher carbon dioxide concentrations. Land ecosystems insulate society from some of the consequences of our alteration of the chemical composition of the atmosphere.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Abolition of Decc 'major setback for UK's climate change efforts'

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 07:45

Ex-ministers and environmental groups condemn decision to axe ministry as downgrading action to tackle climate change

The abolition of the Department of Energy and Climate Change has been condemned by former ministers as a major setback to British efforts to combat global warming.

Decc was closed in a series of sweeping changes to the government unveiled by the new prime minister, Theresa May, on Thursday. Its functions, which include representing the UK at international climate talks, responsibility for meeting carbon targets and levying subsidies for green energy, have been transferred to a beefed-up business department led by Greg Clark.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Matt Ridley accused of lobbying UK government on behalf of coal industry

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 05:00

Emails show the journalist and businessman wrote to UK energy minister to tell him about a US company with ‘fascinating new technology’

An influential Conservative member of the House of Lords has been accused of lobbying the government for the benefit of the coal industry, despite previously saying he does not argue for the industry’s interests.

Viscount Matt Ridley, a journalist and businessman, benefits financially from coalmines on his estate and has used his column in the Times newspaper to downplay the seriousness of climate change.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Andrea Leadsom's pledge to repeal foxhunting ban causes alarm

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 18:51

New environment secretary has also previously admitted being confused about whether climate change is a reality

Andrea Leadsom, the new environment secretary, supports foxhunting and once said she wanted to end farming subsidies.

The pro-Brexit cabinet minister, who was Theresa May’s leadership rival before pulling out on Monday, was a surprise appointment to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Related: Leadsom was fresh meat in the Tories’ orgy of political homicide | Marina Hyde

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

A climate report that we ignore at our peril | Letters

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 17:37

Though it does not actually say so, the report of the Committee on Climate Change (Report, 12 July) is a salutary reminder that a capitalist economy based on infinite economic growth, as expressed in terms of consumption-led GDP, is unsustainable and, if allowed to continue in its present form, will ultimately devastate the entire planet. Moreover, unless we cease using fossil fuels for energy and replace them with renewables at the earliest possible opportunity, the voluntary agreement reached at last year’s COP 21 climate summit to limit increases in global temperatures to less than 2C will be little more than hot air.

For an energy union like the GMB with thousands of members in the gas industry, the priority must be to establish a viable, UK-based, publicly owned renewable energy industry, thus enabling a just transition for those whose jobs will cease to exist in the coming decades. For this to happen, the vested interests of the privately owned energy monopolies have to be challenged, a point eloquently made by climate activist Naomi Klein at a packed meeting during COP 21 in Paris, organised by the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy network, which GMB supports.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Brexit will force EU countries 'to make deeper, costlier carbon cuts'

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 08:00

Bloc will have to draw up new plan with higher cuts for remaining 27 states in order to meet its carbon reduction target, which could cost billions of euros

Brexit will force the European Union’s remaining 27 countries to spend billions of euros on cutting carbon emissions more deeply to compensate for the UK leaving, according to experts.

The UK will be included in a Brussels communique on 20 July, setting out individual targets for EU signatory states to meet a bloc goal of a 40% emissions cut by 2030, as pledged in Paris last year.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Pacific ​​islands nations consider world's first treaty to ban fossil fuels

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 07:03

Treaty under consideration by 14 countries would ban new coalmines and embraces 1.5C target set at Paris climate talks

The world’s first international treaty that bans or phases out fossil fuels is being considered by leaders of developing Pacific islands nations after a summit in the Solomon Islands this week.

The leaders of 14 countries agreed to consider a proposed Pacific climate treaty, which would bind signatories to targets for renewable energy and ban new or the expansion of coalmines, at the annual leaders’ summit of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF).

Related: Five Pacific islands lost to rising seas as climate change hits

Related: Paris climate change agreement: the world's greatest diplomatic success

Related: Headlines 'exaggerated' climate link to sinking of Pacific islands

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

From field to fork: the six stages of wasting food

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 06:00

Americans chuck out two tonnes of food a second – be it at the farm for being ‘ugly’ or at the table because we’re too finicky

Every second, an amount of food equal to the weight of a sedan car is thrown away in the US – about 60m tonnes a year. It starts at the farm. The potato that grew to the size of a brick. The watermelon with the brown slasher marks on the rind. The cauliflower stained yellow in the sun. The peach that lost its blush before harvest. Any of those minor imperfections - none of which affect taste or quality or shelf life - can doom a crop right there. If the grower decides the supermarkets - or ultimately the consumer - will reject it, those fruits and vegetables never make it off the farm.

Then there are the packing warehouses, where a specific count must be maintained for each plastic clamshell or box - and any strawberry or plum that does not make it is junked, if it can’t immediately be sold for juice or jam.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

As climate change worsens wildfires, smokejumpers fight blazes from the sky

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 11:00

Drier winters, warmer springs and hotter summers make wildfires even wilder. These elite firefighters extinguish small fires before they grow into monsters

The alarm sounded and in a blink the base thrummed with activity. Smokejumpers grabbed helmets, donned kevlar suits, tested radios and strapped on parachutes. A speaker blasted Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries.

“Final checks, OK, let’s go,” boomed a command. Within minutes eight smokejumpers were airborne in a Twin Otter, climbing into a blue Idaho sky. The plane soon returned, empty, to pick up another eight jumpers.

You face something new every time you go out of the plane. It’s up to you to figure it out

Ashley Taylor, polevaulter-turned Smokejumper. Hauls 110lb+ pack through burning wilderness. Loves her job.

If you’re scared, you’re doing something wrong. I haven’t been scared in a fire since a long time ago

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

TTIP proposal casts doubt on G20 climate pledge, leaked EU draft shows

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 10:23

Draft proposal reveals new loopholes on a pledge to phase out fossil fuel subsidies within a decade

Trade negotiators in Brussels are proposing new loopholes on a G20 pledge to phase out fossil fuel subsidies within a decade, in the latest leaked TTIP proposals seen by the Guardian.

The EU’s draft text for a trade and sustainable development chapter also appears to draw an equivalence between the need to prevent trade distortions and the fight against climate change.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Global warming implicated in dinosaur extinction | Howard Lee

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 10:00

New technique for measuring ancient temperatures finds two pulses of climate warming at the end of the Cretaceous

In a paper published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, scientists from the University of Michigan and the University of Florida show that there were big jumps in climate warming when the dinosaurs went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous. This brings the end-Cretaceous mass extinction in line with the other mass extinction events, which occurred at times of abrupt and sometimes extreme climate change (including the end-Permian, the end-Triassic, the Toarcian, and others).

By employing a relatively new ancient-temperature-measuring technique called “carbonate clumped isotope paleothermometry,” scientists have uncovered an 8ºC jump in seawater temperatures that unfolded rapidly, at the same time as massive CO2 emissions from the Indian Deccan Traps eruptions (“rapidly” here means anything less than about 30,000 years, possibly centuries; such are the limits of time resolution). They also found a second, smaller spike in warming about 150,000 years later, at around the same time as the asteroid impact at Chicxulub in Mexico.

Unfortunately, the Witts paper only came out after our paper was already in production, so we could not add this discussion into our paper.

[Our] study does not have the resolution to observe the impact winter, which would only have lasted a few years at the most.

Very close to the [end-Cretaceous] boundary we have some samples that are quite warm, nearly reaching the peak temperatures from the first warming spike. Other samples are colder, but all are taken from within 1 meter of the boundary and we cannot resolve their relative timing. Clearly climate was highly variable around this time.

Around the time of the impact, volcanism was still ongoing and CO2 was continuing to be emitted, so that could have caused the warming we observe.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

India to meet climate goals earlier than promised, says outgoing climate chief

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 08:49

Prakash Javadekar says India is now a world leader in tackling climate change and other countries need to follow its example, reports Climate Home

India could meet its carbon reduction goals earlier than expected, the country’s outgoing climate minister told a meeting in Delhi on Tuesday.

By 2030, the world’s fourth largest greenhouse gas emitter plans to cut the carbon intensity of GDP up to 35% on 2005 levels and boost the share of clean power in the energy mix to 40%.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Donald Trump would be world's only national leader to reject climate science

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 18:52

Sierra Club report finds science of climate change accepted by leaders of every country recognized by US – including Bashar al-Assad and Kim Jong-un

Donald Trump would be the only national leader in the world to dismiss the science of climate change should he become president, putting him out of step even with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea.

The potential isolation of the US on climate change has been laid bare by a new Sierra Club report which found universal acceptance of climate science among the leaders of the 195 countries recognized by the US state department.

Related: President Trump would be a climate catastrophe | Michael B Gerrard

Related: Climate change: the missing issue of the 2016 campaign

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Global warming is shifting Earth's clouds, study shows

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 09:13

Climate Central: The warming of the planet over the past few decades has shifted a key band of clouds poleward and increased the heights of clouds tops

The reaction of clouds to a warming atmosphere has been one of the major sources of uncertainty in estimating exactly how much the world will heat up from the accumulation of greenhouse gases, as some changes would enhance warming, while others would counteract it.

The study, detailed Monday in the journal Nature, overcomes problems with the satellite record and shows that observations support projections from climate models. But the work is only a first step in understanding the relationship between climate change and clouds, with many uncertainties still to untangle, scientists not involved with the research said.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

US senators detail a climate science 'web of denial' but the impacts go well beyond their borders

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 08:03

Australians have been both helpers and victims of the fossil fuelled web of climate science denial being detailed in the US Senate

By the middle of this week, about 20 Democratic senators in the US will have stood up before their Congress to talk about the fossil fuelled machinery of climate science denial.

The senators are naming the fossil fuel funders, describing the machinery and calling out the characters that make up a “web of denial”.

Related: Climate scientists are under attack from frivolous lawsuits | Lauren Kurtz

Koch brothers, Exxon & special interests have weaved a #WebOfDenial & misinformation when it comes to #climatechange

Schumer says climate skeptics 'should be ashamed of themselves.' I've never been prouder. #WebOfDenial

Related: The War on Science will change how you see the world | John Abraham

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

UK poorly prepared for climate change impacts, government advisers warn

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 05:00

A 2,000 page report by Committee on Climate Change predicts global warming will hit UK with deadly heatwaves, more flooding and water shortages

The UK is poorly prepared for the inevitable impacts of global warming in coming decades, including deadly annual heatwaves, water shortages and difficulties in producing food, according the government’s official advisers.

Action must be taken now, according to the report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) published on Tuesday, with more widespread flooding and new diseases among the risks in most urgent need of addressing.

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

Hillary Clinton could run on strongest climate change platform ever

Mon, 07/11/2016 - 19:18

The Democrats’ draft platform won’t be ratified until the convention, but climate activists are already hailing it as a ‘monumental victory’

Hillary Clinton could campaign much more aggressively against climate change than any US presidential candidate before her, under a draft platform adopted by Democratic party leaders.

The leaders committed the presumptive Democratic nominee to a carbon tax, a climate test for future pipelines and tighter rules on fracking – all stronger positions than those held by Clinton herself at the start of the race.

Related: We just broke the record for hottest year, 9 straight times | Dana Nuccitelli

Related: President Trump would be a climate catastrophe | Michael B Gerrard

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Categories: Climate Newsprint

President Trump would be a climate catastrophe | Michael B Gerrard

Mon, 07/11/2016 - 18:12

His pro-coal, anti-wind dogma would set climate action back years – and leave a harmful legacy for generations

To prevent climate change that floods large portions of coastal cities, dooms small island nations and turns whole regions into deserts, we need to accelerate the transformation of the world’s energy economy away from fossil fuels. Those who have crunched the numbers say this can still be achieved, but just barely. Hitting the brakes would send us over the cliff.

Over we go if Donald Trump wins the election and carries through on his campaign promises. The effects on the global climate will persist not only for the four or eight years of his presidency, but for generations.

Related: Food shortages and sea level rise US voters' top climate change concerns

Related: Water world: rising tides close in on Trump, the climate change denier

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Categories: Climate Newsprint
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