Archive for the tag “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”

Sagar Dhara: Keep the Climate, Change the Economy

Contrasting outcomes of recent global warming meetings

Sagar Dhara

Two recent meetings on global warming, one scientific and the other political, are of great public interest as they have a bearing on human society’s future course to become a sustainable global community. The meetings contrasted each other in the clarity of their outcomes.

The first meeting was held by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body of over 2,000 scientists. IPCC released its fifth assessment’s synthesis report in Copenhagen end-October 2014. The report states unequivocally that “Human influence on the climate system is clear.” Further, it warns that the emission of another 1,000 Giga tonnes1 (Gt) of carbon dioxide (CO2), referred to as the carbon space, is likely to raise average global surface temperatures by 2oC above pre-industrial times. This is considered dangerous to the environment and human society.

Since the industrial revolution began in the mid-18th Century, humans have used 35% of the known 1,700 Gt of conventional fossil fuel reserves, and cut a third of the then existing 60 million km2 of forests to emit 2,000 GtCO2. The consequent 0.85oC average global temperature rise over pre-industrial times has triggered significant changes in the physical, biological and human environments. For example, rainfall variation has increased, extreme weather events are more frequent, pole-ward migration of species is noticeable and their extinction rate is higher, human health, food and water security are at greater risk, crop yield variations are higher, a 19 cm mean sea rise and a 40% reduction in Arctic’s summer ice extent have occurred over the last century, glaciers have shrunk by 275 Gt per annum in the last two decades, and social conflicts have increased. Read more…

News update

Editors note: The ongoing oil price war that pits a shale-boom riding U.S. and their allies OPEC against arch rivals Russia, Iran and Venezuela could have far-reaching consequences. It has begun to seriously impact a Russian economy already isolated by U.S. and EU sanctions. At a time when Ukraine is a flashpoint between the West and Russia, such high stakes economic warfare could have serious consequences. Russias leading newspaper Pravda had suggested this as early as April this year, in a report titled Obama wants Saudi Arabia to destroy Russian economy, recalling that it was a similar event that helped bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Writing about this in The New York Times, columnist Thomas Friedman quotes Yegor Gaidar, who between 1991 and 1994 was Russia’s acting prime minister: “The timeline of the collapse of the Soviet Union can be traced to Sept. 13, 1985. On this date, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, the minister of oil of Saudi Arabia, declared that the monarchy had decided to alter its oil policy radically. The Saudis stopped protecting oil prices. During the next six months, oil production in Saudi Arabia increased fourfold, while oil prices collapsed. The Soviet Union lost approximately $20 billion per year, money without which the country simply could not survive.” Its unlikely that the Russians will let that happen again without a fight.

Why oil prices keep falling — and throwing the world into turmoil
Brad Plumer,
The plummeting price of oil is the biggest energy story in the world right now. Its bringing back cheap gasoline to the United States while wreaking havoc on oil-producing countries like Russia and Venezuela. But why does the price of oil keep falling? (Also read the Stratfor report: Lower Oil Prices Carry Geopolitical Consequences)

The high cost of low-priced oil
Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights
Is the price of oil falling because we can no longer afford it? This is not an idle question. Record high average daily prices for oil in the last three years have been an unrecognized cause of sluggish overall worldwide economic growth. That subpar growth appears to be exhausting itself now, particularly in Asia and Europe. In dampening growth, high oil prices sewed the seeds of their own demise by ultimately dampening demand.

The Shocking Data Proving Shale Oil Is Massively Over-hyped
Peak Prosperity
Hooray, oil is suddenly much cheaper than it used to be. Thats great news, right? Not so fast. For certain its not good news for those counting on a continued rise in US oil production from the shale miracle. Many drillers were challenged to operate profitably when oil was above $70 per barrel. Very few will remain solvent with oil in the $50s (as it is as of this writing).

Fossil fuels should be phased out by 2100 says IPCC
BBC News
The unrestricted use of fossil fuels should be phased out by 2100 if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change, a UN-backed expert panel says. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says in a stark report that most of the worlds electricity can and must be produced from low-carbon sources by 2050. If not, the world faces severe, pervasive and irreversible damage.

Cities could be the secret to fighting climate change
The Conversation
Currently cities consume 78% of the world’s energy and produce more than 60% of all carbon. Recent research by the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the University of Leeds and London School of Economics and Political Science found that cities could help cut global energy-related emissions by 34% at absolutely no net cost.

What did the Romans ever do for us? They left a water warning
Jonathan Bridge, The Conversation
In the next 30 years we are facing a critical combination of inter-related stresses on the core resources that keep our civilisation running. As it happens, the Romans gave us a word for that too – the “food-water-energy nexus” (from the Latin nectere, to bind together). So are we doomed to the same fate as the Romans?

Nature at My Doorstep Reviving Traditional Building Practices
GOI Monitor
From climate-friendly homes of yore to monotonous concrete and glass structures of today, we are losing out on aesthetics and warmth. Thankfully, there are people who are reviving the time-tested practices.

News update

Oil Price Slide No Good Way Out
Gail Tverberg
The world is in a dangerous place now. A large share of oil sellers need the revenue from oil sales. They have to continue producing, regardless of how low oil prices go unless they are stopped by bankruptcy, revolution, or something else that gives them a very clear signal to stop.

Oil Price Fall Threatens US Oil Production
Steve Austin,
A falling oil price is good for the US consumer and good for the US economy. Transport costs feed into the price of every physical product, so if oil gets cheaper, everything gets cheaper. If the oil price falls too far, however, the USAs recent fracking boom will come to an end. Forces are at play to end the USAs projected energy independence and return the country to dependence on the Middle East for its fuel supplies. The USAs long-term key supplier, Saudi Arabia, doesnt want to lose grip on its best customer.

Peak oil vs mean reversion: why trees don’t grow to the skies  
Rajeev Thakkar, Livemint
There are differing views on the significance of peak oil theory, when peak oil will be reached and the production quantity then. Also, the impact on the global economy is not certain. I am no geologist or scientist. But I am a firm believer in the application of mean reversion and the effect of balancing factors in any economic system. Hence, when oil or commodity prices shoot up relentlessly in one direction, a balancing decline becomes a possibility.

29 Bullets That Tell All about Climate Challenge
Mark Fischetti, Scientific American
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released it final report crystallizing 13 months of work by more than 800 scientists. The “synthesis report” gives a no-nonsense assessment of how the climate is changing, what is causing the change, the impacts the changes will have on us and the planet, and the “mitigation” steps we should take to prevent the impacts from getting worse.

The End of the Market Economy
John Michael Greer
One of the factors that makes it difficult to think through the economic consequences of the end of the industrial age is that we’ve all grown up in a world where every form of economic activity has been channeled through certain familiar forms for so long that very few people remember that things could be any other way. Another of the factors that make the same effort of thinking difficult is that the conventional economic thought of our time has invested immense effort and oceans of verbiage into obscuring the fact that things could be any other way.

Stop Growing or Meet the Four Horsemen?
Mary Odum
Americans are now receiving unsubtle messages from the universe that perhaps we have reached our limits, and it is time to stop trying to grow the economy. The four horsemen of pestilence, famine, war, and death are emerging on a global basis, as energy inputs wane and the global economic system begins to turn down. Yet feedback from the system is still telling our system to grow expand, when perhaps it would be wiser to expend more energy on resilient contraction.

Climate depression is for real. Just ask a scientist
Madeleine Thomas,
From depression to substance abuse to suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder, growing bodies of research in the relatively new field of psychology of global warming suggest that climate change will take a pretty heavy toll on the human psyche as storms become more destructive and droughts more prolonged. For your everyday environmentalist, the emotional stress suffered by a rapidly changing Earth can result in some pretty substantial anxieties.

News update

Why the Fracking Phenomenon Will Leave Us High and Dry
Asher Miller, Post Carbon Institute
A new, landmark report shows that hopes of a long-term golden era in American oil & gas production are unfounded.

Eight Pieces of Our Oil Price Predicament
Gail Tverberg
A person might think that oil prices would be fairly stable. Prices would set themselves at a level that would be high enough for the majority of producers, so that in total producers would provide enough–but not too much–oil for the world economy. The prices would be fairly affordable for consumers. And economies around the world would grow robustly with these oil supplies, plus other energy supplies. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work that way recently.

Is there really an oil glut?
Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights
Yes, the price drop has only just occurred, and, of course, we cant expect that it will have an immediate affect on consumption. But, increased consumption would likely take the oil markets back above $100 per barrel since small changes in supply and demand tend to move the oil price sharply. At the $100 level no one would be calling the situation a glut.

How can oil as dirty and destructive as the tar sands be profitable? Massive subsidies.
A new report by Oil Change International, Cashing in on All of the Above: U.S. Fossil Fuel Production Subsidies under Obama, demonstrates the huge and growing amount of subsidies going to the fossil fuel industry in the U.S. every year. In 2013, the U.S. federal and state governments gave away $21.6 billion in subsidies for oil, gas, and coal exploration and production.

IPCC Report Says Climate Change Is ‘Severe, Widespread and Irreversible’
Bill McKibben, Ecowatch
Breaking the power of the fossil fuel industry won’t be easy, especially since it has to happen fast. It has to happen, in fact, before the carbon we’ve unleashed into the atmosphere breaks the planet. I’m not certain we’ll win this fight—but, thanks to the IPCC, no one will ever be able to say they weren’t warned.

Why We Can’t Ditch the 2 C Warming Goal
Jonathan Coomey, EcoWatch
The warming limit approach is the most powerful analytical way of thinking about the climate problem that the climate science and policy community has yet devised. So the answer is not to “ditch the 2 C limit,” but to use it to show (in Victor and Kennel’s words) that “politicians … pretend that they are organizing for action when, in fact, most have done little.

Hydropower May Be Huge Source of Methane Emissions
Bobby Magill, Climate Central
Reservoirs and hydropower are often thought of as climate friendly because they don’t burn fossil fuels to produce electricity. But what if reservoirs that store water and produce electricity were among some of the world’s largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions?

Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world
New Scientist
As protests against financial power sweep the world, science may have confirmed the protesters worst fears. An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.

Terrifying US cluelessness on interest rates suggests politics is powerless
Andrew Critchlow, The Telegraph UK
Clues to the current market turmoil can be found in the Scottish referendum, the Ebola outbreak, and a set of seventeen dots. The last of these are the “dots diagrams” that the US Federal Reserve uses to illustrate where its officials think interest rates will be in the future. They provide a glimpse inside the decision-making process of the main monetary control room in the world. And the picture that emerges is, frankly, terrifying.

News update

How Climate Change is Going To Affect India
By Nidhi Jamwal, Yahoo India
A new set of reports by UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change point to the rising incidence of freak weather occurrences, and the very real impact of these on our lives. Of course we’ve all heard of global warming, but here’s how it affects us directly in India, and here’s why you should care.

IPCC reports diluted under political pressure to protect fossil fuel interests
By Nafeez Ahmed, The Guardian
Increasing evidence is emerging that the policy summaries on climate impacts and mitigation by the UN Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were significantly diluted under political pressure from some of the worlds biggest greenhouse gas emitters, including Saudi Arabia, China, Brazil and the United States.

Is Climate Change a Crime Against Humanity?
By Tom Engelhardt,
Thanks to a grim report in 2013 from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we know that there is now a 95%-100% likelihood that “human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming [of the planet] since the mid-20th century.” We know as well that the warming of the planet thanks to the fossil fuel system we live by and the greenhouse gases it deposits in the atmosphere is already doing real damage to our world.

US Gov’t Slashes California Oil Estimate by Over 95%
By Post Carbon Institute
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has drastically reduced its estimate of recoverable oil in California’s Monterey shale formation from 13.7 billion barrels to just 0.6 billion barrels—a reduction of over 95%. The downgrade puts a question mark over hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and other forms of well stimulation-enabled oil development, which has been touted as the harbingers of a new oil boom.

Addicted to oil
By Dawn Stover, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Instead of looking to scientists, politicians, and economists for ideas about how to address the climate crisis, maybe it’s time to turn to mental health professionals. They’re the experts on why people engage in self-destructive behaviors, and on what can help addicts break these bad habits.

Historic Sino-Russia Deal Bypasses US Dollar
By Farooque Chowdhury,
In a symbolic, but historic blow to the hegemony of US dollar, China and Russia have concluded an agreement with far-reaching significance. The deal bypasses US dollar in part of the two emerging powers’ trade. According to the agreement, two financial institutions of the two countries will pay each other in domestic currencies. However, major western news agencies and media outlets have ignored the news.

The Peak Oil Crisis: Parsing 2014
By Tom Whipple, Falls Church News-Press
Within the next few years, we are likely to see drops in conventional production as the pace for exploring and developing new oil fields contracts. On top of the geologic problems, the political situation in several oil producing countries seem likely to get worse before the year is out. We have already lost substantial oil production from Syria, Egypt, Yemen, South Sudan, and Iran.

Nuclear energy not economically viable
Nuclear power is no longer an economically viable source of new energy in the United States, the freshly-retired CEO of Exelon, America’s largest producer of nuclear power, has said. And it won’t become economically viable, he said, for the foreseeable future.

News update

Climate change a threat to security, food and humankind IPCC report
The report from the UNs intergovernmental panel on climate change concluded that climate change was already having effects in real time – melting sea ice and thawing permafrost in the Arctic, killing off coral reefs in the oceans, and leading to heat waves, heavy rains and mega-disasters. And the worst was yet to come. Climate change posed a threat to global food stocks, and to human security, the blockbuster report said. “Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” said Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC. Visit the IPCC website to download the report: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability
From The Guardian

UN: 13 of 14 warmest years on record were in 21st century
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has revealed that 2001-2010 was the warmest decade on record, while 13 of the 14 warmest years in recorded history have occurred in the 21st century.

European activists call for law on ecocide
Until we have a law to prosecute those who destroy the planet, corporations will never be called to account for their crimes. ‘End Ecocide in Europe’ is a European Citizens’ Initiative aimed at establishing a new crime within the European Union and beyond: Ecocide. Ecocide is defined as the “extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystems of a given territory”. Their objective is to raise awareness on the law of ecocide and collect at least 1 million signatures in support of the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘End Ecocide in Europe’ (website).
From The Guardian

Global market shock from oil crash could hit in 2015
In a new book, former oil geologist and government adviser on renewable energy, Dr. Jeremy Leggett, identifies five global systemic risks directly connected to energy which, he says, together threaten capital markets and hence the global economy in a way that could trigger a global crash sometime between 2015 and 2020. According to Leggett, a wide range of experts and insiders from diverse sectors spanning academia, industry, the military and the oil industry itself, including until recently the International Energy Agency or, at least, key individuals or factions therein are expecting an oil crunch within a few years, most likely within a window from 2015 to 2020.
From The Guardian

Iraq invasion was about oil
Maximising Persian Gulf oil flows to avert a potential global energy crisis motivated Iraq War planners not WMD or democracy. We passed the 11th anniversary of the 2003 Iraq War yet to this day, few media reflections on the conflict accurately explore the extent to which opening up Persian Gulf energy resources to the world economy was a prime driver behind the Anglo-American invasion.
From The Guardian

A Star In A Bottle
Years from now, the most complex machine ever built will be switched on in an Alpine forest in the South of France. The machine, called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER, will stand a hundred feet tall, and it will weigh twenty-three thousand tons—more than twice the weight of the Eiffel Tower. Thirty-five countries, representing more than half the world’s population, are invested in the project. Stefano Chiocchio, head of design integration—its chief puzzle master-who effectively runs the project, had started his career in nuclear fission, his interest emerging out of dire predictions about peak oil. “There was this story of limited growth, how the planet would be affected by its lack of resources, and I thought nuclear energy would help solve this.” His audacious plan to create a new energy source could save the planet from catastrophe. But time is running out.
From The New Yorker

Fisheries and Aquaculture Fact Sheet
Seafood plays a vital role in world food security. Roughly 3 billion people get about 20 percent of their animal protein from fishery products. The world fish catch is a measure of the productivity and health of the oceanic ecosystem that covers 70 percent of the earths surface. The extent to which world demand for seafood is outrunning the sustainable yield of fisheries can be seen in shrinking fish stocks, declining catches, and collapsing fisheries.
From Earth Policy Institute


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