Wednesday, November 23, 2016
RSS – Satellite Temperatures Back to Where they Were Before El Nino
RSS is one of the two satellite temperature data sets. They show the EL Nino “peak”.
I wonder how far the La Nina will drop?
Carbon is not the enemy
Nature has published a provocative essay entitled Carbon is not the enemy (full text available online). Excerpts:
Carbon has a bad name.
But carbon — the element — is not the enemy. Climate change is the result of breakdowns in the carbon cycle caused by us: it is a design failure. Anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere make airborne carbon a material in the wrong place, at the wrong dose and for the wrong duration.
Rather than declare war on carbon emissions, we can work with carbon in all its forms. To enable a new relationship with carbon, I propose a new language — living, durable and fugitive — to define ways in which carbon can be used safely, productively and profitably. Aspirational and clear, it signals positive intentions, enjoining us to do more good rather than simply be less bad.
It is easy to lose one’s way in the climate conversation. Few of the terms are clearly defined or understood. Take ‘carbon neutral’. The European Union considers electricity generated by burning wood as carbon neutral — as if it releases no CO2 at all. Their carbon neutrality relies problematically on the growth and replacement of forests that will demand decades to centuries of committed management.
Such terms highlight a confusion about the qualities and value of CO2. In the United States, the gas is classified as a commodity by the Bureau of Land Management, a pollutant by the Environmental Protection Agency and as a financial instrument by the Chicago Climate Exchange.
A new language of carbon recognizes the material and quality of carbon so that we can imagine and implement new ways forward. It identifies three categories of carbon — living, durable and fugitive — and a characteristic of a subset of the three, called working carbon. It also identifies three strategies related to carbon management and climate change — carbon positive, carbon neutral and carbon negative.
Carbon is at the heart of soil health. In healthy ecosystems, when plants convert CO2 into carbon-based sugars — liquid carbon — some flows to shoots, leaves and flowers. The rest nourishes the soil food web, flowing from the roots of plants to communities of soil microbes. In exchange, the microbes share minerals and micronutrients that are essential to plants’ health. Drawn into the leaves of plants, micronutrients increase the rate of photosynthesis, driving new growth, which yields more liquid carbon for the microbes and more micronutrients for the fungi and the plants. Below ground, liquid carbon moves through the food web, where it is transformed into soil carbon — rich, stable and life-giving. This organic matter also gives soil a sponge-like structure, which improves its fertility and its ability to hold and filter water.
This is how a healthy carbon cycle supports life. This flow kept carbon in the right place in the right concentration, tempered the global climate, fuelled growth and nourished the evolution of human societies for 10,000 years.
Let’s keep those carbon bridges open on all landscapes — rural and urban. Let’s use carbon from the atmosphere to fuel biological processes, build soil carbon and reverse climate change. Let’s adopt regenerative farming and urban-design practices to increase photosynthetic capacity, enhance biological activity, build urban food systems, and cultivate closed loops of carbon nutrients. Let’s turn sewage-treatment plants into fertilizer factories. Let’s recognize carbon as an asset and the life-giving carbon cycle as a model for human designs.
More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)
10,000 fly in for doomed climate talks
More than 10,000 people are flying to Marrakesh for a UN climate change conference despite officials admitting that they will make little or no progress on key issues.
The two-week meeting, which begins in the Moroccan city on Monday, was declared as the “conference of action”, where 195 countries were supposed to reveal how they will fulfil pledges made a year ago to cut their emissions. Instead, they are likely to agree to suspend talks until 2018.
Previous conferences have produced communiqués with grand titles named after their location, including last year’s Paris Agreement. A UK government source said: “Will there be a Marrakesh Something? There will have to be a decision that basically says we agree to reconvene with a date.”
However, delegates will be able to stay busy thanks to a Michelin guide to the conference supplied by the UN. It lists top hotels, “beauty and wellness spas”, as well as the best beaches.
Trump Should Let Senate Kill Obama’s Paris Climate Treaty
By Phil Kerpen
When is a treaty not a treaty? According to the Obama administration, whenever the president says so. This claim is especially dubious with respect to the Paris agreement on global warming, which as Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has shown, is more ambitious than predecessor agreements that were universally accepted to be treaties.
Surely if President Obama possesses an asserted authority to declare an agreement identical in form and more ambitious in substance than previous treaties to be a non-treaty, then President Trump will have the authority to reach the opposite, more plausible conclusion.
There is little doubt that the Trump administration will reject the Paris agreement, but the option of properly recognizing it as a treaty and allowing the Senate to formally reject it has several advantages.
First, it prevents the dangerous precedent of a president binding the country and his successor to international commitments without the broad support that the Constitution requires through the advice and consent process. Secondly, it sidesteps the question of whether the withdrawal provision of the Paris treaty itself forces us to wait four years before withdrawal is effective. Finally, it exposes as false the talking point that skepticism of the Paris agreement is outside the political mainstream.
John Kerry, who infamously declared global warming a greater threat to the United States than terrorism, gave his final speech on the subject this week to the UN functionaries in Marrakech, Morocco. He offered a soothing fantasy.
“No one should doubt the overwhelming majority of the citizens of the United States who know climate change is happening and who are determined to keep our commitments that were made in Paris,” Kerry said to applause.
Last week’s election emphatically showed the opposite. The Midwest delivered the White House to Trump, who dominated among the working class voters who care far more about how much they are paying to fill up the gas tank and keep their lights on than they do about what United Nations computer models predict about the climate in decades or centuries – the results of which show minimal change anyway. Appalachian voters in particular preferred Trump in a stunning 469 of 490 counties.
The Paris treaty is a magnificent example of the bad deals made for America that ultimately paved Donald Trump’s path to the White House.
Specifically, the Paris treaty effectively bans coal-fired power plants in the United States while China has 368 coal plants under construction and over 800 in the planning stage. India's coal production under the deal is projected to double by 2020. Even Europe is allowed to build coal plants. It forces Americans to endure painful cuts while the rest of the world continues with business as usual.
Even worse, American taxpayers will be forced to cough up $100 billion in climate-related foreign aid by 2020, with the promise of much more to follow.
Which brings us to the Senate.
Trump can submit the Paris treaty in full confidence that it will not pass with the required 67 votes in a body that has just 48 Democrats. The interesting question: how low can the vote total for this rotten deal go?
With ten Senate Democrats sitting in states Trump carried, many senators will be forced to choose between their green billionaire donors out in San Francisco and the voters they need to survive in 2018. And when the Senate votes the Paris treaty down, it will send an emphatic message to the world that – despite what John Kerry told his friends in Marrakech – the American people are with Trump on this, not Obama.
Obama rescinds Arctic offshore drilling proposal
President Obama has rescinded a proposal to allow new oil and natural gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean as part of a five-year plan for leasing released on Friday.
Obama's move takes drilling rights sales off the table through 2022.
The Interior Department had previously proposed limited drilling rights sales to the Beaufort and Chukchi seas north of Alaska, where there has never been oil and natural gas production from traditional mobile drilling rigs.
But officials, citing environmental concerns and low industry interest, rescinded that proposal on Friday in releasing the new plan.
The decision all but bans Arctic drilling for that time period, since oil companies have let almost all of their leases in the Arctic expire or have surrendered them.
It’s a major win for environmentalists, Alaska Natives and others who feared the environmental consequences of opening the frigid, unforgiving Arctic waters to drilling, especially in the case of a spill.
President-elect Donald Trump could seek to amend the five-year drilling plan to add more sales. But he would have to go through a long regulatory process to do so, potentially taking years, and could encounter problems like President George W. Bush did when he attempted a similar strategy.
Trump pledged during the campaign to open vast areas of public land and water to fossil fuel production that had not been allowed before.
Since the plan is being released late in Obama’s time in office, congressional Republicans could try legislatively to overturn the plan or open the Arctic or Atlantic to drilling.
The oil industry and its allies have pushed Obama to keep Arctic drilling on the table and let market forces decide if drilling should happen in the Arctic seas.
“Given the unique and challenging Arctic environment and industry’s declining interest in the area, foregoing lease sales in the Arctic is the right path forward,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement.
The final version of the five-year offshore leasing plan released Friday allows up to 10 drilling rights sales in the Gulf of Mexico, the country’s main offshore drilling areas, and up to one plan in the Cook Inlet in south-central Alaska.
“The plan focuses lease sales in the best places — those with the highest resource potential, lowest conflict, and established infrastructure — and removes regions that are simply not right to lease,” Jewell said.
“The proposal makes available more than 70 percent of the economically recoverable resources, which is ample opportunity for oil and gas development to meet the nation’s energy needs,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, director of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
Obama in March took Atlantic Ocean drilling out of consideration, after floating a small set of drilling rights sales off the coasts of an area between Virginia and Georgia.
Despite the possibility of the plan being overturned, Democrats and greens cheered Obama’s decision.
“I appreciate that the Interior Department considered the greater risk posed while operating in dynamic and challenging offshore environments in choosing to remove future leasing in the Arctic,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
“We need to ensure that we can drill safely and respond to spills before exploration moves forward in ecologically sensitive areas,” she said.
Despite the possibility of the plan being overturned, greens cheered Obama’s decision. “Oceana applauds President Obama and Secretary Jewell for their leadership in protecting our coasts from dirty and dangerous offshore drilling,” Jacqueline Savitz, senior vice president for the United States at Oceana, said in a statement.
“Today’s announcement demonstrates a commitment to prioritizing common sense, economics and science ahead of industry favoritism and politics as usual,” she said.
Republicans and the oil industry slammed Obama.
“The Arctic has become nothing more than a prop for the president’s legacy,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah).
“Today’s plan will chart a path of energy dependency for decades to come,” he said. “We should be building on our position as a global energy leader, but we are punting it to Russia as Obama appeases the environmentalists pulling his strings.”
American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard called the move “a short-sighted decision that ignores America’s long-term energy security needs,” and said he is hopeful that Trump would reverse Obama’s removal of the Arctic.
Greens had asked Obama to go further, and invoke a rarely-used legal provision in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act that they say would allow him to permanently protect the Arctic and Atlantic from drilling.
The Friday release did not include any use of that provision.
Interior referred questions about that proposal to the White House, which said it had no news Friday on the request.
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Posted by JR at 1:34 AM