Friday, November 11, 2016

Climate change may be escalating so fast it could be 'game over', scientists warn

All that this shows is that if you make extreme assumptions you will get extreme results. I have added the journal abstract to the summary below.  Once again we see a reliance on the 8.5 Representative Concentration Pathway -- meaning that the most extreme estimate of CO2 in the atmosphere was used.  So it's basically just guesswork

It is a vision of a future so apocalyptic that it is hard to even imagine.

But, if leading scientists writing in one of the most respected academic journals are right, planet Earth could be on course for global warming of more than seven degrees Celsius within a lifetime.

And that, according to one of the world’s most renowned climatologists, could be “game over” – particularly given the imminent presence of climate change denier Donald Trump in the White House.

Scientists have long tried to work out how the climate will react over the coming decades to the greenhouse gases humans are pumping into the atmosphere.

According to the current best estimate, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), if humans carry on with a “business as usual” approach using large amounts of fossil fuels, the Earth’s average temperature will rise by between 2.6 and 4.8 degrees above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

However new research by an international team of experts who looked into how the Earth’s climate has reacted over nearly 800,000 years warns this could be a major under-estimate.

Because, they believe, the climate is more sensitive to greenhouse gases when it is warmer.

In a paper in the journal Science Advances, they said the actual range could be between 4.78C to 7.36C by 2100, based on one set of calculations.

Some have dismissed the idea that the world would continue to burn fossil fuels despite obvious global warming, but emissions are still increasing despite a 1C rise in average thermometer readings since the 1880s.

And US President-elect Donald Trump has said he will rip up America’s commitments to the fight against climate change.

Professor Michael Mann, of Penn State University in the US, who led research that produced the famous “hockey stick” graph showing how humans were dramatically increasing the Earth’s temperature, told The Independent the new paper appeared "sound and the conclusions quite defensible".

Dr Tobias Friedrich, one of the authors of the paper, said: “Our results imply that the Earth’s sensitivity to variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide increases as the climate warms.

“Currently, our planet is in a warm phase – an interglacial period – and the associated increased climate sensitivity needs to be taken into account for future projections of warming induced by human activities.

“The only way out is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.”

Dr Andrey Ganopolski, who was involved in the research and on the IPCC’s latest report, admitted their work was controversial with some scientists disagreeing and others agreeing with their findings.

“In our field of science, you cannot be definite by 100 per cent. There are always uncertainties and we discuss this in the paper,” he said.


Nonlinear climate sensitivity and its implications for future greenhouse warming


Global mean surface temperatures are rising in response to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. The magnitude of this warming at equilibrium for a given radiative forcing—referred to as specific equilibrium climate sensitivity (S)—is still subject to uncertainties. We estimate global mean temperature variations and S using a 784,000-year-long field reconstruction of sea surface temperatures and a transient paleoclimate model simulation. Our results reveal that S is strongly dependent on the climate background state, with significantly larger values attained during warm phases. Using the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 for future greenhouse radiative forcing, we find that the range of paleo-based estimates of Earth’s future warming by 2100 CE overlaps with the upper range of climate simulations conducted as part of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5). Furthermore, we find that within the 21st century, global mean temperatures will very likely exceed maximum levels reconstructed for the last 784,000 years. On the basis of temperature data from eight glacial cycles, our results provide an independent validation of the magnitude of current CMIP5 warming projections.

Science Advances  09 Nov 2016: Vol. 2, no. 11, e1501923. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501923


The man that Donald Trump calls the “king of energy” in the U.S. predicts quick action by the next president to roll back Obama administration policies opposed by the oil and natural gas industry.

“There are so many of them. You just scrap them,” Harold Hamm, the billionaire CEO of Continental Resources, said Wednesday, hours after Trump’s surprising win over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“There’s five times the regulation on our industry than there was before the Obama administration,” Hamm said in an interview. “I mean, it’s just been a pile-on.”

Among the policies opposed by Hamm and other producers is a proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency to curb emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide, from oil and gas operations.

“It’s like we’re out to pollute the world with methane gas,” Hamm complained, disputing assertions by advocates of the policy that the industry hasn’t done enough to capture the emissions.

“That’s not the case,” he said. “It’s never been the case.”

That’s just one of many energy policies that Trump, a climate skeptic, could target quickly using his executive authority, ClearView Energy Partners, a Washington consulting group, said in a note Wednesday.

For example, the Trump administration could come to the rescue of two controversial oil pipeline projects, including granting an easement to the Dakota Access pipeline, a $3.7 billion project that would carry crude oil from North Dakota, where Continental Resources is a major player, to an Illinois refinery.

The project is stalled in North Dakota in the face of opposition by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its supporters, who say the project would destroy ancient tribal artifacts and potentially pollute waterways.

Likewise, Trump’s administration could approve a new cross-border permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, a TransCanada Corp. initiative to ship oil from Canada to the U.S. that Obama rejected last year.

Other potential pro-industry actions at the disposal of the new administration include resuming periodic oil and gas leasing on federal lands, revising or abandoning Energy Department requirements for exporting liquefied natural gas and suspending Securities and Exchange Commission rules requiring companies to disclose risks posed by climate change, according to ClearView.

“People are going to use oil and gas,” Hamm said. “So, if we don’t develop our own, you’re back on foreign oil.”

As for oil price prices, Hamm expects “stability” as Trump aims to open more federal land and offshore waters to drilling, curb regulations and support exports of U.S. crude.

As Hamm spoke, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil was on a rollercoaster ride, falling 2.6% to $43.80 a barrel just after midnight Wednesday, then rising 4.2% to $45.67 at noon.

Hamm’s remarks come as speculation continues that he may be a candidate for energy secretary in the Trump administration.


Trump Victory Threatens Green Investors And Subsidy Sharks

Republican victories in Tuesday’s election inject new risks into investments in sustainable energy and clean tech companies, according to one top analyst.

“[Donald] Trump’s surprise victory last night, in tandem with Republicans maintaining majority control of both houses of Congress, constitutes in our view a material negative for the majority of our stocks under coverage,” said Oppenheimer analyst Colin Rusch, in a research note Wednesday.

Rusch covers a number of solar energy firms, companies that develop technologies for energy efficiency, waste and recycling companies, as well as alternative transportation companies such as Tesla.

“We expect shares broadly to trade off today at higher magnitude than equity indices and believe the election outcome injects significant policy uncertainty into the growth outlook for multiple verticals, with solar/alternative transportation plays the most impacted,” Rusch said in the note.

Elsewhere, Rusch’s outlook is likewise not uniformly negative, but he identifies a few policy issues that could pose trouble for some of the companies he covers.

First, the election places the Clean Power Plan at risk. A Trump presidency and Republican control of Congress could lead to a rollback of the plan, adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2014, as a means to combat climate change by limiting emissions from power plants. Rolling back the CPP could pose “contagion risk to global renewable and energy efficiency investments,” Rusch’s note said.

Trump has repeatedly expressed skepticism over climate change, once famously calling it a Chinese hoax designed to undermine U.S. manufacturing.

Along these lines, Rusch and his colleagues said they “would not be surprised to see a Trump administration attempt to block federal support for EV buyers but could provide support for companies such as TSLA that are creating US manufacturing jobs.”

Tesla shares were recently trading down more than 4 percent, at $186.38.

Rusch’s concerns are particularly striking, given the fact that Tesla Chairman and CEO (and SolarCity Chairman) Elon Musk said in an interview with CNBC on Nov. 4 that he did not think the outcome of the election would “make much of a difference one way or the other” to Tesla’s business.

Residential solar power companies could face a more challenging regulatory climate as well as weakened demand due to greater support for coal power. This could have implications for companies such as First Solar and SunPower, as well as others.

Solar stocks also were lower Wednesday with SolarCity down 5.7 percent, First Solar down 2.7 percent and SunPower shedding nearly 15 percent.


Trump Victory: Shock And Disbelief At Marrakech UN Climate Talks

MARRAKECH (MOROCCO): Daylight broke in the ochre city with the news of Donald Trump’s decisive victory in the US elections. Trump’s victory came as a shock to most, who were prepared for a tight race with the expectation that Secretary Hillary Clinton would make it to the finish line with a slim margin.

Shock and disbelief marked Bab Ighli, the venue of the UN-sponsored climate meet. Even as delegates sought to retain an air of normalcy virtually every conversation turned to Trump, and what the elevation of a climate denier to the White House meant for the global efforts to tackle climate change.

Throughout his campaign, Trump repudiated climate change. He described it as a Chinese hoax, denied the science, described climate change funding as wasteful. While candidate Trump has been categorical about his views on climate change, it is unclear if as president he will follow through. Observers from the United States and other countries stressed that it was too soon to say what the Trump Administration would do.

This isn’t diplomatic sidestepping of the question. The fact is that it is too early to determine what President-elect Trump will do.

He could well follow through on his promise to pull out from the Paris Agreement, but since the treaty is already in force, the United States is locked in for three years, with another year or so for the process of withdrawal from the treaty. Observers at Marrakech have consistently stressed that US participation in the Paris Agreement is guaranteed for what would be the first term of a Trump presidency.

While the US would continue to be a party to the Paris Agreement, its participation in the process of finalising the rulebook for the treaty would change. Some delegates stressed therefore it was important to agree at Marrakech to complete the rule making process by 2018.

The other cause of concern is the US contribution to climate finance. Trump has said that he would “cancel billions in climate change spending for the United Nations”. The US pledged $3 billion over a four year period to the Green Climate Fund. So far only $500 million has been provided. Republican lawmakers had objected to the pledge made by the Obama administration, arguing that it wasn’t legal as it was done without specific congressional authorization. Providing financial support is one of the key commitments of industrialised countries under the UN Convention on Climate Change, has been reiterated in the Paris Agreement. The Green Climate Fund was set up to help developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The other cause of concern is in the area of domestic policies. Domestic climate action lies at the heart of the Paris Agreement. This could well mean a reversal of many of the decisions, most of which were carried out through executive orders, of the Obama administration. The Clean Power Plan, which is central to the US national climate action plan. This could well mean that the US doesn’t adhere to commitments made in the national climate action plans under the Paris Agreement, and this would make it difficult to meet the goal of restricting temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.


EPA wants your wood-burning stove

In a blow to innovation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has denied a petition to reconsider a restrictive regulation dealing with wood stoves and the types of wood burned in them.obama-net-neutrality-fcc-title-ii-100529803-primary.idge

The regulation, finalized by the EPA last year, made changes to the emission standards applicable to residential wood stoves, in bureaucratic speak, “residential wood combustion devices.”

The petition was filed by Richard S. Burns & Company, Inc., a Philadelphia waste management firm that challenged the EPA’s prohibition on making wood pellets and chipped wood from the “clean wood” which is removed from construction sites. The EPA’s regulation does not allow clean wood from “construction or demolition” to be used because it is considered a “prohibited fuel.”

The company asserted that it has the ability to separate out wood from other materials, and that this wood could be recycled into products suitable to be burned in wood stoves. The EPA denied the petition, and effectively bigbrothermandated that these materials be sent to landfills instead. In its denial, the EPA claimed that the cost to those like the petitioner to make “clean wood” fuels as requested would be expensive. “The EPA does not believe this cost on the industry is justified.” This, despite the fact that the costs would be borne by industry volunteers who believe they can product a product that meets the EPA’s standards.

The EPA is saying, in essence, “we don’t believe you can, so we’re not going to let you try.”

The regulation at issue is a long and complex, but a couple other areas are worth noting.

If you manufacture a wood stove that is to be sold in Canada or Russia, the regulation does not affect you. “Affected wood heaters manufactured in the United States for export are exempt from the applicable emission limits.” So, the Canadians and Russians can get an affordable wood stove from a U.S. manufacturer, but a North Carolinian can only buy one that complies with the 83 page regulation which is further explained by the 203 page regulatory impact analysis.

obama-fingerAccording to the EPA, the average price for a wood stove is $848. In its regulatory analysis the EPA noted that commenters had suggested that this regulation would increase the cost to bring a new model to market by up to 25% driving price well above $1,000.00. That is a significant increase that must be passed along to the homeowner in order for the manufacturer to survive as the EPA estimates that they have profit margins of a little over 4%.

Representative David Rouzer of North Carolina has offered legislation which would repeal the wood stove regulation arguing, “The EPA has no business meddling with how wood heaters are made — much less putting in place new regulations that would effectively price them out of the market. More and more families are using wood heaters to help lower their energy costs during these tough economic times.  That’s why, it’s imperative Congress continue working together to strike down these unnecessary regulations.”

The regulation applies testing standards that must be met before any new wood stoves can be sold. Old wood stoves are not covered by the regulation, so if your house has an existing one you do not have to worry unless you need or want to replace it.

Evidencing the EPA’s desire to micro-manage personal behavior, the regulation even places personal prohibitions on homeowners who use one of these new stoves. “No person is permitted to burn any of the following materials in an affected wood heater…. paper products…”

There is an exception; you are allowed to use paper to start a fire. “The prohibition against burning these materials does not prohibit the use of fire starters made from paper.” If you use the paper to start a fire you are fine, but if the fire is already burning it is illegal for you to use paper any longer. While the EPA goes to great lengths to describe the emission standards, they do not provide any explanation as to the exact moment when the fire is large enough so that the continued use of paper to make the fire larger is prohibited.  There are also BLOG-FIRE-bigstock-Fire-119560371restrictions on the types of wood homeowners can use. They “will be required to use only the grades of pellet fuels and wood chips that are included in the owner’s manual based on the heater/stove certification tests.”

How prohibitions on homeowners regarding paper and wood are to be enforced is not exactly clear from the regulation, but expect the EPA to find a way.

This whole thing is absurd. Federal government, leave our wood stoves alone.



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