Monday, May 23, 2022

Oceans are hotter, higher and more acidic, climate report warns

A great array of events are described below but attributing them to global warming is just an assertion. But there is one aggregate which could support a generalization about climate -- and that is the degree of warming over the last 150 years. And that figure is given below. It was 1.11 degrees, which is very slow and trivial warming indeed. If such warming repeats itself there would be NO cause for alarm. Such a slow and slight warming would be easily adapted to

The world's oceans grew to their warmest and most acidic levels on record last year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Wednesday, as United Nations officials warned that war in Ukraine threatened global climate commitments.

Oceans saw the most striking extremes as the WMO detailed a range of turmoil wrought by climate change in its annual "State of the Global Climate" report. It said melting ice sheets had helped push sea levels to new heights in 2021.

"Our climate is changing before our eyes. The heat trapped by human-induced greenhouse gases will warm the planet for many generations to come," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in a statement.

The report follows the latest U.N. climate assessment, which warned that humanity must drastically cut its greenhouse gas emissions or face increasingly catastrophic changes to the world's climate.

Taalas told reporters there was scant airtime for climate challenges as other crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine, grabbed headlines.

Selwin Hart, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's special adviser on climate action, criticised countries reneging on climate commitments due to the conflict, which has pushed up energy prices and prompted European nations to seek to replace Russia as an energy supplier.

"We are ... seeing many choices being made by many major economies which, quite frankly, have the potential to lock in a high-carbon, high-polluting future and will place our climate goals at risk," Hart told reporters.

On Tuesday, global equity index giant MSCI warned that the world faces a dangerous increase in greenhouse gases if Russian gas is replaced with coal.

The WMO report said levels of climate-warming carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere in 2021 surpassed previous records.

Globally, the average temperature last year was 1.11 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial average - as the world edges closer to the 1.5C threshold beyond which the effects of warming are expected to become drastic.

"It is just a matter of time before we see another warmest year on record," Taalas said.

Oceans bear much of the brunt of the warming and emissions. The bodies of water absorb around 90% of the Earth's accumulated heat and 23% of the carbon dioxide emissions from human activity.

The ocean has warmed markedly faster in the last 20 years, hitting a new high in 2021, and is expected to become even warmer, the report said. That change would likely take centuries or millennia to reverse, it noted.

The ocean is also now its most acidic in at least 26,000 years as it absorbs and reacts with more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Sea level has risen 4.5 cm (1.8 inches) in the last decade, with the annual increase from 2013 to 2021 more than double what it was from 1993 to 2002.

The WMO also listed individual extreme heatwaves, wildfires, floods and other climate-linked disasters around the world, noting reports of more than $100 billion in damages.


Banker busted for ‘saying the quiet bit out loud’ on climate change

HSBC has suspended a senior executive in charge of responsible banking after he gave a presentation downplaying the risk of climate change to investors at a conference called Moral Money, hosted in London by the Financial Times newspaper.

In his address, Stuart Kirk said that the average life of a loan at HSBC was six years, so any impacts of climate change that happened after that timeframe were irrelevant to investors.

“Who cares if Miami is six metres underwater in 100 years? Amsterdam has been six metres underwater for ages, and that’s a really nice place. We will cope with it,” he said, incorrectly, in the address made last Friday evening, Australian time.

Kirk said he accepted climate science and supported an economic transition, but that it should be viewed by investors as an opportunity rather than a threat.

He said that “nut jobs” had been warning of apocalyptic events throughout his career and had always been proved wrong, and lamented that an undue focus on climate had caused increased regulation and, in turn, more work for his team at the bank.

Kirk was particularly scathing of the former governor of both the central banks of England and Canada, Mark Carney, who famously spurred the global financial sector to recognise the threat of climate change with an address in 2015 now known as the Tragedy of the Horizons speech, arguing that climate change presented a huge economic threat to the world.

Kirk dismissed Carney’s argument, saying retired central bankers needed to find ways to fill their time and arguing that, as the world got richer over coming years, it could afford to pay for things such as increased firefighting budgets in a changing climate.

Kirk’s speech prompted outrage after it was given and, early this morning, the FT reported that Kirk had been suspended pending an internal investigation.

Dan Gocher, head researcher for the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, said the speech was an example of a banker “saying that quiet part out loud” and that, though it was now common for large financial institutions to voice support for social and ethical investing, many did not yet have their hearts in the cause.

He said it also reflected the inequality of outcomes in climate change. Investors were aware that when climate change starts hitting particular countries or markets, they can simply move their supply chains to safer environments, protecting investors’ wealth, but not people.

“I think that’s the thing that it exposes – it’s a very rich person’s view of the world, especially while the subcontinent baking 50 degrees in April and May.”

The bank’s chief executive officer Noel Quinn distanced itself from Kirk’s comments, calling them “inconsistent” with HSBC’s strategy, Bloomberg reported, adding that a bank spokesperson declined to comment.


Houston, we have a problem!

JUST over a year ago, the Texas electricity system was on the verge of a catastrophic total collapse. As it was, millions of Texans went without power for days after a winter storm knocked out much of the state’s wind farms. Hundreds died as a result.

Naturally, the renewable lobby tried to shift the blame on to gas power plants, some of which tripped out as the grid became unstable. But without the immediate back-up provided by those gas plants, the grid would have totally collapsed and the whole state would have been without power for weeks.

Fast forward, and Texas is again facing a shortage of power, as a heatwave this week has led to near record levels of demand for air conditioning.

Facing another crisis, ERCOT, the body which is responsible for running the Texas grid, has been begging customers to cut consumption of electricity. ‘We’re asking Texans to conserve power when they can by setting their thermostats to 78 degrees or above and avoiding the usage of large appliances (such as dishwashers, washers and dryers) during peak hours between 3 pm and 8 pm through the weekend,’ pleaded the CEO Brad Jones. I don’t know about Texans, but 78F sounds like heating, not air conditioning to me!

Naturally, the media has rushed to blame the crisis on a ‘record heatwave caused by climate change’. This is, you will not be surprised to know, fraudulent nonsense.

Temperatures peaked at 98F in San Antonio and 94F in Houston, but neither of these temperatures are unusual for May in these cities:

No, the real problem is the closure in recent years of reliable coal power plants and their replacement by unreliable wind power.

Since 2010 4GW of coal capacity has been lost, a cut of a fifth, while no new gas capacity has been added in net terms. Worse, demand for electricity has increased by 15 per cent, as the Texas population and economy continues to surge.

Texas is therefore effectively short of 20GW of dispatchable power capacity. And it does not take a genius to work out that wind power is low during anti-cyclonic heatwaves.

Given that we are still only in May, heaven help the Texans when they get a real heatwave!


Coal, gas to be the sticking point in the new Australian Senate: Bandt

Bandt is a nasty old Trotskyite but seems to have conned the Greens into thinking he is one of them

Greens leader Adam Bandt says Labor’s support for new coal and gas mines will be a sticking point between the parties in the Senate, saying it will be a “very critical question” in the next parliament.

Riding high behind the Greens' shock victories in the Brisbane seats of the Labor-held Griffith and Liberal-held Ryan, Mr Bandt asserted the party could end up with six seats in the lower house if voting in Macnamara and Richmond broke their way.

But with Labor likely to gain a majority in the lower house, attention has turned to the Senate, where Anthony Albanese will need to negotiate with the crossbench to ensure his legislative agenda can be passed.

“But on the question of climate, the big issue is coal and gas. And we were clear about that during the course of the election and we said to tackle the climate crisis, we can't open up more coal and gas mines now,” Mr Bandt told Radio National on Monday morning.

“And Labor went to the election saying they back the Liberals in opening more coal and gas mines. That is going to be something we were going to need to talk about in this Parliament. We can't put the fire out while we're pouring petrol on it.”

The Greens' demands for their support could put a raft of energy projects in jeopardy, including the Northern Territory's Beetaloo gas basin and mega-mines mooted for Queensland's Galilee Basin.




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