November 28, 2011 | 2:42 PM
Climate emails and extreme weather[caption id="attachment_5287" align="alignright" width="240" caption="© 2007 Flickr/mikael altemark cc by 2.0"][/caption]Here in the U.S., the long weekend is over and we are back at work. Right before we left for Thanksgiving, a batch of emails from climate scientists were released, seemingly in an attempt to embarrass the authors of the emails. Others have already addressed the content of the emails and judging by the lack of media coverage over the weekend, no one has found anything particularly newsworthy. I am not surprised by the lack of media coverage, given that these emails appear to be from the same batch released in 2009 right before the international climate talks in Copenhagen. In short: been there, done that. And before I get to my next point, it is worth mentioning that the scientists accused of wrongdoing as a result of the stolen emails from two years ago were all exonerated by nine independent investigations. Many others will dissect what was in the batch released last week, but I am more interested in why they were released at all. A connection made in a lot of stories I read was that they were released right before the upcoming international climate talks in Durban, South Africa. But I am beginning to wonder if they were released to try and steer the public conversation away from the extreme weather we've seen around the world.
November 28, 2011 | 9:57 AM
Prevention is better than the cure (and cheaper, and easier)[caption id="attachment_5262" align="alignright" width="180" caption="(c) 2010 Flickr/theivorytower cc by ND 2.0"][/caption]Like many of you, I've been guilty of ignoring my dentist when he recommended I do something minor and pain-free like using prescription fluoride toothpaste, only to find myself grappling at a later stage with a painful and frustrating cavity. And I'm sure we all know people who've procrastinated beyond that point, and then suddenly been confronted with an even more expensive, completely avoidable situation - like root canal surgery. Ouch! The lesson here? Prevention and early management can often seem bothersome, but that's the only way to prevent some problems from causing irreparable damage. In the case of global climate change, the longer we wait, the more difficult and costly the solution gets. That's what the International Energy Agency (IEA) tried to remind us when it released the 2011 edition of its World Energy Outlook. The report tells us what we can expect to happen from 2009 to 2035 in three scenarios:
- The world sticks with energy and climate policies already under implementation by mid-2011, and doesn't do anything additional through 2035;
- Between now and 2035, the world implements additional energy and climate policies that have not yet been implemented, but merely announced as commitments at this point; and
- The world stands by its commitment to constrain global warming from rising beyond 2°C (beyond which, there could be terrible, life-altering consequences), and ensures that global warming pollution through 2035 will be low enough to meet the 2°C target.
November 23, 2011 | 9:42 AM
A Thanksgiving reality checkLooking to bring climate change into your conversations with family and friends this Thanksgiving? Want an easy way to talk about how much carbon pollution we’re putting up in the atmosphere? Then read on!
November 22, 2011 | 8:00 AM
Climate change and weather extremes[caption id="attachment_5224" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Source: NASA"][/caption]On Friday, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a major new report with a clear and sobering message: There is a connection between manmade climate change and much of the extreme weather we've seen around the world. This report is an authoritative and comprehensive look at the science. It confirms what scientists have long been telling us: Manmade climate change has increased our vulnerability to devastating extreme weather events such as heat waves and heavy rains. Or in simpler terms: Humans are literally changing the weather because of the pollution we send into our atmosphere. As we learned during 24 Hours of Reality, we have seen unusually destructive weather events around the globe in recent years -- events like heat waves, intense rainfall and extreme drought. You may well have experienced some of these recent events. And because of climate change, the science tells us we should can expect to see more of these events in the future. This report tells us that climate change makes it "virtually certain" that we will see an increase in daily temperature extremes. And it is very likely that heavy precipitation will increase, which heightens the risk of floods. And while hurricanes may not increase in number, they are likely to become more intense.
November 15, 2011 | 2:10 PM
Does climate change make development harder?The world is approaching a major milestone. In 2015, we will reach the target for nations to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Agreed upon at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, these are a set of eight goals to help measure progress in developing countries around the world. Globally, while there has been substantial progress towards completing some of the goals, a report by the Secretary General of the UN comments that "progress has been uneven and, without additional efforts, several of the Millennium Development Goals are likely to be missed in many countries."
[caption id="attachment_5162" align="aligncenter" width="470" caption="Source: UN Development Programme" align="center"][/caption]Take Africa, for example. The continent's progress towards these goals is examined in a new report issued by the African Development Bank, African Union, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the United Nations Development Programme. An important point the report makes is that the challenges associated with meeting the Millennium Development Goals in Africa are "exacerbated by the threat of climate change."