Showing posts with label Climate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Climate. Show all posts

19 April 2019

A White House strategy for fixing the climate?

By Dawn Stover

Petra Nova is the world’s largest carbon capture project at a coal-fired power plant. With funding from a $190 million Energy Department grant, NRG Energy and JX Nippon retrofitted one of the Texas plant’s boilers to capture one-third of its carbon dioxide emissions before they enter the atmosphere. The captured carbon dioxide is injected into oil reservoirs to boost production. Credit: NRG Energy

According to a report from McClatchy’s DC bureau, two senior administration officials say the White House is developing a new strategy to demonstrate that it’s doing something about climate change: promoting a technology known as carbon capture and storage. The idea is to avoid regulation by focusing instead on innovation that would allow for the continued use of coal, natural gas, and other fossil fuels.

Carbon capture and storage has the potential to capture most of the carbon dioxide emitted by power plants and industrial facilities, before it enters the atmosphere. The captured carbon could then be piped or shipped to underground repositories—depleted oil and gas fields or cavernous salt formations. Ironically, this technology was developed by fossil fuel companies, which have for decades used captured carbon dioxide to force more oil and gas out of declining well fields.

15 April 2019

A Mysterious Infection, Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy

By Matt Richtel and Andrew Jacobs

Last May, an elderly man was admitted to the Brooklyn branch of Mount Sinai Hospital for abdominal surgery. A blood test revealed that he was infected with a newly discovered germ as deadly as it was mysterious. Doctors swiftly isolated him in the intensive care unit.

The germ, a fungus called Candida auris, preys on people with weakened immune systems, and it is quietly spreading across the globe. Over the last five years, it has hit a neonatal unit in Venezuela, swept through a hospital in Spain, forced a prestigious British medical center to shut down its intensive care unit, and taken root in India, Pakistan and South Africa.

Recently C. auris reached New York, New Jersey and Illinois, leading the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to add it to a list of germs deemed “urgent threats.”

The man at Mount Sinai died after 90 days in the hospital, but C. auris did not. Tests showed it was everywhere in his room, so invasive that the hospital needed special cleaning equipment and had to rip out some of the ceiling and floor tiles to eradicate it.

14 April 2019

The Kids Are Taking Charge of Climate Change

BY PAUL HOCKENOS

The Fridays for Future international school strike on March 15 was, by any measure, breathtaking. An estimated 1.6 million to 2 million people—mostly teenagers and preteens—gathered in thousands of cities and towns in more than 125 countries to demand their political leaders meet existing climate goals. As intended, they grabbed the world’s attention.

Of course, the more important question is whether the protesters can achieve their goals. Critics argue the movement’s uncompromising demands—such as that Germany exit coal-fired power generation by 2030—are naive. (After six months of arduous, hard-fought deliberation, a government-initiated commission recently set 2038 as the exit date from coal.) At a time when international cooperation on climate change has been breaking down, what can climate activism—however much momentum it seems to be gathering—expect to accomplish?

4 April 2019

As Africa Seeks Global Partners, It Will Ask: Who’s Helping with Climate Change?

BY MICHELLE D. GAV

If the United States hopes to outduel China for influence on the continent, it must consider Cyclone Idai and its turbocharged ilk to come.

As Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi continue struggling to cope with the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, it’s worth noting while the storm was exceptional in its destructive power, the risk of flooding in and around Beira is a chronic problem. As the climate warms, rising sea levels are likely to cause serious ongoing problems for important coastal hubs like Beira even without the increasing frequency of dramatic storms. Of course the immediate humanitarian crisis is where the international community must focus first. But the destruction of infrastructure that was built with climate change adaptation in mind is also worrying, and has implications not just for Mozambique, but also for landlocked states that rely on its ports. 

4 March 2019

Climate Change Still Seen as the Top Global Threat, but Cyberattacks a Rising Concern

BY JACOB POUSHTER AND CHRISTINE HUANG

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report last year expressing serious concerns about the possible impacts of climate change, both in the near and distant future. Broadly speaking, people around the world agree that climate change poses a severe risk to their countries, according to a 26-nation survey conducted in the spring of 2018. In 13 of these countries, people name climate change as the top international threat.

But global warming is just one of many concerns. Terrorism, specifically from the Islamic extremist group known as ISIS, and cyberattacks are also seen by many as major security threats. In eight of the countries surveyed, including Russia, France, Indonesia and Nigeria, ISIS is seen as the top threat. In four nations, including Japan and the United States, people see cyberattacks from other countries as their top international concern. One country, Poland, names Russia’s power and influence as its top threat, but few elsewhere say Russia is a major concern.

26 February 2019

White House Climate Panel to Include a Climate Denialist

By Coral Davenport

WASHINGTON — President Trump is preparing to establish a panel to examine whether climate change affects national security, despite existing reports from his own government showing that global warming is a growing threat.

According to a White House memo dated Feb. 14, Mr. Trump’s staff members have drafted an executive order to create a 12-member committee, which will include a White House adviser, William Happer, whose views are sharply at odds with the established scientific consensus that carbon dioxide pollution is dangerous for the planet.

The memo casts doubt on multiple scientific and defense reports concluding that climate change poses a significant threat to national security, saying they “have not undergone a rigorous independent and adversarial peer review to examine the certainties and uncertainties of climate science, as well as implications for national security.”

22 February 2019

The Coming Climate Crisis

BY AMITAV GHOSH

Over the last couple of decades, as the impact of global warming has intensified, the discussion of climate change has spilled out of the scientific and technocratic circles within which it was long confined. Today, the subject has also become an important concern in the humanities and arts.

Discussions of climate tend to focus on the future. Yet even scientific projections depend crucially on the study of the past: Proxy data, such as tree rings, pollen deposits, and ice cores, have proved indispensable for the modeling of the future impact of climate change. Based on evidence of this kind, scientists can tell us a great deal about how trees, glaciers, and sea levels will respond to rising temperatures.

But what about the political and social impact of global warming? What effects might a major shift in climate have on governments, public institutions, warfare, and belief systems? For answers to these questions, we have to turn to history (keeping in mind that historical inferences are necessarily impressionistic).

20 February 2019

Governance of the Deployment of Solar Geoengineering

Gernot Wagner 

The Harvard Project on Climate Agreements has released a volume of 26 briefs that explores a range of topics related to how we might govern the deployment of solar geoengineering. “Solar geoengineering” (SG) refers to the deliberate alteration of the earth’s radiative balance in order to reduce the risks attributed to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The method most commonly discussed as technically plausible and potentially effective involves adding aerosols to the lower stratosphere, where they would reflect some (~1%) incoming sunlight back to space.

This type of SG — and possibly some others — are associated with incentive structures that are the inverse of those for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. The latter is a global commons problem, the structure of which requires cooperation at the highest jurisdictional level (that is, international cooperation) in order to advance mitigation adequately. It has been challenging to design and implement institutions and agreements to support such multilateral cooperation.

16 February 2019

Less Than Zero Can Carbon-Removal Technologies Curb Climate Change?

By Fred Krupp, Nathaniel Keohane, and Eric Pooley

Most Americans used to think about climate change—to the extent that they thought about it at all—as an abstract threat in a distant future. But more and more are now seeing it for what it is: a costly, human-made disaster unfolding before their very eyes. A wave of increasingly destructive hurricanes, heat spells, and wildfires has ravaged communities across the United States, and both scientists and citizens are able to connect these extreme events to a warming earth. Seven in ten Americans agree that global warming is happening, according to a 2018 study conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. About six in ten think it is mostly caused by human activity and is already changing the weather. Four in ten say they have personally experienced its impact. And seven in ten say the United States should enact measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions, including prices and limits on carbon dioxide pollution, no matter what other countries do.

14 February 2019

The Coming Climate Crisis

BY AMITAV GHOSH

Over the last couple of decades, as the impact of global warming has intensified, the discussion of climate change has spilled out of the scientific and technocratic circles within which it was long confined. Today, the subject has also become an important concern in the humanities and arts.

Discussions of climate tend to focus on the future. Yet even scientific projections depend crucially on the study of the past: Proxy data, such as tree rings, pollen deposits, and ice cores, have proved indispensable for the modeling of the future impact of climate change. Based on evidence of this kind, scientists can tell us a great deal about how trees, glaciers, and sea levels will respond to rising temperatures.

But what about the political and social impact of global warming? What effects might a major shift in climate have on governments, public institutions, warfare, and belief systems? For answers to these questions, we have to turn to history (keeping in mind that historical inferences are necessarily impressionistic).

11 February 2019

The Paris Climate Agreement Needs a Bigger and Better Piggy Bank

Sagatom Saha

The latest United Nations climate talks held in Poland in December produced surprising progress toward developing the rulebook governing the Paris climate agreement. International negotiators added teeth to the accord by crafting a detailed system to catalogue national emissions, requiring new benchmarks for measuring and forecasting emissions, and mandating public multilateral and technical assessments. Nations will now have to uniformly track their emissions progress and expectations, with scrutiny from other governments and independent experts. 

But the next obstacle to climate action will be harder to overcome. There is no existing international financial institution capable of mobilizing enough money to finance national climate plans made under the Paris agreement. The U.N. should build on the momentum from Poland by creating a climate development bank to fill the gap. 

10 February 2019

Climate Change Impacts On Power Systems – Analysis

By Debabrata Chattopadhyay, Morgan D. Bazilian and Mohar Chattopadhyay*

The energy industry is not immune from climate change’s many threats, and society must both mitigate and adapt.

The Pacific Gas & Electricity Company, a major US utility, filed for bankruptcy months after wildfires whipped through Northern California, killing 86. The company confronts numerous lawsuits and more than $50 billion in liabilities even as the Camp Fire remains under investigation. The scale of risks now facing utilities demand new ways of planning future power systems and addressing resilience.

Warming century: Earth’s surface temperatures warmed as shown by linear trends in the Goddard Institute for Space Studies Surface Temperature Analysis data sets

Climate change threatens far-reaching impacts on power system design, markets and operation. These can range from short-term damage from increasing frequency and severity of storms to prolonged crises such as rising temperatures and an associated drop in hydro availability. A 2015 study found that “severe weather caused approximately 80% of the large-scale power outages from 2003 to 2012.” Planners and operators of power systems have historically quantified extreme weather events through various metrics of reliability such as the duration and frequency of outages. Growing evidence now suggests the entire energy supply chain, particularly power generation transmission and distribution, is vulnerable to climate change and disaster events. A new resilience-focused approach is thus required. 

30 January 2019

Climate Change Is a Threat to Military Security


This is a guest post by Benjamin Silliman, research associate for Energy Security and Climate Change at the Council on Foreign Relations. 

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) released a congressionally-mandated report detailing the challenges climate change poses to the U.S. military. Citing increased exposure recurrent flooding, drought, desertification, wildfires, and thawing permafrost, the report highlights how climate change affects U.S. military readiness to respond to national security emergencies.

The report includes a list of selected events where mission related activities at military installations were compromised due to environmental vulnerabilities as well as a brief list of policies taken to mitigate future damages. To quantify the extent to which the military is threatened by climate change, the report tracked seventy-nine priority American domestic installations chosen by their critical operational roles. While the public report was circumspect on details given the sensitive strategic nature of the subject, it did identify climate change as an important and tangible threat to the U.S. military.

28 January 2019

The Climate Change Solution That Could Spark Global War

Alexander C. Kaufman

It could be any country, but let’s say it’s Vietnam.

The year is 2069. World governments failed to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 — the deadline set in a 2018 United Nations report — setting off a chain of rapid warming. Megastorms and wildfires regularly kill hundreds and displace tens of thousands, and coastal cities are abandoning low-lying neighborhoods to the rising sea. Freshwater and food are in short supply as drought dries wellsprings and parches the Mekong Delta’s rice basket.

In an effort to provide some relief and rein in the chaos, global superpowers decide to block out the sun.

The world’s most powerful militaries take the lead, deploying aircraft to soar 32 miles upward into the stratosphere and spray particles that reflect sunlight. The technique mimics one of the planet’s most awesome natural functions: the cooling effect that comes from volcanoes erupting and filling the atmosphere with reflective gas that bounces energy from the sun back into space.

20 January 2019

How Governments React to Climate Change: An Interview with the Political Theorists Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann

By Isaac Chotiner

On New Year’s Day, the far-right populist Jair Bolsonaro took power in Brazil, posing an urgent threat to Brazilians and to the planet. Bolsonaro has promised to open up the Amazon to rapid development and deforestation, which would lead to the release of massive amounts of carbon into the air and the destruction of one of the earth’s most potent tools in limiting global warming. Like President Trump, Bolsonaro is making environmental decisions that could be calamitous far beyond national borders.

In “Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future,” Joel Wainwright, a professor of geography at Ohio State University, and Geoff Mann, the director of the Center for Global Political Economy at Simon Fraser University, consider how to approach a problem of such international dimensions. They look at several different political futures for our warming planet, and argue that a more forceful international order, or “Climate Leviathan,” is emerging, but unlikely to mitigate catastrophic warming.

13 January 2019

Climate Change and National Security, Part II: How Big a Threat is the Climate?

By Michelle Melton 

The U.S. national security establishment has been increasingly vocal that climate change is a national security threat—and the U.S. is not alone in this regard. But exactly how serious is this threat? How concerned should policymakers be? Assessing the magnitude of the national security threat posed by climate change requires addressing the antecedent issue of timing. Climate change is unfolding—for now—in a relatively linear, gradual way, and as a result, the magnitude of the threat depends on the time horizon. The national security implications of climate change are different between now and 2050, between now and 2100, and between now and 2300.

6 January 2019

Climate Change Action Cannot Ignore Social Issues

MARC FLEURBAEY 

Despite a series of troubling new reports and studies, the world has yet to respond adequately to the threat posed by global warming. One reason is that policymakers have not made the connection between climate action and the social and political challenges their countries face.

PRINCETON/VIENNA – Climate scientists are sounding the alarm about global warming, but the world is not responding. In October, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of catastrophic risks to health, livelihoods, water supplies, and human security if global warming is not limited to 1.5° Celsius relative to the pre-industrial level, a target set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement. At the moment, however, we are on track for a 3°C increase.

30 December 2018

The Hazard of Environmental Morality

BY GERNOT WAGNERCHRISTINE MERK

One pillar of conservative policy doctrine is that moral hazards should be avoided at all costs. Criticisms of universal health care, for example, are based on the idea that shielding individuals from some of the consequences of their decisions creates an incentive for riskier behavior. Many take the argument one step further, equating moral hazard with moral failing: government policy, the argument goes, makes people too dependent on handouts and crowds out personal responsibility.

The left is not immune to such lines of argument, either. On that side, the criticism typically focuses on policies that appear to free individuals from the responsibility of doing what’s right in the name of the common good. We all know, one argument goes, that we need to change our fossil-fueled lifestyles to stop climate change. Policies that encourage biking more and driving less, for example, are moral. Those that free individuals to do what they want (especially if it runs counter to the common good) are not.

29 December 2018

The Role of Sub-state and Non-state Actors in International Climate Processes: Financial Institutions

Kirsty Hamilton

The trillions of dollars needed to secure the sustainable, climate-compatible pathway outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement have focused attention on private finance and investment, and on the role of the financial sector as a potentially powerful non-state actor in the international climate debate.

Leading individual financial institutions reacted to the Paris Agreement by framing it in terms of what it would mean for markets – i.e. risks and opportunities – and by underlining the importance of national implementation of climate change commitments.

26 December 2018

Agreed Rules, COP24 And Climate Change Protest

By Binoy Kampmark

“If children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we can all do together if we really wanted to.” — Greta Thunberg at COP24, Dec. 2018

The world, if it goes off in a burn, will do so courtesy of the rules – or their elastic interpretation. It was a fine show of contradiction at Katowice, and the Polish hospitality did not deter the 14,000 delegates drawn from 195 countries from bringing forth a beast of regulation to delight climate change bureaucrats for years. Everyone clapped themselves in way emetic to any bystander suspicious about what had actually been achieved. The question to ask, of course, is whether this fluffy, self-congratulatory exercise makes it past the canapés and becomes a genuine policy document.