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

4 December 2019

Cow Aren't Killing the Planet: The Questionable Link Between Meat and Climate Change

by Frank M. Mitloehner
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As the scale and impacts of climate change become increasingly alarming, meat is a popular target for action. Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. Some activists have called for taxing meat to reduce consumption of it.

A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change.

My research focuses on ways in which animal agriculture affects air quality and climate change. In my view, there are many reasons for either choosing animal protein or opting for a vegetarian selection. However, foregoing meat and meat products is not the environmental panacea many would have us believe. And if taken to an extreme, it also could have harmful nutritional consequences.

Setting the record straight on meat and greenhouse gases

New report finds costs of climate change impacts often underestimated

By Dana Nuccitelli

Flooding in Port Arthur, Texas during Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Climate economics researchers have often underestimated – sometimes badly underestimated – the costs of damages resulting from climate change. Those underestimates occur particularly in scenarios where Earth’s temperature warms beyond the Paris climate target of 1.5 to 2 degrees C (2.7 to 3.6 degrees F).

That’s the conclusion of a new report written by a team of climate and Earth scientists and economists from the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. It’s a conclusion consistent with the findings of numerous recent climate economics studies.

Once temperatures warm beyond those Paris targets, the risks of triggering unprecedented climate damages grow. However, because the rate and magnitude of climate change has entered uncharted territory in human history, the temperature thresholds and severity of future climate impacts remain highly uncertain, and thus difficult to capture in climate economics models. Put simply, it’s difficult to project the economic impacts resulting from circumstances which are themselves unprecedented.

3 December 2019

The world needs a grand coalition to tackle climate change

Fatih Birol
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More than 40 years after the International Energy Agency (IEA) published the first edition of the World Energy Outlook (WEO), the report’s overarching aim remains the same – to deepen our understanding of the future of energy. It does so by examining the opportunities and risks that lie ahead, and the consequences of different courses of action or inaction. The WEO analyses the choices that will shape our energy use, our environment and our wellbeing. It is not, and has never been, a forecast of where the energy world will end up.

This year brings many changes. I would like to highlight two in particular. First, we have renamed the 'new policies scenario' as the 'stated policies scenario', making more explicit our intention to hold up a mirror to the plans and ambitions announced by policy-makers without trying to anticipate how those plans might change in future.

Second, the sustainable development scenario – which provides a strategic pathway to meet global climate, air quality and energy access goals in full – has been extended to 2050 and set out in greater detail. This delivers sharper insights into what is required for the world to move in this direction.

2 December 2019

Climate Change Is also a Health Crisis


GENEVA – The climate crisis is also a health crisis. The same emissions that cause global warming are also largely responsible for polluting the air we breathe, causing heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and infections, and affecting every organ in our bodies. Air pollution is the new tobacco, causing as many deaths as cigarettes do. And though it threatens us all, children, the elderly, pregnant women, and adults with weakened immune systems are the most at risk.

Today, too many politicians offer facile answers, mutually incompatible promises, and a return to purportedly simple and exclusive identities. Instead, the world's democracies need leaders who are able to counter the populist narrative in three main areas.3Add to Bookmarks

It is now common knowledge that smoking tobacco severely harms you and those around you. That is why the tobacco industry’s lobbying and advertising campaigns have been strictly regulated around the world. Globally, we have taken steps to safeguard existing health policies, and to force these companies to tell the truth: that their product kills.

29 November 2019

‘Bleak’ U.N. Report on a Planet in Peril Looms Over New Climate Talk

By Somini Sengupta

With world leaders gathering in Madrid next week for their annual bargaining session over how to avert a climate catastrophe, the latest assessment issued by the United Nations said Tuesday that greenhouse gas emissions are still rising dangerously.

“The summary findings are bleak,” said the annual assessment, which is produced by the United Nations Environment Program and is formally known as the Emissions Gap Report. Countries have failed to halt the rise of greenhouse gas emissions despite repeated warnings from scientists, with China and the United States, the two biggest polluters, further increasing their emissions last year.

The result, the authors added, is that “deeper and faster cuts are now required.”

As if to underscore the gap between reality and diplomacy, the international climate negotiations, scheduled to begin next week, are not even designed to ramp up pledges by world leaders to cut their countries’ emissions. That deadline is still a year away.

25 November 2019

Climate Change and South Asia’s Pending Food Crisis

By Rabiya Jaffery

Are South Asian governments adapting to climate change’s impact on agriculture in the region?

Experts predict that ensuring food security for South Asia’s expanding population will be one of the chief problems the subregion faces in the coming years. Countries of the region will need to place addressing food insecurity among their top policy agendas to ensure stability.

South Asia is currently home to nearly 1.8 billion people — the majority living in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh — and has been the fastest growing region for the past five years.The UN estimates that the population of the region will grow by 40 percent by 2050.

“The growing population will demand a higher supply of secure food, water, housing, and energy to maintain stability,” says George Stacey, an analyst working with Norvergence, an environmental advocacy NGO. “This is why countries in the region need to ensure they have the policies in place to adapt to the increasing number of people living there in coming years.”

And Stacey, among other climate experts, says that the challenge to secure food for South Asia’s growing population is exacerbated by the threats of climate change.

The International Politics of Energy and Resource Extraction

Despite concerns over the environmental impact of industrial mining and the contribution that fossil fuels make to global warming, resource extraction continues to be a major source of revenue for both developing countries and wealthier nations alike. In fact, new data show that the amount of resources being pulled from the earth has tripled since 1970, though the global population has only doubled in that time.

Amid global efforts to reduce carbon emissions as part of climate change diplomacy, fossil fuels remain among the most prized extractives, for a simple reason: Global demand combined with the wealth they generate continues to give some countries, including members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, outsized global influence.

24 November 2019

Redefining the power industry

The demands of a changing climate are starting to affect how many businesses operate, from attempting to tamp down their carbon emissions and ramp up energy efficiency, to adjusting to new risks caused by violent weather. Electric utility companies in the United States are no exception.

Here, we offer four quick takes on the changes in store for the power industry. In the first two, we size up the rising peril to utility assets and show how one US state is aspiring to meet new, tough clean-power mandates. Then we look at the potential of residential batteries and how they might buttress the industry’s stressed-out grids.

Finally, we tap the ideas of one expert who warns that climate change may be shifting the economics of long-term infrastructure investment. Power suppliers and many other businesses will need to be much more resilient in this changing environment.

21 November 2019

The Uneven Global Response to Climate Change

Recently published climate science ultimately underscores the same points: The impacts of climate change are advancing faster than experts had previously predicted, and they are increasingly irreversible. The latest blockbuster report, from a United Nations grouping of biodiversity experts in early May, found that 1 million species are now in danger of extinction unless dramatic changes are made to everything from fuel sources to agricultural production. Despite these warnings, however, scientists confirm that the world remains on pace to blow past the goal of restricting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, likely with catastrophic consequences.

Persistent climate skepticism from key global figures, motivated in part by national economic interests, is slowing diplomatic efforts to systematically address the drivers of climate change. In particular, U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement immediately undermined the pact but has also had long-term implications. Countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia, who were never eager to participate in the first place, now have cover to back away from their commitments.

17 November 2019

How Scientists Got Climate Change So Wrong

By Eugene Linden

For decades, most scientists saw climate change as a distant prospect. We now know that thinking was wrong. This summer, for instance, a heat wave in Europe penetrated the Arctic, pushing temperatures into the 80s across much of the Far North and, according to the Belgian climate scientist Xavier Fettweis, melting some 40 billion tons of Greenland’s ice sheet.

Had a scientist in the early 1990s suggested that within 25 years a single heat wave would measurably raise sea levels, at an estimated two one-hundredths of an inch, bake the Arctic and produce Sahara-like temperatures in Paris and Berlin, the prediction would have been dismissed as alarmist. But many worst-case scenarios from that time are now realities.

Science is a process of discovery. It can move slowly as the pieces of a puzzle fall together and scientists refine their investigative tools. But in the case of climate, this deliberation has been accompanied by inertia born of bureaucratic caution and politics. A recent essay in Scientific American argued that scientists “tend to underestimate the severity of threats and the rapidity with which they might unfold” and said one of the reasons was “the perceived need for consensus.” This has had severe consequences, diluting what should have been a sense of urgency and vastly understating the looming costs of adaptation and dislocation as the planet continues to warm.

16 November 2019

The Growing Threat of Water Wars


In 2015, United Nations member states adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, which include an imperative to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” Yet, in the last four years, matters have deteriorated significantly.

NEW DELHI – The dangers of environmental pollution receive a lot of attention nowadays, particularly in the developing world, and with good reason. Air quality indices are dismal and worsening in many places, with India, in particular, facing an acute public-health emergency. But as serious as the pollution problem is, it must not be allowed to obscure another incipient environmental catastrophe, and potential source of future conflict: lack of access to clean water.

We may live on a “blue planet,” but less than 3% of all of our water is fresh, and much of it is inaccessible (for example, because it is locked in glaciers). Since 1960, the amount of available fresh water per capita has declined by more than half, leaving over 40% of the world’s population facing water stress. By 2030, demand for fresh water will exceed supply by an estimated 40%.

With nearly two-thirds of fresh water coming from rivers and lakes that cross national borders, intensifying water stress fuels a vicious circle, in which countries compete for supplies, leading to greater stress and more competition. Today, hundreds of international water agreements are coming under pressure.

14 November 2019

Change of Players, Change of Game: How States Got Left Behind on Climate Change


In September 2019, Amazon, America’s third largest company by market value ($916B), announced plans to be carbon neutral by 2040. During the announcement, reflecting on scientists’ predictions about climate change from five years prior, CEO Jeff Bezos stated, ‘Those predictions were bad but what is actually happening is dire.’ The previous month, in an NPR interview, former Shell Oil President John Hofmeister was asked why oil majors like Shell, BP, and Exxon opposed the Trump Administration’s announced rollback of Obama-era methane emissions regulations. He explained that ‘regulations that protect the water, the land and the air…are essential for the [fossil fuel] industry to be successful down the road. That’s changed in the last 20 years. And so it’s necessary for the industry to recognize that this is the way it’s going to be, and it is the way it should be.’ Meanwhile, in 2017, Walmart, America’s largest company by revenue ($514B), announced the ‘Project Gigaton initiative that aims to reduce CO2 emissions globally by one billion metric tons before 2050,’ which would be ‘equivalent to taking over 211 million cars off of U.S. roads and highways for a year.’

13 November 2019

Disrupting Climate Change Through Innovation


LISBON – Because it poses an existential threat to humanity, climate change represents the bad kind of disruption. But it can – and must – be fought with the good kind of disruption: innovation. Since the Industrial Revolution, disruptive innovation has generated growth, created jobs, and opened new avenues for investment. And in the case of climate change, it could save humanity, by accelerating global efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. In fact, innovation will be absolutely necessary for a successful transition to a green economy that leaves no one behind. Without it, we have less chance of achieving genuine sustainability.

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, open societies were triumphant and international cooperation became the dominant creed. Thirty years later, however, nationalism has turned out to be much more powerful and disruptive than internationalism.

The alternative, of course, is unthinkable. To understand the extent of the threat posed by climate change in the event that we do nothing, consider where we are today. Average global temperatures have already risen by almost 1°C above pre-industrial levels, owing to the accumulation of GHGs in the atmosphere; and two-thirds of that increase has occurred since 1975. If the trend continues, global average temperatures could rise by 4°C by the end of this century.

8 November 2019

Revisiting the climate collapse: The view from Nuuk in the year 2070

David Spratt
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Planetary warming is one of several existential threats to human civilization. We are now in the climate end-game, facing a choice between dramatic action or a world plunged into outright chaos. The consequences of a failure to respond appropriately to the risks are explored in a scenario that illustrates the impacts of poorly-mitigated fossil fuel use over the next 50 years, including massive disruption of human societies, and identifies the main causes of the epochal failure of governments to protect the people and their future.

4 November 2019

To Tackle Climate Change, the (Industrial) Heat Is On


Climate change has become big news recently — and rightly so. Scientists have delivered important reports about its urgent dangers, political leaders have made pledges to fight it, and youth climate activists have marched in the streets and marked our consciences. This is all for the good. New ideas about electric vehicles, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and adaptation will enrich the conversation about climate action. 

But one critical topic has received short shrift: industrial heat.

It’s not surprising. Most people have no experience with heavy industry — such as manufacturing cement, steel, fuels, chemicals and glass — so they don’t know about its effects on the climate. But these processes generate 22% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with industrial heat alone releasing 10%. Despite the essential role it plays in the modern world, heavy industry has been conspicuously absent from the climate conversation.

If you care about climate, care about this.

29 October 2019

How Climate Change Will Help China And Russia Wage Hybrid War

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Increased refugee flows, weather threats, and declining food security will deepen tensions already being exploited to divide and weaken the U.S. and its allies.

The Democratic debate on 16 October featured a wide range of questions, including one about Ellen DeGeneres – but none about climate change. That’s a critical miss by Anderson Cooper and his fellow debate anchors, because as the irked contender Julián Castro pointed out after the debate, climate change is an existential threat. Americans and Europeans may not notice that existential threat yet, but they had better pay attention to it. Their adversaries could use climate change as a new front in hybrid warfare.

Consider the devastating fires in the Amazon. Soon after the G7 group offered Brazil $20 million to help fight the fires, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro turned it down, accusing them of treating his country “as if it were a colony” and blaming NGOs for having started the fires. The G7 looked weak, and the fires in the world’s green lung kept raging. Bolsonaro appears to have reached his rebellious stance on his own, but outside powers can exploit such grievances in combination with climate change.

28 October 2019

Ten facts about the economics of climate change and climate policy

The world’s climate has already changed measurably in response to accumulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These changes as well as projected future disruptions have prompted intense research into the nature of the problem and potential policy solutions. This document aims to summarize much of what is known about both, adopting an economic lens focused on how ambitious climate objectives can be achieved at the lowest possible cost.

Considerable uncertainties surround both the extent of future climate change and the extent of the biophysical impacts of such change. Notwithstanding the uncertainties, climate scientists have reached a strong consensus that in the absence of measures to reduce GHG emissions significantly, the changes in climate will be substantial, with long-lasting effects on many of Earth’s physical and biological systems. The central or median estimates of these impacts are significant. Moreover, there are significant risks associated with low probability but potentially catastrophic outcomes. Although a focus on median outcomes alone warrants efforts to reduce emissions of GHGs, economists argue that the uncertainties and associated risks justify more aggressive policy action than otherwise would be warranted (Weitzman 2009; 2012).

24 October 2019

Climate Change Enthusiasts Will Create an Energy Crisis

by Todd Royal

Energy and poverty are intertwined. In the last ten years India, according to the United Nations 2019 Multidimensional Poverty Index, lifted over 270 million Indian citizens out of extreme poverty; since they acquired growing electrification and access to energy. But many nations believe chaotic, intermittent renewables—mainly wind and solar—will achieve these results. Meanwhile, the world watches passively while the weaponization of energy led by China, Russia and Iran is teetering Asia towards memories of 1939 and the emergence of World War III.

European and U.S. officials believe that renewables will power billions in China, India, Africa, and Asia hungry for energy and electricity. European countries even welcome Iranian terrorist-monies for their dispirited economies. What the United States should do is “drown the world in oil.” It should build power plants and watch the planet flourish with affordable electricity. Nations need energy now.

22 October 2019

Climate Leadership from Developing Countries


LIBREVILLE – When Gabon ratified the 2015 Paris climate agreement, its real work was just beginning. The main challenge was to find ways to conserve the country’s natural environment and address the growing climate crisis, while not limiting economic opportunities for its people. Almost four years later, we have a deeper understanding of the crisis facing us, and the need to reconcile our country’s development with its climate response is greater and more urgent than ever.

Developing countries such as ours cannot follow the same development path that Western economies have taken over the last century and a half. We know the dire consequences of rapid industrialization for the global climate and environment, so we must find a different way to improve living standards.

It is only right, therefore, that advanced economies provide additional technological and financial assistance to the developing world. After all, this is the price of our shared responsibility for the planet. But climate solutions will not come solely from the West. Developing countries – including Gabon – also have an opportunity to lead this transformation.

17 October 2019

Climate Change and Food Security: A Test of U.S. Leadership in a Fragile World

Climate change poses a considerable threat to global food security, with potentially existential economic, political, and social outcomes for humanity. As climate impacts worsen and further stress an already hungry world, the United States should claim the mantle of global leadership in responding to the impacts of climate change, double down on domestic efforts to promote climate-smart agriculture, elevate the issue of climate change and food insecurity in national security circles, and leverage the reorganization of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to further mainstream climate resilience into U.S. global food security programs.

As people around the world increasingly feel the impacts of climate change, the collective call for action grows louder and louder. The effects of climate change on food production—often neglected in favor of stories on melting glaciers, tropical storms, and sea level rise—are receiving more and more mainstream attention. This brief seeks to summarize the relationship between climate change and food insecurity, highlight salient trends and controversies, and comment on U.S. government global policies and programs that tackle this important issue.