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Wild weather worsening due to climate change, IPCC confirms

AP, The Guardian
Freakish weather disasters — from the sudden October snowstorm in the north-east US to the record floods in Thailand — are striking more often. And global warming is likely to spawn more similar weather extremes at a huge cost, says a draft summary of an international climate report obtained by The Associated Press…

The report from the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will be issued in a few weeks, after a meeting in Uganda. It says there is at least a two-in-three probability that weather extremes have already worsened because of man-made greenhouse gases…
(1 November 2011)

Global carbon intensity on the rise for first time in a decade

Business Green
Global emissions output is now outpacing economic growth, meaning that the world’s carbon intensity has increased for the first time since 2000.

A PwC report to be published today will say that while carbon emissions fell along with the recession-inspired dip in industrial output the trend was reversed in 2010.

Last year, global GDP increased 5.1 per cent but emissions grew 5.8 per cent, resulting in a 0.6 per cent rise in carbon intensity, the figure that reflects the level of emissions per unit pf production…

The report calculates that global carbon intensity now needs to reduce by 4.8 per cent a year, over twice the rate required in 2000, if temperatures are to be kept below the 2º C increase most scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change…
(7 November 2011)

Map reveals stark divide in who caused climate change and who’s being hit

Damian Carrington, The Guardian
When the world’s nations convene in Durban in November in the latest attempt to inch towards a global deal to tackle climate change, one fundamental principle will, as ever, underlie the negotiations.

Is is the contention that while rich, industrialised nations caused climate change through past carbon emissions, it is the developing world that is bearing the brunt. It follows from that, developing nations say, that the rich nations must therefore pay to enable the developing nations to both develop cleanly and adapt to the impacts of global warming.

The point is starkly illustrated in a new map of climate vulnerability [link]: the rich global north has low vulnerability, the poor global south has high vulnerability. The map is produced by risk analysts Maplecroft by combining measures of the risk of climate change impacts, such as storms, floods, and droughts, with the social and financial ability of both communities and governments to cope. The top three most vulnerable nations reflect all these factors: Haiti, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe…
(26 October 2011)

The heat is on

The Economist
FOR those who question whether global warming is really happening, it is necessary to believe that the instrumental temperature record is wrong. That is a bit easier than you might think.

There are three compilations of mean global temperatures, each one based on readings from thousands of thermometers, kept in weather stations and aboard ships, going back over 150 years. Two are American, provided by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), one is a collaboration between Britain’s Met Office and the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (known as Hadley CRU). And all suggest a similar pattern of warming: amounting to about 0.9°C over land in the past half century…

To build confidence in their methodologies, NASA and NOAA already publish their data and algorithms. Hadley CRU is now doing so. A grander solution, outlined in a forthcoming Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, would be to provide a single online databank of all temperature data and analysis. Part of the point would be to encourage more scientists and statisticians to test the existing analyses—and a group backed by Novim, a research outfit in Santa Barbara, California, has recently done just that.

Marshalled by an astrophysicist, Richard Muller, this group, which calls itself the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature, is notable in several ways. When embarking on the project 18 months ago, its members (including Saul Perlmutter, who won the Nobel prize for physics this month for his work on dark energy) were mostly new to climate science. And Dr Muller, for one, was mildly sceptical of its findings. This was partly, he says, because of “climategate”: the 2009 revelation of e-mails from scientists at CRU which suggested they had sometimes taken steps to disguise their adjustments of inconvenient palaeo-data. With this reputation, the Berkeley Earth team found it unusually easy to attract sponsors, including a donation of $150,000 from the Koch Foundation.

Yet Berkeley Earth’s results, as described in four papers currently undergoing peer review, but which were nonetheless released on October 20th, offer strong support to the existing temperature compilations.
(22 October 2011)

Health cost of 6 U.S. climate disasters: $14 billion

Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters
Deaths and health problems from floods, drought and other U.S. disasters related to climate change cost an estimated $14 billion over the last decade, researchers said on Monday.

“When extreme weather hits, we hear about the property damage and insurance costs,” said Kim Knowlton, a senior scientist at Natural Resources Defense Council and a co-author of the study. “The healthcare costs never end up on the tab.”

The study in the journal Health Affairs looked at the cost of human suffering and loss of life due to six disasters from 2000-2009.

“This in no way is going to capture all of the climate-related events that happened in the U.S. over that time period,” Knowlton said. “At $14 billion, these numbers are big already.”
(8 November 2011)