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Link builds between weather extremes and warming

Nina Chestney, Reuters
Extreme weather events over the past decade have increased and were “very likely” caused by manmade global warming, a study in the journal Nature Climate Change said on Sunday.

Scientists at Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Research used physics, statistical analysis and computer simulations to link extreme rainfall and heat waves to global warming. The link between warming and storms was less clear.

“It is very likely that several of the unprecedented extremes of the past decade would not have occurred without anthropogenic global warming,” said the study.

The past decade was probably the warmest globally for at least a millennium. Last year was the eleventh hottest on record, the World Meteorological Organization said on Friday.

Extreme weather events were devastating in their impacts and affected nearly all regions of the globe…
(25 March 2012)

Met Office: World warmed even more in last ten years than previously thought when Arctic data added

Louise Gray, Daily Telegraph
The controversial record of climate change, put together by the Met Office Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia, is one of only a handful of global temperature data sets stretching back since the end of the 19th Century.

The temperature series was at the centre of the Climategate scandal in 2009, after hacked emails from the University of East Anglia showed scientist were unwilling to release original data.

Critics claimed that the whole argument for global warming could not be trusted if the data set was questioned.

However a series of inquiries found the science was correct, although the University of East Anglia was criticised for failing to share information.

Now a new analysis of land and sea temperatures, that includes new data from weather stations in the Arctic, has found the world is warming even more than previously thought…
(19 March 2012)

EPA Said to Be Close to Limiting U.S. Greenhouse-Gas Emissions

Mark Drajem, Bloomberg
The Environmental Protection Agency is close to issuing the first limits to cut U.S. greenhouse gases from power plants, with an announcement possible as soon as today, according to people familiar with the matter.

The rules from President Barack Obama’s administration would set emissions for all power plants at the level established for a natural-gas plant, or about half what is released from a coal-burning facility. Any new coal plants would need expensive carbon-capture equipment, according to the people, who declined to be identified before an announcement.

The proposed nationwide standards would be the first by the EPA for carbon-dioxide from power plants, the largest source of those emissions in the U.S. Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club are pressing the Obama administration to issue tight standards to head off an increase in global warming that they warn could be catastrophic.“It will make it nearly impossible to build a new coal plant,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in an interview. “The market has been moving in this direction already” so the rule “captures the end of an era.”…
(27 March 2012)

James Hansen: Why I must speak out about climate change
James Hansen, TED Talks
Top climate scientist James Hansen tells the story of his involvement in the science of and debate over global climate change. In doing so he outlines the overwhelming evidence that change is happening and why that makes him deeply worried about the future.

James Hansen has made key insights into our global climate — and inspired a generation of activists and scientists.

James Hansen is Adjunct Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. He was trained in physics and astronomy in the space science program of James Van Allen at the University of Iowa. His early research on the clouds of Venus helped identify their composition as sulfuric acid. Since the late 1970s, he has focused his research on Earth’s climate, especially human-made climate change. Hansen is known for his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in the 1980s that helped raise broad awareness of the global warming issue. Hansen is recognized for speaking truth to power, for identifying ineffectual policies as greenwash, and for outlining the actions that the public must take to protect the future of young people and the other species on the planet.

“The scientific excitement in comparing theory with data, and developing some understanding of global changes that are occurring, is what makes all the other stuff worth it.”

– James Hansen

(March 2012)

Post Carbon Pathways? Necessary. Possible. Urgent – Report

Centre for Policy Development [Australia]
Around the world an increasing number of detailed policy road maps are demonstrating the possibility – as well as the necessity and urgency – of a rapid transition to a just and sustainable post carbon future. The Post Carbon Pathways report, jointly published by CPD and the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, has reviewed eighteen of the most comprehensive and rigorous post carbon economy transition strategies.

Download Post Carbon Pathways: Reviewing post carbon economy transition strategies
In their report, CPD fellow John Wiseman and Taegen Edwards look at transition strategies produced by governments with the strongest emissions reduction targets, such as Germany, Denmark, the UK and California, as well as some of the most innovative and influential non-government authored strategies such as Zero Carbon Britain 2030, Zero Carbon Australia 2020 and World in Transition (German Advisory Council on Global Change). Analysis of these diverse approaches leads to the following key lessons:

• Pathways to the emissions reductions needed to prevent runaway climate change remain open, but the gate is closing fast.
• Technological barriers are not the most significant obstacles to a fair and rapid transition to a post carbon economy.
• The biggest barriers preventing a rapid transition to a post carbon future are social and political, not technological or financial.
• Following the examples of other developed countries, Australia must develop a longer-term agenda for emissions reductions to meet its targets. The federal government currently lacks a plan for how Australia’s 2050 target (of an 80 per cent decrease on 2000 levels) will be achieved.

The authors’ research leads to two challenging and urgent questions:
• For less ambitious plans and strategies (generally government-led): Given that the proposed actions do not match the physical requirements of action needed to prevent runaway climate change, what can be done to bridge this gap?
• For more ambitious plans and strategies (generally non-government authored): Given that political and social support for the rapid implementation of these proposals remains challenging, what can be done to bridge this gap?
(14 March 2012)
Link to the report