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Climate change - headlines

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The End of Snow?

Porter Fox, New York Times
OVER the next two weeks, hundreds of millions of people will watch Americans like Ted Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin ski for gold on the downhill alpine course. Television crews will pan across epic vistas of the rugged Caucasus Mountains, draped with brilliant white ski slopes. What viewers might not see is the 16 million cubic feet of snow that was stored under insulated blankets last year to make sure those slopes remained white, or the hundreds of snow-making guns that have been running around the clock to keep them that way.

Officials canceled two Olympic test events last February in Sochi after several days of temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit and a lack of snowfall had left ski trails bare and brown in spots. That situation led the climatologist Daniel Scott, a professor of global change and tourism at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, to analyze potential venues for future Winter Games. His thought was that with a rise in the average global temperature of more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit possible by 2100, there might not be that many snowy regions left in which to hold the Games. He concluded that of the 19 cities that have hosted the Winter Olympics, as few as 10 might be cold enough by midcentury to host them again. By 2100, that number shrinks to 6.

The planet has warmed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1800s, and as a result, snow is melting. In the last 47 years, a million square miles of spring snow cover has disappeared from the Northern Hemisphere. Europe has lost half of its Alpine glacial ice since the 1850s, and if climate change is not reined in, two-thirds of European ski resorts will be likely to close by 2100...
(7 February 2014)


The 'pause' in global warming is not even a thing

Graham Readfearn, The Guardian
The idea that global warming has "paused" or is currently chillaxing in a comfy chair with the words "hiatus" written on it has been getting a good run in the media of late.

Much of this is down to a new study analysing why one single measure of climate change – the temperatures on the surface averaged out across the entire globe – might not have been rising quite so quickly as some thought they might.

But here's the thing.

There never was a "pause" in global warming or climate change. For practical purposes, the so-called "pause" in global warming is not even a thing.

The study in question was led by Professor Matt England at the University of New South Wales Climate Change Research Centre.

England's study found that climate models had not been geared to account for the current two decade-long period of strong trade winds in the Pacific.

Once the researchers added this missing windy ingredient to the climate models, the surface temperatures predicted by the models more closely matched the observations – that is, the actual temperature measurements that have been taken around the globe. England explains the study in this YouTube video.


(12 February 2014)


"We Can't Trust Capitalism to Just Fix This" Global Warming Mess

Michael Mechanic, Mother Jones
In his new book, Windfall, journalist McKenzie Funk visits five continents to bring back stories of the movers and shakers at the forefront of the emerging business of global warming. He introduces us to land and water speculators, Greenland secessionists hoping to bankroll their cause with newly thawed mineral wealth, Israeli snow makers, Dutch seawall developers, wannabe geoengineers, private firefighters, mosquito scientists, and others who stand to benefit (at least in the short term) from climate change. (See this short excerpt, in which he writes about a guy who launched the world's first water rights hedge fund.)
(23 January 2014)


Tunisia embeds climate change in constitution

Ed King, RTCC
Tunisia has become only the third country on the planet to embed the importance of addressing climate change into its constitution.

The National Constituent Assembly passed the text earlier on Monday, with support from 168 MPs.

The constitution, which has been widely acclaimed as one of the most progressive in the region, obliges the state to “contribute to the protection of the climate … for future generations.”

It marks the start of a new era for the country three years after President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in protests that marked the start of what was called the Arab Spring.

Before today only Ecuador and Dominican Republic had included climate change in their constitutions...
(29 January 2014)


Climate change: Rainforest absorption of CO2 becoming erratic

Steve Connor, The Independent
Tropical rainforests are becoming less able to cope with rising global temperatures according to a study that has looked back over the way they have responded to variations in temperature in the past half a century.

For each 1C rise in temperature, tropical regions now release about 2 billion extra tonnes of carbon-containing gases – such as carbon dioxide and methane – into the atmosphere, compared to the same amount of tropical warming in the 1960s and 1970s, the study found...
(26 January 2014)


Discovering a Legal Tool to Curb Climate Change

Jeremy Brecher, On the Commons
On Mother’s Day, 2011 a legal campaign was launched in fifty states and in Federal court arguing that global warming violated the rights of the plaintiffs — young people and their posterity. The actions were based on an innovative application of an ancient legal principle known in the US as the “public trust doctrine.” They asserted that, under the public trust doctrine, governments serve as trustees of the atmosphere for the true beneficiaries, current and future generations, and that they are violating their most compelling duties by failing to protect it from devastating climate change. Successful or not, these cases may transform public discourse on the role of government in protecting the environment. The ideas underlying them, which go far beyond these climate cases per se, have now been laid out in a new book by Mary Christina Wood called Nature’s Trust: Environmental Law for a New Ecological Age (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

Mary Christina Wood is a professor at the University of Oregon School of Law and founding director of its Environmental and Natural Resources Law program. She has written widely on environmental issues, ranging the gamut from Pacific salmon recovery to protecting the environmental rights of Native Americans. Nature’s Trust is a comprehensive presentation of a new legal paradigm aiming to extend the public trust doctrine to serve as a foundation for environmental protection. Eloquent and closely but clearly reasoned, Nature’s Trust requires careful attention but not legal training to understand...
(8 January 2014)


Six Decades of a Warming Earth

NASA Goddard

(21 January 2014)


Met Office report spells out climate change link to UK storms and flooding

Roz Pidcock, Carbon Brief
As flood waters continue to engulf parts of the UK this weekend, the Met Office released a report looking at whether climate change is playing a part in the exceptional weather.

Chief scientist Julia Slingo summarised the Met Office's position by saying "all the available evidence suggests there is a link to climate change" - though the full report makes clear just how difficult it is to unravel the special weather we get here in the UK...
(10 February 2014)
Link to the report

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