Climate, resilience and geopolitics – headlines

November 8, 2013

NOTE: Images in this archived article have been removed.

Click on the headline (link) for the full text.

Obama Administration Takes Action on Climate ‘Resilience’

Andrew Freedman, Climate Central
President Obama issued an Executive Order on Friday establishing a new task force that will work to make U.S. communities more resilient to change-related impacts, such as heavy precipitation events, more frequent coastal flooding, and more severe and longer lasting heat waves.

The Executive Order enshrines the climate change buzzword of the post-Hurricane Sandy era — “resilience” — into the language of the federal bureaucracy by directing agencies to work with state, local, and tribal leaders to determine how they can make it easier for communities to prepare for climate change- related impacts…
(1 November 2013)

Global security in the age of climate responsibility

Carbon Brief
Can you imagine the Ministry of Defence telling the Treasury to make sure the UK economy decarbonises fast enough to help ensure the world avoids the worst effects of climate change?

It’s an unlikely scenario, but a new paper has called for a rethink of the traditional boundaries between economic and security policy. Carbon Brief talks to the author, Dr. Simon Dalby, about the implications of his new paper, ‘Rethinking Geopolitics: Climate Security in the Anthropocene’.

Dalby’s work is based on the premise that humanity is now living in a new geological era, in which human activity is increasingly influential on the conditions we find ourselves in. Earth scientists call it the Anthropocene. Dalby tells us:

"We are no longer living in a natural world that is a given context for humanity, but in one that our systems are changing quite fundamentally. This increasingly artificial context is usefully discussed in terms of the Anthropocene, the new geological epoch in which humanity is remaking geological circumstances, literally deciding such things as how many polar ice caps the earth ought to have in millennia to come."

(4 November 2013) 
Source:  Dalby, S. (2013), Rethinking Geopolitics: Climate Security in the Anthropocene. Global Policy. doi: 10.1111/1758-5899.12074

Climate Change Seen Posing Risk to Food Supplies

Justin Gillis, New York Times
Climate change will pose sharp risks to the world’s food supply in coming decades, potentially undermining crop production and driving up prices at a time when the demand for food is expected to soar, scientists have found.

In a departure from an earlier assessment, the scientists concluded that rising temperatures will have some beneficial effects on crops in some places, but that globally they will make it harder for crops to thrive — perhaps reducing production over all by as much as 2 percent each decade for the rest of this century, compared with what it would be without climate change…

The warnings come in a leaked draft of a report under development by a United Nations panel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The document is not final and could change before it is released in March…
(2 November 2013)

CO2 levels hit record high

Adam Vaughan, The Guardian
The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen to a record high – again.

For the past nine years the UN World Metereological Organisation has produced an annual greenhouse gas bulletin, with each year notching up a record high for average annual levels, and figures published on Wednesday show 2012 was no exception.

This isn’t particularly surprising – in September the UN’s climate science panel, the IPCC, told us that atmospheric CO2 concentrations were at levels "unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years." In May this year, CO2 levels briefly passed the symbolic milestone of 400 parts per million (ppm), considerably higher than the average for 2012 of 393.1ppm. As we reported at the time:

…the last time so much greenhouse gas was in the air was several million years ago, when the Arctic was ice-free, savannah spread across the Sahara desert and sea level was up to 40 metres higher than today.

(6 November 2013)

How the world is failing at its climate goals, in one giant chart

Brad Plumer, Washington Post
Every time world leaders get together and talk about climate change, they tend to agree on one big thing: We shouldn’t let global average temperatures rise more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The risks would be too great. It would be too dangerous.

Then those same world leaders fly back home and… don’t do enough about it. The U.N.’s Environment Programme is out with its big annual report on this very subject: Even if you add up all the bright-eyed promises that countries have made to tackle climate change, global greenhouse-gas emissions are still on pace to rise too fast to avoid 2°C of warming.

Here’s the giant chart showing the "emissions gap" — the gulf between climate ambitions and actual practice:

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Click image to view chart
(5 November 2013)

The Climate Mapping Tool You’ve Been Waiting For

John Metcalfe, Atlantic Cities
Weather geeks, say goodbye to your morning productivity. The data conjurers at NOAA have rolled their latest environmental visualization out of the hanger, and it is bursting with every possible thing you’d want to know about the planet’s health, from past to present to worrisome future.

Want to know what the clouds like looked during your city’s last nasty storm? The "NOAA View" portal has crisp satellite images stretching 5 years back. Curious where snow and ice have accumulated this year? The frozen stuff is splashed about the globe like splattered white frosting. How hot will the weather soon be if humanity doesn’t rein in its emissions? One of the several simulations crammed into this Swiss Army climate tool has this prediction: It will be blastedly warm, despite our best attempts to stop burning fossil fuels…

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2100 under a "low" emissions scenario – NOAA View

The NOAA View imagery portal provides a single point for experiencing NOAA data from satellites, models, and in-situ analyses. The site allows for seamless browse, animate, and download capability of high resolution images and Google Earth formatted files. With over 60 datasets (and growing) that go as far back as 1880 and out to 2100, NOAA View provides the ability to see our dynamic planet and how it changes over weeks, months, years and even decades.

(6 November 2013) 

2012’s carbon emissions in five graphs

Freya Roberts, Carbon Brief
Could global carbon dioxide emissions be about to peak? That was the suggestion from some parts of the media yesterday after a new report revealed the increase in global carbon dioxide emissions had slowed in 2012.

The study, by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, showed carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.1 per cent last year – considerably less than the average rise over the last decade of nearly three per cent.

This lead many, including the study’s authors, to consider whether 2012 marked the start of a "permanent slowdown" in emissions. But is that really the big picture?

We explain what’s going on with five simple graphs…
(1 November 2013)
Link to Trends in Global CO2 Emissions: 2013 Report

Tags: carbon emissions, climate change, Geopolitics & Military, Politics