by Judith Curry
A few things that caught my eye this past week.
US CO2 emissions drop to 20 year low
The big news for the week. As reported by the Capitol Report of NM:
The US Energy Information Administration reported this month that CO2 levels in America are at their lowest rate in 20 years:
That should make all of us happy but for some in the environmental movement, apparently good news just isn’t good enough.
That’s because the drop in CO2 levels is largely attributed to the country’s increasing use of natural gas.
“The Sierra Club has serious doubts about the net benefits of natural gas,” Deborah Nardone, director of the group’s Beyond Natural Gas campaign, told Associated Press Thursday (Aug. 16).
Here’s more from the AP story:
Many of the world’s leading climate scientists didn’t see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere.
You mean the free market that is so abhorred by those in the green movement actually spurred this dramatic decrease in CO2? That maybe there’s an alternative to top-down government directives when it comes to making the planet cleaner?
Even Michael Mann, a climate scientist from Penn State who has been the center of much controversy, told AP the CO2 decrease demonstrates that “ultimately people follow their wallets” on global warming.
McIntyre in London
The Register has a good article on Steve McIntyre’s talk in London, entitled McIntyre: CLimate policy crippled by pointless feel good gestures. Its a thoughtful article about an apparently thoughtful presentation. So tell me, are these the words of a ‘denier’, as McIntyre is often characterized?
But anyone expecting fulminations against the climate establishment doesn’t know his work. McIntyre is agnostic, and apart from some measured laconic asides, his talk was, like his writing, technical and practical.
Policy makers in the US and the UK are not guided by reality, thinks McIntyre: “If you’re a policy maker, you have to take as a base case that India and China are going to increase carbon dioxide emissions, and one of the IPCC base cases of CO2 emissions is going to come to pass. You would be negligent to ignore it – we can hope it will be less severe, and we can hope skeptics are right – but you have to assume that the IPCC advice is accurate. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of [room to] manoeuvre.”
“The entire rationale of policy in US and Europe has been to ignore what’s happening in China and India and hope that petty acts of virtuous behaviour in both countries will cure the problem,” he said. “Even if you install windmills you’re not going to change the trend of overall CO2 emissions.”
McIntyre said he thought the reason for the “tremendous acrimony” in the climate blogosphere was a response to this: “Nobody knows what to do.”
“Policy makers can assume what changes are most likely, and equip society to be resilient to those changes. If resources are limited, then expenditures on acts of petty virtue – that may make microscope changes, that have no impact on climate – should be put under the microscope to see if they make best use of social resources compared to adaptation,” he said during his talk on 16 August.
Asked by climate scientist Richard Betts of the Met Office, an IPCC author, if he saw more hope for the UN panel, McIntyre replied: “Much of the report was drivel, probably most of it. The fact there are a few sensible observations aren’t enough to repay the effort.”
By far the most contentious statement was the one referred to earlier – that policy makers should accept the base IPCC scenarios. Why believe a word they say, asked several questioners?
“Until it mends its ways, policy makers are stuck with it,” said McIntyre.
“I take a fairly nuanced view. I’ve been a severe critic of the IPCC: they’re letting society down, and have an obligation to do much better reports than they do. Their failure to do so is an abnegation of their duty.” His view, he said, was tempered by a view of risk based on his business experience. “You’d be negligent not to take the IPCC as the basis of policy, even if you thought the quality of the work required tremendous improvement. I hope people do a better job.”
A range of grades on the octopus test
The GreenLeft on the floods in Manila:
Manila and other parts of the Philippines seem to experience these severe floods every year. Do you think this is a symptom of global climate change?
The PLM is part of the network of people’s organisations and NGOs that are demanding the imperialist countries pay up for the consequences of global warming and take radical action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
We also believe that persuasion will not work with these imperialist governments, and the people of the world should undertake more pressure against them.
In the end, the only solution will be to get rid of the capitalist system and institute a system where human solidarity, human needs and the preservation of the planet’s resources would become a top priority.
Perhaps a more realistic assessment of the causes of the floods is found here:
The world is changing. Largely because of climate change. If you ask PAGASA, they’ll say, they will still study if this was caused by climate change. Regardless, if it was or wasn’t, we need to do the following: 1) Better flood control; 2) Social engineering— people throwing trash, or sending out information to rescuers, and 3) unify Metro Manila so we get proper city planning.
From the Scientific American: Is Climate Change Making Temperatures Too Hot for High School Football? The last thing anyone wants to see is high school students to suffer or even die from exertion in hot weather. Georgia is highlighted in this article: even at historical mean temperatures and humidity for August, Georgia’s climate in August is very uncomfortable . Be an octopus: start football practice during colder weather, and move inside sports like basketball to the warm season.
While developing economies have the greatest proportion of their economies at risk, they’re not alone. Maplecroft found major economies like Taiwan, Japan, China, Brazil, and Mexico have the largest total economic exposure to natural disaster in absolute terms. However, these countries have a far greater capacity to recover from disaster due to resilience factors like economic strength, strong governments, disaster preparedness, and building regulations.
These factors are largely absent in developing economies, meaning they take much longer to bounce back, if at all. While the highest-risk countries have booming economies, they are fueled by poor populations who live on marginal lands like flood plains in insecure housing, without adequate resources to re-establish their lives after a major event.
The week before classes start at Georgia Tech is always hectic. This past week has been even more hectic (not to mention interesting and entertaining) than usual. The Owen Wilson-Vince Vaughn movie “The Internship” was filming on the Georgia Tech campus. From the Georgia Tech news release:
“Georgia Tech is one of the most unique and dynamic campuses I have ever seen,” said the director of “The Internship,” Shawn Levy. “The architecture and space is as forward-thinking as its curriculum and student body; we thought it was the perfect setting for our story.”
Filming occurred in my building, the Environmental Science and Technology Building, last Wed. The first floor atrium area was completely ‘google-ized’, apparently outfitted as google’s recreation facilities with ping pong tables, etc. All this took place literally outside my office door, it was actually a challenge to make it into my office. We took lots of photos of the google-ized building.
JC message to Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughan: dudes u r 2 kook 4 skool.