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Climate Madness In California, Iowa & The Philippines

GRAPH OF THE DAY 

TOTAL-CARBON-DIOXIDE EMISSIONS FROM CONSUMPTION OF ENERGY, PER COUNTRY. PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, printed in the National Journal, November 11, 2013 

THE LOWDOWN

Last week a report issued by UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) concluded that despite the best efforts to cut back on carbon emissions – emissions will rise 18 to 27 percent – undermining all attempts to ward off a 2°C increase in global temperature. This week 10,000 delegates from nearly 200 nations are assembled in Warsaw to lay the groundwork for a 2015 meeting in Paris where the next global climate treaty will be negotiated.  

The National Journal explains why Warsaw merits attention. Politico identifies the important “tells,” the things to be on the lookout for in Warsaw that could pre-determine whether the 2015 talks in Paris will succeed. Reuters reports a leaked IPCC document reveals managing the risks associated with climate change is the meeting’s main policy priority. Money – promised to poor countries to help them convert to clean energy sources and compensation to vulnerable island states to cover the damage caused by extreme weather – is considered the major stumbling block standing in the way of solidarity.

Playing out in real time against this backdrop, Typhoon Haiyan has some climate hawks striving to establish a direct, causal link between the circumstances that created the storm and climate change. The facts establishing the Philippines’ recurring history with violent storms are found here. 47 statistics on why the storm tilted in the direction it did are presented here. Read this to learn about storm surge, the leading cause of death in tropical storms.

Brad Plumer provides insight into why poor countries, like the Philippines, face greater difficulty adapting to the risks posed by tropical storms. Both Plumer and Andrew Revkin single out Seth Borenstein’s reporting for clarifying why this storm caused such widespread destruction. Climate Central summarizes Haiyan’s effect on the Warsaw climate talks. This strong condemnation that many of the deaths that occurred in the Philippines were preventable is a must read. For the definitive explanation on why a scientific link between Typhoon Haiyan and climate change remains inconclusive, read Scientific America.

An exposé critical of ethanol has unleashed a firestorm of controversy. It contends ethanol necessitates increased corn production, and in the process, destroys millions of acres of conservation land – harming the environment by polluting water supplies and disrupting natural habitats. Here are seven of the article’s key claimsOpponents of ethanol jumped on the bandwagon immediately – only to be contradicted by a diverse coalition of pro-ethanol supporters that let loose a flurry of coordinated PR.

For a reaction to the story from the Renewable Fuels Association’s President, read this. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack disputes the article’s findings here. Iowa’s senior Senator Chuck Grassley denounced the findings with homespun sarcasm. More objective reporting covering both sides of the controversy comes from ABC News. Politico reports the article’s timing comes precisely at the moment the EPA is set to announce the mandated amounts of ethanol refiners will be required to add to gasoline and diesel fuel in 2014. AP stands by the story. Meanwhile, this article claims the development of next generation biofuels still remains years away.   

Forecasting the future of the global food supply is still in the formative stage of being recognized as a legitimate science, but two separate bodies of research reach the same conclusion – climate change poses a risk to the global food supply. Leaked findings from the IPCC reveals food production will decline two percent per decade while food demand simultaneously increases 14 percent – confirming earlier findings from the London School of Economics that an increasing number of heat waves will affect our ability to grow food. Possible solutions: no-till farming and the method practiced on the TomKat Ranch in Northern California, sustainable farming.

California is currently experiencing its driest calendar year on record. With only 3.95 inches of rain since January, the State’s reservoirs are precariously low. Concern over the excessive use of water is just one of the reasons twenty of the nation's top climate scientists sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown asking him to ban "fracking.” A new mapping study shows installing solar panels on empty rooftops in L.A. County could generate half the electrical power California needs and create thousands of jobs. The findings contained in the recent report on California’s ability to meet its emission reduction goals by 2050 caused quite a stir. The NRDC argues the media misconstrued the study’s purpose; to discover what they think the media got wrong, read this. Then, if doubts continue to linger about California’s determination to reduce its carbon footprint, discover how U.C. Berkeley achieved its Carbon-Reduction Targets ahead of schedule and be prepared for an amplified debate on ARB’s controversial use of carbon offsets.    

 

QUOTES OF THE DAY

“What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness.” Filipino diplomat Yeb Sano addressing the members attending the annual U.N. summit on climate change in Warsaw one day after Supertyphoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines. 

"It's absolutely dry.” Bob Benjamin, a National Weather Service forecaster discussing the fact that California has only accumulated 3.95 inches of rain since Jan. 1 2013 and is currently experiencing the driest year on record.

"If what we're trying to do is stop using the sky as a waste dump for our carbon pollution …. the way to do that is not by expanding our fossil fuel infrastructure.” Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University commenting on why he signed a letter sent to Governor Jerry Brown asking him to ban fracking in Californian.

“Ethanol has been a bright spot in our American energy policy… For instance, I filled up my flex-fuel car yesterday for $2.39 with 85% ethanol…You’ve got to remember that farmers drink the water, eat the same food as the city people do.  They’re going to want to make sure that it’s safe for themselves as well as for everybody else.” Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley defending ethanol against the claims made in a recent AP report claiming ethanol hurts the environment. 

 

GRAPH OF THE DAY II

PROJECTIONS OF GLOBAL MEAN SEA LEVEL RISE OVER THE 21st CENTURY RELATIVE TO 1986–2005. IPCC Working Group, published in Climate Central, November 11, 2013 

 

GRAPH OF THE DAY III

A COMPARISON BETWEEN CUMULATIVE ENERGY-RELATED CO2 EMISSIONS and THE CARBON BUDGET FOR 2°C.  Quartz, November 12, 2013 

 

TODAY’S INTERACTIVE

A PERSONALIZED CARBON MEASUREMENT:  HOW MUCH CARBON WILL YOU GENERATE IN YOUR LIFETIME?  Data provided by the Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, and Department of Physics, University of Oxford, created by Duncan Clark and published in The Guardian, September 27, 2013 

 

WARSAW

REPORT. 2013 Gap Report Strengthens Case for Wide-Ranging Global Action to Close Emissions Gap 

UN Climate Change Conference begins in Warsaw 

Warsaw Climate Change Conference - November 2013 

UN climate talks face hurdles 

How to fix global warming before it’s too late 

Why Obama Can’t Fix Climate Change 

Will Warsaw talks fuel a pact? 

UN draft stresses risk of global warming, from economy to health 

UN climate talks in Polish capital to lay foundation of global pact

 

TYPHOON HAIYAN

Typhoon in Philippines Casts Long Shadow Over U.N. Talks on Climate Treaty 

Super Typhoon Haiyan May Leave 2,500 Dead

Philippines Typhoon History 

47 statistics that explain Typhoon Haiyan 

About Storm Surge 

The Facts About Sea Level Rise 

What a deadly typhoon in the Philippines can tell us about climate adaptation 

The Poverty and Population Factors Behind Vast Typhoon Losses 

Experts: Man, nature share typhoon tragedy blame 

Philippines fears massive death toll as Typhoon Haiyan wreaks havoc

Did Climate Change Cause Typhoon Haiyan? 

Typhoon and hurricane storm surge disasters are unacceptable 

Typhoon Haiyan's toll: More than 1,800 dead 

 

ETHANOL

Ethanol Producers Fume Over Upcoming Wire Story 

The Secret Environmental Cost of U.S. Ethanol Policy 

7 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ETHANOL 

Ethanol industry pushes back against negative AP story 

Attention Fracktivists: Corn Ethanol Is The Real Environmental Culprit 

RFA Challenges AP Story on Ethanol 

Ethanol advocates, Vilsack dispute report 

Senator Grassley joins critics of AP story on ethanol production. 

Industry Takes Aim at AP Ethanol Investigation 

Will President Obama slash ethanol mandate?

$Ethanol industry disputes findings of AP probe 

Next generation of biofuels is still years away 

 

AGRICULTURE

A Jolt to Complacency on Food Supply 

Climate change threatens global food production 

No-till farming is on the rise. That’s actually a big deal 

An Accidental Cattle Ranch Points the Way in Sustainable Farming 

 

CALIFORNIA

California Headed For Driest Year On Record 

Climate Change Is Messing With Rainfall Across The Entire Planet 

Officials Search For Plan As California Reservoirs Drop Below Half Capacity 

Top climate scientists call for fracking ban in letter to Gov. Jerry Brown 

Study: L.A. County Could Power Half of California With Rooftop Solar 

Estimating Policy-Driven Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trajectories in California: The California Greenhouse Gas Inventory Spreadsheet (GHGIS) Model 

UC Berkeley Achieves Carbon-Reduction Targets Two Years Ahead of Schedule 

State approves wave of “offsets” to ease compliance with carbon rules 

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