Thursday, May 28, 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
ScienceDaily says a paper found that climate change has less impacts on biodiversity than land use has. My first thoughts were that it's plausible, that the negative effects are combined, and that the priority might depend on the assumptions. I tried to RTFA, but it was paywalled other than a long abstract. The long abstract, however, nearly contradicts ScienceDaily, saying climate change has a mostly positive effect on biodiversity. Weirdly, it said that the climate change effect on biodiversity distribution by altitude was a positive effect in its study area, when I'd think that all other things being equal, a species will find less land available to it as its habitat range moves from lower to upper areas.
So, after some waffling I forked out the six bucks for temporary access, and I now have thoughts. I should be hesitant to pass judgment as a total amateur, so qualify this accordingly, but the main issue I'm fixating on is that they examined a single watershed catchment of a small, steeply-sloped river (1700 square km, elev. 45m to 1700m) in rural China. Your classic watershed is pie-shaped, with more land as you move uphill, even though our planet's land surface isn't similarly shaped. I think their finding, that in their case climate change benefits biodiversity when it moves habitat ranges uphill, is an artifact of their study area's topography. I looked for any discussion of this disparity between their study area and the terrestrial world in general, and didn't see it.
- It studies stream macroinvertebrates, just one specialized aspect of biodiversity, and is very dependent on projected changes in hydrology. I'm surprised to read the claim that one could do meaningful, quantitative predictions for future hydrology at a small scale. Maybe I shouldn't be.
- Speaking of predictions, the paper ends its predictions in 2050. I'd guess wildly that 2050 is about when land use impacts would've hit their maximum for a rural part of China, but climate change impacts are just beginning. Extending the analysis to a full century might give a different sense about the negative aspects of climate change.
- The paper discusses the issue of a "summit trap" where the species habitat hits the maximum altitude and then disappears, but apparently it just wasn't an issue in this study.
In summary, I have no sense that paper is denialist or the authors were skewing it in that direction, but the catchment area and 2050 timeline IMHO exclude applying this analysis to saying climate change is secondary to land use in impact, let alone that climate change has a positive impact on biodiversity.
Posted by Brian at 9:27 PM
Monday, May 25, 2015
Jeff Nesbit on Twitter points to a bit of plain speaking.
Bureau of Meteorology rejects Australia PM business advisor's climate denial claims as "incorrect"and "irrelevant" http://t.co/9jfcV7HU5F— Jeff Nesbit (@jeffnesbit) May 25, 2015
Anyhow, in a meeting of the Australian Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, Senator Larissa Walters asked Rob Vertessy, the Director of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology about some of Mr.
There were some lovely deadpan answers, but also a classic example of how to handle mansplaining by Senator Walters after the chair of the committee (a woman) tries to close off her line of inquiry at the start.
Among the highlights was Vertessy's answer to the old red herring of how can there be global warming if people in
I think it is referring to a bit of an old red herring that suggests that just because you are getting cold weather in the northern hemisphere it somehow discredits the fact that there is global warming occurring. There is a perfectly good explanation for that. The theory of global warming does not hold that there will be no any cold weather anywhere. In fact there is evidence to suggest that global warming will actually intensify the onset of some cold weather due to the effect of the changing behavior of the jet stream which wanders around a hell of a lot more latitudinally than it used to as a result to the changes to the global climate system and that has the effect of actually bringing more polar air into some populated areas of the northern hemisphere as well as bringing up some hot weather as well. So it is by no means any kind of proof that global warming is occuring
Posted by EliRabett at 9:51 AM
Saturday, May 23, 2015
I was at the party convention when it happened last weekend, but worked on campaign finance disclosure rather than divestment (disclosure got supported too). It's good news:
The California Democratic Party approved a sweeping resolution on Sunday to drop fossil fuel stocks from the state's two major public pension funds, valued at about $500 billion.
The party also wants the state's 33 public universities to purge such investments from their $12 billion in total endowments. The resolution will not likely result in new legislative action soon.
However, it could generate enough support among the Democratic majority to pass a less aggressive divestment bill, Senate Bill 185, working its way through the state legislature. Beyond California, this resolution adds to the fast-growing momentum of the fossil fuel divestment movement, which kicked off on college campuses in 2011 and has spread to cities and major corporations worldwide.
Before the final vote, RL Miller, chair of the California Democratic Party's environmental caucus and author of the resolution, delivered a one-minute speech. In an interview with InsideClimate News she recounted her message: "The world is watching...We need to send a moral message that California will not invest in those businesses that burn our planet in the name of profit and this resolution is that message. Divestment from South Africa helped bring down the system of apartheid and [divestment] will likewise bring down our dependence on fossil fuels. And further, [the] passage of this resolution will help pass Senate Bill 185."
AFAICT and from asking around, it's the first party convention to do this. I was surprised at the lack of coverage originally, but a little more has leaked out over the last few days.
This helps mainstream the divestment movement and show the party leadership where its activist base is coming from. We'll see what happens in coming months.
I've heard from South Africa divestment veterans that climate divestment is happening at a more rapid pace - I guess it depends on whether the starting point for South Africa was 1977 or 1984. Regardless, climate divestment is at least comparable.
UPDATE: wiki says the South Africa divestment movement got 53 educational institutions to fully or partly divest in 1984, 127 in 1987, and 155 in 1988, so there are some markers to measure against. The link at the top says about two dozen universities have done some form of climate divestment so far.
Posted by Brian at 2:51 PM
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
I don't have much to say beyond go read how the $2m lawsuit against John Mashey by luckwarmists didn't go well. It's a heartwarming tale, and congrats to the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund for their great work.
My one semi-serious comment is that this is the quality of the opposition. We ought to be kicking their butts.
Posted by Brian at 5:47 PM
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Monday, May 18, 2015
The free rider issue is the key to action,
If the fat tails of climate change are perilous, and geoengineering is itself a dangerous solution, what remains? Here, Wagner and Weitzman largely follow the standard economists’ prescription: “Stick it to carbon.” We might think that capitalism is the problem because economic growth has led to rising emissions. But, they argue, a modified invisible hand is the only workable solution: “It’s capitalism with all its innovative and entrepreneurial powers that is our only hope of steering clear of the looming climate shock.”and Nordhaus has another suggestion
The major challenge for climate policy is to overcome free-riding. The answer, I would suggest, is to rethink the design of climate treaties. We can look at successful treaties such as the European Union, the World Trade Organization, or military alliances as models for a more promising climate treaty.The essence of these successful treaties is the “club model.” A club is a voluntary group deriving mutual benefits from sharing the costs of producing an activity. Members get the benefits but also pay the dues. The benefits of a successful club are sufficiently large that members will pay dues and adhere to club rules in order to gain them. If we look at successful international clubs, we might see the seeds of an effective international system to deal with climate change.This, of course, is Eli Rabett's Simple Plan to Save the World, proposed in 2007
I recently described a possible Climate Club in the American Economic Review.4 Under the club rules, participating countries would undertake harmonized but costly emissions reductions. For example, they might agree that each country would implement policies that produce a minimum domestic carbon price of $40 per ton of CO2. The easiest way to raise the price is through a carbon tax, but countries might prefer other approaches such as setting quantitative limits on emissions, or hybrid approaches.
A crucial aspect of the club is that countries who are outside the club—and do not share in the burden of emissions reductions—are penalized. Penalties for those outside the club are central to the club mechanism, and penalties are the major difference from all other proposals from Kyoto to the upcoming meeting in Paris. Economic modeling indicates that the most promising penalty is uniform percentage tariffs on the imports of nonparticipants into the club region. A country considering whether to undertake costly abatement would have to weigh those costs against the potentially larger costs of reduced trade with countries in the club.
Nations wishing to make major progress on decreasing greenhouse gas emissions should introduce emission taxes on all products. These taxes should be levied on imports as well as domestic goods at the point of sale, and should displace other taxes, such as VAT, sales taxes, and payroll (e.g. social security, health care) in such a way that tax revenues are constant, and distributed equitably.
Imports from countries that do not have an EAL would have the full EAL imposed at the time of import. The base rate would be generic EALs based on worst previous practices in the countries that do have EALs, which would be reduced on presenting proof that the actual emissions were lower.
All countries with EAL systems would reserve a portion (say 5%) for assisting developing countries with adaptations (why not use acclimations?) and mitigating programs.
By basing the levy on emissions rather than carbon all greenhouse gases stand on a common level, sequestration is strongly encouraged as well as such simple things as capturing methane from oil wells and garbage dumps (that gets built into the cost of disposal). The multipliers would come from CO2 equivalents on a 10 year basis.
The process can be effective without across the board agreement which means the ability of countries such as the US to bargain the process down is decreased. Further, early adopters will control the process and establish the base rates in concert. Imagine a world wide EAL system controlled by the early adapters. The Simple Plan will advantage them and the world.
Posted by EliRabett at 7:31 AM