2013 Carbon Emissions On Deadly Path to 5C

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By Stephen Leahy

WARSAW, Nov 19 2013 (IPS)

Burning of fossil fuels added a record 36 billion tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere in 2013, locking in even more heating of the planet.

Global CO2 emissions are projected to rise 2.1 percent higher than 2012, the previous record high, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Global Carbon Project.

“Going beyond two degrees C is very risky, it’s completely unknown territory.” — Corinne Le Quéré

This increase is slightly less than the 2000-2013 average of 3.1 percent, said lead author Corinne Le Quéré of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the UK.

“This is the second year in a row of below average emissions. Perhaps this represents cautious progress,” Le Quéré told IPS.

Still, these hard numbers demonstrate that the U.N. climate talks have failed to curb the growth in emissions. And there is little optimism that the latest talks known as COP19 here in Warsaw will change the situation even with the arrival of high-level ministers Wednesday.

Global emissions continue to be within the highest scenario of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), she said.

“This is a five-degree C trajectory. It’s absolutely tragic for humanity to be on this pathway,” Le Quéré said.

For full story

Black Carbon from Diesel, Industry and Cooking Fires Heating Planet

This is a re-post from June’11. A landmark study released Jan 15 2013 finds the direct influence of black carbon, or soot, on warming the climate could be about twice previous estimates. More information here  — Stephen

Stephen Leahy, International Environmental Journalist

There is a quick way to buy more time to make the switch from fossil fuels to alternatives. Serious reductions in air pollutants like soot and smog bring cleaner air, less asthma/lung disease/heart attacks and could cut warming by 30 per cent.  No new technology needed as my article shows, just something like a Green Marshall Plan to bring simple things like $20 clean-burning cooking stove to hundreds of millions of people. (more at Global Alliance for Cookstoves) — Stephen

By Stephen Leahy

BONN, Jun 14, 2011 (IPS) – Clean the air, cool the planet and prevent millions of deaths with fast action on soot and smog, a new report urges.

Air pollutants like black carbon (soot) and ground-level ozone (smog) arise from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass like wood and charcoal.

Nations or regional blocks of nations could decide to put measures into place that…

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Eliminate GDP and Economic Growth to Create the Real Green Economy Indigenous Peoples Say

Wind-solar electricity generation built by indigenous Telengits community in Russia's Altai  Mountains.   Photo:  Foundation for Sustainable Development of Altai

Wind-solar electricity generation built by indigenous Telengits community in Russia’s Altai Mountains. Photo: Foundation for Sustainable Development of Altai

by Stephen Leahy

First published at National Geographic’s NewsWatch

The planet is in peril, 3,000 scientists and other experts concluded at the recent Planet Under Pressure conference in London. Climate change, overuse of nitrogen and loss of biodiversity are just three of the perils threatening to make much of our home uninhabitable.

World leaders will meet in Rio de Janeiro June 20-22 to address this at the Rio+20 Conference, 20 years after the very first Earth Summit.

Rio+20 needs to be the moment in human history when the nations of the world come together to find ways to ensure ‘the very survival of humanity,’ environmentalists and scientists have said.

A “Green Economy” will be one of the main ideas under discussion in Rio. The idea is to make a transition to an economic system that maximizes human well-being while operating within the planet’s environmental limits. Exactly how this could be accomplished has yet to be defined.

The current economic system rewards those who exploit and destroy nature, said Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, Executive Director, Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education).

The current system hinders and even blocks Indigenous peoples from practicing their traditional ways of living that actually represent “a real green economy” that can be sustainable, achieve well being and are climate-friendly, said Tauli-Corpuz, a member of the indigenous Kankana-ey Igorot community in the Philippines.

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Extreme Weather is the New Normal with Climate Change

Aftermath of an early tornado in Lancaster, Texas. To join thousands of others connecting the dots between climate change and extreme weather, visit ClimateDots.org.

By Stephen Leahy

CAIRNS, Australia, Apr 3, 2012 (Tierramérica)

Extreme weather is fast becoming the new normal. Canada and much of the United States experienced summer temperatures during winter this year, confirming the findings of a new report on extreme weather.

For two weeks this March most of North America baked under extraordinarily warm temperatures that melted all the snow and ice and broke 150-year-old temperature records by large margins.

Last year the U.S. endured 14 separate billion-dollar-plus weather disasters including flooding, hurricanes and tornados.

A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released Mar. 28, provides solid evidence that record-breaking weather events are increasing in number and becoming more extreme. And if current rates of greenhouse gas emissions are maintained, these events will reach dangerous new levels over the coming century.

Since 1950 there have been many more heat waves and record warm temperatures than in previous decades.

This will only increase in future decades, as will heavier rainfall events in tropical regions and the high latitudes, according to the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). 

The hottest day that occurs once in 20 years is likely to become a one-in-two year event by the end of the century, except in the high latitudes of the Northern hemisphere, where it is likely to happen once every five years.

The average tropical cyclone maximum wind speed is likely to increase, but the global frequency of tropical cyclones is likely to decrease or remain unchanged.

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Governments Responsible for Species Decline – New Panel Learns from IPCC Experience

By Stephen Leahy*

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Mar 6, 2011 (Tierramérica)

After five years of preparation the international community is expected to launch the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services this year. For some of its proponents, even the decisions of the World Trade Organisation should be subject to its analysis.

IPBES would be analogous to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), but focused on biological diversity.

The idea behind this effort is that decisions by all levels of government are largely responsible for the decline in species and ecosystems that support life on the Earth.

To put an end to species decline, governments need an independent, authoritative scientific body that can assess the impacts of proposed policies and decisions that biodiversity experts have long recommended.

“People generally have yet to appreciate the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and how much is at stake in biodiversity loss,” Charles Perrings, professor of environmental economics at Arizona State University in the U.S. southwest, told Tierramérica.

“Biodiversity” is the term used to describe the wide variety of living things that comprise the planet’s biological infrastructure and provide us with health, wealth, food, water, fuel and other vital services.  Continue reading

Report: +2.4C by 2020 leaves Billions Hungry? Scary but Untrue. Inside Story of Good Intentions Gone Wrong (and how the media fell for it)

Food Report Released Knowing the Science Was Wrong

By Stephen Leahy

Jan 19 2011

In the year 2020 climate change will devastate much of the world’s harvest leaving one in five people starving because the global temperature will have shot up an average of 2.4 degrees C a new report released Tuesday shows.

Shocking. Stunning. Scary even. And completely untrue.

Days before the report’s release I told the author Liliana Hisas of the Universal Ecological Fund (FEU), an Argentina-based NGO, it was impossible to get to 2.4 degrees of warming by 2020. Global temperatures have increased 0.8C in the last century and the 64-page report, “The Impacts of Climate Change on Food Production: A 2020 Perspective,” is based on additional 1.6C degree increase in just nine years time.

I asked several climate experts if it was possible to reach a +2.4 degree average global temperature by 2020. Their answer: “No way”.

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The reason is that the oceans absorb 93 per cent of the additional heat being trapped in the atmosphere due to the burning fossil fuels. If we stopped burning all fossil fuels and emitting other greenhouse gases today, the atmosphere would still continue to slowly heat up over the next 50 to 100 years as the oceans released that stored heat.

So ‘thank God for the oceans’ I said to Hisas who is also Executive Director of FEU-US when I explained all this via emails. And in an interview with Hisas on Monday I suggested the report be withdrawn. She refused, saying her organization had worked on the report for more than a year and the science was solid. It was all based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 report and had been vetted by Osvaldo Canziani, a former co-chair of the IPCC she said.

Unfortunately Canziani was in hospital and unavailable for an interview. Continue reading

UN Climate Body (IPCC) Too Slow, Too Cautious

The review of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has been completed and concluded that the science is sound. Of course that is not what many in the blogosphere are saying.

As a journalist my experience with the IPCC over past decade has been that their communication is terrible. The Summary for Policy Makers report is unreadable except by the most dedicated jurno with good salary and few deadlines…

Secondly public statements by IPCC are so qualified with caveats to require telepathy to parse the real meanings.

Finally compared to my reading of the latest science the IPCC is woefully out of date and conservative to a fault.

In my view much of the current criticism of the IPCC is misdirected and done so to deliberately confuse the public about the reality of the near and present danger of climate change.

I have interviewed scientists and other experts about how the findings and integrity of climate science/scientists have been systematically attacked and distorted by those with vested interests:

* Proof of Anti-Global Warming Cabal: Fossil fuel Interests, Christian Evangelicals and the Media

* Violent Backlash Against Climate Scientists

* Global Warming: What is the chance that thousands of scientists are wrong and Rush Limbaugh is correct? (video)


— Stephen

Summary of the InterAcademy Council Review from the excellent Australian science blog Climate Shifts:

The long-awaited review of the IPCC has been delivered by the InterAcademy Council (an Amsterdam-based organization of the world’s science academies). Contrary to the misguided expectations of the denialist community, the Inter-Academy Council has concluded that the periodic assessment reports of the IPCC have been successful overall. There is some need, however, for improving some of the reporting process and for developing a better set of processes to deal with the growing scientific and political complexity of the climate change issue.

Here is the press release posted today by the InterAcademy Council (IAC).