Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a visit to CSIRO in December 2015. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

[This is a disaster. CSIRO is a world-class research organization for climate science, on par with the UK’s Hadley Centre for Climate Research, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and Germany’s Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research. Crippling Australia’s climate science capability deals a significant blow to humanity’s struggle to survive our greatest existential threat: abrupt climate change. –Des]

By Peter Hannam
4 February 2016

(Sydney Morning Herald) – Fears that some of Australia's most important climate research institutions will be gutted under a Turnbull government have been realised with deep job cuts for scientists.

Fairfax Media has learnt that as many as 110 positions in the Oceans and Atmosphere division will go, with a similarly sharp reduction in the Land and Water division.

Total job cuts would be about 350 staff over two years, the CSIRO confirmed in an email to staff, with the Data61 and Manufacturing divisions also hit.

The cuts were flagged in November, just a week before the Paris climate summit began, with key divisions told to prepare lists of job cuts or to find new ways to raise revenue.

"Climate will be all gone, basically," one senior scientist said before the announcement. […]

It is understood just 30 staff will be left in the Oceans and Atmosphere unit and they will not be working on climate issues related to basic data gathering.

"This staggering attack on climate science is an act of political vandalism, pure and simple, and if the government doesn't back down on this it's ordinary Australians who will ultimately pay the price," Nadine Flood, national secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union, said. […]

Andy Pitman, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of NSW, said the scale of the cuts was "jaw-droppingly shocking". 

"It's a catastrophic reduction in our capacity to assess present and future climate change," Professor Pitman said. "It will leave us vulnerable to future climate change and unable to take advantage of any positives that result."

The impact will extend not just to the science being conducted in and around Australia but also to the ability of the country to retain and attract scientists, he said. 

"They will focus on North American and European problems [when they go], not Australia's," Professor Pitman said. […]

The cuts had "the potential to devastate climate science in Australia", Todd Lane, president of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, said.

"Not only does CSIRO play a key role in climate monitoring, it underpins all of the climate modelling activity in Australia," Associate Professor Lane said.

"If that is cut significantly, it will set us back at least a decade and will undermine our ability to predict future climate risk." [more]

Climate science to be gutted as CSIRO swings jobs axe


By Adam Morton, Peter Hannam, and Marcus Strom
5 February 2016

(Sydney Morning Herald) – Australia will break a commitment made at the Paris climate summit less than two months ago if CSIRO goes ahead with its plan to axe its research programs, one of the agency's leading scientists has warned.

John Church, a globally recognised expert on sea level rise and one of CSIRO's most decorated researchers, said organisation chief Larry Marshall had misled the public by claiming there was now less need for climate research because the problem had been "proven".

It came as US scientist James Hansen, sometimes described as the father of climate change awareness, suggested the decision to cut the jobs was wrong.  

Dr Marshall announced via email on Thursday that 350 jobs would go over two years as the organisation moved away from observing and modelling climate change to working on solutions to the problem.

Details of the cuts have not been finalised, but it is understood one of the world's three major atmospheric greenhouse gas recording stations at Cape Grim, in Tasmania's north-west, is under threat. It is the only station of its type in the southern hemisphere.

The future of programs run by the $120 million RV Investigator research ship, launched amid fanfare in late 2014, are among those that are unclear.

CSIRO staff were forthright in their unhappiness at the cuts at briefings at midday on Friday, describing it as a flawed strategy.

About 100 jobs are planned to go from units dedicated to research in areas including greenhouse gas levels, sea level rise, ocean temperatures, ocean acidification and assessing what is required to keep global warming to two degrees. The jobs would be replaced by new positions in other areas.

Dr Church, who has worked at CSIRO since 1978 and expects to lose his job, said the cuts would make it difficult for Australia to uphold its part of the Paris deal, which agreed there should be greater investment in climate research, including improved observations and early warning systems.

He said the work of CSIRO was considered particularly important because of Australia's role as the major developed country in the southern hemisphere, with a focus on Antarctica and the Pacific.

"There is need for climate science – there are clauses in the Paris agreement that say that. There is a clear need for ongoing sustained and enhanced observations. The science community is actually struggling to address these issues already and so further cuts mean it will be very difficult."

"That's at variance with what the chief executive has been saying, that climate science is done. That's clearly not the case – it's inaccurate, misleading information." […]

Dozens of scientists issued statements in response to Dr Marshall's announcement. Many were incensed by the former venture capitalist's suggestion that climate change science was a narrow field that had been "proven" to be a problem, and therefore no longer needed to be a focus.

Dr Church said it was true climate change was proven, but more detail was needed if the world was going to adapt.

"To talk about it being a narrow science is completely inaccurate – it's a very broad area. It would be great if CSIRO could invest in mitigation. I don't see any signs it is doing that significantly."

James Hansen, a former NASA scientist known for his testimony to US Congress in 1988 that arguably put concern about climate change on the map, said he was stunned by the announcement.

"Holy shit! That is unbelievable," he said. "Is a conservative denier government in power?

"This seems to be a clear-cut case of shooting the messenger with the bad news. However, the messenger is needed to figure out what to do about the problem." [more]

'Misleading, inaccurate and in breach of Paris': CSIRO scientist criticises cuts

Estimating the likelihood of the observed recent global warming trend. Historical Northern Hemisphere mean temperatures (black solid) along with the estimated natural component alone (black dashed) and five of the surrogates (colored curves) for the natural component. Graphic: Michael Mann / RealClimate

By Michael Mann
25 January 2016

(RealClimate) – With the official numbers now in 2015 is, by a substantial margin, the new record-holder, the warmest year in recorded history for both the globe and the Northern Hemisphere. The title was sadly short-lived for previous record-holder 2014. And 2016 could be yet warmer if the current global warmth persists through the year.

One might well wonder: just how likely is it that we would be seeing these sort of streaks of record-breaking temperatures if not for human-caused warming of the planet?

Precisely that question was posed by several media organizations a year ago, in the wake of the then-record 2014 temperatures. Various press accounts reported odds anywhere from 1-in-27 million to 1-in-650 million that the observed run of global temperature records (9 of the 10 warmest years and 13 of the 15 warmest years each having had occurred since 2000) might have resulted from chance alone, i.e. without any assistance from human-caused global warming.

My colleagues and I suspected the odds quoted were way too slim. The problem is that each year was treated as though it were statistically independent of neighboring years (i.e. that each year is uncorrelated with the year before it or after it), but that’s just not true. Temperatures don’t vary erratically from one year to the next. Natural variations in temperature wax and wane over a period of several years.

For example, we’ve had a couple very warm years in a row now due in part to El Niño-ish conditions that have persisted since late 2013 and it is likely that the current El Niño event will boost 2016 temperatures as well. That is an example of a natural variation that is internally-generated. There are also natural variations in temperature that are externally-caused or ‘forced’, e.g. the multi-year cooling impact of large, explosive volcanic eruptions like the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption, or the small-but-measurable changes in solar output that occur on timescales of a decade or longer. Each of these natural sources of temperature variation lead to correlations in temperature from one year to the next that would be present even in the absence of global warming. These correlations must be taken into account to get reliable answers to the questions being posed. [more]

How Likely Is The Observed Recent Warmth?

A flooded gold mine in Madre de Dios, Peru. The study reviewed multiple human impacts on freshwater ecosystems, including dam-building, mining, land-cover change, and climate change. Individually, each of these can cause harm and alter how the ecosystem functions, but the scientists warn that they will also interact, with 'the potential to trigger cascading effects that can significantly degrade these freshwater ecosystems.' Photo: Claire Salisbury

By Claire Salisbury
1 February 2016

(mongabay.com) – The Amazon’s freshwater ecosystems are at risk because current policy and existing protected areas fail to protect the connectivity of the water cycle, scientists warn. The new study, published in Global Change Biology, examines the factors degrading the Amazon basin’s hydrological connectivity: the movement of water — and with it the life-giving matter, nutrients and organisms it carries — between the vast system’s headwaters and the Atlantic Ocean, between the rivers and the forest, and the earth and the atmosphere.

Such connectivity is fundamental to ecosystem health, as it regulates how ecosystems function, the scientists say. The Amazon’s freshwater ecosystems, which cover an area of 1 million square kilometers (386,102 square miles), play crucial roles in regulating climate, transporting nutrients, maintaining water quality, supporting biodiversity, and providing food and fiber, so-called ecosystem services that benefit local, regional and global communities.

If hydrological connectivity is disrupted then the ecosystem can no longer function in the same way and these services may be diminished. This is the danger facing the Amazon.

Lead author Leandro Castello originally studied oceanography, and now works on the conservation of Amazon fish and fisheries, both of which are suffering from habitat change and degradation. “In oceanography they teach you that everything is connected — via water — to everything else. A forested, tropical river basin is not too different: what happens to the trees affects the streams and rivers, and what happens in the headwaters affects everything downstream,” Castello, of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, told Mongabay.

“Everything downstream” can extend for thousands of miles in Amazonia, and include multiple nations and regions with vastly different levels of land and river protection. This political fragmentation makes it difficult to put in place effective basin-wide strategies against ecosystem degradation. “Protected areas [in the Amazon] have limited capacity to protect freshwater ecosystems because they were implemented based on data for terrestrial organisms largely ignoring hydrological connectivity,” Castello explained.

The study examined the impacts of four major drivers of change to the hydrological cycle in the Amazon: dams, mining, land-cover change, and climate change. The scope of the damage being done by these human-caused drivers turned out to be even larger than Castello anticipated. “The surprise was finding how many very strong impacts to the integrity of freshwater ecosystems are happening at such large geographical scale, and yet our policy tools to curb them are less than small,” he warned. […]

If basin-wide research and action is not taken, “the consequences are so overwhelming that they are hard to explain,” Castello said. In their paper, the authors outline the broad implications, saying that individual impacts have “the potential to trigger cascading effects that can significantly degrade these freshwater ecosystems. If current trends continue, more tributary basins will be degraded, compromising ecosystem services such as biodiversity maintenance, water quality, flow regulation, C [carbon] cycling, and food production.” [more]

Imperiled Amazon freshwater ecosystems urgently need basin-wide study, management


ABSTRACT: Hydrological connectivity regulates the structure and function of Amazonian freshwater ecosystems and the provisioning of services that sustain local populations. This connectivity is increasingly being disrupted by the construction of dams, mining, land-cover changes, and global climate change. This review analyzes these drivers of degradation, evaluates their impacts on hydrological connectivity, and identifies policy deficiencies that hinder freshwater ecosystem protection. There are 154 large hydroelectric dams in operation today, and 21 dams under construction. The current trajectory of dam construction will leave only three free-flowing tributaries in the next few decades if all 277 planned dams are completed. Land-cover changes driven by mining, dam and road construction, agriculture and cattle ranching have already affected ~20% of the Basin and up to ~50% of riparian forests in some regions. Global climate change will likely exacerbate these impacts by creating warmer and dryer conditions, with less predictable rainfall and more extreme events (e.g., droughts and floods). The resulting hydrological alterations are rapidly degrading freshwater ecosystems, both independently and via complex feedbacks and synergistic interactions. The ecosystem impacts include biodiversity loss, warmer stream temperatures, stronger and more frequent floodplain fires, and changes to biogeochemical cycles, transport of organic and inorganic materials, and freshwater community structure and function. The impacts also include reductions in water quality, fish yields, and availability of water for navigation, power generation, and human use. This degradation of Amazonian freshwater ecosystems cannot be curbed presently because existing policies are inconsistent across the Basin, ignore cumulative effects, and overlook the hydrological connectivity of freshwater ecosystems. Maintaining the integrity of these freshwater ecosystems requires a basinwide research and policy framework to understand and manage hydrological connectivity across multiple spatial scales and jurisdictional boundaries.

Large-scale degradation of Amazonian freshwater ecosystems

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a campaign stop Wednesday, 20 January 2016, in Hollis, N.H. Photo: Matt Rourke / AP

By Vanessa Schipani
1 February 2016

(FactCheck.org) – While on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz gave a speech to local residents that contained inaccurate and misleading claims about climate science and its terminology:

  • Cruz claimed “none of the alarmists say ‘global warming’ anymore — now it’s ‘climate change.’ ” That’s inaccurate. Scientists still use both terms, but tend to use “climate change” more often because, in addition to warming, it refers to phenomena such as sea-level rise and changes in precipitation patterns.
  • Cruz also said “climate change is the perfect pseudoscientific theory because it can never, ever, ever be disproven.” This is false. It could be, but the chances are slim. Climate change rests on the veracity of the greenhouse effect, a theory which has been repeatedly verified since it was first proposed in 1824.
  • Cruz says “if it gets hotter or colder, wetter or drier — the climate has always changed since the beginning of time.” That’s misleading. The climate fluctuates due to natural causes, but it’s unlikely that these phenomena alone account for some more recent changes. The models do not predict uniform warming or cooling. Some places may be cooler, but overall warming is expected.

Cruz made his remarks in Conway, New Hampshire, on 19 January 2016, the day before the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA released findings that strongly suggest 2015 was the hottest year on record by a long shot.

Cruz, Jan. 19: Has anyone noticed in the past couple of years, the theory has magically changed a third time? Now none of the alarmists say ‘global warming’  anymore — now it’s ‘climate change.’ … If you are a big government politician, if you want more power, climate change is the perfect pseudoscientific theory. How many of y’all remember high school biology? Remember the scientific method? You start with a hypothesis and then you use evidence to try to disprove the hypothesis, to test it to see if it’s true. Climate change is the perfect pseudoscientific theory because it can never, ever, ever be disproven. If it gets hotter or colder, wetter or drier — the climate has always changed since the beginning of time. It will continue to change till the end of time.

This isn’t the first time during the presidential campaign that Cruz has called climate change “pseudoscientific.”

On 8 December 2015, Cruz, in an NPR interview, said: “Climate change is the perfect pseudoscientific theory for a big government politician who wants more power. Why? Because it is a theory that can never be disproven.” [more]

Cruz’s ‘Pseudoscientific’ Climate Claims


NORTH CONWAY, N.H. (AP) — Ted Cruz is decidedly at odds with the scientific consensus that Earth is warming because of human activity.

A look at some of the Republican presidential contender's claims on the subject in New Hampshire this week and how they compare with the facts:

CRUZ: "The satellites that actually measure the temperature, that we've launched into the air to measure the temperature, they have recorded no significant warming whatsoever for the last 18 years."

THE FACTS: Scientists, including those who work with the very satellite measuring system that Cruz refers to, say he's misusing the satellite data. They do show warming, albeit relatively little over the period Cruz cites, says Carl Mears, senior scientist for Remote Sensing Systems, which produces the data that Cruz refers to.

But by starting his comparison period in 1997, Cruz has selected a time when temperatures spiked because of an El Nino weather pattern. Starting at an artificially high point minimizes the rate of increase since then, Mears said, adding, "If you start riding your bike at the top of a big hill, you always go downhill, at least for a while."

More important is what's measured at the Earth's surface, where people live, Mears said. Those ground-based systems show a greater degree of warming.

The long-term trend that Mears' satellites show is about 0.7-degree warming since 1979, when satellites started measuring temperature. Ground-based monitors show a warming of about 1 degree during the same period. And 1979 was not among the top five hottest or coldest years in the 36 years of records.

___

CRUZ: "John Kerry said in 2009 the polar ice caps will be entirely melted by 2013. ... Has anyone noticed the polar ice caps are still there? In fact, there was an expedition that went down to Antarctica to prove that the polar ice caps were melting ... (the ship) got stuck in the ice because in fact the polar ice caps have increased. They are larger than they were. So not only was Kerry incorrect, he was spectacularly absolutely opposite the facts."

THE FACTS: Kerry was talking about the ice cap at the North Pole, and it's true that it hasn't melted as he predicted. But in pointing that out, Cruz distorts the facts by referring to a ship that got stuck in Antarctic ice a world away near the South Pole.

Scientists do say it's only a matter of decades before the sea ice around the North Pole will be melted during the summer months, and some countries' navies are already exploring the area for quicker sea routes. Scientific measurements in Antarctica — where thick ice sheets sit atop land, not floating on the ocean as in the Arctic — show the ice sheets are diminishing on one side while growing on the other. But the fact that a ship got stuck in ice in the Antarctica doesn't tell us anything about the phenomenon. [more]

AP FACT CHECK: Ted Cruz at odds with climate change science

Winter mean lake ice cover (in percent) of all six lakes (a-f) and total Great Lakes ice cover (g) for the period 1973-2011. The linear lines are the trend in annual lake ice coverage calculated from the least squares fit method. Graphic: Wang, et al., 2012 / Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

September 2012 (Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory) – Ice cover on the Great Lakes has been declining since 1973. This figure shows the linear trends for the six lakes. The linear trend was estimated using the least squares regression (LSR). The linear equation is in the form: x=a+bt, where x is the ice cover (in %), t is the year starting in 1973, a is the x-intercept constant (the value of x for t=0 (i.e., 1973), and b is the slope of the line (namely, the rate of change in x with a time increment of t).

Winter mean ice cover in all lakes shows a significant negative trend, indicating that the ice extent in the Great Lakes has been decreasing since the 1970s. The negative trends vary from lake to lake (-0.56%/yr to -1.96 %/yr, Table 4). Lake Superior has the largest negative trend (-1.96 %/yr), Lakes Ontario and Michigan place second (~-1.6%/yr), and Lakes Erie and St. Clair have the smallest negative trend: -0.74%/yr and -0.56%/yr, respectively. This translates to the total loss of winter lake ice coverage over the entire 39-year record (from 1973-2011) relative to 1973 in Table 4 (last row), which varies from 22% in Lake St Clair to 76% in Lake Superior.

The total loss for overall Great Lakes ice coverage is 63% relative to the 1973 value. Another metric of loss of seasonal average ice cover over the 1973-2011 winters is the difference (1973 minus 2011) in the regression values for 1973 and 2011. The loss in seasonal average ice cover from 1973 to 2011 using this metric is 24.4% for Lake Superior, 12.9% for Lake Michigan, 15.5% for Lake Huron, 15.2% for Lake St. Clair, 11.1% for Lake Erie, 6.5% for Lake Ontario, and 14.9% for the entire Great Lakes basin.

Note that the trends calculated within a specific period of time such as 1973-2011 can only be applicable to the same period, and cannot be extrapolated to the future and back to the past. It should not be interpolated to a period shorter than the time series of the data from which the trends are derived, since there are decadal and multi-decadal changes in lake ice cover. 

To search factors responsible for the lake ice trend, the winter surface air temperature (SAT) trend over the Northern Hemisphere was calculated for the period 1973-2010 (Figure 6). The SAT trend over the Great Lakes ranges from ~0.4 °C per decade over the lower lakes to ~0.6 °C per decade over the upper lakes, with Lake Superior being the highest (0.6 °C per decade). This is consistent with the upward trend of Lake Superior water temperature (Austin and Colman 2007). They found that summer (July–September) surface water temperatures have increased approximately 2.5°C over the period 1979– 2006, significantly higher than regional atmospheric warming. This excessive warming of lake water temperature relative to the local surface air temperature has caused a positive ice/water albedo feedback (Wang, et al. 2005) due to the declining ice cover (Austin and Colman 2007).

Great Lakes ice climatology update: winter 2006 – 2011 description of the Digital Ice Cover dataset [pdf]

Canada carbon emissions projected to 2020 and 2030 (Mt CO2 eq). Graphic: Environment and Climate Change Canada

[Canada must shut down the Athabasca oil sand mines to have any hope of meeting its commitment. “Emissions from oil and gas are projected to increase by 28% (from 159 Mt to 204 Mt) over the 2005 to 2020 time frame. This is due mainly to increases in oil sands production.” See Projected Emissions Trends for details. –Des]

By Justin Ling
1 February 2016

(Vox) – In statistics released on Friday evening — a prime time to break bad news — the Canadian government admitted that it was way off its already modest CO2 emission targets.

The numbers show that years of environmental efforts in Canada essentially had no impact.

The projection, released by Environment and Climate Change Canada, shows that Canada is expected to pump out the equivalent of 768 megatons of CO2 by 2020, and 815 megatons by 2030. Those projections also do not include emissions from the forestry sector.

That's nowhere near the targets Canada set for itself at the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009. There, Ottawa pledged to reduce its CO2 emissions by 17 percent over 2005 levels by 2020.

Instead, Canada will likely increase its CO2 emissions by roughly two percent. The numbers say that increase may be as high as five percent.

The projections for 2030 are even further off. Canada pledged to reduce its emissions by 30 percent. Instead, it's on track to to increase those emissions by nearly 17 percent.

In a clear indictment of Ottawa's ineffective environmental initiatives, the numbers released Friday are actually higher than projections from 2012 and 2013.

"We're getting results," former Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said of the 2013 projections at the time.

Canada's new minister of the environment and climate change Catherine McKenna conceded that the numbers were not good.

"The data are clear and confirm that more needs to be done," reads a statement from McKenna.

McKenna's office turned down an interview request on the numbers. [more]

Canada Admits There’s No Chance It’ll Reach Its Climate Change Targets — Not Even Close


Measuring Canada’s Progress on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Under the Copenhagen Accord, Canada committed to reducing its emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020.1 As economy-wide emissions in 2005 were 736 Mt, Canada’s implied Copenhagen target is 611 Mt in 2020.

Assessing progress in reducing GHG emissions is best done by comparing a “with measures” scenario against a “without measures” scenario that acts as a baseline where consumers, businesses and governments take no action to reduce emissions after 2005, Canada’s base year for its Copenhagen commitment. This is the most appropriate approach, given Canada’s growing economy, as it more accurately captures the real and verifiable level of effort that will be required to reduce emissions. Progress cannot be adequately measured by comparing expected future emissions against current levels, as this would not take into account factors such as the expected population and economic growth that will affect emissions between now and 2020.

Projections presented in this report under the “with current measures” scenario include actions taken by governments, consumers and businesses up to 2012 as well as the future impacts of policies and measures that were announced or put in place as of May 2014. This scenario does not include further government action and policies that are proposed or planned but not implemented. (The policies and measures modeled in this report are listed in Annex 2.)

The analysis indicates that, in a scenario where consumers, businesses and governments take no action to reduce emissions after 2005, emissions in 2020 will rise to 857 Mt. Under the “with current measures” scenario that includes actions since 2005 as well as the contribution from Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry (LULUCF), Canada’s GHG emissions in 2020 are projected to be 727 Mt, a total of 130 Mt less than under a “without measures” scenario. This highlights the significant expected impacts of actions made to date but also indicates the need for further efforts from all Canadians, as additional reductions of 116 Mt will be required to meet Canada’s Copenhagen commitment (see Figure ES-1).

In a Spring 2012 submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Canada stated its intent to include the LULUCF sector in its accounting of GHG emissions towards its 2020 target, noting that emissions and related removals resulting from natural disturbances would be excluded from the accounting. It was also indicated at that time that a Reference Level or comparison against a 2005 baseline would be used for accounting. Based on these accounting approaches, the expected LULUCF contribution is 19 Mt, largely reflecting lower expected harvesting of trees in forest lands than in the past. This 19 Mt contribution is subtracted from total national emissions projections in 2020 as a credit towards reaching the target. Analysis of alternative accounting approaches remains ongoing.

Progress on Canada's 2020 Target for carbon reduction (Mt CO2 eq). This figure presents two lines on a graph spanning the years 1990-2020. The top line shows that, without action from governments, consumers and businesses since 2005, emissions in 2020 are projected to be 857 Mt. This is the 'Without Measures' line. The bottom line shows projected emissions, taking into account all current measures since 2005 and Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) contributions since 2012, where emissions are expected to reach 727 Mt in 2020. This is the 'With Current Measures' line. Below this value is a dot at 611 Mt, which represents Canada's Copenhagen target level of emissions in 2020 (17% below 2005 levels). Graphic: Environment and Climate Change Canada

The gap between the ‘Without Measures’ level of GHG emissions in 2020 (857 Mt) and the 611 Mt target now has been closed by 130 Mt. Upcoming federal policies, along with further provincial measures and actions from consumers and businesses, will contribute to the additional 116 Mt required for Canada to meet its commitments under the Copenhagen Accord.

Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Projections

As shown in Table ES-1, under a scenario that includes current measures and the contribution from LULUCF, absolute emissions are projected to be 727 Mt in 2020, 1.2% below 2005 levels.  Emissions from the oil and gas and buildings sectors are expected to increase, while emissions in the electricity sector are projected to decrease between 2005 and 2020. Emissions in the transportation, emissions-intensive and trade-exposed, agriculture, and waste and others sectors remain close to 2005 levels.

Table ES-1: Change in GHG Emissions by Economic Sector (Mt CO2 eq)

  2005 2012 2020 Change
2005 to 2020
Transportation 168 165 167 -1
Oil and Gas 159 173 204 45
Electricity 121 86 71 -50
Buildings 84 80 98 14
Emissions-intensive and Trade-exposed Industries 89 78 90 1
Agriculture 68 69 70 2
Waste and Others 47 47 46 -1
Expected LULUCF Contribution - - -19 -
Total with LULUCF Contribution 736 699 727 -9

Although emissions are projected to decrease by 9 Mt between 2005 and 2020 when the contribution of LULUCF is included, GDP is expected to increase by 32% over the same period, demonstrating that economic growth and emissions growth are continuing to decouple. In addition, as population is projected to increase, per capita emissions are expected to fall to 19.7 tonnes of CO2 eq per person in Canada in 2020, a decrease of 14% from 2005 levels.

GHG emissions projections depend on a number of economic and energy variables and are subject to significant uncertainty, especially in the longer term. Modeling estimates are subject to consultations with various industry associations, other federal departments and provincial/territorial governments. Modeling assumptions also undergo a periodic peer review process. Updates to key historical and projected energy data and drivers as well as the evolution of technology and demographics will alter the future emissions pathway.

To address the uncertainty inherent in projections, alternative scenarios that reflect different assumptions about oil and natural gas prices and production as well as different rates of economic growth have been developed. The greatest emissions are projected under a scenario aligned to the National Energy Board’s high oil and gas prices with higher-than-average annual growth in GDP between 2012 and 2020 (2.7% compared with 2.2% in the reference scenario). Alternatively, the lowest emissions scenario includes slower GDP growth (average growth of 1.5% between 2012 and 2020) and the National Energy Board’s low world oil and gas prices.

As shown in Figure ES-2, these scenarios suggest that the expected range of emissions in 2020 could be between 716 Mt in the lowest emissions scenario and 781 Mt in the highest emissions scenario, not including contributions for LULUCF. This 65 Mt range will continue to change over time with further government actions, technological change, economic conditions and developments in energy markets.

Range of Canada's Projected GHG Emissions (excluding Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry), showing three lines spanning the years 2012-2020 in one-year increments on the horizontal axis. The vertical axis is Megatonnes of CO2e and spans the values 680 to 800 in twenty megatonne increments. All three lines begin at 699 Mt in 2012. From there the top line, representing the highest emissions scenario, peaks at 781 Mt in 2020. The middle line, representing the reference scenario, peaks at 746 Mt in 2020. The lowest line represents the lowest emissions scenario and it peaks at 716 Mt in 2020. Graphic: Environment and Climate Change Canada

Oil and Gas

Emissions from oil and gas are projected to increase by 28% (from 159 Mt to 204 Mt) over the 2005 to 2020 time frame. This is due mainly to increases in oil sands production. […]

Emissions projections in the oil and gas sector are based on the National Energy Board’s assumptions of oil and natural gas prices as well as estimates of anticipated production. Under these assumptions, emissions from upstream oil and gas production are estimated to grow from 135 Mt in 2005 to 181 Mt in 2020. This increase is driven by the growth in oil sands production, where emissions are expected to increase from 34 Mt in 2005 to about 103 Mt by 2020. Specifically, emissions from oil sands mining are projected to more than double over the 2005 to 2020 time period. Even more significantly, emissions from in situ production are expected to increase from 11 Mt in 2005 to 53 Mt in 2020. The emissions associated with the upgrading of oil-sands bitumen are expected to rise from 13 Mt in 2005 to 27 Mt by 2020. [more]

Canada's Emission Trends 2014

Aerial view of sand berm construction along Florida State Road A1A. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy damaged the A1A in Fort Lauderdale. Photo: Susan Stoker / Sun-Sentinel

By Gina-Marie Cheeseman
29 January 2016

(Triple Pundit) – The mayors of 15 South Florida cities have a message for Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush. They want the Republican presidential candidates to see that climate change is happening and it is already affecting their home state.

The 15 mayors sent letters to both Rubio and Bush. In the letter to Rubio, they wrote that as “mayors  representing municipalities across Florida, we call on you to acknowledge the reality and urgency of climate change and to address the upcoming crisis it presents our communities.” They pointed out that their cities and towns are “already coping with the impacts of climate change today.” The cities represented in the letters include Miami, South Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

And the group got pretty specific. To Rubio, they pointed out that as a U.S. senator from Florida and former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, “You should know the risks ahead and articulate a plan for U.S. leadership on climate.” And they mention that in 2006 he acknowledged that climate change exists and “promoted solutions,” but has now “reversed course.”

The mayors tell Bush in their letter that, as a former Florida governor, “We urge you to face this challenge head on.” They cite his commissioning of a 2006 Department of Environmental Protection white paper on climate change and solutions: “a study which acknowledged the severity of the crisis and the importance of emissions reductions strategies such as carbon taxing and cap-and-trade.”

They also mention that in April of last year Bush called for the U.S. to work with the world to reduce carbon emissions. But a month later, he questioned the scientific consensus on climate change. On the campaign trail, he has “backed away from advancing policy solutions,” the mayors wrote. 

The South Florida mayors ask Rubio and Bush to meet them to “discuss the risks facing Florida communities due to climate change and help us chart a path forward to protect our state and the entire United States.”

What is sad about the continued refusal of these two candidates to not only acknowledge that climate change is human-induced, but also that it needs to be addressed and is already affecting their home state. As Ben Strauss of Climate Central declared in an op/ed in the Miami Herald, “Florida is in the crosshairs of climate change.” Sea levels all over the coastline are rising. About 2.4 million people and 1.3 million homes — equating to “about half the risk nationwide” — are “within four feet of the local high-tide line,” Strauss wrote. 

In South Florida, “taxpayers are already paying the price for climate change as salt water pushes through porous bedrock into coastal drinking-water supplies, and rivers and canals choked by heavy rains have a harder time draining into the ocean,” he continued. [more]

South Florida Mayors Tell Rubio, Bush: ‘Climate Change Is Real’


Open Letter from Florida Mayors to Senator Marco Rubio

January 21, 2016
Dear Senator Rubio:

As mayors representing municipalities across Florida, we call on you to acknowledge the reality and urgency of climate change and to address the upcoming crisis it presents our communities. Our cities and towns are already coping with the impacts of climate change today. We will need leadership and concrete solutions from our next president. As a candidate for that office hailing from Florida, we ask you to meet with us to discuss the future of our communities in a warming climate.

We are already experiencing the effects of a changing climate. Sea levels off the coast of South Florida rose about eight inches in the twentieth century.1 As a result, we have seen more tidal flooding, more severe storm surges, and more saltwater intrusion into aquifers. By 2050, mean sea level around Florida is expected to rise about a foot,2 a shift which could wipe out as much as $4 billion in taxable real estate in the four-county region of Southeast Florida.3 At three feet of sea level rise, the loss could total $31 billion, with large sections of the Everglades, the Florida Keys and the Miami metropolitan region under water.4

Local governments are working to manage the present and future challenges of climate change. Many are collaborating at the regional level through the Southeast Florida Climate Compact. Locally, communities across the state are developing action plans, investing in stormwater pumps, upgrading stormwater and sewer systems, and revising building codes. However, these expensive measures to protect homes, businesses, and infrastructure will only serve as a temporary stopgap unless global warming emissions are substantially reduced.

Adapting to climate change at the local level is necessary, but it is not sufficient. We need a realistic national plan to slow global warming emissions and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The science is well established: protecting the long-term future of our cities must include preventing global temperatures from rising above the internationally recognized target of two degrees celsius above preindustrial levels. To get there, we need strong leadership from our next president to achieve national policies that reduce global warming emissions at home and global leadership to ensure other countries are doing their part. The U.S. should be at the forefront of the transition to clean energy, creating jobs for Americans while conserving our environment for future generations.

Senator Rubio, as a U.S. Senator representing Florida and former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, you should know the risks ahead and articulate a plan for U.S. leadership on climate. Indeed, in 2006, you acknowledged the reality of climate change and promoted solutions including energy efficiency measures, tax incentives for renewable energy, and alternative fuels.5  You supported hybrid vehicles because they save money “while reducing emissions and helping to curb global warming.”6  However, you have since reversed course and claimed that you “don’t agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow, there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate.”7  In a speech on our energy future this October, you dismissed efforts to develop renewable energy and called climate action “trying to change the weather.”8

Senator Rubio, ignoring climate science and doubling down on fossil fuels will only make the climate crisis more rapid and expensive. With the presidential election fast approaching, it is critical that your positions on these issues are well informed by the experience of our communities. Please meet with us to discuss the risks facing Florida communities due to climate change and help us chart a path forward to protect our state and the entire United States. We cordially request a meeting by Feb 29, 2016.

Sincerely,

Peggy Bell – Mayor, Town of Cutler Bay
Jim Cason  – Mayor, City of Coral Gables
Joy Cooper  – Mayor, City of Hallandale Beach
Daniel Dietch – Mayor, Town of Surfside
Eugene Flinn – Mayor, Village of Palmetto Bay
Connie Leon-Kreps – Mayor, North Bay Village
Cindy Lerner – Mayor, Village of Pinecrest
Mayra Peña Lindsay – Mayor, Village of Key Biscayne
Jeri Muoio – Mayor, City of West Palm Beach
Martin Packer – Mayor, Village of Bal Harbour 
Tomas Regalado – Mayor, City of Miami
Gary Resnick – Mayor, City of Wilton Manors
Jack Seiler  – Mayor, City of Fort Lauderdale
Glenn Singer – Mayor, Town of Golden Beach
Philip Stoddard – Mayor, City of South Miami

1 “Mean Sea Level Trend 8724580 Key West, Florida,” NOAA: Tides and Currents

2 “Come Heat and High Water: Climate Risk in the Southeastern U.S. and Texas,” Risky Business, July 2015

3 “Rising sea levels, falling real estate values,” Miami Herald, 11-09-2015 

4 “A Region Responds to a Changing Climate: Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact Counties Regional Climate Action Plan,” Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, October 2012

5 “How Rubio’s stance on energy, climate shifted from ‘friendly’ to conservative,” E&E News, 03-13-2015

6 Ibid. 7  “Sen. Marco Rubio: Yes, I’m ready to be president,” ABC News, 05-11-2014

8  “Marco Rubio’s energy policy centers on drilling and reversing Obama rules,” New York Times, 10-16-2015

Open Letter from Florida Mayors to Senator Marco Rubio

A man walks near a carcass of a dead cow in Farado Kebele, one of drought stricken Somali region in Ethiopia. Drought is ravaging Ethiopia's Somali region. Photo: Tiksa Negeri / Reuters

By Peter Schwartzstein
31 January 2016

(Quartz) – The Amhara Plateau is no one’s idea of a gloomy landscape. Rich fields blossom as far as the eye can see; bountiful rivers zigzag through the region’s rolling hills. It isn’t hard to see why local Orthodox Christians believe the Ark of the Covenant was floated down the Nile from Egypt and ended up here. Nor why desert raiders continually stormed in off the nearby Sahara for hundreds of years.

But to those who farm the fertile reaches of Western Ethiopia, their home environment is growing a good deal less enticing by the day.

Erratic temperatures and rains, which culminated last year in the total failure of the belg, the short rainy season, have struck locals hard. In a country still scarred by the deadly famines of the 1980s and 90s, reduced crop yields are panicking villagers, almost all of whom rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.

“The rains are very weak and in winter the cold is like nothing I’ve seen before,” said Barakat Daniel, gesturing at a mostly empty trench he uses to irrigate his teff crop on a muddy hillock just outside Bahir Dar. “It’s a hard life.”

For some ambitious young men, conditions have long since crumbled to intolerable levels. They’ve tired of tilling land that’s become harder to farm as older farmers sub-divide their already small holdings into miniature plots for their many children. With population growth overwhelming meager services at the same time as intense weather plagues farmland, more and more people from the region appear to be following the example of refugees from violence-afflicted parts of Africa, and making a break for Europe.

Last July in Metema, an Ethiopian border town, where Sudanese flout their country’s prohibition on alcohol by darting across the frontier to patronize streetside bars, I met a 22-year-old man who gave his name only as Gebremichael. He was waiting to cross into Sudan. “Why am I going?” he said. “Because I’m trying to improve myself and that’s just not possible when your land gets worse and worse.” He had toted a moth-eaten German language dictionary around for over a year, working to absorb new words at every available opportunity.

These days, climate change is in vogue. Everything from the war in Syria to unrest in West Africa has been laid at the feet of the weather gods. Some of the claims have been dismissed as spurious. But there’s plenty of evidence that migration in sub-Saharan Africa is indeed partly due to extreme weather.

70% of the continent’s migrants have left their homes because of poverty or a lack of work, according to research provided by the UN Environment Program (UNEP). An estimated 64% of Africans—and close to 90% of Ethiopians—earn their living from agriculture.

“Considering the very low baseline, where 25% of the continent go to bed hungry, where over 50% live on less than $1.25 per day, and where youth unemployment is at 60%, climate induced declines in productivity in the agricultural sector indirectly drive migration,” said Richard Munang, who heads UNEP’s African Regional Climate Change Program from Nairobi. […]

A few Western governments have mooted plans to help struggling African countries counter the consequences of a changing climate. The UK’s Department for International Development, for one, gave £10 million (then about $15 million) in December to help Sudanese farmers boost their “resilience” and combat desertification. But with Europe already struggling to cope with the relatively small numbers of war refugees, it seems unlikely that current immigration policies will do much to dissuade climate migrants, many of whom feel they have nothing to lose. On my journey I often heard variations on a common refrain: “I’m dead if I stay, so it doesn’t matter if I die on the way.” [more]

The climate-change refugee crisis is only just beginning

Simulated and reconstructed European summer land temperature anomalies (with respect to 1500–1850 CE) for the last 1200 yr, smoothed with a 31 yr moving average filter. BHM (CPS) reconstructed temperatures are shown in blue (red) over the spread of model runs. Simulations are distinguished by solar forcing: stronger (SUNWIDE, purple; TSI change from the LMM to present >0.23%) and weaker (SUNNARROW, green; TSI change from the LMM to present <0.1%). The ensemble mean (heavy line) and the two bands accounting for 50% and 80% (shading) of the spread are shown for the model ensemble. Graphic: Luterbacher, et al., 2016 / Environmental Research Letters

1 February 2016 (IOP) – Most of Europe has experienced strong summer warming over the course of the past several decades, accompanied by severe heat waves in 2003, 2010 and 2015. New research now puts the current warmth in a 2100-year historical context using tree ring information and historical documentary evidence to derive a new European summer temperature reconstruction.

The work was published in the journal of Environmental Research Letters by a group of 45 scientists from 13 countries.

Warm summers were experienced during Roman times, up to the 3rd century, followed by generally cooler conditions from the 4th to the 7th centuries. A generally warm medieval period was followed by a mostly cold Little Ice Age from the 14th to the 19th centuries. The pronounced warming early in the 20th century and in recent decades is well captured by the tree ring data and historical evidence on which the new reconstruction is based.

The evidence suggests that past natural changes in summer temperature are larger than previously thought, implying that climate models may underestimate the full range of future extreme events, including heat waves. This past variability has been associated with large volcanic eruptions and changes in the amount of energy received from the sun.

The new research finding that temperatures over the past 30 years lie outside the range of these natural variations supports the conclusions reached by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that recent warming is mainly caused by anthropogenic activity.

“We now have a detailed picture of how summer temperatures have changed over Europe for more than two thousand years and we can use that to test the climate models that are used to predict the impacts of future global warming,” says the coordinator of the study, Professor Jürg Luterbacher from the University of Giessen in Germany.

The interdisciplinary study involved the collaboration of researchers from Past Global Changes’ (PAGES) original European 2k Network working group, Euro-Med2k. PAGES, a core project of Future Earth, is funded by the US and Swiss National Science Foundations and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Recent summer temperatures in Europe are likely the warmest of the last two millennia


Simulated and reconstructed summer (June–August) temperature differences for three periods: (a), (b), (c) MCA (900–1200 CE) minus LIA (1250–1700 CE); (d), (e), (f) present (1950–2003 CE) minus MCA; and (g), (h), (i) present minus LIA. Model temperature differences (left and central columns) indicate average temperature changes in the ensemble of available model simulations (see table S13). Model simulations are grouped into SUNWIDE (TSI change from the LMM to present >0.23%; left column) and SUNNARROW (TSI change from the LMM to present <0.1%; middle column). Reconstructed temperature differences with the BHM method are shown in the right column. Simulations have been weighted by the number of experiments considered from each model. Dots indicate significant (p < 0.05) changes in the reconstruction; in the simulation ensemble a dot indicates at least 80% of agreement in depicting significant (p < 0.05) changes of the same sign. Graphic: Graphic: Luterbacher, et al., 2016 / Environmental Research Letters

ABSTRACT: The spatial context is critical when assessing present-day climate anomalies, attributing them to potential forcings and making statements regarding their frequency and severity in a long-term perspective. Recent international initiatives have expanded the number of high-quality proxy-records and developed new statistical reconstruction methods. These advances allow more rigorous regional past temperature reconstructions and, in turn, the possibility of evaluating climate models on policy-relevant, spatio-temporal scales. Here we provide a new proxy-based, annually-resolved, spatial reconstruction of the European summer (June–August) temperature fields back to 755 CE based on Bayesian hierarchical modelling (BHM), together with estimates of the European mean temperature variation since 138 BCE based on BHM and composite-plus-scaling (CPS). Our reconstructions compare well with independent instrumental and proxy-based temperature estimates, but suggest a larger amplitude in summer temperature variability than previously reported. Both CPS and BHM reconstructions indicate that the mean 20th century European summer temperature was not significantly different from some earlier centuries, including the 1st, 2nd, 8th and 10th centuries CE. The 1st century (in BHM also the 10th century) may even have been slightly warmer than the 20th century, but the difference is not statistically significant. Comparing each 50 yr period with the 1951–2000 period reveals a similar pattern. Recent summers, however, have been unusually warm in the context of the last two millennia and there are no 30 yr periods in either reconstruction that exceed the mean average European summer temperature of the last 3 decades (1986–2015 CE). A comparison with an ensemble of climate model simulations suggests that the reconstructed European summer temperature variability over the period 850–2000 CE reflects changes in both internal variability and external forcing on multi-decadal time-scales. For pan-European temperatures we find slightly better agreement between the reconstruction and the model simulations with high-end estimates for total solar irradiance. Temperature differences between the medieval period, the recent period and the Little Ice Age are larger in the reconstructions than the simulations. This may indicate inflated variability of the reconstructions, a lack of sensitivity and processes to changes in external forcing on the simulated European climate and/or an underestimation of internal variability on centennial and longer time scales.

European summer temperatures since Roman times

 

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