New year, new theme (2016)

The new look, that is. The WordPress official theme of the year, and I like it enough to make it Hot Topic‘s new look. Simpler for me to maintain than the old, very customised theme, but it does mean we’ve lost the comment editing facility. Sorry about that. Meanwhile, please use this as an excuse to discuss whatever climate-related issues you like. More substantive posts may appear soon.

[Update #2 Feb 2nd: I may have tracked the comment issue down to a conflict with an anti-spam plug in. We’ll see… Thanks to Andy and Mr February for helping me try to diagnose the problem. GR]

[Update #3 Feb 4th: The Jetpack guys at WordPress are trying to unpick this problem. Thanks for your patience. GR]

[Update #4: Working again, but without “social log in” enabled, while WP fix the code. Thanks again to everyone who helped us diagnose the problem. GR]

[Update #5: And while we’re on the subject, please be warned that very long comments are difficult to post, because of a coding fault in the theme – basically the “post” button disappears… So try to keep your thoughts succinct, until the theme is updated. 😉 GR]

Too hot (and here comes the surge)

GISS20152015 was the hottest year since records began in all of the major global temperature datasets, and by a huge margin. The world is now more than 1ºC warmer than pre-industrial temperatures — pushed there by rapidly rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and helped a little by the current very strong El Niño. And because El Niño’s major impacts on global temperatures happen as an event declines, we can expect 2016 to be even warmer.

Carbon Brief has an excellent analysis of the new record here. See also NASA and NOAA’s joint announcement, the NASA press release, and Hansen et al’s overview (pdf). Here’s the latter on the outlook for the rest of the decade:

We can also say with confidence, because of Earth’s energy imbalance (energy absorbed from sunlight exceeding heat radiated to space), that the present decade will be warmer than last decade. Already the first half of the present decade is almost 0.1°C warmer than last decade. Strong La Niñas commonly follow strong El Niños, so it is likely that 2017 and perhaps 2018 will be quite cool relative to 2015-2016, but the decade as a whole should be considerably warmer than the prior decade.

Kevin Trenberth provides an interesting overview at The Conversation, detailing some of the weather extremes delivered by the current El Niño, and notes:

What we have seen this past year will likely be routine in about 15 years, although regionally the details will vary considerably. Indeed, we have had a glimpse of the future under global warming.

You wouldn’t want to bet against it continuing… Continue reading “Too hot (and here comes the surge)”

A (relatively) new Lowe for Christmas

As Nick explains in the intro, this is one, if not the best of Christmas songs. Please enjoy it with my compliments while sipping white wine in the sun, sweltering in the USA, or storm-tossed in the North Atlantic. For your reading pleasure, why not spend some time in the company of Skeptical Science’s retelling of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol — or even revisit my own little attempt at Dickensian levity from a few years back.

The compliments of whatever season you celebrate from all at Hot Topic.

Fall in San Francisco: Jim Renwick’s AGU report

Jim RenwickI took part in the 2015 AGU Fall Meeting, held at the vast Moscone Center in San Francisco, 14-18 December. As always, it was an absolute cornucopia of everything to do with the Geo/Earth Sciences, from exoplanets to the earth’s core to climate change and science policy, delivered by over 20,000 geoscientists. The Fall Meeting is always a blast, a real mind-expander.

This year, I was committed to chairing sessions first thing on Monday morning and then again on Friday. Monday’s session was “Evaluating Reanalysis: What Can We Learn about Past Weather and Climate?” with my sub-session having a focus on polar regions. The Thu/Fri session was “Precipitation over Mountainous Terrain: Observations, Understanding, Modeling, and Future Prospects”. In between, I soaked up as much as I could, wandering the halls to hear and see fascinating presentations on climate history, science communication, sea ice, and designing climate change musicals for primary school children. Here’s a few highlights, my personal “tip of the iceberg” from this year’s meeting.
Continue reading “Fall in San Francisco: Jim Renwick’s AGU report”

New minister for Climate Change Paula Bennett confirms NZ uses ‘Hot Air’ creative accounting to meet emissions targets

New Minister for Climate Change, Paula Bennett New Zealand’s new Minister for Climate Change, Paula Bennett, has just confirmed New Zealand will be “carrying forward” 127 million “Hot Air” emissions units (or offsets) under Kyoto Protocol rules. These units mostly do not represent a tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent reduced somewhere else and yet the Government intends to use them to allow New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions to continue to increase.

On Thursday 17 December 2015, Ms Bennett released a statement stating that New Zealand had met its 2008 to 2012 Kyoto Protocol emissions reduction target and was well on the way to meeting the 2013 to 2020 target.

The Minister’s statement linked to four reports on the Ministry for the Environment’s website;

In two scathing posts last week, blogger No Right Turn assessed the dubious use of the Ukrainian and Russian units derived from — of all things — coal stockpile projects; Climate change: A policy based on fraud and Climate change: How bad is NZ’s climate fraud?.

My previous estimate of the amount of surplus units likely to be used was 86 million units. The reports confirm the number to be 127 million units. I did a back-of-envelope calculation to relate the numbers of units cancelled (to match 2008-2012 emissions) and the numbers left over as ‘surplus’ which may be carried forward.

Surplus units
The Kyoto Protocol “true-up” of units and ‘carry-over’ of surplus units

The updated Latest update on New Zealand’s 2020 net position explicitly confirms that New Zealand is ‘re-using’ the surplus units in assessing compliance with the 2020 target of a 5% reduction in emissions from a 1990 gross emissions base. So we will ‘meet’ the 2020 target in spite of projected increases in both gross emissions and net emissions. Gross emissions in 2020 are estimated to be 83 million tonnes, or 24% higher than 1990’s 67 million. Net emissions in 2020 are estimated to be 59 million tonnes, or 24% higher than 1990’s 38 million tonnes.

Manipulating accounting rules like this — so that an adverse trend is systematically misrepresented is as its opposite, a positive trend — is the text-book definition of creative accounting. I agree with No Right Turn that this is another example of New Zealand’s completely unethical climate change policy.