The year the earth bit back: top climate stories of 2012

2012Amidst the blizzard of year-end roundups, here’s one you have to read in full — a joint effort put together by a diverse group of bloggers and scientists: Angela Fritz, Eli Rabett, Emilee Pierce, Greg Laden, Joe Romm, John Abraham, Laurence Lewis, Leo Hickman, Michael Mann, Michael Tobis, Paul Douglas, Scott Mandia, Scott Brophy, Stephan Lewandowsky, Tenney Naumer and yours truly. Lead author Greg Laden explains:

A group of us, all interested in climate science, put together a list of the most notable, often, most worrying, climate-related stories of the year, along with a few links that will allow you to explore the stories in more detail. We did not try to make this a “top ten” list, because it is rather silly to fit the news, or the science, or the stuff the Earth does in a given year into an arbitrary number of events. (What if we had 12 fingers, and “10” was equal to 6+6? Then there would always be 12 things, not 10, on everyone’s list. Makes no sense.) We ended up with 18 items, but note that some of these things are related to each other in a way that would allow us to lump them or split them in different ways. See this post by Joe Romm for a more integrated approach to the year’s events. Also, see what Jeff Masters did here. We only included one non-climate (but related) item to illustrate the larger number of social, cultural, and political things that happened this year. For instance, because of some of the things on this list, Americans are more likely than they were in previous years to accept the possibility that science has something to say about the Earth’s climate and the changes we have experienced or that may be in the future; journalists are starting to take a new look at their own misplaced “objective” stance as well. Also, more politicians are starting to run for office on a pro-science pro-environment platform than has been the case for quite some time.

A failing of this list is that although non-US based people contributed, and it is somewhat global in its scope, it is a bit American based. This is partly because a few of the big stories happened here this year, but also, because the underlying theme really is the realisation that climate change is not something of the future, but rather, something of the present, and key lessons learned in that important area of study happened in the American West (fires) the South and Midwest (droughts, crop failures, closing of river ways) and Northeast (Sandy). But many of the items listed here were indeed global, such as extreme heat and extreme cold caused by meteorological changes linked to warming, and of course, drought is widespread.

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A very Green Christmas

If only all Christmas music was as good as this. The finest voice in soul, and a Green with it, reminds us what today should feel like. Compliments of whatever shakes your tree from Gareth and all the writers who have contributed to Hot Topic over the past year. Should Al pall, then spend a few minutes pondering the energy problems confronted by a Glasgow legend during the festive season. Nadolig llawen.

A new world record(?)

2013forecast

Last week the UK Meteorological Office issued its annual forecast for the global average temperature for the year ahead. They’re expecting a warm year, but very few people seemed to notice just how hot. Here’s what the press release had to say:

2013 is expected to be between 0.43 °C and 0.71 °C warmer than the long-term (1961-1990) global average of 14.0 °C, with a best estimate of around 0.57 °C, according to the Met Office annual global temperature forecast.

Taking into account the range of uncertainty in the forecast and observations, it is very likely that 2013 will be one of the warmest ten years in the record which goes back to 1850, and it is likely to be warmer than 2012.

Most press coverage ran with the “one of the warmest years” line, a simple elaboration of the press release, but few noticed that the Met Office were actually predicting a new global temperature record — perhaps because the Met Office wasn’t exactly trumpeting the fact from the rooftops. Admirable caution, you might say.

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New Zealand’s double dealing and special pleading over the second Kyoto period: part the second

USD or NZD? so confusing!
USD or NZD? so confusing!

Is Tim Groser a Kyoto pariah? Or a Kyoto visonary? A global emissions reduction emissary or is he tar-sanded with a Canadian brush? I once more try to make sense of New Zealand’s double dealing and special pleading over the Kyoto Protocol second commitment period and the Doha hooha. This time with the aid of Tim Groser, who has written an opinion editorial in the Herald.

Tim Groser, New Zealand’s most forthright Minister for Climate Changes, contributed a shocker of an Op Ed to the NZ Herald this week. When I first read it, I wrote down my responses to what seemed the most misleading claims. The headline shocker is that either Tim Groser is so out of touch with his portfolio that he has no idea what the current price of carbon in New Zealand, or he is so incompetent that he can’t tell US dollars from NZ dollars.

But there are shockers for all of us.

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New Zealand’s double dealing and special pleading over Kyoto 2: part the first

Net emissions to 2020
The 2020 target and Net emissions to 2020

Is Tim Groser a Kyoto pariah? Or a Kyoto visonary? A global emissions reduction emissary or is he tar-sanded with a Canadian brush? I try to make sense of New Zealand’s double dealing and special pleading over the Kyoto Protocol second commitment period and the Doha climate change talks hooha.

I am very confused about New Zealand’s climate change policy since the Doha international climate change talks (COP18) and New Zealand’s announcement that it would opt out of a second period of the Kyoto Protocol back on 9 November 2012.

The Kyoto opt-out has been described as a shambles and a disgrace and as a lose-lose decision that shuts New Zealand out of the international carbon markets. Tim Groser’s Herald Op Ed today just confuses me more.

So I have a question for all Hot Topic readers.

If Minister of Climate Change Tim Groser is serious about New Zealand’s 2020 greenhouse gas target, why would he forego formally lodging the 2020 target into the existing Kyoto Protocol framework (where the national institutions and arrangements are already up and running), in favour of pledging to meet the target on a voluntary basis in terms of a yet to be negotiated treaty?

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