Al Gore has written an impressive long article in Rolling Stone magazine. I read it with gratitude and wanted to recommend it to others. It’s a highly readable text packed with rich detail which reflects the wide spectrum across which Gore operates and the considerable intelligence which informs his thinking. It deserves wide readership.
The article proclaims new grounds for hope that we will yet find our way to a low-carbon global economy in time to prevent the worst effects of unchecked climate change. Gore opens with an affirmation that a powerful yet largely unnoticed shift is under way in the needed transition. Here is the surprising fact that signals hope:
“Our ability to convert sunshine into usable energy has become much cheaper far more rapidly than anyone had predicted.”
The cost of solar electricity has decreased by an average 20 percent per year since 2010. Gore sees an ongoing decline in cost to the point where by 2020 more than 80 percent of 0the world’s people will live in regions where solar will be competitive with electricity from other sources. This is already the case in at least 79 of the world’s countries.
Continue reading “Turning point: Al Gore’s new hope”
Insouciance is the new face of climate change denial. John Roughan’s column in Saturday’s New Zealand Herald was a typical example. Half a metre sea level rise by the end of the century? What’s there to be concerned about in that, he scoffs. A bach at the water’s edge might no longer be a good idea, but that’s about all it amounts to.
At a century off, the predicted disaster of climate change is a slow burn.
“It is plenty long enough for people to move if necessary, for crops to change, fresh water to be managed much more efficiently. Human life will adapt if it has to…”
It’s hard to credit the nonchalance, let alone the implicit inhumanity. Roughan settles for the lower sea level rise estimates, I notice. No mention of the metre or more which is now commonly advanced by scientists. But there’s not much need to be too closely acquainted with the science if you can brush it all away with the assertion that humans will adapt if they have to.
Continue reading “Roughan’s relaxed, world drowns”
James Hansen’s latest discussion paper begins and ends with Monarch butterflies. He watches some on his property in Pennsylvania as they prepare to leave for their migration to Mexico and reflects on the prospects for their survival as a species as global warming takes hold. The Monarchs cross Texas on their way south, a difficult path this year over desolate, baked-out territory. Which leads Hansen to a spirited denunciation of “well-oiled Governors and Senators in Texas and Oklahoma” who assert that global warming is a hoax and help business-as-usual CO2 emissions to continue.
He addresses the question of whether the drought and fires in Texas can be attributed to global warming. The media have remained largely silent this year on possible connections between extreme weather events and human-made climate forcing, and Hansen asks whether scientists should be making more effort to draw public attention to the human role in climate anomalies.
Continue reading “Butterfly futures flutter by”
Al Gore didn’t hesitate to dwell on extreme weather events as evidence of the reality of climate change in his closing address for the 24-hour Climate Reality Project last week. There has certainly been no lack of them in the past year or so. Was he pushing the boundaries of the science? It wouldn’t worry me too much if he was because there’s plenty else in the scientific projections which is clearly under way, such as the melting polar ice or the acidification of the oceans. But Gore is a very intelligent and well-informed man and I don’t think he allowed himself to be carried away beyond the scientific mandate. Consider what is being said by some scientists right now. Continue reading “Current extreme weather events part of climate change”
We learned a lot this week, as Professor Keith Hunter of the University of Otago, one of the world’s leading ocean chemists, gave us a masterclass on ocean acidification and what it means for the future of the oceans. Plus we discuss Australia’s new carbon tax, green growth campaigns in New Zealand, why China’s aerosols may have been doing us a favour and why cleaning them up might unleash more warming, and climate models having trouble with rapid climate events. On the solutions front we look at a tiny electric aeroplane setting a new speed record and a solar initiative in NZ. No John Cook in this show, but he’ll be back soon.
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Continue reading “The Climate Show #16: Keith Hunter on oceans, acids and the carbon cycle”