The Climate Show #9: Barry Brook, hot spots and melting ice

With the terrible events in Japan uppermost in everyone’s mind, this week’s Climate Show goes nuclear, examining the prospects for the future of nuclear energy with Professor Barry Brook from the University of Adelaide. John Cook looks at what the tropical troposphere hot spot really means, and Gareth and Glenn look at mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, a record ozone hole over the Arctic, and review last winter’s climate numbers.

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Show notes below the fold.

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The Renewable Revolution

The Renewable Revolution: How We Can Fight Climate Change, Prevent Energy Wars, Revitalize the Economy and Transition to a Sustainable FutureThe recommendations of Bill McKibben and Ross Gelbspan, among others, attracted me to Sajed Kamal’s book The Renewable Revolution, and its subtitle was an additional enticement: How we can Fight Climate Change, Prevent Energy Wars, Revitalise the Economy and Transition to a Sustainable Future. The book is on a smaller scale than its subtitle might suggest. Kamal has long been involved in sustainable development and renewable energy as a teacher, project consultant and speaker. He is eloquent on the Sun as the energy source that connects all life, and it is solar energy that he sees as able to meet all humanity’s energy needs many times over, directly through light and heat and indirectly through wind, water movement and photosynthesis.

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It’s too late

Lovelock.jpgThe Sunday Times has published a second extract from James Lovelock’s new book, The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning, covering his distrust of renewable energy, and his promotion of nuclear power as a key part of adapting to climate change. It’s an interesting read, worth it because it forces us to confront the received wisdom — but I think it’s where Lovelock is at his weakest. ST columnist Camilla Cavendish has an extended review of the book in her column this week, and tends to agree.

[Bob Mould]

Whispering wind

windturbine.gif A bit more on wind, and some worthwhile weekend reading. The British government has announced that it is planning a huge expansion in the use of wind power, building up to 7,000 turbines at a cost of up to £10bn, and expects renewable energy to account for 15% of all energy use by 2020. The BBC reports the somewhat lukewarm reaction, but Fred Pearce in The Guardian is cautiously optimistic that this time they might mean business. Electric vehicles are an important part of the package.

The Economist provides the weekend reading: an excellent overview of the energy options available over the coming decades, and why they look like the next big business opportunity. The leader’s here, and the special feature starts here. The sections on wind, solar and electric vehicles are especially interesting. Joe Romm at Climate Progress isn’t too keen on their enthusiasm for nuclear power, but read the lot and make up your own mind.

For a laugh, I refer you to a column excoriating electric vehicles in The Guardian by Matt Master, who is “a writer and road tester for Top Gear magazine” and who amply demonstrates how ignorance only makes you look like a tosser. Perhaps he doesn’t read The Economist, which headlines its article on EVs “The end of the petrolhead”.

Here come the warm jets

Hot Topic has devoted a lot of posts to events in the Arctic over the last northern hemisphere summer. The loss of sea ice was dramatic – there was 25% less ice in September than the previous record, set in 2005. The little graph to the left shows just far off the trend line last year’s September area really was. And as I posted yesterday, recent studies suggest that the Arctic is primed for more significant losses in the near future. If the reduction in summer sea ice continues, there are some pretty major implications for the climate of the northern hemisphere and for our modelling of the global climate, and it’s those things that I want to consider in this post. Please note: I am not a climate scientist, and there are a lot of ifs and handwaves in this argument, but bear with me…

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