Friday, November 21, 2014

How to Talk to Someone Who Denies People Are Driving Climate Change

Well, Louis Black is a bit pithier than Eli, there are some words here that the young bunnies should not hear

Thursday, November 20, 2014

And Then There Was Golf

ATTP is threatening to leave blogging for more time on the links and in the lab.  Eli understands he got a call from Rachel M and some other friends.

Mike Nichols did

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Right Celebration

Prof. Monica Grady of the the Open University shows the right way to celebrate her lifetime investment when Rosetta's Philae probe landing on Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasminko

Planetary missions and space missions in general, are a lifetime of work with a probability not zero of crashing and burning.  A lifetime of pent up hopes and a huge investment of time and reputation.  

The Sausage Grinders Tale

Friends of the GREP will be happy to ply their trade on what emerged in the G20 final statement as compared to yesterday's leaks, but Eli is interested too in the preceding paragraph, emphasis added

18. Improving energy efficiency is a cost-effective way to help address the rising demands of sustainable growth and development, as well as energy access and security. It reduces costs for businesses and households. We have agreed an Action Plan for Voluntary Collaboration on Energy Efficiency, including new work on the efficiency and emissions performance of vehicles, particularly heavy duty vehicles; networked devices; buildings; industrial processes; and electricity generation; as well as work on financing for energy efficiency.  We reaffirm our commitment to rationalise and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption, recognising the need to support the poor.
This really rocked Tony Abbott's boat, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald
Mr Abbott gave an impassioned defence of coal and, reportedly, argued against inserting a line in the communique recommending the abolition of fossil fuel subsidies, an objective of the G20 for many years.
Mr Obama is understood to have spoken forcefully against Mr Abbott's position on fossil fuel subsidies. The final communique calls on G20 members to "rationalise and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies".  
Mr Abbott had support from Saudi Arabia and Canada, but countries led by the US and Europe remained steadfast. 
"The most difficult discussion was on climate change," an EU official told reporters on condition of anonymity, Reuters reported. 
"This was really trench warfare, this was really step by step by step. In the end we have references to most of the things we wanted." 
The communique included references to taking practical measures to combat global warming and an explicit endorsement of the climate fund. 
The inclusion of a detailed passage on climate change comes despite the issue not being on the formal agenda of the G20 summit and Mr Abbott's insistence that the focus of discussions should be on economic reform.
The final text inserted and deserted some things from the leaked version that Eli blogged on yesterday in the true spirit of sausage grinding.   Interestingly in that contentious last sentence which made it in, including the green climate fund slightly changed to such as the Green Climate Fund.  Full text below
19.  We support strong and effective action to address climate change. Consistent with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its agreed outcomes, our actions will support sustainable development, economic growth, and certainty for business and investment. We will work together to adopt successfully a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the UNFCCC that is applicable to all parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris in 2015.  We encourage parties that are ready to communicate their intended nationally determined contributions well in advance of COP21 (by the first quarter of 2015 for those parties ready to do so). We reaffirm our support for mobilising finance for adaptation and mitigation, such as the Green Climate Fund.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sausage Making

Somebunny on the inside has been feeding the Guardian drafts of the G20 communiques.  The part on climate change started out a week ago as

We support strong and effective action to address climate change, consistent with sustainable economic growth and certainty for business and investment. We reaffirm our resolve to adopt a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the United Nations framework convention on climate change that is applicable to all parties at the 21st conference of the parties in Paris in 2015 
which, weak as it was, was forced through against the wishes of the Australian hosts.  This has now morphed into
We support strong and effective action to address climate change, consistent with the United Nations framework convention on climate change and its agreed outcomes. Our actions will support sustainable development, economic growth and certainty for business and investment. We will work together to adopt successfully a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the United Nations framework convention on climate change that is applicable to all parties at the 21st conference of the parties [COP] in Paris in 2015. We encourage parties that are ready to communicate their intended nationally determined contributions well in advance of COP21 – by the first quarter of 2015 by those parties ready to do so.
with negotiations now on a final sentence
We reaffirm our support for mobilising finance for adaptation and mitigation, including the green climate fund.
The Australians are not happy.

UPDATE from the Guardian:  In another example of how bad the environmental situation in China is
the Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao, told reporters at the G20 on Saturday that China would work hard to ensure its emissions peaked before 2030. He said that if the Chinese economy developed too fast for the environment to sustain “we must make adjustments to our policies in a timely way so we can minimise the impact on our environment”
Coal is the plague.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Breaking-US and China Reach Agreement on Limiting Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The US and China have reached agreement on limiting greenhouse gas emissions.  The bottom lines (and they are of necessity different) is that China will cap emissions by 2030 or earlier and generate 20% of its energy without fossil fuels.  The US has agreed to cut emissions by 26 to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025.

The devil is always in the details, but this is an interesting first step towards a Montreal solution to limit climate change which, of necessity, must be asymmetric.  Each country takes a step forward, mostly but not exactly, in the same direction.  In the US, negotiations with Republicans appear more difficult.

The Whitehouse press release made some interesting points:

3.     Today, the Presidents of the United States and China announced their respective post-2020 actions on climate change, recognizing that these actions are part of the longer range effort to transition to low-carbon economies, mindful of the global temperature goal of 2℃
David Victor and Charles Kennel enjoyed that one
5.     The global scientific community has made clear that human activity is already changing the world’s climate system. Accelerating climate change has caused serious impacts. Higher temperatures and extreme weather events are damaging food production, rising sea levels and more damaging storms are putting our coastal cities increasingly at risk and the impacts of climate change are already harming economies around the world, including those of the United States and China. These developments urgently require enhanced actions to tackle the challenge.
Hmm, guess there is a consensus about the science that the policy makers have figured out
6.     At the same time, economic evidence makes increasingly clear that smart action on climate change now can drive innovation, strengthen economic growth and bring broad benefits – from sustainable development to increased energy security, improved public health and a better quality of life. Tackling climate change will also strengthen national and international security.
and the economics.

There is a  fact sheet on the agreement

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Montreal Solution

There has been an ethically lacking attempt by the usual suspects, Lomborg, Pielke, the Breakthrough folk and now Matt Ridley to claim that coal is necessary for the developing world to prosper and we will all be so rich in the future that doing nothing now about climate change does not matter.  It is interesting that those who care not a fig for the poor spend so much time arguing for their right to burn coal, but, quite obviously this is merely a ruse to allow some world class greenie bashing.

It is a mistake to allow this to go unchallenged and indeed it is easy to show how threadbare it is.  Even Twitter has enough characters to call it out.

First, climate change underway today mostly hurts the poor. It is clear that any assessment shows that the countries that are going to be most hurt by climate change are the poorest countries. Every attempt at an integrated assessment model, the IPCC reports and more shows this.  By opposing immediate action on climate change Lomborg, Pileke and Ridley are hurting the poorest.

Second, fossil fuel as an energy source is characterized by relatively low capital costs and high operational costs. Wind, solar, hydro and nuclear the reverse. If fools like Lomborg and Ridley really wanted to help the poors they would be advocating for donation by the developed world to carry those initial capital costs and increased energy efficiency so the poors were not subject to eternal thralldom under the coal and oil industry.

Third, a point made by Stephan Gardiner that the claims about the sweet bye and bye are merely pious hopes that larger economy will allow future generations to deal with an exacerbated climate problem.  If climate change limits economic growth, there is no larger economy, and even if there is a larger economy, it may not be enough to deal with the chaos associated with climate disruption. The Dark Ages in Europe were not nearly as pleasant as Roman times.

But Eli is a generous bunny so consider, if you will, their argument that coal is necessary for development and it would be unethical to oppose development of the poorest nations. Well, if this were 1800 perhaps, but let us concede it just to be nice. The Montreal Protocols under which freons were phased out provide a fine solution, the developed world goes first, drops coal like a hot rock right now and the underdeveloped and developing world follow on at a later time.

Now some, not Eli to be sure, might suspect that the tears being whined for the poor developing countries not being able to use coal are a beard but that would not be nice, would it.

As to the costs of coal, consider China which is moving as fast as it can away from coal because of the half MILLION deaths each year from air pollution and here are some picture postcards .

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Picture Postcards

About twenty years ago, just after the collapse of the DDR Eli and Ms. Rabett found themselves on a cold winter night in the middle of Erfurt Germany.  There was what first appeared to be fog in the air but it was not exactly pleasant to breathe, and Ms. Rabett was not enjoying the taste.  There were halos around the street lamps, everything was surreal and then the lights went out.  Over the entire city.

The Rabett thought that it reminded him of something.  Indeed it did, Monet's pictures of the Houses of Parliament

Before this experience Eli had thought that the pictures were simply the result of an impressionist take coupled with bad eyesight.  It was not, it was the reality of burning coal for heating and industry.  If bunnies search out photographs of London during the early 1950s a time of killer (like thousands) smog in London the same pictures emerge, although the colors are lacking

and today, well today it is Beijing's turn

and, of course Shanghai

The Rabett visited both during the early 1990s on his tour of polluted cities.  Erfurt was a useful clue as to what was going on.

Eli, of course, is an old bunny, who grew to rabetthood in New York City, in the age when, again, coal was the primary fuel for heating.  The Rabett remembers two things.  First how grumpy Dad and Grandpa were about having to get up in the middle of the night and adjust the fire when kicked out of bed by Mom and Grandmom Rabett, second, the soot on every building.  In the 60s and 70s people started to wash their brick and stone houses.  it was astounding.

The recent nonsense from the Ridleys and Lomborgs about coal being the fuel of development brings back not so fond memories.  And, oh yes, coal mine owners have a richly deserved reputation.  Not for kindness to their workers and the rest of us.