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Joseph Romm's Posts

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Highlights of the IPCC's mitigation report

It ain’t pretty

I want to highlight a few points from the IPCC's Mitigation Report (PDF). First, even the most stringent global greenhouse gas targets can be met at a cost of a mere 0.1% of GDP per year! While the report is not explicit about when action should be taken, it does say that: In order to stabilize the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere, emissions would need to peak and decline thereafter. The lower the stabilization level, the more quickly this peak and decline would need to occur. The Center for American Progress and I have encouraged stabilizing atmospheric CO2 concentration …

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Battle of the developed vs. the developing

Climate change justice is contentious

As this round of the IPCC unfolds, developing countries are scurrying to relieve themselves of any major responsibility for historic emissions and, consequently, aggressive mitigation policies. For example, China has requested inserting language that formally recognizes the percentage of emissions for which developed countries are responsible -- 95 percent from the pre-industrial era until 1950, and 77 percent from 1950 to the start of the millennium. China is also trying to earn reduction credit for social policies that have unintentionally curbed emissions -- in other words, the one-child policy. Elsewhere, efforts to reduce air pollution from factories and cars has …

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IPCC out of date, again

More current science paints an even grimmer picture

Already, there are serious reservations about the final IPCC summary for policymakers, which was released today. The BBC leads the charge, noting that the economic models used to recommend mitigation policies aim to hold the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration at 550 parts per million (ppm). However, more recent scientific evidence suggests, and I agree, that our policies need to keep concentrations much closer to 450 ppm. I certainly applaud the IPCC and its work, but the reality of the process is that every month devoted to writing and editing is a month that doesn't account for the most current data. …

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Antarctic ice streams are no bubbling brook

Bad news from down south

Scientific and observational data from Antarctica are driving home the message that we have entered a period of consequences. Most recently, scientists have discovered ice streams hiding bigger reservoirs of water in West Antarctica. The evidence has "major implications for glacial melt rates and associated sea-level rises" and the rate of warming. Equally frightening is that the ice streams feed into the Ross Ice Shelf, a major southern ice shelf whose melting would indicate "the end of the road" according to one scientist. In 1999, scientists began to observe pools of water on top of the Larsen Ice Shelf (green …

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Australia's 'food bowl' running dry

And their PM is still in denial

Australian Prime Minister John Howard is in a sticky, yet dry, situation. Even though a drought has caused Australia's agricultural production to fall 25 percent in the last year, Howard may have to ban irrigation so that urban centers can have drinking water. The targeted river basin, the Murray-Darling, is known as Australia's "food bowl" because it houses 72 percent of Australia's farm and pasture land. If insufficient rain continues through the next few weeks, this year's harvest will be devastated and cities will need to implement water usage restrictions. Prime Minister Howard doesn't accept the connection to global warming, …

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IPCC Working Group III goes after transportation pollution

If you won’t go after them, we will

The IPCC reports are some of the most highly anticipated of 2007. An obvious sign? Within two weeks of one report's release, papers are already covering a leak from the next. IPCC Working Group III's focus is on mitigation, meaning a fair number of policy implications can be derived from its conclusions. So here's a hint for America's auto industry: the report calls for urgent action on road pollution. In the United States, there are 483 passenger cars per 1,000 people (EarthTrends). The world average is about 100, and few countries outnumber our car count (Australia, for example, had 492 …

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Summary of the IPCC Summary for Policymakers, part III

This time, it’s personal

(Continued from parts I and II.) Last but not least (actually, what quite literally hits closest to home!): North America Moderate climate change in the early decades of the century is projected to increase aggregate yields of rain-fed agriculture by 5-20 percent, but with important variability among regions. Warming in Western mountains is projected to cause decreased snowpack, more winter flooding, and reduced summer flows, exacerbating competition for over-allocated water resources. Disturbances from pests, diseases, and fire are projected to have increasing impacts on forests, with an extended period of high fire risk and large increases in area burned. Cities …

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Summary of the IPCC Summary for Policymakers, part II

Continued …

And now for the IPCC report's regional assessments, continued from yesterday: Africa By 2020, between 75 and 250 million people are projected to be exposed to an increase of water stress due to climate change. The area suitable for agriculture, the length of growing seasons, and yield potential, particularly along the margins of semi-arid and arid areas, are expected to decrease. This would further adversely affect food security and exacerbate malnutrition in the continent. In some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 percent by 2020. Toward the end of the 21st century, projected sea-level …

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Summary of the IPCC Summary for Policymakers, part I

Summarizin’

The summary for policymakers (PDF) of the report by the IPCC Second Working Group is out! A summary of the summary: Where does the information come from? The IPCC, WGI's 4AR on the Scientific Basis of climate change. 29,000 observational data series crossed with expected changes to physical and biological systems based on those observations, with 89% consistency between the two. Models, some of which account for non-anthropogenic sources of warming (solar and volcanic activity) and others that do not. The results show that, "models with combined natural and anthropogenic forcings simulate observed responses significantly better than models with natural …

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Highway to hell

More on fourth IPCC report

Bring your tissue to this one. On Friday, the IPCC publicizes its "emotional heart," the Second Working Group's contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report, covering impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Preliminary drafts have been leaked. Why is it shaping up to be such a tear-jerker? According to Andrew Weaver, a lead author of Working Group I and climate scientist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, this one illustrates "a highway to extinction, but on this highway there are many turnoffs. This is showing you where the road is heading. The road is heading toward extinction." As many as one-third …

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