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Joseph Romm's Posts

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Yes, really

Reports out of Spain over the holidays indicate that Siberian bears aren't the only ones losing sleep this winter. In the Cantabarian mountains of northern Spain, mother bears are postponing hibernation to gather food that isn't usually available. Experts predict that 2006 will go down as Spain's warmest year on record. The warmer winter is causing nuts and berries to last further into the season, thus proving it "energetically worthwhile" for the bears not to hibernate and collect food instead. In an article starring the bears, Mark Wright from the World Wide Fund for Nature commented: I think it's an …

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Global warming ’tis merely a flesh wound

As Pedro Moura Costa, founder of the carbon credit trading company EcoSecurities, explained: If you pick a winner in the right technology in the search for a low carbon economy you are talking about potentially billions. It is really the holy grail. The EU's Emissions Trading Scheme is giving investors in the carbon market a glimpse of the future, and it's a "green goldrush." The flood of investments in carbon trading and green technology funds has quickly created a market worth billions, and projected to be as much as $40 billion by 2012. One businessman in New York guesses that …

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Smells like menthol to me

In the House Oversight Committee's hearing on political interference with the scientific evidence of climate change, Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) proclaimed in disbelief and frustration that, "Today we have a planet that's smoking!" He, like many before him, likened the campaign to cast doubt on global warming with the tobacco industry's campaign in the 1990s to distort information on the health impacts of smoking cigarettes. In early 2007, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a report along those same lines, exposing the disinformation campaign by ExxonMobil which used tobacco industry-like tactics. They also published an online periodical table that serves …

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And what should that tell us?

The IPCC's official total temperature increase since 1850 has gone from .6° Celsius to .76° C (or about 1.4° Fahrenheit). The Fourth Assessment also explains that, "For the next two decades a warming of about 0.2° C per decade is projected for a range of [emission scenarios]. Even if the concentrations of all greenhouse gases and aerosols had been kept constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming of about .1° C per decade would be expected." Their best estimate for a low emissions scenario is still a temperature increase of 1.8° C by 2100. Their best estimate for a …

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Bush underfunds efficiency

While Bush talks a good game on energy security, he doesn't back the rhetoric up with action. That is especially true when it comes to his own budget, as made clear in a press release from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy: President's Budget Undermines Energy Security Washington, D.C. (February 6, 2007): The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) today issued a preliminary assessment of the Administration's FY 2008 budget request, finding that the request continues to shrink funding for the energy efficiency programs that should be front-line priorities in the nation's energy agenda. "The President can't increase …

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Be afraid

According to the IPCC's Fourth Assessment (PDF), "discernible human influences now extend to other aspects of climate, including ocean warming, continental-average temperatures, temperature extremes and wind patterns." The increases in oceanic temperature are particularly worrisome: "Observations since 1961 show that the average temperature of the global ocean has increased to depths of at least 3000 m and that the ocean has been absorbing more than 80% of the heat added to the climate system." As the oceans warm, they expand, and they provide fuel for more intense tropical storms. Also, warmer oceans "reduce ... [their] uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide, …

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Be afraid

There is a bombshell buried in the middle of the IPCC report. So far, it hasn't received the attention it deserves. In a bullet point on the bottom of page twelve, the report says that dangerous feedback mechanisms are a ticking timebomb, and require dramatic action now. Translated into plain English, they are saying that we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions far more than previously expected -- up to 27% more -- or else it will be impossible to deal with global warming because of feedback mechanisms. This is one of the central premises of my book Hell …

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The report may pass over some of the worst dangers

The report hasn't even been released yet, but one of the big stories around this Friday's release by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the conservative edge to the final product, which does not fully account for the melting of the Greenland and/or Antarctic ice sheets. The report is consensus-based, and as such carefully written and meticulously reviewed. The process is heavily bureaucratic, a maze of international political and scientific red tape, which is both its strength and weakness. While the level of international cooperation attests to its conclusions, scientists have struggled with how to model variables like …

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New study scares the ess out of us

A new "semi-empirical" method of estimating sea level rise shows that earlier techniques underestimated the likely rise, according to research published in Science online. Ocean expert Stefan Rahmstorf noticed a correlation between the warming in the atmosphere and the rise of sea levels over the 20th century. Having also watched the actual rate of sea level rise pass earlier computer estimates, Rahmstorf integrated his real-world observations with the models. Rahmstorf estimates a possible sea level rise of anywhere from 50 to 140 centimeters, up from 9 to 88 cm. The new numbers would put North Atlantic shore cities, like New …

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A column from Romm

In his State of the Union address, President Bush threw away the last opportunity he had to save his historical legacy. He continued his business-as-usual do-nothing approach on global warming, which is the gravest threat facing the American way of life. As I wrote earlier in a column for the Center for American Progress web site: President George W. Bush believes history will end up judging him favorably. He compares himself to Harry Truman who left office unpopular in large part because of a difficult war on the Korean peninsula but who is now admired by historians. President Bush suffers …

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