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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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The CO2 sings 'Bury me, buuuu-reee me, bury me, across the world'

Charcoal carbon sequestration — birth of a new CO2 removal wedge?

I would love to hear Graham Nash and David Crosby rerecord their old "Carry Me" song about agrichar and removing carbon from the atmosphere while revitalizing soils: "Bury me, buuuu-reee me, bury me, across the world ..." This is sounding so good it's scary -- like I am being set up to have my bubble burst when it turns out to violate one or more basic physical laws, or only be net negative by ignoring some huge emissions somewhere in the process, or whatever. But for today, I'm going to feel a little better: Birth of a New Wedge By …

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Some direct effects of climate change ...

Faster and more dramatic than previously expected

... are manifesting very quickly and will change the landscape in pretty big ways.

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Should we keep rebutting skeptics?

Vote!

A little while back, CNN recruited a right-wing talk radio host named Glenn Beck to host one of its prime-time shows. As MediaMatters rather exhaustively reveals, Beck is an unreconstructed racist, sexist, classist, misogynist, authoritarian, xenophobic troglodyte of the old school. He doesn't work particularly hard to conceal his trogloditicism. In fact, one suspects CNN views the trogloditicism as the draw. Beck's latest crusade is -- you guessed it -- global warming skepticism. He has a special running on CNN ("Exposed: The Climate of Fear") in which he compares the consensus on global warming to the early-20th-century consensus on eugenics. …

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The sun in Spain falls mainly on the concentrated-solar plant in Seville

Man, that’s the worst headline ever

Here's a short but fascinating BBC story about a ginormous (11MW, with plans for expansion) concentrated-solar power plant in Seville, Spain -- the first commercial concentrated-solar plant in Europe. Hundreds of mirrors reflect sunlight at a single point at the top of a tower, where the heat boils water for stream that drives a generator. I'd only quibble with one thing: Is it true that this power is three times more expensive than power from conventional sources? Yes, but prices will fall, as they have with wind power, as the technologies develop. Also, a more realistic comparison is with the …

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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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One and a half cheers for goofy offsetting projects

Planktos may be a bad idea, but innovation is good

The green blogosphere generally reacted with chuckles or consternation to Planktos' announced plans to dump tons of iron into the ocean to, you know, see what happens. Gar Lipow took the article as another excuse to bash carbon offsets. To follow the logic, you first have to know why anyone would want to dump several tons of iron into the sea. Planktos hopes to demonstrate that seeding the oceans with certain nutrients is a credible way to stimulate plankton blooms. It further hopes to demonstrate that these blooms are a credible way to sequester atmospheric carbon. Carbon markets provide the …

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Polluting to save the planet: RealClimate disapproves

And why wouldn’t they?

RealClimate, a blog run by leading climate scientists, thinks Planktos's scheme to dump iron particles in the ocean to make plankton bloom and sequester carbon is "thin soup." I have some extended quotes from David Archer on the subject below the fold. But if you are interested, read the whole thing. In spite of public relations claims by Planktos representatives in comments, it appears that most of the scientific community does not think highly of the Planktos claims. Marinov et al (2006) showed that a stimulation of phytoplankton production in one part of the ocean usually acts to depress production …

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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. …