Joseph Curtin | We Can Kick Our Coal-Burning Addiction. Here Are Some Ideas. – The New York Times

Dr. Curtin is the managing director for power and climate at the Rockefeller Foundation

“To avert worsening climate disasters, all sectors of the economy must be transformed by midcentury. But one task is more urgent than all others: the rapid phase-down of planet-warming emissions from coal-fired power plants in emerging economies.

The world’s leaders are failing badly in meeting this goal. Burning coal for electricity is the single largest source of global greenhouse gas emissions. Every year it accounts for about 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide — more than 70 percent of global fossil fuel emissions from electricity generation.

And we’re continuing to move in the wrong direction. Since 1990, the world has doubled its emissions from coal-fired power. There are now more than 6,500 plants. At least an additional 941 are planned. According to our calculations at the Rockefeller Foundation, combined, they would emit 273 billion tons of carbon dioxide if allowed to operate for their normal operational lifetime of about 40 years — which is equivalent to nearly eight years of all carbon dioxide pollution globally. These emissions would presage humanitarian crises that can scarcely be imagined for the world’s most vulnerable communities.

We need to stop building coal plants immediately and cut coal emissions in roughly half by 2030 to keep global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels. That is the upper limit for warming set by the United Nations to avoid escalating climate risks. We must also accelerate the replacement of existing coal plants with clean power, which will unlock the potential to decarbonize transportation, buildings and industry. Innovative political and financial solutions are emerging. The question is: Will we harness them?”

Michelle Goldberg | In Washington State, the Midterm Race Between Joe Kent and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez Has It All – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Photographs by Amanda Lucier

“VANCOUVER, Wash. — In March, five months before he became the Republican nominee in a Washington State congressional race, Joe Kent appeared on a webcast hosted by a Gen-Z white nationalist group called the American Populist Union. Kent, who would soon be endorsed by Donald Trump, was there to explain his disavowal of Nick Fuentes, a smirking 24-year-old far-right influencer whom The New York Times has described as “a prominent white supremacist.”

On one side of the split screen was David Carlson, the American Populist Union’s baby-faced chief content officer. On the other was Kent, a movie-star-handsome former Green Beret in a plaid flannel shirt, with an American flag hanging behind him. What followed was a 45-minute conversation in which Kent attempted a dance that’s become common in today’s G.O.P.: remaining in the good graces of the far right while putting some distance between himself and its most abhorrent avatars.”

Failure to Slow Warming Will Set Off Climate ‘Tipping Points,’ Scientists Say – The New York Times

“Failure to limit global warming to the targets set by international accords will most likely set off several climate “tipping points,” a team of scientists said on Thursday, with irreversible effects including the collapse of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, abrupt thawing of Arctic permafrost and the death of coral reefs.

The researchers said that even at the current level of warming, about 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, some of these self-sustaining changes might have already begun. But if warming reached above 1.5 degrees Celsius, the more ambitious of two targets set by the 2015 Paris Agreement, the changes would become much more certain.

And at the higher Paris target, 2 degrees Celsius, even more tipping points would likely be set off, including the loss of mountain glaciers and the collapse of a system of deep mixing of water in the North Atlantic.

The changes would have significant, long-term effects on life on Earth. The collapse of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, for example, would lead to unrelenting sea level rise, measured in feet, not inches, over centuries. The thawing of permafrost would release more heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, hindering efforts to limit warming. A shutdown of ocean mixing in the North Atlantic could affect global temperatures and bring more extreme weather to Europe.”

David Lindsay:  In my humble opinion, there is nothing in the world more important than learning about climate crisis tipping points, and cascading events. If this beautiful earth were a raw egg, would you want to poach it?

Europe Is Sacrificing Its Ancient Forests for dirty Energy – for wood chips – The New York Times

“. . . . . . burning wood was never supposed to be the cornerstone of the European Union’s green energy strategy.

When the bloc began subsidizing wood burning over a decade ago, it was seen as a quick boost for renewable fuel and an incentive to move homes and power plants away from coal and gas. Chips and pellets were marketed as a way to turn sawdust waste into green power.

Those subsidies gave rise to a booming market, to the point that wood is now Europe’s largest renewable energy source, far ahead of wind and solar.

European governments count wood power toward their clean-energy targets. But research shows it can be dirtier than coal.

But today, as demand surges amid a Russian energy crunch, whole trees are being harvested for power. And evidence is mounting that Europe’s bet on wood to address climate change has not paid off.

Forests in Finland and Estonia, for example, once seen as key assets for reducing carbon from the air, are now the source of so much logging that government scientists consider them carbon emitters. In Hungary, the government waived conservation rules last month to allow increased logging in old-growth forests.

And while European nations can count wood power toward their clean-energy targets, the E.U. scientific research agency said last year that burning wood released more carbon dioxide than would have been emitted had that energy come from fossil fuels.:

The Sustainable Development Agenda – 2015 –  United Nations Sustainable Development

17 Goals for People, for Planet

The Sustainable Development Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere. The 17 Goals were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which set out a 15-year plan to achieve the Goals.

Today, progress is being made in many places, but, overall, action to meet the Goals is not yet advancing at the speed or scale required. 2020 needs to usher in a decade of ambitious action to deliver the Goals by 2030.

A Decade of Action

With just under ten years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, world leaders at the SDG Summit in September 2019 called for a Decade of Action and delivery for sustainable development, and pledged to mobilize financing, enhance national implementation and strengthen institutions to achieve the Goals by the target date of 2030, leaving no one behind.

The UN Secretary-General called on all sectors of society to mobilize for a decade of action on three levels: global action to secure greater leadership, more resources and smarter solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals; local action embedding the needed transitions in the policies, budgets, institutions and regulatory frameworks of governments, cities and local authorities; and people action, including by youth, civil society, the media, the private sector, unions, academia and other stakeholders, to generate an unstoppable movement pushing for the required

Source: The Sustainable Development Agenda – United Nations Sustainable Development

The Question Menacing Brazil’s Elections: Coup or No Coup? – The New York Times

Jack Nicas and 

Jack Nicas and André Spigariol, correspondents in Brazil, spoke to more than 35 judges, generals, diplomats and government officials to understand the risk to Brazil’s election.

“BRASÍLIA — A simple but alarming question is dominating political discourse in Brazil with just six weeks left until national elections: Will President Jair Bolsonaro accept the results?

For months, Mr. Bolsonaro has attacked Brazil’s electronic voting machines as rife with fraud — despite virtually no evidence — and Brazil’s election officials as aligned against him. He has suggested that he would dispute any loss unless changes are made in election procedures. He has enlisted Brazil’s military in his battle. And he has told his tens of millions of supporters to prepare for a fight.

“If need be,” he said in a recent speech, “we will go to war.”

With its vote on Oct. 2, Brazil is now at the forefront of the growing global threats to democracy, fueled by populist leaders, extremism, highly polarized electorates and internet disinformation. The world’s fourth-largest democracy is bracing for the possibility of its president refusing to step down because of fraud allegations that could be difficult to disprove.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
I study the climate crisis, and I believe the scientists are right, it is an existential threat, and this decade is extremely important. It is of paramount importance that the democracy in Brazil remove Bolsonaro, a climate crisis denier, from office. David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Europe’s Scorching Summer Puts Unexpected Strain on Energy Supply – The New York Times

“ASERAL, Norway — In a Nordic land famous for its steep fjords, where water is very nearly a way of life, Sverre Eikeland scaled down the boulders that form the walls of one of Norway’s chief reservoirs, past the driftwood that protruded like something caught in the dam’s teeth, and stood on dry land that should have been deeply submerged.

“You see the band where the vegetation stops,” said Mr. Eikeland, 43, the chief operating officer of Agder Energi, pointing at a stark, arid line 50 feet above the Skjerkevatn reservoir’s surface. “That’s where the water level should be.” “

Mexico Sees Its , Not Renewables – The New York Times

“MEXICO CITY — On a recent scorching afternoon in his home state of Tabasco, the president of Mexico celebrated his government’s latest triumph: a new oil refinery.

Though not yet operational, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador hailed the refinery as a centerpiece in his grand campaign to secure Mexico’s energy independence.

“We ignored the sirens’ song, the voices that predicted, in good faith, perhaps, the end of the oil age and the massive arrival of electric cars and renewable energies,” he told the cheering crowd.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
If the US can get its own house in order, it will be able to put pressure on Mexico to get on the clean energy band wagon, with carbon tax tariffs on dirty goods, goods made with a large carbon footprint. We are all in a pickle. It is not clear at all that we can slow our carbon footprint fast enough to stop cascading events from dozens of existing feedback loops, that can, if allowed to grow, become unstoppable.
David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

David Wallace-Wells | It’s Been a ‘Summer of Disasters,’ and It’s Only Half Over – The New York Times

    Opinion Writer

” “We’re naming summer ‘Danger Season’ in the U.S.,” wrote Kristy Dahl, the principal climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, in early June. A couple of days later, at Axios, the climate reporter Andrew Freedman echoed that warning: “America is staring down a summer of disasters.”

The season is now only half over, and the worst months for California fires, which typically provide the most harrowing images of the summer, still lie ahead. But the calendar has already been stuffed with climate disruption, so much so that one disaster often seemed layered over the last, with newspaper front pages almost identical across the Northern Hemisphere. In July, Carbon Brief’s Simon Evans began compiling them on Twitter, running out of steam when he got past 100. Climate segments of newscasts cut quickly from one part of the world to another, telling almost identical stories, day after day.

And yet the mood of those newscasts — in which warming is shown clearly to be blanketing the world, country by country — has mixed horror with a reluctant acceptance. Climate change is here, you think, your mind perhaps drifting past what can be done to limit future warming and toward what can be done to manage living in that future. The disruptions are large already, and arriving as prophesied — indeed, often earlier than predicted. They’ve also been normalized enough that, alongside the shock, they raise practical questions.

The term for this is “adaptation,” and the wallpaper texture of the climate news cycle this summer — with once-horrifying impacts now seeming commonplace — suggests that efforts to acclimate to new realities are following quite quickly on the footsteps of alarm.”

Philip Cafaro
Fort Collins, CO Aug. 3

“Adaptation isn’t a cure all,” even for people. And let’s not forget, it does nothing for the millions of other species we are taking down with us.

1 Reply224 Recommended

 
Frish commented August 3

Frish
Los AngelesAug. 3

I’m an anthropologist and I’ve been studying this for 50 years. We’ve already disrupted the biosphere’s ability to continue supporting human life, we just haven’t seen the full effects yet. Because of the speed with which we’ve included CO2 in the atmosphere many species will not be able to cope with the resulting outcomes. The last mass extinction took 60,000 years to develop. We’ve made our increases in the last 200 years and more so since 1950. Few things can adapt evolutionarily to that dramatic increase and speed of a change. The jet stream is already meandering. when the jet stream goes chaotic there won’t be a planting season hence no agriculture but there won’t be any seasons at all hence millions of species will be going extinct. Children always come with a death sentence but now a newborn faces extinction as a future. The only moral choice is to not have children. Besides that’s the best thing an individual can do to reduce one’s impact on the environment. I continue to be amazed that no media is suggesting that anyone stop having children but there will come a time in the not too distant future when the realization that we have no future will be more commonplace.

10 Replies216 Recommended

 
Erik Frederiksen commented August 3

Erik Frederiksen
Asheville, NCAug. 3

The carbon cycle for the last 2 million years was doing 180-280ppm atmospheric CO2 over 10,000 years and we’ve done more change than that in 100 years. The last time CO2 went from 180-280ppm global temperature increased by around 4 degrees C and sea level rose 130 meters. (graph of the last 400,000 years of global temperature, CO2 and sea level http://www.ces.fau.edu/nasa/images/impacts/slr-co2-temp-400000yrs.jpg ) One amplifying feedback alone out of dozens, loss of albedo or heat reflectivity from Arctic summer sea ice melt, over the last several decades has been equivalent to 25 percent of the climate forcing of anthropogenic CO2. And that will continue to increase as that ice disappears by mid century. The Titanic sank because by the time the lookout called the warning the ship had too much momentum to turn. The Earth has a lot more momentum, e.g. we’ve already likely locked in at least 6 meters of sea level rise from the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets and decade to decade warming in the near term is also virtually locked in. That momentum is building and the higher we let global temperatures rise the greater the risk of them going really high as amplifying feedbacks strengthen.

6 Replies145 Recommended

Mexico’s Drought: Country Faces a Water Emergency – The New York Times

“Mexico, or large parts of it, is running out of water.

An extreme drought has seen taps run dry across the country, with nearly two-thirds of all municipalities facing a water shortage that is forcing people in some places to line up for hours for government water deliveries.

The lack of water has grown so extreme that irate residents block highways and kidnap municipal workers to demand more supply.

The numbers underlining the crisis are startling: In July, eight of Mexico’s 32 states were experiencing extreme to moderate drought, resulting in 1,546 of the country’s 2,463 municipalities confronting water shortages, according to the National Water Commission.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
“Was blind, but now I see.” from Amazing Grace
“All around the world, the oceans are rising while the coral reefs are slowly dying.
Wake up, my friends, the scientists cry World temperature is rising, and it’s no lie!”
From Talking Climate Change Blues, by David Lindsay Jr
David blogs at InconvenietNews.net
Erik Frederiksen commented 20 minutes ago

Erik Frederiksen
Asheville, NC20m ago

Remember this is what is happening long before feeling the full impacts of a rise in temperature of just 1.2°C due to lags in the system. From a 2012 paper, see the graph below of western North America precipitation from 1900-2100 on p 555 of the paper, it makes the recent western drought look like a rainforest by comparison. We’re edging close to the precipice, in fact we may have already gone over and just don’t know it yet. It depends on our future emissions and the rate and amplitude of amplifying feedbacks like ice and permafrost melt. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2128&context=usdaarsfacpub

Reply8 Recommended