A Guide to Climate Change in the 2020 Presidential Election – By Brad Plumer – The New York Times

Oct. 14, 2020

“The presidential election is just weeks away, and climate change has broken through as a defining issue for Americans this year, even amid a historic pandemic and deep economic uncertainty weighing upon the nation.

Two-thirds of Americans say the government isn’t doing enough to reduce the effects of global warming, according to a June survey from the Pew Research Center, and the two presidential candidates’ approaches couldn’t be further apart. President Trump has often dismissed global warming as a hoax; his rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., calls climate change an “emergency” that requires rapidly overhauling the nation’s energy system.

Their differences raise profound questions about the government’s role in shaping the United States economy and America’s place on the world stage. Here’s a guide to major climate questions in the election.

The World’s Oceans Are in Danger, Major Climate Change Report Warns – By Brad Plumer – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Earth’s oceans are under severe strain from climate change, a major new United Nations report warns, threatening everything from the ability to harvest seafood to the well-being of hundreds of millions of people living along the coasts.

Rising temperatures are contributing to a drop in fish populations in many regions, and oxygen levels in the ocean are declining while acidity levels are on the rise, posing risks to important marine ecosystems, according to the report issued Wednesday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders in policymaking.

In addition, warmer ocean waters, when combined with rising sea levels, threaten to fuel ever more powerful tropical cyclones and floods, the report said, further imperiling coastal regions and worsening a phenomenon that is already contributing to storms like Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Houston two years ago.

“The oceans are sending us so many warning signals that we need to get emissions under control,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, a marine biologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany and a lead author of the report. “Ecosystems are changing, food webs are changing, fish stocks are changing, and this turmoil is affecting humans.”

 

It’s New York vs. California in a New Climate Race. Who Will Win? – By Brad Plumer – The New York Times

By Brad Plumer

Illustrations by Tim Peacock

“California and New York have recently set some of the world’s most ambitious climate targets, aiming to slash their net emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases down to nearly zero in just three short decades.

Now the race is on to see if either state can pull off this feat — something that no major economy in the world has yet achieved. For now, neither state has a clear advantage, and both must overcome unique obstacles to clean up their power plants, cars and buildings. New York has the lowest per-person emissions of any state in the nation, but California is close behind.”

Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace – The New York Times

Want climate news in your inbox? Sign up here for Climate Fwd:, our email newsletter.

WASHINGTON — Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival, a sweeping new United Nations assessment has concluded.

The 1,500-page report, compiled by hundreds of international experts and based on thousands of scientific studies, is the most exhaustive look yet at the decline in biodiversity across the globe and the dangers that creates for human civilization. A summary of its findings, which was approved by representatives from the United States and 131 other countries, was released Monday in Paris. The full report is set to be published this year.

Its conclusions are stark. In most major land habitats, from the savannas of Africa to the rain forests of South America, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more, mainly over the past century. With the human population passing 7 billion, activities like farming, logging, poaching, fishing and mining are altering the natural world at a rate “unprecedented in human history.”

At the same time, a new threat has emerged: Global warming has become a major driver of wildlife decline, the assessment found, by shifting or shrinking the local climates that many mammals, birds, insects, fish and plants evolved to survive in. When combined with the other ways humans are damaging the environment, climate change is now pushing a growing number of species, such as the Bengal tiger, closer to extinction.

Climate Negotiators Reach an Overtime Deal to Keep Paris Pact Alive – The New York Times

Quote

By Brad Plumer
Dec. 15, 2018

KATOWICE, Poland — Diplomats from nearly 200 countries reached a deal on Saturday to keep the Paris climate agreement alive by adopting a detailed set of rules to implement the pact.

The deal, struck after an all-night bargaining session, will ultimately require every country in the world to follow a uniform set of standards for measuring their planet-warming emissions and tracking their climate policies. And it calls on countries to step up their plans to cut emissions ahead of another round of talks in 2020.

It also calls on richer countries to be clearer about the aid they intend to offer to help poorer nations install more clean energy or build resilience against natural disasters. And it builds a process in which countries that are struggling to meet their emissions goals can get help in getting back on track.

via Climate Negotiators Reach an Overtime Deal to Keep Paris Pact Alive – The New York Times

Clean Energy Is Surging- but Not Fast Enough to Solve Global Warming – By Brad Plumer – The New York Times

Quote

By Brad Plumer
Nov. 12, 2018

+
Want climate news in your inbox? Sign up here for Climate Fwd:, our email newsletter.

WASHINGTON — Over the next two decades, the world’s energy system will undergo a huge transformation. Wind and solar power are poised to become dominant sources of electricity. China’s once-relentless appetite for coal is set to wane. The amount of oil we use to fuel our cars could peak and decline.

But there’s a catch: The global march toward clean energy still isn’t happening fast enough to avoid dangerous global warming, at least not unless governments put forceful new policy measures in place to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

That’s the conclusion of the International Energy Agency, which on Monday published its annual World Energy Outlook, a 661-page report that forecasts global energy trends to 2040. These projections are especially difficult right now because the world’s energy markets, which usually evolve gradually, are going through a major upheaval.

via Clean Energy Is Surging, but Not Fast Enough to Solve Global Warming – The New York Times

Scientists Push for a Crash Program to Scrub Carbon From the Air – By Brad Plumer

Quote

By Brad Plumer,   Oct. 24, 2018,   25 comments

WASHINGTON — With time running out to avoid dangerous global warming, the nation’s leading scientific body on Wednesday urged the federal government to begin a research program focused on developing technologies that can remove vast quantities of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere in order to help slow climate change.

The 369-page report, written by a panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, underscores an important shift. For decades, experts said that nations could prevent large temperature increases mainly by reducing reliance on fossil fuels and moving to cleaner sources like solar, wind and nuclear power.

But at this point, nations have delayed so long in cutting their carbon dioxide emissions that even a breakneck shift toward clean energy would most likely not be enough. According to a landmark scientific report issued by the United Nations this month, taking out a big chunk of the carbon dioxide already loaded into the atmosphere may be necessary to avoid significant further warming, even though researchers haven’t yet figured out how to do so economically, or at sufficient scale.

And we’ll have to do it fast. To meet the climate goals laid out under the Paris Agreement, humanity may have to start removing around 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the air each year by midcentury, in addition to reducing industrial emissions, said Stephen W. Pacala, a Princeton climate scientist who led the panel. That’s nearly as much carbon as all the world’s forests and soils currently absorb each year.

via Scientists Push for a Crash Program to Scrub Carbon From the Air – The New York Times

Excellent article. Many good comments, such as:

Doc Who
Gallifrey

A recent article in The Economist puts the cost of direct CO2 capture at $100-200 per ton of CO2.

To put this in terms we can easily grasp, I calculated the amount of CO2 I generate from my totally obsolete ICE car to 10,000 miles
per year/30 mpg = 333 gallons gasoline.

333 gallons x 20 lbs CO2 per gallon = 6660 lbs CO2 per year, or 3.3 tons.

Thus, for $330-660 additional expenditure per year, my 1992 Honda could be operated in a carbon neutral fashion.

For perspective, the total cost to operate for the cheapest new car you can buy in the US is about $5,000 per year.

How Brett Kavanaugh Could Reshape Environmental Law From the Supreme Court – By Brad Plumer – NYT

By Brad Plumer
“His legal philosophy was clear: In the absence of explicit instructions from Congress, any far-reaching effort by the E.P.A. to tackle environmental problems should be met with deep skepticism by the courts. That philosophy often put him sharply at odds with the Obama administration, which sought to harness older environmental laws to deal with newer challenges like global warming.

“It’s a neutral principle, although the effect isn’t always neutral,” Richard J. Lazarus, a law professor at Harvard, said. “Congress stopped making clean air laws after 1990, so the E.P.A. has to work with increasingly tenuous statutory language. In effect, his approach to environmental law would make it harder to address current problems so long as Congress remains out of the lawmaking business.” “