Climate news summary

Again from the good folks at NRDC.
So far, 2010 is the world’s hottest year on record, NOAA data show (WaPo)
So far, this has been the hottest year in recorded history. On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released data showing that, from January to July, the average global temperature was 58.1 degrees. That was 1.22 degrees over the average from the 20th century, and the highest since 1880, when reliable records begin.

Experts urge faster and more relevant U.N. climate reports (Reuters)
The U.N. panel of climate scientists should be more nimble at highlighting global warming trends and at fixing mistakes, experts said ahead of the planned August 30 release of a review of the group’s work.

McConnell: Cap-and-trade ‘dead’ (TheHill)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that cap-and-trade energy legislation is “dead” in the upper chamber. The Senate’s top Republican spoke before a local chamber of commerce in eastern Kentucky.

One of many ways climate disinformers mislead (ClimateProgress)
In science, the only thing better than measurements made in the real world are multiple sets of measurements – all pointing to the same answer. That’s what we find with climate change. The case for human caused global warming is based on many independent lines of evidence. Our understanding of climate comes from considering all this evidence. In contrast, global warming skepticism focuses on narrow pieces of the puzzle while neglecting the full picture.

New Yorker exposes Koch brothers along with their greenwashing and whitewashing Smithsonian exhibit (ClimateProgress)
Yesterday, the New Yorker published a devastating investigative piece by Jane Mayer that exposes the Koch family’s efforts to put together the Tea Party movement and much of the modern right-wing infrastructure. It builds off the original reporting conducted by ThinkProgress, some of which I’ve reposted here (see “From promoting acid rain to climate denial — over 20 years of David Koch’s polluter front groups“).

Proliferation of old-style coal plants increases despite public outcry (WaPo)
Utilities across the country are building dozens of old-style coal plants that will cement the industry’s standing as the largest industrial source of climate-changing gases for years to come. An Associated Press examination of Energy Department records and information provided by utilities and trade groups shows that more than 30 traditional coal plants have been built since 2008 or are under construction.

Summary of Developed Country ‘Fast-Start’ Climate Finance Pledges (WRI)
The Copenhagen Accord commits developed countries to collectively provide resources “approaching USD 30 billion for the period 2010 – 2012” to support developing countries’ climate efforts. This so-called “fast-start” finance will help developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, mitigate (reduce) their greenhouse gas emissions, and adapt and cope with the effects of climate change. These pledges also present an opportunity to build trust between developed and developing countries in the international climate arena, in turn fostering progress towards a comprehensive post-2012 international climate agreement.

Pro-Environment Groups Outmatched, Outspent in Battle Over Climate Change Legislation (OpenSecrets)
It was supposed to be their time…Yet even as pro-environment groups seemed poised to capitalize on favorable trends, moneyed opponents girded for a fight with more financial capital than ever before. Clients in the oil and gas industry unleashed a fury of lobbying expenditures in 2009, spending $175 million — easily an industry record — and outpacing the pro-environmental groups by nearly eight-fold, according to a Center for Responsive Politics analysis.

NRDC Urges Obama to Protect Public Health and Defend EPA (NRDC)
We are urging the president to help safeguard the well-being of every man, woman and child by rejecting attempts by Big Polluters and their allies in Congress to thwart the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to reduce pollution and protect public health under the Clean Air Act. The brazen attempts to take America back to the dirty old days, if successful, also would hamper our ability to continue making progress in combating climate change.

Auto union joins labor, green groups on climate bill push (TheHill)
The United Auto Workers is the latest union to join the BlueGreen Alliance, which unites labor and environmental groups pushing for greenhouse gas limits and other policies to create “green” jobs.

Report: Director James Cameron calls climate change skeptics ‘swine’ (TheHill)
James Cameron, director of the eco-tinged smash film Avatar, on Sunday called global warming skeptics “swine” at a renewable energy conference in Aspen, Colo., according to a news report.

Arctic Sea Ice: Why Do Skeptics Think in Only Two Dimensions? (SkepticalScience)
When people talk about the state of Arctic sea ice, they most commonly refer to sea ice extent. This is the area of ocean where there is at least some sea ice (the most common cut-off is 15%). Sea ice extent shows a strong seasonal cycle as Arctic ice melts in the summer, reaching a minimum in September, then refreezes in the winter, peaking in March. Temperature is the main factor driving changes in sea ice extent, although other factors like wind patterns and cloudiness play a part. While sea ice extent has been steadily declining in recent decades, it fell to a record low in 2007 due to a combination of factors.

Geoengineering Unable to Fully Stop 21st Century Sea Level Rise: Report (Treehugger)
Another nail in the coffin of the geoengineering as silver bullet to stop climate change notion: New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that all but a sustained, aggressive, risky, and logistically daunting geoengineering effort will fail to stop projected global sea level rise over the coming century. Furthermore, even this is no substitute for actually reducing emissions.

Earth’s Plant Growth Fell Because of Climate Change, Study Finds (NYT GreenInc)
Drought linked to climate change has reversed a decades-long trend of increased global plant growth, according to a new analysis of NASA satellite data.

Ruling Is Due in Virginia Climate Change Case (NYT GreenInc)
A ruling is expected within a week on a demand by Virginia’s attorney general that the University of Virginia release the research records of a well-known climate change researcher.

Good Intentions, Bad Policy (NYT Economix)
Perhaps the single most important policy-related insight in economics is that changes in policies lead to behavioral responses. More generous unemployment insurance leads to longer spells of unemployment; implicit government guarantees of financial institutions lead to too much risk-taking. Well-designed policies, like a congestion tax or carbon tax, can reduce social problems by getting the right sort of behavioral response; interventions that create an offsetting behavioral response can push the world in the wrong direction.


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