How has Climate Change Affected the Frequency of Extreme Weather Events?

Anthropogenic contribution to global occurrence of heavy-precipitation and high-temperature extremes (Abstract, E. M. Fischer &R. Knutti, Nature Climate Change, Apr. 27, 2015)
Also discussed here: Human activity responsible for three out of four heat extremes, study finds (Roz Pidcock, The Carbon Brief, Apr. 27, 2015)
Today we review climate modeling research that examines the how the frequency of extreme weather events over the long term has and is being changed by the addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Results indicate that in addition to an average global warming of 0.85 C over the last 100 years that the probability of the temperature at a location exceeding a given threshold has tripled so that a daily maximum above 35C, say, that once occurred once in 3 years now occurs every year. When the global temperature has increased by 2C which is the present aim for international policy makers under existing climate change protocols, the probability of a hot day will increase 5 times compared to present day frequencies. Likewise the additional moisture that warmer air can carry has increased and this leads to heavier and more frequent rain storms and floods, especially in the tropics. While the link between climate warming and more frequent extreme events has been known in general terms for a long time, this is the first time that a quantitative number has been put on that- which has major impacts on insurance as well as on policy dealing with climate change.

chances of climate chnage

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Finding Post 2020 Targets for GHG Emission Reductions

Comparing Countries’ Emissions Targets – A Practical Guide (20 page pdf, Australian Government Climate Change Authority, March 2015)

Also discussed here: Comparing countries’ emissions targets (Australian Government Climate Change Authority, March 2015)
And here:  Australia’s future emissions reduction targets (43 page pdf, Australian Government Climate Change Authority, April 2015)
Today we review a guide from the Australian government that compares GHG reduction targets from other countries or regions with similar economies (such as the USA and the EU), using four criteria: Capacity, Adequacy, Responsibility and Effort and differences in base year. Australia, (like Canada) has one of the highest per capita emission rates in the world (at 25-27 tonsCO2e/year) as well as a strong economy, governance institutions and advanced technology. It’s unconditional emissions target implies a 32% reduction/capita from 2005 levels by 2025 which is higher relatively than the US or EU. Another significant factor is the cost to make reductions and the capacity of a country’s economy to bear that wither in absolute or relative terms. However, costs are difficult to estimate and may be influenced by actions of other countries as well as the technology used. The Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) for participating countries will be announced in advance of the Paris conference in December 2015.

australia post 2020 ghg targets

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Why (most) Politicians Do Not Act on Climate Change?

How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate [Kindle Edition] (120 pages, Andrew Hoffman, Mar. 11, 2015)

Also discussed here: Social sciences are best hope for ending debates over climate change (Andy Hoffman, The Conversation, Apr. 2, 2015)

Today we review an enlightened book by Professor Andy Hoffman which looks beyond the scientific evidence for climate change as a basis for policy to the socio-economic and cultural interests that must be satisfied before substantive action meet with public approval – even though, parenthetically, it appears that the public is far ahead of their political masters on the solutions which mainly revolve around a form of carbon tax (or carbon “dividend” as the new terminology dubs it). Hoffman contrasts the way scientists think and propose solutions to the way that social scientists deal with similar challenges. He also recognizes debates where extremes are debated that affect a few instead of main issues affecting the majority with exaggerated positions taken to defend each side- which is true not only of the climate debate (top – down imposed tax vs. freedom from government control) but also the abortion debate (life vs. choice), neither of which involve the factual or scientific sides of the arguments. Addressing climate change requires significant change to the physical infrastructure and institutions and lifestyles that support carbon fuels. Unless these interests are addressed, little progress on policy is possible.

Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 ...

Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 relative to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Are there Limits to the Burning of Carbon Fuels?

The geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2 °C (Abstract, Christophe McGlade & Paul Ekins, Nature, Jan. 7, 2015)
Also discussed here: The Limits to Fossil Fuel Use? (Wil Burns, Teaching Climate Law, Feb. 6, 2015)
Today we review research into the implications of using fossil fuel reserves if the emissions from their use are to stay below the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that limit warming to 2 degrees C or less. The conclusions include the need to keep 82% of coal reserves in the ground, to cease production of bitumen in the Canadian oil sands by 2040 and to to keep 80% of unconventional natural gas reserves unburned by 2050 – even if carbon capture and sequestration is widely deployed, should it be found to be effective.
The “Limits to Growth” on which the Club of Rome was founded now has application to the burning of fossil fuels.

Limits for carbons

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UK calls for Action to Reduce Air Pollution and Its Health Impacts

Action on Air Quality – HC 212 – Sixth Report of Session 2014–15 (51 page pdf, Environmental Audit Committee, House of Commons, UK, Nov. 26, 2014)

Also discussed here: Air pollution ‘causing deadly public health crisis’ (James Gallagher, Health editor, BBC News, Dec. 7, 2014)

Today we review a report from a Committee of the British House of Commons calling for action both in the short and long term (2030) to improve air quality – its 3rd report on this issue in the last 5 years. In 92% of the Air Quality Management Areas, road transport is the main cause of that pollution, so that recommendations call for more efficient vehicles and fewer diesel powered ones and more Low Emission Zones. The Committee recognizes the powerful lobbies (such as automobile associations and oil/gas industry) against progress – as it is, if not more so in Canada and the USA – but pleads that the UK government should not wait to be ordered by the EU parliament to act.

UK deaths due air pollution

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The Future of the World’s Urban Economy and Carbon Emissions

Cities and the New Climate Economy: The Transformative Role of Global Urban Growth (68 page pdf, Graham Floater and Philipp Rode, New Climate Economy Cities Paper 01. LSE Cities, London School of Economics and Political Science, Jul. 2014)

Today we review a report on the future likely for the globe’s urban areas in terms of growth, their increasing share of the world economy, population and greenhouse gas emissions. A “Three C” model is proposed that shows the advantages of cities adopting compact urban growth, connected infrastructure and coordinated governance that already has shown itself in cities such as Stockholm which has seen a 41% economic increase while reducing carbon emissions by 35% over the last 7 years.

stockholm emissions

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When are You Too Old to Drive?

Is the U.S. Ready for Seniors Who Want to Stop Driving? (Angie Schmitt,Streetsblog, Oct. 27, 2014)

Also discussed here: When Planning for Retirement, Consider Transportation (Harriet Edleson, New York Times, Oct. 17, 2014)

And here: What About The Elderly? (Andrew Price, Strong Towns, Oct. 17, 2013)

And here: Driving Life Expectancy of Persons Aged 70 Years and Older in the United States (6 page pdf, Daniel J. Foley, Harley K. Heimovitz, Jack M. Guralnik and Dwight B. Brock, American Journal of Public Health, Aug. 2002)

Today we review several articles that look at the older generation (getting bigger) and how much they drive (a little less) and how big a challenge it is for them to get around (bigger). One downside is that older drivers are three times more likely to die in a car accident because of their reduced ability to drive, offset by the number who chose not to drive anymore. Some prefer to live in communities where one can walk to get what one needs, even though walking for some is as challenging as driving. Are city planners taking into account the growth of the older population and their differing needs for transportation? As one commentator noted “We cannot ignore the problem, because we will all be elderly one day.”

driving ages

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