Energy and Global Warming News for May 29: Global warming causes 300,000 deaths a year. Global warming must stay below 2C or world faces ruin, scientists declare.

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"Energy and Global Warming News for May 29: Global warming causes 300,000 deaths a year. Global warming must stay below 2C or world faces ruin, scientists declare."

Global warming causes 300,000 deaths a year, says Kofi Annan thinktank

Climate change is already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and is affecting 300m people, according to the first comprehensive study of the human impact of global warming.

It projects that increasingly severe heat waves, floods, storms and forest fires will be responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths a year by 2030, making it the greatest humanitarian challenge the world faces.

Economic losses due to climate change today amount to more than $125bn a year “” more than the all present world aid. The report comes from former UN secretary general Kofi Annan’s thinktank, the Global Humanitarian Forum. By 2030, the report says, climate change could cost $600bn a year….

Civil unrest may also increase because of weather-related events, the report says: “Four billion people are vulnerable now and 500m are now at extreme risk. Weather-related disasters … bring hunger, disease, poverty and lost livelihoods. They pose a threat to social and political stability”.

If emissions are not brought under control, within 25 years, the report states:

“¢ 310m more people will suffer adverse health consequences related to temperature increases

“¢ 20m more people will fall into poverty

“¢ 75m extra people will be displaced by climate change.

Climate change is expected to have the most severe impact on water supplies . “Shortages in future are likely to threaten food production, reduce sanitation, hinder economic development and damage ecosystems. It causes more violent swings between floods and droughts. Hundreds of millions of people are expected to become water stressed by climate change by the 2030. “.

The study says it is impossible to be certain who will be displaced by 2030, but that tens of millions of people “will be driven from their homelands by weather disasters or gradual environmental degradation. The problem is most severe in Africa, Bangladesh, Egypt, coastal zones and forest areas.”

See also “Memorial Day, 2029” and The Lancet‘s landmark Health Commission: “Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century”

Global warming must stay below 2C or world faces ruin, scientists declare

World carbon emissions must start to decline in only six years if humanity is to stand a chance of preventing dangerous global warming, a group of 20 Nobel prize-winning scientists, economists and writers declared today.

The United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen in December must agree to halve greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050 to stop temperatures from increasing by more than 2C (3.6F), the St James’s Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium concluded.

World’s leading scientists warn climate change is as great a threat as nuclear warfare

More than 20 Nobel Laureates, including President Obama’s Energy Secretary Steven Chu, gathered at the meeting in London to discuss the threat of global warming.

After three days the St James’s Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium concluded that climate change posed a danger of similar proportions to “the threat posed to civilization by the advent of thermonuclear weapons.”

Nonprofits, states jostle for home improvement funds

The Obama administration has turned a once-minor anti-poverty program into an effort to weatherize 1 million houses for energy efficiency, leaving states and nonprofits to battle for pieces of the rush of funds.

Some states say they can use money allocated to them by the federal Weatherization Assistance Program creatively to maximize its impact.

Texas wants to give $94 million of its $327 million directly to cities to start their own programs; Indiana and Missouri are asking nonprofits to compete for the funds; and Wisconsin wants to use some of its money to weatherize low-income apartment buildings and wants to spend $10 million on replacing appliances.

The U.S. Department of Energy has said it is willing to consider nontraditional programs.

World Bank to bolster sustainable energy role

The World Bank seeks to play a bigger role in sustainable energy projects around the globe including experimental carbon capture and storage (CCS) research, Vice President Katherine Sierra said on Thursday.

Chinese solar stocks soar as earnings plummet

Chinese solar equipment manufacturers have taken a big hit in the economic downturn. But you wouldn’t know it from the way their stock values have been performing lately.

This month, most major Chinese suppliers of polysilicon feedstock and solar photovoltaic equipment have reported their first-quarter earnings, and all are negative. The companies blame their woes on plummeting demand in Europe, tight access to capital caused by the recent credit crunch, and a competitive race for market share that is pushing down the prices of their products.

But Chinese solar companies have been among the strongest performers on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ in recent weeks, outpacing their U.S., Japanese and European counterparts even before the dismal figures came in. Virtually all Chinese solar stocks spiked in trading yesterday.

Lessons From The Past: Research Examines How Past Communities Coped With Climate Change

Research led by the University of Leicester suggests people today and in future generations should look to the past in order to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.

Climate change hitting poor in U.S. hardest.

Climate change is disproportionately affecting the poor and minorities in the United States – a ‘climate gap’ that will grow in coming decades unless policymakers intervene, according to a University of California study.

Beyond Abstraction: Moving The Public on Climate Action

Humans have been wired by evolution to respond to the most immediate threats, ones they can hear or smell or see “” like the lions approaching our ancestral watering holes in the Serengeti. So in searching for answers as to why society has been so slow to react to one of the greatest threats facing the planet today “” global warming “” this deeply ingrained instinct is a good place to start. Climate change just doesn’t offer those kinds of sensory signals “” at least not yet “” and humans have not felt the need to react, according to researchers.

Forests and the Planet

A major shortcoming of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change was its failure to address the huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the destruction of the world’s rain forests. A proposal that rich nations be allowed to offset some of their emissions by paying poorer counties to leave their rain forests intact was shot down after European environmental groups objected. They argued that it would allow rich countries to buy their way out of their own obligations. The planet has been paying for that colossal blunder ever since.

Compiled by Max Luken and Carlin Rosengarten

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17 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for May 29: Global warming causes 300,000 deaths a year. Global warming must stay below 2C or world faces ruin, scientists declare.

  1. paulm says:

    Oh well…were screwed. There is no way, bar a miracle, that the global temp is going to stabilize below 3C.

    And this is such an inaccurate statement, one has to wonder what the these scientist are trying to achieve.

    >…climate change posed a danger of similar proportions to “the threat posed to civilization by the advent of thermonuclear weapons.”

  2. Gary says:

    What doesn’t make sense to me is how the new report from the Global Humanitarian Forum gets its number of 300,000 deaths. I mean, methodologically, how is it possible for the authors of the report to determine which deaths are solely attributable or the unique result of climate change? Obviously climate change poses severe risks to human health but this kind of claim seems a bit exagerated or at least not scientifically grounded. Does anyone think that 300,000 number is scientifically provable?

  3. Gail says:

    paulm, how right you are. And I am becoming more and more puzzled by scientists who appear to be sugar-coating their own bitter pills of research.

    Today I came across a response to an old comment I made last October at the Mudflats which referred me to this link:

    http://www.dieoff.org/page47.htm

    and several others referring to the work of Charles Little, such as this, which has a particularly interesting perspective on the priorities of the US Forest Service and foresters in general:

    http://www.daviesand.com/Perspectives/Forest_Health/Charles_Little/index.html

    This link just made my blood boil:

    http://www.nytimes.com/1987/10/26/us/dying-forests-perplex-us-and-w-germany.html

    How could these guys be so stubborn as to refuse to see the implications of their own empirical observations? It is just so…irresponsible!

    I would not have felt so alone (in the wilderness, as it were – sorry, awful pun, my bad!) had I found those links back in October, about a book that was written over a decade ago. It becomes ever more clear to me that the climate has already changed and will continue to become ever more destabilized and chaotic. This is killing the ecosystems all over the world which evolved to live in the climate that existed before humans started burning fossil fuels on a huge scale. Anyone who possesses a rudimentary familiarity with Darwinian evolution should be able to see this is obvious and predictable.

    Ecosystems are a balance of organisms that occupy very specific niches. As soon as one factor changes, such as temperature or precipitation, everything else must adjust. The problem is, we have changed both temperature and precipitation patterns faster than long-lived species can adapt. Trees that live decades or even centuries are simply going to die out, and soon, along with every other species of plant or animal that depends on their shade, fruits and nuts.

  4. Tim R. says:

    Note that the Guardian got the story wrong. The Global Humanitarian Forum reported that costs by 2030 would rise to $340 billion, not $600 billion.

  5. ZS says:

    The GHF report is important because it strongly supports the message that climate change is happening NOW. It’s crucial that we communicate that reality to people because there is a mainstream perception that this is a problem that will only affect our grandchildren, or that is at least 20-30 years in the future. I think that action on climate change is directly correlated with perception of the distance of the threat, whether temporally or spatially – if people think that climate disaster is several decades away, or that it won’t really make much of a difference where they live, the chance of a meaningful response is close to nil.

  6. K L Reddington says:

    Civil unrest may also increase because of weather-related events, the report says: “Four billion people are vulnerable now and 500m are now at extreme risk. Weather-related disasters … bring hunger, disease, poverty and lost livelihoods. They pose a threat to social and political stability”.

    If emissions are not brought under control, within 25 years, the report states:

    • 310m more people will suffer adverse health consequences related to temperature increases

    • 20m more people will fall into poverty

    • 75m extra people will be displaced by climate change.

    Obesity is outnumbering the people that are starving. Sounds like a food distribution problem.

    Civil unrest started when cain killed 1/4 of the population.

    We have always had climate change. We have climate change daily. The fact that populations in the past were smaller and storms were not reported doesn’t mean they are increasing. I have been told there are 10,000 lightening strikes a day on this planet. They are massive creators of ozone. Haven’t heard ozone fears lately.

    Ozone reacts with carbon to form carbon dioxide, even at room temperature:

    C + 2 O3 → CO2 + 2 O2

  7. Gail says:

    ZS, I couldn’t agree more with everything you said, thank you for putting it so concisely. This is why I am making as much of a fuss as I can about trees (the other is that losing trees especially among other forms of nature is personally heartbreaking to me).

    I keep hoping that once people with the highest carbon footprint in the world notice that they are destroying their own backyard (not to mention any possibility of passing on to their children the world they are accustomed to…the one with trees, birds, butterflies, maple syrup and apple cider, nuts and peaches) maybe they will start taking seriously our collective and individual obligation – which is to force our elected officials to legislate measures to save us from runaway warming before it’s not just the ecosystems that collapse (that is already a given) but human civilization as well.

    Okay that was a run-on sentence.

  8. Dorothy says:

    Gail and Paul, I feel the same heartbreak, but it helps to keep moving and doing. As for feelings of outrage though, they are with me constantly these days.

    How utterly dishonest of pundits, politicians and even some scientists to tell us that keeping global temperature below 2C (not that they can) will keep us all safe. It’s as if public health officials were to annouced that 98.6 degrees is no longer the normal temperature for the human body; the acceptable standard has been changed to 104 degrees. So you don’t take your baby to the doctor in time, and he dies, but it’s nobody’s fault, right, certainly not yours. Certainly not the public servants you have chosen to protect you.

    Planet is already too hot right now. Ask anyone who lives in Bangladesh. The only meaningful discussion should be about how fast we can decrease GHG emissions to zero, and how fast we can bring atmospheric CO2 down to 325 ppm.

  9. Gail says:

    *APPLAUSE*

    Dorothy!

  10. paulm says:

    The only meaningful discussion should be about how fast we can decrease GHG emissions to zero, and how fast we can bring atmospheric CO2 down to 325 ppm.

    Hullo! Anyone listening ?!

  11. Rick says:

    The Yale360 article, “Beyond Abstraction: Moving The Public on Climate Action” — and apparently the research program it describes — is fatally flawed.

    The “Beyond Abstraction” article is one long Lie-By-Omission. Everything it says is true; and everything it says was known years ago (with the exception of some months-old polling data).

    So what is its glaring Lie-By-Omission? It completely fails to address Disinformation Campaigns (a la Exxon and numerous “think tanks”), and the vulnerability of politicians to demagogic Information Warfare tactics (e.g, “Look out — Senator BlueDog wants to raise your gas taxes!”).

    Despite such Disinfo and Info-War tactics that exploit humanity’s long-known cognitive-emotive vulnerabilities, global climate disaster could have been prevented … if only our social scientists in academia had the courage to investigate the POLITICAL ECONOMY OF PROPAGANDA.

    Unfortunately, that courage appears nowhere in the Yale360 article.

    [JR: You are right! I just read the full piece. It is dreadful.]

  12. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi Rick-

    Just read the Yale360 article – you’re right, I think. Lots of glaring lies by omission and hidden conceptual frames.

    My biggest gripe is the conceptual frame that seems to lay responsibility for global warming on individuals, and assumes that global warming is a lifestyle choice, rather than a technological problem.

    The whole article seems to subtly suggest that global warming is a problem of mass perception, not a technological problem caused by the greed and dogged resistance to change of financial elites.

    Individual lifestyle changes will not be successful to fight global warming, IMO. Only massive collective action can save us.

    We need electricity delivered to our homes that was not generated in such a way that it kills the planet, IMO. Consumers have had very little choice where their electricity came from in the past. Hopefully, in the future that will change, and is changing right now.

    Another thing the article does not seem to consider is the effect of advertising, which consistently appeals not to logic but to our basic fears and urges – and does so deliberately.

  13. Gail says:

    “The memorandum called for an emergency package of financial support for tropical forest nations, as the loss of forests is responsible for about 18 per cent of global carbon emissions.” – from the timesonline report, headline above “Global Warming must stay below 2C”.

    There aren’t going to be any tropical forests because the tropical rain patterns are radically different and going to become more erratic. I’m all for conservation but these scientists are suffering from some sort of delusion if they actually think the tropical rain forests – or any forests anywhere – can survive climate change, let alone absorb excess CO2.

    Canada already figured out that they can’t claim their boreal forest offsets their carbon output and withdrew the figure from calculations. The boreal forest is now a net emitter of carbon, not a sink.

    It’s time to reframe the question and try to figure out how humans can survive climate change.

  14. Alex J says:

    It’s true that our ancestors learned to adapt and survive in the face of climate change. Well, either that or failed as a society, depending on where you look. But lest we think adaptation will occur with little cost and disruption to life as we know it, consider that the example given in that article was of REGIONAL climate change affecting a relatively small population. Today, we’re poised to accelerate changes beyond anything experienced by civilization, and on a global-scale involving an interconnected world of billions of people. So while this research may offer some insight into adaptation techniques, I’m not sure we can make a direct comparison to how nations today will rebuild infrastructure, secure reliable perennial water supplies, modify agriculture etc., on a massive scale. Actually starting to address the root of the issue rather than risking future economic health and quality of life still looks like a more responsible approach.

  15. David B. Benson says:

    Dorothy — Way to go, but in the long run need to bring it down to below 300 ppm CO2e.

  16. Gail says:

    Alex J, I agree. There is no precedent for the number of people on the planet simultaneously facing widespread food, water, and energy shortages.

    I see it going one of two ways, no middle ground. Either the global culture will be transformed into international cooperation and support, with people realizing there are no life boats for this Titanic; or it’s a Mad Max, every man for himself slugfest.

    So there is hope that we will see a magically higher level of human understanding (albeit in a world impoverished by the massive loss of species – that’s inevitable and in fact, already occurring) and then there is the fear that we will have a total breakdown of social norms into pandemonium punctuated by police states.

    When you start thinking about it, it gets kinda scary.