15 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for June 2nd: The seldom-seen devastation of climate change, Spains high-speed rail offers guideposts for U.S.
JR: I have been meaning to blog on the beautiful new book by fellow blogger Gavin Schmidt (RealClimate.org). Salon beat me to the punch. Click the photo for a slideshow of great pictures from the book.
In our visual culture, climate change remains oddly invisible. Few people can glimpse melting glaciers or perceive that seas levels are rising. We may feel hotter, but we cannot see carbon rising through the atmosphere as we drive our cars around. This is one reason for our lethargic response to the problem: out of sight, out of mind.
Climate Change: Picturing the Science, a new book by Gavin Schmidt and Joshua Wolfe, aims to alter that by providing a rich photographic record of a warming world. Some photos tell a self-evident record of geophysical change, like a shot of Lake Powell, on the Arizona-Utah border, where warming-induced drought has produced a dramatically lowered water line — a yellow “bathtub ring” of once-submerged rock. [See picture above.]
Most of the piece is devoted to an interview with Schmidt, including his response to Freeman Dyson’s uninformed critique of climate modelers like him (see also Media stunner: When asked “Does it matter, from a journalistic point of view, whether [Freeman Dyson is] right or whether he’s wrong?” his NYT profiler replies “Oh, absolutely not.”)
Kudos to Schmidt for a different take on climate.
When President Obama announced in April his $13 billion plan to propel the United States into the age of high-speed rail, he tipped his hat to the trains that zip between the cities of the Old Continent at up to 217 miles an hour.
Spain, an enthusiastic latecomer to high-speed rail, on Friday will complete a six-day tour of European transit systems that it presented to the American transportation secretary, Ray H. LaHood. Officials say the Spanish experience could hold lessons in what works and what does not….
Spain opened its first Alta Velocidad Espa±ola, or AVE, high-speed train route in 1992, between Madrid and Seville. The network has grown to nearly 2,000 kilometers and stretches from Malaga on the south coast to Barcelona, which is north and east.
Supporters say the AVE has begun to transform the country, binding remote and sometimes restive regions to Madrid and leading traditionally homebound Spaniards to move around for work or leisure.
“Spaniards have rediscovered the train,” said I±aki Barr³n de Angoiti, director of high-speed rail at the International Union of Railways in Paris. “The AVE has changed the way people live, the way they do business. Spaniards don’t move around a lot, but the AVE is even changing that.”
Such is the train’s allure that politicians of different stripes have made extravagant promises to lace the country with a sprawling network. Under a plan devised by Prime Minister Jos© Luis Rodrguez Zapatero, Spain will have 10,000 kilometers (more than 6,200 miles) of high-speed track by 2020….
As has happened elsewhere, the high-speed train is stealing passengers from the airlines: The 2.5-hour route between Madrid and Seville handles about 89 percent of railway and air traffic between the cities, according to Renfe, the state railway operator. In its first year, the Madrid-Barcelona route lured nearly half the five million passengers who would normally fly between the cities, Renfe said.
Supporters say such statistics bolster the train’s green credentials: The International Union of Railways says a high-speed train can carry eight times as many passengers as an airplane over a given distance, using the same amount of energy and emitting a quarter of the carbon dioxide for each passenger.
America’s chief climate negotiator has pledged billions of dollars a year to help developing countries acquire clean energy and adapt to climate change.
Todd Stern said it was morally right for rich nations to help the poor on climate change.
He also told BBC News that China deserved credit for its energy-saving programme.
And he defended America’s negotiating position on emissions cuts, claiming they were of the same order as the cuts proposed by the EU.
Rich and poor countries criticised a first draft text of a new United Nations climate treaty on Monday but grudgingly accepted it as the basis for six months of arduous negotiations.
Despite finding fault, delegates accepted the draft as the starting point for negotiations on a treaty due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December to curb the use of fossil fuels and widen the fight against climate change beyond the existing Kyoto Protocol.
A virtual book of all life on Earth is being created by UK and US scientists.
The online reference work will create a detailed world map of flora and fauna and track changes in biodiversity.
The database, dubbed a “macroscopic observatory”, will be populated with data about local species gathered by members of the public.
Early elements of the giant database, such as automatic species identification systems, are already under construction.
Lily Kiminami, Professor in Regional, Rural and Development Economics in the Institute of Science and Technology, at Niigata University, Japan, explains that society at the regional, national and international level has a role to play in ensuring food security, that can cope with changes in food consumption, and be made sustainable in the light of climate change and in times of economic strife.
Until now, research on food policy has focused only on investigating the relationship between average income level and corresponding food demand at the national level. Research related to the impact of the income gap on food security in the face of economic changes has proved inadequate. As such, she and her colleagues have investigated the impact of economic growth on food consumption in Asia and taken into consideration the income gap.
Protecting tropical forests and using land in ways that absorb greenhouse-gas emissions are “critical” to fighting climate change, the U.S. said.
Funding to reduce logging rates should come from government and private sources, as well as from international carbon markets, the U.S. proposed in a 5-page submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN agency guiding talks today in Bonn for a new global-warming treaty.
China aims to save 75 terawatt hours of power per year, the equivalent of 75 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, by promoting energy-efficient air-conditioners and other home appliances.
The government plans to raise the market shares of such appliances to over 30 percent by 2012 by subsidising sales, the National Development and Reform Commission said.
Texan cattle rancher Mike Baca seems an unlikely evangelist for the American green revolution.
When he voices a visceral dislike of the “Washington liberals” there seems to be little hint of the environmentalist beneath the cowboy hat and saucer-sized belt-buckle.
But Mike is proof that renewable energy now unites the partisan debate on climate change.
[Note from Austin: As an apparently disliked Washington liberal, I’m glad Mike and I can see eye to eye on renewable energy.]
Ocean acidification, a direct result of increased CO2 emission, is set to change the Earth’s marine ecosystems forever and may have a direct impact on our economy, resulting in substantial revenue declines and job losses.
Intensive fossil-fuel burning and deforestation over the last two centuries have increased atmospheric CO2 levels by almost 40%, which has in turn fundamentally altered ocean chemistry by acidifying surface waters. Fish levels and other sea organisms such as planktons, crabs, lobsters, shrimp and corals are expected to suffer, which could leave fishing communities at the brink of economic disaster.
Retaining a network of wildlife conservation areas is vital in helping to save up to 90 per cent of bird species in Africa affected by climate change, according to scientists.
Tropical cyclones could be a significant source of the deep convection that carries moist air upward to the stratosphere, where it can influence climate, according to Harvard University researchers David M. Romps and Zhiming Kuang.
Using 23 years of infrared satellite imagery, global tropical cyclone best-track data, and reanalysis of tropopause temperature, the authors found that tropical cyclones contribute a disproportionate amount of the tropical deep convection that overshoots the troposphere and reaches the stratosphere.
Compiled by Austin Davis