November 26 2017

November 26 2017

scientists warn humanity (a second time), ancient bacteria escaping melting permafrost, National Climate Assessment, future insurance may be unaffordable

The New York Times has an excellent Q&A on climate change (Climate Change Is Complex. We’ve Got Answers to Your Questions). Author Anthony Doerr has an op-ed in the Times about the World Scientist’s Warning to Humanity: Second Notice, while the Guardian reports on how extreme weather events appear to be raising public concern about global warming.

Salon reprints an article from Alternet that describes how melting permafrost is exposing bacteria and viruses that had been dormant in frozen conditions but upon thawing become active. In 2016, an anthrax outbreak killed a boy in Siberia, and the source of the bacteria spores was traced back to an anthrax-infected reindeer that died in 1941 and thawed during the 2016 heat wave.

The New York Times has a detailed article about Houston after Hurricane Harvey, describing the interaction of hydrology, politics, and policy that exacerbated the impacts of the storm. The article notes that the most dangerous storm event for Houston has yet to occur; one that drives a storm surge up the Houston ship channel and floods the oil refineries and related petroleum and chemical industry infrastructure. Bloomberg reports that insurers are seeing a future where the cost of catastrophe insurance will be unaffordable. The article quotes Tom Herbstein of the University of Cambridge: “Climate change fundamentally challenges the existing insurance business model because it is rendering actuary analysis in many places obsolete.”

The Washington Post reports on the first volume of the fourth National Climate Assessment (Climate Science Special Report), a regular science report mandated by Congress to inform the nation and our government about climate change, which was released this month despite fears earlier this year that the Trump administration would try to stifle its rollout. Several of the report’s authors have an op-ed in the New York Times, and it is reviewed by Jeff Goodell in Rolling Stone, and by Joe Romm at Climate Progress (Romm notes that the Trump Administration “approved a report finding Trump’s climate policies would devastate America”).

After three years of very little growth in global carbon emissions, Inside Climate News reports that it is projected 2017 will show a 2% increase. Although emissions growth is slowing in India, and emissions are slowing declining in the US, China is burning more coal this year due to a drought reducing hydropower availability. The article notes that “human-caused carbon emissions have grown at an average annual rate of 3.5 percent since 2000, but at a slower pace of 1.8 percent between 2006 and 2015, according to the Global Carbon Project.”

The Guardian reports on a recent laboratory studying the impact of ocean acidification on calanoid copepods, examining both the impact of acidification alone and when combined with predation. While both changes to chemistry and introduction of predators affected the populations of calanoids, the simultaneous actions of acidification and predators was greater than the sum of the two impacts alone. This suggests that synergies exist that will make some climate impacts more extreme.

Michael Bloomberg and Jerry Brown have an op-ed in the New York Times describing America’s Pledge, an initiative that “will document the progress we are making — and the bolder actions we must still take — to meet our Paris commitments.” Elizabeth Kolbert has an article in the New Yorker about the need for negative carbon emission (she notes this technology “has become vital without necessarily being viable.”)

Bloomberg Markets reports that the City of Miami will be voting on a $400M bond measure to address impacts of climate change (the Miami Herald reports the bond passed). The article identifies Measure AA as a pioneering sea level adaptation proposition approved by voters. The Post & Courier describes the result of a Surfriders Foundation report on beach management in South Carolina and nearby states in the face of sea level rise, and the Washington Post reports on recent research that describes how specific Atlantic shore locations likely will face different levels of sea level rise depending upon which portions of the Greenland ice sheet melt quickest.