Tuesday, 24 March 2009

UK Council using thermal imaging to locate energy efficiency targets

News today of a Norfolk Council using thermal imaging to do aerial
surveys of urban areas to identify priority buildings for energy
efficiency renovation. Great idea!
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1164091/Council-uses-spy-plane-thermal-imaging-camera-snoop-homes-wasting-energy.html

About emission targets

NASA climatologist James Hansen concluded in a 2008 research paper that
the tipping point for the presence, or absence, of any substantial
ice-sheets on Earth is around 450 ppm (plus or minus 100 ppm) of CO2.

This means that the CO2 levels often associated with a 2?C rise may just
be the tipping point for the total loss of all ice sheets on the planet
and a huge sea-level rise.

To achieve the return of the Arctic sea-ice, which plays a key role in
the global climate system, Hansen says we need a target in the range
300–325ppm CO2, well below the current level of 387 ppm.

That means we need to halt emissions growth before it gets to 450 ppm,
then extract CO2 from the atmosphere (via forest growth, biochar
sequestration, etc) to a level where we see the Arctic ice cover at a
level where it's albedo effect helps stabilise global temperatures.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Climate Science Conference issues dire warnings

The 2009 Climate Change Conference was help in Copenhagen by the
International Alliance of Research Universities. It's key message:

"Recent observations confirm that, given high rates of observed
emissions, the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are
being realised." See
http://climatecongress.ku.dk/newsroom/congress_key_messages/

There's a whole lot more about just how much climate change has
accelerated that should make us all pause for thought; and then act fast.

The hope of BioChar

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/mar/13/charcoal-carbon

"(Biochar) processing facilities could be built right next to forests
grown specifically to soak up CO2. "You can cut trees down, carbonise
them, then plant more trees. The forest could act on an industrial scale
to suck carbon out of the atmosphere."

Johannes Lehmann of Cornell university has calculated that it is
realistically possible to fix 9.5bn tonnes of carbon per year using
biochar. The global production of carbon from fossil fuels stands at
8.5bn tonnes.

Hope.

Friday, 20 March 2009

"CCS is mostly hot air" - The Economist magazine

The Economist has very effectively debunked CCS in a recent article.
Link is http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13226661

The editorial that accompanied the article summed it up so:

"CCS is not just a potential waste of money. It might also create a
false sense of security about climate change, while depriving
potentially cheaper methods of cutting emissions of cash and
attention—all for the sake of placating the coal lobby."
(http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13235041)

Well said!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

I got riled by sceptics getting airspace this week

My media clippings service came up with a "Denver Weather Examiner"
story on IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri visiting town, complete with lots of
space to a misguided "sceptic".

How is this still happening? I appreciate that journos have to
manufacture conflict to get attention; but it would be good if they
picked opposing views that have some agreed foundation.

There are lots of ways to bring such content into a climate story:
debates about solutions, such as should we have nuclear or not, is coal
sequestration a diversion or a genuine part of the solution.

If you were running a story on a cold front moving through the North USA
you might have debate about whether it'll mean snow or just rain, or
options for how people should prepare to manage possible snowstorms. But
would you bother featuring a story debating whether the cold front
existed? That's what legions of US online journals are still doing.

Given that every institutional climate authority in the western world
(or just about) agrees that climate change is happening and that it's
"very likely" (to use the very careful formulation of words that the
Saudis allowed the IPCC to use) to be human-induced .... then it seems
clear we have a pretty severe climate front coming through.

And having just been in Australia where the scientists are saying pretty
unequivocally that the extended high temperature periods that created
the recent killer firestorms were part of the human-induced change of
climate ... I think we can say the effects of that climate change front
are already being felt.

Now, any of us can decide to rubbish the work of thousands of climate
scientists around the world, or of an internationally appointed panel of
the world's leaders in their areas of climate-related practice, or of
every major scientific institution and every major scientific
professional association in the world, or of the political leaders of
every western nation (except, I think, the plucky little Czech Republic)
... and say that climate change is not human-induced. But I think you
could rightfully be accused of being misguided.

Of course nothing about the future is certain; climate change would be
academic is we all go in a meteorite hit before the year's out. But if I
was flying a plane and the relevant authorities tell me there's a 90%
chance of a very severe storm up ahead, I'd take evasive action. We all
need to take evasive action around climate change.