January 2007


What was always thought to be a peninsula, part of Greenland’s mainland, turns out to be an island now that glacier ice has melted. ct-greenland-warm-island.jpg

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By ANDREW C. REVKIN
Published: January 20, 2007
The main international scientific body assessing causes of climate change is closing in on its strongest statement yet linking emissions from burning fossil fuels to rising global temperatures, according to scientists involved in the process.
In fresh drafts of a summary of its next report, the group, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that it is more than 90 percent likely that global warming since 1950 has been driven mainly by the buildup of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases, and that more warming and rising sea levels are on the way.
Some scientists involved in drafting the report confirmed and clarified details but asked not to be identified because it was not finished.
In its last report, published in 2001, the panel concluded that there was a 66 to 90 percent chance that human activities were driving the most recent warming.
The shift in language in the current draft, while subtle, is substantive. If it remains in the final version, scheduled for release in Paris on Feb. 2, it will largely complete a quest that lasted decades to determine if humans are nudging the earth’s thermostat in potentially momentous ways.
Drafts of the report project a most likely warming of 4 to 8 degrees if the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rises to twice the 280 parts per million that it averaged for many centuries before the Industrial Revolution.
The carbon dioxide concentration is now roughly 380 parts per million, and many climate experts say it will be extremely difficult to avoid hitting levels of 450 or 550 parts per million, or higher, later this century, given growth in populations and fuel use and the lack of nonpolluting alternatives that can be exploited at a sufficient scale to replace fossil fuels.
Because the panel works under the auspices of the United Nations dozens of officials from governments around the world have been critiquing drafts, and details inevitably begin to slip into the press in the weeks preceding the formal release.
Snippets of earlier drafts have leaked to some newspapers in recent months and some sections of the latest draft were first published in The Toronto Star yesterday.
Scientists involved in writing the report said the leaks were damaging and potentially misleading, mainly because the final statements are likely to go through further changes.
“The language is far from final,” said Kevin E. Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., who is a lead author of one section. “You can’t say what the I.P.C.C. says until it actually says it.”


January 19, 2007

Posted by Marc Morano marc_morano@epw.senate.gov

After EPW blog post yesterday Weather Channel Climate Expert Calls for Decertifying Global Warming Skeptics http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=32abc0b0-802a-23ad-440a-88824bb8e528 check out this blog post from ABC-TV Alabama affiliate weatherman James Spann http://www.jamesspann.com/blog.htm 

Also check out Weather Channel response to the controversy http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=3ab9e37d-802a-23ad-430e-1c42aad22006&Region_id=&Issue_id=From Spann blog – his bio:

 

“In 2005 I upgraded the AMS seal of approval to the new “Certified Broadcast Meteorologist” designation. The CBM is the highest level of certification from the AMS, and involves academic requirements, on-air performance, a rigorous examination, and continuing education.Official bio here: http://www.abc3340.com/news/talent.hrb?i=188

The Weather Channel Mess

January 18, 2007 | James Spann | Op/Ed

 

Well, well. Some “climate expert” on “The Weather Channel” wants to take away AMS certification from those of us who believe the recent “global warming” is a natural process. So much for “tolerance”, huh?

 

I have been in operational meteorology since 1978, and I know dozens and dozens of broadcast meteorologists all over the country. Our big job: look at a large volume of raw data and come up with a public weather forecast for the next seven days. I do not know of a single TV meteorologist who buys into the man-made global warming hype. I know there must be a few out there, but I can’t find them. Here are the basic facts you need to know:

 

*Billions of dollars of grant money is flowing into the pockets of those on the man-made global warming bandwagon. No man-made global warming, the money dries up. This is big money, make no mistake about it. Always follow the money trail and it tells a story. Even the lady at “The Weather Channel” probably gets paid good money for a prime time show on climate change. No man-made global warming, no show, and no salary. Nothing wrong with making money at all, but when money becomes the motivation for a scientific conclusion, then we have a problem. For many, global warming is a big cash grab.

 

*The climate of this planet has been changing since God put the planet here. It will always change, and the warming in the last 10 years is not much difference than the warming we saw in the 1930s and other decades. And, lets not forget we are at the end of the ice age in which ice covered most of North America and Northern Europe.

 

If you don’t like to listen to me, find another meteorologist with no tie to grant money for research on the subject. I would not listen to anyone that is a politician, a journalist, or someone in science who is generating revenue from this issue.

 

In fact, I encourage you to listen to WeatherBrains episode number 12, featuring Alabama State Climatologist John Christy, and WeatherBrains episode number 17, featuring Dr. William Gray of Colorado State University, one of the most brilliant minds in our science.

 

WeatherBrains, by the way, is our weekly 30 minute netcast.

 

I have nothing against “The Weather Channel”, but they have crossed the line into a political and cultural region where I simply won’t go.

By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles

Published: 20 January 2007

 

An unprecedented coalition of blue-chip US companies and environmental lobby groups will urge President Bush next week to get serious about global warming, calling for caps on carbon dioxide emissions that would cut greenhouse gases by 10-30 per cent over 15 years.

The group, called the US Climate Action Partnership, will unveil the details of its plan on the eve of President Bush’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday. The companies involved include some of the old-fashioned pollution-generating industries normally associated with anti-environmental policies and politicians – the chemical giant DuPont, the bulldozer company Caterpillar, the aluminium producer Alcoa and the US subsidiary of BP.

They, and environmental lobby groups such as Environmental Defense and the Natural Resources Defense Council, said yesterday they will call for “swift federal action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and speeding the adoption of climate-friendly technology”.

The initiative was the latest of several indications of a big shift in US attitudes on global warming. The two-week-old new Democrat-led Congress has already generated a flurry of bills offering emissions-reduction targets. Nancy Pelosi, the new Speaker, is setting up a dedicated climate change committee in the House of Representatives with the power to recommend legislation.

Ms Pelosi has also promised a legislative package on energy independence, to be delivered by Indepedence Day on 4 July. Her enthusiasm is mirrored in the Senate by Barbara Boxer, the incoming chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, who has called the fight against global warming her number-one priority.

The change in attitudes goes beyond the political arena. The star feature of the Detroit Auto Show last week was a plug-in hybrid vehicle being developed from General Motors.

The age of global warming denial, meanwhile, also appears to be drawing to a close. Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest oil company, has cut its funding to groups who argue global warming is a hoax, and is now working to develop strategies it can accept for emissions reduction.

That’s a huge change from just a few months ago, when Exxon Mobil’s chief executive, Lee Raymond, arguably the world’s most prominent global warming sceptic, was still at the helm, and the Senate Energy Committee was headed by the Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe, who made it his business to dismiss scientific opinion on climate change as a conspiracy.

The biggest hold-out against radical policy change is probably the Bush White House. Aides to the President have indicated his State of the Union speech will include some provisions on energy, notably championing the use of ethanol-based fuels. The administration remains opposed, however, to any mandatory caps on carbon dioxide emissions.

The White House is likely to come under increasing pressure to do something, however. One possible route has already been taken by Mr Bush’s fellow Republican, California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has endorsed a 25 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases in his state by the year 2020.

The Schwarzenegger plan does not operate on a rigid system of emissions caps, but rather offers incentives to companies who move faster than their competitors, who can “trade” their margin of emissions reduction with companies lagging behind. The “cap and trade” system contrasts with a bill championed by Senator Boxer, to mandate a reduction in emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Jan 18 6:39 PM US/Eastern

By JOHN HEILPRIN
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sought to create a special committee Thursday in an effort to jump-start long-delayed government efforts to deal with global warming and produce a bill by Independence Day.

Pelosi, D-Calif., said the committee would hold hearings and recommend legislation on how to reduce greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide generated by fossil fuels, that most scientists blame for a gradual warming of the earth’s climate.

“I promise to do everything in my power to achieve energy independence … and to stop global warming,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi set a goal of the Fourth of July for finishing a global warming bill that would “truly declare our energy independence.”

The committee will be led by Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who shares Pelosi’s goals, said a Democratic leadership aide, speaking on condition of anonymity because Pelosi had yet to announce her choice.

Actual bill-drafting duties will be left to committees that have a say in the matter. That could be several because global climate change could affect virtually everything.

Pelosi’s move increases the likelihood that Democrats will propose far tougher constraints on greenhouse gas pollution than the Bush administration wants. She also has outflanked for now _ and angered _ a few Democrats who head important House committees.

“We should probably name it the committee on world travel and junkets,” said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which overseas the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We’re just empowering a bunch of enthusiastic amateurs to go around and make speeches and make commitments that will be very difficult to honor,” said Dingell, a champion of the auto industry, which could be required to producing cleaner-burning and more fuel efficient vehicles.

Dingell, the House’s longest-serving member at age 80, long has viewed environmental legislation as being his domain.

“They’re going to get under the feet of and interfere with those who are trying to do a decent job of legislating,” Dingell said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I’m unaware of anything they will do that will be of any value.”

Reminded that Markey was one of his proteges, Dingell replied: “I won’t be able to help him on this undertaking, now will I?”

Dingell convened Democratic members of his committee for two hours of private talks Wednesday. He said they agreed to send a delegation to meet with Pelosi and iron out who controls what.

“We’re all jealous of our jurisdiction,” Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, said after the meeting.

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., said the new committee builds pressure on the Bush administration, Dingell’s panel and other members of Congress. It creates “an opportunity to go from denial into what needs to be done in the future,” he said.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., withheld judgment until he learned more. Rangel would have jurisdiction on any tax legislation aimed at affecting industry behavior on the environment.

“The appointees are totally unknown,” he said. “I understand that they will have no legislative authority.”

Environmentalists hailed Pelosi’s decision as a momentum-builder to challenge the administration.

“This is a really gutsy move by the speaker,” said Philip Clapp, president of National Environmental Trust. “Action on global warming is so urgent that the speaker has probably taken the only course that could produce a comprehensive bill before the 2008 elections swamp the political process.”

___

Associated Press writer Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.

Mike Tidwell comments-

Finally an action with a sense of urgency. -MT

Bush to address global warming in annual speech
By Caren Bohan

Tue Jan 16, 3:27 PM ET
President Bush will outline a policy on global warming next week in his State of the Union speech but has not dropped his opposition to mandatory limits on greenhouse-gas emissions, the White House said on Tuesday.
“It’s not accurate. It’s wrong,” White House spokesman Tony Snow said regarding media reports suggesting that Bush would agree to mandatory emissions caps in an effort to combat global warming. Such caps could require energy conservation and pollution curbs.
“If you’re talking about enforceable carbon caps, in terms of industry-wide and nation-wide, we knocked that down. That’s not something we’re talking about,” Snow said.
Britain’s “The Observer” newspaper reported on Sunday that senior Downing Street officials, who were not named, said Bush was preparing to issue a changed climate policy during his annual State of the Union speech on January 23.
U.S. allies such as Britain and Germany have pressed for a new global agreement on climate change to replace the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012. Bush withdrew the United States from the protocol in 2001, saying its targets for reducing carbon emissions would unfairly hurt the U.S. economy.
“We’ll have a State of the Union address in a week and we’ll lay out our policy on global warming,” Snow said when asked whether British Prime Minister Tony Blair had persuaded Bush to agree to tougher action to combat global warming.
Bush has pushed a series of initiatives aimed at encouraging the development of alternative energy sources such as hydrogen and ethanol. That theme is expected to be emphasized in his speech.
Germany is hosting the Group of Eight summit later this year and German Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to make the fight against climate change a top issue on the agenda.
Meeting with Merkel at the White House earlier this month, Bush said he was committed to “promoting new technologies that will promote energy efficiency, and at the same time do a better job of protecting the world’s environment.”
The topic of climate change also came up on Tuesday when Bush met with new U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon. Ban raised the subject, according to a U.N. source.
“This is a global problem that calls for global leadership,” the source quoted U.N. secretary general as telling Bush. According to the source, Bush said that those who sign on to protocols like Kyoto need to live by them.
EVOLVING
Bush administration stances on global warming and other environmental issues appear to have evolved over the last year, starting with the president’s 2006 State of the Union address, when he called U.S. addiction to foreign oil a serious problem that required more spending on new technologies.
After years of skepticism and calls for more research into the causes of global warming, Bush acknowledged last summer that humans exacerbate the problem.
His administration also is considering designating polar bears, whose icy habitat has been melting in recent years, as an endangered species. That could pressure the government to impose tougher measures to avoid global warming.
Snow suggested the president was sticking to his emphasis on voluntary steps to curb emissions.
“The president believes in doing everything in our power to use innovation and the power of innovation to achieve people’s goals of having cleaner energy and abundant energy,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Deborah Zabarenko)

MSNBC News Services
Updated: 3:17 p.m. PT Sept 14, 2006

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A leading U.S. climate researcher says the world has a 10-year window of opportunity to take decisive action on global warming and avert catastrophe. NASA scientist James Hansen, widely considered the doyen of American climate researchers, said governments must adopt an alternative scenario to keep carbon dioxide emission growth in check and limit the increase in global temperatures to 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit). “I think we have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change … no longer than a decade, at the most,” Hansen said Wednesday at the Climate Change Research Conference in California’s state capital. If the world continues with a “business as usual” scenario, Hansen said temperatures will rise by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 7.2 degrees F) and “we will be producing a different planet.” On that warmer planet, ice sheets would melt quickly, causing a rise in sea levels that would put most of Manhattan under water. The world would see more prolonged droughts and heat waves, powerful hurricanes in new areas and the likely extinction of 50 percent of species.

Clashing with White House
Hansen, who heads NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has made waves before by saying that President Bush’s administration tried to silence him and heavily edited his and other scientists’ findings on a warmer world. He reiterated that the United States “has passed up the opportunity” to influence the world on global warming. The United States is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, most notably carbon dioxide. But Bush pulled the country out of the 160-nation Kyoto Protocol in 2001, arguing that the treaty’s mandatory curbs on emissions would harm the economy. Hansen praised California for taking the “courageous” step of passing legislation on global warming last month that will make it the first U.S. state to place caps on greenhouse gas emissions. He said the alternative scenario he advocates involves promoting energy efficiency and reducing dependence on carbon burning fuels. “We cannot burn off all the fossil fuels that are readily available without causing dramatic climate change,” Hansen said. “This is not something that is a theory. We understand the carbon cycle well enough to say that.” Most scientists believe global warming is due in some measure to the greenhouse effect, which occurs when so-called greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. These gases trap in Earth’s heat like the glass walls of a greenhouse. Greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, are byproducts of the burning of fossil fuels.

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