Hot, Dry And Worrisome: 2016 Was A Record-Breaking Year For Climate

Drought was a frequent problem around the world in 2016, the annual State of the Climate report shows. This summer, Montana has been dealing with more crop-damaging drought. Credit: Scott Olson/Getty

By Georgina Gustin for Inside Climate News – Global scientists relied on the typical superlatives to describe the state of the climate in 2016, but they might have come up with a few neologisms as well. It was not only the hottest year on record, but one of the droughtiest, high-tidiest and altogether worryingest. Driven by the inexorable warming brought on by record concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and vaulted even higher into the record books by the effects of a powerful El Niño, the signals of climate change were unmistakeable and remarkably diverse, the authoritative annual review, State of the Climate in 2016, shows. Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the main blanket of gases warming the planet, increased by the largest year-to-year jump in the six decades of measurement and surpassed 400 parts per million for the first time as an annual average. Sea level rise has been accelerating over time and hit another record in 2016, according to the report. The global oceans have been going up an average of .13 inches a year for two decades and were, on average, 3.25 inches higher last year than in 1993. Sea surface temperatures also hit a record high in 2016.

Talking About A Revolution

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By Jim Naureckas for Other Words – Saving people and the planet means upending virtually every kind of business — starting with the media. It’s long been clear that if we want to avoid catastrophic climate disruption on a scale that threatens human civilization, we need to leave vast amounts of fossil fuels in the ground. Environmental writer Bill McKibben pointed out the math in a crucial 2012 article for Rolling Stone: To avoid disaster, 80 percent of the carbon already discovered by private and state-owned energy companies has to be left alone — to be treated as useless rock. The problem is, the energy companies are some of the richest, most powerful entities on Earth. Corporations are designed to act like organisms with a single goal: maximizing profits. And the fossil fuel industry’s future profits — roughly 80 percent of them — depend on extracting that carbon and burning it, climate and civilization be damned. They’ve been using and will continue to use their vast influence to thwart any effort to avert that disaster. Does humanity have the collective power to tell the current owners of carbon deposits that they don’t have the right to take them out of the ground and sell them as fuel? That the companies simply don’t own those assets anymore?

Speaking Truth To Power On Climate Change: Why The Report Leaked

The Climate Science Special Report is intended to guide the preparation of the National Climate Assessment, released every four years. The last assessment was in 2014. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

By Jack Cushman for Inside News Climate – None of this should come as any surprise—the report is basically a synthesis of the current climate science consensus. Indeed, its gist had been known for months. An early draft was releasedfor public comment a month before President Obama left office. It was reviewed in detail by an expert panel at the National Academy of Sciences, the gold standard for peer review, which gave its imprimatur in April. But now, the final draft—the fifth revision, approaching 700 pages—is ready for final approval by the Trump Administration, which includes environmental, energy and other regulatory agencies run by people deeply opposed to the mainstream scientific views that run through this report, chapter and verse. Would the Trump Administration deep-six the report? Some scientists involved in the process reportedly were worried about that. So someone arranged to get it published on the website of The New York Times—a leak that broke protocol but ensured that no last-minute blue pencils could be surreptitiously applied by anyone politically inspired to meddle with the opus, a part of a long formal process that by law produces a National Climate Assessment every four years.

Sugar Shack Protesters Block Construction For Public Safety

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By the Sugar Shack Alliance. Massachusetts – In an early morning action carried out yesterday at the site of the Kinder Morgan/TGP Connecticut Expansion Pipeline Project, 21 members of the Sugar Shack Alliance successfully blocked construction traffic for almost 3 hours in 2 directions on Cold Spring Road in Sandisfield MA, hindering access to work zones for employees, and, for a short time, disrupting ongoing pipeline construction. The day’s action—undertaken by Sugar Shack Alliance members in the interest of public safety—resulted in the arrest of 10 activists. One major safety concern for the Sugar Shack Alliance and their allies is the apparent lack of an evacuation plan in the event of a potentially catastrophic accident. In 1981, as many Sandisfield residents may recall, during construction of a second of two pipelines, workers accidentally ruptured an existing “live” pipeline, resulting in a serious threat of a gas leak and requiring the evacuation of many townspeople.

Occupy Sonoma County Holds Climate Change Summit

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By Occupy Sonoma County. On July 31, Occupy Sonoma County hosted a gathering of local climate change activists at the Peace & Justice Center in Santa Rosa. Over 70 people, representing 25 different organizations, attended. Climate change activists are working together in Sonoma County. Every group is also involved in educating the public and empowering people to take action. We ended the evening with a plan to meet again at the Peace & Justice Center on October 30th at 7:00 pm to form action plans and coordinate our efforts. “It was extremely gratifying to see all the climate change groups taking this important step towards coordinating our efforts. Sonoma County climate change activists have their act together! This dynamic group of experienced activists combined with fresh, new energy from the many youth who attended, gives me hope that we can work together to stop climate change,” said Stefana Morales, Occupy activist.

Federal Scientists’ Startling Climate Report Released Before Trump Can Bury It

Climate change earth melting. Source Bruce Rolff, Shutterstock

By Chris D’Angelo for THe Huffington Post – WASHINGTON — Government scientists agree that, contrary to President Donald Trumpand his team’s repeated claims, climate change is already having a dramatic effect in the U.S., according to a new report. The New York Times published an unreleased draft of the report Monday. The 543-page report was written by scientists from 13 federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It concludes that temperatures in the U.S. have risen sharply, by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit, over the last 150 years and that it is “extremely likely that most of the global mean temperature increase since 1951 was caused by human influence on climate.” “Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” the report states. “Thousands of studies conducted by tens of thousands of scientists around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; disappearing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea level; and an increase in atmospheric water vapor.

Climate Change Nihilism

Climate change earth melting. Source Bruce Rolff, Shutterstock

By Eleanor Goldfield for Occupy – According to Professor Guy McPherson, we have 10 years or less to live on this planet. His specific brand of doomsday-ism is couched in the theory that no other climate scientists are recognizing the complete picture – taking all the ills together, from permafrost melt to ocean acidification. While it’s odd that no other climate scientists are lining up behind that theory, this segment is less about the time argument and more about how you spend that time. McPherson suggests that because of this limited window of life we have left, we should all pursue “a life of excellence.” Stopping short of actually explaining what that means, McPherson suggests that we let go of hope, live with death in mind but also try to enjoy life as much as we can. Well, I call bullshit on this specific brand of nihilistic doomsdayerism. Fighting for a better world is not just about 70 years from now. It’s about today – and however much time we have left, regardless of climate change or whether we die tomorrow in a freak boating accident. Dissecting doomsday-ism and inspiring the fight on Act Out!

U.S. Submits Formal Notice Of Withdrawal From Paris Climate Pact

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump pauses as he announces his decision that the United States will withdraw from the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 1, 2017. Kevin Lamarque

By Valerie Volcovici for Reuters – WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department has officially informed the United Nations it will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement in a document issued on Friday, but left the door open to re-engaging if the terms improved for the United States. The State Department said in a press release the United States would continue to participate in United Nations climate change meetings during the withdrawal process, which is expected to take at least three years. “The United States supports a balanced approach to climate policy that lowers emissions while promoting economic growth and ensuring energy security,” the department said in the release. President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Paris deal in June, saying the accord would have cost America trillions of dollars, killed jobs, and hindered the oil, gas, coal and manufacturing industries. But he also, at the time, said he would be open to renegotiating the deal, which was agreed by nearly 200 nations over the course of years – drawing ridicule from world and business leaders who said that would be impossible. During a visit last month to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, the two discussed the deal and Trump told reporters “Something could happen with respect to the Paris accords, let’s see what happens.”

Talking About A Revolution

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By Jim Naureckas for FAIR – It’s long been clear that if we want to avoid catastrophic climate disruption on a scale that threatens human civilization, we need to leave vast amounts of fossil fuels in the ground. Environmental writer Bill McKibben pointed out the math in a crucial 2012 article for Rolling Stone: To avoid disaster, 80 percent of the carbon already discovered by private and state-owned energy companies has to be left alone—to be treated as useless rock, not precious resources. The problem is, the energy companies are some of the richest, most powerful entities on Earth. Corporations are designed to act like organisms with a single goal, maximizing profits. And the fossil fuel industry’s future profits—roughly 80 percent of them—depend on extracting that carbon and burning it, climate and civilization be damned. They have been using and will continue to use their vast influence to thwart any effort to avert that disaster. Does humanity have the collective power to tell the current owners of carbon deposits that they no longer own them—that they don’t have the right to take them out of the ground and sell them as fuel? That’s the $640 trillion question. Doing so is essential to our future as a species—but a massive transfer of wealth of that kind isn’t like a revolution, it is a revolution, and a revolution on a scale history hasn’t seen before.

FERC Quorum Restored In Night Vote After Protests

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By Staff for Popular Resistance. Washington, DC – On Thursday, August 3, climate protectors and New York residents occupied Senator Chuck Schumer’s office to shut it down in protest of the upcoming senate vote to confirm Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) commissioners. The FERC has not had a quorum, and thus has not been able to issue permits, since the inauguration in January. Protesters stated that they would “not leave until he [Schumer] opposes Trump’s nominations to #FERC and vows to fight the #DirtyEnergyBill, which if passed, would give FERC more power. FERC has been working as an arm of the oil and gas industry to rubber stamp unneeded and harmful fossil fuel infrastructure for decades. The #Senate must take steps to replace FERC with an agency dedicated to a just transition off fossil fuels.”

Arrests: Forests Are For Picnics Not For Pipelines

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By the Sugar Shack Alliance. Massachusetts – It was a beautiful day for picnics in Otis State Forest on Saturday, as the non-violent direct action group Sugar Shack Alliance hosted a large public rally at Lower Spectacle Pond in Sandisfield, Massachusetts. As the rally was happening, an entirely different kind of picnic, a well-coordinated act of civil disobedience was unfolding along the construction easement of the $93 million Kinder Morgan Connecticut Expansion pipeline project, culminating in 22 arrests. Despite the temporary police closure of Cold Spring Road, about 80 people gathered at 10:00 a.m. at the glistening Lower Spectacle Pond to reaffirm the need for solidarity against fossil fuel infrastructure across the country. Speakers included Susan Baxter, an affected Sandisfield land-owner; Anthony Melting Tallow and Karyn Redwolf; Martha Klein from the CT Sierra Club; and Ian Jackson of the Green Party.

World’s Young Face $535 Trillion Bill For Climate

New York, September 2014: Young people protest against climate change.
Image: By Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons

By Tim Radford for Climate News Network – LONDON, 19 July, 2017 – One of the world’s most famous climate scientists has just calculated the financial burden that tomorrow’s young citizens will face to keep the globe at a habitable temperature and contain global warming and climate change – a $535 trillion bill. And much of that will go on expensive technologies engineered to suck 1,000 billion metric tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the air by the year 2100. Of course, if humans started to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6% a year right now, the end of the century challenge would be to take 150 billion tonnes from the atmosphere, and most of this could be achieved simply by better forest and agricultural management, according to a new study in the journal Earth System Dynamics. The study, authored by researchers from the US, France, China, the United Kingdom and Australia, rests on two arguments. Slow start. One is that although the world’s nations vowed in Paris in 2015 to contain global warming by 2100 to “well below” 2°C relative to the average global temperatures for most of the planet’s history since the last Ice Age, concerted international action has been slow to start. One nation – the US – has already announced that it will withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

Newsletter: When Empires Fall

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. The Pentagon recently released a report, “At Our Own Peril: DoD Risk Assessment in a Post-Primacy World,” which details its concerns about losing access to resources and “resistance to authority” both at home and around the world as governments lose legitimacy. Faced with these changes, the United States could embrace them, become a cooperative member of the world, transition to a lower-waste lower-energy sustainable existence and draw back the military to use those resources to meet domestic needs. Sadly, that is not what the Pentagon has in mind. There is a saying, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The US is the biggest empire in the world; therefore, the Pentagon’s solutions are “more surveillance, more propaganda (‘strategic manipulation of perceptions’) and more military expansionism.” The United States’ reign as an Empire is coming to an end. It is up to those of us living in the US to take action to prevent more aggression and demand that the US dismantle its empire in a way that causes the least harm at home and abroad.

Coastal Communities Sue 37 Oil, Gas And Coal Companies Over Climate Change

Lawsuits filed by two coastal California counties and a city argue that fossil fuel companies named in the lawsuits knew greenhouse gas emissions had a significant impact on the climate and sea levels and "concealed the dangers." Credit: David McNew/Getty Images

By Georgina Gustin for Inside Climate News – Two California counties and a city are suing 37 fossil fuel companies, accusing them of knowingly emitting dangerous greenhouse gases that have contributed to global warming that threatens their communities with sea level rise. It won’t be an easy case to make, legal experts say, but it’s drawing the interest of private attorneys who see enough potential to take it on. Marin and San Mateo counties, near San Francisco, and the city of Imperial Beach, south of San Diego, filed the new lawsuits in California Superior Court on Monday against Exxon, Shell and 35 other oil, gas and coal companies. Their lawsuits accuse the companies of having known, for nearly five decades, “that greenhouse gas pollution from their fossil fuel products had a significant impact on the Earth’s climate and sea levels.” They say the companies’ “awareness of the negative implications of their behavior corresponds” with rising greenhouse gas emissions. Together, the lawsuits say, the companies were responsible for roughly 20 percent of total emissions from 1965 to 2015. The lawsuits contend that the companies “concealed the dangers, sought to undermine public support for greenhouse gas regulation, and engaged in massive campaigns to promote the ever-increasing use of their products at ever greater volumes.”

Just 100 Companies Responsible For 71% Of Global Emissions, Study Says

An oil rig exploring for oil and gas. A new report says more than 50% of global industrial emissions since 1988 can be traced to just 25 companies. Photograph: Dazman/Getty Images/iStockphoto

By Tess Riley for The Guardian – Just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, according to a new report. The Carbon Majors Report (pdf) “pinpoints how a relatively small set of fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions,” says Pedro Faria, technical director at environmental non-profit CDP, which published the report in collaboration with the Climate Accountability Institute. Traditionally, large scale greenhouse gas emissions data is collected at a national level but this report focuses on fossil fuel producers. Compiled from a database of publicly available emissions figures, it is intended as the first in a series of publications to highlight the role companies and their investors could play in tackling climate change. The report found that more than half of global industrial emissions since 1988 – the year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established – can be traced to just 25 corporate and state-owned entities. The scale of historical emissions associated with these fossil fuel producers is large enough to have contributed significantly to climate change, according to the report. ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron are identified as among the highest emitting investor-owned companies since 1988.