The Missing Link – Energy Storage

In my last blog (July 8, 2014), I tried to summarize my goals for this blog, and take account of my progress to date. I ended with a short paragraph that described my efforts to educate my readers on the necessity of working toward a total global transformation of the way that we live. Under our current “business as usual” scenario (continuing the same patterns have used since the Industrial Revolution), we are – to use a popular but inexact expression – reaching the limit for the planet’s “Carrying Capacity” to accommodate our rate of global population growth and constant increase in the standard of living. I came out with the following short paragraph to describe what is needed:

 The global transformation requires total energy transition to sustainable sources, recycling of finite national resources, reintroduction of fresh water use into the water cycle, curbing untapped exponential growth, establishing effective global governance and, probably most importantly, caring about each other

The first requirement was a total energy transition away from the present dependency on use of fossil fuel. Such fuels change the chemical composition of the atmosphere in a way that significantly impacts our energy balance with the sun, and alters the climate, leading us toward an uncharted and possibly uninhabitable future. I framed this idea previously (April 15, 2014) as a search for a “contemporary Joseph”:

Joseph’s achievement was predicting (based on interpreting God’s enlightenment in the form of Pharaoh’s dreams) the upcoming variability of food supply and rearranging the system accordingly: storing food in the good years to be distributed in the bad years.

If such an enlightening force were to show up today, what would be his/her job description? It would have to include preparing an infrastructure to adapt the world for a changing climate. The climate is changing at a human pace that has, and likely will continue to result in rising temperatures, sea level rise, and a rising variability of droughts and floods. This has/will also contribute to water stress, and therefore agricultural stress – mainly in the poorest parts of the world. Therefore, the job would also require alleviation of this water stress through energy-intensive desalination. In order to mitigate human-driven climate change, we need to go through energy transition; replacing predictable energy sources with highly variable ones.

Sustainable energy and water management are recurring issues throughout the blog. I went back through my more than two years of writing on this blog to find any gaps in my coverage, and I have decided that the most important element that I have missed was the need for storage. I will attempt to remedy that oversight in the next few blogs. After that, I hope to have finished Thomas Piketty’s book (see July 8, 2014 post), and be able to start trying to connect global economic inequities with attempts to mitigate climate change – a totally misunderstood issue, judging from my students’ responses.

Storage is an important element of effective management of resources, especially for both water and energy; however there is one central difference: water management already has one huge storage reservoir where we should focus – our oceans.

The total liquid water on Earth is 1.4 billion km3 (300 million miles3). Our oceans constitute more than 97% of that. The oceans act as large storage reservoirs which naturally supply the fresh water that we use through the water cycle. This supply can be also supplemented by way of energy intensive artificial desalination processes. The equivalent storage of energy are the fossil fuel reserves, on which we rely for energy withdrawals for 85% of our energy needs. As I have mentioned repeatedly before, the essence of the energy transition is to replace this source of energy with sources that don’t leave imprints on the chemistry of the atmosphere. These alternative energy sources include solar in its various forms (photovoltaic, thermal, wind and hydroelectric), nuclear and geothermal.

Even in the business as usual scenario of using our energy (85% from the “naturally stored” fossil fuels) our use of energy is highly variable. A typical variation in electricity use is shown in the two EIA (Energy Information Administration) figures below:

Daily Load Shape

Deployment of energy storage assetsThe delivered power has to be adjusted to the consumers’ demands. The only way to do such a thing is to store excess energy during low demand hours and use it at times of high demand. In the next blog I will discuss the technology of the available storage methods, following which, I will discuss the economics.

It’s important to remember that supplementing and substituting current fuel usage with sustainable energy sources in their various forms, necessitates a greater need for storage. In comparison to fossil fuels, sustainable energy requires more variability – a combination of a wider spatial array and more diverse base of energy sources and consumer distribution in order to deal with irregular consumer use. Patterns in consumer demand are more or less predictable. Patterns in availability of wind and solar are much less so, and grids have to be adjusted accordingly. There is a common view that successful energy transition to more sustainable energy sources will depend on the development of better and more cost effective storage devices. In future blogs I will explore the progress that is taking place towards achieving this objective.

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Keeping Score = Quarterly Reports

Ed Betz/Associated Press Fireworks exploded near the Brooklyn Bridge, over the East River, as part of a Fourth of July celebration in 2005

On the evening of July 4th, I was sitting with my wife on our terrace – watching the beautiful firework display over New York City and New Jersey. As it happened, the New York Times that day came with a full page rendition of the Declaration of Independence. As a good citizen, I reread it. The preamble starts as follows:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Watching fireworks in a comfortable setting gives you time to think. My interpretation of what Thomas Jefferson was trying to say (without delving into the rich literature that discusses the issue) is that if a group of people is taking a drastic action, they had better explain themselves – out of a, “decent respect to the opinions of mankind.” My thinking also led me to another upcoming event – July 14: Bastille Day – a French national holiday that commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution, which started with the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I just came home from a combined vacation-conference trip, on which I spent about two weeks in France – half the time in the South of France and half the time in Paris. Almost everywhere that we went, preparations for the coming celebration of Bastille Day were evident. Following a long-established vacation routine, I took a book to read on my travels. This time, the book was Thomas Piketty’s, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” on global wealth distribution. Not being an economist, I decided that the book was a requirement in order to help me understand the dynamics of the political process required for mitigation and adaptation to climate change. I haven’t yet finished its almost 600 pages, but I am close. Once I do so, I will try to share my views as to how his findings connect to my environmental concerns and the long term stability of the planet.

The historic connection between July 4, 1776 and July 14, 1789 has been discussed extensively. To my knowledge, however, the part that has yet to be covered is the connection between the two revolutionary events of the end of the 18th Century, which created the two countries as we now know them, and the similarly revolutionary global transformation that is needed to mitigate future catastrophe and global environmental deterioration. The global transformation requires total energy transition to sustainable sources, recycling of finite national resources, the reintroduction of fresh water use into the water cycle, curbing untapped exponential growth, establishing effective global governance and, probably most importantly, caring about each other. Collectively, we as a world don’t have a Bastille to storm; such a transformation is not an immediate revolution and can take a generation or two to achieve. I have outlined most of the needed changes in previous blogs, and they can be found in many other forums. What I am trying to do here is to combine the reasoning for the needed changes with anecdotal accounting of the progress that is being made and the setbacks that we encounter.

The idle time watching the fireworks convinced me that, following the Jeffersonian dictum, I need to follow the business world’s modus operandi and try to keep score of the progress in regular quarterly intervals.

The intervals that I propose are separated by the following events:

  • The commemorations of the American and French Revolutions (first two weeks of July)
  • The Jewish religion’s holy day, Yom Kippur – a day in which Jews are advised to take accounts of their doings and undoings (beginning of October)
  • New Year’s Day (January 1st)
  • Earth Day (April 22nd)

However, following the state of global transformation is not nearly as easy as following the finances of individual companies. Reliable data sets such as those from the World Bank or the UN get their information from member states with very different statistical histories. The process usually has a lag time of one or two years and not all the information that we are looking for (effective global governance, for example) is quantifiable.

Presently there are attempts to rank individual countries on a similar set of criteria. I used to devote a full semester of class time to teaching such ranking skills and the methodologies of acquiring the needed information. The Columbia-Yale ranking is done on a yearly basis. My quest to try to summarize global progress on a quarterly basis might be a fool’s errand, but I hope to share my first attempt with you in three months’ time.

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I’m Back – Some Notes on Iceland and Sustainable Energy

Well, it’s now July 1st, and I am back home from my combined vacation, family meeting and conference in Iceland. My jet-lag is still in full swing but not enough to freeze me out of the blog schedule. The conference in Iceland was productive; I copied the agenda in a previous blog (June 10, 2014). As is my usual habit after these conferences (July 16, 2012 – Seattle and July 2, 2013 – Mauritius), I was hoping to describe some of the highlights of the conference, as they directly relate to the host country. Unfortunately, I cannot do so in this case because the plenary lectures did not include discussions of the environmental or energy policies of Iceland. I got most of my information from a tour guide that helped us visit this beautiful country. Since Iceland is unique in being almost completely energized by sustainable energy, I have dedicated this to Iceland, despite its omission from the conference.

One of the most important topics in the conference (including my own contribution) was the availability and management of fresh water throughout the world. Iceland runs on water – both cold and hot. About 75% of its electricity is hydroelectricity, which is generated by water falls, while the other 25% of the power is generated by geothermal energy. 87% of the country’s heating and hot water are fueled by geothermal hot water and steam. Right now only about 19% of its primary energy comes from fossil fuels, and these are used primarily for transportation.

Iceland is a sparsely populated (325,000 people) volcanic island that borders the Arctic Circle. On arriving to Iceland on Thursday, June 26, we took a tour that started at 4pm and ended at midnight – it still wasn’t dark! While it probably wasn’t technically a 24 hour day, it certainly seemed like it was.

The country is located on the Mid-Atlantic ridge with about 200 volcanoes, many of them active, and there are three major glaciers that sit on top of some of these volcanoes. We all remember the eruption under Eyjafjallajökull (“glacier of Eyjafjöll”) in 2010 that disrupted air travel in northern Europe for several weeks; however that volcano is rather minor in Icelandic terms. In the past, eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull have been followed by eruptions of the larger volcano Katla. It is incredibly fortunate that there were no signs of an imminent eruption of Katla following the 2010 eruption.

Anybody that works on climate change knows that volcanic eruptions affect the climate significantly – mainly through the infusion of carbon and ash into the atmosphere. What was new to me was that our tour guide suggested that the continuous melting of the glaciers, as caused by climate change, actually increases the frequency of eruptions of volcanoes underneath the glaciers because of the corresponding reduced pressure on the volcanoes. After coming home I followed up on this and found some support for this theory in scientific literature.

Here are a few photographs to show the landscape:

A “typical” waterfall in the background, with the famous Icelandic horses for scale

A “typical” waterfall in the background, with the famous Icelandic horses for scale

A “typical” landscape of the geothermal energy sources

A “typical” landscape of the geothermal energy sources

A close-up of the geothermal water well

A close-up of the geothermal water well

This impressive storage of geothermal hot water supplies the hot water for the entire capital, Reykjavik. The geothermal hot water is delivered to the communities over distances as large as 50 miles with temperature losses smaller than 2oC (3.5oF) over this distance.

This impressive storage of geothermal hot water supplies the hot water for the entire capital, Reykjavik. The geothermal hot water is delivered to the communities over distances as large as 50 miles with temperature losses smaller than 2°C (3.5°F) over this distance.

There is a large untapped reservoir of hydropower and geothermal hot water available, and saving energy is not presently on the agenda in Iceland. The country is exploring the option of exporting its sustainable energy to the British Isles through an undersea cable. Right now Iceland is using some of the excess available energy to power energy intensive industries such as aluminum smelting and silicon production.

The availability of sustainable energy is such that it is actually most profitable for the aluminum companies to transport the raw material (Bauxite) from Australia to be processed in Iceland.

The photographs also show that there aren’t many trees in Iceland. It was said (again, by the tour guide) that Iceland used to be covered with trees and vegetation, but unchecked sheep grazing and logging for fuel and building material caused a major erosion of the topsoil that made most of the land unable to sustain deep rooted vegetation.

I was hoping to be able to finish the blog with a statement that unlike some of the islands that I have covered after the Mauritius conference (July 2, 2013), Iceland doesn’t need to explore for fossil fuels on its continental shelf. However, whether it needs to or not, it seems to be doing just that.

Some of us are old enough to remember confrontations between Iceland and England in the 1950s and 1970s that became known as the Cod Wars. The confrontations were about fishing rights in the North Atlantic. The conflict ended in 1976 when the United Kingdom accepted the 200 nautical-miles as a fishery zone exclusive to the Icelandic. This 200 mile exclusion zone has now been accepted almost globally as an area in which the country can look for oil and gas reserves.

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Vacation Notice

This week I am taking a break from the blog, so there will be no post. I am combining my attendance at the Sixth International Conference on Climate Change in Reykjavik with a much needed vacation. I will be back next week, so please tune in for my update on the conference and my travels.

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Energy Transition in the US??? – The World is Watching and So Are We

Unless my editors (LCG Communications) decide differently, this blog will be posted about two weeks after the EPA and President Obama announced the new proposal to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. My folder library is already full with reactions (I am writing this on June 3, one day after the announcement). I am sure that nobody will miss my immediate response and that the new policy will continue to be a central topic of discussion for the foreseeable future, especially as we approach the coming election and the presidential election that will follow.

The central focus of the proposal is to impose a limit on the greenhouse gas emissions of existing power plants, with the goal of reducing the carbon emissions by 25% below the reference year of 2005 by 2020 by and 30% by 2030. The program will be administered by the States and they can select among many options of implementation. The plan is now open to comments and most likely to court challenges. A day after the announcement of the plan, in the middle of my writing, Gina McCarthy, the head of the EPA declared that significant changes in the plan are possible after the comments period if States are able to show that they cannot meet the requirements – stay tuned.

The plan is being issued as a regulation of enforcement of the Clean Air Act, meaning that it does not need congressional approval. The plan is described in a 645 page document that very few people other than those directly involved in the drafting process (including me), had the opportunity to read and digest. One of the interesting points of the plan involves enforcement. Here I am going to directly quote from the planning document (page 610):

§ 60.5715 What is the review and approval process for my state plan?

The EPA will review your state plan according to § 60.27 except that under paragraph § 60.27(b) the Administrator will have twelve months after the date required for submission of a plan or plan revision to approve or disapprove such plan or revision or each portion thereof. If you submit a request for extension under § 60.5760(a) in lieu of a complete state plan the EPA will follow the procedure in § 60.5760(b).

§ 60.5720 What if I do not submit a plan or my plan is not approvable?

If you do not submit an approvable state plan the EPA will develop a Federal plan for your state according to § 60.27 to implement the emission guidelines contained in this subpart. Owners and operators of affected entities not covered by an approved state plan must comply with a Federal plan implemented by the EPA for the state. The Federal plan is an interim action and will be automatically withdrawn when your state plan is approved.

§ 60.5730 Is there an approval process for a negative declaration letter? No. The EPA has no formal review process for negative declaration letters. Once your negative declaration letter has been received, the EPA will place a copy in the public docket and publish a notice in the FEDERAL REGISTER. If, at a later date, an affected EGU for which construction commenced on or before January 8, 2014 is found in your state, a Federal plan implementing the emission guidelines contained in this subpart would automatically apply to that affected EGU until your state plan is approved.

There is no escape from the feeling that the structure of this major regulation has borrowed from the recent health insurance legislation (“Obamacare”). In fact, some of these similarities have been noted before.

The main objections that have circulated in the press over the last few days include the reference year, and the price. I have discussed some of the data that provide a solid grasp of the reference year in previous blog entries, and have reprinted some such sections below. As to the price, the US Chamber of Commerce has warned that it will cost about 50 billion dollars. This is a large sum for you and me but as Krugman commented in the NYT, the EPA claims a positive balance (we will save money) mainly through saving on health cost by reducing the use of coal. Both numbers are very soft numbers that depend on different assumptions of discounted rates of future costs. I will focus here on the reference year and on the States references. Figures 1 and 2 appeared in previous blogs. Figure 1 is the key. With few exceptions, new power plants that were constructed after 2000 are all natural gas and renewables. Coal, meanwhile is the major fuel of most old plants. The “simplest” way to reduce carbon emissions is to close old, coal fueled power plants. Depending on the overall energy demands, you either close the plant without constructing a new one or replace it with a natural gas, renewable or nuclear version.

Figure 1 for Stuttering Transition

Figure 1 (December 24, 2012 blog)

Figure 2 shows the total carbon emission in comparison to China, India, Russia and the EU.

The emissions of both the US and the EU peaked around 2005 and decreased after that year. In the US, the declining emissions mainly reflected a combination of the recession and the general shift to natural gas power plants.

Figure 3 for Feeding Transition BlogFigure 2 (October 15, 2012 blog)

The new EPA regulations do not refer to total carbon emissions – only those made by the electrical power industry. Figure 3 shows the emissions that were released by the power industry. Again, the peak is in 2005, declining for the same reasons that I mentioned before. By establishing 2005 as the reference year instead of 2012, the EPA has made life a bit easier on everybody.

GHG Emissions From Electricity

Figure 3 (From EPA website)

Figure 4 is probably the crux of the new regulations. The targets are specific to states. The reductions are individual state targets. States that were fueled by coal in 2005 and emit more than those that were not, can still emit more carbon in 2030. As can be seen in the figure, the Northeast, with its regional cap-and-trade agreement already in full swing, is more than half way to achieving the target. The rest of the country has some work to do.

US Energy-Related CO2 Emissions- National and Census Regions

Figure 4 (From EIA website)

The politics will be fascinating to watch, and we will not be the only ones watching. The global response to climate change will largely depend on the success or failure of this effort. So will the legacy of President Obama.

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Europe in June: The Schedule of the Sixth International Conference on Climate Change

By the time that this blog is posted I will be in England on my way to the Netherlands and France, ending up in Reykjavik, Iceland. In Iceland I will attend the Sixth International Conference on Climate Change. This is the same conference that I attend every year (see the July 16, 2012 blog about the Fourth Conference in Seattle and the July 2, 2013 blog about the Fifth Conference in Mauritius). I like this series of conferences because the attendance is limited to about 200 participants, but includes active participant from all corners of the world. It addresses both the science and social science aspects of the most important issues, and as an added bonus, the meetings take place in great places that make them convenient excuses to combine work with vacation.

As I have done following the previous conferences, I will share some highlights upon returning home.

Meanwhile, I am including the full schedule of the conference below:

6th International Conference on Climate Change

An Inconvenient Sleuth: Engagement Framework to Identify and Overcome Adaptation Barriers and Perverse Incentives
Katherine Beckmann, School of the Built Environment / Climate Change, Herriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK
Overview: Based on policy-focused adaptation work in Scotland, this workshop guides participants through tested frameworks for stakeholder engagement: to identify key adaptation barriers and enablers, and to generate policy-relevant recommendations.

Climate Change Mindset: Understanding, Identifying and Transforming the Race, Class and Gender Mindset that Has Brought Us to this Climate Emergency
Dr. Heather W. Hackman, Hackman Consulting Group, Minneapolis, USA
Overview: This workshop addresses how race, class and gender power dynamics have contributed to this climate emergency, and offers specific tools for identifying and redressing those dynamics in our current work.

The Concept of Marine Ecotourism: A Case Study in a Mediterranean Island
Fani Sakellariadou, Faculty of Shipping and Industry Department of Maritime Studies, University of Piraeus, Athens, Greece
Overview: Marine ecotourism, its principles, benefits and potential negative environmental impacts is the topic of this paper.

Assessing Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change in Agriculture: The Case Study of the Ontario Wine Industry.
Kerrie Pickering, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Brock University, St Catharines, Canada
Dr. Ryan Plummer, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Brock University, St Catharines, Canada
Dr. Tony Shaw, Dept of Geography, Brock University, St Catharines, Canada
Prof. Gary Pickering, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Brock University, St Catharines, Canada
Overview: A tool for assessing the adaptive capacity to climate change of the Ontario wine industry was developed and applied.

Psychological Barriers to Climate Change Mitigation in Canada
Prof. Gary Pickering, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Brock University, St Catharines, Canada
Overview: The psychological barriers influencing inaction on and attitudes towards Climate Change are characterized for the first time in a large population-based survey of Canadians.

Adaptation Responses to Climate Impacts by the Mining Industry: A Critical Review of Current Trends and Needs
Francisco Gonzalez, Australian Centre for Sustainable Mining Practices, School of Mining Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Prof. Roslyn Taplin, Australian Centre for Sustainable Mining Practices, School of Mining Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Overview: An overview of the mining industry’s perceptions of climate change, potential for adaptive responses to climate change impacts and extreme weather by the industry, and links with sustainable mining practices.

The Feasibility of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion: Northern Equatorial Pacific as Case Study
Arianna Abram, Sea Education Association, Boston, USA
Joshua Sturtevant, Sea Education Association, Boston, USA
Overview: Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, a renewable energy technology, utilizes the ocean’s thermal energy to produce electricity. Environmental impacts are assessed to determine feasibility of this technology to mitigate climate change.

Effects of Warming and Precipitation on Photosynthetic in Stipa Breviflora
Dr. Xiliang Song, Institute of Botany, Institute of Botany, Beijing, China
Overview: A greenhouse experiment simulating hydrothermal interactions was conducted to investigate how the interactions of climatic warming and precipitation change influence the photosynthesis of Stipa breviflora.

A Dynamical Mechanism for Climate Shifts
Prof. Anastasios Tsonis, Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, USA
Overview: The central point of this study is that a network of coupled nonlinear subsystems may at times synchronize which often may lead to a climate shift .

The Evaluation of UTCI Index for Summer Beaching in Baltic Sea
Dr. Justas Kažys, Department of Hydrology and Climatology, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania
Ieva Malūnavičiūtė, Department of Hydrology and Climatology, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania
Overview: Universal Thermal Climate Index (UTCI) is used for the evaluation of summer beaching potential around the Baltic Sea. Temporal and spatial climate change effects are already noticeable in the region.

The Port of Houston’s Turning Basin Terminal Development Project: How Climate Change is Factored
Liza T. Powers, School of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy, Texas Southern University, Houston, USA
Overview: Research was conducted to determine how the Port of Houston has factored climate change, sea level rise and intense storms, in its ten year renovation of the Turning Basin Terminal.

Australian Political Responses to Coastal Impacts of Climate Change
Prof. Nick Harvey, School of Social Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
Overview: Political impetus for Australian national inquiries into climate change impacts on the coast is separate from the politics of state governments, which have their own different legislative and policy responses.

An Ecovillage as a Solution for the Border: San Cristobal
Prof. Sandra Acosta, University of La Salle Faculty of the habitat sciences Architecture and urbanism, University of La Salle, Bogota, Colombia
Overview: In Bogota, a quickly growing city, the borders are more and more diffused. There is an interest in solving the transition between the consolidated city and the rural environment.

Moss Houses in the Circumpolar North: Architectural Traditions and Innovations That Respond to Climate Change
Dr. Nancy Mackin, Ethno-ecology, Wilp Wilxo’oskwhl Nisga’a and University of Northern British Columbia, Gitwinksihlkw, Canada
Overview: In the Canadian Arctic, we reconstructed traditional moss houses, an Indigenous peoples’ sustainable technology of increasing relevance as climate changes escalate. We discuss similar structures from across the circumpolar north.

The Environmental Impacts of Canadian Waste Transportation: From a Risk and Uncertainty Perspective
Cassandra Elizabeth Kuyvenhoven, School of Environmental Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
Overview: The transportation of waste requires substantial amounts of energy and a reliance on nonrenewable fossil fuels. The environmental risks associated with this transportation are inherently indeterminate.

The Many Faces of Water Use
Micha Tomkiewicz, Dept. of Physics, Brooklyn College of CUNY, Brooklyn, USA
Gurasees Chawla, Department of Physics, Brooklyn College, Macaulay Honors College, Brooklyn, USA
Overview: Influence of Life Cycle Assessment on the location of production and ability to use some of the waste products differentiates between production in rich and poor countries.

Climate Change and Fisheries in Ghana: Trends and Adaptive Strategies by Small-scale Fishers
George Freduah, Sustainability Research Center, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia., Sunshine Coast, Australia
Overview: This study examines multiple stresses confronting small-scale fisheries in Ghana, how climate change compounds these stresses, and the capacity of fishers to respond to these stresses.

Love Not the Wind: Anthropogenic Climate Change in Near-future Science Fiction
Prof. David Moton, English Department, Bakersfield, USA
Overview: By analyzing anthropogenic climate change in near-future science fiction, I will explore the social and technological responses to a disastrous climate.

An Analysis of Crop Diversification: Climate Change Adaptation in Agriculture, Bangladesh
Monir Shaikh, Grantham Research Institute& Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics (LSE), London, UK
Overview: This research looks into how the households of Bangladesh diversify crops to adapt to climate change and how this diversification may change with different climate change scenarios over time.

Using Self-Sustaining Decentralised Utility Services to Adapt Regional Urban Development to Changing Climatic Conditions
Assoc. Prof. Peter Waterman, Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Slacks Creek, Australia
Overview: I discuss integrating decentralised community utility services for water supply, sewage treatment and renewable energy as a climate change adaptation strategy for decentralised urban development in rural and remote regions.

Regional Climate Action Planning: Los Angeles, California as a Case Study
Bryan Moy, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, USA
Dr. Hilary Godwin, Department of Environmental Health Sciences and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, USA
Dr. Angelo Bellomo, Department of Environmental Health, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, USA
Overview: Los Angeles, California presents a unique challenge and is an interesting case study for Regional Climate Action Planning, due to the county’s large population, demographics, geography, microclimates, and jurisdictions.

Potential Influence of Climate Change on Food Webs of ChelydraSerpentina in Mid-Atlantic Highland, USA Wetlands
Dr. James T. (Jim) Anderson, Division of Forestry and Natural Resources Environmental Research Center, West Virginia University, Morgantown, USA
Overview: I present conceptual models of climate change impacts on common snapping turtles (Chelydraserpentina), the top predators in wetlands of the Central Appalachian Mountains.

The Climate and Energy Strategy of Tampere Region, Finland
Prof. Tom Frisk, Responsibility Area for the Environment and Natural Resources, Environment Impacts Unit, Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Pirkanmaa, Tampere, Finland
Overview: The climate and energy strategy for Tampere region, Finland, was developed in order to mitigate climate change by regional and local actions, and to promote planning of adaptation measures.

Are Headwater Catchments Resilient to Warming Climate? An Ecohydrological Case Study from the Central Appalachian Mountains, USA
Dr. Nicolas Zegre, Forestry & Natural Resources, West Virginia University, Morgantown, USA
Jothiganesh Shanmugasundaram, Department of Geology & Geography, West Virginia University, Morgantown, USA
David Young, Forestry & Natural Resources, West Virginia University, Morgantown, USA
Carson Wright, Forestry & Natural Resources, West Virginia University, Morgantown, USA
Dr. Eungul Lee, Geology & Geography, West Virginia University, Morgantown, USA
Overview: This study examines whether catchments show ecohydrologic resiliency to warming climate, and if warming climate differentially affects hydrology in catchments with different disturbance histories.

Energy We Need: Calculate Your Impact and Savings
Alexander Frantzen, Royal Realty Corporation, New York, USA
Overview: Energy We Need is an at-your-fingertips Project to aggregate collective energy savings performed by people worldwide – to reduce our impact – and creates key data visualizations for leverage.

Technological Risks in Environmental Change Due to Climate
Sedat Cereci, Fine Arts Faculty, University of Batman, Batman, Turkey
Overview: Technological improvements convey lives of people, world changes, climate changes and environment has damage recently.

Polar Bears in Antarctica? An Analysis of Treaty Barriers
Madison Hall, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing, USA
Overview: The Assisted Colonization of Polar Bears to Antarctica requires an analysis of treaties to understand existing legal barriers to Ursus maritimus transport and movement, currently preventing Antarctic access.

Health Risks of Increasing Water Salinity and Potential Adaptation Strategies in Coastal Areas of Bangladesh
Dr. Mohammad Radwanur Rahman Talukder, Centre for Environment and Population Health, School of Environment, Griffith University, Australia, Nathan, Australia
Overview: Health impacts of climate-induced sea level rise and increasing water salinity in low-lying coastal areas, and potential adaptation strategies to respond to this change in water quality.

Assessing Impacts

The Effect of Warming and Grazing on Apparent Soil Dissolved Organic Nitrogen (DON) in Tibet
Prof. Shiping Wang, Laboratory of Alpine Ecology and Biodiversity, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
Prof. Yanfen Wang, College of Life Science, University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
Lili Jiang, Laboratory of Alpine Ecology and Biodiversity, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
Overview: We discuss the effect of warming and grazing on apparent soil dissolved organic nitrogen in a Tibet alpine meadow.

Attenuation of TRMM Channel over Salem
Dr. Rajasri Sen Jaiswal, Physics Centre for Study on Rainfall and Radio wave Propagation, Sona College of Technology, Salem, India
Sunakshi Jaiswal, Electronics and Communication Engineering, Sona College of Technology, Salem, India
Overview: In this paper attenuation of high frequency signal used in the TRMM due to rainfall is estimated. Moreover, hourly to one-minute rainfall conversion technique is presented.

Fishes and Sharks from the Eocene Canadian Arctic Greenhouse: A “Deep Time” Perspective on Climate Change in High Arctic Marine Environments
Dr. Michael David Gottfried, Department of Geological Sciences Michigan State University Museum, Michigan State University, East Lansing, USA
Overview: Recently discovered 50 million-year-old fishes and sharks from Banks Island in the Canadian Arctic expand our knowledge of the “Greenhouse” Arctic marine environment during the Eocene climate optimum.

Finding Signature of Climate Change in Meteorological Elements: Study of Cloud Liquid Water, Precipitation Water, Latent Heat, Temperature and Rainfall
Dr. Rajasri Sen Jaiswal, Physics Centre for study on Rainfall and Radio wave Propagation, Sona College of Technology, Salem, India
Neela Vus, Physics CRRP, Sona College of Technology, Salem, India
Sonia Fredrick, CRRP Physics, Sona College of Technology, Salem, India
Rasheed Mohamed, Sona College of Technology, Salem, India
LeenaZaveri, Sona College of Technology, Salem, India
Overview: A knowledge in the process of climate change probably may help the community to fight against it, therefore we embarked on this study.

Random Acts of Unpredictability: Scenario Planning in Environmental Crisis Management
Miriam Matejova, Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Overview: This paper presents an innovative approach to understanding climate change effects. Rather than focusing on data gathering and risks within the realm of probability, it examines broader and extreme possibilities.

Taiwan’s CCS Policy: A Survey to Its Impact, and Development
Chien-Yu Kao, Graduate School of Law, National Chung Cheng University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Overview: This research focuses on Taiwan’s policy and administration that reduces CO2. Further expansion of reducing CO2 will be discussed with its impact and development.

Does Urban Governance in Bangladesh Consider Climate Induced Migration and its Aftermath?
Bipasha Dutta, University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Dr. Kazi Maruful Islam, Department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Overview: Lack of separate units in urban governance to address the need of climate induced migrant in Bangladesh make their health status even worse than that of the rural poor.

Combining Urban Fragmentation and Urban Vulnerability for Developing Local Adaptation Options in Megacities
Dr. Kerstin Krellenberg, Department of Urban and Environmental Sociology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH-UFZ, Leipzig, Germany
Overview: This paper focuses on the local level and offers an approach that combines urban fragmentation and vulnerability in order to end up with context-specific adaptation options for individuals and municipalities.

Climate Studies

Uncertainty in Climate Change Impact Studies: A Review of Developments and Limitations
Teang Shui Lee, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Sri Serdang, Malaysia
HadiGalavi, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Sri Serdang, Malaysia
Dr. Yuk Feng Huang, Department of Civil engineering, Universiti Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Overview: A review of limitations, successes, and developments in analyzing and modeling the uncertainties involved in climate change impact studies is provided in this article.

The Self Fulfilling Prophecy of Climate Change: Evangelical Christian Ethics in the Face of American Environmentalism
Ryan Smith, The Department of Religious Studies, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, USA
Overview: The evangelical theology of the “second coming” of Christ may be responsible for people voting against environmental legislation in the United States; thereby having an effect on global warming.

Climate Change: Where Are the Real Terrestrial Environment Threats?
Prof. Ronaldo Viana Soares, Forest Fire Laboratory, Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil
Prof. Antonio Carlos Batista, Forest Fire Laboratory, Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil
Prof. Alexandre França Tetto, Forest Fire Laboratory, Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil
Overview: The climate of the earth alternates between cold and warm periods, independently of human activities. The main threat to the terrestrial environment is the pollution of the oceans and rivers.

Climate Change Mitigation in the Building Sector: Towards Net-zero Energy Buildings (nZEB)
Dr. Lazaros Mavromatidis, Building and Civil Engineering Laboratory (LGCB), Ecole Nationale des Travaux Publics de l’Etat (ENTPE), Vaulx-en-Velin, Lyon, France
Dr. Mohamed El Mankibi, Building and Civil Engineering Laboratory (LGCB), Ecole Nationale des Travaux Publics de l’Etat (ENTPE), Vaulx-en-Velin, France
Dr. Gilles Fraisse, Laboratoire optimisation de la conception et ingénierie de l’environnement (LOCIE)/ UMR 5271, Université de Savoie, Le Bourget du Lac, France
Overview: This paper reviews actions and technical solutions to increase the number of buildings that consume nearly zero energy, in the framework of climate change mitigation in the building sector.

Bias on Climate Change Trend Assessment: Comparison of Two Strategies of Data Gap Management
Dr. Luciano Massetti, Institute of Biometeorology – National Research Council, Firenze, Italy
Overview: Gaps in temperature series can introduce a bias in global warming assessment. This study evaluates the uncertainty introduced by two methods of dealing with missing data on temperature trend analysis.

Thermal Performance Improvement of Lightweight Transportable Buildings: Testing Energy Saving Properties of an Industrial Ceramic Coating
David Goodfield, School of Engineering and Information Technology, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Australia
Dr. Martin Anda, Department of Environmental Science Division of Science and Engineering, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia
Goen Ho, School of Engineering and Information Technology, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Australia
Overview: Maintaining thermal comfort levels in lightweight transportable buildings, in all climate zones, consumes large amounts of energy. This can be substantially reduced without modifying the current form of construction.

Global Warming: Housing in Bangladesh Delta Area During Floods and Tidal Surges
Mustakima Hussain, Department of Architecture, Lund Institute of Technology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
Overview: Due to climate change 45 cm rise in sea level could lead to the destruction of 75% of the Sundarbans mangroves. A sustainable construction method is proposed here.

Accelerating Climate Adaptation in the Lake Superior Watershed: Lessons from the World’s Fastest Warming Lake
Carl Lindquist, Climate Adaptation and Watershed Protection, Superior Watershed Partnership, Marquette, USA
Overview: Lake Superior is the fastest warming lake on the planet. Learn how coastal communities are accelerating the pace of climate planning and implementing adaptation projects that really make a difference.

Felt Knowledge: Using Critical Pedagogy and Bioregionalism to Form an Empathic and Practical Understanding of Climate Change Consequences
Matthew McKinney, Department of English -PhD Candidate -Emphasis in Rhetoric and Composition, The University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, USA
Overview: My paper proposes an educational model for cultivating an empathic and practical understanding of climate change. This educational model, in turn, draws from critical pedagogical methodology and bioregional literature.

Visualizing Climate Change: Bringing Meaning to Climate Change Science through Local Engagement and Visual Learning Processes
Dr. Stephen Sheppard, Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP) Dept. of Forest Resources Management/School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Dr. Olaf Schroth, Department of Landscape, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
Overview: We summarize findings from climate change studies using visualization-based approaches to engage Canadian communities; then describe action research applying visual media through neighborhood climate change tours and educational video games.

Responding to Climate Change through Joint Partnership: Small Farmers and Scientists Seek Ways of Combating Climate Change and Variability in the Okavango Delta of Botswana
Dr. Oluwatoyin Dare Kolawole, Okavango Research Institute, University of Botswana, Maun, Botswana
Overview: Resource-poor African farmers are already feeling the impact of climate change. Small farmers and weather scientists in the Okavango Delta were brought together to devise means of overcoming the challenges.

Women and Climate Change Adaptation in Bangladesh
Mumita Tanjeela, Centre for Governance and Public Policy School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia., Brisbane, Australia
Overview: Climate vulnerability in Bangladesh is strongly associated with gender relations. Women take responsibilities of climate dependent activities like agriculture, water and food management. Gendered experiences are significant for climate response.

Health and Climate

Climate Change and Health: Implications for Small Communities in Arid Regions of Australia
Dr. Meryl Pearce-Churchill, School of the Environment, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
Prof. Eileen Willis, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
Dr. Ben Wadham, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
Prof. Lynne Eagle, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia
David Low, James Cook University
Overview: The impact of extreme climate conditions similar to those predicted under climate change scenarios, on human wellbeing is outlined. Those whose livelihood is linked to climate will be most affected.

The Association between Meteorological Variables and Hospitalizations for Heat Stroke, Heat Syncope, and Heat Exhaustion: Hong Kong from 2002-2011
Dr. William Goggins, School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Prof. Emily YY Chan, School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Overview: This is a time-series analysis of the association between environmental variables including temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, solar radiation and pollutants and hospitalizations for heat stroke/heat syncope/ heat exhaustion.

Nutrition-related Health Impacts of Droughts in LMICs: A Review of Literature
Kristine Belesova, Department of Social and Environmental Health Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
Prof. Paul Wilkinson, Department of Social and Environmental Health Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Lonson, UK
Overview: The review of literature demonstrates negative impacts of droughts on human health and nutrition in the developing world. These impacts vary with levels of exposure, vulnerability, and with contextual factors.

Alternative Media Counterbalancing Mainstream Media? Alternative Media as Distributors of a “Sense of Urgency”
Renée Moernaut, Department of Applied Linguistics, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
Overview: Based on a qualitative framing analysis, we argue that alternative media are remodeling the media discussion on climate change, counterbalancing, as such, the hegemonic frames distributed by the mainstream press.

Pesticide Fate in a Changing Climate: A Danish Case Study
Signe Rasmussen, Faculty of Science Department of Plants and Environment Section of Environmental Chemistry and Physics, Copenhagen University, Copenhagen, Denmark
Overview: This is a risk assessment of pesticide leaching from agricultural soils in the context of climate change.

Climate Change Vulnerability and Affordable Housing in Queensland
Andrew Venning, Sustainable Research Centre, The University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Australia
Overview: An approach to minimise inequities on the vulnerable in climate change, is the legal regime that formulates/engages society to adapt to environmental and societal change (McDonald 2011, Ruhl 2011,Craig 2010).

Mitigating Climate Change through Photovoltaic Adoption: An Integrated SWOT-AHP Analysis
Kathrin Reinsberger, ISIS – Institute for Systems Sciences, Innovation & Sustainability Research, University of Graz, Graz, Austria
Overview: Based on innovation and decision theory, the aim is to gain insights into strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of photovoltaic technology.

States of Change: Climate Change Threats to the States of the South Pacific
Dr. James Pasley, Park University, Parkville, USA
Overview: This paper examines the threat climate change poses to microstates in the South Pacific. It then assesses the political response from the impacted countries as well as the international community.

Development of an Interactive Videogame to Determine the Impact of Decision Variables in a Lake’s Water Balance Model
Sebastian Mesa Marin, Grupo GAIA/University of Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia
Julio Eduardo Canon Barriga, Grupo GAIA/University of Antioquia, Medellin, Colombia
Overview: Tropical lakes are influenced by fluctuations associated with climatic and anthropogenic drivers, to simulate the anthropogenic interventions we decided to develop a video game that will provide people’s attitude and strategies.

Comparing Climate Change Perception of Heterogeneous Farm Households in Semi-arid Region of Ghana
Biola K. Badmos, West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL), Civil Engineering Kwame Nkrumah University of science and technology, Kumasi, Ghana
Dr. Grace B. Villamor, Bonn, Germany
Prof. Sampson K. Agodzo, Kumasi, Ghana
Prof. Samuel N. Odai, Kumasi, Ghana
Samson O. Awopeju, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCDD), Germany
Overview: This paper identified household types based on their assets (human, natural and financial). Perceptions of climate change were compared, thus providing information that could inform policy.

CO2 Emission Reduction from Blast Furnace by Iron-reducing Microorganisms
Prof. Motonori Tamura, Center for Industrial and Governmental Relations, The University of Electro-Communications, Chofu, Japan
Overview: Microbial reduction of Fe(III) influences the biogeochemical cycles of carbon, and can greatly reduce CO2 Emission in steel making process. Geobacter, Anaeromyxobacter and Proteobacteria were identified as iron-reducing microorganisms.

Climate Change Adaptation in the Forests of Western Newfoundland: Using Structured Decision-Making to Elicit Expert Opinion
Liam Matthew Miller, Environmental Policy Institute, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Corner Brook, Canada
Dr. Micheal van Zyll de Jong, Environmental Policy Institute, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Corner Brook, Canada
Overview: This research explores how climate changes is expected to affect forests in Western Newfoundland, what adaptation strategies should be used, and the current capacity to implement the strategies.

Reducing the Embodied Carbon of Construction Projects through the Development of a Product-based Carbon Labelling Scheme
Prof. S. Thomas Ng, Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Christopher To, Construction Industry Council, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Overview: A product-based carbon labeling scheme has been developed to delineate low carbon construction materials which facilitates decision-makers building low carbon construction facilities and assists manufacturers reducing the carbon footprint.

Galvanising Climate Ethical Action through Environmental Policies and Multilateral Agreements: Climate Ethics Linked to Environmental Policies
Kalpana Murari, Self-Employed, Chennai, India
Overview: Climate change requires ethical and collective action from nations, individual states, reinforced by modified lifestyle patterns of individuals. Efforts can be galvanized by developing effective, innovative and strategic environmental policies.

Resilience Webs: Climate Change and Food Sovereignty in Southeast New South Wales Australia
Dr. George Bell, Research School of Management, College of Economics and Commerce, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
Dr. Karin Geiselhart, Canberra, Australia
Overview: Interlocking community networks working on climate change and food sovereignty illustrate resilience-building webs. Blending theory from sustainable marketing and complex adaptive systems suggests a universally applicable approach.

The Changes in Japanese Media Coverage of Climate Change Policy
Monika Ostrowska, Osaka School of International Public Policy, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan
Overview: Scale and content analysis of major national newspapers shows how the attention to climate change policy options has changed over time. Characteristics of Japan’s policy-making and media’s attention are examined.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

The Financial System Impediment To Emission Reductions
Roger Boyd, B.C. Alberta Social Economy Research Alliance, Toronto, Canada
Overview: The current global financial system provides a major impediment to the required greenhouse emission reductions, and will require a fundamental redesign and reorientation.

Operationalising Ecological Modernisation Theory
Peter J. Glynn, Institute of Sustainable Development, Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia
Overview: This paper discusses how ecological economics can be used to develop ecological modernisation from a framework to a structured model for policy development.

Economic Consequences of the Climate Change Impacts on Ground Transportation in Atlantic Canada: General Equilibrium Approach
Yuri Yevdokimov, Department of Economics, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada
Overview: Climate change impacts on regional ground transportation network and their economic consequences are analyzed within dynamic General Equilibrium Model is the topic of this paper.

Could the UK Economy Be Impacted by an Increase in Tornado Occurrence: A Consequence of Climate Change in the 21st Century
Komali Kantamaneni, Faculty of Applied Design and Engineering School of Built and Natural Environment, University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, Swansea, UK
Prof. Mike Phillips, Faculty of Applied Design and Engineering School of Built and Natural Environment, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea, UK
Dr. Rhian Jenkins, Faculty of Applied Design and Engineering School of Built and Natural Environment, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea, UK
Judith Oakley, Faculty of Applied Design and Engineering School of Built and Natural Environment, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea, UK
Kelechi Obinna Ibeabuchi, Faculty of Applied Design and Engineering School of Built and Natural Environment, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea, UK
Overview: The aim of this research report is to assess and investigate the recent UK tornadoes’ destruction costs and their impacts on national economy.

A Devil’s Advocacy for Carbon Dioxide: A Minor Effect on World Temperature but a Major, Positive Effect on Vegetation
Prof. Joseph Gale, Institute of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
Prof. Nir Shaviv, Rakach Institute, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
Overview: Recent studies indicate that the effect of CO2 rise will be much less than models promoted by the IPCC. The rise in CO2 may have already increased vegetation production.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Contributions Made by Football League Clubs in England
Adekunle Dosumu, School of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, UK
Overview: Waste management is one of the major environmental burdens, resulting in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This study estimates GHG emissions from football clubs in the UK.

Are Protected Areas an Effective Way to Help Mitigate Climate Change? Carbon Sequestration Model Comparison of Protected Area versus Traditional Forestry in a Temperate Forest
Robert Cameron, Protected Areas and Ecosystems Branch, Nova Scotia Department of Environment, Halifax, Canada
Overview: Carbon forest model results for existing and proposed protected areas were compared to results if these areas were managed using traditional forestry.

Earth 2075: Challenges for Restoring 280 ppm CO2 in the 21st Century
Dr. Kenneth Klabunde, Climate Restoration Technologies, Inc., Omaha, USA
Dr. Robert C. Fry, Climate Restoration Technologies, Inc., USA
Madeline Ison, Climate Restoration Technologies, Inc., USA
Dr. SambhudasChaudhuri, Climate Restoration Technologies, Inc., USA
Dr. Gregory Fry, Climate Restoration Technologies, Inc., USA
Barry Wroobel, Climate Restoration Technologies, Inc., USA
Dr. Michael Routh, Climate Restoration Technologies, Inc., USA
Overview: Revised CO2 emissions and capture targets will be reviewed for restoring 280 ppm by 2075. Accumulation impact (ppm CO2) of both hitting and missing these targets will be projected.

The Risk Perception of Coastal Officials as a Determinant of Adaptive Action
Brian Bulla, Department of Forestry & Environmental Resources in the College of Natural Resources, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, USA
Overview: This study examines the risk perception of North Carolina coastal officials, and questions how those perceptions influence the willingness or reticence of officials to initiate adaptive action regarding climate change.

Achieving Low Emissions Growth in Vietnam Agriculture: Mitigation Technology Adoption Constraints
Dr. Anna Belova, Environment and Resources Division, Abt Associates Inc., Bethesda, USA
Dr. Tulika Narayan, International Economic Growth, Abt Associates Inc., Bethesda, USA
Overview: To support Vietnam’s Low Emission Development Strategies in agriculture, we analyzed emissions-relevant characteristics, costs, and adoption constraints for rice and livestock production technologies using representative farmer surveys in three provinces.

The Epidemic of Human Adiposity and Its Impact on the Environment
Dr. Jianhong Xue, Department of Agricultural Economics, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, China
Jieqiong Wei, Department of Agricultural Economics Department of Applied Mathematics, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, China
Wenjing Zhang, Department of Agricultural Economics, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, China
Dr. Khadim Hussain, Department of Agricultural Economics, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, China
Overview: While delineating the pathways linking overweight and obesity to environmental problems, the proposed study estimates the environmental impact of adiposity in terms of greenhouse gas emission for a given population.

Super Typhoon Haiyan: Global Warming Concerns, Resource Loss, and Psychological Distress among Survivors in the Philippines
Dr. David Sattler, Western Institute for Social Research, Department of Psychology, Western Washington University, Bellingham, USA
Richard Atienza, Department of American Ethnic Studies, University of Washington, Seattle, USA
Overview: Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines. We interviewed 335 survivors in coastal villages. Concerns about global warming’s contribution to typhoon intensity and future typhoon threats were associated with posttraumatic stress.

Implications of Climate Change Impacts in Rural Coastal Communities with Aging Populations: Cases from Nova Scotia, Canada
Dr. Patricia Manuel, School of Planning, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada
Prof. Eric Rapaport, School of Planning, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada
Dr. Janice Keefe, Department of Family Studies and Gerontology, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Canada
Overview: Rural coastal communities with aging populations have special challenges of vulnerability to flooding. We identify infrastructure, design and policy challenges and opportunities for age-friendly coastal communities facing climate change impacts.

The Association between Meteorological Parameters and Salmonella, Norovirus and Rotavirus Infection in Hong Kong
Pin Wang, School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Overview: This is a time-series analysis on the association between several meteorological parameters and salmonella, norovirus and rotavirus infection in Hong Kong from 2002 to 2011 using generalized additive models.

Climate Change Certification: Be Part of the Start
Simon Cavendish, Climate Change Special Interest Section, Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ), Brisbane, Australia
Maia Cavendish, Brisbane, Australia
Tess McGahan, Brisbane, Australia
Rosemary Lancaster, Brisbane, Australia
Overview: As climate change practice evolves, the community needs assurance that practitioners are competent. Australian and New Zealand professionals have developed a certification scheme. Proficiencies need refinement from practitioners like you!

Climate Justice Activism: A Visioning Workshop
John Foran, Department of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, USA
Overview: Workshop participants will be guided through a conversation on the nature and ends of climate justice, and the best practices of global climate justice movement activists in achieving it.

Integrating Ecological Genetics and Population Dynamic Modelling to Evaluate Persistence of Endangered Swamp Orchids in a Changing World
Laura Simmons, GeneCology Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Australia
Dr. Alison Shapcott, GeneCology Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Australia
Overview: Our case study is an endangered Australian orchid species with narrow ecological tolerances and use of integrated population dynamic studies and ecological genetics to model coastal ecosystem climate change transitions.

Projected Impacts of Climate Change on Grizzly Bear Habitat in Canada
David Laskin, Dept. of Geography, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
Overview: A combination of climate-controlled growth chamber experiments, ground-camera network observations, and satellite-derived phenology models were used to predict the impact of climate scenarios on grizzly bear habitat in Alberta, Canada.

Adaptation Pathways for Coastal Settlements in Victoria, Australia
Murray Herron, School of Architecture and Built Environment, Faculty of Science Engineering and Built Environment, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia
Phillip B. Roös, School of Architecture and Built Environment, Faculty of Science Engineering & Built Environment, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia
Overview: The Victorian coastline is in peril due to population growth and future climate change impacts. This paper identifies adaptation pathways for sustainable development planning with visualisation models of coastal recession.

Permafrost Thaw, Biogeochemical Cycling, and Plant Biology in the Alaskan Taiga
Rebecca Finger, Department of Biology and Wildlife, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, USA
Dr. Eugenie Euskirchen, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, USA
Dr. Merritt Turetsky, Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada
Overview: Climate change is creating widespread permafrost thaw and drastically changing the boreal forest landscape. This study investigates the effects of permafrost thaw on biogeochemical cycling and local plant communities.

Representing Climate Data Visually: Inquiry-based Lessons about Climate Science and Climate Change for K-12 Students Using Local, Online Climate Data for Spatial and Graphical Analysis
Dr. Lawrence Rudd, School of Education, Nevada State College, Henderson, USA
Overview: Student visualization of climate science and climate change is emphasized in inquiry-based lessons created using online data. Weather, climate, and vegetation are studied using graphs, imagery, and Google Earth.

Climate Shocks and Human Capital: The Impact of Natural Disasters on Students’ Performance on Standardized Tests
Mauricio Giovanni Valencia-Amaya, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia
Overview: Using a difference-in-difference approach, this paper investigates the impact of climate shocks on qualitative measures of human capital, such as test scores results.

Environmental Art as Medium for Climate Change Communication: A Festival’s Impact on Its Audience
Megan Marks, Faculty of Arts and Business, University of the Sunshine Coast, Marcus Beach, Australia
Overview: Environmental art can provide an imaginative format for delivering climate change messages. This quantitative/qualitative research explored the impact of a government-initiated environmental art festival in changing people’s environmental behaviours.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

The Climate Change Controversies on a Global Scale: Sciences and Its Ideologies, 1992-2012
Dr. Ricardo M. Figueiredo F., Federal University of Minas Gerais (History Post-Graduation Program)., University Of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Overview: Despite what the IPCC has been asserting on a global climate change it isn’t a consensus among the climatologists. In this matter, this paper analyzes some of these controversies.

Sequestration and Substitution: How Do Stakeholders in the UK Woodland Sector View Their Role in Climate Change Mitigation?
Dr. Clare Hall, Research Division, SRUC, Edinburgh, UK
Overview: This research aims to investigate UK woodland sector stakeholder views, awareness and experience of carbon sequestration and substitution activities and the variables that may influence such views and awareness.

Greenpeace, Climate Change, and the Battle for the Arctic
Dr. James Everett Hein, Media and Communication, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Overview: In this paper I report the innovative online and offline communication tactics used by Greenpeace in their climate change campaign against Royal Dutch Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic.

Developing Adaptation Pathways for NRM in Southern Australia: A Research-practice Collaboration
Dr. Karyn Bosomworth, Centre for Risk and Community Safety Climate Change Adaptation Program, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Dr. Andrew Harwood, Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia
Nooshin Toorabi, Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Dr. Peat Leith, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia
Dr. Philip Wallis, Monash Sustainability Institute, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Overview: This paper is an action-research project that draws on the concept of adaptation pathways to support natural resource managers in developing and implementing adaptive climate change plans.

There is No Place Like Home: Pacific Islanders and Relocation
Brook Meakins, Drowning Islands, Berkeley, USA
Overview: This paper analyzes two historic, forced relocations from the Pacific, and contrasts these relocations with a modern, voluntary relocation in Fiji.

The Justification Of Negative Impacts On Climate Change: An Exploration Of Discursive Strategies Used By Industrial Emitters
David Talbot, Département de Management, Université Laval, Quebec, Canada
Dr. Olivier Boiral, Département de Management, Université Laval, Québec, Canada
Overview: The paper explores the impression management tactics used by industrial companies to justify the impact of their operations on global warming.

Laughing All the Way to the Apocalypse: The Rhetorical Effects of Satire on Climate Change Activism and Awareness
Luke E. Kingery, English Department Composition and Rhetoric, University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, USA
Overview: Humor theorists have shown that humor/satire can both cathartic, societal release as well as promote apathy. I will explore the rhetorical and societal effects of climate-change satire on awareness campaigns.

The Social Responses to Impacts of Climate Change in Thailand: A Preliminary Study of Adaptive Strategies Used by Communities Affected by Landslides and Flooding Since 2011
Somporn Khunwishit, Department of Public Administration, Faculty of Management Sciences, Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai, Thailand
Overview: This paper examines how Thai communities develop environmental policies, disaster management measures and social mechanisms to deal with natural disasters, given their experience in facing landslides and flooding in 2011.

Social Costs of Industrial Growth: Which American States Manufacture More Efficiently in Terms of Air Pollution?
Dr. James Tanoos, Business & CIS Dept., Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Terre Haute, USA
Overview: Using economic data and recent toxic release findings, this paper describes which American states and which region of the country manufacture products in the most sustainable, green efficient fashion.

Agreements on Climate Change between the South and North Korea
Dr. Misun Park, Research Institute for Agriculture and Life Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea
Prof. Hyowon Lee, School of Law, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea
Overview: This study aims to review environmental agreements between the South and North Korea and provide some instructions for protocol of agreements on climate change between the South and North Korea.

Earth 2075: Energy and Transportation as Primary Engines for Climate Restoration and Ocean Revitalization
Dr. Robert C. Fry, R&D, Climate Restoration Technologies, Inc., Omaha, USA
Dr. SambhudasChaudhuri, R&D – concept development, Climate Restoration Technologies, Inc., USA
Dr. Kenneth Klabunde, R&D, Climate Restoration Technologies, Inc., Manhattan, USA
Madeline Ison, R&D, Climate Restoration Technologies, Inc., Omaha, USA
Dr. Michael Routh, Board of Directors, Climate Restoration Technologies, Inc., Boulder, USA
Barry Wroobel, R&D, Climate Restoration Technologies, Inc., Moorpark, USA
Dr. Steven Fry, R&D, Climate Restoration Technologies, Inc., Merida, Mexico
Dr. Gregory Fry, Director, Climate Restoration Technologies, Inc., Omaha, USA
Dr. Steven Hughes, R&D, Climate Restoration Technologies, Inc., Littleton, USA
Grant Gower, Administration, Climate Restoration Technologies, Inc., Newbury Park, USA
Benjamin Fry, R&D, Climate Restoration Technologies, Inc., Omaha, USA
Overview: Fossil fuel consumption may be transformed from global warming and ocean acidification culprit into a primary means of climate restoration and ocean revitalization by driving two-stage ocean algal blooming.

Impact of the Scaling Behavior of Global Sea Surface Temperature
Yee Leung, Department of Geography and Resource Management, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
Ming Luo, Department of Geography and Resource Management, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
Overview: This paper discusses the temporal scaling behaviors of the monthly sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies from January 1856 to December 2011 and their impacts on climate dynamics.

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A Game Changing Public Relations Avalanche on Climate Change – Just When I’m About to Have a Break

Yesterday (May 29, 2014) was commencement day at my school, and the day that I was able to post my grades. Officially, the school year has ended and my summer break starts now (I do not take part in the two summer sessions that we provide).

This blog will be the last one to be posted before I take off to Europe. The trip will last about a month and will be the type of trip that I like most – a combination of vacation, family events and professional activities. The trip will take me to England, the Netherlands and France, ending up in Reykjavik, Iceland. In Iceland I will attend the Sixth International Conference on Climate Change. This is the same conference that I attend every year (see the July 16, 2012 blog about the Fourth Conference in Seattle and the July 2, 2013 blog about the Fifth Conference in Mauritius). I like this series of conferences because the attendance is limited to about 200 participants, but includes active participant from all corners of the world. It addresses both the science and social science aspects of the most important issues, and as an added bonus, the meetings take place in great places that make them convenient excuses to combine work with vacation.

Such a trip has direct consequences for my blog postings. My editors (LCG Communications) have outlined their expectations: I can have one week break; as to the rest of the time, they expect full compliance with the schedule (posting every Tuesday). As usual, such a strict regime presents its own problems. I have to refer to ongoing events in my posting and the ongoing events are subject to their own deadlines and although it appears that the debate on climate change often takes “vacations” on its own, being a global phenomenon with a present global impact, it doesn’t take a “real” break. My writing opportunities in Europe will be considerably more limited than the ones I have at home, so I have to do most of the writing before I leave.

The present time is particularly challenging and exhilarating with regards to climate change. At least in the US, it seems that there is a concerted effort to move the debate on climate change in the most unexpected directions and to accomplish this through the public opinion. Many of these efforts are not organized by the government but instead through the media; still, recently they seem to be coordinated with some of the most promising actions so far by the Federal Government. The efforts include two top TV programs and today’s EPA announcement on new climate change regulations, which will probably continue to be the focus of public debate. I was seriously considering changing my travel plans to be here to follow the changes, but everyone else involved told me to not even think of such a thing.

Here is the plan: Starting with this blog I would like to cover three topics:

  • I will speak to my impressions of the Showtime series “Years of Living Dangerously”
  • Following my practice from the previous two conferences, I will present the program of this year’s conference
  • I will try to address Monday’s presidential (and EPA) announcement of the USA’s new policy to mitigate climate change.

In addition, in keeping with my previous practices, I would like to focus on what I have learned at the conference with the focus on Iceland, the host country. The problem is that the events that I have decided to focus on don’t exactly follow my timeline for posting the blog – so I (and my editors) will have to accommodate. The details for each of the topics are specific and they will become obvious as we go along.

There is (in case you hadn’t yet noticed) an issue with this plan. I just mentioned there being two top TV productions, but I have only promised to address one here. “The Years of Living Dangerously” centers on climate change and the rest of the blog will focus on my take of it. However, yesterday evening I watched another program, “Cosmos,” on the Fox network, presented by Neil deGrasse Tyson. I was watching this program without any expectations that it would make any significant contribution to the climate change debate. I was wrong. Last night’s (Sunday, June 1, 2014) episode was the best popular presentation that I ever remember seeing on the topic and I have been in this business for many years. Especially impressive is that the program is broadcast by Fox network – a network that many consider to be the mouth piece of climate change deniers. Perhaps even more importantly, it was broadcast only one day before the EPA announcement of a major new mitigation policy to limit greenhouse gas emission. It’s hard to believe that such timing was coincidental. I am fortunate enough to teach two related courses – one on cosmology and the other one on climate change. I now plan to experiment with providing the two TV shows as learning materials with some cross talk between them. Both provide opportunities for students to watch them at their convenience.

The rest of the blog will focus on “Years of Living Dangerously”:                                

“Years of Living Dangerously”

I have referred to specific aspects of this program earlier (April 22, May 20 and May 27, 2014 blogs). The show is split into 9 segments; I have seen seven of them. The 8th one is scheduled for Monday, June 2 and the last one is scheduled for Monday, June 9, three days after I leave for Europe. I will submit this blog on Tuesday, June 3, in time to be posted on the same day. For those of you that haven’t yet had the opportunity to view the show, you can refer to the show’s web site. Believe me, it is a must. My family is not as focused on climate change but as a show of sympathy they watched. My wife’s response after almost every episode is a full day of depression. I want to explain that this is the wrong attitude but I know her better than that. In my last blog on the show I would like to focus not on the stories in each individual episode, but instead on the buttons that the show presses for me. Here is my list of the buttons for the first eight episodes.

Pressed buttons:

  • Finding common language
    • Episode 1 – Evangelical scientists in Texas
    • Episode 3 – Republican Congressman Grimm changes his mind
    • Episode 4 – Christian Evangelists: a father and daughter
  • International perspective of contributions to climate change
    • Episodes 1 and 2  – Indonesia’s burning of rain forests to make way for palm trees for palm oil production, and the Indonesian government’s support
    • Episode 4 – Exploration of the thawing Arctic
    • Episode 8 – Water stress as an instigator of instability and violence in Yemen, the first country that might go dry. Climate migration in Bangladesh from the south to Dacca, the capital
  • Climate change and security
    • Episode 1 – Drought as a trigger for the Syrian civil war
    • Episode 7 – Shortage of bread caused by prolonged global droughts as a trigger for unrest in Egypt and much of the rest of the Arab world
    • Episode 8 – Water stress as an instigator of instability and violence in Yemen
  • Extreme events
    • Episode 2 – Massive fires in the western US, intensified El Niño and Sandy in NYC.
  • Transfer resources to developing countries to stop exploring and using fossil fuels
    • Episode 4 – Greenland
  • Energy transition
    • Episode 6 – Focus on the US – Wind turbines to supplement income in farms in Kansas; the Heartland Institute; leaks in natural gas wells and piping.
  • Tipping over the edge
    • Poor countries
      • Episode 7 – Egypt
      • Episode 8 – Bangladesh and Yemen
    • Episode 7 – Poor people in rich cities – Far Rockaway in NYC.
  • Mitigation
    • Episode 7 – “Climate Core” to help companies to be more sustainable

The weakest button in my mind is the assertion that the battle over human-induced (anthropogenic) climate change can be won by America decreasing its use of fossil fuels. Even by doing so, America’s actions would not prevent Bangladesh, Yemen, Syria and Egypt from suffering the consequences of climate change – the problem is, after all, global. That said, such action would boost China, India, Bangladesh and other developing countries into realizing that they can develop economically while changing their energy supply to non-carbon-fueled energy sources. The developing countries will never agree to the shifts unless convinced of their economic feasibility. The necessary changes can only be accomplished by developed countries leading the way and through the transfer of resources and technology from the developed world to developing countries.

The program up to now has restricted itself to examining what not to do; unfortunately, it has not talked much about what we can do differently in the challenge to maintain sustainable global development.

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Climate Change: Local Initiatives But Global Priorities

Previously, I described an effort to produce a film that monitors an energy transition in the Sunderban region of India. I am the “science guy” in the team and we are now working on expanding the movie to a longer version. Throughout the process, I have encountered tension with the rest of the team as to the target message.

I think the most important message for the film is this:  the Indians in Sunderban are making every effort to find the most sustainable energy transition that they can afford, and that means they are turning away from coal. Most of my teammates want to target the film to what they perceive will appeal to an American audience about climate change. According to them, the American audience doesn’t care too much about the Sunderban. I encounter similar tension about climate change almost everywhere I go.

A few days ago, I went to Denver for a combined business and pleasure visit. I took with me William Nordhaus’s book, The Climate Casino (Yale University – 2013). Since I am not an economist, and Nordhaus is, this is must reading for me. The book targets American readers, but it doesn’t ignore the reality that climate change is a global issue.

The book advocates, like most of us do, that mitigation of climate change requires decarbonization of our energy supply. It focuses on an analysis of the most economical ways to achieve this. Without going into detail, the most effective way to decarbonize the energy supply is to make carbon more expensive. On a national level, the way to achieve it is either through a carbon tax (recommended amount – $25/metric ton) or selling (or distributing) emission certificates that can be traded (cap-and-trade). Nordhaus enumerates the advantages and disadvantages of both methods. He admits that mitigation will not work unless applied globally. He advocates two options: cap-and trade, similar to the mechanism advocated in the Kyoto Protocol and implemented by the European Union, or a scenario in which countries agree to “harmonize” a carbon price. He strongly favors the harmonization of carbon prices as a preferred method. Harmonization of carbon prices doesn’t take into account the enormous differences that people in India and the US pay for their energy as a fraction of their income.

On a recent trip to Australia, before the recent elections that led to a government change, one of the main issues was the implementation of a controversial carbon tax. My discussions with my Australian friends were focused on the new tax. An often heard response was that Australia is a small country that doesn’t contribute much to the changes in atmospheric chemistry that lead to climate change so why should they pay. They objected to the tax and a much more conservative government was elected.

In one of the recent episodes of the Showtime program “Years of Living Dangerously,” entitled, Under the Ice, reporter Lesley Stahl was interviewing Aleqa Hammond, Greenland’s Prime Minister. The Prime Minister was asked why Greenland was allowing the oil companies to crawl around Greenland’s fast melting coast to hunt for oil and gas that will only accelerate the melting and accelerate the consequential global sea level rise. The answer that Ms. Stahl got was that Greenland is not a frozen museum. Its people are among the poorest in Europe. They will stop the hunt if the world can provide them with suitable alternative resources for income.

My attitude is that it almost doesn’t matter what we do in the developed world. The future will be determined through the developmental pathway of the developing world. We, like everybody else, will bear the global consequences. The most effective thing that we, in the developed world, can do, is to facilitate the transition to a decarbonized economy in the developing world, while at the same time assuring their economic development. I will return to this topic repeatedly in future blogs.

Here are the important data:

The first figure describes projections of population growth in the developed and the developing countries. Toward the end of the century, almost 90% of the world population will consist of what now we label as the developing countries.

A summary of some of the specific assumptions associated with these projections was given in earlier blogs and elsewhere.

Figure 2, below, shows that the total carbon emissions of the developing countries has already surpassed the contributions from the developed countries.

Here’s what the symbols stand for: HIC – High Income Countries; UMC – Middle Income Countries – including China, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and South Africa; LMC- Lower Middle Income – including India and Indonesia; LIC – Low Income Countries.

Figure 3, below, is taken from the same recent IPCC report, and it breaks down the various factors that contribute to carbon emissions. The factor that contributes the most is economic development and this will continue to be true for the forseeable future.

 

 

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Self-Imposing Red Lines

Recently, this has become a trend among politicians and organizations: draw a line in the sand (if possible, draw the line in a red color), with an accompanying threat – if you cross this line we (or I) will do so-and-so. The intention is to frighten the object of our scorn away from crossing the line.

A recent example came in context of the Syrian civil war when President Obama remarked on the threat issued by Syrian president Assad that he would use chemical weapons on his own people. As reported in the Washington Post, President Obama said:

“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.  That would change my calculus.  That would change my equation.”

Well, the general understanding was that if the Assad regime crossed the line and used chemical weapons, the American government would respond with active participation in the fight against the regime. Shortly after the statement was made, it was proven that the Assad government did cross the line, and the world was staring at President Obama to respond.

The response was not in the form of actual military involvement, but in the form of an agreement with the Russian government and with the Assad government for a controlled removal and eventual disposal of chemical weapons from Syria. Most of the world saw it as a sign of American unwillingness to get directly involved with the ramifications about the consequences of crossing other “red lines.”

Back to climate change – In a recent segment (the 4th segment that was aired on May 4th) of the Showtime program “Years of Living Dangerously” (see the April 22, 2014 blog), reporter Lesley Stahl asked an American scientist who took part in writing the recently published IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Fifth Assessment Report, what, in her opinion, was the most important part of the report. (I will report on my general reaction to the Showtime program once it completes its nine segments.)  The answer was that IPCC was “drawing a line” on the question of  how much unburnable carbon needs to be left in the ground in order to limit the damage from climate change to an “acceptable” level of 20C (close to 40F).

This particular “red line” was selected based on the following quote from the Summary for Policy Makers of Working Group I of the Fifth IPCC Report (WGI of AR5). (It took me some time to locate the quotation out of the combined report which contains more than 3000 pages.)

E.8 Climate Stabilization, Climate Change Commitment and Irreversibility

Cumulative emissions of CO2largely determine global mean surface warming by the late 21st century and beyond (see Figure SPM.10). Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped. This represents a substantial multi-century climate change commitment created by past, present and future emissions of CO2. {12.5}

• Cumulative total emissions of CO2 and global mean surface temperature response are approximately linearly related (see Figure SPM.10). Any given level of warming is associated with a range of cumulative CO2 emissions21, and therefore, e.g., higher emissions in earlier decades imply lower emissions later. {12.5}

• Limiting the warming caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions alone with a probability of >33%, >50%, and >66% to less than 2°C since the period 1861–188022, will require cumulative CO2 emissions from all anthropogenic sources to stay between 0 and about 1570 GtC (5760 GtCO2), 0 and about 1210 GtC (4440 GtCO2), and 0 and about 1000 GtC (3670 GtCO2) since that period, respectively23. These upper amounts are reduced to about 900 GtC (3300 GtCO2), 820 GtC (3010 GtCO2), and 790 GtC (2900 GtCO2), respectively, when accounting for non-CO2 forcings as in RCP2.6. An amount of 515 [445 to 585] GtC (1890 [1630 to 2150] GtCO2), was already emitted by 2011. {12.5}

These limits require that we leave about 70% of the fossil resources in the ground and never use them as fuels. In the “business as usual” scenario, it is estimated that this “red line” will be reached around 2040. The implications of this “unburnable carbon” were explored before (see July 17, 2013 blog) and there is no question that the issue of energy transition to non-carbon energy sources is the central message that IPCC is trying to convey in its reports. The question is what will happen if, by 2040, we will fall short; should we give up and say collectively to ourselves that we cannot make it and continue in our merry ways?

In the September 3, 2012 blog, I described one of the three shades of deniers in the following way:

(2) The fatalists. This group fully agrees with both the science and its predicted impact, but believes that since the task of preventing it (global warming) is so enormous as to be practically undoable, they might as well enjoy life for as long as it lasts. Unfortunately, many in this group are good scientists.

Crossing the “red line” on the 20C clearly satisfies such an attitude. The show “Years of Living Dangerously” is obviously not the only voice that puts the line in the sand at this temperature. Many environmental organizations are also drawing such lines, since it appears to be an attractive and understandable message that helps mobilize public support. See this, for example.

Probably the most famous organization to do this is 350.org.  This is an international organization with wide support and access to funding and media. They describe themselves in the following way:

350.org is building a global climate movement. Our online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are coordinated by a global network active in over 188 countries.

The number 350 means climate safety: to preserve a livable planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 400 parts per million to below 350 ppm.

350 is a smaller number than 400 ppm, our present global level of atmospheric carbon dioxide. To achieve this level, we not only have only to stop, cold-turkey, emitting any new carbon dioxide, but we also have to start an effort to remove some of atmospheric carbon dioxide by using geoengineering techniques that were described in the previous blog.

Politically, such an effort seems beyond reach and the alternative might be to resort to doing nothing.  Therefore, a more productive long-term alternative seems to be an emphasis on the process of energy transition and the adaptive tools that need to be employed in the transition to more sustainable energy use.

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Geoengineering – A Tool to Calculate the Cost of Climate Change

Cost-benefit analysis is a systematic approach to estimating the strength of various alternative options, determining the best approach, and therefore justifying certain activities in various fields. It is often required by law to justify new government regulations. Climate change is no exception. Often with climate change, the costs calculated are those of the present, while the benefits are primarily seen as belonging to the future. As I have mentioned before (February 18, 2013) economists tend to discount the future. In the context of climate change, this discounting involves assumptions about future availability of better technologies as well as resources for mitigation and adaptation. To use a personal example that I often use in class – in my lifetime the global population has risen from about 2 billion to 7 billion, and the GDP/Person has risen from about $2,000 to about $8,000. The total global wealth has increased by factor close to 15. At the same rate of increase, toward the end of the century an average global citizen will be as rich as an average American is today. The natural inclination is to do nothing now and leave the work to our future rich descendants (our children and grandchildren).

What about the cost? Here is what the IPCC wrote in its recent Working Group 2 Summary for Policy Makers report:

Global economic impacts from climate change are difficult to estimate. Economic impact estimates completed over the past 20 years vary in their coverage of subsets of economic sectors and depend on a large number of assumptions, many of which are disputable, and many estimates do not account for catastrophic changes, tipping points, and many other factors. With these recognized limitations, the incomplete estimates of global annual economic losses for additional temperature increases of ~2°C are between 0.2 and 2.0% of income (±1 standard deviation around the mean) (medium evidence, medium agreement). Losses are more likely than not to be greater, rather than smaller, than this range (limited evidence, high agreement). Additionally, there are large differences between and within countries. Losses accelerate with greater warming (limited evidence, high agreement), but few quantitative estimates have been completed for additional warming around 3°C or above. Estimates of the incremental economic impact of emitting carbon dioxide lie between a few dollars and several hundreds of dollars per tonne of carbon (robust evidence, medium agreement). Estimates vary strongly with the assumed damage function and discount rate.

The topic is a subject of active research. A summary of a European Union project on the topics is given below:

ClimateCost (the Full Costs of Climate Change) is a major research project on the economics of climate change, funded from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme.

The objective of the project is to advance knowledge in three areas:

  • Long-term targets and mitigation policies.
  • Costs of inaction (the economic effects of climate change).
  • Costs and benefits of adaptation.

The projects is addressing these objectives through seven tasks:

  1. Identify and develop consistent scenarios for climate change and socio-economic development, including mitigation scenarios.
  2. Quantify in physical terms, and value as economic costs, the effects of future climate change (the ‘costs of inaction’) under different scenarios for the EU and other major negotiator countries (China, India). This analysis will be at a disaggregated level, undertaken, where possible using spatial analysis (Geographic Information Systems, GIS). The analysis will include market and non-market sectors (coasts, health, ecosystems, energy, water and infrastructure). The analysis will also quantify and value the costs and ‘benefit’ of adaptation.
  3. Assess the potential physical effects and economic costs of major catastrophic events and major socially contingent effects.
  4. Update the mitigation costs of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions, consistent with medium- and long-term reduction targets/ stabilisation goals for the mitigation scenarios, including (induced) technological change, non-CO2 GHG and sinks, and recent abatement technologies.
  5. Quantify the ancillary air-quality co-benefits (in physical and economic terms) of mitigation, using a spatially detailed disaggregated approach to quantify benefits in Europe, China and India.
  6. Develop and apply a number of General Circulation Models (GCMs) and Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) to integrate the analyses.
  7. Bring the information together to provide policy relevant output, including undertaking analysis of policy scenarios.

What does all of this have to do with geoengineering?

Under the term “geoengineering,” one can include suggestions for attempts to globally counter the damage that we are making to the chemistry of the atmosphere by trying to restore the conditions through human interventions. In 2012, the IPCC compiled a special report on the topic. Here are two paragraphs that define the issues (IPCC, 2012: Meeting Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Expert Meeting on Geoengineering. IPCC Working Group III Technical Support Unit, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany, pp. 99.):

Background:

The concept of geoengineering can be traced back to the 1960s with a US report calling for research on “possibilities to deliberately bringing about countervailing climatic changes” to that of CO2 (Marchetti, 1977). The term geoengineering itself was originally used in the 1970s by Marchetti (1977) to describe the context of the idea of injecting CO2 into the ocean to reduce the atmospheric burden of this greenhouse gas. Since that time, the term has evolved considerably, coming to encompass a broad, and ill-defined, variety of concepts for intentionally modifying the Earth’s climate at the large scale (Keith, 2000). As a result, discussions of geoengineering in both academic and public contexts have sometimes convoluted characteristics from different techniques in ways that have unhelpfully confused discussions. Nonetheless, since Paul Crutzen’s 2006 editorial essay (Crutzen, 2006), scientific, policy and media attention to geoengineering concepts has grown rapidly. Several assessments have been conducted at the national level (The Royal Society, 2009; GAO, 2011; Rickels et al., 2011).

Terms and Issues:

Geoengineering refers to a broad set of methods and technologies that aim to deliberately alter the climate system in order to alleviate the impacts of climate change. Most, but not all, methods seek to either (a) reduce the amount of absorbed solar energy in the climate system (Solar Radiation Management) or (b) increase net carbon sinks from the atmosphere at a scale sufficiently large to alter climate (Carbon Dioxide Removal). Scale and intent are of central importance. Two key characteristics of geoengineering methods of particular concern are that they use or affect the climate system (e.g., atmosphere, land or ocean) globally or regionally and/or could have substantive unintended effects that cross national boundaries. Geoengineering is different from weather modification and ecological engineering, but the boundary can be fuzzy.

Solar Radiation Management (SRM) refers to the intentional modification of the Earth’s shortwave radiative budget with the aim to reduce climate change according to a given metric (e.g., surface temperature, precipitation, regional impacts, etc). Artificial injection of stratospheric aerosols and cloud brightening are two examples of SRM techniques. Methods to modify some fast-responding elements of the longwave radiative budget (such as cirrus clouds), although not strictly speaking SRM, can be related to SRM. SRM techniques do not fall within the usual definitions of mitigation and adaptation.

Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) methods refer to a set of techniques that aim to remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere by either (1) increasing natural sinks for carbon or (2) using chemical engineering to remove the CO2, with the intent of reducing the atmospheric CO2 concentration. CDR methods involve the ocean, land, and technical systems, including such methods as iron fertilization, large-scale afforestation, and direct capture of CO2 from the atmosphere using engineered chemical means. Some CDR methods fall under the category of geoengineering, while this may not be the case for others, with the distinction being based upon the magnitude, scale, and impact of the particular CDR activities. The boundary between CDR and mitigation is not clear and there could be some overlap between the two given current definitions.

Among the earlier efforts in this direction were the attempts to seed barren stretches of the ocean with iron fertilizers. The thinking was that iron was the missing ingredient preventing vegetation from growing there; once we seeded these stretches with the missing ingredient, vegetation would grow and start to sequester carbon dioxide, thus shifting the balance. There were a few experiments that proved that the concept was valid. I told my wife about these efforts and she almost started with divorce proceedings. “How dare you play with God’s creation? (she is not religious) What about unintended consequences (like poisoning the oceans for example)?” She was not convinced even after I mentioning that we are already doing just that continuously by dumping all of the products of our waste into the atmosphere. Under the “Terms and Issues” of the IPCC, ocean fertilization falls under the CDR category. It gets worse; seeding clouds to alter the radiation balance falls under the SRM initiatives and is intended to restore the changes that we force on the system through the atmospheric chemical changes. As I have mentioned before (March 25, 2014) the radiation balance changes not only the energy cycle but also the water cycle. Under these conditions, whenever anybody – globally – got weather that they don’t like, they would immediately blame it on the guys that are doing the cloud seeding… great.

However, in my opinion, there is one very useful way that one can use geoengineering with no fear of unintended consequences. Conceptually, geoengineering is based upon existing technologies. One can price said existing technologies. Therefore, we can take the known atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gasses of a certain year – say 2010, calculate what it would take to chemically restore the atmosphere in future years to that level, and define this number as the cost of climate change at that time. Once the standard and the methodology are decided, the numbers shouldn’t be controversial. This way we will be pricing the cause instead of the uncertain effects. That way, we can directly calculate the cost-benefit analysis for any mitigation efforts that we might choose to adopt.

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