Mike Mann has a very polished and skillful powerpoint presentation, and the video of his talk from AGU’s Chapman conference this past june in Colorado has gone somewhat viral, even, I’m told, among former detractors.

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Dear Met Office

July 26, 2013

metoffice

Dear Met Office

Your new post “The Recent Pause in Warming”
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/news/recent-pause-in-warming

shows zero understanding of the basic framing issues that have
so damaged climate science communication over the last 2 decades.

Using the word “pause” reinforces the idea in the average person’s mind that
the planet has stopped heating up – and just about completely nullifies
the paper you are promoting,
which shows a ” wide range of observed climate indicators continue to show
changes that are consistent with a globally warming world”.

Almost nobody will read the paper. Those that read anything
will only see the headline.

I’m really surprised that the Met Office is still so
unsophisticated at this late date.

Peter Sinclair
Climate Denial Crock of the Week

Here’s a Communication tip.

Another way to say “A wide range of observed climate indicators continue to show changes that are consistent with a globally warming world, ” would be “the world is still warming”.

One could say, the Met Office continues to exhibit behaviors that are consistent with a tin ear for common language and communication, and a failure to understand that words mean things.

I am available for trainings and seminars.

In the meantime, refer to this audio of James Hansen as a model for the future.

The GOP congress will cut the EPA by a third, slash renewable energy programs, and cut Great Lakes preservation programs by 80 percent.

In other news, congress kept funding to establish a colony on Mars.

Thank God someone is looking to the future.

carbontax

A new report has come out updating and summarizing British Columbia’s experience with a modest Carbon Tax.

Sustainable Prosperity:

THE REPORT’S KEY FINDINGS ARE THAT:

• Since the carbon tax took effect (July 1, 2008), BC’s fuel consumption has fallen by 17.4% per capita (and fallen by 18.8% relative to the rest of Canada).
• These reductions have occurred across all the fuel types covered by the tax (not just vehicle fuel)
• BC’s GDP kept pace with the rest of Canada’s over that time
• The tax shift has enabled BC to have Canada’s lowest income tax rates (as of 2012).
• The tax shift has benefited taxpayers; cuts to income and other taxes have exceeded carbon tax revenues by $500 million from 2008-12.
Stewart Elgie, Professor of law and economics at University of Ottawa, and the report’s lead author, said:

“BC’s experience shows that it is possible to have both a healthier environment and a strong economy — by taxing pollution and lowering income taxes.”

Canada’s premiers meet from July 24-26 to discuss a proposed Canadian Energy Strategy which includes “a more integrated approach to climate change”. Elgie commented: “I hope that BC’s success will inspire Canada’s premiers to show leadership on a national approach to pricing carbon pollution.”

Andy Skuce in Skeptical Science:

Stewart Elgie and Jessica McClay of the University of Ottawa have a peer-reviewed articlein press in a special issue of the journal Canadian Public Policy. The article is summarized in the report BC’s Carbon Tax shift after five years: Results. An environmental (and economic) success story. The report can be downloaded here and is summarized here.
The results are similar to a previous report that I wrote about in the article BC’s revenue-neutral carbon tax experiment, four years on: It’s working, but updated, with one more year of data.  The new data show that the carbon tax is working even better than reported previously.
Fuel consumption per capita has fallen in BC by nearly 19% relative to the rest of Canada; these are just the fuels that are subject to the carbon tax. (Note that the years in these tables begin on July 1, in the previous report, they were calendar years, so the numbers do not match exactly.)
Note that all fuel use for the various types of fuel fell faster per-capita in BC than for the rest of Canada. The one exception is aviation fuel, which is mostly exempt from the carbon tax and showed no differential fall in use in BC.

headinsand

Add Climate change to the list of issues where the GOP is severely out of step with younger voters.

Guardian:

Republicans in Congress who reject the science behind climate change could soon be reduced to political fossils, with new polling on Wednesday suggesting three-quarters of young voters find such views “ignorant, out of touch or crazy”.

The bipartisan poll conducted for the League of Conservation Voters found solid 80% support among under-35 voters for Barack Obama’s climate change plan – and majority support even among those who oppose the president.

On the flip side the poll found three-quarters of voters, or 73%, would oppose members of Congress who stood in the way of Obama’s climate action plan.

The findings could prove awkward for Republicans in Congress who have adopted climate contrarianism as a defining feature.

Read the rest of this entry »

Rocky Mountain Institute:

Government forecasts predict U.S. energy intensity (primary energy used per dollar of real GDP) will continue to decline roughly two percent annually through 2040, but that the drop will be steepest in automobiles.

Motivated in part by more stringent fuel economy standards coming down the pipeline, lightweighting—the core of the new “platform fitness” approach, which focuses on optimizing a vehicle’s structure first before addressing propulsion technology and fuel source—has been the industry’s hottest strategic trend for several years (see “Battling America’s Automotive Obesity Epidemic,” page 28). In short, the auto industry is finally beginning the fundamental change we’ve been advocating since 1991. And as automakers and government adopt RMI’s fitness-first, ultralighting-focused strategy, they’re finding that making costly batteries or fuel cells fewer rather than cheaper can make electric cars more affordable with less time, cost, and risk. This can save severalfold more oil than the government forecasts, use 80 percent less autobody manufacturing capital, de-risk automaking, and save (in the U.S. alone) half an OPEC’s worth of oil.

Meanwhile, U.S. autos’ four percent average asset utilization—that is, they sit idle 96 percent of the time—is driving remarkable new carsharing and ridesharing programs, smartphone apps, and emergent automaker business models based on leasing mobility services rather than selling autos. These developments, adopting Natural Capitalism’s powerful “solutions economy” business model, could profoundly reduce the need for autos to yield the same or better mobility and access at lower cost.

At the same time, efficient use of electricity—which is used three-fourths in buildings, one-fourth in industry—is finally starting to pull out of its decades-long doldrums. That’s a big deal for saving capital and climate, because producing and delivering electricity is extraordinarily capital intensive, and classically uses two to four units of fuel at the power plant to deliver one unit of electricity. Much of RMI’s work focuses on this effort, as the late Ray C. Anderson put it, to “turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones.” Efforts like RMI’s RetroFit initiative—whose toolkit, portfolio challenge, and training efforts are steadily gaining adherents—are key levers for scaling adoption by asset owners, financiers, tenants, designers, installers, and communities.

Initial returns are coming in. Electric intensity (electricity consumed per dollar of real GDP) fell in all but two years since 1996, drifting down by a total of 19 percent, but in 2012 alone, before correcting for weather, it fell by an unprecedented 3.7 percent. Spending on energy efficiency programs is way up and expected to keep climbing. Between 2006 and 2010, spending on utility energy efficiency programs more than doubled from $2 billion to $4.8 billion. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy forecast spending to double again by 2025, to $9.5–$10.8 billion under a medium scenario that merely maintains current energy efficiency policies. More aggressive efforts could see spending climb to $15.6–$16.8 billion. Increasingly propelled by utility- and customer-financed efficiency efforts (with utilities incented by changed rules that in 15 states for electricity and 20 for natural gas already reward utilities for cutting customers’ bills rather than for selling them more energy), stagnant or declining electricity demand is emerging as the “new normal,” according to The Brattle Group and Deloitte.

Just the new building codes that entered force in 2011–12 in half the states could about offset previously forecast electricity sales growth. And electricity demand could consistently shrink, dropping by one-fourth by 2050 despite a 2.6-fold bigger U.S. economy, if the lucrative efficiency gains described in Reinventing Fire were adopted over 20 years to the extent already achieved in the Pacific Northwest states. In sum, 2050 could see tripled U.S. energy productivity, on top of the more-than-doubling already achieved since 1975. That prize is worth trillions of dollars, with handsome financial returns—plus even bigger non-energy benefits we didn’t count.

Renewables Continue to Boom

The business of installing solar modules is booming. Germany took it to scale, 8 GW a year, and installed more PVs in a single month in 2011 and 2012 than the U.S. added all year. That volume also cut the German installed system cost to half ours, even though we all buy the same equipment. If the U.S. did that too, it’d have really cheap solar power, since Germany gets about as much sun as Alaska and far less than the mainland U.S. But even so, U.S. solar prices are now low enough that photovoltaics on your roof, financed with no down payment, can beat your utility bill in over a dozen states. In fact, solar accounted for 49 percent of new electric capacity installed during Q1 2013 and all new utility electricity generation capacity added to the U.S. grid during this March, according to SEIA and FERC.

The bottom line: windpower added 45 GW of global capacity in 2012, PVs about 32. These and other nonhydro renewables are continuing to win a quarter-trillion dollars’ private investment per year globally (more than all fossil and nuclear generation got) and may hit $500 billion per year or more in the foreseeable future. This is no longer a fringe activity: it’s the core of the global market and increasingly central to the United States’ energy landscape. Even so, fossil fuels enjoy hundreds of billions in global investment annually and $1.9 trillion annually in subsidies, according to IMF, so the transition is far from a foregone conclusion. But the tide may be turning.

Coal lost 28 percent of its U.S. market share to gas, renewables, and efficiency just in the past seven years, 19 percent in the past two years. “Booming” natural gas, meanwhile, saw renewable energy run a close second for new installed capacity through the first half of 2012, and in the second half of the year, new installed wind capacity alone pushed natural gas into second place. In such places as California and Texas, renewables are supplying increasingly significant amounts of electricity to the grid—in California last year, the state’s three largest shareholder-owned utilities generated 19.8 percent of their electricity from renewables, according to CPUC; Texas, leading the nation in installed wind capacity with nearly 13 GW by the end of 2012, generated more than 10 percent of its electricity from renewables in 2012, according to ERCOT, and in early 2013 was nearing 30 percent.

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At hearings before the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee on July 18, 2013, Mr. Frank Nutter, President of the ReInsurance Association of America repeated the longstanding concerns that the Insurance industry has about climate change.

The salient point is, that Insurance companies live and die by their ability to estimate risks. To that end, they hire the world’s smartest number crunchers to figure out how much exposure they have to things like extreme weather exacerbated by climate change.

Many climate deniers claim to be “conservatives” who believe in “free market principles”. Clearly, this is not the case. If they did, they would take seriously the concerns of insurers, who actually have to respond to real world market forces. Unlike deniers, I actually believe in the power of markets, and what they tell us.  If climate change does not exist, then some smart competitor will discount the “imaginary” risk of climate fueled extremes, undercut the prices of the big insurance giants, steal their business, and make them go away.

I posted some time ago on this.

Big re-insurer Munich Re (Re-insurers are companies that insurance companies go to for insurance) has been publishing their concerns about climate change hazards since 1973, and climate expert Peter Hoppe figured prominently in Welcome to the Rest of Our Lives, one of my most popular recent videos.

This graph from Munich Re compares storm, wind and flood events against geophysical events like volcanoes and earthquakes. If the “bigger populations” canard that climate deniers use to explain increased damages were valid, the geophysical component would track along with storms. It does not.

Mr. Nutter included several worthwhile warnings in his written testimony, along with revealing graphs, many from Munich Re.

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