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NASA satellite photos show, on the left, how much land in China’s Gobi Desert was covered by solar panels on October 15, 2012 and, on the right, how much was covered by them on May 22, 2105. The covered surface tripled in less than three years. (NASA via National Geographic)

Getting real.

National Geographic:

NASA satellites show part of China’s plan to meet its ambitious new UN pledge to cut carbon emissions: solar power.

On Tuesday, China said it would halt the rise in its heat-trapping emissions within 15 years and would boost its share of non-fossil fuel energy use to 20 percent by 2030. Its commitment, similar to the one it made last year in a joint U.S. agreement, comes ahead of UN climate talks in Paris in December.

China’s goal reflects how quickly it’s becoming the world’s leader in solar power. It produces two-thirds of all solar panels, and last year, it added more solar capacity than any other country, according to the International Energy Agency or IEA. Germany still has the most cumulative photovoltaic capacity, but second-place China will likely soon close the gap.

China’s spending big on renewable energy. Last year, it invested far more— a record $83.3 billion, up 39% from 2013—than any other country, according to a March report by the UN Environment Programme. The U.S., in second place, invested less than half as much.

Not surprisingly, China’s posted the largest gains worldwide in power generation from renewables, including solar, reports the most recent BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

“China is largely motivated by its strong national interests to tackle persistent air pollution problems, limit climate impacts and expand its renewable energy job force,” says Jennifer Morgan, director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute. She says China, now the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, can meet its climate pledge if it continues its renewables’ push.

Politico:

China appears ready to set a more ambitious climate change pledge by moving up the timeline for peaking its carbon emissions and opening the possibility of sending money to other countries to take action, according to EU sources close to the negotiations.

The declaration is expected no later than Tuesday, following parallel summits with China and the EU in Brussels,  and in New York with United Nations members.

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David Barber is a fascinating speaker and great personality in the arctic ice world.
His TED talk here dovetails nicely with the Stanford Research on Extreme weather profiled today, and yesterday’s piece on the risks of new Arctic Drilling.

If you are pressed for time, start at 9:14 for a paradoxical surprise – decrease in sea ice coincides with increase in hazards, due to new kinds of very unpredictable ice dynamics. Ironic and very significant for those interested in exploiting the melting Arctic, no?

At 11:05 there is a discussion of arctic effects on global jet stream circulation and weather patterns.

In March, Arctic sea ice reached the lowest maximum extent on record. That in itself is probably not an indicator of what the ice will do this summer. Far too much variability in the arctic system to characterize this early.

The dotted line in the graph represents the course of the record low 2012 season, and you can see that for much of the spring, this year’s  ice (blue) has tracked below that, recently poking somewhat higher.

But the melt season is upon us, so I’ll be checking and updating regularly.

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In the graph above, which is current as of this posting, you can see the March Low Maximum, as well as the course over the last few months.  I’m guessing that it won’t be till the second part of August that we’ll have a clear picture of what this year”s minimum will bring.

More on the study from last week, plus a new video from Stanford with author interviews.

Here is the territory where a real scientific debate and detective story is being played out. Not in whether human caused climate change is real, but rather, how human forcing of the climate is playing out in the complex interplay of natural cycles that make up the climate as humans experience it.

Stanford University:

Worldwide news reports of extreme weather events – oppressive heat, parching droughts, destructive storms – are increasingly common. A new study co-authored by Stanford and Princeton University researchers finds that trends in atmospheric circulation patterns can partially explain Earth’s increasingly severe weather. While scientists had previously surmised that the link existed, robust empirical evidence was lacking.

The study finds that overall increases in hot extremes and decreases in cold extremes in the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes are driven by a combination of changes in the amount of heat and moisture in the atmosphere as well as changes in atmospheric circulation patterns. Changes in the heat and moisture content of the climate system – called “thermodynamics” – can account for the majority of the observed changes in extreme temperature. However, shifts in the circulation of the atmosphere – called “dynamics” – have also altered the risk of extreme temperatures in some regions, according to the study published in Nature. The researchers suggest that the thermodynamic changes are consistent with rising greenhouse gas concentrations, but indicate that the cause of the changes in circulation patterns remains uncertain.

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We are, of course, going to need new sources of protein to feed the additional 2 billion or so mouths that are coming.
Look for this news item to be offered as proof of the UN’s secret Agenda 21 plan to take away our hamburger, then remember you read it here first.

Salon:

…now, national burger chain Wayback Burgers is taking a major step towards normalizing bug protein by adding Peruvian chocolate-flavored cricket powder to a limited-edition Oreo mud pie milkshake, starting July 1.
soylent2CNBC’s Katie Little reports:

Wayback’s bug-infused shake originally began as an April’s [sic] Fool’s joke this year to generate buzz. But the response was so positive when Wayback tested the item briefly on Long Island that the chain decided to actually add it to the menu for a limited time…

The current concoction is the result of testing about 20 to 30 different variations with five different flavors of cricket powder.

redonGuardian:

The Dalai Lama has endorsed the pope’s radical message on climate change and called on fellow religious leaders to “speak out about current affairs which affect the future of mankind”.

The spiritual Buddhist leader was speaking at Glastonbury festival on a panel discussing issues of global warming alongside Katharine Viner, the Guardian’s editor, and the Guardian columnist George Monbiot.

He praised the pope’s recent encyclical on climate change, which warned of the unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, adding that it was the duty of people to “say more – we have to make more of an effort, including demonstrations”.

The Dalai Lama, who will turn 80 next Monday, called for more pressure to be put on international governments to stop the burning of fossil fuels and mass deforestation and invest more in green energy sources.

He said: “The concept of war is outdated, but we do need to fight. Countries think about their own national interest rather than global interests and that needs to change because the environment is a global issue.

“It is not sufficient to just express views, we must set a timetable for change in the next two to four years.”

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America:

TIME magazine website published today an exclusive article outlining the response of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Climate Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis Laudato Si’, presented this morning at the Vatican.

The article starts with the words of His All-Holiness as follows:

In a series of seminars organized between 1994 and 1998 on the island of Halki off the coast of Istanbul in Turkey, we drew attention to the close connection between ecology and economy. Both terms share the Greek root oikos, which signifies “home.” It therefore came as no surprise to us that our beloved brother Francis of Rome opens his encyclical, which is being released today in the New Synod Hall of the Vatican, with a reference to God’s creation as “our common home.”

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Obviously, drilling for oil in the Arctic is a stupid idea. A lot of people are angry with President Obama for approving the new effort by oil giant Shell, which is nudging a huge rig up the coast of Alaska toward the Chukchi Sea.

But context is everything.  The President has followed a pattern of choosing his battles carefully in relation to climate. The playing field is changing rapidly – and Shell’s efforts in the arctic, in light of the current global price for oil, seem ill advised.
I’m not the only one that thinks so.

CBC:

Imperial Oil and BP have delayed plans to drill for oil in the Beaufort Sea off the Northwest Territories.

In a letter sent to the Inuvialuit Settlement Region’s Environmental Impact Review Board on Friday morning, Lee Willis, Imperial Oil’s exploration operations manager, says the companies have suspended all regulatory work for the project.

They had hoped to begin drilling by the summer of 2020, the same year one of their two exploration licences expires.

“However, under the current licence term, there is insufficient time to conduct the necessary technical work and complete the regulatory process,” Willis wrote.

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Deadly Daily in Delhi

Business Insider:

Ask anyone to name the most polluted city in the world and chances are the immediate response will be Beijing.

In truth, the Chinese capital is only half as polluted as the city in the top spot — Delhi.

In fact, 13 of the top-20 most polluted cities in the world, according a World Health Organization (WHO) report from last year, are in India.

This has led to fears for the health of children living in Asia’s third-largest economy.

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Mashable:

According to a recently published report in British medical journal, The Lancet, the trend toward more extreme weather, combined with the global trend toward urbanization, means the number of people who are exposed to higher temperatures will increase. The report went as far as calling climate change a “public health emergency.”

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