I'm playing catchup with a backlog of links to be posted. This list pulls together a subsection of science and technology links dealing with the environment.
1. Bloomberg: Warring Dogmas Block Climate-Change Progress
... In 1981, [Julian] Simon proposed a bet. [Paul] Ehrlich could name any five metals, and by the end of the decade, Simon wagered, their prices would decrease, thus disproving Ehrlich’s claim that population growth would produce an increase in scarcity.
Ehrlich eagerly accepted. Working with like-minded scientists, he selected chromium, copper, nickel, tin and tungsten. In the 1970s, the market prices of all five had increased significantly (at least in nominal terms). Ehrlich was confident that as a result of population growth, the trend would continue.
But Simon won the bet, and it wasn’t even close. By 1990, the prices of each metal had decreased by an average of 50 percent, even though the decade had seen the largest global population growth in history (with 800 million additional people). To all appearances, Simon had been vindicated. ...
... As Sabin explains, it turns out that Simon was a lucky winner. Not long ago, economists ran a series of simulations for every 10-year period from 1900 to 2008. They found that with respect to the prices of the five metals on which Ehrlich and Simon bet, Ehrlich would have won 63 percent of the time.
But this doesn’t mean that Ehrlich was right. Because of macroeconomic factors, commodity prices are volatile, and they are a poor proxy for the effects of population increases. ...
... These decisions raise diverse questions, and each of them must be investigated on its own merits. For such problems, the noisy, headline-grabbing dogmas of Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon are a serious impediment to progress. The coming decisions will require careful exploration of costs and benefits, not abstract narratives about the supposed arc of history.
2. Nature: Climate change: The case of the missing heat
Sixteen years into the mysterious ‘global-warming hiatus’, scientists are piecing together an explanation.
The biggest mystery in climate science today may have begun, unbeknownst to anybody at the time, with a subtle weakening of the tropical trade winds blowing across the Pacific Ocean in late 1997. These winds normally push sun-baked water towards Indonesia. When they slackened, the warm water sloshed back towards South America, resulting in a spectacular example of a phenomenon known as El Niño. Average global temperatures hit a record high in 1998 — and then the warming stalled. ...
3. L. A. Times: A climate change of heart by the European Union?
Confronted by rising energy costs and international competition, the European Union's executive body has recommended relaxing rules on renewable energy with a plan that doesn't hold specific nations responsible for specific targets. The EU's member states and Parliament should reject it. The EU has been the leader on fighting climate change; if it shies away from its commitment now, similar efforts in the U.S. and around the world will almost surely suffer.
On a positive note, the recommendations call for creating an overall target of a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared with what they were in 1990. It's a worthy target, though environmentalists would like it to be even higher; the 28-nation bloc has reduced such emissions by 12% so far. By 2030, the EU is supposed to get more than a quarter of its energy from renewable sources. But the plan would eliminate binding agreements under which each member nation would have to meet certain targets. So which nations would be responsible for attaining the 2030 goal and how would they be held to it? That's unclear. In addition, the plan would loosen environmental regulations on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for natural gas.
Driving the changes are concerns about the struggling European economy. With energy costs higher because of reduced reliance on cheaper fossil fuels, European businesses are in a weak position to compete with those in nations without strong environmental rules. ...
4. The American Interest: End Result of Germany’s Green Energy Policy: More Coal
Germany produced more energy by coal last year than it has in nearly a quarter century. King Coal’s return comes courtesy of the energiewende—the policy put in place following the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The plan was to phase out the country’s numerous nuclear reactors and jumpstart its fledgling renewable energy industry, but coal has been forced to fill the gap. ...
5. The American Interest: Why Europe’s Greens Are Wrong, in Two Charts
Europe has so far snubbed shale gas and has been rewarded with rising electricity prices and a greater reliance on coal. The end result: America is reducing emissions faster than Europe:
If you go anti-science on nuclear safety, this is what you get. ;-)
6. Scientific American: New York City Greenhouse Gas Emissions Drop 19% Since 2005
New York City's greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by 19 percent since 2005, outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Monday, putting the city nearly two-thirds of the way to meeting the goal that Bloomberg set five years ago.
In Ethiopia the government has recently announced major deals that should massively increase the amount of electricity generated from renewable resources.
The BBC's Emmanuel Igunza has been finding out how Ethiopia is leading Africa in the drive to exploit sustainable energy supplies.
8. USA Today: How fast is the Earth's climate actually changing?
How quickly parts of the Earth's climate are changing in response to added greenhouse gases and what's forecast for decades ahead is a mixed bag, a federal advisory council says in a report out Tuesday. ...
... "Research has helped us begin to distinguish more imminent threats from those that are less likely to happen this century," said James W.C. White, professor of geological sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and chairman of the committee that wrote the report.
"Evaluating climate changes and impacts in terms of their potential magnitude and the likelihood they will occur will help policymakers and communities make informed decisions about how to prepare for or adapt to them," he added. ...
It’s the ultimate paradox: How to feed the world’s energy appetite while ensuring the planet’s endless survival. Reducing the use of coal and using more sustainable energy forms is the ultimate answer, the International Energy Agency says. But until then, the global community must strive to make coal cleaner.
10. BBC: Has the Sun Gone to Sleep (Video)
Scientists are saying that the Sun is in a phase of "solar lull" - meaning that it has fallen asleep - and it is baffling them.
History suggests that periods of unusual "solar lull" coincide with bitterly cold winters.
Rebecca Morelle reports for BBC Newsnight on the effect this inactivity could have on our current climate, and what the implications might be for global warming.
11. Christian Science Monitor: Antarctica warming tied to natural cycle in tropical Atlantic, study says (+video)
Rapid warming along the Antarctic Peninsula and puzzling shifts in the distribution and extent of winter sea ice at the bottom of the world appear to have their roots in a natural climate swing centered in the tropical Atlantic, according to a new study by researchers at New York University.
The warming of the region is of concern because of its implications for sea-level rise, while the shifting and slight increase in winter sea ice has become a favorite talking-point among many of global warming’s political skeptics. ...
12. It has become gospel, based on the Cook study, that 97% of scientist agree with the theory of human-caused global warming. Two stories:
... Stenhouse, a psychologist and doctoral student in communications at George Mason University, emailed all full members of the American Meteorological Society for whom he could find an email address and asked them to fill out an online survey on global warming. More than 1,800 AMS meteorologists filled out the survey.
Only 52 percent said global warming is occurring and is caused mostly by humans – which is itself a far cry from having 52 percent say humans are causing a global warming crisis. The results were a huge blow to the mythical notion that all or nearly all scientists agree that humans are causing a global warming crisis. This is especially the case considering the AMS survey reflected the views of scientists with atmospheric science expertise. This wasn’t a survey of engineers or other non-atmospheric scientists with little if any atmospheric science expertise. ...
And Popular Technology.net, 97% Study Falsely Classifies Scientists' Papers, according to the scientists that published them
The paper, Cook et al. (2013) 'Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature' searched the Web of Science for the phrases "global warming" and "global climate change" then categorizing these results to their alleged level of endorsement of AGW. These results were then used to allege a 97% consensus on human-caused global warming.
To get to the truth, I emailed a sample of scientists whose papers were used in the study and asked them if the categorization by Cook et al. (2013) is an accurate representation of their paper. Their responses are eye opening and evidence that the Cook et al. (2013) team falsely classified scientists' papers as "endorsing AGW", apparently believing to know more about the papers than their authors. ...