Wednesday, February 27, 2013

World cools on global warming as green fatigue sets in

Worldwide concerns about climate change have dropped dramatically since 2009

Public concern about environmental issues including climate change has slumped to a 20-year low since the financial crisis, a global study reveals.
Fewer people now consider issues such as CO2 emissions, air and water pollution, animal species loss, and water shortages to be “very serious” than at any time in the last two decades, according to the poll of 22,812 people in 22 countries including Britain and the US.
Despite years of studies showing the impact of global warming on the planet, only 49 per cent of people now consider climate change a very serious issue – far fewer than at the beginning of the worldwide financial crisis in 2009.
Worries about climate change first dropped in industrialised nations but they have now also fallen in developing economies including Brazil and China, according to the survey by GlobeScan Radar.
The declining interest in climate change comes amid a backlash against costly green energy investments in an age of austerity. David Nussbaum, head of WWF UK, said “sustained pressure” was required from political leaders to combat climate change. He said it was only when “real indicators” of climate change came, such as floods and droughts, that public perceptions changed.
He told The Independent: “Of course people’s concerns about climate change changed in 2009 when economic pressures were rising… [But] the problems haven’t gone away… There are longer-term concerns that may not seem imminent that are extremely serious. A skilled political leader has got to grapple with how you act and respond to the immediate pressure people feel while helping [to take] account of the wider concerns and interests.”
Campaigners said the “perceived seriousness” of climate change had also fallen sharply since the unsuccessful UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen in December 2009. The summit ended in what was described as “confusion, disagreement and disarray” as political leaders failed to agree a legally binding deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Graham Thompson, a spokesman for Greenpeace, said: “The public can see that the response of our politicians is completely inadequate to the threat scientists have revealed, and that dissonance is reflected in these polls.”
Doug Miller, chairman of GlobeScan, said: “Evidence of environmental damage is stronger than ever, but our data shows that economic crisis and a lack of political leadership mean that the public are starting to tune out.”
The Department of Energy and Climate Change reiterated the view of Ed Davey, Climate Change Secretary, that “the basic physics of climate change is irrefutable”.
The GlobeScan survey found that water pollution is viewed as the most serious environment problem worldwide with 58 per cent of people polled saying it represents a very serious concern.

Global Warming Hoax propaganda

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Can NASA Stop Global Warming?

LOS ANGELES – In 1961, President John F. Kennedy asserted that the United States “should commit itself to achieving the goal…of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth,” by the end of the decade. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration accepted the challenge. From 1969 to 1972, NASA’s Apollo program achieved six manned landings on the moon – missions that expanded human knowledge, stimulated economic growth, bolstered America’s geopolitical standing at a critical time, and inspired people worldwide.
This illustration is by Dean Rohrer and comes from <a href=""></a>, and is the property of the NewsArt organization and of its artist. Reproducing this image is a violation of copyright law.
Illustration by Dean Rohrer
Since then, NASA has repeatedly overcome adversity in pursuit of important breakthroughs and achievements, including exploring the solar system with robotic spacecraft, peering deep into the universe with space telescopes, and building the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. These successes far outweigh NASA’s few failures.
But, since the Apollo program, NASA has lacked a clear, overarching goal to guide its activities. To drive progress in crucial areas, the agency needs a compelling vision that is consequential and relevant to current needs – and it is up to US President Barack Obama to define it.
Obama should challenge NASA to address one of today’s most important issues, global warming, by developing safe, cost-effective technologies to remove carbon dioxide from the planet’s atmosphere and oceans. This mission could be accomplished in two phases.During the first phase, which could be completed by 2020, researchers would identify roughly 10-20 candidate geo-engineering technologies and test them in small-scale experiments. The second phase would include large-scale test demonstrations to evaluate the most promising technologies by 2025.
Developing these technologies is crucial, given that, over the last half-century, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased from roughly 320 parts per million to almost 400 parts per million, heating up the planet and increasing the acidity of the world’s oceans. At this rate, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will exceed 450 parts per million in roughly 25 years.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that this increase will raise the average global temperature by roughly 2°C (3.6°F) over pre-industrial levels. It is widely agreed that exceeding this threshold would trigger the most devastating consequences of climate change. In other words, humanity has less than 25 years to stabilize the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Given this time constraint, decarbonization alone will be insufficient to avert irreversible, catastrophic climate change. In 2000-2011, the world decarbonized at an average annual rate of 0.8%. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimatesthat, given current trends, the concentration of atmospheric CO2 will exceed 500 parts per million by 2050, and 800 parts per million by 2100. According to a report by the professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, even if the world decarbonizes at an annual rate of 3% until 2050, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will rise to 750 parts per million, triggering an average global temperature increase of 4°C (7.2°F) over pre-industrial levels.
So, while the world should reduce its reliance on fossil fuels in favor of lower-carbon alternatives as quickly as possible, another approach is needed to avoid crossing the two-degree threshold. The best option is to develop technologies capable of removing large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere and oceans, offsetting emissions during the transition from fossil fuels. NASA is the best organization for this mission for several reasons.
Geo-engineering (large-scale intervention in the Earth’s climate system aimed at moderating global warming) could have severe unintended consequences. Developing such technologies safely and efficiently will require the kind of creativity, technical competence, understanding of planetary processes, international participation, and global monitoring capabilities that NASA is best equipped to provide.
In a sense, global warming itself is a massive geo-engineering experiment with unknown consequences. NASA’s international experience will enable researchers to explore the options fully, and to develop the most effective technologies for reducing this ongoing experiment’s risks. And NASA’s reputation for comprehensive scientific inquiry will minimize suspicion about the effectiveness of the solutions that it develops – and the associated risks.
The natural processes by which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and oceans work too slowly to offset current emissions without intervention; NASA’s success will rest on its ability to expedite and accelerate these processes. Promising potential solutions include causing CO2-absorbing rocks to weather more quickly, expanding practices and technologies in farming and forestry that sequester carbon in soil, and fertilizing the ocean to stimulate the growth of plants that consume and sequester CO2.
Far from conflicting with other, more traditional NASA programs, this mission would help to reinvigorate NASA and give its other programs greater focus and significance. This new, overarching vision would motivate NASA to gain a better understanding of the planetary processes that may affect Earth’s future, and to advance its capability to influence these processes if needed. Ultimately, this knowledge could be NASA’s greatest contribution to the world.
We do not have to decide today whether to implement geo-engineering technologies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and oceans. But, in order to ensure that they can be applied if and when they are needed, we must begin to develop them soon. Obama should act now, lest he miss this crucial opportunity to curtail global warming.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Geoengineering By Committee? Time To Get Totalitarian

Solar geo-engineering is one proposed approach to mitigating the effects of climate change - the idea being to deflect some of the sun's incoming radiation.

Ignoring the technology issues, in a world where countries can't even agree they contribute to greenhouse gases, the political uncertainties and geopolitical questions about who would be in charge of solar geo-engineering activity and its goals are daunting. A UN of climate change is the worst of all possible worlds. 

Social authoritarianism may be the way to go, according to modeling work from Carnegie's Katharine Ricke and Ken Caldeira and Juan Moreno-Cruz from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Their game-theoretic computer model found that a suitably powerful coalition would have incentive to exclude other countries from participating in the decision-making process about geo-engineering Earth. 
Though carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of coal, oil, and gas have decreased in developed nations, they have been increasing over the past decades due to greater emissions by developing nations. Feedbacks aside, no one disagrees that CO2 is bad. The idea behind solar geoengineering is to constantly replenish a layer of small particles in the stratosphere - basically duplicating the effect of volcanic eruptions, which scatter sunlight back into space.
"Attempts to form coalitions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have repeatedly hit the wall, because it's difficult to get everybody to participate in a substantive and meaningful way," Ricke said. "Members of coalitions to reduce emissions have incentives to include more countries, but countries have incentives not to participate, so as to avoid costs associated with emission reduction while benefiting from reductions made elsewhere."
The model developed by Ricke, Caldeira and Moreno-Cruz found that when it comes to geoengineering, the opposite is true. Smaller coalitions would be more desirable to the participants, not less, because those members could set the target temperature to their liking without having to make everyone happy.

And excluded countries would want to 'get with the program' if they they could move the thermostat in the direction that better suits their interests. Since the costs of geoengineering are lower than mitigation, once a coalition has formed and has successfully implemented geoengineering, it would have an incentive to exclude permanently other willing participants.  
"My view, aside from any technical result, is that it should remain a central goal to maintain openness and inclusiveness in geoengineering coalitions, so that all people who want a voice in the decision-making process are able to have that voice," Caldeira said.

 Published in Environmental Research Letters