Monthly Archives: July 2018

Sustainable Agriculture – According to Monsanto

Monsanto Company
Published on Jul 31, 2018

How climate change makes the Carr Fire more likely

Climate State
Published on Jul 31, 2018

Several specific conditions are feeding the Carr fire. Afternoon temperatures have peaked in the triple digits around Redding, Calif., since early last week. On Wednesday, the high was 107 degrees. At the same time, winds that were persistent but manageable earlier in the day picked up, gusting to 21 mph. The dew point — a measure of how much moisture is in the air — dropped precipitously through Thursday afternoon until humidity was 10 percent as the temperature reached 110 degrees.

On top of that, the soil in Northern California is exceptionally dry. A hotter-than-average summer and a very dry winter have led to tinder-dry vegetation. When it ends Tuesday, this month will become Redding’s hottest July on record, with an average temperature of 86.7 degrees. The energy release component, or how much fuel is available for the fire, is at the highest it has been around Redding since at least 1979.

Beheading Dragons: Streamlining China’s Environmental Governance

Published on Jul 16, 2018

In March, China’s National People’s Congress passed sweeping reforms to streamline environmental governance in order to more rapidly mitigate China’s crushing air, water, and soil pollution. Natural resource and pollution regulation have long been fragmented and managed by overlapping bureaucracies in China, leading to infighting and buck passing. The Chinese idiom “nine dragons rule the waters” (jiu long zhi shui) aptly captures how nine different government agencies have competed to regulate water. Under today’s reforms, China’s lead environmental watchdog—newly renamed Ministry of Ecological Environment (MEE)—will share water regulation with the Ministry of Water Resources, decreasing nine dragons to two. Another major dragon-slaying reform was to grant most regulatory power over climate change to MEE, a move that will require this newly reconfigured agency to become significantly more powerful than its earlier incarnation.

On July 12, CEF has invited three speakers to unpack the drivers and impacts of this major reform in China. Liu Zhuoshi (Environmental Law Institute) will detail how legal and regulatory authorities around pollution and climate issues are changing. He will also reflect on hurdles Chinese government faces to expand these reforms at the subnational level. Hu Tao (WWF – U.S.) will explore how the new MEE could act more holistically to manage complex pollution issues, like a better coordination on the joint management of air pollution and carbon emission regulations. Liu Shuang (Energy Foundation China) will reflect on the implication of China’s recent governance reforms on efforts to create a national carbon emissions trading systems and what other policies and institutional changes are needed to make it succeed.

Whats New in EndNote X9

Published on Jul 31, 2018

An overview of the new features in EndNote X9

England Wikileaks founder free on bail

The Ring of Fire   Published on Jul 31, 2018


Yanis Varoufakis on Brexit: ‘How can these smart people be so deluded’ – BBC Newsnight

Reinventing Islands

Islands innovate to thrive in a high-stress world

By Megan Rowling July 23, 2018

When the Caribbean island of Barbuda was battered by Hurricane Irma last September, about 90 percent of homes were destroyed or damaged, and the entire population had to be evacuated.

Since the school year ended last month, the pace of families returning from neighbouring Antigua – where many lodged with relatives or in state-run centres – has picked up, even though reconstruction is unfinished, the Red Cross said.

Almost half of Barbuda’s roughly 1,800 people have gone back, as the cash-strapped, twin-island nation works on ways to protect people from future disasters while waiting for promised aid funds to rebuild homes – which could take years.

“It’s going to be a long and painful process,” Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“We just have to rely mostly on our resources, and to find creative ways to generate income to continue the recovery efforts.”

In the face of serious and growing threats, experts detect a sea change in many of the world’s 57 small island states and other remote island economies that share development challenges.

They are finding innovative alternatives to lurching from one crisis to the next – whether the problem is extreme weather, mass tourism, plastic waste, water shortages or migration.

Barbuda, aware it will take time to get back on its feet even as this year’s hurricane season began in June, aims to stay safer in future – like many of its Caribbean neighbours.

Brennan Banks, Red Cross operations manager for the Irma response, said the aid agency plans to build a new office on Barbuda that can double up as an emergency shelter.

It is also offering free first-aid training to locals and fixing up rainwater-collection systems, while working with the government to improve early warning on the two islands.

Such solutions – often developed at least partly with islands themselves – are already improving lives, and protecting communities and environments on a small scale.

But their fledging efforts need far more funding to make a difference – and lessons learned in these living laboratories must be shared widely, say officials and resilience experts.

…(read more).

Climate experts now cite global warming during extreme weather disasters



“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” Rahm Emanuel, former President Barack Obama’s first chief of staff, once said.

The spirit of the now-mayor of Chicago’s words live today among climate change researchers and activists, who are using a string of emergencies around the globe to draw attention to human-driven global warming.

With deadly wildfires scorching Greece and California, drought throwing Capetown, South Africa, into a water crisis and deadly heat searing Japan, just days after flooding killed 150, the signs of an over-stressed planet seem everywhere.

For many who study such calamities, the moment cries out for an explanation and offers an opportunity.

“Obviously, the first order of business in extreme events like these is protecting public safety and coping with the tragedy,” said Ben Strauss, CEO of Climate Central, a Princeton, New Jersey-based non-profit that helps educate the public about global warming. “But it’s also important to understand why these things are happening and why we can expect more and more of them. And the reason is climate change.”

Experts previously have been hesitant to attribute specific extreme weather events, or wildfires, to climate change. But there is now a developing consensus that scientists can be more precise and forceful in connecting some extreme weather events to a warming planet.

A feature article in the journal Nature Monday suggested that “attribution” research is allowing scientists to connect more weather anomalies — particularly heat waves, droughts and wildfires — to global warming. The article said that scientists had completed “attribution” studies on 190 extreme weather events between 2004 and the middle of 2018. In about two thirds of those cases, the researchers concluded the events had been made more likely, or more severe, because of humanity’s role in warming the Earth.

…(read more).

2008 crash now an economic case study

In 2008, in the throes of the global financial crisis, the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, received a briefing on the turmoil in the international markets from academics at the London School of Economics. She posed a devastatingly simple question to them: “Why did no one see it coming?” Her slightly flummoxed academic host replied “Because at every stage, someone was relying on somebody else and everyone thought they were doing the right thing.”

We don’t know whether that answer satisfied the Queen but four years later a group of students at Manchester University in northwest England registered their acute dissatisfaction with the failure of the economics profession as a whole to forecast the crisis and warn policymakers, companies and individuals of the dangers they were facing. They formed an association called the Post-Crash Economics Society — to lobby for changes in the teaching of the discipline.

“I wanted to study economics to make sense of this big issue – the financial crisis — which nobody really seemed to have foreseen, nobody really seemed to understand at the time,” said Cahal Moran, one of the founders of the society. “But I was very disappointed. In the first year of economics at Manchester, the financial crisis wasn’t even mentioned.”

Maeve Cohen, a fellow student at Manchester, was also appalled by the omission.

“I find it completely inexcusable that the global financial crisis, four years after it happened, wasn’t mentioned in the core economics modules. It was absolutely unforgivable in my opinion,” Cohen told Marketplace.

…(read more).

World Weather Attribution – Extreme science for extreme events

World Weather Attribution (WWA) is an international effort to analyze and communicate the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events, such as storms, extreme rainfall, heat waves, cold spells, and droughts.

Recognizing society’s interest in reducing the human, economic, and environmental costs of weather-related disasters, WWA delivers timely and scientifically reliable information on how extreme weather may be affected by climate change.

WWA is a partnership of the University of Oxford Environmental Change Institute (Oxford ECI), the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climate et de l’Environment (LSCE), the University of Princeton, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (the Climate Centre). WWA was initiated in late 2014 after the scientific community concluded that the emerging science of extreme event attribution could be operationalized.

Identifying a human fingerprint on individual extreme weather events —“probabilistic extreme event attribution” — has been an important goal of the scientific community for more than a decade. In 2004, Prof. Peter Stott of the UK Met Office and his colleagues, published a paper in Nature showing that climate change had at least doubled the risk of the record-breaking 2003 European summer heat wave that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people.

Since then, advances in the field have prompted numerous studies, leading the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) to dedicate an annual special issue to extreme event attribution for the past four years. The 2016 BAMS special issue, Explaining Extreme Events of 2015 from a Climate Perspective, stated that “The science has now advanced to the point that we can detect the effects of climate change on some events with high confidence .“ In addition, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine issued a report in 2016, Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change, that states, “In the past, a typical climate scientist’s response to questions about climate change’s role in any given extreme weather event was ‘we cannot attribute any single event to climate change.’ The science has advanced to the point that this is no longer true as an unqualified blanket statement.”

WWA applies a unique scientific approach that combines observational data, analysis of a range of models, peer reviewed research, and on-the-ground reports. This innovative combination, built on existing, peer reviewed methods, enables us to conduct more rapid analyses and provide faster answers to pressing questions about high-impact events – how strong the likelihood is, for example, of similar weather-related disasters in the future.

WWA considers all types of extreme weather events, including extreme heat and cold, heavy rainfall and floods, droughts, heavy snowfall, and storm surges. In cases where the probability of the event appears to have been changed due to climate change, we quantify the size of that change in order to assess the scale of the contribution from global warming. The types of events for which a quantitative analysis can be performed will expand as new attribution techniques become available and the science matures.

“The goal of this ambitious effort is to use peer reviewed science to provide decision makers, the public, and the media with early, science-based answers to the questions of whether and to what extent global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions played a role in an event’s probability and magnitude,” said Dr. Friederike Otto, of the ECI. “Our team believes that a careful science-based assessment is extremely valuable, even in cases where we can’t provide hard numbers,“ said Dr. Maarten van Aalst, Director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. “It is important to recognize that “we don’t know” or “there is no significant trend” are also valid findings.” This work also helps to answer questions about trends in risk and vulnerability, and the role of human activity in extreme weather.

WWA’s mission is supported by the 2016 BAMS special issue, which concluded, “Progress in managing risks from extreme events can only be made if the foundational pillars of observations, modeling, and our understanding of the physical processes that drive extreme events and their relationship to climate change also continue to improve. Continued investments in climate science at all levels are crucial not only in the next five years, but for the foreseeable future.”

By providing a clear scientific statement, WWA injects more rigorous analysis and science-based information into coverage of — and public knowledge and discourse on — extreme weather and its relationship with climate change.