15 Year Climate Countdown

COUNTDOWN TO WHAT? 

Scientists tell us that we have basically a 15-year window within which to reverse the current destructive direction we are heading in, with CO2 emissions still on the rise.  We need decisive action to reduce greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere which is why we have started this resource page for scientific and political reports that highlight the urgency of the situation and visual resources that illustrate the problems and solutions.

All posts below first appeared in our newsletter: click here to subscribe.

APRIL 2014        MAY 2014         JUNE 2014         AUGUST 2014    SEPTEMBER 2014     OCTOBER 2014

From our APRIL 2014 newsletter

NEW SCIENTIFIC REPORTS ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Recent scientific studies emphasize that the window of opportunity for taking decisive action to avoid catastrophic climate change is rapidly closing.  On April 13, 2014, at a press conference in Berlin, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the report of Working Group III, “Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change.” This is the third installment of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report.

According to Justin Gillis’s New York Times article on the Working Group III report:

“In a report unveiled here, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that decades of foot-dragging by political leaders had propelled humanity into a critical situation, with greenhouse emissions rising faster than ever. While it remains technically possible to keep planetary warming to a tolerable level, only an intensive push over the next 15 years to bring those emissions under control can achieve the goal, the committee found.”

See: Justin Gillis, “Climate Efforts Falling Short, U.N. Panel Says,” New York Times, April 14, 2014

UN INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE (IPCC)

In 1988, the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Association (WMO) established the IPCC which comprises three working groups: Working Group I: The Science of Climate Change, Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, and Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change.

The IPCC website for the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) provides press releases, videos of the press conferences at which the reports were released, summaries for policymakers, and the texts of the complete reports. Here are excerpts of the press releases for the reports of Working Groups 1, II, and III for the Fifth Assessment Report: April 13, 2014, the report of Working Group III, “Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change.”
The press release for Working Group III states:

“A new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that global emissions of greenhouse gases have risen to unprecedented levels despite a growing number of policies to reduce climate change. Emissions grew more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three previous decades…
Scenarios show that to have a likely chance of limiting the increase in global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius, means lowering global greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 70 percent compared with 2010 by mid-century, and to near-zero by the end of this century. Ambitious mitigation may even require removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”

March 31, 2014, the report of Working Group II of the Fifth Assessment, “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability.”
The press release for the Working Group II report states:

“Future risks from a changing climate depend strongly on the amount of future climate change. Increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe and pervasive impacts that may be surprising or irreversible….Observed impacts of climate change have already affected agriculture, human health, ecosystems on land and in the oceans, water supplies, and some people’s livelihoods. The striking feature of observed impacts is that they are occurring from the tropics to the poles, from small islands to large continents, and from the wealthiest countries to the poorest.”

September 27, 2013, the report of Working Group I of the Fifth Assessment, “Climate Change 2013: the Physical Science Basis”
The press release for Working Group I states:

“It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. The evidence for this has grown, thanks to more and better observations, an improved understanding of the climate system response and improved climate models.

Warming in the climate system is unequivocal and since 1950 many changes have been observed throughout the climate system that are unprecedented over decades to millennia. Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850…”

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE (AAAS), March 2014, “What We Know: The Reality, Risks and Response to Climate Change” :

WORLD BANK, “Turn Down the Heat” 2012 and 2013 Reports. The 2012 Report is titled, “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4° C World Must be Avoided,” and the 2103 report is titled, “Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience.”
A summary report provides links to both reports.

VISUAL RESOURCES ON CLIMATE CHANGE

“YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY,” a new documentary on climate change, premiered on Showtime on Sunday, April 13 at 10:00 p.m.  If you missed it you can see the first episode online  and see the interview about the documentary that features New York Times columnist Tom Friedman and Heidi Cullen.  Heidi Cullen is the chief climatologist at Climate Central, a non-profit organization based in Princeton that provides updates and educational resources about climate change. Dr. Cullen is the author of The Weather of the Future: Heat Waves, Extreme Storms and Other Scenes from a Climate-Changed Planet (2010) which includes a chapter about how climate change is affecting NYC.

HBO “VICE” DOCUMENTARY SERIES, “GREENLAND IS MELTING

UPDATE ON GERMANY’S TRANSITION TO RENEWABLE ENERGY: “The Global Energy Challenge: Germany’s ‘Energiewende’ and Beyond,” a lecture by Professor Dr. Ferdi Schüth, Vice-President, German Research Foundation (DFG) and Director of the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung. This lecture, which was given on March 31 at the German Center for Research and Innovation, is now available on video.

From our MAY 2014 Newsletter

NEW SCIENTIFIC REPORTS ON CLIMATE CHANGE

– On May 12, the scientific journals Science and Geophysical Research Letters released reports that document the irreversible melting of the West Antarctica ice sheet. For a summary of these reports, see: Justin Gillis and Kenneth Chang, “Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans from Polar Melt,” New York Times, May 12, 2014

– NASA has selected the winners of NASA’s 2014 educational “REEL Science Communications” video contest (May 2014). The three winning videos were created by students in Huntington, New York, Santa Cruz, California, and Placerville, California. There were also six videos chosen as runners-up.

– Climate Central Report: “Melt of Key Antarctic Glaciers Unstoppable Studies Find.

– For how sea level rise will affect the U.S., see this interactive Climate Central website: http://sealevel.climatecentral.org

 

From our June 2014 Newsletter

NEW SCIENTIFIC REPORTS ON CLIMATE CHANGE

PLANETARY BOUNDARIES: HOW CAN WE CREATE A SAFE OPERATING SPACE FOR HUMANITY? 

Big Question: Is Earth Past the Tipping Point? Produced by the Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkkKZgKmdP4

In 2009, scientists at the Stockholm Resiliency Centre outlined the concept of nine planetary boundaries: stratospheric ozone layer, biodiversity, chemicals dispersion, climate change, ocean acidification, freshwater consumption and the global hydrological cycle, land systems change, nitrogen and phosphorus inputs to the biosphere and oceans, and atmospheric aerosol loading.

For a presentation explaining the nine planetary boundaries and how we can create a safe operating space for humanity, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgqtrlixYR4

Stockholm Resiliency Centre website
See also the book: Anders Wijkman and Johan Rockstrom, Bankrupting Nature: Denying Our Planetary Boundaries, (Routledge, 2012).

VISUAL RESOURCES ON CLIMATE CHANGE

For the video of President Obama’s May 31, 2014 weekly address explaining the new EPA guidelines on reducing carbon pollution from carbon plants, see:  http://youtu.be/li1aHjjqh3w

Click here for the transcript.

From our August 2014 Newsletter

“Shattering Myths to Help the Climate”, Robert H. Frank, New York Times, August 2, 2014

NEW SCIENTIFIC REPORTS ON CLIMATE CHANGE

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) State of the Climate 2013 report was released online on July 17 by the American Meteorological Society.

The NOAA press release entitled, “Climate data from air, land, see and ice in 2013 reflect trends of a warming planet,”  includes a link to the complete report.

See also: Andrew C. Revkin, “The Warming State of the Climate in 2013,” New York Times Dot Earth column, July 17, 2014:

Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the U.S.”  is a new report that can be found in its entirety at the Risky Business web site, which includes regional analysis and a video.
For an overview of this report, see Justin Gillis, “Bipartisan Report Tallies High Toll on Economy From Global Warming, “New York Times, June 24, 2014

VISUAL RESOURCES ON CLIMATE CHANGE

“A Fierce Green Fire,” is a documentary film that narrates the history of the environmental movement from conservationism to climate change activism in five chapters. This film is now available as a DVD at the website “A Fierce Green Fire“, including a trailer for the film.

The third U.S. National Climate Assessment Report released by the White House on May 6 concluded that “Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present.” The report depicts climate change impacts on various regions of the U.S., key sectors of the U.S. economy, such as transportation, energy supply and use, infrastructure, and agriculture, and several response strategies.

For an overview of this National Climate Assessment Report, see, Justin Gillis, “U.S. Climate Has Already Changed, Study Finds, Citing Heat and Floods,” New York Times, May 6, 2014.

From our September 2014 Newsletter

NEW SCIENTIFIC REPORTS ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Draft November 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report

Justin Gillis, “U.N. Draft Report Lists Unchecked Emissions’ Risks,”New York Times, August 26, 2014

White House Council of Economic Advisers Report on the Cost of Climate Change 

 “The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change,” Report of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, July 2014

For the New York Times article about this report, see: Coral Davenport, “White House Pushes Financial case for Carbon Rule,” July 29, 2014
COMMUNICATING CLIMATE CHANGE

Robert Jay Lifton, “The Climate Swerve,” New York Times, August 23, 2014

Robert H. Frank, “Shattering Myths to Help the Climate,” New York Times, August 2, 2004

VISUAL RESOURCES ON CLIMATE CHANGE

“HOME” – THE STORY OF THE HUMAN FOOTPRINT ON OUR PLANET.

This 2009 film was produced by Yann Arthus-Bertrand who created the GoodPlanet Foundation to raise global awareness about environmental issues.  Also, see a nine minute overview of “Home”

The complete film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqxENMKaeCU

INTERACTIVE MAP: IF ALL THE ICE MELTED ON THE PLANET

This interactive map, which appears in the September 2013 issue of National Geographic magazine, allows us to visualize what the coastlines of the world will look like with a sea level rise of 216 feet.

Mary Robinson: Climate justice and the post-2015 agenda,” Jan 14, 2014
Mary Robinson is United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Change and President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice. She is the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002) and the first woman President of Ireland (1991-1997).

Lester Brown’s youtube: Full Planet, Empty Plates,” November 2, 2012,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBH75p7QX4I           Lester Brown is an environmental analyst, founder of the Worldwatch Institute, and founder and president of the Earth Policy Institute, a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C.
From our October 2014 Newsletter

NEW SCIENTIFIC REPORTS ON CLIMATE CHANGE

The Global Rise in Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Warming of the Oceans:

Paul J. Durack, Peter J. Gleckler, Felix W. Landerer & Karl E. Taylor, “Quantifying underestimates of long-term upper-ocean warming,” Nature Climate Change, October 5, 2014

For the New York Times article on this report, see, Henry Fountain, “A Gulf in Ocean Knowledge,” New York Times, October 6, 2014

September 2014 Global Carbon Project annual report on 2013 global emissions http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/14/hl-compact.htm

For the New York Times article on this report, see, Justin Gillis, “Global Rise Reported in 2013 Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” New York Times, September 22, 2014

World Meteorological Association, September 9, 2014

The New Climate Economy Report:

September 2014 New Climate Economy report launched by The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate

For the New York Times articles on the New Climate Economy report, see:
Justin Gillis, “Fixing Climate Change May Add No Costs, Report Says,” New York Times, September 16, 2014

Eduardo Porter, “The Benefits of Curbing Carbon Emissions,” New York Times, September 24, 2014

The September 23, 2014 UN Climate Summit: The UN Climate Summit website

Michael Jacobs, The Guardian, September 24, 2014, “Five ways Ban Ki-moon’s summit has changed international climate politics forever”:

UN Climate Summit Pledges:

  1. Pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation
  2. Major Forest Announcements at UN Climate Summit:
  3. Corporate pledges: Justin Gillis, “Companies Take the Baton in Climate Change Efforts,” New York Times, September 24, 2014:
  4. Pledges in support of the World Bank declaration on carbon pricing: Coral Davenport, “President’s Drive for Carbon Pricing Fails to Win at Home,” New York Times, September 28, 2014:

VISUAL RESOURCES ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Global Carbon Atlas produced by the Global Carbon Project

Archive of the UN Climate Summit on the UN Web TV

“Home” – the story of the Human Footprint on our planet

 

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