Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Australian, New Zealand students kick off global climate change strike
- Greta Thunberg nominated for Nobel peace prize
- World Bank chief says no rift with US over climate change
- My new plan to climate-proof lower Manhattan
- Countries look at ways to tinker with Earth’s thermostat
- Evolution of ocean heat content related to ENSO
- Arc-continent collisions in the tropics set Earth’s climate state
Thousands of schoolchildren walked out of lessons across Australia and New Zealand today, beginning a global student strike against government inaction on climate change, Reuters reports. More protests are more planned in Europe, Asia and the US today, including “deep in US oil country”, in the latest instalment of a worldwide student strike movement, started by the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg last August. The Guardian is live-blogging the marches, including those already underway in the cities of Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Bangkok, Hong Kong Delhi and Tokyo. Elsewhere in the same paper, Thunberg and other school climate strikers explain their motivation for protesting: “This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice. We knew there was a climate crisis…We knew, because everything we read and watched screamed out to us that something was very wrong.” In a separate comment piece, the UK Student Climate Network set out their “manifesto for tackling the climate change crisis”. “Failure is not an option”, they write, which is why they demand that the government declares a “climate emergency”, provides adequate education and communication to the general public on the “climate crisis” and lowers the voting age to 16.
The student’s movement has received vocal support from a number of quarters, including the March for Science, an “international community of scientists” who argue that scientists should support the strike in a piece for Scientific American. In a separate article in Scientific American, the climate scientists Peter Kalmus, Kate Marvel, Michael Mann, Katharine Hayhoe and Kim Cobb have written an open letter endorsing the students. Climate Home News reports that in the UK, general public and Conservative ministers back the school strikers, “in contrast to the prime minister’s early scepticism”, while Amnesty International’s director in Scotland described the strikes as “empowering” on the BBC Debate Night, and Guardian columnist George Monbiot writes that “the children on climate strike are right”. Press Association reports that the UK’s environment minister Michael Gove has released a video hailing the students: “Collective action of the kind you’re championing can make a difference, and a profound one,” he says. The Daily Telegraph reports that one headteacher has told pupils that they “must prove they care about the environment”, in an attempt to “clamp down on those hoping to exploit the rally and play truant”. Buzzfeed News, the New York Times, the Conservation, InsideClimate News, the Independent and DeSmog UK also have articles on the protests.
Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who founded the climate strike movement, has been nominated for the Nobel peace prize, the Guardian reports. The nomination comes “just before the biggest day yet of global action” – “hundreds of thousands of young people” are expected to strike in 1,659 towns and cities in 105 countries today. She was nominated by three Norwegian MPs, according to BBC News. Norwegian Socialist MP Freddy André Øvstegård said: “We have proposed Greta Thunberg [for the peace prize] because if we do nothing to halt climate change it will be the cause of wars, conflict and refugees.” National politicians and some academics can nominate candidates for the Nobel peace prize. In a tweet, Thunberg said she was “honoured and very grateful” to receive the nomination.
Kristalina Georgieva, the interim president of the World Bank, has said that the organisation will continue its efforts to tackle climate change despite the decision by the US to exit the Paris Agreement and the likely appointment of a senior Trump administration official at the helm of the institution, the Financial Times reports. Despite being the biggest shareholder in the World Bank, the US has not sought to shift World Bank policies on climate action, Georgieva told the FT in an interview in Nairobi. ‘The US, as a shareholder, has signed on to our capital increase package, including climate action”, she said. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the World Bank and the African Development Bank have announced a commitment of more than $47bn of climate finance by 2025, to help African countries tackle the effects of climate change.
Bill de Blasio, the current mayor of New York, has written a feature outlining his plan to protect lower Manhattan from the “national emergency” of climate change, in the New York Magazine’s Intelligencer. In a addition to “a new $615m sea wall that will protect the east shore of Staten Island”, he announced the investment of half a billion dollars “to fortify most of Lower Manhattan with grassy berms in parks and removable barriers than can be anchored in place as storms approach”. De Blasio writes: “Over the coming years, we will push out the Lower Manhattan coastline as much as 500ft…The new land will be higher than the current coast, protecting the neighbourhoods from future storms and the higher tides that will threaten its survival in the decades to come.” He adds that the coastal extension – which “could cost $10bn” – will secure lower Manhattan from rising sea levels “through 2100”. The New York Times, the Hill and the Guardian also cover Mayor de Blasio’s scheme.
A feature, originally appearing in the Economist’s print edition, examines why countries “could not arrive at a consensus” on the topic of solar geoengineering at a UN meeting in Kenya this week – the “first time that geoengineering has been discussed at such a level”. “Despite calls to map out the risks and benefits of geoengineering, progress on the international stage has been limited, in part, because it might detract from efforts to reduce emissions,” the Economist explains. “There is a bitter irony in the meeting’s outcome,” the paper says. “The only reason the world may need geoengineering is that talks about cutting emissions have gone on so long but achieved so little…Geoengineering, the toolbox that a decade ago nobody wanted, could end up stuck in the same international procedures as efforts to tackle the root cause of global warming.” Climate Home News also covered the UN meeting, reporting that the “US and Saudi Arabia blocked a Swiss push to develop geoengineering governance”.
The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) dominates the year-to-year variability of the ocean energy budget. This study combines ocean observations, re-analyses, and surface flux data with climate model simulations to obtain estimates of how ENSO redistributes energy in the Earth system. Results confirm that there is a strong ocean heat content cooling in the tropical Pacific Ocean during El Niño. The tropical Atlantic and Indian oceans warm during El Niño, the authors say, partly offsetting the tropical Pacific cooling for the tropical oceans as a whole. While there are distinct regional changes, many compensate each other resulting in a weak but robust net global ocean cooling during and after El Niño.
On multi-million-year timescales, Earth has experienced warm ice-free and cold glacial climates, but it is unknown if transitions between these were the result of changes in CO2 sources or sinks. Low-latitude “arc-continent collisions” are hypothesised to drive cooling by uplifting and eroding rocks in the warm, wet tropics, thereby increasing Earth’s potential to sequester carbon through chemical weathering. To better constrain global weatherability through time, the position of all major Phanerozoic arc-continent collisions was reconstructed and compared to the distribution of ice-sheets. This analysis reveals a strong correlation between the extent of glaciation and arc-continent collisions in the tropics. Earth’s long-term climate state is set primarily by global weatherability, which changes with the distribution of arc-continent collisions.
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