Today's climate and energy headlines:
- Four arrested after climate protesters spray fake blood across Treasury steps
- More than a quarter of UK mammals face extinction
- Trump administration's war on science has hit 'crisis point', experts warn
- Estonia backs European net zero carbon target. Poland loses an ally
- Energy secretary Rick Perry eyeing exit in November
- Climate change is the apartheid of our times
- The movement to take climate action has begun – but we have a long way to go
- Britain, struggling with Brexit, eyes another retreat. This one’s from fossil fuels.
- Extinction Rebellion is a bloody mess
- Drought plan must factor in climate change
- Eddy activity response to global warming-like temperature changes
Four people have been arrested after Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists sprayed the Treasury in central London with fake blood, reports the Press Association and many others. Police were called to Horse Guards Road yesterday morning after a fire engine sprayed a red liquid on the Treasury building. The Metropolitan Police later tweeted that “three men and one woman were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage”. A London Fire Brigade spokesperson told CNN that it was “not our fire engine”. The group had unfurled a banner urging the government to “stop funding climate death”, notes Sky News. One of the four protestors was an 83-year old man, says Reuters. The group “splattered the main HM Treasury…for several seconds until they lost control of the hose,” says the Guardian, “drenching a bystander as 1,800 litres of an organic liquid containing beetroot spurted out wildly across the street”. This “left enormous puddles on the pavement”, says the Daily Telegraph. One of the protestors explained that “the red symbolises the people dying now in the global south and also the people who are going to start dying from climate change all around the world if we do nothing”, reports the Daily Mirror. Another tells the Metro that the liquid can be easily washed from the building. Conservative MP David TC Davies tells the MailOnline that “we were lucky it was just a group of climate change protesters with fake blood, next time it could be ISIS or Al Qaida with a machine gun. We need to make sure that government buildings are protected”. BBC News has a video clip of the stunt –and the Sun profiles XR, explaining “who they are and what they want to achieve”.
Meanwhile, the Times reports that “more than 20,000 Extinction Rebellion campaigners are threatening to paralyse central London next week in a fortnight of disruption”. The “international rebellion” will “bring roads around Westminster to a standstill with tens of thousands of protesters, and stage a sit-in at City Airport in London”, adds the Independent. Organisers say they are hoping to see several European capitals brought to a halt for the first time next week, including Madrid, Amsterdam, and Paris, reports BuzzFeed News.
More than a quarter of UK mammals are facing extinction, says BBC News, describing “a detailed and devastating report on the state of the natural world in the UK”. The latest State of Nature report, published by a coalition of wildlife charities, says one in seven species were threatened with extinction and 41% of species studied have experienced decline since 1970. The report adds “in grim detail”, says BBC News, “that almost one in five plants are classified as being at risk of extinction, along with 15% of fungi and lichens, 40% of vertebrates and 12% of invertebrates”. The report “blames intensive farming, pollution of rivers and streams, development destroying wildlife habitat and climate change for the declines”, says the Times. Or, as the MailOnline puts it: “Toxic pollution, climate change and relentless farming are pushing many species of wildlife to the brink of dying out in Britain.” Mark Wright of WWF-UK tells the Guardian: “We are in the midst of a nature and climate emergency right here at home.“ While the Wildlife Trusts tells the Daily Telegraph that “too often we’ve seen wildlife forced into fewer and smaller pockets of wild space, surrounded by urban development or intensive agriculture. This reduces nature’s resilience to climate change”. The Daily Mirror, Sky News, ITV News, New Scientist, Independent, BusinessGreen and the Conversation all cover the report.
A nonpartisan taskforce of former US government officials has warned that the treatment of science by the Trump administration has hit a “crisis point”, reports the Guardian. The report, published yesterday by the National Task Force on Rule of Law and Democracy, says that safeguards meant to ensure that government research is objective and fully available to the public have been “steadily weakening” under recent administrations and are now peaking under Trump, the Guardian adds. The report warns there are now “almost weekly violations” with the current administration attempting “not only to politicise scientific and technical research on a range of topics, but also, at times, to undermine the value of objective facts themselves”. One former US governor tells the New York Times that “while the threat to the independence of scientific data did not start with this administration, it has certainly accelerated of late”. Meanwhile, new peer-reviewed research shows the “tendency for Washington policymakers to not accept mainstream climate science is growing inside echo chambers and under President Trump”, reports Axios.
Estonia has joined a group of 24 European countries in favour of cutting emissions to net zero by 2050, reports Climate Home News. In an announcement yesterday, prime minister Jüri Ratas said the Estonian government unanimously supported the EU target, adding that supporting a European green deal was “the EU’s most important strategic goal for the future”. Estonia was one of four hold-out countries which blocked an EU-wide agreement for a carbon neutrality by 2050 target last June, notes Climate Home News, adding: “Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic have not yet agreed to the EU’s long-term decarbonisation goal.” EurActiv also has the story.
US energy secretary Rick Perry is expected to announce his resignation from the administration by the end of November, reports Politico. Speaking with “three people familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity”, Politico says Perry is expected to be replaced by deputy energy secretary Dan Brouillette. Perry – who “has aggressively promoted President Trump’s fossil fuel agenda” – will be “ending his run as one of the longest-serving cabinet members in a tumultuous administration”, says the New York Times. It adds: “The agency under his direction has tried and failed to prop up struggling coal and nuclear power plants, and has energetically trumpeted oil and gas development while overseeing plans to reduce funding for wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy.” One “Trump administration ally” tells the Washington Post that Perry would like to earn a private-sector salary “before hanging up his spurs”. A spokeswoman for the Energy Department declined to say if Perry would resign next month, telling the Hill that “while the Beltway media has breathlessly reported on rumours of Secretary Perry’s departure for months, he is still the Secretary of Energy and a proud member of President Trump’s cabinet. One day the media will be right. Today is not that day”.
“Corporations, financial institutions and socially conscious citizens must pull us back from the climate change abyss,” writes Demond Tutu, archbishop emeritus and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, in the Financial Times. While “forward-thinking young people are the change agents for tomorrow”, he says, “corporations and financial institutions must act today. They should join the more than 1,100 institutions with $11tn in assets who have announced that they are divesting [from fossil fuels]”. “Back in the 1970s and 1980s, one of our most important levers in overcoming apartheid was the support of global corporations that heeded the call to divest,” he explains: “Apartheid became a global enemy; now it is climate change’s turn.” Tutu concludes: “Boycotts, sanctions and divestment ultimately proved effective in South Africa because the underlying cause had a critical mass of support, both inside and outside the country. That required a mindset shift. This time, the whole world must recognise that attempting to perpetuate the status quo is to damn future generations to violence and insecurity.”
Writing in the Guardian, António Guterres – secretary general of the United Nations – looks back at the steps taken at the recent Climate Action Summit in New York. “More than 70 countries committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050…more than 100 cities did the same, including several of the world’s largest,” he says, and “at least 70 countries announced their intention to boost their national plans under the Paris agreement by 2020”. Yet, while “these steps are all important…they are not sufficient”, he warns. “Our planet needs action on a truly planetary scale,” he writes, noting that “too many countries still seem to be addicted to coal – even though cheaper, greener options are available already”. For the commitments already made, Guterres says he will make sure they “are accounted for”. Starting with the UN climate conference in Chile in December, “the UN is united in support of realising these initiatives”, he says.
New York Times international climate reporter Somini Sengupta has a feature on the “epic transformation…underway in Britain” that is occurring in “the shadow of a noisy, turbulent Brexit”. She writes: “A leading industrial power that built itself on coal and colonialism, Britain is now trying to pivot away from the fossil fuels that powered the industrial age. The government has set a legally binding target to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.” She points out that “Britain’s historical emissions are the fifth highest in the world”, quoting Carbon Brief data. The “good news for Britain is that climate action enjoys widespread political support in an otherwise polarised society,” she notes. However, the “bold promise” of net-zero is coming up against the “the mess known as Brexit”, she says: “At a time of peak political dysfunction, the government has not implemented the policies needed to get to net-zero, nor mapped out how it will pay for the transition.”
A Daily Telegraph editorial rails against Extinction Rebellion after its latest protest outside the Treasury in London. “Believe it or not, this was one of Extinction Rebellion’s less ridiculous acts”, it says: “They have also threatened to shut down an airport and activists have climbed atop trains and glued themselves to the sides, bringing the public transport system they presumably love to a halt and ruining things for commuters.” Protestors must be “quite naive not to realise the damage being done to one’s own cause”, it says, warning that: “The green movement is splitting in two. On the one hand, many governments, of both Left and Right, are getting on with the job, while business innovates and consumers change their habits. On the other hand, a small band of clowns dominate air time with what often resembles silent-era slapstick comedy.” An editorial in the Sun decries the “infantile” fake blood protest and says the police “must be ruthless in preventing” the planned protests next week. It adds: “No jolly coppers dancing and banging tambourines. Just rigid enforcement of the law.”
Elsewhere in the Daily Telegraph, columnist Jemima Lewis criticises teenage climate protestor Greta Thunberg, writing that “ideological purity has always been the vice of the young”. Commenting on Thunberg’s recent speech to the UN climate summit, Lewis asks: “What about the millions lifted out of poverty on the watch of the older generation? What about soaring life expectancy; the halving of child mortality rates; the dramatic improvements in global health and literacy? Is all this part of the Great Betrayal?” (The Hill reports that Thunberg is odds-on favourite to be awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.) Lewis defends BP’s sponsorship of the Royal Shakespeare Company, pointing out that “since 2013, BP has funded a £5 ticket scheme to encourage young people to visit the RSC. This will now end, after school strike activists argued that a fossil fuel company – even one at the cutting edge of sustainable energy development – was unfit to pay for their seats.” Meanwhile, Times deputy books editor James Marriott writes that “my generation is right to say no to BP sponsorship”. He says: “Why should young people accept free theatre tickets from a company that is contributing to the destruction of their futures? Perhaps the programme was meant as some sort of pre-emptive apology.”
A new $100m government support package for drought-hit communities “ignores the crucial issue of what to do if the scientists are right and droughts are becoming longer and more frequent”, says an editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald. The paper says it “backs drought assistance to help farmers cope but it should be fair and efficient and it should be designed to encourage farmers to adjust to the new climate conditions”. It continues: “Many economists are concerned more deeply that the cash will distort farmers’ decisions about how to react to the changing climate. For instance, some drought assistance compensates farmers who decided not to manage their risk by selling stock at a better price early in the drought.” Climate change “will reshape Australia’s rural society”, the article concludes: “Some farmers will adjust their methods and succeed. Some will decide to sell up their farms to big businesses and do something else. Governments should help those in need but rural Australia must accept that the times are changing.”
Global warming projections show anomalous temperature increase at the Arctic surface and at lower latitudes in the upper troposphere. The Arctic amplification decreases the meridional temperature gradient, and simultaneously decreases static stability. These changes have opposing effects on “baroclinicity” – a measure of the stratification in a fluid. In this study, an idealised general circulation model was used to analyse the effect of Arctic amplification and lower latitude upper level warming on eddy activity. They found that both the Arctic amplification and lower latitude upper-level warming could potentially lead to both decreases and increase in eddy activity in different regions, depending on the exact temperature changes.
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