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Daily Briefing

05.08.2019
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING July heatwave ‘made 3C hotter’ by climate change, says report
July heatwave ‘made 3C hotter’ by climate change, says report

News.

July heatwave 'made 3C hotter' by climate change, says report

The heatwave across northern Europe in July was up to 3C hotter than it would have been without climate change, according to a study reported by Sky News and many others. Sky quotes the snap analysis from World Weather Attribution saying there is “extremely little chance” some of the temperature highs could have been recorded without human-caused warming. The analysis found that July’s heatwave was made both more intense and more likely, BBC News reports. It says the event in France was made up to 100 times more likely by human activities and that in the UK at least twice as likely. The July heatwave would have been “extremely unlikely” without climate change, the study says, according to Reuters. The Press Association quotes the report saying that heat records were broken at some UK stations that have been monitoring the weather continuously for more than 200 years. The Daily Telegraph quotes one of the study authors saying: “Every European heatwave we and others have analysed was found to be made much more likely and more intense due to human-induced climate change, so it was not surprising that climate change played a role.” Associated Press quotes another of the study authors saying the record heat should be seen as a sign of things to come and asking: “What will be the impacts on agriculture? What will the impacts on water?…This will put really tension in society that we may not be so well equipped to cope with.” And InsideClimate News reports on the “dying orchards [and] missing fish” in Europe, which it links to the heatwave. Carbon Brief has the story, of course.

AFP and several others report the heatwave findings alongside news that July has been judged equal to or possibly even hotter than the hottest month ever recorded, on a global basis. The Guardian also reports both pieces of news, saying the July record heat follows the warmest June on record for the world. MailOnlineCNN and Bloomberg also have the stories together while BBC News, the Independent and the Hill have separate pieces covering July being reported “marginally” the hottest month ever recorded. Quartz has a piece explaining “what it was like living through the hottest month in Earth’s recorded history”.

The New York Times focuses its coverage of the European heatwave attribution study on the warmth having moved over Greenland “causing the surface of the island’s vast ice sheet to melt at near-record levels”. Its piece, trailed in a striking photo on the paper’s front page, says that around 60% of the ice area in Greenland was seeing surface melt last Wednesday. The melt extent this year is well above average, it reports, but falls short of the record seen in 2012. The Washington Post also links the European heatwave to a “major melt event” in Greenland, including what it calls “jaw-dropping” animations comparing this year’s surface melt to the “relatively cool summer” last year. BuzzFeed News has “stunning photos” of the “major melt event”. E&E News also makes the link between the heatwave and ice loss and quotes a scientist saying the melt in Greenland is a “glimpse of the future”. Surface melting in Greenland has this year extended to areas last affected in the record summer of 2012 – and before that only in 1889 and then 700 years earlier, E&E News reports. [A Breitbartpiece by James Dellingpole says the unusual melt was due to “this shocking weather event known as ‘summer’”.] The Guardian says the July heatwave amplified “near-record levels of ice melt in [the] northern hemisphere”, with Greenland losing more ice in the past month than it does in an average year. Several other publications, including Associated Press, report on the melt in Greenland. Sky News covers the story, saying the melt “will contribute to sea levels rising”. MailOnlineLad Bible and Channel 4 News say Greenland lost more than 10bn tonnes of ice in one day last week. CNN says this is equivalent to more than 4m Olympic swimming pools of water – and according to EOS it was the largest volume of ice lost in any single day, in records going back to 1950. The Independent says the island’s ice sheet lost runoff equivalent to 0.5mm of sea level rise in July alone, with a second piece from the paper saying rising seas due to Greenland melt “threatens coastal cities around the world”. The Hill carries a comment piece on the under the headline: “Greenland’s ice wasn’t expected to melt like this until 2070.”

Sky News Read Article
We must change food production to save the world, says leaked report

Cutting carbon from transport and energy will not be enough to meet global temperature goals, reports the Observer, citing a leaked draft of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that is due to be published on Thursday. The draft “states that it will be impossible to keep global temperatures at safe levels unless there is also a transformation in the way the world produces food and manages land”, the Observer says. BBC News previews the IPCC report, saying: “Scientists are poised to deliver a stark condemnation of the damage we are wreaking on the land surface of the planet. We have degraded soils, expanded deserts, felled forests, driven out wildlife, and drained peatlands. In the process, we have turned the land from an asset that combats climate change into a major source of carbon.” Press Association reports that campaigners are calling for “urgent transformation” of the way the world’s land is used, ahead of the IPCC report being published. Climate Home News offers “nine solutions to the food-forests-fuel trilemma” in its preview of the IPCC report, saying: “The UN climate science body is expected to warn of increasing pressure on land use to meet climate and development goals. Here are ways to limit the conflict.” The IPCC previously responded to news coverage of leaked drafts by saying “the text can change between the drafts and the final version”. Carbon Brief will be publishing a special series of articles this week on land and climate change ahead of the IPCC report’s formal approval and publication on Thursday.

The Observer Read Article
Whaley Bridge dam: heed flood defence warning, experts urge

The ongoing scare over Whaley Bridge dam is a “warming of the potentially disastrous consequences of failing to build new infrastructure to cope with the climate emergency, experts have said”, reports the Guardian. Reuters reports that the military was called in to help sure up the dam – visited by prime minister Boris Johnson on Friday – in an effort to stop it collapsing, after intense rainfall caused it to overflow and damage its retaining wall. The dam is one of many around the world “not designed for ever more extreme rainfall as the planet warms”, reports New Scientist. It explains: “Dams are typically designed to cope with a so-called 1-in-100-year flood event. But as the world warms the odds of extreme rainfall are changing, meaning the risk of failure is far greater. Engineers have been warning for years that many old dams around the world are already unsafe and need upgrading or dismantling.” In the Conversation, Prof Hayley Fowler of Newcastle University writes: “I’m not surprised that we are seeing flash flooding and I expect it to get worse in the future.”

The Guardian Read Article

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Energy suppliers call on the Government to support construction of new onshore wind farms

“Some of the biggest green energy suppliers in the UK have called on the government to support the construction of new onshore wind farms,” reports the Sunday Telegraph. In a letter to ministers, the firms say onshore wind will be “critical” to meeting the UK’s net-zero emissions target at lowest cost, the paper reports. It adds that the technology is the “cheapest” source of renewable energy but is “blocked from taking government subsidies and is banned from competing in the state-backed clean energy contract auctions”. The Mail on Sunday also has the story, saying it can “reveal that bosses at ScottishPower and SSE have lobbied government at the highest levels in recent days”. Separately, the Daily Telegraph reports that “a no deal Brexit will weaken Britain’s fight against climate change” because contingency plans for a carbon tax to replace the EU Emissions Trading System would make it cheaper to pollute in the UK.

The Sunday Telegraph Read Article

Comment.

The Times view on Bolsonaro and the Amazon: Cost of the Climate

“The Brazilian president threatens to turn back recent progress in the world’s largest rainforest,” says an editorial in today’s Times. It says: “Mr Bolsonaro certainly regards Brazil’s own environmental regulations as a conspiracy against economic development. In April the environment minister, Ricardo Salles, dismissed 21 of 27 state heads of the environmental protection agency, on the president’s order. Twenty of them have yet to be replaced.” It continues: “The nasty rhetoric is now beginning to count…The loss of trees in the first three weeks of last month was three times that of July a year ago. The president has responded in typical fashion with the extravagant claim that the figures are a lie.” The Times also notes: “Jair Bolsonaro, the self-styled ‘Trump of the tropics’, has appointed as his foreign secretary Ernesto Araújo, who thinks that climate change is a Marxist plot to promote China.” It concludes: “Other nations should do what they can to bring pressure to bear on Mr Bolsonaro.” The Daily Telegraph reports that the head of Brazil’s space research agency is leaving his job following a “public dispute” with President Bolsonaro over the Amazon data. The New York Times says the agency head has been “fired”, with his dismissal “inciting protests from environmental organisations and public workers”. According to Reuters, the “sacked research chief” has said a sharp rise in Amazon deforestation is “undeniable”. He is quoted telling Reuters: “There is not the slightest doubt…Our data is absolutely correct.”

Editorial, The Times Read Article
Climate could be an electoral time bomb, Republican strategists fear

A front-page feature in Saturday’s New York Times reports concerns among some Republican strategists that younger voters, including conservative ones, rate climate change among their highest priorities. The piece, by climate reporter Lisa Friedman, says: “In conversations with 10 GOP [Republican] analysts, consultants and activists, all said they were acutely aware of the rising influence of young voters…who in their lifetimes haven’t seen a single month of colder-than-average temperatures globally, and who call climate change a top priority. Those strategists said lawmakers were aware, too, but few were taking action.” Friedman says that President Trump’s derision for climate change: “means the [Republican] party stands to lose voters to Democrats in 2020 and beyond”. Elsewhere in the same edition, the New York Times carries a comment piece by Christopher Caldwell, an author of a book about Europe and Islam, which argues that the “radical approach” of climate activists such as Greta Thunberg is “at odds with democracy”. And the Independent reports that Thunberg has responded to an “offensive attack” by Australian climate sceptic columnist Andrew Bolt.

Lisa Friedman, The New York Times Read Article
Greenland sends Scotland a crystal clear warning about climate change

“Wildfires raging in the Arctic Circle and the dramatic melting of the Greenland ice sheet are climate change warning signs we must not ignore,” says an editorial in the Scotsman. It continues: “The warning signs in the Arctic are much more obvious than in other parts of the planet,” adding: “Those who claim climate science is a massive hoax, who don’t trust scientists to read a thermometer, have a problem.” The editorial concludes: “The dramatic loss of ice in Greenland is a warning. It shows what just one degree of average global warming can do. If we carry on burning fossil fuels, these effects are only going to get worse, but we are gradually realising the need to stop. Given the importance of North Sea oil to Scotland’s economy, it is vital to prepare and find a way to manage this change successfully.”

Editorial, The Scotsman Read Article
It’s easy to mock eco-celebs. Better to give them the benefit of the doubt

A piece by Guardian columnist Barbara Ellen defends the celebrities, activists and others that attended a Google meeting last week in Sicily – many arriving by private jet – to discuss climate change. She writes: “[H]ow do people expect eco-celebs to get around?…[P]resumably the publicity a celebrity generates justifies the carbon?” In the Daily Mail, Stephen Glover attacks the “hypocrisy of party-loving elites”. He writes: “In case anyone should imagine all that free champagne and fine food is making me jealous, let me say that discussing climate change with the likes of Katy Perry and Leonardo DiCaprio would be my idea of hell.” The Scottish edition of the Mail on Sunday carries an editorial that says: “To be grand, these days, is also to be woke, completely in tune with the maxims of the cultural revolution. Wealth and privilege now go with renewable energy, vegan diets, and perhaps a past brush with drugs, now bravely overcome. Do these supposed paragons begin to realise just how irritating this posturing is…?”

Barbara Ellen, The Guardian Read Article

Science.

Significant feedbacks of wetland methane release on climate change and the causes of their uncertainty
Updating projections of methane emissions from wetlands to include the latest science “causes an additional temperature increase between 0.6% and 5.5% over the 21st century”, a new study says. Methane is a greenhouse that is 34 times more powerful than CO2 over a 100-year period. The world’s wetlands are a dominant source of methane – and recent research shows that tropical trees play a key role in driving emissions. The new study builds on earlier work by considering the role that tropical trees play in driving methane emissions – and finds that including this factor causes future methane projections to rise “significantly”.
Environmental Research Letters Read Article

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