Climate Daily

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Books to read: The Prologue: The Alternative Megatrend in the Age of Power Competition; 

Other Key Readings: Summaries of the most recent IPCC reports on adaptation and mitigation; 

To Prevent the Collapse of Biodiversity, the World Needs a New Planetary Politics

Warming impacts inevitable and warming beyond 2.4 degrees is inevitable

Scott Dance, 1-6, 23, Washington Post, A new climate reality: Less warming, but worse impacts on the planet,
Scientists pointed to recent signs of societies’ fragility: drought contributing to the Arab Spring uprisings; California narrowly avoiding widespread blackouts amid record-high temperatures; heat waves killing tens of thousands of people each year, including in Europe, the planet’s most developed continent. It’s an indication that — even with successful efforts to reduce emissions and limit global warming — these dramatic swings could devastate many stable societies sooner, and more often, than previously expected. “We see already that extremes are bringing about catastrophe,” said Claudia Tebaldi, an earth scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. “The question is: How are we going to possibly adapt and lower the risk by turning the dial of what we can control?” … The latest forecasts suggest Earth’s ever-thickening blanket of greenhouse gases has it on a path to warm by more than 2 degrees Celsius by 2100 — a threshold scientists and policymakers have emphasized as one that would usher in catastrophic effects. That is despite efforts to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius through the global treaty known as the Paris agreement, signed at a U.N. climate change conference in 2015. An October report from the United Nations found that if countries uphold even their most aggressive pledges to reduce output of climate change-inducing greenhouse gases, the planet would warm 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century.

Status quo renewables adoption is slowing warming

Scott Dance, 1-6, 23, Washington Post, A new climate reality: Less warming, but worse impacts on the planet,

One scenario laid out in a 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report and called “business as usual” — predicting global emissions and warming without any policy intervention and continued adoption of coal-fired power — had suggested global temperature would rise as much as 5 degrees Celsius of warming above preindustrial levels by the end of this century. The likelihood of such sustained and rapid warming now appears remote. “I think that’s good news,” Tebaldi said. Dangerous new hot zones are spreading around the world Climate scientists credit the rapid adoption of renewable energy — solar and wind power accounted for 1.7 percent of global electricity generation in 2010, and 8.7 percent of it in 2020. The world is set to add as much renewable energy generation in the next five years as it did in the past two decades, the International Energy Agency predicted in a report released this month.

Sea levels will rise even if warming is limited to 1.5 degrees

Daisy Dunne, 1-5, 23, Carbon Brief, Half of world’s glaciers to ‘disappear’ with 1.5C of global warming,

Half of the world’s glaciers – frozen reservoirs holding three-quarters of the global water supply – could “disappear” by the end of the century under 1.5C of warming, a study concludes. Even if the world is successful in meeting its most ambitious climate goal of 1.5C, glaciers could lose a quarter of their total mass by 2100 – raising global sea levels by 90mm. The world is not currently on track for 1.5C. The research finds that country promises made at the COP26 climate summit in 2021, which could lead to 2.7C of warming, would cause “the near-complete deglaciation of entire regions” including central Europe, western North America and New Zealand. If global warming reaches 4C, 83% of the world’s glaciers could disappear, the study adds. As well as providing most of the world’s freshwater, glaciers support unique ecosystems and are considered sacred in many parts of the world. The research, published in Science, is the first to examine the likely fate of all 215,000 of the world’s glaciers using high-resolution modelling. Speaking to Carbon Brief, a leading glaciologist not involved in the study described the “sobering” findings as “the most comprehensive and rigorous analysis of future glacier trends to date”. Disappearing deities Glaciers are slow-moving rivers of ice which play a key role in supplying freshwater to nearly every world region. For many communities, from the Peruvian Andes to the Nepalese Himalayas, glaciers are also considered the home and physical manifestations of the gods – holding significance far beyond material value. Human-caused climate change is already causing widespread glacier decline, with the rate of loss accelerating in the last two decades. The new research uses advanced models to project changes to all of Earth’s 215,000 glaciers from 2015 to 2100 under a wide range of scenarios – from a future where global warming is successfully kept at 1.5C to a world where temperatures hit 4C. The results say that, if warming is kept to 1.5C, 49% of glaciers could disappear entirely by 2100 – with “at least half” of such losses occurring before 2050. Glaciers are also projected to lose a quarter of their mass, causing sea levels to rise by 90mm. At 4C, 83% of glaciers could be lost. At this level of warming, glaciers are projected to lose 41% of their mass, raising sea levels by 154mm.

Methane is 80X as potent as CO2 and stays In the atmosphere for a shorter period; action to reduce methane emissions has an immediate impact on climate change

Robert Lea, 12-31, 22,, NASA sensors could help detect landfill methane from space to help limit climate change,

In comparison to carbon dioxide, methane is pound for pound 80 times more potent in trapping heat in the atmosphere. Unlike carbon dioxide, however, methane doesn't last as long in Earth's atmosphere and has a lifetime of decades rather than centuries. This means that significantly reducing methane emissions could have an immediate effect in slowing atmospheric warming.

Climate change increases the spread of disease as a result of vector changes

Jeff McMahonSenior Contributor, 12-31, 22, Forbes, Guess Who’s Loving Climate Change: Mosquitos And The Pathogens They Carry,

The number and range of mosquitoes has boomed across North America in recent years, and with it, the number and range of mosquito-borne diseases. Ticks and fleas are following their lead.

Between the period of 2004 to 2016, the number of diseases caused by these insects— mosquitoes, ticks and fleas—has nearly tripled during this time period, and it is continuing to grow since then,” said Karen Holcomb, a biologist at the Center for Disease Control’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases.

Mosquito Rise

Since 2004, there has been a steady, then dramatic, rise in the number of cases of diseases carried ... [+]NOAA

Those diseases include:

  • flu-borne typhus for fleas;
  • West Nile virus, dengue, malaria and chikungunya for mosquitos;
  • lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosi, anaplasmosis, erlichiosis for ticks.

“There's a large number of diseases that these insects can transmit to humans, and climate has a big impact on vector-borne diseases, because it largely impacts where these vectors can live and how fast they can replicate.”

Scientists use the word “vector” for organisms that transmit diseases or parasites from one animal or plant to another. Climate change supports vectors in several ways, Holcomb said:

  • As temperatures rise, mosquitos, ticks and fleas can develop faster, producing larger populations.
  • At higher temperatures, viruses also spread faster, increasing the risk of infection for humans who get bit by an infected insect or animal.
  • As temperatures rise, the habitat for these species expands.

“So for example, for mosquitoes as it rains more we get more water standing around that the mosquitoes can lay their eggs in,” she said in a recent seminar hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “and therefore we get larger populations of mosquitoes in different locations, and with the potential to transmit their diseases to humans overall.”

Some super cold days don’t prove the earth isn’t warming; Arctic warming is pushing polar winds into more moderate climates, and that doesn’t offset warming on the net

Scott Dance, 12-23, 22, Washington Post, Scientists say Arctic warming could be to blame for blasts of extreme cold,

The data is clear: Rising global temperatures mean winters are getting milder, on average, and the sort of record-setting cold that spanned the country Friday is becoming rarer. But at the same time, global warming may be altering atmospheric patterns and pushing harsh outbreaks of polar air to normally moderate climates, according to scientists who are actively debating the link. Drastic changes in the Arctic, which is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth, are at the center of the discussion. Shifts in Arctic ice and snow cover are triggering atmospheric patterns that allow polar air to spread southward more often, according to recent research. “We’ve seen the same situation basically the last three years in a row,” said Jennifer Francis, senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Massachusetts. “Here we go again.” But understanding any link between planetary warming and extreme cold remains a work in progress. Many climate scientists still emphasize that even if frigid air escapes the Arctic more often, that air will nonetheless become milder over time. The debate started with a research paper Francis co-authored in 2012. It gets revived whenever an extreme-cold event creates headlines, such as in 2021, when Texas’s energy grid was overwhelmed by a storm that killed 246 people. Francis’s research hypothesized that Arctic warming was reducing the contrast between polar and tropical temperatures, weakening the jet stream, a band of strong winds in the upper atmosphere that helps guide weather patterns. A weaker jet stream would allow weather systems to more easily swing from the Arctic down into mid-latitude regions that typically have temperate climates.

Political capital link: Political opposition to providing more climate funding to developing countries

Ben Adler, 11-24, 22, Spending bill leaves out most of the climate change funding Biden sought,

The Senate passed the $1.7 billion omnibus spending bill Thursday, averting a government shutdown, but climate change activists are upset that a key promise of President Biden’s won’t be included in the package: $11.4 billion in climate aid per year to developing countries. In a September 2021 speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Biden pledged to increase U.S. assistance to low-income nations for combating climate change through building their clean energy economies and adapting to the dangerous effects of climate change, such as sea level rise, to $11.4 billion. Biden later moved his request to Congress up to 2023 — the fiscal year currently under consideration — including $2 billion the U.S. already owes the Green Climate Fund, a U.N. initiative that distributes climate financing. But, despite Biden’s fellow Democrats holding slim majorities in both houses of Congress, the spending package includes just $1.057 billion for international climate change aid. That is “only $900,000 more than the previous year’s already woefully short amount,” climate policy experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) lamented in a blog post on Wednesday. A pledging conference of the Green Climate Fund in Paris, Oct. 25, 2019. (Pascal Rossignol/Reuters) Congressional Democrats had sought $3.4 billion for global climate programs this year, but Republicans blocked what Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee called “radical environmental and climate policies.” “Congress just bankrolled an $857 billion defense bill but failed to provide a single penny to meet our commitments to the Green Climate Fund — a step that would truly help us defend our country and our planet from chaos and instability,” Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said on Twitter. As Bloomberg News observed, “with Republicans taking control of the House in January, the fiscal 2023 budget was seen as the last best chance for Biden to fulfill his commitment.”

Fossil fuel demand increasing now

Javie Blas, Bloomberg,1 1-24, 22, Washington Post, Energy Security Ousts Climate Change in 2023,

For now, fossil fuel demand is going up, with oil, gas and coal likely to set new consumption records in 2023. As long as that’s the case, the world will be heading in the wrong direction.

Geoengineering causes floods and disease

Victor Gangermann, 11-23, 22, Scientists Increasingly Calling to Dim the Sun, It's no longer science fiction,

That kind of bleak outlook has more and more researchers turning to investigate geoengineering as a potential last resort. Just like particles released by a massive volcano — previous eruptions have been shown to lead to dropping temperatures — injecting aerosolized sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere could have similar results. While there's consensus among experts that there's a good chance these particles could actually shade and cool the surface below, we're only starting to understand the possible side effects, particularly on a global scale. For instance, temperature fluctuations could kick off extreme weather, such as flooding, in unexpected locations around the world. An increase in local reservoirs could even allow for disease like malaria to spread, as The New Yorker reports. Then there's the fact that one country's geoengineering efforts could have vast and potentially disastrous political ramifications as well. "We believe there’s no governance system existing that could decide this, and that none is plausible," Frank Biermann, a political scientist at Utrecht University, told the magazine. "You’d have to take decisions on duration, on the degree — and if there are conflicts — ‘we want a little more here, a little less here’—all these need adjudication." In short, it's a highly contentious idea that simply may not ever get off the ground as it would require everybody to sign off on it. For instance, the one time scientists actively attempted to try out the idea, it was shut down almost immediately, with activist groups writing a letter that even famous environmentalist Greta Thunberg signed. Despite the opposition, world leaders are becoming increasingly desperate as they stare down the barrel of a climate catastrophe of unprecedented proportions.

Great Power Competition blocks effective China-US cooperation on climate change

Khorammi, 11-22, 22, Nima Khorrami is a research associate at the Arctic Institute, The Diplomat, Can China and the US Cooperate on Climate Change?,

The geopolitics of technology and technological innovation, on the other hand, can be explored from two standpoints: a system-level perspective, which considers technological innovation as a power booster, and a post-modern or critical lens, which highlights how states exercise power, and exert influence, via standardization and/or agenda setting. With regard to the former, suffice to say that modern-day diplomacy and warfare are only possible thanks to the technological strides of the recent past. Whether it is shuttle diplomacy, digital diplomacy, remotely operated drones, or the use of virtual reality as a more cost-effective alternative to traditional training regiments for pilots, it is indisputable that the conduct of both war and diplomacy is directly linked to technological advancements. What stands out in this context is that there is a strong technological element in any nation’s ability to project power and defend its vital national security interests. As Mark Leonard has put it, “power and influence are formulated at the intersection of technology and geopolitics.” Regarding the latter, it is a commonly acknowledged observation that one who sets the standards gets to rule. More precisely, one can exercise significant influence if rules of conduct or parameters of responsible behavior are based on, or rooted in, its norms and values. Hence, it ought not to be surprising that the United States has been alarmed by China’s more hands-on approach to agenda-setting practices at international forums or Chinese tech companies’ fast expansion into other markets. Washington worries that the more Chinese tech products are used around the globe, the easier it becomes for China to export its values and set the rules of the game. The Nexus of Technological Cooperation and Environmental Cooperation To realize the link between technology and climate change, one needs to look no further than Beijing’s and Washington’s own action plans for tackling and coping with the adverse effects of environmental degradation and a fast-warming planet. Both countries have assigned strategic importance to technological innovation and the up-skilling of their labor markets in their battle against the looming climate crisis and their push toward the creation of green economies. Strategic technologies deemed critical for addressing and mitigating the effects of climate change can be divided into two groups. On the one end of the spectrum, there are the technologies that can harness the so-called clean sources of energy such as plants, geothermal heat, or the sun. On the other end are technologies that are essential to the energy industry because they can make traditional forms of energy not just cleaner but also more efficient. Cases in point include coal gasification, carbon capture and storage, and integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology. In addition, there are technologies that are situated in between the two groups mentioned above. One group comprises technologies necessary for both making material production processes greener and increasing materials’ life cycles and efficiency. The other group includes space-related technologies and AI. The effects of climate change can be more comprehensively understood once states develop the capabilities to process larger sets of satellite data more frequently. Doing so requires advances in satellite technologies as well as machine learning so more data can be processed within a considerably shorter timeframe. Is Cooperation Possible? From a global good perspective, China and the United States must put aside their strategic differences and seek to maximize cooperation on climate change. This is so because the climate crisis presents a global threat and hence dealing with it calls for global efforts. However, the problem today is that China’s and the United States’ strategic priorities do not align. In spite of their common identification of climate change as a pressing national and global security threat, their national interests in outdoing one another for global supremacy make it difficult for the two to work hand-in-hand in addressing the climate crisis. While the prospect of an all-out war between the United States and China remains marginal, it is nonetheless abundantly clear that the two are locked in a technological cold war, as evident in their aggressive decoupling efforts. Fueled by what Alex Capri has described as techno nationalism, Chinese and U.S. behaviors are best described as “mercantilist-like.” This view ties a nation’s national security, economic competitiveness, and socio-political stability to technological advancement. Emboldened by its impressive economic growth, China now seeks recognition for its governance model, claiming that it outperforms Western liberal democracy on a number of key indicators. The United States, for its part, is determined to withhold such recognition. Hence, while Chinese diplomats are drumbeating the virtues of their model and courting developing countries to follow the Chinese path, U.S. officials are trying to counter those efforts by highlighting the normative shortcomings of the Chinese model, such as lack of respect for human rights and individual privacy. This rivalry ought not to be surprising. After all, leadership and ongoing innovation in the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution will certainly confer critical economic, political, and military power. This is why both countries have devoted large sums of capital to finance R&D on such technologies and, in the process, have developed a zero-sum view on each other’s progress, whereby gains by China are taken as a loss for the United States and vice versa. This trend was most vividly on display at the confirmation hearing for Lloyd Austin, Biden’s secretary of defense. Austin stated that he would maintain a “laser-like focus” on sharpening the United States’ “competitive edge” against China’s increasingly powerful military and described Beijing as “the most significant threat going forward” for the United States. However, what makes strategic compartmentalization highly unlikely is the fact that China-U.S. technological competition is not confined to the innovation race alone. Rather, it includes a fierce, and fast-intensifying, rivalry over the establishment of regulatory frameworks for the development and governance of new technologies, which pits two entirely different value systems against one another. One can see a clear manifestation of this unfolding normative contest in China’s Global Initiative on Data Security as well as its recently updated Personal Information Protection Law, which aims to counter the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, and the U.S. proposal for the establishment of a G-7 AI Pact as well as its revitalization of the Wassenaar Arrangement. Conclusion Throughout the history, nations have sought technological superiority in order to strategically outmaneuver their rivals and exercise power and influence beyond their immediate borders. Therefore, the current state of technological contestation between China and the United States ought not to be surprising. Nor should be their inability to co-invent the technologies deemed essential for combating climate change and collaborate on the scaling-up of such technologies. Technological knowhow and technology transfers are viewed as instruments of leverage and influence, which China and the United States could utilize to tilt other states into their own spheres of influence. This tendency could lead to further division and an unfortunate return of Cold War mentality to global politics. More broadly, the two superpowers are unlikely to be able to separate climate change from the grander strategic context of their bilateral relations simply because the valuational distance between their governing models has widened as the power gap between them has shrunk. China, in fact, made this clear on the eve of Kerry’s trip to Tianjin last year, when Foreign Minster Wang Yi dismissed the idea of splitting climate from other policy issues. Technological cooperation for tackling climate change would only become possible if Beijing and Washington manage to set up a high-level committee to regulate their technological rivalry; that is, to set the basic rules for ultimately arriving at a consensus that neither will seek to inflict a high-tech attack on the other. As long as this set up is missing, the prospect for their technological cooperation on other fronts, including climate change, will remain illusive.

Status quo not enough – need binding commitments and carbon pricing

Fint, 11-22, 22, Alex Flint is the executive director of the Alliance for Market Solutions and former staff director of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources., The Hill, Climate change is a conservative issue

World leaders and environmentalists alike were just in Sharm El Sheikh lamenting this reality during the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Much like previous conferences, they also touted progress despite the United Nations’ recent assessment that countries’ commitments to fight climate change are failing. Sadly, while we are beginning to experience climate change’s harmful impacts, the worst consequences will burden future generations. So, we cannot let the cheers for incremental efforts, such as the Inflation Reduction Act, drown out the persistent warnings from scientists that the seas are still rising. Astute conservatism calls for being prepared for the future. Currently, our future is an average global temperature increase of 6.4 degrees Fahrenheit and sea-level rise of 30 inches by 2100.  Some will argue that these are merely estimates, but that is not an excuse to ignore them. To a true conservative, those estimates are the baseline that should guide our preparation — we might even want to plan for a slightly worse scenario, just in case. Of course, we can change the baseline by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (After all, conservatives are not fatalists.) But that is going to require policies more effective than $386 billion in subsidies. And the effort must be global, not isolationist. Instead,. we should channel Margaret Thatcher, who appealed for nations to address climate change and for “worldwide agreements on ways to cope with the effects of climate change.” She would likely agree that subsidies and voluntary commitments pursuant to the Paris Agreement are not adequate, that we need conservative solutions like a price on carbon and binding global commitments

Renewable development strengthens China and the West against the developing world, undermining development

Mark Temnycky, 11-22, 22, Mark Temnycky is an accredited freelance journalist covering Eastern Europe and a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. He can be found on Twitter @MTemnyck, Will Renewables Dominate Great Power Competition?, Will Renewables Dominate Great Power Competition?

The book is divided into four parts. The first introduces alternative energy as a socio-political, techno-economic, and ideological megatrend. Mirtchev argues that renewable energy correlates with the rise in global demand for energy, economic growth, and technological advancements. Ethical and societal pressures from environmental groups have pushed for the use of alternative energies instead of fossil fuels. These trends have resulted in growing concerns for energy security and it has become a prominent issue for world leaders. In the second section, Mirtchev examines old and new great power rivalries and how they relate to alternative energy. Currently, the members of OPEC+ have control over the world energy market. This quasi-cartel dictates the price of oil but the pursuit of renewable energy by countries and companies would weaken OPEC+’s control. It would strengthen the power of

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