Nature

Mon, 2014-10-27 11:33Emma Gilchrist
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B.C. LNG Strategy Won’t Help Solve Global Climate Change: New Pembina Institute Report

Christy Clark at LNG Canada announcement

The B.C. government’s claim that LNG exports offer the “greatest single step British Columbia can take to fight climate change” is inaccurate in the absence of stronger global climate policies according to a new report released today by the Pembina Institute and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.

Natural gas does have a role to play in a world that avoids two degrees Celsius in global warming, but only if strong emissions reduction policies are put in place in the jurisdictions that produce and consume the gas, says the report, LNG and Climate Change: The Global Context authored by Matt Horne and Josha MacNab.

Natural gas is often described as a bridge fuel. The question is, how long should that bridge be?” says MacNab, B.C. regional director for the Pembina Institute, a national non-profit focused on transitioning Canada to a clean energy future.

Our research suggests it must be very short if we’re going to be able to get off the bridge in time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

Tue, 2014-10-07 18:00Guest
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Let’s Slow Down, For The Sake Of Ourselves And Our Planet

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

The Amazon rainforest is magnificent. Watching programs about it, we’re amazed by brilliant parrots and toucans, tapirs, anacondas and jaguars. But if you ever go there expecting to be overwhelmed by a dazzling blur of activity, you’ll be disappointed. The jungle has plenty of vegetation — hanging vines, enormous trees, bromeliads and more — and a cacophony of insects and frogs. But much of the activity goes on at night or high up in the canopy.

Films of tropical forests don’t accurately reflect the reality of the ecosystems. They’re skillfully edited shots acquired over many months. Our media-nurtured impatience and urgent sense of time often prevent us from seeing how life truly unfolds.

Nature needs time to adjust and adapt to biosphere changes. After life appeared on Earth, atmospheric oxygen gradually went from zero to 20 per cent, oceans appeared and disappeared, mountains thrust upward and then eroded, continents moved on tectonic plates, climate cycled between ice ages and warm intervals, magnetic poles reversed and re-reversed. Life flourished because species and ecosystems evolved over time.

Fri, 2013-07-26 09:00Laurel Whitney
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New Nature Study Calls Melting Underwater Arctic Permafrost An "Economic Time Bomb"

Three academics walk into a bar.

After what must have been the worst happy hour ever, they emerge having discovered that melting oceanic permafrost could come with a hefty $60 trillion dollar price tag, slightly less than the entire world economy.

We calculate that the costs of a melting Arctic will be huge, because the region is pivotal to the functioning of Earth systems such as oceans and the climate. The release of methane from thawing permafrost beneath the East Siberian Sea, off northern Russia, alone comes with an average global price tag of $60 trillion in the absence of mitigating action — a figure comparable to the size of the world economy in 2012 (about $70 trillion). The total cost of Arctic change will be much higher.

Penned in a recent issue of Nature, Gail Whitman (Sustainability professor at Erasmus University Netherlands), Chris Hope (Policy modeler, University of Cambridge) and Peter Wadhams (Ocean physics, University of Cambridge) set out to calculate the economic consequences of an ice-free Arctic, which some have estimated could happen as early as 2020.

Their main concern followed the melting of underwater permafrost - called methane clathrates - in which natural methane gas beneath the ocean is trapped in frozen beds of ice. Normally, the cold temperatures of ocean water and high pressure of ocean sitting atop the clathrates keep them in place. But with the Arctic ice cap quickly melting, the warming may penetrate farther toward the ocean floor and release this 50 Gt reservoir of methane.

Like stinky bubbles emanating from their Arctic bathtub, methane, a much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2 with about 20x the warming capability, could either be released gradually over time, or in one fell swoop, accelerating atmospheric warming.

Tue, 2013-02-12 05:00Evangeline Lilly
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Evangeline Lilly: I am Canadian. What are You?

This is a guest post by Evangeline Lilly, Canadian actress.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am a Canadian actress who has been living abroad in Hawaii for the past ten years. I have been involved in such well-known projects as the television series “Lost”, the indie hit “The Hurt Locker”, the blockbuster film “Real Steel” and the upcoming second and third “Hobbit” films.

To hear Evangeline Lilly tell her story, listen here:

Mon, 2011-09-19 13:01Carol Linnitt
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Counterpoint on Shale Gas and the Future of Fracking

Recently the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature published a ‘pros vs. cons’ piece on the production of unconventional gas from shale. The tête-à-tête, led by Terry Engelder on the pro side and Robert Howarth and Anthony Ingraffea on the con side, weighs the risks and benefits of gas production as it relates to the economy and human and environmental health.

Howarth and Ingraffea, authors of the first peer-reviewed study on lifecycle emissions from unconventional gas production, are solemn in their assessment: “shale gas isn’t clean, and shouldn’t be used as a bridge fuel” to a clean energy future. Their recommendation is based on the risks involved with high-volume slick-water hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as it exists in its present form.
 
Although the industry claims to have performed over one million fracking operations since the 1940s, Howarth and Ingraffea counter that the current technology is still relatively new and has only been in operation for a decade. Modern fracking bears little resemblance to its historic counterpart and requires greater amounts of water and chemicals, deeper drilling and higher pressures. All these differences combine to make fracking an unavoidably dangerous process. Howarth and Ingraffea also claim that a switch to unconventional gas will not substantially alleviate global warming in the near future.
Thu, 2011-05-26 09:58Richard Littlemore
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Nature Scolds GMU over Wegman Inquiry

George Mason U dragging its feet on plagiarism complaint

An editorial in the current issue of Nature questions why George Mason University has taken more than 14 months - so far - in its review of the plagiarism complaint against Edward Wegman, even though GMU’s own policy says that such a complaint should be dealt with in 12 weeks.

“Long misconduct investigations do not serve anyone, except perhaps university public-relations departments that might hope everyone will have forgotten about a case by the time it wraps up,” the Nature editorial states.

The editors go on to say that this is as particularly pressing issue because Wegman’s (purportedly) shoddy work has been used to prop up government policy, as well as to dilute the quality of climate science.

Tue, 2011-01-11 14:47Emma Pullman
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Study: Climate Change Will Continue for 1,000 Years Even with Zero Emissions

It’s only early January, and already we’re witnessing what could be the most devastating climate change story of the year.  A new study in Nature Geoscience this week shows that even if we go to zero emissions and completely halt our wholesale burning of fossil fuels, climate change will continue for the next 1,000 years. 

If only we could take solace in saying, “I told you so” to climate change deniers and the fossil fuel lobby fighting to confuse the public about climate change.  Such proclamations seem trite and trivial, however, when we’re faced with the burning reality that our dirty oil addiction is cooking the planet in an irreversible way. 

The study, conducted by University of Calgary and Environment Canada’s climate centre at the University of Victoria is the first full climate model simulation to make predictions 1,000 years into the future.  Dr. Shawn Marshall and his team explore the question: “What if we completely stopped using fossil fuels and put no more CO2 in the atmosphere?  How long would it then take to reverse current climate change trends and will things first become worse?”  Using simulations with the Canadian Earth System Model, the research team exploredzero-emissions scenarios if humans completely stop burning fossil fuels in 2010 and 2100.  

The article shows, devastatingly, that climate change will continue even if we stop our use of fossil fuels immediately.  We’ve had that much of an impact.  With this news, Canada’s head-in-sand approach to climate issues just won’t cut it. 

Mon, 2010-09-27 12:22Richard Littlemore
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WUWT: Just Enough Information to Mislead

You can’t beat Anthony Watts’ team at WUWT (either Watts Up With That or We Use Wishful Thinking, it’s hard to tell) for the delicate selection and presentation of “evidence” to argue that climate isn’t changing.

Here, for example, is a post that trumpets a Nature article on the climate effects of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. WUWT also credits the reputable German publication Der Spiegel as an intermediate source for this information and then posts the graph (left) as easy visual proof that what’s happening in climate today is all part of a normal up and down.

But have a close look at that graph. First, it doesn’t come from the Nature paper or from Der Spiegel. It was cobbled together on a denier site run by an engineer named Alan Cheetham.  Second, the yellow lines showing a downward resumption on the right side are based on - well, actually, on no data points whatever. While Cheetham may have a crystal ball, a touching optimism or a cavalier disregard for objective presentation, he has no evidence at all.

But he has a fan in Anthony Watts. Watt does that tell you?

Fri, 2010-05-14 14:58Brendan DeMelle
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Nature Pens Scathing Editorial On Virginia A.G. Cuccinelli Witch Hunt of Michael Mann

In a scathing rebuke of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s witch hunt relating to the work of climatologist Michael Mann, the highly-regarded journal Nature this week published an editorial called “Science subpoenaed” that condemns the latest political attack on a climate scientist and calls into serious question Cuccinelli’s motives.

AG Cuccinelli, a former Republican state Senator, earlier this month launched a ridiculously over-the-top inquiry demanding that the University of Virginia turn over a massive number of documents and personal communications related to Professor Mann’s work and government contracts.  Cuccinelli demands to see eleven years’ worth of Mann’s emails and other correspondence with climate scientists, and all available documents, computer code and data relating to Mann’s research on five different state and federal grants.

Echoing The Washington Post, which published a similar editorial lambasting Cuccinelli’s “witch hunt” of Professor Mann, the Nature editorial similarly slammed the AG.

Wed, 2010-01-27 16:57Richard Littlemore
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Climate Cover-up "a convincing and riveting tale of conspiracy " - Nature

We’re delighted to report that the journal Nature has just published a very flattering review of Climate Cover-up.

Reviewer Candis Callison, an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of British Columbia, writes:

(DeSmogBlog co-founder James) Hoggan and Littlemore’s arguments will not be new to followers of climate-change debates, but their narrative deftly exposes a landscape of denial that is unrelenting, extensive, international and tactically rich. It is a convincing and riveting tale of conspiracy that gives context to the e-mails leaked last year from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, and the besieged sense one gets from the communications of scientists caught in the vortex of efforts to unseat their research.

Callison wraps up the review with this:

Climate Cover-Up tackles brilliantly the strategies deployed when messages that are “tested for effectiveness, but not accuracy” are used to spread doubt about climate change. The authors’ solution is to offer a prescription for navigating expertise and to demand leadership with the courage to act. To use their metaphor, this is what is needed before we all end up like lemmings, plunging over the cliff together.

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