Climate Change


What Exxon Knew About Climate Change

By Bill McKibben
The New Yorker
September 18, 2015

Wednesday morning, journalists at InsideClimate News, a Web site that has won the Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on oil spills, published the first installment of a multi-part exposé that will be appearing over the next month. The documents they have compiled and the interviews they have conducted with retired employees and officials show that, as early as 1977, Exxon (now ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest oil companies) knew that its main product would heat up the planet disastrously. This did not prevent the company from then spending decades helping to organize the campaigns of disinformation and denial that have slowed—perhaps fatally—the planet’s response to global warming.


Tuna and mackerel populations suffer catastrophic 74% decline, research shows

Tuna and mackerel populations have suffered a “catastrophic” decline of nearly three quarters in the last 40 years, according to new research.

WWF and the Zoological Society of London found that numbers of the scombridae family of fish, which also includes bonito, fell by 74% between 1970 and 2012, outstripping a decline of 49% for 1,234 ocean species over the same period.

The conservation charity warned that we face losing species critical to human food security, unless drastic action is taken to halt overfishing and other threats to marine life.

Louise Heaps, chief advisor on marine policy at WWF UK, said: “This is catastrophic. We are destroying vital food sources, and the ecology of our oceans.”

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The lesson of Hurricane Katrina: the worst is yet to come

Kerry Emanuel
The Ecologist
25th August 2015

Climate change shows its true face in extreme events, writes Kerry Emanuel: the storm surge with a 12 inch head start thanks to rising sea levels, propelled by a wind that's 20 mph faster, dropping an extra inch of rain beyond the 'normal' storm. Hurricane Katrina and Typhoon Haiyan are sending us a clear message: the world must get ready for bigger and badder, fast.

Three weeks and three days before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans 10 years ago, a paper of mine appeared in the scientific journal Nature.

It showed that North Atlantic hurricane power was strongly correlated with the temperature of the tropical Atlantic during hurricane season, and that both had been increasing rapidly over the previous 30 years or so. It attributed these increases to a combination of natural climate oscillations and to global warming.


The System Fiddles While We Burn

July 31, 2015

Story and photos by Pete Shaw

Portland Occupier

The Fennica has left Portland despite the noble and courageous efforts of the kayaktivists and Greenpeace climbers whose blockade cost Shell Oil two days of profits. But while ultimately failing to keep the boat moored in Portland, they showed people that they can stand up to the large energy corporations that have fouled the environment and climate while also showing how much more people must get involved.


Why an economic recession could be good for the planet

By Deborah Netburn
LA Times

The economic recession of 2008-2009 may have hurt your bank account, but new analysis suggests it was good for the planet.

It turns out that when people don't have the cash to purchase new things it can have a significant effect on the amount of carbon dioxide that gets pumped into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels, according to a study in Nature Communications.

Not that anyone is suggesting that a sluggish economy is the only way to reduce emissions.

"Saying we should we have a recession to save the environment is a flippant conclusion," said Klaus Hubacek, a professor of geographical sciences at the University of Maryland who worked on the paper. "But if we want to manage emissions, we need to think of different ways to grow the economy."

The team did not set out to prove that consumption patterns were the main drivers of carbon dioxide emissions.


Climate change is the fight of our lives – yet we can hardly bear to look at it

Naomi Klein
The Guardian

This is a story about bad timing.

One of the most disturbing ways that climate change is already playing out is through what ecologists call "mismatch" or "mistiming." This is the process whereby warming causes animals to fall out of step with a critical food source, particularly at breeding times, when a failure to find enough food can lead to rapid population losses.

The migration patterns of many songbird species, for instance, have evolved over millennia so that eggs hatch precisely when food sources such as caterpillars are at their most abundant, providing parents with ample nourishment for their hungry young. But because spring now often arrives early, the caterpillars are hatching earlier too, which means that in some areas they are less plentiful when the chicks hatch, with a number of possible long-term impacts on survival.


Exxon Knew of Climate Change in 1981, Email Says — But It Funded Deniers for 27 More Years

By Suzanne Goldenberg
The Guardian
July 9, 2015

ExxonMobil, the world’s biggest oil company, knew as early as 1981 of climate change – seven years before it became a public issue, according to a newly discovered email from one of the firm’s own scientists. Despite this the firm spent millions over the next 27 years to promote climate denial.

The email from Exxon’s in-house climate expert provides evidence the company was aware of the connection between fossil fuels and climate change, and the potential for carbon-cutting regulations that could hurt its bottom line, over a generation ago – factoring that knowledge into its decision about an enormous gas field in south-east Asia. The field, off the coast of Indonesia, would have been the single largest source of global warming pollution at the time.


Fetishisms of Apocalypse

Larry Lohmann


Extreme Rainfall Becoming More Common, New Analysis Finds

As floodwaters ravage Texas and Oklahoma, a new analysis finds that heavy downpours have increased dramatically since 1950. And scientists project that precipitation patterns will become increasingly erratic as the climate changes.

The Northeast had a 31 percent increase in heavy downpours between the 1950 to 1959 period and the 2005 to 2014 period. The Midwest had a 16 percent increase between those periods, according to a report from climate news and data website Climate Central.

Individual states have seen even more dramatic changes in rainfall. Rhode Island had a 104 percent increase, while Maine had a 61 percent increase. The report also notes that rainfall is highly localized; levels can vary widely by metropolitan area, even within a state. McAllen, Texas, for example, saw a 700 percent increase, while the increase for the state as a whole was much more modest.


Texas & Alaska Floods: El Nino & Hot Oceans Start a Year of Hellish Weather. It Will Get Worse

Global CO2 levels have rapidly risen above 400ppm causing a large imbalance between incoming and outgoing radiation levels. Almost all of the difference between incoming and outgoing amounts of energy has gone into heating the oceans. The warm subtropical waters of the global oceans expanded, the Indian ocean warmed and a large, deep pool of hot water grew around the Philippines. But then three supertyphoons rocked the Pacific in late fall 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, with had the strongest winds ever recorded at landfall, "broke the dam" created by years of stronger than normal tropical convection and strong trade winds that held an enormous body of hot water close to the Philippines. A first surge of hot water moved across the Pacific in spring 2014, lowering the height of the seas around the Philippines but stronger than normal trade winds kept blowing in the south Pacific holding huge amounts of excess heat near Indonesia.


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