Global Warming...New Report...and it ain't happy news

Reply Tue 6 Feb, 2024 11:05 am
‘In a word, horrific’: Trump’s extreme anti-environment blueprint

Allies and advisers have hinted at a more methodical second term: driving forward fossil fuel production, sidelining scientists and overturning rules

The United States’s first major climate legislation dismantled, a crackdown on government scientists, a frenzy of oil and gas drilling, the Paris climate deal not only dead but buried.

A blueprint is emerging for a second Donald Trump term that is even more extreme for the environment than his first, according to interviews with multiple Trump allies and advisers.

In contrast to a sometimes chaotic first White House term, they outlined a far more methodical second presidency: driving forward fossil fuel production, sidelining mainstream climate scientists and overturning rules that curb planet-heating emissions.

“Trump will undo everything [Joe] Biden has done, he will move more quickly and go further than he did before,” said Myron Ebell, who headed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team for Trump’s first term. “He will act much more expeditiously to impose his agenda.”

The prized target for Trump’s Republican allies, should the former president defeat Joe Biden in November’s election, will be the Inflation Reduction Act, the landmark $370bn bill laden with support for clean energy projects and electric vehicles. Ebell said the legislation, signed by Biden in 2022 with no Republican votes, was “the biggest defeat we’ve suffered”.

Carla Sands, a key environment adviser to the pro-Trump America First Policy Institute who has criticized Biden’s “apocalyptic green fantasies”, said: “Our nation needs a level regulatory playing field for all forms of energy to compete. Achieving this level playing field will require the repeal of the energy and environment provisions within the Inflation Reduction Act.”

The GOP-controlled House of Representatives has already pushed bills to gut the act. But fully repealing the IRA, which has disproportionally brought popular funding and jobs in solar, wind and battery manufacturing to Republican districts, may be politically difficult for Trump even if his party gains full control of Congress.

However, Trump could still slow down the progress of the clean energy transition as president by redrawing the rules for the IRA’s generous tax credits.

He would, his allies say, also scrap government considerations of the damage caused by carbon emissions; compel a diminished EPA to squash pollution rules for cars, trucks and power plants; and symbolically nullify the Paris climate agreement by not only withdrawing the US again but sending it to the Senate for ratification as a treaty, knowing it would fail.

“The Paris climate accord does nothing to actually improve the environment here in the United States or globally,” said Mandy Gunasekara, Trump’s former EPA chief of staff. She argued that the agreement puts too little pressure on China, India and other developing countries to reduce their emissions.

In recent rallies, Trump, the likely Republican nominee, has called renewable energy “a scam business” and vowed to “drill, baby, drill”. On his first day in office, Trump has said he would repeal “crooked Joe Biden’s insane electric vehicle mandate” and approve a glut of new gas export terminals currently paused by Biden.

Areas currently off-limits for drilling, such the Arctic, will also probably be opened up to industry by Trump. “I will end his war on American energy,” Trump has said of the incumbent president, even though in reality the US hit record levels of oil and gas production last year.

“I expect the Republicans will put together their own very aggressive reconciliation bill to claw back the subsidies in the IRA,” said Tom Pyle, president of the free market American Energy Alliance and previous head of the US Department of Energy’s transition team under Trump.

“The president will benefit from having the experience of being in office before, he’ll get a faster head start on his agenda. He won’t be encumbered by the need to be re-elected, so there will be a short window of time but he may be more aggressive as a result.”

‘There is no logic to it’

Critics of Trump, who are already fretting over his potential return to the White House, warn this agenda will stymie clean energy investment, place Americans’ health at the mercy of polluters, badly damage the effort to address the climate crisis and alienate America’s allies.

“A return of Trump would be, in a word, horrific,” said Andrew Rosenberg, a former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration official, now fellow at the University of New Hampshire.

“It would also be incredibly stupid. It would roll back progress made over decades to protect public health and safety, there is no logic to it other than to destroy everything. People who support him may not realize it’s their lives at stake, too.”

A second Trump term would be more ideologically extreme than the first, with fewer restraints, Rosenberg claimed. “There were people part of a reasonable mainstream in his first term who buffered against his craziest instincts – they won’t be there any more,” he said.

Should Trump manage to repeal the IRA and water down or scrap EPA pollution rules, there would be severe consequences for a world that is struggling to contain an escalating climate crisis, experts say.

The US, the world’s second biggest carbon polluter, would still see its emissions drop under Trump due to previous policies and a market-led shift away from coal to gas as an energy source, but at only half the rate of a second Biden term, according to an analysis by Energy Innovation shared with the Guardian.

This would deal a mortal blow to the global effort to restrain dangerous global heating, with scientists warning that the world needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly half this decade, and eliminate them entirely by 2050, to avoid breaching agreed temperature limits and plunge billions of people into worsening heatwaves, floods and droughts.

“I don’t think Donald Trump would actually be able to replace the IRA, but you couldn’t rule it out,” said Anand Gopal, executive director at Energy Innovation.

“If he did, the global effect would be potentially disastrous. It would encourage everyone else to go backwards or slow down their climate pledges and put the world way off track to where it needs to be. It could prove the difference between staying under 1.5C warming or not.”

Much will hinge upon any new Trump administration’s ability to better navigate arcane regulatory procedures and the courts. His previous term saw an enormous number of legal defeats for his hurried attempts at environmental rollbacks, as well as the departure of scandal-plagued cabinet members overseeing this effort.

“You can’t just snap your fingers,” said Jeff Navin, a former chief of staff at the US Department of Energy. “You need to spend a lot of time redoing regulations. Is that something Trump really wants to do rather than just pursue other grievances? I don’t think so.”

But some conservatives believe Trump will prove more successful second time around, pointing to an amenably conservative supreme court and more detailed planning ahead of the election, such as the Project 2025 document put out by the rightwing Heritage Foundation, which details severe cuts to the EPA and Department of the Interior, as well as a greater politicization of the civil service to push through Trumpian goals.

“We are writing a battle plan, and we are marshaling our forces,” Paul Dans, director of Project 2025, told E&E News last year. “Never before has the whole conservative movement banded together to systematically prepare to take power day one and deconstruct the administrative state.”

Jeff Holmstead, who ran the EPA’s air office during George W Bush’s administration, said Trump’s administration would be “much more prepared” for a second term.

“They know what they need to do to undo rules in a in a legally defensible way,” he said. A new Trump administration would take a more “surgical approach” to deregulation, he said, taking more of its cues from industry.

Under Biden, Gunasekara said, there has been an “unnecessary tension” between the oil sector and regulators.

“You have to work with the industry players,” she said. “Agencies should not be about suppressing or boosting particular technologies.”

Early on, Trump officials will probably work with Congress to kill certain rules through a parliamentary procedure called the Congressional Review Act. The Clinton-era statute empowers Congress and the president to work together to overturn major federal regulations within 60 legislative days of finalization, by passing a joint resolution of disapproval signed by the president.

“Generally in the past, anything that is finalized after mid- to late May is likely to be within that window,” said Holmstead. “So speed is of the essence for the Biden administration.”

A fresh Trump term could engulf federal climate scientists, too, who were ignored but largely allowed to issue their work during Trump’s last term. A new Trump White House could intervene more to alter climate reports, or even stage a previously mooted public debate on the merits of climate science.

“I expect that idea will be revived and I think we would get a much wider view of climate science that wouldn’t be controlled by a small cabal,” said Ebell. “That will start very quickly.”

Trump’s plans come as Biden has struggled to inspire younger, climate-conscious voters who have been angered by his ongoing leasing of public lands and waters to the fossil fuel industry, such as the controversial Willow oil project in Alaska.

Biden has overseen a boom in liquified natural gas exports that he has belatedly attempted to restrain and his administration has floundered in its attempts to sell the IRA to the American public, with most voters unaware of the climate legislation or its significance in driving down emissions.

Still, the president’s position on climate change is incomparable to Trump’s, according to Rosenberg. “The contrast is incredibly stark between Biden and Trump,” he said. “Do I think Biden is the best of the best? Of course not. But compared to Trump? That’s just scary.

“Anyone who cares about public health, the environment, science, international relations, you could go on, should be scared about another Trump presidency.”

0 Replies
Reply Tue 6 Feb, 2024 02:04 pm
Matthew Cappucci meteorologist, climate scientist

BREAKING: A rain gauge at UCLA has picked up 12.46 inches of rain in 24 hours.

Per NOAA statistics, that’s 1.1 inches MORE than a thousand-year rainfall event.

The odds of an place in the Los Angeles area seeing a 11.5 inch/24 hour rain event any given year is 0.1%.
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Tue 6 Feb, 2024 02:16 pm
Effect of El Niño phenomenon combined with human-driven global heating is causing increasing alarm among scientists.

World ‘not prepared’ for climate disasters after warmest ever January
Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 8 Feb, 2024 01:02 am
@Walter Hinteler,
For the first time, global warming has exceeded 1.5C across an entire year!

According to the EU climate change service Copernicus, global warming has exceeded 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era for the first time over a period of twelve months. From February 2023 to January 2024, the global average temperature was 1.52 degrees Celsius above the reference value in the 19th century, as the European Copernicus Earth Observation Programme (C3S) announced on Thursday.

Global temperatures in January 2024 were higher than ever before in this month since records began. This was announced by the European Union's Copernicus climate service on Thursday. According to the report, the average air temperature at the Earth's surface was 13.14 degrees Celsius, 0.7 degrees higher than the average for the reference period from 1991 to 2020 and 0.12 degrees above the temperature in January 2020, which has been recorded as the warmest January to date. The data used by Copernicus goes back to 1950, but some earlier data is also available.
0 Replies
Reply Fri 9 Feb, 2024 06:37 am
Michael Mann, a Leading Climate Scientist, Wins His Defamation Suit

The researcher had sued two writers for libel and slander over comments about his work. The jury awarded him damages of more than $1 million.

The climate scientist Michael Mann on Thursday won his defamation lawsuit against Rand Simberg, a former adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Mark Steyn, a contributor to National Review.

The trial transported observers back to 2012, the heyday of the blogosphere and an era of rancorous polemics over the existence of global warming, what the psychology researcher and climate misinformation blogger John Cook called “a feral time.”

The six-member jury announced its unanimous verdict after a four-week trial in District of Columbia Superior Court and one full day of deliberation. They found both Mr. Simberg and Mr. Steyn guilty of defaming Dr. Mann with multiple false statements and awarded the scientist $1 in compensatory damages from each writer.

The jury also found the writers had made their statements with “maliciousness, spite, ill will, vengeance or deliberate intent to harm,” and levied punitive damages of $1,000 against Mr. Simberg and $1 million against Mr. Steyn in order to deter others from doing the same.

“This is a victory for science and it’s a victory for scientists,” Dr. Mann said.

In 2012, Mr. Simberg and Mr. Steyn drew parallels between controversy over Dr. Mann’s research and the scandal around Jerry Sandusky, the former football coach at Pennsylvania State University who was convicted of sexually assaulting children. Dr. Mann was a professor at Penn State at the time.

“I am pleased that the jury found in my favor on half of the statements at issue in this case, including finding my statement that Dr. Mann engaged in data manipulation was not defamation,” Mr. Simberg said in a statement emailed by his attorney.

Mr. Steyn’s manager, Melissa Howes, wrote in an email: “We always said that Mann never suffered any actual injury from the statement at issue. And today, after twelve years, the jury awarded him one dollar in compensatory damages. The punitive damage award of one million dollars will have to face due process scrutiny under U.S. Supreme Court precedent.”

The two sides argued for days about the truth or falsity of the posts, presenting evidence that included unflattering emails between Dr. Mann and colleagues, excerpts from investigations by Penn State and the National Science Foundation that cleared Dr. Mann of academic misconduct, other scientists who testified that Dr. Mann had ruined their reputations, and a detailed but controversial critique of his research methods by a statistician.

“It’s constitutionally deliberately hard to win defamation suits in cases involving matters of public concern and prominent public figures,” said RonNell Andersen Jones, a law professor at the University of Utah.

Mr. Simberg and Mr. Steyn testified that they sincerely believed what they wrote.

In statements in court at the beginning and again at the end of the trial, Mr. Steyn said he stood “on the truth of every word I wrote about Michael.”

“Inflammatory does not equal defamatory,” said Mr. Simberg’s attorney, Victoria Weatherford, in her closing statement. “Rand is just a guy, just a blogger voicing his truly held opinions on a topic that he believes is important. That is an inconvenient truth for Michael Mann.”

Dr. Mann argued that he lost grant funding following the blog posts and that he had been excluded from at least one research collaboration because his reputation had suffered. The defendants argued that Dr. Mann’s star continued to rise and that he is one of the most successful climate scientists working today.

The presiding judge, Alfred Irving, emphasized to the jury that their job was not to decide whether or not global warming is happening. “I knew that we were walking a fine line from a trial concerning climate change to a trial concerning defamation,” he said earlier while discussing which witnesses to allow.

The story of this lawsuit isn’t over.

In 2021, Judge Irving, along with another D.C. Superior Court judge, decided that the Competitive Enterprise Institute and National Review could not be held liable. The publishers did not meet the bar of “actual malice” imposed on public figures suing for defamation, the judges ruled, meaning employees of the two organizations did not publish Mr. Simberg and Mr. Steyn’s posts knowing them to be false, nor did they have “reckless disregard” for whether the posts were false.

Dr. Mann’s attorneys have indicated that they will appeal this earlier decision. Asked about Competitive Enterprise Institute and National Review, John Williams said, “They’re next.”

Reply Fri 9 Feb, 2024 09:22 am
The climate scientist Michael Mann on Thursday won his defamation lawsuit against Rand Simberg, a former adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Mark Steyn, a contributor to National Review.

This is a long overdue penalization for a couple of truly ugly sources of disinformation. The CEI is funded by oil, fuel and tobacco interests (including the Kochs) and Steyn is a Canadian writer who was a regular stand-in for Rush Limbaugh, a supporter of Farage and a source of vaccine skepticism along with many other such activities. The only problem with the settlement is that the monetary penalty is far too low.
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 9 Feb, 2024 01:30 pm
Atlantic Ocean circulation nearing ‘devastating’ tipping point, study finds
The circulation of the Atlantic Ocean is heading towards a tipping point that is “bad news for the climate system and humanity”, a study has found.

The scientists behind the research said they were shocked at the forecast speed of collapse once the point is reached, although they said it was not yet possible to predict how soon that would happen.

Using computer models and past data, the researchers developed an early warning indicator for the breakdown of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (Amoc), a vast system of ocean currents that is a key component in global climate regulation.

They found Amoc is already on track towards an abrupt shift, which has not happened for more than 10,000 years and would have dire implications for large parts of the world.

Amoc, which encompasses part of the Gulf Stream and other powerful currents, is a marine conveyer belt that carries heat, carbon and nutrients from the tropics towards the Arctic Circle, where it cools and sinks into the deep ocean. This churning helps to distribute energy around the Earth and modulates the impact of human-caused global heating.

But the system is being eroded by the faster-than-expected melt-off of Greenland’s glaciers and Arctic ice sheets, which pours freshwater into the sea and obstructs the sinking of saltier, warmer water from the south.

Amoc has declined 15% since 1950 and is in its weakest state in more than a millennium, according to previous research that prompted speculation about an approaching collapse.

Until now there has been no consensus about how severe this will be. One study last year, based on changes in sea surface temperatures, suggested the tipping point could happen between 2025 and 2095. However, the UK Met Office said large, rapid changes in Amoc were “very unlikely” in the 21st century.

The new paper, published in Science Advances, has broken new ground by looking for warning signs in the salinity levels at the southern extent of the Atlantic Ocean between Cape Town and Buenos Aires. Simulating changes over a period of 2,000 years on computer models of the global climate, it found a slow decline can lead to a sudden collapse over less than 100 years, with calamitous consequences.

The paper said the results provided a “clear answer” about whether such an abrupt shift was possible: “This is bad news for the climate system and humanity as up till now one could think that Amoc tipping was only a theoretical concept and tipping would disappear as soon as the full climate system, with all its additional feedbacks, was considered.”

It also mapped some of the consequences of Amoc collapse. Sea levels in the Atlantic would rise by a metre in some regions, inundating many coastal cities. The wet and dry seasons in the Amazon would flip, potentially pushing the already weakened rainforest past its own tipping point. Temperatures around the world would fluctuate far more erratically. The southern hemisphere would become warmer. Europe would cool dramatically and have less rainfall. While this might sound appealing compared with the current heating trend, the changes would hit 10 times faster than now, making adaptation almost impossible.

“What surprised us was the rate at which tipping occurs,” said the paper’s lead author, René van Westen, of Utrecht University. “It will be devastating.”

He said there was not yet enough data to say whether this would occur in the next year or in the coming century, but when it happens, the changes are irreversible on human timescales.

In the meantime, the direction of travel is undoubtedly in an alarming direction.

“We are moving towards it. That is kind of scary,” van Westen said. “We need to take climate change much more seriously.”

Study: Physics-based early warning signal shows that AMOC is on tipping course
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