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This page includes content from the Climate Change News blog, which is maintained daily by David Landskov, and content from our old SA blog archives.

  • As Wildfires Get Worse, Insurers Pull Back from Riskiest Areas

    Climate Change News Aug 21, 2019 | 07:00 am

    As Wildfires Get Worse, Insurers Pull Back from Riskiest Areas Insurers are quietly reducing their exposure to fire-prone regions across the Western United States, putting new pressure on homeowners and raising concerns that climate change could eventually make insurance unaffordable in some areas. Officials in California, Washington, Montana, and Colorado are getting more complaints from people whose insurance companies have refused to renew their coverage.  The complaints follow years of record-setting wildfires in both size and cost, a trend that scientists expect to continue as global warming accelerates. “I think that we are not far away from a lot of weather-related events being too expensive for most people to purchase comprehensive coverage,” said Carolyn Kousky, executive director of the Wharton Risk Center at the University of Pennsylvania.  “What happens then is the big question.” On Tuesday California’s Department of Insurance issued a report quantifying that pullback.  For the ZIP codes most affected by the wildfires in 2015 and 2017, the number of homeowners dropped by their insurance companies jumped 10 percent between 2017 and 2018. In the 10 California counties with the most homes in high-risk areas, the number of homeowners’ policies written by major insurers, whose rate increases must be approved by state regulators, fell by 5 percent between 2015 and 2018, the department said. Another way of measuring the growing reluctance of insurers is the increase in demand for the state’s FAIR plan, which is effectively prohibited from turning away customers but typically charges higher premiums as a result.  In those same 10 highest-risk counties, the number of[…]

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  • Cheap Renewables Will Price Out Oil on Roads

    Climate Change News Aug 21, 2019 | 06:30 am

    Cheap Renewables Will Price Out Oil on Roads The days of oil as a fuel for cars, whether petrol or diesel, are numbered − because the economies offered by wind and solar energy and other cheap renewables, combined with electric vehicles, are irresistible, a French bank says. BNP Paribas Asset Management calculates that oil majors like Exxon, BP, and Shell will have to produce petrol from oil at $10 a barrel (the current price is $58) to compete with electricity on price, while for diesel, it says, oil can cost no more than $19 a barrel. “The oil industry has never before in its history faced the kind of threat that renewable electricity in tandem with electric vehicles poses to its business model,” the bank says.  Electric vehicles (EVs) could easily replace 40% of the current market for crude oil. The far lower cost of driving electric vehicles, plus the environmental benefits of cleaner air and the reduction in carbon emissions, will make it overwhelmingly attractive to governments to switch from fossil fuels to renewables for powering the world’s light vehicles. Read more at Cheap Renewables Will Price Out Oil on Roads

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  • Poster of the Week - 'You Don't Have to Be Directly Affected by Climate Change ....'

    Climate Change News Aug 21, 2019 | 06:00 am

    Poster of the Week - 'You Don't Have to Be Directly Affected by Climate Change ....' 2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #33

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  • Extinction Rebellion

    Climate Change News Aug 21, 2019 | 05:30 am

    Extinction Rebellion 2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #33

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  • Chile to Account for Costs of Climate Change in Budget

    Climate Change News Aug 21, 2019 | 04:23 am

    Chile to Account for Costs of Climate Change in Budget Chile will begin budgeting for the costs of fighting climate change,  Finance Minister Felipe Larraín announced on Tuesday, as receding glaciers and drought put a squeeze on water and natural resources in the world’s top copper producer. The South American nation, which is due to host the COP25 global conference on climate change in December, said it would include a new line item for “climate expenditures” in its government budgets beginning in 2020. “Currently, we don’t know how much we’re spending in the financing of climate action.  The lack of information makes it difficult to make good decisions,” Larraín told reporters. Read more at Chile to Account for Costs of Climate Change in Budget

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  • U.S. Fracking Boom Likely Culprit in Rapid Rise of Global Methane Emissions

    Climate Change News Aug 21, 2019 | 04:00 am

    U.S. Fracking Boom Likely Culprit in Rapid Rise of Global Methane Emissions The boom in U.S. shale gas and oil production may have ignited a significant global spike in methane emissions blamed for accelerating the pace of the climate crisis, according to research.  Scientists at Cornell University have found that the “chemical fingerprints” of rising global methane levels point to shale oil and shale gas as the probable source.Methane, levels of which have been increasing sharply since 2008, is a potent greenhouse gas that heats the atmosphere quicker than carbon dioxide.Researchers at Cornell said the carbon composition of atmospheric methane, or the “weight” of carbon within each methane molecule, was changing too.Robert Howarth, the author of the paper published in the journal Biogeosciences, said the proportion of methane with a “carbon signature” linked to traditional fossil fuels was falling relative to the rise of methane with a slightly different carbon make-up.Read more at U.S. Fracking Boom Likely Culprit in Rapid Rise of Global Methane Emissions

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  • Sunday 18

    Climate Change News Aug 21, 2019 | 03:13 am

    Sunday 18

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  • Low Solar Panel Prices Spark Surge in Adoption

    Climate Change News Aug 15, 2019 | 15:49 pm

    Low Solar Panel Prices Spark Surge in Adoption Time is running out. If the global community has any chance of meeting the climate change caps set by the Paris Agreement, fossil fuels will have to be phased out and renewable energies implemented at a much, much faster rate.  Toward the end of 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released an alarming report which found that in order to limit global warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the entire world would have to transition to 100 percent clean energy by the middle of the century. This is a tall order by any metric, but it is made all the more difficult by the fact that many renewable energy sources are still prohibitively expensive and not nearly as efficient as traditional fossil fuels, with many clean energy production processes still in their early phases of development.  One source of renewable energy, however, has come a long way over the past few years, and could soon be implemented in greater numbers than ever before, with the potential to completely transform the clean energy landscape. That resource is solar energy.  “Today, we are riding a tremendous wave of advancements in both solar panel efficiency and novel methods of expanding surface area coverage,” reports tech and science news site Singularity Hub.  Solar panels were extremely costly and inefficient to manufacture and install just a few years ago, but solar prices have been falling rapidly in recent years as solar tech advances, and now solar energy costs just $3[…]

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  • Architectural History Offers Clues to Low-Carbon Relief from the Heat

    Climate Change News Aug 15, 2019 | 15:30 pm

    Architectural History Offers Clues to Low-Carbon Relief from the Heat As demand for air conditioning grows in the developing world, nature-based design could provide climate-friendly alternatives. The Hawa Mahal, a striking five-story palace in Jaipur, India, dates back to 1799, long before the invention of air conditioning.  Built for use during the hot summer months, when local temperatures can climb well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it features dozens of enclosed balconies whose diminutive window openings direct a cooling breeze into the building’s interiors – hence the building’s translated name, “Palace of the Winds.”   The balconies also minimize the amount of surface area directly exposed to the sun, preventing heat from building up indoors. The Hawa Mahal is one of countless examples of naturally cooled spaces found in traditional Indian architecture.  Throughout history, buildings in India, as around the world, evolved to provide comfortable environments by harnessing forces like sunlight and wind – a strategy now referred to as passive design. The invention of “active” building systems (e.g., air conditioning, artificial lighting) fundamentally changed the way buildings and neighborhoods are constructed.  Instead of prioritizing appropriateness for the local climate, builders began to rely on active systems to keep occupants comfortable.  Because these systems run mainly on fossil fuels, building operations became a major source of emissions. This transition has happened faster in some parts of the world than in others.  Over the past century, climate-controlled buildings became the norm in wealthy nations.  In other regions, they remain largely aspirational:  In India, for example, fewer than 10% of households have air conditioning. […]

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  • Invasive Pests are Significantly Decreasing U.S. Forests’ Ability to Store Carbon

    Climate Change News Aug 15, 2019 | 14:57 pm

    Invasive Pests are Significantly Decreasing U.S. Forests’ Ability to Store Carbon More than 450 non-native insects and diseases have found their way into U.S. forests, and the millions of trees killed by these pests each year contain more than 5.53 teragrams of carbon (TgC) — equal to the emissions of 4.4 million cars, or the carbon released by one-fifth of all wildfires in the U.S. annually, according to a new study. The study, led by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Purdue University, looked at tree mortality from non-native pests at 92,978 field plots in the contiguous U.S.  It focused on 83 pests known to have caused significant damage to U.S. forests, including the emerald ash borer, dutch elm disease, gypsy moth, and beech bark disease. The study found that these non-native pests kill as many trees as native bark beetles, which have ravaged western forests in recent decades.  The study was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Forests account for an estimated 76 percent of North America’s carbon sequestration.  But when trees die and decay, the carbon they contain is released back into the atmosphere.  The scientists warn that invasive pests could significantly decrease the amount of carbon U.S. forests are able to store, driving additional climate change. The study also notes that most of these pests have not spread throughout their full potential range, leaving 41 percent of U.S. forests at risk of future damage. Read more at Invasive Pests are Significantly Decreasing U.S. Forests’ Ability to Store Carbon.

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