Warren Buffett’s Disaster Capitalism — Downplaying Climate Change Risks, Attacking Solar, Increasing Insurance Premiums

How bad is climate change related risk? Should investors be worried? Are investments safe from this risk?

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Warren Buffett’s recent letter to shareholders attempts to answer these questions — as they relate to his investment firm’s climate change mitigations as well as its insurance industry climate risk exposure. His statement, and related framing of climate change risk, is one coming from the point of view of one of the wealthiest men in the world. It’s an announcement that comes fresh off a battle with solar energy companies and renewable energy advocates in Nevada — where Buffett’s actions and lobbying essentially cost Nevada years of solar and renewable energy development. And it’s one that appears to be both flawed in its outlook and cynical in its application.

Save Rooftop Solar

(A number of big money investors like the Kochs and Buffett have been lobbying to squash a burgeoning rooftop solar industry that empowers individual homeowners to make the responsible choice to stop using fossil fuels for power generation. This action appears to be aimed at protecting legacy fossil fuel assets that are inflicting serious and ramping harms to the global climate system. Image source: Vote Solar.)

Buffett’s general view, as with numerous big-money investors of his generation, is to both downplay climate change and to cast it in the most narrow of market contexts. His particular point of reference, like those of many of his peers, is rather sadly deficient. One that urges the inflation of vulnerable insurance company assets during a period when damages and losses are expected to increase.

Downplaying Risks, Increasing Premiums

Here are a few highlights of his statement to shareholders:

“Last year, [Berkshire Hathaway Energy] BHE made major commitments to the future development of renewables in support of the Paris Climate Change Conference. Our fulfilling those promises will make great sense, both for the environment and for Berkshire’s economics… BHE has invested $16 billion in renewables and now owns 7 percent of the country’s wind generation and 6 percent of its solar generation. Indeed, the 4,423 megawatts of wind generation owned and operated by our regulated utilities is six times the generation of the runner-up utility. We’re not done.

I am writing this section because we have a proxy proposal regarding climate change to consider at this year’s annual meeting. The sponsor would like us to provide a report on the dangers that this change might present to our insurance operation and explain how we are responding to these threats.

It seems highly likely to me that climate change poses a major problem for the planet. I say ‘highly likely’ rather than ‘certain’ because I have no scientific aptitude and remember well the dire predictions of most ‘experts’ about Y2K. It would be foolish, however, for me or anyone to demand 100% proof of huge forthcoming damage to the world if that outcome seemed at all possible and if prompt action had even a small chance of thwarting the danger.

This issue bears a similarity to Pascal’s Wager on the Existence of God. Pascal, it may be recalled, argued that if there were only a tiny probability that God truly existed, it made sense to behave as if He did because the rewards could be infinite whereas the lack of belief risked eternal misery. Likewise, if there is only a 1% chance the planet is heading toward a truly major disaster and delay means passing a point of no return, inaction now is foolhardy. Call this Noah’s Law: If an ark may be essential for survival, begin building it today, no matter how cloudless the skies appear.

It’s understandable that the sponsor of the proxy proposal believes Berkshire is especially threatened by climate change because we are a huge insurer, covering all sorts of risks. The sponsor may worry that property losses will skyrocket because of weather changes. And such worries might, in fact, be warranted if we wrote ten- or twenty-year policies at fixed prices. But insurance policies are customarily written for one year and repriced annually to reflect changing exposures. Increased possibilities of loss translate promptly into increased premiums.

Think back to 1951 when I first became enthused about GEICO. The company’s average loss-per-policy was then about $30 annually. Imagine your reaction if I had predicted then that in 2015 the loss costs would increase to about $1,000 per policy. Wouldn’t such skyrocketing losses prove disastrous, you might ask? Well, no.

Over the years, inflation has caused a huge increase in the cost of repairing both the cars and the humans involved in accidents. But these increased costs have been promptly matched by increased premiums. So, paradoxically, the upward march in loss costs has made insurance companies far more valuable. If costs had remained unchanged, Berkshire would now own an auto insurer doing $600 million of business annually rather than one doing $23 billion.

As a citizen, you may understandably find climate change keeping you up nights. As a homeowner in a low-lying area, you may wish to consider moving. But when you are thinking only as a shareholder of a major insurer, climate change should not be on your list of worries.

A Failure to Understand the Nature of Systemic Risk

After reading this statement, it’s a bit perplexing why even monied investors like Warren Buffett aren’t convinced the impacts of a ramping, fossil fueled, climate change will be dangerous and disruptive to the bottom line. Perhaps it is due to an inherent flaw of a money-centric worldview. But even investors can be practical-minded and decide not to throw good money after bad — as is now the case with fossil fuels and climate change.

As such, we might be kind to say that Buffett’s statement here is more than a bit short-sighted. He fails to recognize the basic and inherent link between the stability of his wealth and the stability of the climate system. He falsely equates 97 percent of scientists identifying a high risk of damages due to climate change with a host of unrelated issues including Y2K, a 1 percent chance of climate change danger and damage being realized (the risk is far higher), the great flood, and a cynical man’s view of the probability of the existence God. That’s not just comparing apples and oranges. That’s comparing a sirloin to a fruit salad.

Climate Change is Everywhere

(The Environmental Defense Fund put together the above graphic based on the most recent 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report’s findings to illustrate the climate change related impacts that are already occurring around the world. For an increasing number of people, the damage has already happened and it’s steadily growing worse. Buffett’s comparison of an active crisis [which is already producing impacts] with Y2K [which was essentially a tempest in a teapot] is more than a little daft. Image source: EDF. Data Source: IPCC.)

Y2K was a human-based problem that impacted a limited, human-based system — computers. The fix was simple — change the dating mechanism. The potential impacts only affected that single system — how electronic devices functioned. And the transition was hyped in the media.

Climate change is a fossil fuel industry (and carbon emissions) caused problem that impacts broad and all-encompassing systems. It requires a tough fix — transitioning away from fossil fuel based energy, significant changes to land management, and a related and challenging draw-down of atmospheric carbon. And it is a problem that has been widely downplayed in the media.

And climate change has a much, much more widespread impact than Y2K. Everything from sea level, to weather, to the balance and health of life on the Earth is affected as the world warms. It impacts multiple systems upon which everyone relies. In the best case climate change generates weather that human civilization has never seen before (in the human context, these come in the form of the highest global temperatures ever experienced, highest peak storm potentials, worst droughts, fires and floods), it generates city-endangering sea level rise, and it generates or contributes to a decline in ocean health (a health that 1 billion people rely on for their food supply). In the worst case, if fossil fuel burning continues, it locks in multi-meter sea level rise, releases the permafrost and hydrate carbon, and kills most of the life in the ocean and on land in a hothouse mass extinction event. By comparison, the best case for Y2K was nada — no problem. The worst case was disruption in the use of electronic devices for a few years. Any threat analyst worth his salt would tell you — one of these things is not like the other.

As IPCC-identified warming-related damages and disruptions continue to unfold and worsen, people like Buffet should be seeing an inherent, long-term and ramping risk of instability within the markets. Climate change is not just about insurance risk. It’s about the loss of cities and the destabilization of the nations that global marketplace relies upon to remain viable. Markets can respond to these instances if the damage is limited and the pace of accumulated damage is slow. The problem is that when enough major instances occur rapidly, the viability of the markets and the related trade systems fail. Emergency action requires increasing state involvement. More and more of the productive capacity of nations goes to the effort of response, aid and dealing with conflict and instability. And traditional insurance systems in this case may suffer collapse or become non-viable.

If recent, and far milder than what we will be seeing in the future so long as fossil fuel burning doesn’t halt soon, events like the Syrian drought, the Russian fires, the Pakistan floods, mass migration from drowning Pacific Islands and drought stricken Middle Eastern countries, large increases in the frequency and intensity of wildfires, increasing rates of glacial melt, increasing rates of sea level rise, and an increasing inundation of the world’s delta regions on top of a 1 C jump in global temperatures since the 1880s, continue to expand and place strain on the developed world, then the threat to insurance market viability is all-too-real. Furthermore, if these instances haven’t convinced Buffett that the climate change threat is more real than a 1% probability of disruption, is already far more disruptive than Y2K, is entirely capable of producing great flood type catastrophes for many of the world’s coastal and flood-prone cities, and is worth responding to because one doesn’t want to take the chance that God does not coddle the destroyers of the Earth, then I don’t know what will.

Buffet’s Halfhearted Investments in Renewables Fail to Inspire Confidence

Buffett’s utility investments in wind and solar are certainly positive. However, he appears to be treating them as only a marginal hedge while still supporting a host of fossil fuel related investments. This is more a grown-up version of greenwash than anything else. To this point his fund’s rate of renewable energy and zero carbon fuels adoption is far too slow to meet even COP 21 commitments and far, far too slow to prevent seriously ramping harms. Furthermore, his actions in Nevada — which protected majority fossil fuel burning utilities from renewable energy adoption by citizens of that state in essentially crushing a burgeoning residential solar industry — were counter-productive to facing down the larger threat of climate change.

Buffett has failed to propose an alternative to fossil fuel dominated power generation in Nevada after playing what amounts to a cynical market dominance game there. Both his actions and his statements show a troubling lack of urgency and a larger failure to grasp the nature of the climate change threat. Even worse, his statement regarding insurance –‘the problem is solved in the market by just increasing rates and increasing the value of the major insurers’ — implies a short-sighted and amoral approach.

This proposal rings of the oft-derided disaster capitalism in that it seeks to profit from ramping harm. It also generates a market bubble in the form of over-capitalized insurers who are ever-more vulnerable to the large climate disruptions that will certainly be coming. For if the market essentially prices people out of insurance or if insurance companies do not make good on claims due to increasing damages, then faith in markets is eroded and market stability crumbles. Pretty quickly, it can get to every man for himself and that’s a level of volatility that is very tough for even the most cynical and money-minded of investors to game.

Effective leadership in markets, as in so many other fields, requires taking on the long view, providing constituents with security, and truthfully working to confront future risks. Buffett’s statements and actions are all sadly lacking in this regard.

Links:

Warren Buffet’s Quiet Bid to Kill Solar in the Western US

Vote Solar

EDF

IPCC

Warren Buffet’s Letter to Shareholders

Hat tip to Greg

Leave a comment

106 Comments

  1. “Climate change is a fossil fuel industry caused problem that impacts broad and all-encompassing systems.”

    This is not 100% accurate. Conventional agriculture which destroys organic soil matter (carbon) and applies heavy amounts of Nitrogen are responsible for an enormous amount of excess Carbon and nitrogen in the atmosphere. It’s a bigger issue than people tend to make it.

    Great post, by the way.

    Reply
    • I’ve altered the statement a little. But we need to be very clear that warming is primarily a function of fossil fuels and fossil fuel derivatives.

      To this point, the nitrogen in the fertilizer you mention comes from fossil fuels in most cases.

      Nitrogen fertilizers are made from ammonia (NH3), which is sometimes injected into the ground directly. The ammonia is produced by the Haber-Bosch process.[5] In this energy-intensive process, natural gas (CH4) supplies the hydrogen and the nitrogen (N2) is derived from the air. This ammonia is used as a feedstock for all other nitrogen fertilizers, such as anhydrous ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) and urea (CO(NH2)2).

      In addition, the added NOx in the atmosphere is an aspect of fossil fuel pollution. Nitrogen fallout is also a climate stress in that it generates dead zones.

      The point here is that pretty much everything warming related points back to fossil fuels. There’s an impact due to land management. But the old carbon from fossil fuel use is the problem in vast majority.

      Reply
      • Ailsa

         /  March 2, 2016

        Yes, we certainly have a Haber-Bosch addiction. Also, phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) in fertilisers are mined and transported using a great deal of fossil fuels. The worldwide industrial agricultural system uses huge amounts of fossil fuels in machinery, harvesting, transportation, preservation, packaging etc.

        We need to move to smaller scale, local and organic – which is labour intensive and needs a relearning of the deep and intricate skills we’ve lost over the last couple of generations. We need to understand, respect and work with the webs of life in which we are embedded.

        Reply
        • Agriculture is captive to fossil fuels just like so many other things. But as with electricity generation, we are capable of liberating agriculture and of changing agriculture in ways that increase the Earth’s ability to draw carbon out of the air. We absolutely do need to re-weave ourselves into the web of life. Taking fossil fuels out is a big step in that process.

      • Ailsa

         /  March 2, 2016

        There is also concern about limited phosphorus supply. As a non-renewable resource, and an essential ingredient of growing crops, we probably need a major rethink!

        http://phys.org/news/2016-02-great-phosphorus-shortage-short-food.html

        Reply
  2. Here’s Joe Romm’s take…

    The Crucial Point Warren Buffett Does Not Understand About Climate Risk

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/03/01/3754581/warren-buffett-climate-risk/

    Reply
  3. climatehawk1

     /  March 2, 2016

    Buffett has two Ts.

    Reply
      • Robert, as Bernie et al are saying with increasing frequency, yes, THE FIX IS IN! (though I doubt that was what you meant, at least not intentionally). Also, re the spelling of Buffett, I think it also has a silent ‘a-double-ess’, though I cannot remember which letters it fits between. Not that that matters….

        But seriously, that proxy statement … these things don’t just get written spontaneously by dictating to a secretary then publishing. They are carefully crafted and undergo rigorous iterations of scrutiny by key members of the sociopathic core (shall we call them corporopaths?). Their goal, though almost never discussed, is to produce a dribble of content that sounds solid yet says nothing, quite akin to what campaign specialists coach their U.S. candidates to spew forth.

        Most of us have learned of the importance of mystery and custom at Church. There is also a tradition in most faiths to create prayers and chants etc. that sort of mesmerize and otherwise draw adherents into a proper state for hearing a sermon. That said, may I suggest that, arguably, the corporopaths have copied this tradition and are careful to craft proxy statements and other fiscal documents that have the same mind-lulling effect. Read the italicized proxy statement again and think Gregorian Chant as you read it; I think you will see what I am suggesting.

        Mr. Buffett’s true ‘faith’ is in money and mammon. He clearly wants to liquidate all his carbon assets, while gleefully making more money collecting for the damages due to climate change (the insurance arena). Imagine a super-corporation that makes lots of profits selling nicotine and junkfood THEN collects lots more profits treating ill people THEN collects even more money with a funeral service monopoly. This is Buffett. This is capitalism derailed by greed.

        Reply
      • Greg

         /  March 3, 2016

        Great analysis here Robert. Buffett is a war profiteer from his safe little Omaha nest protected ultimately by Uncle Sam. This time there will be no safe place to profit from in the long or medium term at his scale, though I hope Elon Musk proves that wrong. I’m sure Buffett will die richer than he is today but then his empire will begin to crumble as ecological systems and basic physics prove the limiting resource.

        Reply
    • Cate

       /  March 2, 2016

      reformfaanow, “corporopath”? Oh. Yes. I love it. May I use it?😀

      Reply
  4. wili

     /  March 2, 2016

    Thanks for taking on these &%$#@’s. Rich white men behaving badly, indeed.

    Reply
  5. One imagines Buffett not immune to normalcy bias.

    Reply
  6. Colorado Bob

     /  March 2, 2016

    USA’S NORTHERNMOST CITY – NEW RECORD WARMEST WINTER: Winter (Dec-Jan-Feb) of 2015-2016 is the record warmest winter in Barrow, Alaska.

    https://www.adn.com/article/20160301/midwinter-months-break-temperature-records-across-alaska

    Reply
  7. dnem

     /  March 2, 2016

    Looks like he couldn’t live with himslef any longer…

    Aubrey McClendon, 56, Ex-Chief of Chesapeake Energy, Dies in Crash a Day After Indictment
    HOUSTON — Aubrey McClendon, who built a fortune in shale gas by buying up fields across the United States, was killed on Wednesday when his car ran off a highway into a bridge in Oklahoma, the authorities said. His death, at 56, came a day after he was indicted on federal charges of conspiring to suppress prices paid for oil and natural gas leases.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/03/business/energy-environment/aubrey-mcclendon-56-shale-gas-baron-dies-in-crash-a-day-after-indictment.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

    Reply
  8. redskylite

     /  March 2, 2016

    Judith Curry and Roy Spencer being treated for shock as their University of Alabama Satellite readings prove warming. Sorry at the lame attempt of humour, but it’s true and there is not much to chuckle about where the climate is concerned. .

    Mashable (Andrew Freedman) – Climate deniers lose key talking point as satellites show temperatures hit all-time highs

    “February was the warmest month in the satellite record of atmospheric temperatures, according to new data. This is just the first domino to fall during what will likely prove to be the warmest, or one of the warmest, months on record as more data trickles in on conditions during February.

    The satellite data deals a setback to climate deniers that frequently cite the satellite record of atmospheric temperatures as evidence that human-caused global warming either doesn’t exist or is far smaller than scientists claim. ”

    http://mashable.com/2016/03/02/february-warmest-month-satellite/#_KIA0um7LmqC

    Reply
    • redskylite

       /  March 2, 2016

      Joe Romm’s take on the satellite readings . . .

      February smashed monthly global temperature records, according to the satellite data analyzed by the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH). At the same time, a brand new study concludes that miscalculations explain why the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) satellite temperature dataset had appeared to show a relatively slow rate of global warming.

      So Ted Cruz and his fellow climate science deniers need a new meme to replace their “satellites find no warming since 1998” talking point, which replaced the “there’s been no warming since 1998” talking point after that one fell apart when 2014 became the hottest year on record — and again when 2015 blew away the 2014 record.
      http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/03/02/3755715/satellites-hottest-february-global-warming/

      Reply
      • Kevin Jones

         /  March 3, 2016

        I heard Ted tried to take the satellite down but his Cruz missile ran out of fool.

        Reply
  9. Colorado Bob

     /  March 2, 2016

    For some reason this isn’t appearing , so without the link

    MOSCOW, March 2. /TASS/. Russia has experienced a second warmest winter in a row. If last winter set new temperature records, the past three winter months saw the highest temperatures and became the warmest on record, Roshydromet meteorological service said.

    Reply
  10. Colorado Bob

     /  March 2, 2016

    Australia underprepared to deal with ‘killer heat’, Climate Council report says

    The number of record hot days in Australia has doubled in the past 50 years.

    Heatwaves have killed more Australians than any other natural hazard and have caused more deaths since 1890 than bushfires, cyclones, earthquakes, floods and severe storms combined, the report said.

    The heat places “a dramatic demand” on public facilities such as hospitals and the system is so stretched there is no capacity to increase services.

    Link

    Key Points:

    The 2009 heatwave killed over 370 people
    Heatwaves have killed more people than fires, cyclones, floods
    Cardiac arrests triple during heatwaves
    Whole of society approach needed to make changes

    Reply
    • – We must add in air pollution here. One study:

      “Effects of heat waves on mortality: effect modification and confounding by air pollutants.’
      Abstract
      BACKGROUND:
      Heat waves and air pollution are both associated with increased mortality. Their joint effects are less well understood

      To investigate effect modification, we introduced an interaction term between heat waves and each single pollutant in the models. Random effects meta-analysis was used to summarize the city-specific results.
      RESULTS:
      The increase in the number of daily deaths during heat wave episodes was 54% higher on high ozone days compared with low, among people age 75-84 years. The heat wave effect on high PM10 days was increased by 36% and 106% in the 75-84 year and 85+ year age groups, respectively. A similar pattern was observed for effects on cardiovascular mortality. Effect modification was less evident for respiratory mortality, although the heat wave effect itself was greater for this cause of death. The heat wave effect was smaller (15-30%) after adjustment for ozone or PM10.
      CONCLUSIONS:
      The heat wave effect on mortality was larger during high ozone or high PM10 days. When assessing the effect of heat waves on mortality, lack of adjustment for ozone and especially PM10 overestimates effect parameters. This bias has implications for public health policy.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24162013

      Reply
  11. Colorado Bob

     /  March 2, 2016

    “The Old Normal Is Gone”: February Shatters Global Temperature Records

    Keep in mind that it took from the dawn of the industrial age until last October to reach the first 1.0 degree Celsius, and we’ve come as much as an extra 0.4 degrees further in just the last five months. Even accounting for the margin of error associated with these preliminary datasets, that means it’s virtually certain that February handily beat the record set just last month for the most anomalously warm month ever recorded. That’s stunning.

    Link

    Reply
  12. Climate May Make Some Regions ‘Uninhabitable’ by End of Century

    The global trend toward hotter summers could make parts of the Middle East and tropics “practically uninhabitable” by the end of the century, new research published this week contends.

    The work, by climate scientist James Hansen and Makiko Sato of Columbia University’s Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions, builds on earlier research showing that summers generally are more often becoming hotter than the average recorded between 1951-1980. The new paper updates their analysis of the data and looks at how temperatures are changing region by region. The authors conclude that summers in particular have continued to grow hotter, and that extreme heat events are occurring more frequently.

    http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2016/03/02/climate-may-make-some-regions-uninhabitable-by-end-of-century/

    Reply
  13. Ryan in New England

     /  March 2, 2016

    Well, it looks like just a few months after Paris we are already pushing the 1.5C limit. February was the hottest month ever.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2016/03/01/february_2016_s_shocking_global_warming_temperature_record.html

    Reply
    • Add .2 C to last month and you end up with 1.5 or 1.6 above 1880s averages for February. We test the 1.5 C monthly threshold now, which points to the likelihood that we’re within about 10-20 years of hitting annual averages in the 1.5 range (basically one more big El Nino away).

      Reply
  14. Ryan in New England

     /  March 2, 2016

    And I guess I spoke too soon yesterday when declaring California’s rainy season to be a disappointment…

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/el-nios-longawaited-grand-performance-is-on-its-way-to-californi

    Reply
    • – So Cal, though, remain ‘iffy. ‘ But still a chance of some relief in March.

      ‘It remains unclear how far into southern California the biggest rains and mountain snows will extend. The outlook for very heavy precipitation is a bit more confident from central California all the way north to Washington.’

      Reply
  15. Ryan in New England

     /  March 2, 2016

    Some good news here, solar is set to be the number one new source of energy this year.

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/03/02/3755967/solar-energy-rise/

    Reply
  16. Mikkel

     /  March 2, 2016

    Almost every other major insurer says that climate change is an existential risk to the entire industry. Lloyd’s has done full systems modelling (losses not just due to direct damages but also social pressures) and explicitly says that rising above 2C threatens the entire world economy.

    http://m.insurancebusinessonline.co.nz/news/lloyds-makes-call-on-climate-change-206300.aspx

    This correctly notes that insurance can only transfer risk, and that without adaptation and mitigation, insurance breaks down.

    Reply
    • And these days, when insurance breaks down, the CEOs get friends in the political system to bail them out. That way they can continue to fly their fuel-sucking bizjets on junkets to Palm Springs and the Caribbean.

      Reply
  17. James Cole

     /  March 2, 2016

    ” aimed at protecting legacy fossil fuel assets ” Correct, and right to the very heart of the matter. Finance Capitalism, and financial engineering of all asset classes has created a financial trap based on Legacy Fossil Fuels. Those fuels, while still in the ground, are counted on balance sheets all across the global banking sector! This is not the place to dig deep into the modern financial instruments and the new world of engineered finance capitalism.
    What we do know, is trillions of dollars of investment and financial deals hang on fossil fuel assets. To NOT develop these assets for marketing over the next fifty years would cause a total melt down of the entire world financial system and markets.
    It does not have to be this way, but this is how bankers have engineered our modern fiscal system. It is all aimed at gaining profits from engineering financial instruments, trillions of dollars of market cap and future profits hang on the need to keep using fossil fuels. Those who created this world, are the ones who control congress, and thus maintain a death grip on our system.

    Reply
  18. – Salmon farming — the fish are raised in floating pens and are vulnerable.
    – Mostly for export to USA markets.

    Algae bloom kills millions of salmon in Chile

    SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Toxic algae blooms have killed about 8 million salmon in Chile, officials said on Wednesday.

    The Chilean national fisheries service said that about 18,000 tons have been lost in recent weeks due to algal blooming, which asphyxiates fish by decreasing oxygen in the water.

    Chile is a major global exporter of salmon and its leading clients include the United States.

    Authorities say that high temperatures stemming from El Nino weather pattern likely caused the algal bloom that first hit Chile’s salmon-growing southern regions of Aysen and Chiloe. It then spread to the Los Lagos region located about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) south of the Chilean capital.

    – news.yahoo.com/algae-bloom-kills-millions-salmon-chile-

    Reply
    • Most of my life has been in Oregon and Washington. Lots of salmon here, historically. But, the grocery stores in recent years increasingly offer ‘Atlantic Salmon’. Read the fine print and it is always from Chile. And now there is a more recent salmon source: northern China.

      We destroy our local food supplies with abandon, then rely on even more fossil fuels to replace them with distant factory farmed products (and now GMO ‘frankenfish’, too). Such insanity.

      Reply
  19. Ryan in New England

     /  March 3, 2016

    This may seem way off topic, but I bring it up because it’s relevant to those of us concerned about climate change, and very concerned about the Republican party’s commitment to deny the reality of climate change. I think it’s safe to say that American Republicans are the largest impediment to seriously begin transforming our energy infrastructure and reduce emissions. And every day it looks more and more like Donald Trump will be the party’s nominee, which to level-headed, logical adults who value reason and empirical evidence seems completely beyond insane. Right? It seems crazy that so many people can support a candidate like him, who offers nothing but insults worthy of elementary school and hate filled rhetoric. And to those of us keeping track of the recent changes in the climate, the possibility of 4-8 years of Trump is the worst possible eventuality.

    I’ve been trying to figure out the Trump phenomenon. I’ve read lots of hypothesis and opinions, suggesting it’s everything from a financially squeezed white male middle class, to those frustrated with traditional politicians, to just plain racism and bigotry. Well, I just read a piece that, for me, explains the rise of Trump and the seemingly fascist wing of the Republican party better than anything I’ve read yet. A really good read for those of us terrified, yet fascinated, by the whole Trump nightmare.

    http://www.vox.com/2016/3/1/11127424/trump-authoritarianism

    Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  March 3, 2016

      Ryan, thank you for that link. Truly makes sense and seeds were sown by the right wing media such as the Murdoch Empire and establishment and their need to control the population.
      Couldn’t come at a worse time as Climate Change and Global warming truly start to bite

      Reply
    • Greg

       /  March 3, 2016

      Good analysis. Climate change, unfortunately will be a force multiplier in the social/policy arena as it activates the authoritarians. Trump could seem like a marshmellow in the future. We could very well see some extreme policies in the decades ahead that we wouldn’t accept now.

      Reply
      • Abel Adamski

         /  March 3, 2016

        I agree, Hitler, Stalin and the most brutal dictators we have known will be pussies in comparison.

        The policy of creating fear for control is truly playing with fire and will get out of control so easily especially if CC ramps up and people start being personally affected

        It will be the tail wagging the doge where the goverments and authorities are forced to satiate the mob to retain power and some semblence of control

        Reply
    • JPL

       /  March 3, 2016

      Ryan,

      It’s not out of the realm of possibility that a contested Republication nomination convention could lead to Romney being anointed by the GOP establishment.

      Bizzaro world, for sure, but at least Romney more or less acknowledges humanity’s roll in climate change.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/03/02/mitt-romney-to-address-the-2016-presidential-campaign-thursday/

      John

      Reply
  20. Ryan in New England

     /  March 3, 2016

    Sorry, forgot to say great post, Robert! I was shocked at how simple minded Buffett’s views were. Here is supposedly one of the world’s best investors and wealthiest persons, and he is comparing climate change to Y2K? That is frankly, pathetic. If I had money invested in him I would’ve pulled it the moment I read that childish interpretation of what we’re facing, which is the largest threat to ever face anyone’s bottom line. And bringing up Pascal’s wager!? Is he kidding? So now climate change is like God, something we have no evidence for whatsoever?

    Like I said, pathetic.

    Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  March 3, 2016

      It just occurred to me the line about “no evidence for God” might be seen as offensive to some. Sorry, that was definitely not my intention. I was thinking of things strictly from a scientific standpoint, which science definitely has plenty of evidence for AGW, but the scientific community (and Buffett’s companies) as a whole don’t acknowledge any evidence supporting the existence of a particular deity.

      Sorry if my wording was insensitive.

      Reply
      • And, of course, science is more than compatible with even deeply organized religions and faith, but historically comes into conflict ONLY when the religious leaders feel threatened, sometimes as a whole and sometimes just personally.

        I saw those references as Buffett pandering to the dominant conservative faith base of his clients, just as politicians do. It is supposed to feel warm and fuzzy, making references to things biblical. That said, wow: he could really launch off biblically, if he started preaching the doom that science indicates is being gestated by our collective over-consumption (aka ‘Gluttony’, among the Seven Deadly Sins).

        Reply
    • Mark from OZ

       /  March 3, 2016

      Always appreciate your genuine and considered thoughts Ryan! Buffett, like so many it seems, has confused the ‘making of money’ with ‘prosperity’. Everything has a ‘cost’ and the extraordinary ‘returns’ that have been enjoyed by the FF industry and its ancillary organizations (banking, legal,accounting, transport, agriculture, plastics etc.) have been permitted to capture the ‘market value’ of these resources while rarely being responsible for the associated costs that occur downstream.

      By avoiding these costs, which include damage to environment, human health, animal health and now the planet’s ‘health’, they have been allowed to ascend to some of the most profitable and powerful organizations the planet has ever had to endure. As their only mission is to ‘make money’ and if they continue to be allowed complete impunity without regard for the measureable ‘costs’ involved in their pursuit, they will keep going until the IC engines that require their lucrative ‘product’ will no longer function as the atmospheric O2 levels will be unable to support the oxidation process.

      Note: I keep ‘thinking’ of Omaha NE ( home of the Cornhuskers) and what a prosperous corn farm would have ‘looked’ like 100 years ago after a bounty crop. Some of ‘that’ would be attributed to the farmer and the husbandry, but a greater share would be traced to the good weather, rain and fertile soil. Nowadays, it seems, being ‘prosperous’ permits the annihilation of the metaphoric ‘field’ as long as the market price is favourable.

      “Levon, Levon likes his money
      He makes a lot they say”

      Reply
  21. Ryan in New England

     /  March 3, 2016

    OK, this will be my last link today😉 This one’s important, especially given Republican rhetoric concerning immigrants and refugees. More evidence that something conservatives don’t fear or believe is real is contributing to the thing they fear the most. The drought in Syria is the worst in 900 years.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/02/syrias-drought-has-likely-been-its-worst-in-900-years

    Reply
  22. Colorado Bob

     /  March 3, 2016

    Ryan in New England –

    Many thanks for the Trump article, it explains why every time I see him at a podium , I am reminded of Mussolini on balcony in Italy.

    Reply
    • Strong likeness! Wow!! even has that rat-lip thing going on.

      Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  March 3, 2016

      It’s a perfect likeness! I’m surprised Donald doesn’t wear some sort of hat, instead of the stuff on his head now, which looks like he fished it out of the shower drain.

      Reply
      • Mblanc

         /  March 3, 2016

        Didn’t end well for Benito, but then he was a rabble-rousing demagogue, whereas Donald is… er… hold on a minute.

        Strange Fruit indeed!

        Reply
  23. redskylite

     /  March 3, 2016

    Surely one big reason to change now with urgency . . .

    Deaths from changes of diets by Climate Change – a report from Oxford University in the Lancet . . . .

    Impact of climate change on food production could cause over 500000 extra deaths in 2050

    Climate change could kill more than 500000 adults in 2050 worldwide due to changes in diets and bodyweight from reduced crop productivity, according to new estimates published in The Lancet. The research is the strongest evidence yet that climate change could have damaging consequences for food production and health worldwide.

    http://www.sciencecodex.com/impact_of_climate_change_on_food_production_could_cause_over_500000_extra_deaths_in_2050-177012

    Reply
  24. – The natural world — and our rodent friends preserving the past.
    ‘amberat — an asphalt-like crust that can preserve plant material for tens of thousands of years.’

    – High Country News is a treasure. I follow them on Twitter.

    Scientists dig up the past in packrat middens
    The animals’ sturdy nests can preserve clues about the climate for 50,000 years or more.

    On a bright, late-summer day in southwest Montana, Julio Betancourt gazes through binoculars across a dry slope rimmed by limestone cliffs. A cave-like divot in the rock catches his attention.

    “I see middens,” he says, meaning packrat middens — the nests that the long-tailed nocturnal rodents construct with material from trees and other vegetation. Excited, he uses a technical term: “I can actually see the amberat.”

    For Betancourt, a U.S. Geological Survey senior scientist who studies climate variability and ecological change, middens provide a window into the past. Packrats drink no water, but produce a viscous plant-derived urine, which they excrete on their nests. When this dries, it forms amberat — an asphalt-like crust that can preserve plant material for tens of thousands of years. A well-preserved midden is a snapshot of plant communities from as far back as the last ice age.

    http://www.hcn.org/issues/48.3/scientists-dig-up-the-past-in-packrat-middens?utm_campaign=trueAnthem:+Trending+Content&utm_content=56d79e6204d30152eb757c21&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=twitter

    Reply
  25. Robert – the Slate article about the preliminary February http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2016/03/01/february_2016_s_shocking_global_warming_temperature_record.html states “it appears that February 2016 was likely somewhere between 1.15 and 1.4 degrees warmer than the long-term average, and about 0.2 degrees above last month”….Robert, according to your awesome summary of the January numbers we were 1.38C above 1880 baseline (the one nobody uses anymore!!) – so, correct me if I’m wrong here, but…if February is indeed about 0.2 degrees higher than January we are looking at OVER 1.5C for the month – thereby making it the first month on record to 1) shatter Paris’s oh-so-brave 1.5C mark about 84 early and 2) to pass the dreaded “1.5C and here comes massive permafrost thaw carbon feedback.” Am I getting this right (assuming the official data comes in at these numbers?)

    Reply
    • 1.58 C monthly is not 1.5 C annual. The identified annual range of very serious concern for permafrost feedbacks starting to kick in is 1.5 to 2.5 C. That said, the permafrost is already starting to thaw and these big monthly jumps are worrisome. We’re not far. Maybe as little as a decade out from hitting 1.5 C annual. Maybe less if the oceans misbehave. It’s not at all comfortable. I am probably not going to have very much fun covering the Arctic wildfires this year … It’s looking pretty hellacious.

      Reply
      • thanks, Robert. Yes, I realize that this would only be a monthly, not an annual. I am working on an article with the idea that this is a “pre-cursor”. Been trying to use ‘entertaining’ analogies to engage mainstream folks (this would be for Huffington Post). I used to love to play old-school video games (Asteroids, Space Invaders, etc.) and would shoot for a certain high score – let’s say 100,000 – the score would creep up as I practiced – 40,000, 50,000, 60,000, etc – but then, almost out of the blue, I would hit a 100,000 one time or two times, then go back to “my level” at 70,000 or whatever. BUT – it was a pre-cursor – …I knew, at that point, that, before too long I would start to hit 100,000 more consistently and, a little while more, and it would become “my level”. So….this 1.5C monthly (if it does indeed come in at that) is a pre-cursor – and a much, much earlier one than most folks foresaw, even with the super El Nino – and tells us that, before too very long, it will become “our level”.

        Reply
  26. – USA PDX Mother nature’s moss use as air toxic collection ‘membrane’ filter going up the news chain:

    Reply
  27. – Massive undersea earthquake

    Thu Mar 3, 2016 1:42am EST
    Aftershocks rock Indonesia after massive quake, calls for calm

    Strong aftershocks rocked Indonesia early on Thursday after a massive undersea earthquake sparked fears of a region-wide disaster similar to the 2004 Indian Ocean quake and tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people.

    There were no reports of deaths or damage to buildings from Wednesday night’s 7.8 magnitude quake, which caused panic in the Sumatran island port of Padang as people tried to reach higher ground when a tsunami warning was issued. No tsunami occurred.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/indonesia-quake-idUSKCN0W505U

    Reply
  28. Jeremy

     /  March 3, 2016

    Greenpeace on Wednesday released an investigation (pdf) which found that industrial fishing fleets are increasingly moving into Arctic waters, particularly the previously ice-covered Barents Sea, off of Norway.

    “Sea ice loss in the northern Barents Sea is turning it into a new hunting ground for industrial fishing,” Greenpeace states. “Fishing brings with it the threats of habitat degradation and bycatch, potentially wiping out marine life and putting this whole fragile ecosystem at risk.”

    http://www.countercurrents.org/mccauley030316.htm

    Reply
  29. Jeremy

     /  March 3, 2016

    Ken Sarowiwa’s legacy lives on!

    “Shell’s failure to maintain and protect pipelines may leave it liable to a raft of compensation claims from dozens of Niger Delta communities, said Amnesty International today as London law firm Leigh Day announced two more lawsuits against Royal Dutch Shell.

    The latest cases were filed today on behalf of two communities in the Niger Delta who have been affected by oil pollution, Bille and Ogale.”

    https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/03/shell-faces-further-lawsuits-for-nigeria-oil-spills/

    Reply
  30. Bill DeMott

     /  March 3, 2016

    Buffet should be strongly condemned for his anti-solar campaign in Nevada. On the other hand, I am struck by how much better his position is than 99% of Republicans and most investors in fossil fuels. At least he says that there is a high probability of severe harm. The analogy with Y2K is a weak one, but I am willing to let Buffet run his insurance companies. The stakes get higher, but insurance companies may benefit from the increase in extreme storm damage. I am concerned that state and federal taxpayers will absorb too much of the cost of storm damage.

    Reply
    • Buffett’s 50 shades of dark gray may well be better than pitch black. But it ain’t going to cut it. The campaign against solar in Nevada and its outcome more than anything shows he hurts more than he helps.

      Reply
  31. Abel Adamski

     /  March 3, 2016

    One step at a time
    http://qz.com/626901/the-first-solar-powered-airport-in-africa-has-been-opened-in-south-africa/
    Should they need a working model to look up to for guidance, Airports Company South Africa can turn to India. Last year, at the cost of $9.5 million, Cochin International Airport Limited became the world’s first ever solar-powered airport.

    The solar-powered airport is another first for the continent. Last year, Pavegen, a UK based start-up, launched a solar-powered soccer pitch, the first of its kind in Africa, in Lagos, Nigeria.

    Reply
  32. Abel Adamski

     /  March 3, 2016

    Still in Africa who show signs of learning from the errors of the West and China
    http://qz.com/628387/an-unusually-intense-lagos-heatwave-reminds-nigerians-theyre-not-ready-for-climate-change/

    Reply
    • Greg

       /  March 3, 2016

      Abel,
      “At $72.3 million, Lagos’ spending in 2015 paled in comparison to the $2.3 billion spent by New York on adapting to climate change.” Tell that to a politician who says climate change isn’t real or isn’t a big deal. That’s already the cost to New York city alone.

      Reply
  33. Kevin Jones

     /  March 3, 2016

    ESRL GMD Mauna Loa shows highest daily average CO2 on record: March 2, 2016. 406.46 ppm. (with two and a half months of seasonal cycle rise to come)

    Reply
  34. Ryan in New England

     /  March 3, 2016

    This could potentially be major news. Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy has announced that they have achieved “the Holy Grail” of energy storage. This article, sadly, does not explain the process or how this was achieved, only that it is a game changer and looks to be deployed over the next 5-10 years.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/03/us-agency-says-has-beaten-elon-musk-gates-to-holy-grail-battery-storage

    Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  March 3, 2016

      This is the Bloomberg article about Bill Gates, Elon Musk and their race to surpass lithium-ion battery technology by developing the next generation of energy storage technology…the race that ARPA-E claims to have won.

      From the article;
      Sadoway is one of the first out of the gate. This year, he plans to ship six 10-ton prototypes packed with hundreds of liquid metal cells to wind and solar farms in Hawaii, a microgrid in Alaska, and a Consolidated Edison substation in Manhattan. Ambri’s battery will store power Con Ed offloads when demand is low. Then, rather than cranking up another coal- or gas-fired plant, the utility will drain the battery when New Yorkers want more juice

      Sadoway, a 65-year-old Canadian, defies the nerdy inventor mold. He’s been known to teach his class in a tuxedo while serving champagne. Yet he’s all science when explaining batteries. He says Ambri can top lithium-ion on price and longevity with tricky chemistry that he and a former student have finally perfected. The battery combines two metals Sadoway won’t disclose that have different weights and melting points. He separates them with a salt layer. Electric currents heat the metals to as much as 700 degrees Celsius (1,292 degrees Fahrenheit) to pass electrons through the molten salt. That helps the metals hold more energy. Unlike the lithium-ion in laptops, which can take about 400 charges and last four years, Sadoway says his batteries can take 10,000 charges and work for at least a decade.

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-14/gates-pritzkers-take-on-musk-in-5-billion-race-for-new-battery

      Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  March 3, 2016

      I think this may be the project that the Guardian is referring to…

      http://www.anl.gov/articles/arpa-e-awards-iit-argonne-team-34-million-breakthrough-battery-technology

      Reply
    • I found that article really vague and completely lacking in specifics. It appears you did too, because you had to dig up separate links to speculate on what it was they were talking about. I’m going to remain very skeptical about whatever they’re claiming until someone actually gets one of these breakthroughs into mass production and produces a viable product. Until then, to my mind, Telsa/Panasonic and LG Chem are still miles ahead.

      Reply
    • (apologies if this is a double post, I don’t see my first attempt showing up yet.)

      I was really hopeful when I first saw that article, but then I read it and realized that there are no specifics technologies or companies mentioned. Apparently you found that too because you had to find links to speculate about which companies or tech they were actually talking about. There’s been so much bluster from all the research teams working on battery breakthroughs that I’m going to remain skeptical about it until I see an actual company bring a viable breakthrough product to mass production. Until then, IMO, Tesla/Panasonic and LG Chem are going to remain miles ahead in the battery race.

      My skepticism is increased because they’re working on flow batteries. One of these rock star battery research companies with MIT connections caused a stir with flow batteries a couple of years back, but then they made a sudden switch, when they realized they couldn’t do it with flow batteries. Then they apparently realized a way to mass produce lithium ion batteries much more cheaply (one layer only, not multiple thin layers) – not by advancing the chemistry per se, but by modifying the manufacturing process. They’re claiming that li-ion batteries use many thin layers because originally they were manufactured on modified audio-cassette tape machines, but there’s no need to do that. They have a method with one thicker layer that is much cheaper to make. Apparently they’re building their factory now, so we’ll see.

      Because as much as these people want to tout how they’ve beaten the big names, until they actually deploy something in massive quantities, they’re basically just chirping the people who are actually getting something done. Because it’s deployment that’s the most important thing right now.

      Reply
  35. Ryan in New England

     /  March 3, 2016

    This article gives a brief description of the next-gen batteries that Arpa-E may have just succeeded with.

    http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/the-next-generation-of-battery-tech-at-arpa-e

    In simple terms, Influit has figured out how to suspend nanoparticles of the electrochemically active materials that make up flow battery electrolyte in a water-based liquid, instead of dissolved salts that make up traditional flow battery electrolyte. That allows for a higher “loading” of energy per unit than today’s flow batteries can achieve, as well as a reduction in the weight of battery materials, John Katsoudas, CEO of Influit and IIT senior research associate, told me.

    or

    Better Flow Batteries Through New Membranes. ITN Energy Systems, the Littleton, Colo.-based company that’s spun out such greentech companies as thin-film solar player Ascent Solar and tiny energy storage device maker Infinite Power Solutions, is now working on a vanadium redox flow battery system that could lower the cost of a critical piece of the flow battery puzzle: the proton exchange membranes that allow the conversion of flowing liquid into electricity.

    Almost all flow batteries today use DuPont Nafion membranes, Ashutosh Misra, ITN’s executive vice president of business development, told me. ITN’s ARPA-E project is seeking to prove that the company’s membrane technology, “based on the renewable biopolymer chitosan and ITN’s proprietary cross-linking process,” can beat Nafion on cost and performance terms, he said.

    Reply
  36. Hello, not sure if the article about drying Amazon was linked here, sorry if yes:

    Recently I was shocked to read “The Amazon drained forest: Incredible pictures show devastating effect of drought ravishing Brazil in area’s worst dry spell for 100 years”. Pictures of muck, parched earth, and abandoned boats. Once mile-wide tributaries of the Rio Negro run dry. How could this be? Indeed, recent droughts are broadly reported. I should not have been surprised that something was amiss.

    http://bit.ly/1TSJgbu

    Reply
  37. And here is the YT animation:

    Reply
  38. Kevin Jones

     /  March 3, 2016

    NSIDC reports February Arctic Sea Ice Extent at new record low. (but we expected that) February rate of decline now increased to 3% per decade.

    Reply
  39. Neil Gundel

     /  March 3, 2016

    I’m not sure it’s fair to brand Buffett as a “greenwasher” because he owns both tar sands and renewable businesses. You do have to look at the details. According to his shareholder letter, Berkshire Energy has invested $16 billion in renewables, while he is accused of recently raising his total investment in dirty energy to $1 billion.

    However, I do agree that he’s being a little shortsighted, and forgetting how the Superfund Law caught everyone by surprise when it was passed in 1980. Companies that had been getting away with polluting for years were suddenly held liable for cleanup costs – even when those costs were enough to break the companies. Even when the original polluting company had gone out of business, the new property owners were on the hook, and in many cases their deep-pocketed insurers were forced to cover the costs.

    It’s not obvious how climate change damages will find their way into the legal landscape, but history suggests that those with deep pockets will pay. Better make sure they are deep enough, Mr. Buffett🙂

    Reply
    • Berkshire Energy has 82 billion dollars in holdings. This includes 10 percent of Suncor — the big tar sands producer, 22 percent of Philips 66 — an oil company, and majority stakes in 19 coal fired power plants. 75 percent of these holdings are fossil fuel. In the US, Berkshire’s rail holdings transport as much as 10 percent of the coal in the US. And don’t even get me started on fossil fuel related assets in China.

      We can easily surmise that Buffett’s action in Neveda protected coal burning power plants from expanding rooftop solar there — locking in dangerous carbon emissions indefinitely. Buffett has claimed that his utility has significant solar holdings. But the 20 megawatts of solar energy infrastructure held by his Nevada power company is paltry when compared to the gas and coal legacy holdings.

      Rooftop solar, if it continued to receive policy support in Nevada would have installed more megawatts on an annual basis than Buffett’s utility holdings retained in total.

      Reply
  40. Greg

     /  March 3, 2016

    China’s push for wind shows the scale and speed possible. China’s official 2015 wind installations rapidly expanded last year and are an all-time global record of 32.5 gigawatts having delivered 20.7 gigawatts of new wind capacity in 2014. By the way, coal imports were down a substantial 30 per cent.

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/2079179-china-set-to-surpass-its-climate-targets-as-renewables-soar/

    Reply
  41. Jeremy

     /  March 3, 2016

    “Fossil fuel companies donated more than $100 million to Republican presidential candidates’ campaigns last year, an unprecedented investment by those “who stand to lose the most in the fight against climate change,” a joint analysis by Greenpeace and the Guardian published Thursday has revealed.

    The analysis of Federal Election Commission data found that 124 “megadonors,” all of whom have financial or professional ties to the industry, donated about $107 million to right-leaning Super PACs in 2015—before a single vote was even cast in the GOP primary season. Super PACs are allowed to take in unlimited campaign donations.”

    http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/03/03/fossil-fuel-tycoons-spending-millions-elect-gop-president

    Reply
  42. Jeremy

     /  March 3, 2016

    “More than half a million people could die in the next few decades as a result of climate change, according to new research published Wednesday in The Lancet.”

    http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/03/03/climate-change-fueled-food-crisis-could-kill-half-million-2050

    Wait a minute!
    25,000 children currently die of starvation EVERY DAY,
    That’s half a million every 20 DAYS .
    And the Lancet has calculated that half a million will die in “the next few DECADES”?!?!?!

    What are the folks at the Lancet smoking.
    I think this is something Dave Cohen would call “Bullshit”!

    Reply
    • wili

       /  March 3, 2016

      Yeah, that struck me as a vast underestimate. Agencies are warning of up to 60 million people starving _this year_ because of gw-enhanced El Nino in Africa alone.

      Reply
  43. redskylite

     /  March 3, 2016

    News (and warning) on Greenland’s dark ice, which is very evident on drone video clips from the Earth Institute . .

    Greenland’s Ice Is Getting Darker, Increasing Risk of Melting

    Greenland’s snowy surface has been getting darker over the past two decades, absorbing more heat from the sun and increasing snow melt, a new study of satellite data shows. That trend is likely to continue, with the surface’s reflectivity, or albedo, decreasing by as much as 10 percent by the end of the century, the study says.

    While soot blowing in from wildfires contributes to the problem, it hasn’t been driving the change, the study finds. The real culprits are two feedback loops created by the melting itself. One of those processes isn’t visible to the human eye, but it is having a profound effect.

    http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/greenlands-ice-getting-darker-increasing-risk-melting

    Reply
  44. Bad news for Canadians the planet (so much for my fantasy to escape to Canada!):
    http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/03/03/harper-20-trudeau-says-canada-needs-more-tar-sands-pipelines

    Reply
    • should say “Canadians AND the planet”

      Reply
    • If this keeps up, we’re done. Real leadership would be making the hard choices. This is just more business as usual getting locked in. We don’t really have any time for this.

      Reply
      • Cate

         /  March 4, 2016

        The Canadian position is still schizophrenic: the federal and provincial govts in Canada are just coming out of a joint meeting on climate change, the first of several to address our Paris targets. The federal govt endorses carbon taxes, and has indicated that if our fractious provinces fail to agree on how and when to bring in carbon taxes, the federal govt will impose a national carbon tax. So far so good, as far as carbon tax goes–and how far that tax would actually go towards getting us to 30% below 2005 is very unclear.

        OTOH, the federal govt supports pipelines in general and the Energy East pipeline in particular. It also continues to subsidise Big Oil to the tune of billions. This is because for all the bluster about carbon tax, BIg Oil still owns the federal government, as well as a number of provinces, my own included.

        In the latest twist-and-turn by the federal govt on this file, a CBC report today says that the federal govt is claiming—apparently with a straight face—-that investment in Energy East will help solve climate change because the profits will go towards developing green energy.

        Reply
    • Cate

       /  March 4, 2016

      I should clarify that Canada is way behind the rest of the world in developing green energy. Big Oil owns Canada—it owns the federal government’s energy policy, it owns the economic policies of several provinces, it ihhabits the mindset of millions of Canadians who think wey owe our standard of living and all good things in life to Big Oil (Big Oil encourages and enhances this attitude among the populace).

      When it comes to climate change, Canada is farther back than the back of beyond. If. We are yet to be convinced it’s real. If you want leadership in renewables development, in both policy and implementation, I would recommend living almost anywhere but Canada.

      Reply
  45. seth borenstein ‏@borenbears 17m17 minutes ago
    seth borenstein Retweeted Margaret Kriz Hobson

    Truly weird. Dulles outside DC has had more than 5X the snowfall in 2016 than Anchorage; 33″ vs. 5.3″

    Reply
  1. The Killer Seas Begin — Mass Marine Death off Chile as Ocean Acidification Begins to Take Down Florida’s Reef | robertscribbler

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