The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

Slowing coal use in China and India has put the two most populous countries on a trajectory to beat their carbon emissions goals under the Paris Agreement, making up for rollbacks in U.S. climate action under the Trump administration, according to a new analysis released by Climate Action Tracker (CAT) at intersessional climate talks concluding today in Bonn, Germany.

China, which had pledged to peak its carbon emissions no later than 2030 and to sharply reduce them thereafter, has seen a coal consumption decrease over three consecutive years (2013 to 2016), a trend expected to continue. India, which had pledged to slow its emissions growth by expanding its renewables sector, has stated that its planned coal-fired power plants may not be needed. If it fully implements recently announced policies, its emissions growth would significantly slow over the next decade.

“Five years ago, the idea of either China or India stopping—or even slowing—coal use was considered an insurmountable hurdle, as coal-fired power plants were thought by many to be necessary to satisfy the energy demands of these countries,” said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics, a CAT consortium member. “Recent observations show they are now on the way towards overcoming this challenge.”

So much so that they will compensate for the anticipated failure of the United States to make good on its pledge. Together, India and China will reduce projected global carbon emissions growth by 2 to 3 gigatons in 2030 compared to last year’s CAT projections—significantly outweighing the impact of the Trump administration’s proposed rollbacks in U.S. emissions reduction efforts, which the CAT analysis calculated at some 0.4 gigatons of extra carbon emissions each year by 2030.

“The highly adverse rollbacks of US climate policies by the Trump Administration, if fully implemented and not compensated by other actors, are projected to flatten US emissions instead of continuing on a downward trend,” said Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute, a CAT consortium member.

According to the CAT analysis, meeting the U.S. pledge to lower its carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent below its 2005 levels by 2025 would require implementation of the full climate action plan outlined by the Obama administration—which along with the Clean Power Plan called for expanding clean energy, energy efficiency programs and advanced transportation technology. But even then, the analysis suggests, the United States would reduce emissions only 10 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Without the Clean Power Plan, emissions would fall just 7 percent below 2005 levels.

Clean Power Plan: EPA, Rule Foes Seek Abeyance; Rule Supporters, a Remand

Following last month’s Court of Appeals ruling that put lawsuits challenging the Clean Power Plan on hold for 60 days without deciding on the rule’s legality, the Trump administration on Monday asked the court to make that hold indefinite rather than remand the litigation—send it back—to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) while it decides what to do with the rule. A remand would end a halt that the Supreme Court placed on the rule last year, allowing supporters to file a new lawsuit if the EPA repeals the Clean Power Plan, which under a March executive order, it is almost certain to do.

“Abeyance is the proper course of action because it would better preserve the status quo [the Supreme Court’s stay of the rule], conserve judicial resources, and allow the new Administration to focus squarely on completing its current review of the Clean Power Plan (‘the Rule’) as expeditiously as possible,” said the EPA brief. “Whereas abeyance would maintain the Supreme Court’s stay, a remand would raise substantial questions regarding the stay’s vitality,” it continued.

Foes of the rule also argued in favor of an indefinite hold on the litigation, writing in their own brief that “holding these cases in abeyance best protects Petitioners’ rights to judicial review and this Court’s ability to resolve challenges to the Rule should EPA ultimately not revise or rescind the Rule.”

Environmentalists, states, cities and power companies that support the Clean Power Plan, along with wind and solar industry associations, all filed briefs in favor of remand.

Environmental groups said placing the cases in long-term abeyance would violate basic administrative law principles—a point also made by cities and power companies that support the Clean Power Plan—and that remanding the cases would avoid an improper extension of the Supreme Court stay. In addition, they argued that the courts should rule on the merits of the lawsuits.

“While remand is preferable to abeyance,” states their brief, “the only appropriate path is to issue a merits decision. Withholding a merits decision now would waste massive resources that the agency, the public, the parties and the Court have invested, and would very likely introduce sprawling new chapters to the long history of delay in curtailing the grave health and environmental consequences of power plant carbon pollution.”

Renewable energy trade groups said sending the cases back to the EPA would ensure that the agency goes through “reasoned decisionmaking.”

Even though the Clean Power Plan is unlikely to survive in its current form, on Monday, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe issued a directive to state air regulators to write a plan to cap power plant emissions and to allow companies to swap allowances “through a multistate trading program,” much like the Clean Power Plan.

“The threat of climate change is real, and we have a shared responsibility to confront it,” McAuliffe said. “As the federal government abdicates its role on this important issue, it is critical for states to fill the void.”

The order seems to lean toward linking to or joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a nine-state cap-and-trade system for power generators in the Northeast.

Arctic Council Declaration Stops Short of Reaffirming Signatories’ Paris Agreement Pledges

Last week the eight member nations of the Arctic Council released a consensus declaration that included references to climate change but merely acknowledged the existence of the Paris Agreement rather than reaffirming members’ commitment to it—a concession sought by the U.S. delegation (subscription).

At the two-day ministerial meeting in Fairbanks, which concluded the council’s U.S. chairmanship, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reflected the Trump administration’s uncertain Paris Agreement stance, telling fellow council members that “In the United States we are currently reviewing several important policies, including how the Trump administration will approach the issue of climate change,” and adding that “We’re not going to rush to make a decision. We’re going to work to make the right decision for the United States.”

The joint agreement by the Arctic Council did not recommit its members to meet their pledges to the 2015 global accord to limit global warming increases.

In its preamble, the so-called Fairbanks Declaration merely noted “the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change and its implementation” and reiterated “the need for global action to reduce both long-lived greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants.”

The U.S. State Department said the statement should not be construed to require U.S. action.

“The Fairbanks Declaration notes what Paris claims to be,” said a State Department official. “It does not obligate the U.S. to enforce it.”

The declaration referenced the Arctic’s fast-rising temperatures and their threat to the region, noting that “The Arctic is warming at more than twice the rate of the global average” and calling climate change “the most serious threat to Arctic biodiversity.”

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

The Great Barrier Reef, which last year narrowly avoided being put on the World Heritage endangered list, is experiencing its worst bleaching in recorded history. According to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, overall mortality of the reef is 22 percent, but along Lizard Island, off far north Queensland, it’s 93 percent. Coral bleaching is also occurring along the Maldives, Thailand, and Christmas Island.

By year’s end, what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has designated the third global coral bleaching in less than two decades, and the longest and most severe so far, will have killed 12,000 square kilometers of reefs and affected more than a third of the world’s corals.

Satellite data produced for The Guardian by Mark Eakin, head of NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch, reveals the increasingly widespread impact of ocean temperature increases on the Great Barrier Reef, where bleaching is predicted to become an annual event by 2020.

“While there was a considerable amount of variability—from El Niños and other things—there was an obvious upward trend in the data,” Eakin said. “So you’re looking at the background warming, which is having a major effect on the corals.”

Although coral bleaching is thought to result largely from abnormally high sea temperatures that kill marine algae crucial for coral health, a study published Tuesday in Nature Communications and based on a three-year experiment on a coral reef in the Florida Keys nuances that understanding. Its authors say that widespread coral deaths observed in recent decades are being caused by a combination of multiple local stressors that become lethal in the presence of higher temperatures.

“This makes it clear there’s no single force that’s causing such widespread coral deaths,” said study co-author Rebecca Vega Thurber of Oregon State University. “Loss of fish that help remove algae, or the addition of excess nutrients like those in fertilizers, can cause algal growth on reefs. This changes the normal microbiota of corals to become more pathogenic, and all of these problems reach critical levels as ocean temperatures warm.”

United States and India Announce Climate and Energy Agreements

On Tuesday, following a meeting with President Obama partly focused on climate change and energy, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country, the world’s third-largest greenhouse gases producer, would ratify the Paris Agreement this year. The action is considered a key step in cementing the deal, which goes into effect 30 days after 55 nations representing 55 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions ratify it. To date, countries representing approximately 50 percent of global emissions have announced that they will submit legal documentation of their compliance with the deal, under which more than 190 nations agreed to keep global warming to within 2 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5 Celsius.

“Both leaders feel as if the collaboration between the two leaders was an important element of actually getting Paris successfully negotiated last December,” said Brian Deese, President Obama’s top climate change advisor. “They will both clearly endorse the importance of promoting full implementation of the Paris agreement.”

President Obama indicated that the speed with which the agreement could be brought into force would depend in part on securing “the climate financing that’s necessary for India to be able to embark on a bold vision for solar energy and clean energy” laid out by Modi.

Among the other climate and energy agreements the countries announced was a joint effort to adopt, this year, an amendment to the Montreal Protocol on the use of hydrofluorocarbons (subscription). That amendment would increase financial support to the protocol’s multilateral fund and contain an “aggressive phasedown schedule” for the potent greenhouse gas.

According to a White House fact sheet, other joint efforts include a $40 million program to provide capital for solar projects and a $20 million clean energy finance initiative.

India also agreed to a low greenhouse gas emissions development strategy.

Ontario Unveils Climate Plan with Carbon Market Funding

Yesterday, Ontario announced its climate change action plan for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 and explained how that plan will work with its recently adopted carbon market, which it plans to link with that of California and Quebec in 2018.

According to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, the action plan helps define how market proceeds will be spent. “By law, proceeds must be invested in projects and programs that help reduce greenhouse gas pollution,” said the ministry.

Most of the action plan’s C$8.3 billion in planned spending on combatting climate change will come from the annual C$1.9 billion that the government expects to raise by auctioning greenhouse gas emissions credits.

Canada’s four most populous provinces—representing 86 percent of Canadians—have, or are introducing carbon pricing, either through a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade program aimed at emissions reductions.

The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

The U.S.-India climate agreement announced January 25 creates a new agreement between the second- and third-largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world but does not have the strength of the U.S.-China climate deal reached last year. Rather than committing India to cap its emissions, the U.S.-India deal called for “enhancing bilateral climate change cooperation” in advance of the United Nations effort to reach an international agreement on emissions and finance in Paris in December.

Specifically, the deal calls for cooperation on reducing emissions of fluorinated gases and beefing up India’s promotion of clean energy investment. The two countries also renewed their commitment to the U.S.-India Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center, extending by five years funding for research on advanced biofuels, solar energy, and building energy efficiency as well as launching new research on smart grid and grid storage technology.

“It’s my feeling that the agreement that has been concluded between the United States and China does not impose any pressure on us,” said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, adding, “But there is pressure. When we think about the future generations and what kind of world we are going to give them, then there is pressure. Climate change itself is a huge pressure. Global warming is a huge pressure.”

The agreements have not bridged the gap in the two countries’ perspectives on UN climate talks: the United States wants major emitters to take legal responsibility for climate change action, but India argues that the United States and other developed countries have not followed through on their own pledges and should not demand that developing countries take on new emissions reductions responsibilities.

President Moves to Shut Artic National Wildlife Refuge to Oil Drilling

While proposing to open portions of the Atlantic Ocean to oil and gas extraction, an Obama administration plan would prohibit energy development on nearly 10 million acres off the Alaskan coast. The administration has also proposed setting aside more than 12 million acres in Alaska’s Artic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness, squashing opportunities for oil exploration there.

Less than 40 percent of the refuge currently has the wilderness designation, the highest level of protection available for public lands. The president’s plan would block efforts to drill for oil on a 1.5-million-acre portion of the refuge thought to contain up to 10.3 billion barrels of petroleum.

In a press conference, Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said that President Obama has declared “war” on her state. “The fight is on and we are not backing down.”

In a White House blog post, John Podesta a counselor to the president and Mike Boots, leader of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, noted that the United States today is the world’s number-one producer of oil and natural gas and that the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge “is too precious to put at risk” of an oil-related accident. “By designating the area as wilderness, Congress could preserve the Coastal Plain in perpetuity—ensuring that this wild, free, beautiful, and bountiful place remains in trust for Alaska Natives and for all Americans.”

Increasing Frequency of La Niñas Attributed to Climate Change

A new climate modeling study published in Nature Climate Change suggests that by century’s end human-caused climate change will double the frequency of La Niñas—weather patterns associated with a temperature drop in the central Pacific Ocean—resulting in floods, droughts, and other extreme weather events.

Extreme La Niña events might be experienced about every 13 years, rather than every 23 years, as they are now, but not like clockwork, according to lead study author Wenju Cai, a climate scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Aspendale, Australia. “We’re only saying that on average, we expect to get one every 13 years,” said Cai. “We cannot predict exactly when they will happen, but we suggest that on average, we are going to get more.”

The study finds that powerful La Niñas will immediately follow intense El Niños, causing weather patterns to alternate between wet and dry extremes.

The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

The Gods Must Be Crazy

On November 5, 2009, in Uncategorized, by

Tquad

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Fist Things Fist: If this section heading doesn’t look quite right it’s because there are a few r’s missing. That was true this week of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, a panel of Democrats whose Republican sparring partners boycotted work on the climate bill co-sponsored by Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). The Republican senators criticized the majority for moving ahead without an EPA analysis of the bill, which is similar to one that the House approved in June. The bill passed out of the committee this morning by a vote of 11-1, with Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) voting against it, and all the R’s abstaining.

Committee drama set the stage for Sens. Kerry, Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to announce yesterday that they are pursuing parallel negotiations on a climate bill, and are in discussion with the administration, Senate colleagues, and outside interests, including the newly minted American Businesses for Clean Energy.

Expectations for the Copenhagen climate talks continue to drop so low that the conference might end up being declared a success solely on the basis of having enough folding chairs and scratch paper for attendees. Climate envoy Todd Stern told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that in Copenhagen the U.S. hopes to lay groundwork for agreements on contentious issues in the near future.

About Our Recent, Unexcused Absences…: What many Indians lack in understanding “global warming,” they make up for in knowledge that their climate is changing. That’s a central takeaway from Climate Post‘s recent three-week voyage through India. It’s also the central problem in writing about climate change: Scientists commonly define “climate” as a statistical average of weather events, somewhere, over a long period of time. So personal observations, such as, the rainy season isn’t so rainy lately, are of limited scientific value. We can note that extreme events–flooding, drought, erratic weather, coastal erosion, the rest–resemble predictions, if they do. But there’s “no man behind the curtain” of climate change.

These on-the-ground observations may be of limited scientific value. But what makes them tangible is the way that en masse they begin to shape the very non-scientific public awareness and politics. Krishnendu Bandyopadhyay, a Times of India special correspondent, told me that editors have focused attention on climate change prompted not by politics, as is frequently the case in the U.S., but with declining agricultural productivity. The eastern Indian state of Odisha (called Orissa until 2 weeks ago) has many concerns. If there is an environmental problem happening anywhere in India, or the world, it can also be found in Odisha. And climate risks in this region are halting. Last week marked the 10th anniversary of a supercyclone that killed 10,000 people and dislocated more than 1.5 million there. Poorer areas never recovered and fears linger. “They shouldn’t call [storms] ‘low-pressure systems,'” said Prafulla Kumar Dhal, who works for a local social welfare agency called BISWA. “They should call them ‘normal-pressure systems.'”

The U.S. climate debate often feels hollow (mostly–anyone remember Katrina?) because it is largely driven by political concerns and scientific data, not people experiencing the meteorological weirdness that, if nothing else, Occam’s Razor suggests may be partly influenced by climate change. It’s a common assertion in the climate community that poor and vulnerable nations will experience the severest dislocations. It’s a less common assertion that poor and vulnerable nations are already beginning to see strain, are aware of it, and are unhappy. In some ways I learned more about it my first two days in India than in the previous 10 years I’ve spent writing out it.

Beyond the Foreign Section: The Indian trip was organized by the U.S. State Department’s Office of International Information Programs, though I traveled as a private citizen unencumbered by any official messages, tasks, or requests. Mostly, I was asked to go over and meet with Indian journalists so that we can compare notes about what works and doesn’t in climate coverage, and find ways to work together. The trip culminated in a New Delhi journalism conference, organized by the International Federation of Environmental Journalists, about bridging the gaps between climate change reporting in the North and South.

Discussions frequently turned to how difficult it is for Indians to see anything beyond Washington, and for Americans to see anything beyond Delhi. Some Indians I met tend to see America as monolithic or a cartoon. President Obama is seen by some as no different from President Bush on climate policy, even if he has the Senate to fault. Many Americans who think about it see India only as the first part of the phrase “India and China,” without recognizing the complexities, that 99 percent of Indians live below the U.S. poverty line or that there are 100 million-200 million more Indians without electricity than there are Americans in total. There is much work to do bringing Indians and Americans together electronically.

Now Appearing on the International Stage: India’s Minister of Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, is interesting to watch. He must balance the demands of his government, which is reluctant to amend its incalcitrant position in the climate negotiations, and his interlocutors in the West, who are reluctant to amend their incalcitrant positions in the climate negotiations. This week he is encouraging Indians to see climate change as a leadership opportunity–and a responsibility to the future, and to internalize its meaning rather than play victim to a problem of the West’s creation.

The Obama administration appears poised to make more progress in its bilateral relationship with India than with any other nation. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will visit Washington this month and enjoy President Obama’s first state dinner. Trade and geopolitics are bringing the two nations together, cautiously.

Statistical Threats Leave No Fingerprints: India may be more vulnerable to large-scale climate change than any other nation. Seventy percent of its rainfall comes during monsoon season. Unusual variability in the monsoon has led to drought and flooding. Melting Himalayan glaciers threaten fresh water supplies for hundreds of millions. The Bay of Bengal is eroding a string of Odisha villages I visited. BISWA’s Prafulla Kumar Dhal spoke of an important temple, the adjacent wells to which had dried up. “The gods know that the climate is changing,” he said, seemingly incredulous. Maybe so, maybe not. Some weird stuff is happening in India. The question, what if anything will we do about it, remains unanswered–in Washington, New Delhi, Copenhagen, and elsewhere.

Eric Roston is Senior Associate at the Nicholas Institute and author of The Carbon Age: How Life’s Core Element Has Become Civilization’s Greatest Threat. Prologue available at Grist.

Pools of Oil, Plumes of Gas

On July 16, 2009, in Uncategorized, by

NI logoFirst Things First: The Washington-to-Beijing diplomatic shuttle shows no sign of slowing down. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke visited China this week to prod collaboration on clean energy technology. Chu announced the U.S. would contribute $15 million to a partnership that will study how to capture carbon dioxide emissions and trap them underground. The Wall Street Journal‘s “Environmental Capital” blogger Keith Johnson sums up mutual perceptions nicely by citing headlines in his paper (“Chu Warns China on Emissions”) and the China Daily (“Steven Chu: U.S. Ready to Lead on Climate Change”).

The New York Times reports that China is taking the lead on clean energy. The Washington Post surveys business trends there and in other Asian nations, places that “could outpace the programs in Obama’s economic stimulus package or in the House climate bill.” A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory official agrees that the U.S. is already left behind in some areas. And the number of U.S. “green jobs” is on the uptick–thanks to enterprising foreign firms.

The U.S. energy industry delivered a surprise this week. Exxon announced a plan to spend $600 million on research into fuel manufactured from algae. These simple plants, which include pond scum and seaweed, are a darling of many scientists and venture capital firms. Exxon’s investment further boosts the fortunes of maverick scientist Craig Venter, whose Synthetic Genomics is a partner in the project. Just a few years ago, Exxon’s previous CEO called ethanol “moonshine,” denigrating such projects, although it should be pointed out that moonshine is largely ethanol.

Count your carbs, count your carbon: Sweden assumed the presidency of the European Union earlier this month. The nation has had a carbon tax since the early 1990s, and continues to take the climate initiative, which now extends to food labeling.

With food or anything else, counting carbs is tricky business. Every facet of the climate story this week demonstrates why. In perhaps the most direct example, the Securities and Exchange Commission will take “a very serious look” at if or how to mandate that publicly traded companies disclose their climate risks.

Elsewhere, economic modeling spats continue. In California, small-business groups funded a study that suggests that, uh, small businesses will lose more than $180 billion in output –10 percent of the total–as a result of the state’s climate law. The California Air Resources Board says the study posits the climate law would bring no savings from increased efficiency or benefits from innovation and entrepreneurship, a supposition that “contradicts the track record of three decades” of state history.

Scientists are in the profession of keeping other scientists honest, theoretically. Computer simulations are such an easy activity to squawk at, scientists themselves do, in the most rarefied places, when they see less-than-rigorous studies published. As commentary on niche modeling, Nature publishes this paper that simulates the effects of climate change on Bigfoot habitats in North America.

The Washington Post runs another op-ed that pretends that climate change does not exist. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin pens this op-ed. She writes, “Westerners literally sit on mountains of oil and gas.” Climate Post usually thinks of mountains as solid, oil as liquid, and gas as gas. The latter two phases of matter seem harder to sit on.

Palin quotes Warren Buffett, the famed investor, describing predicted burdens the bill will have on low-income Americans. Buffett himself comes under scrutiny elsewhere. Bloomberg Columnist Eric Pooley untangles the assumptions in Buffett’s statements and those of David Sokol, chairman of MidAmerican Energy Holdings.

The next day, the WP ran an editorial supportive of the G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, last week, possibly to balance the decision to run Palin’s op-ed the day before.  Guardian columnist, and now backseat economist, George Monbiot takes a calculator to the aspirational agreements struck last week among G8 nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and prevent more than two degrees C of warming. The developed world would meet their targets in part by offsetting their emissions with credits generated by projects in the developing world. To generate enough offset credits, Monbiot calculates, developing nations would have to reduce their emissions by 125 percent.

Climate legislation allows regulated firms to meet their carbon caps by “offsetting” emissions–buying pollution credits generated by (mostly) forestry and agriculture projects. A comprehensive Greenwire article places offsets within the wider context of how markets can find efficient ways to protect ecosystem services–the many natural processes that clean water, or air, shuttle nutrients about, or cool the climate. Two Nicholas Institute colleagues are cited in the piece.

Summer Days:Exceptional drought” sears central and southern Texas, draining crops and straining herds. Just one of 12 boat ramps at Lake Travis, near Austin, can reach water, which is down 40 feet. Plus side: Young children can wade safely in nearby river.

Officials, scientists, and at least one reporter in Macon, Georgia, have read the White House’s June report, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, which predicts a future of twice as many 90-degree days, with the hottest days 10 degrees hotter than usual. “When I read those numbers, I think about what that means to me and my family and my lifestyle, and that’s a very different picture of the South than what I grew up with,” a Georgia Tech scientist said.

The summer sun has desiccated San Joaquin Valley in California, and the U.S. need only look south to consider the effects of poorly managed water.

Dryness is crippling farming in India’s massive farming sector. Bhopal residents, all 1.8 million of them, are allowed 30 minutes of water every other day, in rationing undertaken in October. Downpours and flooding in Mumbai couldn’t help Mumbai, where officials cut water use by 30 percent given a drop in lake levels.

BBC reports from Char Atra, a beleaguered island in the Ganges, where “hardcore poor” residents cope as they can with natural hydrology. Villagers have rebuilt one woman’s home because last year, “there was so much water in her hut that she had to tie her children to their bed at night to stop them from rolling and drowning.”

Does he still count?: Love him or hate him, leading NASA climatologist James Hansen has become an embattled figure. ClimateWire turns in a thoughtful analysis of just how relevant the grandfather of global warming is or isn’t in his activist period, a skeptical complement to the lighter fare published by the New Yorker recently.

Hansen and Al Gore held a colloquium in Hell, which itself, apparently, has seen a 3.8 degree average temperature rise since 1955. “[O]ccupants of Hell who in 1955 were standing night and day in boiling pitch up to their knees report that, owing to the expansion of pitch at higher temperatures, they now must endure the torment all the way up to mid-thigh, or even higher, during Hell’s warmer seasons,” writes Ian Frazier, a satirist, the New Yorker’s tongue-in-cheek “Shouts and Murmurs column.”

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