What’s New in the Climate Web?

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August 15, 2017

First, we’ve significantly updated and improved the Climate Web’s Index in just the last week.  With more than 1,700 Index entries there’s always room for improvement. Check it out, and we welcome your reactions!

I’m not focusing on a particular topic today as I did a couple of weeks ago when I looked at Prediction Markets in the Climate Web. For today, I’ll sample some of the many items we’ve recently added to the Climate Web. As always in some cases, I’ll link you to stories directly, as opposed to sending you to the Climate Web where you would have to click on the story’s URL anyway. But everything I point you to below is in fact integrated into the Climate Web.

First, another 1,000 pages of climate science have hit the bookshelves with the leaked draft of the Global Change Research Program’s (GCRP) Special Science Report and the annual State of the Climate Report for 2016. The GCRP report is discussed here in a Think Progress blog, and the full report is here in the Climate Web. The State of the Climate report is summarized here in the Atlantic Magazine, and the full report is here in the Climate Web. I will note that finding “here’s what’s really new when it comes to climate change” insight is very difficult in both reports, buried as it is in 1,000 pages of technical discussion.

But there’s plenty more to explore when it comes to recent Climate Web additions:

  • Amidst all of the discussion regarding a low-carbon transition, can we measure and track how confident we should be in policy movement toward a low-carbon transition? It’s challenging, as explored in a Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy White Paper; you can explore its key points here in the Climate Web.
  • Following up on the last point, the investment firm Schroders has come out with a Climate Progress Dashboard. This Dashboard is intended to provide a best-available projection of likely temperature increases (see figure). It’s the most innovative such estimate I’ve seen!

chart of temperature projections

  • Switching gears, what’s the carbon footprint of American pets? A new report suggests it’s impressive at roughly 25% of the human fingerprint.
  • Because climate change is all about probabilities, it’s great to see the New York Times incorporating probability distributions into a story about summer temperatures. Speaking of summer temperatures, many temperature records are being set this year, but did you know that in July Death Valley had the hottest month ever recorded on Earth?
  • There’s tons of discussion about the need to phase out coal (and fossil fuels in general), so it’s interesting that debate has been expanding as to whether to start mining undersea methane hydrates for energy. It is a massive potential source of both energy and COemissions.
  • When we impose carbon taxes to help control those emissions, do those taxes work? A new paper looking at the empirical impact of carbon taxes on gasoline use and emissions in Sweden comes to interesting conclusions (but remember that Sweden’s carbon tax is at $132/ton!).
  • I’m sure you remember some of the news coverage of “what Exxon knew and when did it know it.” Now there is a similar piece — reviewed here by Inside Climate News — about what electric utilities knew and when did they know it. The report is here in the Climate Web, and it provides extensive links to documents located in the cloud at an interesting website called Climate Files, set up specifically to host such documents. Hard to tell what’s really there, but the website openly solicits submittal of any and all relevant corporate documents.
  • A website just added to the Climate Web is the Historical Climatology website, identified as a site dedicated to environmental history and the extraction of lessons from past environmental experiences to apply to today’s climate problem.

Last, as you know, the long-term nature of climate change is one of the biggest challenges to mounting an effective societal or policy response. There’s a large literature on the problem of economic discounting in the Climate Web, but it can get pretty technical. I was interested to see a recent piece on Medium that explores in a fun way how we as individuals discount the future in our everyday lives. If you’re not fluent in discounting, it’s worth the read.

Listing a few recent additions to the Climate Web doesn’t do any topic justice, partially because I’ve flagged only about 10 of the 1,000 recent additions to the Climate Web, and partially because simply sending you to the story doesn’t give you an accurate feel for how much you can learn about these topics in the Climate Web, where individual stories are woven into a much more comprehensive knowledge web.

In any case, I hope you’ve seen something interesting to you, and that you’ll check it out in the Climate Web! If that is the case, consider supporting our Climate Web Patreon Project, and thanks to our existing supporters!

About the author 

Mark Trexler

Mark has more than 30 years of regulatory and energy policy experience. He has advised clients around the world on climate change risk and risk management. He is widely published on business risk management topics surrounding climate change, including in the design and deployment of carbon markets. Mark has served as a lead author for the IPCC and holds advanced degrees from the University of California at Berkeley.

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