Human Induced Climate Change Experiment

Decade of Sustainable Energy for All

NEW YORK, NY — The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared the decade 2014-2024 as the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, underscoring the importance of energy issues for sustainable development and for the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda.

In adopting the resolution, the General Assembly reaffirmed its determination to make sustainable energy for all a reality. The text calls upon Member States to galvanize efforts to make universal access to sustainable modern energy services a priority, noting that 1.3 billion people are without electricity and 2.6 billion people in developing countries rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating. It expressed concern that even when energy services are available, millions of poor people are unable to pay for them.

The resolution stressed the need to improve access to reliable, affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound energy services and resources for sustainable development. To that end, it also highlighted the importance of improving energy efficiency, increasing the share of renewable energy and cleaner and energy-efficient technologies.

Significantly, the resolution recognized the importance of giving appropriate consideration to energy issues in elaborating the post-2015 development agenda. The Assembly called upon Governments, as well as relevant international and regional organizations and other relevant stakeholders, to combine, as appropriate, the increased use of new and renewable energy resources, more efficient use of energy, greater reliance on advanced energy technologies, including cleaner fossil fuel technologies, and the sustainable use of traditional energy resources, to meet the increasing need for energy services.

The declaration of the Decade builds on the growing interest of Member States in energy issues. General Assembly resolution 65/151 designated 2012 the “International Year of Sustainable Energy for All” and called on the Secretary-General to organize and coordinate activities during the Year to increase awareness of the importance of addressing energy issues.

In response, the Secretary-General launched the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which brings together stakeholders in Government, the private sector and civil society to mobilize action towards three objectives: to provide universal energy access; to double the rate of global energy efficiency improvement; and to double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

In September, the Secretary-General announced that Kandeh Yumkella, Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Chair of UN-Energy, will serve as Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All and Chief Executive of the effort.

“Sustainable Energy for all is essential for achieving our Millennium Development Goals and for opening up new opportunities for growth and prosperity in every country of the world,” Mr. Yumkella said. “It is also central to discussions on the post-2015 development agenda and proposed new sustainable development goals.” He continued: “We warmly welcome the General Assembly’s declaration of the Decade and stand ready to support Member States and all stakeholders in making sustainable energy for all a reality on the ground.”

For more information, please contact: Dan Shepard, Department of Public Information, at +1 212 963 9495, e-mail:; or Cynthia Scharf, Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative, at +1 917 825 1494, e?mail:

Sustainability Experiment

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Jesus! It Is Snowing In Jerusalem

The worst snowstorm in decades hit the Middle East. It is the worst snow storms since 1953.

“For the hundreds of thousands of refugees in Lebanon, as well as those in neighboring countries and the displaced in Syria, a storm like this creates immense additional hardship and suffering,” Amin Awad, director of UNHCR’s Middle East and North Africa bureau.

“We are battling a storm of rare ferocity,” said Nir Barkat, Jerusalem’s mayor, who called the snow fall “historic” and a “tsunami”. He added: “Only when the storm has eased can we start clearing roadways. We are at the moment using all means to rescue those caught in the storm.”

Though it is proving devastating to many, some are finding it a winter wonderland..

“It’s fun to play in the snow,” enthused Talia Kremer, a young Jerusalemite, grabbing some snow from the street. “Snowball fights are the best.”

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Dead Sea Red Sea Pipeline

The Dead Sea has been shrinking by a 1 meter drop every year. Resorts that use to be on the beach now have to bus guests to the shore. Israel, Jordan and Palestine have signed an agreement to pump water through a 110 mile pipeline from the Red Sea.

“The inflow of water from the Red Sea will slow the drying up of the Dead Sea,” said the Israeli government.

The Guardian newspaper reported, “Under the agreement, 200 million cubic metres of water will be pumped from the Red Sea a year. Half will be desalinated at a new plant in Aqaba, at the northern tip of the Red Sea, and the rest will be piped to the Dead Sea to help replenish its waters, which are shrinking by a metre each year.”

Israel’s energy and infrastructure minister, Silvan Shalom, said it was “a historic agreement that realises a dream of many years… [and] is of the highest diplomatic, economic, environmental and strategic importance.”

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United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP19)

The latest round of climate negotiations are under way at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP19) in Warsaw, Poland.

Carmen Boening is a scientist in the Climate Physics Group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. She is reporting from the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poland.

It was a bit of a shock to the system leaving behind the warmth of Pasadena in California, where it was 81F (27C) when I left, and arriving in Warsaw, Poland, where it is 40F (22C) cooler. I’ve come to Warsaw to be part of this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP19), and it’s been incredibly exciting to take in the large range of topics under discussion. I’m based at the U.S. Center at the conference, where delegates from around the U.S. are giving presentations on a variety of topics about climate science and applications of the science.

People from all over the world have trickled into the U.S. Center, interested in learning about our work and how it could be used by policymakers.

As a scientist, it’s fascinating to get an insight into the climate policy efforts that are happening on the international scale. The goal is challenging: to reach a consensus between countries with sometimes very diverse interests.

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Copenhagen Consensus — Carlo Carraro, Francesco Bosello and Enrica De Cian look at what can be achieved with adaptation policies.

They find that the most important impacts of global warming will be on agriculture and tourism, where nations will lose, on average, about half a percent of GDP from each by mid-century. However, they point out that much of this damage will be avoided by people choosing for themselves to adapt to a change in their environment. Farmers will choose plants that thrive in the heat. New houses will be designed to deal with warmer temperatures.

Taking adaptation into account, rich countries will adapt to the negative impacts of global warming and exploit the positive changes, creating a total positive effect of global warming worth about half a percentage point of GDP.

Poor countries will be hit harder, however. Adaptation will reduce the climate change-related losses from five percent of GDP to slightly less than 3 percent – but this is still a significant impact. The real challenge of global warming, therefore, lies in tackling its impact on developing nations. Here, more needs to be done, above and beyond the adaptation that will happen naturally.

Adaptation may serve multiple purposes, including helping developing countries boost education, health, and economic development.

The researchers find that every dollar spent on adaptation would achieve at least about $1.65 worth of positive changes for the planet.

Climate-engineering is another potential response to climate change. J. Eric Bickel and Lee Lane argue that at a relatively low cost, climate-engineering could pay large dividends. This essentially means cooling the planet, by reflecting more of the sun’s rays back to space. One promising approach is Stratospheric Aerosol Injection – where a precursor of sulfur dioxide would be continuously injected into the stratosphere, forming a layer of aerosols to reflect sunlight. The amount of sulfur required to offset global warming is on the order of 2% of the sulfur that humans already inject into the atmosphere, largely through burning fossil fuels. Another suggested approach is Marine Cloud Whitening, where seawater would be mixed into the atmosphere at sea to make the clouds whiter and more reflective.

Bickel and Lane do not suggest actually implementing such programs at this point, but they look at the costs and benefits of preparing the knowledge of how they might be deployed in the future. They estimate the cost of a climate-engineering research and development program as being on the order of a billion dollars: a small fraction of what the United States alone is spending on climate-change research each year. They roughly estimate that each dollar spent could create $1,000 of benefits in economic terms.

Such high benefits reflect the fact that SRM holds the potential of reducing the economic damages caused by both warming and costly CO2 reduction measures (such as carbon taxes). These early reduction costs tend to be higher than those of climate change; so by lessening the stringency of controls, climate-engineering may provide near-term benefits—compared to strategies relying solely on emissions reductions.

Moreover, if climate change should suddenly get much worse (reach the so-called tipping points), geo-engineering appears to be the only technology that could quickly cool the Earth. This feature would allow it to play an important risk management role despite this so far intractable source of uncertainty.

Richard Tol makes the case that there is wide agreement in the economic literature that greenhouse gas emission reduction is best done through a carbon tax. Climate policy, he notes, is not about spending money. It is about raising money (and, of course, about finding the best way to spend the revenues raised through a carbon tax.)

He makes the case that research and development and CO2 abatement are complements, not substitutes. He points out that drastic reduction of carbon dioxide emissions would be very expensive with current technologies, so R&D is a critical part of CO2 abatement policy. However, most of that R&D is innovation and diffusion, rather than invention. For innovation and diffusion, the regulator should create a credible promise of a future market: In this case, the promise of an emission reduction target or, better, a carbon tax in the future.

The best way to give a credible signal is to start now – which has an additional advantage because the regulator does not know how close to market renewable energy technologies really are.

Tol argues that the costs of deep emission cuts are relatively small if emission reduction targets are lenient at first but accelerate over time; all emitting sectors are regulated and marginal abatement costs are the same; all gases are regulated and priced uniformly; all countries reduce emissions, and marginal costs are equal; and climate policy is coordinated with other policies. The costs of emission reduction rapidly escalate if such rules are are violated – which unfortunately, they often have been in the past.

Recent progress has been made in alternative energy technologies, notably in bioenergy and solar power. On the other hand, nuclear power has fallen out of favour. It is also increasingly clear that governments have great difficulty in delivering emission reduction programmes that are least-cost.

While very stringent emission reduction targets such as the long-term goals of the European Union do not pass the benefit-cost test with any assumptions. However, very modest emission reduction appears to be justifiable with any number of assumptions. More stringent emission reduction needs more favorable assumptions.

Tol finds that a low tax of about $1.80 on each tonne of carbon would generate benefits worth between $1.5 and $52. However, a much higher tax set at $250 would cost more than it would gain, with only benefits of 2-67 cents.

Watch Richard Tol’s phone presentation of his research at YouTube

“Isabel Galiana and Christopher Green propose a technology-led climate policy, centred on increased research and development, testing and demonstration (RDT&D) of scalable, reliable, and cost effective low carbon emitting energy technologies funded by a low but gradually rising carbon tax. They argue that the size of the energy technology challenge to “stabilizing climate” is huge, and there is a current lack of technological readiness and scalability in low-carbon energy sources. They show that adopting a “brute force” approach to reducing GHG emissions with carbon pricing in the absence of technological readiness could generate economic costs an order of magnitude or more, greater than widely published estimates of CO2 mitigation cost estimates.

The authors argue that while the importance of new technologies to slowing and eventually reducing global GHG emissions is more widely accepted, there have been no fundamental developments on the low carbon energy front in recent years. Moreover funding has gone mainly to subsidizing manufacture and deployment rather than to RDT&D. With continued increases in global emissions despite an enduring global economic crisis, the case for a technology-led climate policy is stronger than ever.

Galiana and Green conclude that increased funding for low-carbon research and development would have benefits ranging from 3 to 11 times higher than cost, depending on rate of success and time horizon.”

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United Nations Fifth Assessment Report Climate Change 2013

* It is virtually certain that near-surface permafrost extent at high northern latitudes will be reduced as global mean surface temperature increases. By the end of the 21st century, the area of permafrost near the surface (upper 3.5 m) is projected to decrease by between 37% (RCP2.6) to 81% (RCP8.5) for the model average (medium confidence).

* Global mean sea level rise for 2081?2100 relative to 1986–2005 will likely be in the ranges of 0.26 to 0.55 m for RCP2.6, 0.32 to 0.63 m for RCP4.5, 0.33 to 0.63 m for RCP6.0, and 0.45 to 0.82 m for RCP8.5 (medium confidence). For RCP8.5, the rise by the year 2100 is 0.52 to 0.98 m, with a rate during 2081–2100 of 8 to16 mm yr –1 (medium confidence). These ranges are derived from CMIP5 climate projections in combination with process-based models and
literature assessment of glacier and ice sheet contributions (see Figure SPM.9, Table SPM.2).

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Global Warming Is Unequivocal

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). The report states that it is “extremely likely” humans have been the principal cause of warming since the 1950s. Without making “substantial and sustained reductions” of greenhouse gas emissions, the world can expect an increase of extreme weather including heatwaves and heavy rainfall.

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.

Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. In the Northern Hemisphere, 1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years.

Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence). It is virtually certain that the upper ocean (0?700 m) warmed from 1971 to 2010, and it likely warmed between the 1870s and 1971.

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Russian Coast Guard Takes Greenpeace Crew Hostage

GREENPEACE — A peaceful protest at an oil rig in the Arctic against risky oil drilling has resulted in two arrests, with Greenpeace activists currently being held at gunpoint by the Russian Coast Guard. The Russian Coast Guard illegally boarded Greenpeace’s ship, the Arctic Sunrise.

Two protesters were arrested by the Russians. The following evening the Coast Guard illegally boarded Greenpeace’s ship, the Arctic Sunrise. Activists are currently being held at gunpoint by the Russian Coast Guard.

The two arrested protesters are being charged with piracy which carries a sentence up to 15 years in jail.

It is ironic that Russia can even drill for oil in this part of the Arctic as it only recently became accessible due to the ice melting from global warming.

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Japan’s Nuclear Fallout Hitting Hawaii

Many observers are providing evidence that the fallout form Japan’s nuclear disaster is effecting Hawaii. Early reports indicate the impact on prenatal and young children. The latest reports warn not to eat Pacific fish.

“It now appears that anywhere from 300 to possibly over 450 tons of contaminated water that contains radioactive iodone, cesium, and strontium-89 and 90, is flooding into the Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima Daichi site everyday. To give you an idea of how bad that actually is, Japanese experts estimate Fukushima’s fallout at 20-30 times as high as as the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings in 1945″

OSHA issued this warning:
On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami caused significant devastation in Japan. The disasters caused cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to fail.

On March 17, 2011, President Obama, speaking outside the White House, stated “We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the United States, whether it’s the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska, or U.S. territories in the Pacific. ..Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health experts do not recommend that people in the United States take precautionary measures beyond staying informed.” [More...]

Radiation occurs in many forms at low levels as a part of everyday life, from residual cosmic radiation in the atmosphere to medical applications such as x-rays and CT scans. Taking extraordinary steps to prevent exposure to radiation in the absence of a known risk can create problems of its own. For example, potassium iodine pills, which are one such preventive measure, can cause intestinal upset, allergic reactions, and other symptoms, and should only be taken on the advice of emergency management officials, public health officials, or your doctor.

OSHA is working with other federal agencies to monitor domestic reports of radiation concerns and provide up-to-date worker protection information. This includes working jointly with NIOSH on a worker information page. This page provides information to help workers, employers, and occupational health professionals regarding the release of airborne contamination from the damaged Japanese power plant. If you have further questions, please contact the OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) | TTY 1-877-889-5627.

Incident-specific Information

^ Frequently Asked Questions About the Japan Nuclear Crisis [62 KB PDF, 3 pages]. This is a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) document addressing common questions on radiation, exposure, precautions, travel, etc.
* Radiation Basics. CDC/NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topics Page. Provides answers to questions on radiation, specific to this incident.
* Current Situation in Japan. is an interagency initiative administered by the U.S. General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies. It has links to various Government offices and their resources.
* Radiation Dispersal from Japan. CDC/NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topics Page. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health also provides updated information for workers.
* Radiation Protection.US Environmental Protection Agency. The US Environmental Protection Agency’s website for air monitoring data.

Japanese Nuclear Emergency: EPA’s Radiation Monitoring
CBP Statement Concerning Radiation Monitoring of Travelers, Goods from Japan. US Customs and Border Protection is monitoring developments in Japan and has issued field guidance reiterating its operational protocols and directing field personnel to specifically monitor maritime and air traffic from Japan.

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State Of The Climate

Worldwide, 2012 was among the 10 warmest years on record according to the 2012 State of the Climate report released online today by the American Meteorological Society (AMS). The peer-reviewed report, with scientists from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., serving as lead editors, was compiled by 384 scientists from 52 countries (highlights, full report). It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments on land, sea, ice, and sky.

“Many of the events that made 2012 such an interesting year are part of the long-term trends we see in a changing and varying climate — carbon levels are climbing, sea levels are rising, Arctic sea ice is melting, and our planet as a whole is becoming a warmer place,” said Acting NOAA Administrator Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D. “This annual report is well-researched, well-respected, and well-used; it is a superb example of the timely, actionable climate information that people need from NOAA to help prepare for extremes in our ever-changing environment.”

Conditions in the Arctic were a major story of 2012, with the region experiencing unprecedented change and breaking several records. Sea ice shrank to its smallest “summer minimum” extent since satellite records began 34 years ago. In addition, more than 97 percent of the Greenland ice sheet showed some form of melt during the summer, four times greater than the 1981–2010 average melt extent.

The report used dozens of climate indicators to track and identify changes and overall trends to the global climate system. These indicators include greenhouse gas concentrations, temperature of the lower and upper atmosphere, cloud cover, sea surface temperature, sea-level rise, ocean salinity, sea ice extent and snow cover. Each indicator includes thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets.


Warm temperature trends continue near Earth’s surface: Four major independent datasets show 2012 was among the 10 warmest years on record, ranking either 8th or 9th, depending upon the dataset used. The United States and Argentina had their warmest year on record.

La Niña dissipates into neutral conditions: A weak La Niña dissipated during spring 2012 and, for the first time in several years, neither El Niño nor La Niña, which can dominate regional weather and climate conditions around the globe, prevailed for the majority of the year.

The Arctic continues to warm; sea ice extent reaches record low: The Arctic continued to warm at about twice the rate compared with lower latitudes. Minimum Arctic sea ice extent in September and Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent in June each reached new record lows. Arctic sea ice minimum extent (1.32 million square miles, September 16) was the lowest of the satellite era. This is 18 percent lower than the previous record low extent of 1.61 million square miles that occurred in 2007 and 54 percent lower than the record high minimum ice extent of 2.90 million square miles that occurred in 1980. The temperature of permafrost, or permanently frozen land, reached record-high values in northernmost Alaska. A new melt extent record occurred July 11–12 on the Greenland ice sheet when 97 percent of the ice sheet showed some form of melt, four times greater than the average melt this time of year.

Antarctica sea ice extent reaches record high: The Antarctic maximum sea ice extent reached a record high of 7.51 million square miles on September 26. This is 0.5 percent higher than the previous record high extent of 7.47 million square miles that occurred in 2006 and seven percent higher than the record low maximum sea ice extent of 6.96 million square miles that occurred in 1986.

Sea surface temperatures increase: Four independent datasets indicate that the globally averaged sea surface temperature for 2012 was among the 11 warmest on record. After a 30-year period from 1970 to 1999 of rising global sea surface temperatures, the period 2000–2012 exhibited little trend. Part of this difference is linked to the prevalence of La Niña-like conditions during the 21st century, which typically lead to lower global sea surface temperatures.

Ocean heat content remains near record levels: Heat content in the upper 2,300 feet, or a little less than one-half mile, of the ocean remained near record high levels in 2012. Overall increases from 2011 to 2012 occurred between depths of 2,300 to 6,600 feet and even in the deep ocean.

Sea level reaches record high: Following sharp decreases in global sea level in the first half of 2011 that were linked to the effects of La Niña, sea levels rebounded to reach record highs in 2012. Globally, sea level has been increasing at an average rate of 3.2 ± 0.4 mm per year over the past two decades.

Ocean salinity trends continue: Continuing a trend that began in 2004, oceans were saltier than average in areas of high evaporation, including the central tropical North Pacific, and fresher than average in areas of high precipitation, including the north central Indian Ocean, suggesting that precipitation is increasing in already rainy areas and evaporation is intensifying in drier locations.

Tropical cyclones near average: Global tropical cyclone activity during 2012 was near average, with a total of 84 storms, compared with the 1981–2010 average of 89. Similar to 2010 and 2011, the North Atlantic was the only hurricane basin that experienced above-normal activity.

Greenhouse gases climb: Major greenhouse gas concentrations, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, continued to rise during 2012. Following a slight decline in manmade emissions associated with the global economic downturn, global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production reached a record high in 2011 of 9.5 ± 0.5 petagrams (1,000,000,000,000,000 grams) of carbon , and a new record of 9.7 ± 0.5 petagrams of carbon is estimated for 2012. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased by 2.1 ppm in 2012, reaching a global average of 392.6 ppm for the year. In spring 2012, for the first time, the atmospheric CO2concentration exceeded 400 ppm at several Arctic observational sites.

Cool temperature trends continue in Earth’s lower stratosphere: The average lower stratospheric temperature, about six to ten miles above the Earth’s surface, for 2012 was record to near-record cold, depending on the dataset. Increasing greenhouse gases and decline of stratospheric ozone tend to cool the stratosphere while warming the planet near-surface layers.

The 2012 State of the Climate report is peer-reviewed and published annually as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. This year marks the 23rd edition of the report, which is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, the business sector, academia, and the public to support informed decision-making. The full report can be viewed online.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.

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