Climate Change Communication and Denial

A primary issue in addressing climate change is that many people either deny its existence or deny or downplay man’s role in driving it. The usual answer is that we need more education about climate science. Cultural cognition research questions this presumption, finding that many climate change skeptics/deniers understand the underlying science as well as those who accept man’s role in climate change. These papers report research on how and when education about facts can change minds when it may only harden existing attitudes. This is new work and is evolving with time. These are links to public domain copies of the papers that can be used in class.

City of Del Mar Sea-Level Rise Adaptation Plan

City of Del Mar Sea-Level Rise Adaptation Plan

The Del Mar Sea-Level Rise Adaptation Plan serves as the City of Del Mar’s long-range planning guide to address future sea-level rise and its effects on storm surge and coastal flooding and erosion. This Adaptation Plan will provide the basis for developing new sea-level rise policies that will be integrated into the City’s Local Coastal Program (LCP) via a LCP Amendment. The Adaptation Plan draws on the City of Del Mar’s Coastal Hazards, Vulnerability, and Risk Assessment (ESA 2016, Coastal Hazards, Vulnerability, and Risk Assessment – Del Mar, Ca ), guidance provided by the City’s Sea-Level Rise Stakeholder Technical Advisory Committee (STAC), and the California Coastal Commission’s (2015) Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance for addressing sealevel rise in LCPs.


THE ROAD TO ACTION: Financial regulation addressing climate change

THE ROAD TO ACTION: Financial regulation addressing climate change (original link)

Our report finds that investors, asset managers and banks urgently need a way to identify and measure how companies are responding to the risks of climate change.

The cost of inaction: Recognising the value at risk from climate change, a July 2015 report written by The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU) and sponsored by Aviva, identified the need for a framework to govern the disclosure of climate-related financial risk.

Since that report was published, several significant events have taken place including the historic agreement on a global warming limit at the Paris Climate Conference (officially known as the 21st Conference of the Parties, or COP21), its early adoption by 55 countries and the European Union and the US administration’s subsequent decision to withdraw its support from the agreement.

The Conservative Case for a Carbon Tax

The Climate Leadership Council: The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends (2017)

There are many traditional conservatives who understand and believe in climate change. Consistent with their small government beliefs, they see a carbon tax as the best approach to reducing carbon dioxide emissions. In this report, the Climate Leadership Council lays out the argument for a gradual increasing carbon tax, starting at $40 a ton. (This would be about $0.40 a gallon for gasoline.)  The proceeds of the tax would be used to defray the economic impact on lower income individuals, as well as to fund other societal priorities.

Additional conservative carbon tax resources:

The Niskanen Center


A bitter scientific debate just erupted over the future of America’s power grid

A bitter scientific debate just erupted over the future of America’s power grid

Scientists are engaged in an increasingly bitter and personal feud over how much power the United States can get from renewable sources, with a large group of researchers taking aim at a popular recent paper that claimed the country could move beyond fossil fuels entirely by 2055.

In 2015, Stanford professor Mark Jacobson and his colleagues argued that between 2050 and 2055, the United States could be entirely powered by “clean” energy sources and “no natural gas, biofuels, nuclear power, or stationary batteries are needed.”

That would be a massive shift from the current power makeup, as in 2016, the United States got only 6.5 percent of its electricity from hydropower, 5.6 percent from wind and 0.9 percent from solar. Nonetheless, the paper excited proponents of renewable energy, and has been embraced by Sen. Bernie Sanders, celebrity backers such actor Mark Ruffalo and many environmental groups.

But Jacobson’s idea was always contentious. And now, no fewer than 21 researchers have published a study in the influential Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (which also published Jacobson’s original study in 2015) arguing that the work “used invalid modeling tools, contained modeling errors, and made implausible and inadequately supported assumptions.” …

The original article:

Mark Z Jacobson et al., Low-cost solution to the grid reliability problem with 100\% penetration of intermittent wind, water, and solar for all purposes, 112 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 15060–15065 (2015)

This study addresses the greatest concern facing the large-scale integration of wind, water, and solar (WWS) into a power grid: the high cost of avoiding load loss caused by WWS variability and uncertainty. It uses a new grid integration model and finds low-cost, no-load-loss, nonunique solutions to this problem on electrification of all US energy sectors (electricity, transportation, heating/cooling, and industry) while accounting for wind and solar time series data from a 3D global weather model that simulates extreme events and competition among wind turbines for available kinetic energy. Solutions are obtained by prioritizing storage for heat (in soil and water); cold (in ice and water); and electricity (in phase-change materials, pumped hydro, hydropower, and hydrogen), and using demand response. No natural gas, biofuels, nuclear power, or stationary batteries are needed. The resulting 2050–2055 US electricity social cost for a full system is much less than for fossil fuels. These results hold for many conditions, suggesting that low-cost, reliable 100% WWS systems should work many places worldwide.

The criticism of the original article:

Christopher T. M Clack et al., Evaluation of a proposal for reliable low-cost grid power with 100% wind, water, and solar, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017)

A number of analyses, meta-analyses, and assessments, including those performed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the International Energy Agency, have concluded that deployment of a diverse portfolio of clean energy technologies makes a transition to a low-carbon-emission energy system both more feasible and less costly than other pathways. In contrast, Jacobson et al. [Jacobson MZ, Delucchi MA, Cameron MA, Frew BA (2015) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 112(49):15060–15065] argue that it is feasible to provide “low-cost solutions to the grid reliability problem with 100% penetration of WWS [wind, water and solar power] across all energy sectors in the continental United States between 2050 and 2055”, with only electricity and hydrogen as energy carriers. In this paper, we evaluate that study and find significant shortcomings in the analysis. In particular, we point out that this work used invalid modeling tools, contained modeling errors, and made implausible and inadequately supported assumptions. Policy makers should treat with caution any visions of a rapid, reliable, and low-cost transition to entire energy systems that relies almost exclusively on wind, solar, and hydroelectric power.

Index Insurance – Event Based, rather than Claims Based Climate and Disaster Insurance

One the major problems with disaster insurance is the disruption in infrastructure and government function makes it difficult to process specific claims information in a timely manner. As the delays in processing claims after the 2016 Baton Rouge flood illustrate, this is difficult even in developed countries. It becomes impossible in developing countries, making traditional insurance useless for insuring against disaster risk. Index insurance pays claims based based on the occurrence of a predefined index event, without proof of specific loss.

Sustainable Humanity Sustainable Nature our Responsibility

Joint Workshop of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, 2-6 May 2014 – Are Humanity’s dealings with Nature sustainable? What is the status of the Human Person in a world where science predominates? How should we perceive Nature and what is a good relationship between Humanity and Nature? Should one expect the global economic growth that has been experienced over the past six decades to continue for the foreseeable future? Should we be confident that knowledge and skills will increase in such ways as to lessen Humanity’s reliance on Nature despite our increasing economic activity and growing numbers? Is the growing gap between the world’s rich and world’s poor in their reliance on natural resources a consequence of those growths?

Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene

From the Introduction:

“Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the
Anthropocene” is a multi-author, edited volume exploring a range of “epicenters”
of climate and security and how they shape the geostrategic map of the 21st century.
These epicenters are defined as “categories of systemic risk” driven by a changing
climate interacting with other socio-political-economic dynamics.

Scott Pruitt – EPA Secretary – Is Climate Change Real?

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Hearing entitled, “Nomination of Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency” January 18, 2017

16. Are you aware that each of the past three decades has been warmer than the one before, and warmer than all the previous decades since record keeping began in the 1880s?

(Pruitt) This trend is based on actual temperature measurements. Do you believe that there is uncertainty in this warming trend that has been directly measured? If so, please explain. I am aware of a diverse range of conclusions regarding global temperatures, including that over the past two decades satellite data indicates there has been a leveling off of warming, which some scientists refer to as the “hiatus.” I am also aware that the discrepancy between land-based temperature stations and satellite temperature stations can be attributed to expansive urbanization within in our country where artificial substances such as asphalt can interfere with the accuracy of land-based temperature stations and that the agencies charged with keeping the data do not accurately account for this type of interference. I am also aware that ‘warmest year ever’ claims from NASA and NOAA are based on minimal temperature differences that fall within the margin of error. Finally, I am aware that temperatures have been changing for millions of years that predate the relatively short modern record keeping efforts that began in 1880.

Article published in response to Pruitt’s testimony:

Santer BD, Solomon S, Wentz FJ, Fu Q, Po-Chedley S, Mears C, Painter JF, Bonfils C. Tropospheric Warming Over The Past Two Decades. Scientific Reports. 2017 May 24;7(1):2336.

Satellite temperature measurements do not support the recent claim of a “leveling off of warming” over the past two decades. Tropospheric warming trends over recent 20-year periods are always significantly larger (at the 10% level or better) than model estimates of 20-year trends arising from natural internal variability. Over the full 38-year period of the satellite record, the separation between observed warming and internal variability estimates is even clearer. In two out of three recent satellite datasets, the tropospheric warming from 1979 to 2016 is unprecedented relative to internally generated temperature trends on the 38-year timescale.

GAO – FLOOD INSURANCE Comprehensive Reform Could Improve Solvency and Enhance Resilience 2017

GAO – FLOOD INSURANCE Comprehensive Reform Could Improve Solvency and Enhance Resilience 2017

What GAO Found

Based on discussions with stakeholders and GAO’s past work, reducing federal exposure and improving resilience to flooding will require comprehensive reform of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that will need to include potential actions in six key areas (see figure below). Comprehensive reform will be essential to help balance competing programmatic goals, such as keeping flood insurance affordable while keeping the program fiscally solvent. Taking actions in isolation may create challenges for some property owners (for example, by reducing the affordability of NFIP policies) and therefore these consequences also will need to be considered. Some of the potential reform options also could be challenging to start or complete, and could face resistance, because they could create new costs for the federal government, the private sector, or property owners. Nevertheless, GAO’s work suggests that taking actions on multiple fronts represents the best opportunity to help address the spectrum of challenges confronting NFIP.

Insurgency, Terrorism and Organised Crime in a Warming Climate

Insurgency, Terrorism and Organised Crime in a Warming Climate Analysing the Links Between Climate Change and Non-State Armed Groups (2017)

Over the past ten years, both our understanding and awareness of the links between climate change and
security have increased tremendously. Today the UN, the EU, the G7 and an increasing number of states
have classified climate change as a threat to global and/or national security. However, the links between
climate change, conflict and fragility are not simple and linear. The increasing impacts of climate change
do not automatically lead to more fragility and conflict. Rather, climate change acts as a threat multiplier.
It interacts and converges with other existing risks and pressures in a given context and can increase the
likelihood of fragility or violent conflict. States experiencing fragility or conflict are particularly affected,
but also seemingly stable states can be overburdened by the combined pressures of climate change,
population growth, urbanization, environmental degradation and rising socio-economic inequalities.

Taking the state of play on the links between climate change and fragility as a starting point, this report
addresses the question of how the impacts of climate change are a contributing factor in the rise and
growth of NSAGs. Non-state armed groups are not a new phenomenon. Today, however, we can observe
an increasingly complex landscape of violent actors with a range of hybrid organisational structures,
different agendas and different levels of engagement with society that set them apart from ‘traditional’
non-state actors and result in new patterns of violence. They operate on different levels, within or outside
formal armed conflict and include youth and street gangs, criminal groups and organised crime as well
as highly professionalized terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, or Al Shabaab or militia providing
community security.

Four case studies that span the whole spectrum of NSAGs and patterns of violence, conflict and fragility
explore in depth the specific role NSAGs play in the complex dynamics of climate change and fragility and
try to identify how climate change acts as a risks multiplier in regards to NSAGs. These case studies
show that as the climate is changing, so too are the conditions within which NSAGs operate. The complex
risks arising from climate change, fragility and conflict can contribute to the emergence and growth of
NSAGs. This does not imply that there is a direct link between climate change and NSAG-related violence
and conflict. However, large-scale environmental and climatic change contributes to creating an environment
in which NSAGs can thrive and opens spaces that facilitate the pursuit of their strategies.