Observed vs. Modeled Climate Sensitivity

  • Title: Reconciled climate response estimates from climate models and the energy budget of Earth
  • Date: June 2016
  • Authors: Richardson et al.
  • Published by: Nature Climate Change

Naturally, there are always some gaps between the real world and the results from simulation models. In case of climate sensitivity, which refers to the temperature increase from doubling CO2, the real-world data that has been historically recorded gives us around 1.3 , while models gives us a little bit higher value. Climate skeptics often use this fact to support their argument; that global warming is not in fact that serious as scientists predict. However, a study published by Nature Climate Change this last June, Reconciled climate response estimates from climate models and the energy budget of Earth (Richardson et al., 2016), addresses why climate sensitivity is predicted differently from climate models and observed data.

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‘Recycling’ the Funds from Carbon Tax or Cap and Trade

Reducing the national emissions often involves a powerful policy tool such as carbon tax or emission trading. While many focus on the effectiveness of such measures in cutting carbon emissions, there have been some serious discussions on how to spend the money gained from tax or cap-and-trade auctions. We are talking about some BIG money here; for example, California is reaping over $2 million annually from its cap and trade, and the proceeds are expected to grow over time [1].

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About My Program: MS in Energy Policy and Climate

By the end of the Spring Semester of 2016, I would be only 30 percent away from completion of my master’s degree. I am currently enrolled in Master of Science in Energy Policy and Climate (EPC) at Johns Hopkins University, which is offered as an interdisciplinary, professional degree. There would be a lot of different opinions about this program, especially considering its relatively short history, but here I’d like to share my personal thoughts as a current student for those who may consider choosing this particular degree program.

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Why Stick to 2 Degrees?

Ever since global leaders came to an agreement in Copenhagen that “an increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius [1]” in 2009, there have been heated discussions over whether the so-called 2-degree goal is appropriate, realistic or sufficient as a means of avoiding the worst climate scenario. CNN even set up a “2-degrees series” on its opinion section to thread the goal through energy and climate issues [2].

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Catching Before Belching: the Questionable Future of Carbon Capture

Today, countless smokestacks around the world are emitting carbon emissions into the atmosphere. This is not a good news, as “cumulative emissions of hundreds or even thousands of gigatonnes of CO2 would need to be prevented during this century to stabilize the CO2 concentration at 450 to 750 ppmv (IPCC).” Because we cannot just stop using fossil fuels overnight, other ways are pursued to offset the emissions. The idea of carbon capture and storage (CCS) is simple; to capture the emissions from energy-using processes and dispose it. In details, CCS technology includes collecting and concentrating the CO2, transport it to a storage location, and then store it for as long as possible [1].

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Redefining National Interest: Debates Over Keystone XL Pipeline

One of the hottest environmental issues during the Obama Administration has been the Keystone XL pipeline. In January 2012, President Obama exercised his veto power against the proposed project. The 875-mile long pipeline and related facilities were supposed to transport up to 830,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil from Alberta, Canada and the Bakken Shale Formation in Montana [1]. Once constructed, the pipeline that would go across the entire North America is expected to last for over 50 years.

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[번역] 파리 기후 협정의 의미

This article was translated into Korean by Hoon Yun, under the permission of original author David Roberts (david.roberts@vox.com). Original article available at http://www.vox.com/2015/12/15/10172238/paris-climate-treaty-conceptual-breakthrough.

파리 기후협정으로 말할 것 같으면 미 부통령 조셉 바이든이 빈정거린 것처럼 ‘퍽이나 호들갑 떨 일’이다. 기후변화는 이제 시작일 뿐인데, 이를 해결했다기보다는 국가들의 접근법을 수정하게 만든 일종의 ‘개념상의 돌파구(conceptual breakthrough)’라고 보아야 할 것이다. 협정을 세세하게 들여다 보면 그나마도 돌파구인지 헷갈릴 정도다. 여기서는 한 발짝 물러서서, 큰 그림을 보며 파리협정과 기후변화에 대해 고찰해 보도록 하자.


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Energy: Talk about Unfairness.

The matter of energy is unfair from the beginning; some countries have massive amounts of energy resources buried within their territory, while others have to rely most of their energy needs on import. But now with climate change and its impacts applying increasingly higher pressures on humankind’s energy use, another kind of unfairness began to emerge. If the international community is to stabilize the global temperature increase within 2 degrees as proclaimed, countries around the world are compelled to leave much of their fossil fuel reserves unexploited [1].


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Respite or Defeat?: Rethinking Hubbert’s Peak Oil Theory

Do you think oil is being depleted? If so, you are one of the 76 percent of Americans who answered in 2008 that they believed the world was running out of oil [1]. This belief is in line with Hubbert peak theory, according to which “the rate of production of any particular fossil fuel follows a bell-shaped curve with time (Andrews and Jelley, 2013, Energy Science)”. The theory seemed to be accurate especially in the 1970’s, when the scarcity of crude was highlighted with a series of oil shock events. The rate of oil production was thought to be heading toward a peak; by 1970, global oil production rose to 48 million barrels a day (mbd), a nearly five-fold increase from 10 mbd in 1950. However, as demonstrated in the figure [2], the historical data became increasingly inconsistent with Hubbert’s prediction as time goes by, particularly since the 2000’s.

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A Green Disguise of Biofuels

At a glance, biofuels seem to be a clean energy source with lower GHG emissions and massive potentials across the world. Plus, they are cost-competitive with fossil fuels. Expansion of the use of biofuels has significantly contributed to rural employment and energy security. However, serious criticism about biofuels and other bioenergy has surfaced in the recent years; for example, in 2011, the science committee of the EU’s environment agency gave a warning that there is an “accounting error” regarding bioenergy, and the consequences would be grave for the Earth’s forests and climate[1].

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