Showing posts with label Climate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Climate. Show all posts

14 August 2022

The Beginning of History Surviving the Era of Catastrophic Risk

William MacAskill

We stand at the beginning of history. For every person alive today, ten have lived and died in the past. But if human beings survive as long as the average mammal species, then for every person alive today, a thousand people will live in the future. We are the ancients. On the scale of a typical human life, humanity today is barely an infant struggling to walk.

Although the future of our species may yet be long, it may instead be fleeting. Of the many developments that have occurred since this magazine’s first issue a century ago, the most profound is humanity’s ability to end itself. From climate change to nuclear war, engineered pandemics, uncontrolled artificial intelligence (AI), and other destructive technologies not yet foreseen, a worrying number of risks conspire to threaten the end of humanity.

Just over 30 years ago, as the Cold War came to an end, some thinkers saw the future unfurling in a far more placid way. The threat of apocalypse, so vivid in the Cold War imagination, had begun to recede. The end of communism a few decades after the defeat of fascism during World War II seemed to have settled the major ideological debates. Capitalism and democracy would spread inexorably. The political theorist Francis Fukuyama divided the world into “post-historical” and “historical” societies. War might persist in certain parts of the world in the shape of ethnic and sectarian conflicts, for instance. But large-scale wars would become a thing of the past as more and more countries joined the likes of France, Japan, and the United States on the other side of history. The future offered a narrow range of political possibilities, as it promised relative peace, prosperity, and ever-widening individual freedoms.

12 August 2022

Extreme heat waves show the ultimate climate impact may arrive sooner than we thought

Dave Levitan

The road to an unlivable climate isn’t exactly a scenic route.

In parts of Iraq right now, temperatures have soared to 125 degrees Fahrenheit, sending people who live on parched farmland in toward the baking cities — and many to hospitals. Elsewhere in this summer from hell, thousands of excess deaths have been recorded during the U.K.’s unprecedented heat wave, hundreds of millions of Americans have been in and out of heat advisories and warnings for days or weeks at a time, and an extended heat wave in India and Pakistan sent temperatures well into the triple digits in one of the more densely populated and impoverished parts of the world.

It is a preview of some of the most dire of climate impacts: that with unchecked warming, some parts of the globe will literally become uninhabitable, as heat overwhelms the body’s ability to cool itself. Climate modeling and studies of human physiology have suggested we could be decades away from such unthinkable outcomes in places like the Middle East, South Asia, and elsewhere — but recent research and this year of extremes is demonstrating that such a future may be arriving faster than anticipated. And it certainly won’t be fun along the way.

11 August 2022

Climate Change and National Security with Erin Sikorsky

David Priess

Climate change and its effects are increasingly recognized as important subjects of national security research and analysis. Few issues of international political economy or international security avoid some intersection with warming global temperatures, evolving environments for human habitation, and/or changing geography.

Erin Sikorsky has been studying these and related issues for decades, first within the U.S. Intelligence Community and now at the Center for Climate and Security. David Priess had a wide ranging conversation with Erin about her career in government and beyond, how intelligence officers look at climate, a method of categorizing climate risk, how NATO is tackling climate-related issues, the missed opportunity to emphasize renewables over fossil fuels after Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the Climate Security Advisory Group, increasingly bipartisan support for climate security action, the roles of the public and Hollywood in addressing climate change, how various movies and books have examined these issues, and more.

8 August 2022

India’s New Climate Target: Paris-Compliant, But Not Much More

Tarun Gopalakrishnan


This month, India will formally publish a new climate target under the Paris Agreement. The long-awaited second Nationally Determined Contribution will commit that half of India’s electricity generation capacity will be “non-fossil” — solar, wind, nuclear and hydropower — by 2030. In addition, its emissions intensity of GDP (i.e. emissions per unit GDP) will reduce by 45 percent between 2005 and 2030.

Is the new NDC sufficiently ambitious to address the climate crisis? There are three ways of looking at that question – by comparing it to (1) India’s first NDC, (2) its “business-as-usual” emissions trajectory, and (3) the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement requires countries to submit NDCs every five years. Article 4 requires each NDC to represent a “progression” beyond a country’s current NDC. This “ratchet” mechanism nudges countries to continually improve their self-determined ambition. India published its first NDC when it joined the Agreement in 2015. It targeted a 35 percent reduction in emissions intensity of GDP and 40 percent of generation capacity to be non-fossil by 2030.

Before We Rid The World Of Crude Oil, Is There A Backup Replacement?

Ronald Stein

Those clean renewables, like wind turbines and solar panels, can only generate ELECTRICITY, and intermittent electricity at best from available breezes and sunshine. The undisputable science is that renewables CANNOT manufacture any of the oil derivatives that are the basis of the thousands of products that are the foundation of societies and economies around the world.

In fact, these renewables cannot exist without crude oil as all the parts of wind turbines and solar panels are made with oil derivatives manufactured from crude oil.

Crude oil is useless unless it can be manufactured into something usable like the fuels for the heavy-weight and long-range transportation infrastructures of ships and jets and the derivatives that make the thousands of products that have made our lives more comfortable. But wind and solar cannot manufacture anything for society. Before we jump out of an airplane without a tested parachute, we need to be able to support the demands of all the infrastructures that exist today that did not exist a few hundred years ago.

4 August 2022

Data Centers Are Facing a Climate Crisis


WHEN RECORD TEMPERATURES wracked the UK in late July, Google Cloud’s data centers in London went offline for a day, due to cooling failures. The impact wasn’t limited to those near the center: That particular location services customers in the US and Pacific region, with outages limiting their access to key Google services for hours. Oracle’s cloud-based data center in the capital was also struck down by the heat, causing outages for US customers. Oracle blamed “unseasonal temperatures” for the blackout.

The UK Met Office, which monitors the weather, suggests that the record heat was an augur of things to come, which means data centers need to prepare for a new normal.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says there’s a 93 percent chance that one year between now and 2026 will be the hottest on record. Nor will that be a one-off. “For as long as we continue to emit greenhouse gases, temperatures will continue to rise,” says Petteri Taalas, WMO secretary general. “And alongside that, our oceans will continue to become warmer and more acidic, sea ice and glaciers will continue to melt, sea level will continue to rise, and our weather will become more extreme.”

27 July 2022

The Economic Effects of Extreme Heat in China

Sara Hsu

As heatwaves burn through the country, China will suffer the economic effects of extreme heat. Some cities are on high alert for temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, while many cities across the nation are likely to surpass 104 degrees F. This extreme heat will have economic impacts through power rationing, reduced crop yield, and effects on delivery and other outdoor workers.

Extreme heat is roiling China, challenging individuals and businesses in carrying out everyday activities. Over 600 million people have been affected, and some cities have reported heat stroke deaths. The heat challenges not only impact human economic activity but may affect infrastructure such as dams, which will face stresses as the heat melts glaciers.

The power grid is already under pressure due to increased demand for air conditioning in homes and offices. Zhejiang province has already asked its households and businesses to save power and has rationed power supply for energy-intensive firms, including textile producers and printers. Electricity consumption hit record highs in the provinces of Shandong and Henan due to increased air conditioning usage. Constrained power supply, coupled with targeted emission reductions, will reduce the amount of power available to electricity-hungry homes and businesses.

23 July 2022

Rebuilding Ukraine for a Changing Climate

Mark Stalczynski, Ismael Arciniegas Rueda, Nihar Chhatiawala

The Kiev School of Economics keeps a running account of damage to Ukraine's infrastructure. As of May 25, it totaled over $105 billion, including 44 million square miles of residential buildings, 15,000 miles—or 14 percent—of all roads—and according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy, $2 billion in damage to energy infrastructure. The extent of that damage will, almost certainly, grow. And the cost of rebuilding will, almost certainly, rise. And yet, eventually, the war in Ukraine will end, and the country will in all likelihood undergo a massive reconstruction.

Such a moment presents a historic opportunity. Ukraine could rebuild in a way that would both lower its carbon footprint and construct infrastructure resilient to the effects of climate change. Such transitions toward a clean, efficient, and resilient infrastructure are generally quite costly. Part of this cost normally comes from stranded assets—that is, assets no longer economical in the new sustainable grid design that need to be decommissioned.

In Face Of Unprecedented Signs Of Climate Collapse, We’re Still Being Failed By Politicians, Media And Ourselves

Andy Worthington

Last week, as the mercury started to rise in the UK, and sober weather-watchers warned that, for the first time ever, temperatures might reach 40°C in the UK, the default position of TV’s weathermen and women was to talk of records being broken, as though extreme heat was some kind of Olympic sporting event, and the plucky British weather was some sort of super-athlete, whose ‘achievement’ was to be celebrated.

Let’s be clear: there’s nothing to celebrate about temperatures reaching 40°C in the UK, as was recognised when Grahame Madge, a spokesman for the Met Office, said, “We’ve just issued a red warning for extreme heat for Monday and Tuesday which is the first such warning ever issued. The warning covers an area from London up to Manchester and then up to the Vale of York. This is potentially a very serious situation.”

19 July 2022

NASA, SpaceX Launch Climate Science Research, More To Space Station


A SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft carrying more than 5,800 pounds of science experiments, crew supplies, and other cargo is on its way to the International Space Station after launching at 8:44 p.m. EDT Thursday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The spacecraft launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy for the company’s 25th commercial resupply services mission for NASA. It is scheduled to autonomously dock at the space station about 11:20 a.m. Saturday, July 16, and remain there for about a month.

Among the science experiments Dragon is delivering to the space station are:

15 July 2022

What Environmental Regulations Mean for Fab Construction

Hideki Uno and Benjamin Glanz

Recognizing the inherent vulnerability of the global chip supply chain to black swan events and looming geopolitical trends, U.S. policymakers have sought to encourage chip companies to build fabrication facilities (fabs) on U.S. soil. The CHIPS for America Act, notably, would provide $52 billion in support for domestic semiconductor manufacturing.

Industry is also responding to new global uncertainties and opportunities. Semiconductor manufacturers Intel, Samsung, and GlobalWafers recently announced new plans to build fabrication facilities in the U.S.

Any semiconductor company looking to build a factory in the U.S., however, is required to navigate a complex network of local and federal environmental regulations. While these regulations are necessary to minimize the environmental impact of any proposed facility, the process of securing governmental permits is time-consuming and expensive. In this blog, we explore the current environmental permitting process and how the U.S. can realize both speedy permitting and good environmental stewardship.

11 July 2022

Climate Change Isn’t a Threat Multiplier. It’s the Main Threat.

ELIZABETH G. BOULTON

Why hasn’t humanity responded to climate change—currently on track to produce global catastrophe—with the same intensity in which we respond to military threats? And is there a way to reorient the defense sector to enable and support a whole-of-society effort to protect our planet’s ability to support life as we know it?

One barrier is the way we think. Research finds that humanity’s “deep frames”—worldviews wired into our neural circuity over a lifetime, and which influence perception and decision-making at the sub-conscious level—hinder our capacity to understand new kinds of threats. These frames, often reinforced by those they benefit, influence security posture and institutional design.

This helps explain why the climate crisis is generally approached as a scientific, economic, and governance issue. IPCC reports employ social scientists, not security practitioners, to tease out climate-security issues. Legitimate concerns about securitization help ensure that climate response remains a strictly civil matter.

8 July 2022

Climate Change Isn’t a Threat Multiplier. It’s the Main Threat.

ELIZABETH G. BOULTON

Why hasn’t humanity responded to climate change—currently on track to produce global catastrophe—with the same intensity in which we respond to military threats? And is there a way to reorient the defense sector to enable and support a whole-of-society effort to protect our planet’s ability to support life as we know it?

One barrier is the way we think. Research finds that humanity’s “deep frames”—worldviews wired into our neural circuity over a lifetime, and which influence perception and decision-making at the sub-conscious level—hinder our capacity to understand new kinds of threats. These frames, often reinforced by those they benefit, influence security posture and institutional design.

This helps explain why the climate crisis is generally approached as a scientific, economic, and governance issue. IPCC reports employ social scientists, not security practitioners, to tease out climate-security issues. Legitimate concerns about securitization help ensure that climate response remains a strictly civil matter.

Do Advances in Synthetic Biology have the Potential to Transform the Future of Warfare?

Kieran Green

This essay will argue that while advances in synthetic biology may have the limited potential to transform the future of warfare, these technologies do not operate in a vacuum and their use will be constrained and shaped by contextual and political factors. As such, they are less than likely to lead to transformation. This case will be made largely in relation to the body of work surrounding Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) theory, however, before discussing this proposition in more depth, some qualification of terms is necessitated in order to delineate the boundaries and underlying assumptions of the argument being forwarded. Firstly, regarding warfare, this paper only considers it in relation to more conventionally held notions of the concept – as the means and methods by which war is fought between two organised state military forces. Consequently, this is a much narrower scope of analysis than if one was to adopt even a Clausewitzian definition of war and warfare; importantly, this excludes terrorism from this analysis.[1] Secondly, with regards to the ‘future’, in order to provide cogent and empirical analysis, the scope of this investigation will be limited to biotechnologies that either exist today or are known to be in development and theoretically feasible.

With the above established, this paper will progress, as follows; firstly, a look RMA theory and how it can be used as a framework to assess if new technologies are potentially ‘transformative’ will be briefly outlined. Next, a brief definition of synthetic biology will be offered, which will then compliment a discussion relating to how certain exemplar technologies under the synthetic biology umbrella, such as CRISPR and germ line editing, may have utility in warfare. This will then be examined in relation to the wider RMA framework to show that while there may be some novel elements to synthetic biological approaches to biowarfare, there is a need for much scepticism regarding its potential transformative effects on the conduct of future war.

5 July 2022

Global Migration Is Not Abating. Neither Is the Backlash Against It


The European refugee crisis of 2015 has long since abated, and some of Europe’s leading figures on the far right from that time, like Italy’s Matteo Salvini and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilder, have lost relevance as a result. Nevertheless, other far-right populists—like France’s Marine Le Pen and, more recently, Eric Zemmour—continue to hammer on anti-immigrant sentiment to fuel their electoral ambitions.

In the aftermath of a global pandemic that at least initially inhibited migrants’ mobility, it is not clear the issue will continue to have the same impact as it did in 2015, when more than 1 million refugees and asylum-seekers arrived in Europe from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa. Still, the populist narrative of immigration as a threat is enough to keep centrist governments toeing a tough line on the issue at home, even as they work with countries of origin and transit to restrict migration. And Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko recently demonstrated the continued salience of that “threat narrative” when he tried to “weaponize” migration by encouraging refugees from Iraq to travel to the Polish border, where many were left stranded in freezing conditions.

30 June 2022

Beyond images: Air Force official on AI quest for ‘integrated’ intel picture

JASPREET GILL

WASHINGTON: The Air Force is exploring new ways that artificial intelligence can be used to help with data collection and sharing efforts specifically for sensing operations, including bringing in a variety of data beyond just images to create an “integrated” intelligence picture, the service’s deputy chief information officer tells Breaking Defense.

The service has been working on automated target recognition (ATR) for a while, but “only as of late has the processing power of the systems that we were using really caught up to the aspirations of what we wanted to do with it,” Winston Beauchamp, Air Force deputy chief information officer, said in a June 15 interview.

“So back when we started the ATR journey, we were talking about hundreds of largely still images, largely black and white, coming in from overhead systems or airborne systems,” he said. “Now, we’re talking about thousands and we’re talking about full motion video and multispectral, in some cases hyperspectral [images], coming from a variety of platforms that are government and commercial. All of these have to be somehow processed and, ideally, find some way to stitch them together into an integrated picture.”

The Nightmare Politics and Sticky Science of Hacking the Climate


ONE WAY TO fight climate change may be to … do more climate change. “Geoengineering” is a broad term encompassing distinct techniques for hacking the climate, split into two main groups: There’s carbon dioxide removal (CDR), which could mean sucking carbon out of the atmosphere with machines, or simply encouraging more vegetation to grow. And there’s solar radiation management (SRM), which might include brightening clouds or spraying aerosols in the atmosphere to bounce the sun’s energy back into space.

These two methods are sort of like different approaches to battling a seasonal flu.

Carbon removal is like taking an antiviral, which helps your immune system banish the virus from your body; deleting carbon from the atmosphere similarly targets the root cause of the climate change problem. On the other hand, solar radiation management is more like taking an aspirin to reduce the fever the flu is causing. It doesn’t obliterate the problem-causing agent, and only treats symptoms.

28 June 2022

Climate Change Affects The Likelihood Of Armed Conflict



Climate change influences the likelihood and duration of armed conflicts in Africa. This is the result of a study carried out by a team from the INGENIO Institute, a joint centre of the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) and the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), together with the University of Rome III and the University of Urbino Carlo Bo, published in the latest issue of the journal Economía Política.

The team of researchers based their study on data from the African continent from 1990 to 2016. Using a negative binomial regression mathematical model, they assessed whether certain climatic phenomena, in combination with the socio-economic characteristics of the areas studied, affected the likelihood of a conflict breaking out and, if it did, its duration.

Among its findings, the study states that a prolonged increase in temperature and precipitation increases the probability of conflict beyond the affected area by four to five times, specifically in populations up to a radius of about 550 km.

26 June 2022

Climate Changes Lead To Water Imbalance, Conflict In Tibetan Plateau

Eurasia Review

Climate change is putting an enormous strain on global water resources, and according to researchers, the Tibetan Plateau is suffering from a water imbalance so extreme that it could lead to an increase in international conflicts.

Nicknamed “The Third Pole,” the Tibetan Plateau and neighboring Himalayas is home to the largest global store of frozen water outside of the North and South Polar Regions. This region, also known as the Asian water tower (AWT), functions as a complex water distribution system which delivers life-giving liquid to multiple countries, including parts of China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Yet due to the rapid melting of snow and upstream glaciers, the area can’t sustainably support the continued growth of the developing nations that rely on it.

“Populations are growing so rapidly, and so is the water demand,” said Lonnie Thompson, distinguished university professor of earth sciences at The Ohio State University and senior research scientist at the Byrd Polar Research Center. “These problems can lead to increased risks of international and even intranational disputes, and in the past, they have.”

9 June 2022

Protectionism Threatens The Climate Transition – Analysis

Ken Heydon

Trade is a key multiplier in spreading the technology vital to the climate transition. But protectionist tendencies embedded in the implementation of the climate transition pose a major threat to the global trading system.

Technological innovation — backed by a carbon tax to make it competitive — is the essential requirement for transition to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. And trade, by stimulating competition, is a catalyst of innovation.

Three areas of technological transformation stand out. Australia and its Asia Pacific neighbours have a stake in each of them.

The first is solar photovoltaic technology that uses solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity. Over the past decade, solar photovoltaic has become a pillar of the low-carbon sustainable energy system with installed capacity increasing 100-fold and costs declining by 77 per cent. Some 40 per cent of the decline in the cost of solar photovoltaic modules since 2001 is attributable to trade.