Category: Grantham work themes

Fact checking a recent Telegraph article by Christopher Booker

by Dr Flora WhitmarshGrantham Institute

In an article for the Telegraph, Christopher Booker gave his views on Professor Sir Brian Hoskins’ appearance on the Today programme earlier this year. In the article, Booker made several claims about climate science relating to rainfall, atmospheric humidity, polar sea ice extent, global temperatures and sea level rise. In this blog I will assess his claims against the findings of the latest report of Working Group 1 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a hugely comprehensive assessment of the scientific literature.

  Rainfall and floods

Booker’s comment: “Not even the latest technical report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) could find any evidence that rainfall and floods were increasing.”

 Scientific Evidence:

The IPCC report found a significant climate influence on global scale changes in precipitation patterns (with medium confidence), including increases in precipitation in northern hemisphere mid to high latitudes.

7 Frightening Findings from the IPCC Report

By Helena Wright, Research Postgraduate, Centre for Environmental Policy

Helena Wright, an Imperial PhD student, looks at worst possible scenarios from the IPCC Working Group II report.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released its latest report, featuring the most up-to-date science on global climate change.

As a researcher, I had an opportunity to contribute to a table in one of the chapters and have read through each of the 30 chapters of the Working Group II report (on Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability).  Here is my personal take on seven of the most frightening findings from the WG2 report:

  1. CO2 levels of 1000ppm could impact on mental performance

The health chapter explains how climate change will affect global health, including direct impacts of heat stress, drought and extreme events, as well as indirect impacts on nutrition and mental health.

Stranding our fossil assets or stranding the planet

By Helena Wright, Research Postgraduate, Centre for Environmental Policy

Earlier this month Carbon Tracker came to Imperial College London to discuss their report on ‘Unburnable Carbon’.  The report outlines research which shows between 60-80% of coal, oil and gas reserves of publicly listed companies are ‘unburnable’ if the world is to have a chance of keeping global warming below the globally-agreed limit of 2°C.  The event was followed by a lively debate.

The research, led by the Grantham Research Institute at LSE and the Carbon Tracker Initiative, outlines the thesis that a ‘carbon bubble’ exists in the stock market, as companies with largely ‘unburnable’ fossil fuel reserves are being overvalued.

2014 – A pivotal year for CCS?

By Dr Niall Mac Dowell, Centre for Environmental Policy

For centuries, all of the world’s economies have been underpinned by fossil fuels.  Historically, this has primarily been oil and coal, but since the mid-1980s natural gas has become increasingly important. Over the course of the last decades, there has been an increasing focus on electricity generation from renewable sources, and since about 1990 carbon capture and storage (CCS) has become an important part of the conversation around the mitigation of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The role of CCS in addressing our GHG mitigation targets is clear and unambiguous – see for example the IEA CCS technology roadmaps which show that by 2050, almost 8 GtCO2/yr needs to be sequestered via CCS; a cumulative of 120 GtCO2 in the period from 2015 to 2050.

Workshop on climate science needed to support robust adaptation decisions

By Dr Simon Buckle

I just wanted to highlight the great event we held last week with Judy Curry at Georgia Tech on how we can use climate science to help us make better decisions – in business, government, health and development.  Do have a look at the presentations from the really diverse group we managed to assemble in Atlanta, from international organisations, business, development agencies, NGOs and research.

A few  points strike me as worth (re)emphasising:

  • Climate models are extremely valuable tools for assessing climate change over the rest of this century, but even the most advanced climate models are not yet able to provide detailed information with sufficient confidence on the variability and change of regional climate in the next few decades.

Climate change and health risks – new commission launched

By Siân Williams, Research postgraduate, Department of Physics and Grantham Institute for Climate Change

In 2009 a joint report between University College London and The Lancet stated, “Climate change is the biggest risk to global health of the 21st century”. The work highlighted extreme weather events, changing patterns of disease and food and water insecurity.

Now a second UCL-Lancet commission is underway. Last month, UCL’s Institute of Global Health hosted a launch event for the report entitled ‘Climate crisis: emergency actions to protect human health’.

The event was chaired by UCL’s Anthony Costello, head of the first Lancet commission.

Updates to the IPCC WG1 Summary for Policy Makers

By Dr Flora MacTavish

The IPCC has released corrected figures for past carbon dioxide emissions and future emissions trajectories quoted in the Summary for Policy Makers of the Working Group 1 report, “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis”.  The original numbers were published in the report released on 27th September, which was subject to copy edit and final layout changes.

In total, six values from the summary have been changed. As noted by Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, Director of the Grantham Institute, these corrections are minor adjustments to historical greenhouse gas emissions and to the cumulative emissions consistent with achieving a 2 degree warming target with different levels of probability.