Seas Are Rising at Fastest Rate in Last 28 Centuries

February 22, 2016

New York Times: "The scientists confirmed previous estimates, but with a larger data set, that if global emissions continue at a high rate over the next few decades, the ocean could rise as much as three or four feet by 2100, as ocean water expands and the great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica begin to collapse."

"Experts say the situation will grow far worse in the 22nd century and beyond, likely requiring the abandonment of many of the world’s coastal cities."

"In a report issued at the same time as the scientific paper, a climate research and communications organization in Princeton, N.J., Climate Central, used the new findings to calculate that roughly three-quarters of the tidal floods now occurring in towns along the American East Coast would not be happening in the absence of sea-level rise caused by human emissions."

"The recent climate agreement negotiated in Paris, if acted upon, will bring emissions down enough to slow the rate of sea-level rise in coming centuries, but scientists say the deal was not remotely ambitious enough to forestall a significant melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets."


Railroads Need to Turn Carload System into a Precision Network

February 19, 2016

Lawrence J. Gross: "While trying to forecast coal loadings has been as difficult as trying to catch a falling knife, the magnitude of the problem can be seen from the simple arithmetic calculation that if North American coal loadings finally end the current plunge and stabilize at the levels experienced during the first three weeks of 2016, the deficit vs. 2015 will be 23% or 1.3 million carloads."

"There are fundamental forces currently under way in the North American economy that are going to dramatically remake the freight transport landscape. Macro forces are moving the economy in a direction where transport providers will be asked to provide more reliable, consistent and faster service for generally smaller shipments moving shorter lengths of haul. Meanwhile, the rail industry has been moving in exactly the opposite direction, with larger, less frequent trains composed of larger, higher-capacity cars. . . . So as an industry, we are heading one way and our customers are heading in another."

"Today, the single-carload system delivers inconsistent service and inadequate asset turns while demanding ever increasing pricing, prompting shippers with modal choices to avoid rail, and leaving shippers without modal choices in a distinctly uncompetitive position. The railroads need to turn the carload system into a precision network that delivers reliable service and better utilization of expensive railcar assets."


2015 Hottest Year on Record

January 20, 2016

New York Times: "Scientists reported Wednesday that 2015 was the hottest year in recorded history by far, breaking a record set only the year before — a burst of heat that has continued into the new year and is roiling weather patterns all over the world."


Quadruple Subsidies for Fossil Fuels

November 12, 2015

Reuters: "G20 members are spending $452 billion a year subsidising fossil fuel production - nearly four times global spending on renewable energy subsidies - despite pledging to phase out fossil fuel support to tackle climate change, a new report said on Thursday."

"'G20 governments are paying fossil fuel producers to undermine their own policies on climate change,' the ODI's Shelagh Whitley said in a statement."

"Despite calls by U.S. President Barack Obama to scrap fossil fuel subsidies, the world's largest economy spent more than $20 billion in national subsidies, the report said."


Changes Happening Too Slowly

November 10, 2015

New York Times: International Energy Agency reports--"Even as the world shifts toward lower-carbon forms of energy, the changes are happening too slowly to keep global temperatures from rising to dangerous levels in the coming decades, an international research group warns in a report released on Tuesday."


Not Even Close

October 01, 2015

New York Times: "The pledges that countries are making to battle climate change would still allow the world to heat up by more than 6 degrees Fahrenheit, a new analysis shows, a level that scientists say is likely to produce catastrophes ranging from food shortages to widespread extinctions of plant and animal life."

"The pledges countries have made 'are a big step forward, but not sufficient — not even close,' said John D. Sterman, a professor of management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."

"The planet has already warmed by about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit above the temperature that prevailed before the Industrial Revolution, representing an enormous addition of heat. Virtually every piece of land ice on Earth is melting, the sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, droughts and other weather extremes are intensifying, and the global food system has shown signs of instability."


California's Commitment Is Strong and Growing

September 10, 2015

 

In unmistakable show of strength in the battle for a 50% reduction in oil consumption, Governor Brown held a news conference with Senate President pro Tem De León and Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins. See video here which demonstrates the commitment by California's leadership on this issue.


Global Temps Accelerating

August 01, 2015

"The Earth experienced its hottest June and the hottest first half of the year since records began, according to scientists."

"Off-the-charts heat is 'getting to be a monthly thing', said Jessica Blunden, a climate scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. June was the fourth month of 2015 to break a record, she said."

“'There is almost no way that 2015 isn’t going to be the warmest on record.'”

"NOAA calculated that the world’s average temperature in June hit 61.48F (16.33C), breaking the old record set last year by 0.22F (0.12C). Usually temperature records are broken by one or two hundredths of a degree, not nearly a quarter of a degree, Blunden said."

Complete article is at The Guardian.  Also here.


Freight Railroad and Falling Coal Shipments

June 26, 2015

Falling coal shipments are a significant economic issue for the freight railroads. What's interesting is that at the same time, the freight rail industry cannot seem to see the opportunity that comes from being a considerably more efficient mode for freight shipment.

There are many people even in the freight rail industry who would like to build on the fundamental efficiency of freight rail, but there's a profound lack of management attention to this.

If the industry wants to expand its mode share in a world of ever increasing environmental concern, it needs a game plan other than than shipping more fossil fuels.  

Those options are out there but the industry needs to engage outside of traditional avenues and develop a greater role in a world where sustainable solutions are at a premium.


Pope Francis

June 18, 2015

 

From the New York Times report--

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Thursday called for a radical transformation of politics, economics and individual lifestyles to confront environmental degradation and climate change, as his much-awaited papal encyclical blended a biting critique of consumerism and irresponsible development with a plea for swift and unified global action.

The vision that Francis outlined in the 184-page encyclical is sweeping in ambition and scope: He described a relentless exploitation and destruction of the environment, for which he blamed apathy, the reckless pursuit of profits, excessive faith in technology and political shortsightedness. The most vulnerable victims are the world’s poorest people, he declared, who are being dislocated and disregarded.

The first pope from the developing world, Francis, an Argentine, used the encyclical — titled “Laudato Si’,” or “Praise Be to You” — to highlight the crisis posed by climate change. He placed most of the blame on fossil fuels and human activity while warning of an “unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequence for all of us” if swift action is not taken. Developed, industrialized countries were mostly responsible, he said, and were obligated to help poorer nations confront the crisis.

“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods,” he wrote. “It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

. . . .

Francis has made clear that he hopes the encyclical will influence energy and economic policy and stir a global movement. He calls on ordinary people to pressure politicians for change. Bishops and priests around the world are expected to lead discussions on the encyclical in services on Sunday. But Francis is also reaching for a wider audience when in the first pages of the document he asks “to address every person living on this planet.”

. . . .

Catholic theologians say the overarching theme of the encyclical is “integral ecology,” which links care for the environment with a notion already well developed in Catholic teaching — that economic development, to be morally good and just, must take into account the need of human beings for things such as freedom, education and meaningful work.

“The basic idea is, in order to love God, you have to love your fellow human beings, and you have to love and care for the rest of creation,” said Vincent Miller, who holds a chair in Catholic theology and culture at the University of Dayton, a Catholic college in Ohio. “It gives Francis a very traditional basis to argue for the inclusion of environmental concern at the center of Christian faith.”

. . . .

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