Andy Reisinger

Polar ice keeps melting – whichever way you look at it - Degrees of Change

Oct 15, 2009

At the risk of banging on and on about it: another research article just out today from the prestigious journal Nature has used satellite-based measurements to show that the thinning of glaciers that are draining the Greenland and key parts of the Antarctic ice sheet is increasingly widespread. A quote from the abstract: “We find that dynamic thinning of glaciers now reaches all latitudes in Greenland, has intensified on key Antarctic grounding lines, has endured for decades after ice-shelf collapse, penetrates far into the interior of each ice sheet and is spreading as ice shelves thin by ocean-driven melt. […] Our results show that the most profound changes in the ice sheets currently result from glacier dynamics at ocean margins.” This study, led by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey, nicely complements (if ‘nice’ … Read More

Is agricultural trade liberalisation bad for the climate? - Degrees of Change

Oct 14, 2009

A Dutch research team has analysed the effect of agricultural trade liberalisation on global greenhouse gas emissions. Their study finds that a full liberalisation of agricultural trade (ie, removal of all trade barriers, quota and subsidies globally) would result in a 6% increase in global greenhouse gas emissions in 2015. Most of this emissions increase would come from land-clearing in developing countries to create new land for agricultural production, and increased numbers of cattle in extensive farming regions that produce meat less efficiently than in high-intensity production countries. By 2030 and beyond, the global increase in emissions would level off again as increased emissions from countries benefiting from trade liberalisation would be balanced by reduced emissions in countries negatively affected by liberalisation. This study raises some interesting problems for New Zealand … Read More

Polar ice keeps melting — at a faster and faster rate - Degrees of Change

Oct 12, 2009

A key reason for concern about climate change is that it could lead to gradual melting of the polar ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, resulting in an inexorable rise in global sea levels. A new set of high-precision measurements (paper in press with the journal ‘Geophysical Research Letters‘) now confirms that the ice sheets are not only melting but that their melt rate has more than doubled over the past seven years. This suggests that sea levels could rise a lot faster than indicated in earlier studies. Increases in sea level by more than 1m during the 21st century now have to be seriously considered. Numerous studies since the early 2000s indicated that several glaciers that drain the polar ice sheets into the ocean have accelerated as … Read More

So we’re aiming for 2 degrees – yeah right! - Degrees of Change

Sep 29, 2009

It’s exactly two decades since the first scientific warning in 1989 that global warming should be limited to no more than one or two degrees. Every year since then, the scientific evidence for climate change has become firmer and the message that greenhouse gas emissions have to be reduced substantially to avoid unmanageable changes has become more urgent (for examples, see here and here in the 1990s, and here, here and here in recent years). The European Union announced as early as … Read More

Climate change policy myopia: the ETS agreement - Degrees of Change

Sep 29, 2009

This is a re-post of an article that appeared in the Dominion Post on 18 September, co-authored with Ralph Chapman, Judy Lawrence and Jonathan Boston.  — The deal between National and the Maori party over the emission trading scheme raises serious questions about strategic policy making in New Zealand. The agreement has positive features — a price on carbon will apply from mid-2010 in some sectors — but it raises major concerns about the capacity of our democratic institutions to serve the common good of New Zealand and avoid capture by vested interests. The deal rests on four myths about climate change policy. Myth 1: Doing the minimum is good enough Is doing the minimum still credible? It might have been pragmatic while climate science was being clarified in the 1990s, and then with the US … Read More