World’s carbon emissions set to spike by 2% in 2017

Nov 13, 2017

By Jeff Tollefson

Humanity’s carbon emissions are likely to surge by 2% in 2017, driven mainly by increased coal consumption in China, scientists reported on 13 November1–3. The unexpected rise would end a three-year period in which emissions remained flat despite a growing global economy.

Researchers with the Global Carbon Project, an international research consortium, presented their findings at the United Nations climate talks in Bonn, Germany. Countries there are ironing out details of how to implement the 2015 Paris climate accord, which calls for limiting global warming to 1.5–2 °C. The projected jump in the world’s greenhouse-gas output underlines the challenges ahead; if the latest analysis proves correct, global carbon dioxide emissions will reach a record-breaking 41 billion tonnes in 2017.

“We were not particularly surprised that emissions are up again, but we were surprised at the size of the growth,” says Corinne Le Quéré, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia, UK, and co-author of the work, which was published in the journals Nature Climate ChangeEnvironmental Research Letters and Earth System Science Data Discussions. To Le Quéré, the question now is whether 2017 is a temporary blip or a return to business as usual. “If 2018 is as big is 2017, then I will be very discouraged,” she says.

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18 comments on “World’s carbon emissions set to spike by 2% in 2017

  • This is very sad. I hope China recoup very quickly.

    The decline in rain has been a problem taking out baseload provision via hydro. Also it proved difficult for all regions to stick to their transition plan apparently.

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  • @OP – “We were not particularly surprised that emissions are up again, but we were surprised at the size of the growth,” says Corinne Le Quéré, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia, UK,

    Meanwhile, scientists are enabling governments and businesses to cope with the consequences:-

    Nasa forecast: Which cities will flood as ice melts?

    A forecasting tool reveals which cities will be affected as different portions of the ice sheet melt, say scientists.

    It looks at the Earth’s spin and gravitational effects to predict how water will be “redistributed” globally.

    “This provides, for each city, a picture of which glaciers, ice sheets, [and] ice caps are of specific importance,” say the researchers.

    The tool has been developed by scientists at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

    Their findings are published in the journal Science Advances.

    Senior scientist Dr Erik Ivins said: “As cities and countries attempt to build plans to mitigate flooding, they have to be thinking about 100 years in the future and they want to assess risk in the same way that insurance companies do.”

    And this new tool provided a way for them to work out which ice sheets they should be “most worried about”.

    It suggests that in London sea-level rise could be significantly affected by changes in the north-western part of the Greenland ice sheet.

    While for New York, the area of concern is the ice sheet’s entire northern and eastern portions.

    This is really getting down to details and allows people to watch the sequence of events affecting them locally!

    Another of the scientists, Dr Eric Larour, said three key processes influenced “the sea-level fingerprint”, the pattern of sea-level change around the world.

    The first is gravity.

    “These [ice sheets] are huge masses that exert an attraction on the ocean,” said Dr Larour.

    “When the ice shrinks, that attraction diminishes- and the sea will move away from that mass.”

    As well as this “push-pull influence” of ice, the ground under a melting ice sheet expands vertically, having previously been compressed by the sheer weight of ice.

    There is evidence of this in raised beaches in areas vacated by the massive icecaps of the last ice-age.
    In some places there is a geological see-saw effect!
    eg. In Scotland there are fossil beaches where the Earth’s “floating” crust, has risen 30 feet above the present sea-level, while on the south coast of England the land is slowly sinking!

    Wobbling planet

    The last factor involves the rotation of the planet itself.

    “You can think of the Earth as a spinning top,” said Dr Larour.

    “As it spins it wobbles and as masses on its surface change, that wobble also changes.

    “That, in turn, redistributes water around the Earth.”

    By computing each of these factors into their calculations, the researchers were able to build their city-specific forecasting tool.

    “We can compute the exact sensitivity – for a specific town – of a sea level to every ice mass in the world,” Dr Larour told BBC News.

    “This gives you an idea, for your own city, of which glaciers, ice sheets and ice caps are of specific importance.”

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  • As #2 explains,
    there is a huge contrast in the USA
    between the earlier work of the scientists of NASA coming to fruition,
    and the obstructive perversity, ignorance, incompetence, and corrupt stupidity,
    of the Trump Administration!

    Europe steps in to cover US shortfall in funding climate science

    French president Emmanuel Macron says that Europe will cover any shortfall in funding for the global climate body, the IPCC.

    The scientific organisation has faced uncertainty since President Donald Trump outlined plans earlier this year to cut US funding.

    The UK government also pledged to double their IPCC contribution.

    Speaking at UN talks in Bonn, Mr Macron said that climate change was the most significant struggle of our times.

    Today saw the start of the high level segment at this meeting of global climate negotiators known as COP23.

    In his statement to negotiators, the French president outlined the need for increased commitments to cut carbon.

    Mr Macron said these decisions must be based on clear scientific information.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has long been seen as a key element of that system of advice to governments.

    Meeting the challenge

    Their assessment reports, which come out every six or seven years, are critical in informing the public and governments about the causes and impacts of climate change.

    Earlier this year, President Trump proposed ending US funding for this body. Mr Macron said that Europe would now fill the gap.

    “I propose that Europe replace America, and France will meet that challenge,” he told delegates here in Bonn.

    “I would like to see the largest number of EU countries at our side, all together we can compensate for the loss of US funding but I can guarantee from the start of 2018, the IPCC will have all the money that it needs and it will continue to support our decision-making. They will not miss a single euro.”

    The UK also announced that it would help the IPCC financially, with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announcing a doubling of funding for the organisation.

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  • Also – in contrast to Trumpery:-

    Mr Macron was keen to reinforce the leadership of France and the European Union on climate change.
    He announced that France would close all its coal plants by 2021, putting him at odds with German chancellor Angela Merkel who struggled with this issue as she tried to form a coalition government.

    On renewable energy, Mr Macron outlined plans for projects that would build inter-connections between green energy producers and consumer across the continent.

    “We will encourage and actively participate in funding all the projects we need bilaterally, with Germany and France but also with Ireland, Spain, Italy, the Benelux countries and Portugal,”

    “These international interconnections will be aimed at utilising renewables most efficiently across our continent, throughout the EU,”

    “This will be a guarantee that we will accelerate a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”

    Earlier UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres had addressed the conference of the parties for the first time in his new role.
    He used the opportunity to call for greater investment in green energy – and an end to subsidies for coal, oil and gas.

    “In 2016, an estimated $825bn were invested in fossil fuels and high emissions sector,” he told the meeting.

    “We must stop making bets on an unsustainable future that will place savings and societies at risk.”

    Scientists involved with the Climate Action Tracker said that while the decision of President Trump to withdraw from Paris would impact US commitments, their analysis showed that on the ground actions in India and China were making a difference in curbing emissions.

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  • Mods if this takes kill the spam binned other, cheers.

    Thanks, Alan.

    Macron is moving and shaking in all the right directions. Taking the Germans to task over coal is excellent news.

    France’s nuclear competence is something still to play on. Were he to incentivise the French Nuclear Industry to look at Thorium MSR and get buy in from Germany and the UK to purchase base load power via HVDC links (givern German popular antipathy to Nuclear within its borders), I think team work would be very sweet. UK Wind, French Th MSR, Germany’s Desertec solar plans revived.

    An additional strategy to mitigate the nonsense of Brexit (slowly dawning on brexiteer MPs) would be the initiation of more transnational infrastructure plans.

    Young Trudeau is a disaster though.

    Must find out if he’s improved in the interim.

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  • phil rimmer #5
    Nov 16, 2017 at 8:16 am

    Young Trudeau is a disaster though.

    Must find out if he’s improved in the interim.

    There do seem to seem to be signs of improvement!

    The UK and Canada have launched a global alliance of 20 countries committed to phasing out coal for energy production.

    Members including France, Finland and Mexico, say they will end the use of coal before 2030.

    Ministers hope to have 50 countries signed up by the time of the next major UN conference in Poland next year.

    However some important coal consuming nations, including China, the US and Germany have not joined the group.

    Reducing global coal use is a formidable challenge, as the fuel produces around 40% of the world’s electricity at present.

    Called the Powering Past Coal Alliance, this new initiative sees countries, regions and provinces, signing up to setting coal phase-out targets and committing to no new investments in coal-fired electricity in their national jurisdictions or abroad.

    The UK has said it will end the generation of electricity from unabated coal by 2025. Unabated means that the coal is burnt without capturing the resulting carbon emissions.

    Already, the move away from coal in the UK has been rapid. Around 40% of electricity was still being generated from coal in 2012 but in April this year the UK had its first full day without coal power in 135 years.

    “We have not sacrificed growth,” said Claire Perry, the UK’s minister for climate change and industry.

    “Since 1990 Britain has cut its emissions buy 42% and our economy has grown by 67%, that’s the best performance in the G7 so this is not something that’s a win-lose, it’s a win-win situation.”

    However many of those who have signed up to the alliance have little or no coal production or consumption, among them Fiji, Niue, and Costa Rica. Many of the richer countries involved have already announced their move away from coal and taken together the grouping only represents about 2.5% of global coal consumption.

    There are also some significant coal consuming countries including Germany and China, absent from the list at present.

    The anti-coal alliance are confident that by the time of the next major UN climate conference in Poland in 2018, there will be closer to 50 countries on board.

    The development has been broadly welcomed by environmental groups.

    With Canada and the UK leading the group, it means that two of the closest allies of the US are moving away from coal at a time when President Trump is talking about a revival for the fuel.

    Many environmental campaigners though, believe that attempts to produce clean coal are essentially efforts to prolong the dominance of the fossil fuel industry.

    “People were worried that this summit would see Trump assaulting the Paris Agreement with his coal lobbyists,” said Mohamed Adow from Christian Aid.

    “But his actions have actually galvanised other nations into action, with a new alliance making it clear that coal’s climate change threat must be taken seriously.

    The bottom line is coal is a dirty, unnecessary, polluting fuel that deserves to remain in a more ignorant and backward era. These countries are showing they understand that.”

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  • Meanwhile on the technology and transport front!

    Tesla has unveiled its first electric articulated lorry, designed to challenge diesel trucks as king of the road.

    The long-anticipated Tesla Semi has a range of 500 miles on a single charge.

    Tesla says the vehicle – known in the US as a semi-trailer truck – will go into production in 2019.

    With Tesla Semi, Mr Musk enters a competitive, demanding market. There are an estimated 3.5 million truck drivers in the US, the vast majority of whom drive diesel-powered engines. Tesla will not be able to compete on diesel’s range, and battery specialists doubt Tesla can produce a powerful enough battery at a reasonable price.

    “A 300-mile-capable battery pack costs about $200,000,” a Carnegie Mellon study concluded.

    “Which is much higher than a diesel-powered semi-truck, which costs about $120,000, on average, for the entire vehicle.”

    Mr Musk said the Tesla Semi would be able to travel 643km (400 miles) after 30 minutes of charge at one of Tesla’s new mega-chargers.

    As for cost, the company said that per mile the Tesla Semi would work out cheaper than a diesel equivalent when fuel and other maintenance is taken into consideration – but did not share the cost of an individual truck.

    Where Tesla believes it can bring an added advantage is with on-board safety and comfort.

    A statement from Tesla boasted that “jackknifing is prevented due to the Semi’s onboard sensors that detect instability and react with positive or negative torque to each wheel while independently actuating all brakes”.

    “The surround cameras aid object detection and minimise blind spots, automatically alerting the driver to safety hazards and obstacles.

    “With Enhanced Autopilot, the Tesla Semi features Automatic Emergency Braking, Automatic Lane Keeping and Lane Departure Warning.”

    Autopilot is Tesla’s autonomous driving function that offers several self-driving features, most importantly guiding the vehicle to stay within the lines on the road, and slowing down in keeping with traffic up ahead.

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  • The world is moving on without Trumpy backwardness!

    UN climate talks in Bonn have concluded with progress on technical issues, but with bigger questions about cutting carbon unresolved.

    Delegates say they are pleased that the rulebook for the Paris climate agreement is finally coming together.

    But these technical discussions took place against the backdrop of a larger battle about coal, oil and gas.

    It means that next year’s conference in Poland is set for a major showdown on the future of fossil fuels.

    This meeting, known as COP23, was tasked with clarifying complex operational issues around the workings of the Paris climate agreement.

    One of the most important elements was the development of a process that would help countries to review and ratchet up their commitments to cut carbon.

    Fiji, holding the presidency of this meeting, proposed what’s being called the Talanoa Dialogue.

    Over the next year, a series of discussions will take place to help countries look at the promises they have made under the Paris pact.

    “A key element in Poland is this Talanoa dialogue, to make sure it doesn’t result in just a talk show,” said Yamide Dagnet with the World Resources Institute.

    “In Poland, ministers will have to look each other in the eye and say they will go home and enhance their actions, so that by 2020 we end up with national plans that will be a much more ambitious set of climate actions.”

    Trump’s snub didn’t derail negotiations, which were mostly cordial, with a clear common goal.

    Governments can now see a clean energy future is not just achievable but affordable. Many know they need to cut emissions further, and some are ready to do so.

    However, the gulf remains between aspiration and actions. There is acrimony also over the lack of cash to help poor nations.

    And the venue of the next annual meeting – Poland’s coal capital Katowice.

    So, the battle’s not over, but real-world energy economics are on the cusp of overtaking politics as the main driver of climate protection.

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  • Meanwhile – the corruption of big-oil, and its links to US politics, keep coming to light!

    Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has named a general to head the state oil company, PDVSA, and the country’s energy ministry.

    Last week executives of Citgo, the oil company’s US refining subsidiary, were arrested over corruption allegations.

    Venezuela is in a deep economic crisis the government blames on “enemies in the US”. Opponents cite mismanagement.

    The move comes days after PDVSA and Venezuela were declared in selective default for failing to meet payments on bonds.

    The company’s bonds represent 30% of Venezuela’s external debt.

    Analysts say the Venezuelan oil industry has been damaged by underinvestment, chronic corruption, the departure of many of its most experienced people with expertise and training, and a shortage of spare parts.

    PDVSA accounts for about 95% of the country’s export earnings but output has been in steep decline for years.

    President Maduro said on Sunday that increased productivity was a top priority.

    It is unclear how Gen Quevedo will increase oil production and what role he will have in restructuring Venezuela’s debt, but Mr Maduro has urged him to purge PDVSA of corruption.

    Correspondents say that as oil production flags, Mr Maduro’s administration appears to be switching blame for the country’s spiralling economic crisis from the opposition to officials in the oil industry.

    About 50 managers at PDVSA have been arrested since August.

    However the Venezuelan President does seem to be using the Trump play-book in respect of staff qualifications!

    Gen Quevedo is an officer in the National Guard, which played a key role in subduing violent anti-Maduro protests in 2014.

    At least a third of President Maduro’s cabinet is made up of active or retired officers, and the military has become a major pillar of his support.

    Gen Quevedo was formerly a minister of housing, and has no known significant experience in the energy sector.

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  • Back in the UK weather records are being up-dated and made more accessible!

    Huge weather rescue project under way

    It is shaping up to be a mammoth citizen science project.

    Volunteers are wanted to digitise early 20th Century weather records covering the UK and other parts of Europe.

    The temperature, pressure, rainfall and wind observations are in handwritten tables and need to be converted to a form that computers can analyse.

    The data comes from the Met Office’s “Daily Weather Reports”, which were started by Robert FitzRoy shortly after the agency was founded in 1854.

    If this old information is recovered, it can then be used to reconstruct past conditions.

    That will put more context around some of the changes now occurring in our atmosphere, says Prof Ed Hawkins, from the National Centre for Atmospheric Science and Reading University.

    “Whenever we have big weather events today we need to ask ourselves, have we seen them before? And if we go further and further back in time and don’t recognise such big storms or such heavy rainfall, then we can be more confident that the changes we’re seeing today really are the result of shifts in the climate system,” he told BBC News.

    FitzRoy initially had weather observations from 15 UK stations telegraphed to London where they were collated and used to produce the first ever weather forecasts and storm warnings.

    Soon after, he was getting measurements cabled from stations across the continent as well.

    It is work that has essentially continued to this day, although modern systems mean satellite and other observational data are now fed directly into the supercomputers that make our forecasts.

    But go back prior to 1950 and a lot of the data in the Met Office’s possession is, in practical terms, out of the reach of scientists because the information is literally bound up – in paper archives.

    The Weather Rescue project aims to rectify this. It is posting photos of the tables started by FitzRoy on its website, and inviting volunteers to help make the millions of handwritten entries spreadsheet-friendly.

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  • While in Australia new power systems are progressing!

    The world’s largest lithium ion battery has begun dispensing power into an electricity grid in South Australia.

    The 100-megawatt battery, built by Tesla, was officially activated on Friday. It had in fact provided some power since Thursday due to demand caused by local hot weather.

    South Australia has been crippled by electricity problems in recent times.

    Tesla boss Elon Musk famously vowed to build the battery within 100 days – a promise that was fulfilled.

    “This is history in the making,” South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said on Friday.

    The battery would prevent a repeat of a notorious incident last year where the entire state lost power, Mr Weatherill said.

    Mr Musk has described it as three times more powerful than the world’s next biggest battery.

    When fully charged, the battery can power up to 30,000 homes for an hour. However, it will mostly be used to support and stabilise existing electricity supplies.

    The battery is comprised of a grid system that runs on the same technology that powers Tesla’s cars.

    In a statement, the company said the completion of the battery “shows that a sustainable, effective energy solution is possible”.

    The battery in South Australia is just one of several similar projects with which Tesla is involved.

    Smaller banks of batteries, also intended to smooth out power supplies, are also installed in Southern California, Hawaii, New Zealand, in the UK and on several Pacific islands. Luxury hotels in South Africa, on islands and in remote locations are also using small power storage systems.

    The company has also talked about sending more battery packs to Puerto Rico which lost almost all its power generating systems after Hurricane Maria swept across the region.

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  • The level of air pollution in India over recent weeks, is JUST NOT CRICKET!

    India v Sri Lanka Test match halted by smog in Delhi

    Sri Lanka players took to wearing masks to combat smog pollution that disrupted the third Test against India in Delhi.

    The Indian capital has been plagued by the problem for several weeks.

    Sri Lanka had just 10 men on the pitch at one point, despite several players wearing masks, with Lahiru Gamage and fellow bowler Suranga Lakmal leaving the field during the afternoon session.

    On one occasion the umpires consulted doctors and physiotherapists before resuming.

    India coach Ravi Shastri and Sri Lanka counterpart Nic Pothas also came on to the field to speak to umpires.

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    Seventeen million babies under the age of one are breathing toxic air, putting their brain development at risk, the UN children’s agency has warned.

    Babies in South Asia were worst affected, with more than 12 million living in areas with pollution six times higher than safe levels.

    A further four million were at risk in East Asia and the Pacific.

    Unicef said breathing particulate air pollution could damage brain tissue and undermine cognitive development.

    Its report said there was a link to “verbal and non-verbal IQ and memory, reduced test scores, grade point averages among schoolchildren, as well as other neurological behavioural problems”.

    The effects lasted a lifetime, it said.

    “As more and more of the world urbanises, and without adequate protection and pollution reduction measures, more children will be at risk in the years to come,” Unicef said.

    It called for wider use of face masks and air filtering systems, and for children not to travel during spikes in pollution.

    Last month hazardous smog began blanketing the Indian capital Delhi, prompting the Indian capital’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to say the city had become a “gas chamber”.

    I see de-regulator Trump, is busy rescinding US anti-pollution legislation, to try to achieve competitive and comparable industrial standards in the USA!

    He could possibly – as side effect, produce more low-brain out-put, Trumpy cheerleaders!

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  • So while man-made CO2 output levels remain high, feedback effects can be watched from satellites, regularly adding to them – along with ground-based observations of the associated destruction of human enterprises and property.

    Devastating wildfires fuelled by climate change are “the new normal”, California’s governor has said.

    Jerry Brown said vast fires, such as the ones that have ravaged southern California in recent days, “could happen every year or every few years”.

    “We’re facing a new reality in this state,” he said. Mr Brown made the comments after surveying the damage in Ventura County, north of Los Angeles.

    Thousands of firefighters have been battling the fires since Monday.

    Mr Brown, a Democrat who has attacked the Trump administration’s stance on climate change, said:
    “We’re facing a new reality in this state, where fires threaten people’s lives, their properties, their neighbourhoods, and of course billions and billions of dollars.

    “With climate change, some scientists are saying southern California is literally burning up.”

    Powerful pictures of the fires

    The largest wildfire – known as the Thomas Fire – burned close to 150,000 acres, an area of land roughly the size of Chicago, Reuters reported.

    On Saturday, firefighters began to make progress in containing the blaze.

    Six large wildfires, and some smaller blazes, erupted on Monday night in southern California. Fanned by high winds, they swept through tens of thousands of acres in a matter of hours.

    The fires have been driven by extreme weather, including low humidity and parched ground.

    How much damage is there?

    Hundreds of buildings have been destroyed and vast areas of land have been badly scorched.

    Three firefighters were injured and one death was reported after a 70-year-old woman was found dead in her car on an evacuation route.

    Nearly 200,000 residents were evacuated from their homes, with many forced to flee in the middle of the night as the flames rapidly spread.

    There are fears the blaze will seriously hit California’s multi-million dollar agricultural industry.

    About 90% of US avocados are grown in California, and much of the state’s crop has been wiped out.

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  • @OP – The projected jump in the world’s greenhouse-gas output underlines the challenges ahead; if the latest analysis proves correct, global carbon dioxide emissions will reach a record-breaking 41 billion tonnes in 2017.

    There will of course be a price to pay for this in terms of environmental and infrastructure damage!

    US flood risk ‘severely underestimated’

    Scientists and engineers have teamed up across the Atlantic to “redraw” the flood map of the US.

    Their work reveals 40 million Americans are at risk of having their homes flooded – more than three times as many people as federal flood maps show.

    The UK-US team say they have filled in “vast amounts of missing information” in the way flood risk is currently measured in the country.

    They presented the work at the 2017 American Geophysical Union meeting.

    This mapping project includes areas across the US that are on river floodplains and those at risk of flash floods associated with heavy rainfall.

    It focuses on rivers and does not include areas at risk of coastal flooding.

    One of the researchers, Oliver Wing PhD from the University of Bristol in the UK and part of the flood-mapping organisation Fathom, spoke to BBC News ahead of this international gathering of Earth and planetary scientists.
    He said the new maps were based on “cutting edge science”, simulating every river catchment area.

    The biggest issue, Mr Wing explained, is the how incomplete the network of river gauges is in the US. So he and his colleagues created a model based on decades of analysis of the way in which river systems behave.

    This model “fills in those data gaps,” he told BBC News, meaning the probability of flooding can be worked out in every river catchment area.

    Combining those probabilities with population and land-use data, Mr Wing said, revealed that “40 million people and $5.5 trillion worth of assets” are within an area that has a 1% chance of flooding each year.

    When you combine population data with government flood maps, which are created by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), “they only have 13 million people on that floodplain”, said Mr Wing.

    This area with 1% chance of flooding every year – also called the 100-year floodplain – is nationally recognised as the area of high flooding risk. FEMA charts this area on its official flood hazard map, which is used to inform a national flood insurance programme.

    Flooding insurance is mandatory for the homeowners who have mortgages from federally regulated lenders.
    And for people whose homes were built before this law was passed, there is government support for their insurance policies.

    But FEMA “simply hasn’t covered the whole of the USA” in its mapping, Mr Wing told BBC News.

    “Even in areas they claim to have studied, a lot of the smaller river reach has just been ignored.”

    A Department of Homeland Security report, published earlier this year, also concluded that FEMA needed to “improve its management and oversight of flood mapping”.

    FEMA said it had not carried out a full study of the number of people living in what it called Special Flood Hazard Areas, so it could not confirm the figures the team quoted.

    But Roy Wright, director of the National Flood Insurance Programme, said that the organisation wanted “the best answers as the science advanced”.

    “We haven’t seen the details of this study,” Mr Wright told BBC News. “But we welcome what these scientists have done and, if it improves our maps, we’ll look at it.”

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  • It would seem that Trump’s attempts to muzzle US research organisations fails again – with the the pseudo-science contained within the White-House day-care-home, the Trump-base ignorant, and the twitter-sphere!

    A warming, rapidly changing Arctic is the “new normal” and shows no signs of returning to the reliably frozen region of the past.

    This is according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Arctic Report Card.

    Director of the administration’s Arctic Researcher Program, Dr Jeremy Mathis, said the region did a great service to the planet – acting as a refrigerator.

    “We’ve now left that refrigerator door open,” he added.

    Dr Mathis was speaking at the annual American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans, where Noaa presented its annual summation of Arctic science.

    This is the 12th report the administration has produced. And although it pointed to “a few anomalies” in a recent pattern of warming in the Arctic region, Dr Mathis said: “We can confirm, it will not stay in its reliably frozen state.”

    “The thing I took that had the most resonance for me was we’re able to use some really long-term records to put the Arctic change into context – going back more than 1,500 years.

    “What’s really alarming for me is that we’re seeing the Arctic is changing faster than at any rate in recorded history.”

    The speed of change, Dr Mathis added, was making it very hard for people to adapt.

    “Villages are being washed away, particularly in the North American Arctic – creating some of the first climate refugees,” he said.

    “And pace of sea level rise is increasing because the Arctic is warming faster than we anticipated even a decade ago.”

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  • I see the Irish Republic is setting a good example of environmental responsibility in its public investment policy.

    Ireland is set to become the first country to stop public investments in fossil fuels.

    The Fossil Fuel Divestment bill was passed by the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann, on Thursday.

    The bill is expected to pass relatively quickly through the Seanad (senate), and will force the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund to end any investments in non-renewable energy in five years.

    Environment activists have welcomed the news.

    The ISIF is worth €8.9bn (£7.9bn; $10.4bn), of which more than €300m is invested in oil, gas, coal and other fossil fuels, according to Ireland’s Catholic development agency, Trócaire, which supported the bill.

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