Climate News Recap: Weaker Sun Won't Slow Warming; Plus, More on Leaking Siberian Methane

NASA Goddard Photo and Video/CC BY 2.0

Need to get up to speed on what's going on with methane leaking from the Siberian seafloor? The effect of weakening solar output on global warming? Declining US greenhouse gas emissions? Why it's a bad idea to move NOAA from the Department of Commerce to the Department of Interior (it's important, believe me)? Well, that's what caught our eye today. Keep reading.

Weakening Solar Output Won't Slow Warming Over Next Century
One argument often cited by climate skeptics and global warming deniers is that solar cycles are responsible for at least part of the warming we're seeing now. A new report from the UK's Met Office weighs in on the effect of the sun on warming, finding that though solar output will decrease throughout the 21st century, it would have a miniscule effect on warming, decreasing it just 0.08°C.

A Primer On Methane Leaking From The East Siberian Shelf
Reaction to the news that there is increased methane leaking from the seafloor on the East Siberian Shelf in the Arctic has ranged from near panic to a near impersonation of Alfred E Neuman's "What - Me Worry?"

If you want a good overview of the situation, sit squarely in the space between those two reactions, definitely check out this primer from Skeptical Science (a TreeHugger guest author). A taste:

Any increased Arctic methane flux, tapping into vast stores of steadily destabilizing methane hydrate, has the potential to keep going over a considerable time-period as a response to warmer (and rising) sea temperatures. We certainly do not need any feedbacks that bring additional natural sources of powerful greenhouse gases to the table, yet that is exactly what we risk up in the Siberian Arctic. The big questions that we now need the answers to are for how long has this outgassing been going on, does it appear to be intensifying and how might a colossal and rapid outburst occur.

US Emissions To Stay Below 2005 Levels Due To Decreasing Coal Use
Reuters:

U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions will be 7 percent lower than their 2005 level of nearly 6 billion metric tons in 2020 as coal's share of electricity production continues a steady descent over the next two decades, according to new government data.

NRDC Weighs In On Moving National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Into Interior Department
President Obama has announced that he plans on moving NOAA from the Commerce Department into the Department of the Interior. It may seem like some of the wonkiest, insider policy imaginable, but as NRDC's Frances Beinecke and David Goldston convincingly argue the seemingly benign organizational switch could have real and detrimental consequences.

Beinecke says:

More than ever before, our oceans need thoughtful, science-based management. Depleted fisheries, growing acidification of ocean waters from carbon pollution, and expanded drilling in ever-more extreme environments are just some of the issues nation has to tackle. Now is the time for our oceans experts to apply their skills, not lose their independence.

Housing NOAA within [the Department of Interior,] whose focus on the oceans is almost entirely extractive (permitting offshore oil drilling and exploration, for example) could erode the capability and mute the voices of the government’s chief oceans experts.

Goldston says:

NOAA brings an independent perspective to key issues that is likely to be muted or lost in Interior.  NOAA is primarily a scientific and environmental organization.  Interior, historically, is primarily an agency focused on extracting raw materials, and that’s even truer when it comes to its water and oceans portfolios.  Interior builds and manages dams; NOAA worries about what happens when fish reach them.  Interior leases the ocean to drill for oil; NOAA worries about what that might do to ocean species and ecology (and the industries that depend on them).

Tags: Carbon Emissions | Global Climate Change | Global Warming Science