09 Jun

Two 1-in-100 to 1-in-500 year floods in eleven years is a bit suspicious

Central Europe taking a global warming hit (link via Christopher Mims on twitter):

“If it seems like getting two 1-in-100 to 1-in-500 year floods in eleven years is a bit suspicious–well, it is. Those recurrence intervals are based on weather statistics from Earth’s former climate. We are now in a new climate regime with more heat and moisture in the atmosphere, combined with altered jet stream patterns, which makes major flooding disasters more likely in certain parts of the world, like Central Europe. As I discussed in a March 2013 post, ‘Are atmospheric flow patterns favorable for summer extreme weather increasing?’, research published this year by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in German found that extreme summertime jet stream patterns had become twice as common during 2001 – 2012 compared to the previous 22 years.”

(Via Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog : Extreme Jet Stream Pattern Triggers Historic European Floods | Weather Underground.)

02 Jun

Nice write up of Kim Stanley Robinson’s and my presentation at UC Davis last month

A long write up of the talk that Kim Stanley Robinson and I gave at UC Davis for the Whole Earth Festival:

“Robinson and Buckell’s presentation on climate change and science fiction was definitely fit for UCD’s Whole Earth Festival. After all, how much science fiction deals with future technology and the planets it effects including our own?”

(Via A Far Out Fantastic Site: Life, the Earth and the Universe.)

30 May

Arctic ice continues melting dramatically


I’m still not seeing a lot of calls for ice-free summers in 2050-ish, which is the ‘sf-nal’ component of my recent novel Arctic Rising, but Phil Plait here goes over why it will likely be by 2100:

“These two issues overlap mightily when it comes to Arctic sea ice. The ice around the North Pole is going away, and it’s doing so with alarming rapidity. I don’t mean the yearly cycle of melt in the summer and freeze in the winter, though that plays into this; I mean the long-term trend of declining amounts of ice. There are two ways to categorize the amount of ice: by measuring the extent (essentially the area of the ocean covered by ice, though in detail it’s a little more complicated) or using volume, which includes the thickness of the ice. Either way, though, the ice is dwindling away. That is a fact.”

(Via Arctic sea ice: Global warming is melting more ice every year.)

16 May

Climate research pretty unanimous on cause

Pretty straightforward consensus:

“A survey of thousands of peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals has found 97.1% agreed that climate change is caused by human activity.

Authors of the survey, published on Thursday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, said the finding of near unanimity provided a powerful rebuttal to climate contrarians who insist the science of climate change remains unsettled.”

(Via Climate research nearly unanimous on human causes, survey finds | Environment | guardian.co.uk.)

03 May

White House getting briefed on Arctic ice death spiral

The Department of Defense worries about global warming play a strong part in my novel Arctic Rising. In particular the Navy’s interest in global warming got my attention and a lot of the research for the novel sparked.

“US national security officials have taken an increasing interest in the destabilising impact of climate change. In February this year, the US Department of Defense (DoD) released its new Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, which noted that global warming will have:

‘… significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to greater competition for more limited and critical life-sustaining resources like food and water.’

The effects of climate change may:

‘Act as accelerants of instability or conflict in parts of the world… [and] may also lead to increased demands for defense support to civil authorities for humanitarian assistance or disaster response, both within the United States and overseas … DoD will need to adjust to the impacts of climate change on its facilities, infrastructure, training and testing activities, and military capabilities.’

(Via White House warned on imminent Arctic ice death spiral | Nafeez Ahmed.)

30 Apr

If you liked Arctic Rising, you might enjoy this pilot: Borealis

Interesting TV pilot that I haven’t had time to try and watch. Recently SF Signal gave it a go and liked it. Here’s the whole thing:

SF Signal had this to say:

“This reminds me of a couple of things that I’ve seen on bookshelves lately – Tobias Buckell’s Arctic Rising and Margaret Atwood’s story Bearlift, and this seems like it could have been an early foray into climate-focused science fiction on the small screen, something that we’ve seen already in books in the couple of years.

What stood out for me is that Borealis was a surprisingly smart production: it’s plot was impeccable, both setting up a world and characters, all the while having a superior story to boot, making it better than most of the productions that make it to the television. It’s a bit of a shame that it wasn’t picked up for a full series, because if this was the starting point, where it ended up could be really interesting.

At the end of the day, Borealis is a great hour and a half that stands fairly well on its own. Hopefully, we’ll see something like it make the rounds again at some point.”

(Via TV REVIEW: Borealis (Pilot Episode) – Watch a Fantastic 90 Minute SciFi Debut Right Here! – SF Signal.)

29 Apr

Alberta wants Arctic route in North Canadian harbor

Another whiff of the future that my novel Arctic Rising was playing with due to global warming:

“The oil sands pipeline would have to cross roughly 2,000 miles of Arctic tundra and wetlands to get to Tuktoyaktuk, population 930. The village’s natural harbor would have to be upgraded to accommodate the increased commercial activity.

Tanker traffic would probably be limited to the summer months because the Beaufort Sea is iced in for much of the year. However, warming temperatures are keeping the Arctic ice-free for longer periods each summer.”

(Via Oil sands: Alberta eyes Arctic route to get its bitumen to market — 04/26/2013 — www.eenews.net.)

29 Apr

Sea surface temperatures hit highest level in 150 years


“Sea surface temperatures in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem during 2012 were the highest recorded in 150 years, according to the latest Ecosystem Advisory issued by NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC). These high sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are the latest in a trend of above average temperature seen during the spring and summer seasons, and part of a pattern of elevated temperatures occurring in the Northwest Atlantic, but not seen elsewhere in the ocean basin over the past century.”

(Via Sea surface temperatures reach highest level in 150 years.)

24 Apr

Sudden Stratospheric Warming

Holy shit, interesting reading about larger weather patterns that create serious issues for us that maybe we’re just now starting to understand. Much like we realized hurricanes were a thing and not just randomly larger storms, this is an interesting larger step in understanding weather… if it becomes backed by more study. Interesting reading.

“In addition to the subject of anthropogenic climate change, I first became interested in SSW’s a few years back when it became increasingly apparent to me the extreme effects that SSW’s can have on Northern Hemisphere winter weather. It wasn’t just their extreme effects that interested me, but rather, the fact that their specific causes were still a bit of a mystery– and I’ve always loved a good mystery.  Isn’t that what is (or should be) at the heart and soul of any good scientist?”

(Via Sudden Stratospheric Warming: Causes & Effects – Arctic Sea Ice.)

17 Apr

None of the world’s biggest bussiness would be profitable with externalities priced in


“The notion of ‘externalities’ has become familiar in environmental circles. It refers to costs imposed by businesses that are not paid for by those businesses. For instance, industrial processes can put pollutants in the air that increase public health costs, but the public, not the polluting businesses, picks up the tab. In this way, businesses privatize profits and publicize costs.

While the notion is incredibly useful, especially in folding ecological concerns into economics, I’ve always had my reservations about it. Environmentalists these days love speaking in the language of economics — it makes them sound Serious — but I worry that wrapping this notion in a bloodless technical term tends to have a narcotizing effect. It brings to mind incrementalism: boost a few taxes here, tighten a regulation there, and the industrial juggernaut can keep right on chugging. However, if we take the idea seriously, not just as an accounting phenomenon but as a deep description of current human practices, its implications are positively revolutionary.”

(Via None of the world’s top industries would be profitable if they paid for the natural capital they use | Grist.)