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Showing posts from November, 2015

COP21 daily report: Monday 30 November

Cabot Institute Director Professor Rich Pancost will be attending COP21 in Paris as part of the Bristol city-wide team, including the Mayor of Bristol, representatives from Bristol City Council and the Bristol Green Capital Partnership. He will be writing blogs during COP21, reflecting on what is happening in Paris, especially in the Paris and Bristol co-hosted Cities and Regions Pavilion, and also on the conclusion to Bristol’s year as the European Green Capital.  Follow #UoBGreen and #COP21 for live updates from the University of Bristol. ---------------------------------
I started pondering this opening blog, the first in our Bristol at COP21 series, on Friday morning, while walking from the St Werburgh’s Community Centre back to the University.

It was a reflective walk. The  previous evening, Bristol’s COP21 team met at Brunel House to talk logistics, covering everything from travel, to security, to the main messages Bristol would want to share with the rest of the world.  All of thi…

Global warming 'pause' was a myth all along, says new study

The idea that global warming has “stopped” is a contrarian talking point that dates back to at least 2006. This framing was first created on blogs, then picked up by segments of the media – and it ultimately found entry into the scientific literature itself. There are now numerous peer-reviewed articles that address a presumed recent “pause” or “hiatus” in global warming, including the latest IPCC report.

So did global warming really pause, stop, or enter a hiatus? At least six academic studies have been published in 2015 that argue against the existence of a pause or hiatus, including three that were authored by me and colleagues James Risbey of CSIRO in Hobart, Tasmania, and Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University.

Our most recent paper has just been published in Nature’s open-access journal Scientific Reports and provides further evidence against the pause.

Pause not backed up by data
First, we analysed the research literature on global temperature variation over the recent period. Thi…

Resilience is inside every one of you – you just have to know where to find it…

Fourthland came to the Cabot Institute from London to give a workshop which would help us look into how resilience forms an important part of our research across all disciplines. Walking into the room with weird objects laid out and the sound of an Irish choir repeating a hypnotic chant, I instantly knew this would be a very different kind of exploration of our academic research.
A resilient performance Fourthland started their artistic performance by holding a rope and folding it up…cue lots of confused looks around the room and people shifting uneasily in their seats.  I couldn’t help thinking what on earth have I signed myself up to?!  Asking everyone to close their eyes, Fourthland continue to set up the room with props. Upon opening of eyes, everyone was asked to communicate through gestures and not use their voice. A volunteer was plucked from the room to randomly play a piano whilst participants took hay, eggshells, string and a big dish of what looked like the biggest poppadum I…

Delivering the ‘Future City’: our economy and the nature of ‘growth’

In Bristol’s European Green Capital year, the University of Bristol and its Cabot Institute have been working with the Bristol Green Capital Partnership and its members to convene a series of four conversations between Bristol academics and city ‘thinkers’ from across public, private and civil society exploring how Bristol delivers the ‘future city’ –  what capacities it needs to be resilient, sustainable and successful and how it can start to develop these in times of changing governance and tightened finances. The conversations will be reflected in a series of four blogs (the fourth below) and then brought together as a policy report as well as discussing at the Festival of the Future City in November.  You can connect to the other blogs from this series at the bottom of this blog.
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Cities such as Bristol are increasingly prominent in national growth strategies. The economic growth that Bristol helps to drive plays a fundamental role in shapin…

What happened when students handed in a divestment petition to the University of Bristol

On 9 November 2015, Fossil Free Bristol University handed over their petition asking for fossil fuel divestment to the Vice Chancellor, Hugh Brady. The petition has been open since March and collected over 2,200 signatures. It was presented along with a Student Union motion and letter in support of the campaign, as well as a report on the case for divestment to be presented to the Pro Vice Chancellor at a follow-up meeting.

Students are hoping that the University of Bristol will capitalise on the city's status as Bristol Green Capital and show subsequent Green Capital cities and universities what an important role universities can play in public climate change discourse. They are also keen that the university take positive moves towards divestment in the run up to COP21, and demonstrate to governmental leaders that they support strong action on climate change targets and regulation of the fossil fuel industry.

Fossil Free Bristol University was joined outside Senate House by Bris…

Thoughts on passing 400 ppm

In the next few days, the Mauna Loa atmospheric CO2 record will pass 400 ppm. This isn’t the first time that’s happened – we first crossed the 400 ppm threshold in May 2013, but the annual, saw-tooth variation in levels as the Northern hemisphere boreal forest breathes in and out has dipped us below 400 a couple of times since. This crossing is likely to be special however, as it is probably going to be the last time anybody alive today will experience an atmosphere with LESS than 400 ppm CO2.

Human emissions have been pushing up atmospheric levels by about 2.2 ppm every year in recent years, so normally we would expect the annual monthly minimum to increase to beyond 400 ppm from this year’s September minimum of 397.1 ppm, however we are in the midst of one of the largest El Nino years for over a decade, and the drought in the tropics during El Nino years slow the growth of trees relative to normal years, and increases fires. Previous strong El Nino years (like 1997) have helped to …

The Uncertain World Summit from my perspective (without any uncertainty)

In October we held our Uncertain World Summit, with a host of events and interactions to meet with new communities, think around new ideas and establish new solutions for what’s in store for us in the future.  You can read the other blogs covered in 'Our Uncertain World' at the bottom of this blog. Join the conversation with us on Twitter using the hashtag #UncertainWorld and contribute your thoughts and concerns to our (virtual) graffiti wall.  
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(Note to the reader: I’d like to mention that, from this point forward, I shall try not to use the word ‘uncertainty’. Not because it isn't important to talk about, but because I didn't want this blog to be absorbed by recognising it. There were many things that came out of the Uncertain World Summit that I felt were rather certain and I’ll try to focus on those for a change).

The two-day event was replete with bite sized chunks of climate science and policy making, washed …