Tuesday, December 22, 2009


NatureVideo has a video on the web, titled Climate change: the two-degree target, dated Oct. 1, 2009, in which four young people have a chance to ask Nobel Prize winners for their views on climate change and discuss what they learn. At: http://www.nature.com/video/lindau2009/index.html

There is a new organization called Climate Justice Fast, put up by people that have joined an international hunger strike in order to bring attention to the need to deal seriously about the threat of climate change, and to reduce the concentration of CO2 to 350 ppm. The site has short YouTube videos of people who have committed themselves to climate justice in this way. At: http://www.climatejusticefast.com/

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) issues a report in October titled, State of the States 2009: Renewable Energy Development and the Role of Policy, by E. Doris, J. McLaren, V. Healey and S. Hockett. This second annual report details the development of renewable energy sources in the United States and evaluates the role of various policies in promoting their development. The percentage of electricity generated by renewable sources other than hydro is still very small (less than 3%) but growing rapidly – especially in states with helpful policies. Chapter 3 describes 15 policies supporting renewable energy development and their effectiveness. At: http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/states/state_of_the_states.cfm

Jim Hansen, the chief climate scientist at NASA has done it again: written an evocative and inspiring piece about the future of global climate change – this one the day after Thanksgiving in response to a statement by his 5-year old grandson Connor while learning to shoot baskets. It’s titled, Never-Give-Up Fighting Spirit: Lessons From a Grandchild, and can be found on the web at: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2009/20091130_FightingSpirit.pdf

(The ‘Steve’ Hansen mentions, who is in need of karate lessons, is Stephen Schneider, a Stanford professor and Editor of the Journal of Climate Change. You can read about him, including a recent interview on Copenhagen appearing in The New Republic, at: http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu)

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has a 3-minute Q&A video with Len Barrie, the Director of the WMO Research Department, discussing greenhouse gases at:http://www.wmo.int/pages/resources/multimedia/greenhousegases.html

Stephen Seidel, Vice President for Policy Analysis 
at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, submitted testimony to the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming on October 22, 2009. Titled, The Federal Government’s Role in Building Resilience to Climate Change, it pointed out that adaptation to the climate change that is already occurring and will increase – even in the absence of further emissions – has not received nearly enough attention. The federal government has an important role to play - especially in providing the best possible estimates of future changes in temperature, precipitation and sea level - but state and local governments also need to be involved in planning to minimize future damage. At: http://www.pewclimate.org/testimony/seidel/10-22-09

Trevor Grundy of Ecumenical News International posted an article on Nov. 9 titled, Faith leaders present 60 plans to help UN on climate change. Leaders of nine major faiths have presented 60 ideas to lessen carbon emissions to the United Nations after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon singled out the religious community as key in fighting climate change.” At: http://www.eni.ch/featured/article.php?id=3508

Steve Law of The Portland Tribune has an article dated Nov. 26 titled, Changes in the wind - Get ready to alter your lifestyle as agencies reduce carbon footprint. It describes the measures Portland Oregon and the surrounding Multnomah County have in their Climate Action Plan to take to reduce their environmental footprint. These include: reducing energy use by existing homes by 25% by 2030, reducing electricity use per person 35 percent by 2030 and 68 percent by 2050, requiring that homes built after 2030 achieve “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions, having the average car on Portland streets get 40 miles per gallon within 20 years, and adding 15 miles of new bike paths within a year. In addition, most residents in Portland should be able by 2030 to safely walk or bike to work, or to commuter bus or rail stops. Total trash generated in the county should fall 25 percent by 2030. By then, 90 percent of all trash generated by the public must be recovered and kept out of the landfill. City and county agencies must set an example and cut their carbon emissions 50 percent by 2030, more than the general public. Susan Anderson, director of the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, says, “We know what the solutions are. It’s a question of whether we have the will to carry them out.” More ideas can be found in the article. At: http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/story_2nd.php?story_id=125918457480318600

PS The population of Multnomah County in 2008 was about 715,000. If they can do it there, why can’t we?

An article in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science for Dec. 7 by James Hansen and 11 Chinese coauthors is titled, Black Soot and the Survival of Tibetan Glaciers. It finds that black carbon in the form of soot contributes significantly to the increasing rate of melting of Tibetan glaciers, and that reducing emissions of both soot and greenhouse gases will be required to save the glaciers as an important source of fresh water for about a billion people in Asia.

At: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/12/07/0910444106.full.pdf+html

Krista Tippett in Speaking of Faith on American Public Media had a conversation (53-minute audio) with Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, called The Moral Math of Climate Change. McKibben spoke about the moral dimension of climate change and the experiences that led him to found an international organization for climate action – made up mostly young people and people of faith. On October 24 350.org held over 5000 events in 181 countries around the world. At: http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/2009/moral-math

On Dec. 8 Yahoo! News posted an article titled, Americans cool to human-caused global warming: poll. It cited a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll conducted on Dec. 2-3 showing that only 45% of Americans think that Climate Change is caused by human activities – down from 56% in October 2007. Those who said U.S. carbon emissions should not be cut regardless of what the rest of the world does jumped to 24%, from 15% two years ago. The naysayers are gaining the upper hand in the struggle for American public opinion. At: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20091208/lf_afp/usclimatewarming

Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma came to Copenhagen for two hours on Dec. 17 to tell negotiators that “the chances of passage of pending climate and energy legislation were "zero" and would remain so if such a bill was financially harmful to Americans in any way.” He went on to say that emails hacked from the climate change research group at East Anglia University showed that "the science has been debunked." At: http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/green/greenblog/2009/12/inhofe_arrives_in_copenhagen_t.html

James Hansen, Director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) at Columbia University, posted a paper on Dec. 16 titled, The Temperature of Science, in which he describes how GISS determines and reports the global average temperature. He also describes the harassment and threats he has been subject to in recent weeks as a result of his work. At: http://www.columbia.edu/%7Ejeh1/mailings/2009/20091216_TemperatureOfScience.pdf

ExxonMobil has published a report titled, Outlook for Energy: View to 2030. Though ExxonMobil has been a major funding source for climate change contrarians, p. 30 of the report says, “Rising emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases pose significant risks to society and ecosystems. Since most of these emissions are energy-related, any integrated approach to meeting the world’s growing energy needs over the coming decades must incorporate strategies to curb emissions and address the risk of climate change.” Is this the season of miracles, or what? At: http://www.exxonmobil.com/Corporate/files/news_pub_eo_2009.pdf

The December issue of National Geographic has an article by John Sterman (MIT) and David Archer (U Chicago) titled, The Climate Bathtub, which explains how the atmosphere acts like a tub with respect to adding carbon to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels and forests, and removing it by absorbtion by plants, soils and oceans, and eventually by rocks. The article has some excellent graphics (by Nigel Holmes) and can be found on the web at:


The web site is linked to a nice climate simulation package called C-Learn, into which the user can input various percent changes in emissions by 2050 for three groups of the world’s nations (developed, large developing (group A) and small developing (group B), as well as changes in land use, and run a simulator to see the effects on future CO2 emissions, and concentrations, temperatures and sea level rise. It’s a great learning tool and shows clearly what will be required if the temperature increase is to be kept below 2° to avoid dangerous climate change. The simulator is at:


The following items are from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), Carol Werner, Executive Director. Past issues of its newsletter are posted on its website under "publications"
 at http://www.eesi.org/publications/Newsletters/CCNews/ccnews.htm

EESI’s newsletter is intended for all interested parties, particularly the policymaker community. For more information regarding either the newsletter or EESI please contact Amy Sauer at asauer@eesi.org.

Obama and Hu Make Progress in Tackling Climate Change

On November 17, President Obama concluded his first official visit to China during which climate change was one of the major topics on his agenda. President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao announced they would jointly press for a political agreement at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference set to begin in Copenhagen on December 7, which would provide the foundation for the completion of a legally-binding international climate change treaty in 2010. Obama and Hu promised they would help negotiators to reach a political agreement by proposing national greenhouse gas emission mitigation targets at Copenhagen for the first time. “Our aim there, in support of what Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark is trying to achieve, is not a partial accord or a political declaration, but rather an accord that covers all of the issues in the negotiations and one that has immediate operational effect,” Obama said. The Presidents also negotiated a series of clean energy partnerships, focusing on technologies such as carbon capture and storage, electric vehicles, high-speed rail and shale gas.

For additional information see: Washington Post, The Guardian, Reuters, AP

Global Temperatures Will Rise 6°C by End of Century, Scientists Say

On November 17, the Global Carbon Project (GCP) published a new study which concluded that the average global temperature is on track to increase by 6°C by 2100. GCP estimated that total CO2 emissions have increased 29 percent since 2000, at a trend growth rate of 3.4 percent annually. The report warned that emissions “continued to track the average of the most carbon-intensive family of scenarios” put forth by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its Fourth Assessment Report. Lead author Corrine Le Quere said, “The global trends we are on with CO2 emissions from fossil fuels suggest that we're heading towards 6°C of global warming.” The GCP also estimated that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels will fall by 2.8 percent in 2009 following a 2 percent rise in 2008. Le Quere concluded, “Based on our knowledge of recent trends and the time it takes to change energy infrastructure, I think that the Copenhagen conference next month is our last chance to stabilize at 2°C in a smooth and organized way.”

For additional information see: Science, The Guardian, Reuters, BBC

UN Chief Links Climate Change and Food Security

On November 16, United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon discussed the connection between food security and climate change at the UN World Food Summit in Rome. Ban said that climate change could cause the Himalayan glaciers to melt which would deprive Asian nations of the water necessary for agriculture. He also noted that climate change could reduce rainfall in Africa which could reduce crop yields 50 percent by 2020. “Today's event is critical. So is the climate change conference in Copenhagen next month. There can be no food security without climate security,” Mr. Ban declared. “They must produce results – real results for people in real need, results for the one billion people who are hungry today, real results so millions more will not have to suffer when the next shock hits.” The summit's declaration also pointed out the connection. It said, “Climate change poses additional severe risk to food security and the agriculture sector.”

For additional information see: Financial Times, Christian Science Monitor, United Nations Press Release

UN: Poor Women Bear Climate Burden

On November 18, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) released a new report which found that women in developing countries will be most vulnerable to climate change because they do a large share of the farming. “Given women's significant engagement in food production in developing countries, the close connection between gender, farming and climate change deserves far more analysis than it currently receives,” the UNFPA said. The report warned that women would be especially susceptible to drought, noting that women would have to “work harder to secure food, water and energy for their homes.” UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaidu concluded, “Poor women in poor countries are among the hardest hit by climate change, even though they contributed the least to it."

For additional information see: BBC, UPI, AP, United Nations Population Fund Press Release

Greenland Ice Disappearing Faster Than Originally Thought

A study published in the November 13 issue of Science found that ice in Greenland disappeared at an accelerated rate between 2006 and 2008. Ice loss occurred at a rate equivalent to 0.75 millimeters of sea level rise between these years, compared to a trend rate loss of 0.46 millimeters between 2000 and 2008. “Mass loss has accelerated," said lead author Michiel van den Broeke of Utrecht University in the Netherlands. “The years 2006-08, with their warm summers, have seen a huge melting.” Co-author Jonathan Bamber added, “The underlying causes suggest this trend is likely to continue in the near future.”

For additional information see: AFP, The Telegraph, BBC, Reuters

Oceans Less Effective at Absorbing Carbon

A study published in the November 19 issue of the journal Nature found that the oceans' intake rate has dropped since 1980, with a sharp decline of 10 percent from 2000 to 2007. The authors concluded that the oceans have become less efficient at absorbing anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions over time. “The more carbon dioxide the ocean absorbs, the more acidic it becomes and the less carbon dioxide it can absorb,” said lead author Samar Khatiwala, a research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “Because of this chemical effect, over time, the ocean is expected to become a less efficient sink of manmade carbon. The surprise is that we may already be seeing evidence for this, perhaps compounded by the oceans' slow circulation in the face of accelerating emissions.”

For additional information see: Science, New York Times, National Geographic

Forest Service Says Trees Can Slow Climate Change

On November 18, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests on managing Federal forests in response to climate change. Tidwell warned that the potential of forests to be used as a carbon sink to combat climate change must be balanced with the risk that climate change impacts will release vast quantities of carbon dioxide. He said that forests currently store the equivalent of 16 percent of America's fossil fuel emissions, but that their ability to store carbon could decrease in the future due to increased wildfires and insect infestation. “Disturbances such as fire and insects and disease could dramatically change the role of forests, thereby emitting more carbon than currently sequestered,” he said.

For additional information see: AP, OPB News

China Pledges 40-45 Percent Reduction in Carbon Intensity

On November 26, the Chinese State Council's Standing Committee announced that China will reduce its carbon intensity 40-45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. “This is a voluntary action taken by the Chinese government based on its own national conditions and is a major contribution to the global effort in tackling climate change,” the State Council said. Carbon intensity refers to the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of gross domestic product (GDP). China's new target does not specifically ensure that China's overall greenhouse gas emissions will peak, but does indicate that emissions per unit of GDP will decline. A White House spokesman said that the administration welcomes “China's intention to cut the growth of their emissions.”

For additional information see: China Daily, BBC, Reuters, Wall Street Journal

Sen. Kerry Pushes for More Climate Change Aid to Poor Nations

On December 1, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) recommended in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the Obama administration set aside $3 billion in the FY 2011 budget for climate change aid to developing nations. The FY 2010 budget included $1.2 billion for climate change assistance. Kerry said, “The global community has agreed that $10 billion is required annually in fast-start financing to support immediate international climate change priorities. The United States must be prepared to contribute its fair share of this obligation.” On November 27, British Prime Minster Gordon Brown and French President Nicholas Sarkozy proposed a fast-start $10 billion per year fund to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change.

On December 4, Kerry introduced the International Climate Change Investment Act of 2009. The bill would authorize new programs and funding to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change, deploy clean technologies, and reduce deforestation. Kerry said the bill is intended to be the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's contribution to the broader climate and energy legislation currently being considered in the Senate, as well as the “foundation” of the U.S. climate finance package to be proposed at the United Nations negotiations in Copenhagen beginning December 7.

For additional information see: AFP, Reuters, Sen. Kerry's Office Press Release, New York Times

EPA: Fuel Economy Increases as CO2 Decreases

On November 20, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its annual report, “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends.” The EPA determined that carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles in 2009 have decreased by 8 percent since 2004 because the average fuel economy of the nation's automobile fleet has increased by 9 percent, or 1.8 miles per gallon (mpg) over the timeframe. The EPA predicted that the average fuel economy will increase to 21.1 mpg in 2009, up from 21 mpg in 2008. "American drivers are increasingly looking for cars that burn cleaner, burn less gas and won't burn a hole in their wallets,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

For additional information see: Environmental Protection Agency Press Release, UPI, AP

California Releases Draft Rules for Cap and Trade Program

On November 24, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released a draft rule for the state's greenhouse gas (GHG) cap and trade program. The draft rule would require California's 600 largest GHG emitters to reduce their emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The cap and trade program will be one action California takes to reduce its emissions 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 as required by California Assembly Bill 32. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “We have seen our green economy grow along with California's green initiatives, and I have no doubt the nation's first cap and trade program will also drive innovation and generate green jobs.” CARB Chair Mary Nichols added, “This marks another important milestone in California's efforts to deal with the very difficult and complicated process of developing a broad program to address climate change.”

For additional information see: Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury, New York Times, Reuters

Poll Finds Americans Favor Carbon Tax over Cap and Trade Policy

On December 1, the U.S. Climate Task Force and Future 500 released a new poll conducted by Hart Research which found that those polled prefer a carbon tax to cap and trade by a two to one margin. When asked to choose between a carbon tax and cap and trade, 58 percent of the over 1,000 registered voters polled said they preferred a carbon tax versus 27 percent who said they supported cap and trade. Overall, the poll found that 74 percent of respondents favored policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

For additional information see: Climate Task Force Press Release

Investors Push SEC on Climate Risk Disclosure

On November 23, the group Ceres, which includes investors and environmentalists controlling over $1 trillion in assets, petitioned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require companies to disclose climate risk in their correspondence with investors. Ceres specifically asked the SEC to mandate that companies release their greenhouse gas emissions data, risks posed by climate change impacts, and what actions they are currently undertaking to mitigate climate risk. “This is calling for real transparency on material risks that have a profound impact on share value of companies," said Ceres President Mindy Lubber. “These are now real on-balance sheet risks. They are material. They ought to be disclosed.”

For additional information see: Reuters, The Examiner

Global Warming to Threaten China's Harvests

In the December 2 issue of Seeking Truth, the ruling Chinese Communist Party's main magazine, China Meteorological Administration Director Zheng Guoguang wrote that climate change could reduce China's crop productivity 5-10 percent by 2030 and 37 percent by 2050. He also said that extreme weather from climate change will cause China's annual grain harvest to fluctuate 30-50 percent from the long-term average if climate change continues unchecked, versus 10-20 percent now. “If extreme climatic disasters occur twice or more within five years -- for example, major drought over two or three years -- then the impact on our country's economic and social development would be incalculable,” Zheng wrote. He urged China to prioritize “reducing the impact of global warming on the country's food security, and strengthening the capacity of agriculture to withstand climatic risks.”

For additional information see: Reuters, Bloomberg, AFP

Global Emissions Exceeding 'Carbon Budget', Study Finds

On December 1, the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) released a new study which found that global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 2000 to 2008 accounted for 20 percent of the total the world can emit by 2050 if the temperature increase from global warming is to be kept at 2°C. PwC estimated that the world is currently 10 percent over the required trajectory needed to limit the temperature increase to 2°C. PwC Head of Macroeconomics John Hawksworth said, “Despite the widening consensus around the need to decarbonize, few countries are doing enough to live within our estimates of their carbon budgets. If the world stays on this [course] we will have used up the entire global carbon budget for the first half of this century by 2034, 16 years ahead of schedule.” PwC Climate Change Partner Leo Johnson added, “If we had started on a low-carbon pathway in 2000, we would have needed to decarbonize at around 2 percent a year up to 2008. We managed only 0.8 percent in 2000-08. The result is we now need to decarbonize at a rate of 3.5 percent a year to get back on track by 2020 -- four times more than we have managed at the global level since 2000.”

For additional information see: Reuters, The Guardian

Unchecked Climate Change Will Put World at 'Tipping Point'

On November 23, the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) and the insurer Allianz SE released a new report called “Major Tipping Points in the Earth's Climate System and Consequences for the Insurance Sector,” which found that temperatures are close to reaching tipping points which could trigger abrupt climate impacts with serious socio-economic consequences. “Changes related to global warming are likely to be much more abrupt and unpredictable, and they could create huge social and environmental problems and cost the world hundreds of billions of dollars,” the groups said. One example of a tipping point the report evaluated is the rapid melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet should the global average temperature increase by more than 2°C. The report determined that this would cause sea levels to rise up to 0.5 meters by 2050 which would increase the value of assets at risk in all 136 global port mega-cities to $25 trillion. It also found that the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet would cause sea levels to rise by 0.65 meters in the U.S. Northeast, which would increase asset exposure from $1.35 trillion to $7.4 trillion. “If we don't take immediate action against climate change, we are in grave danger of disruptive and devastating changes,” said Kim Carstensen, the Head of WWF Global Climate Initiative. “Reaching a tipping point means losing something forever. This must be a strong argument for world leaders to agree to a strong and binding climate deal in Copenhagen in December.”

For additional information see: AFP, Bloomberg, Financial Times, World Wildlife Fund Press Release

EPA: Greenhouse Gases Threaten Public Health and the Environment

On December 7, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson announced that the EPA had completed its greenhouse gas (GHG) endangerment finding. The EPA ruled that GHGs are a threat to public health and welfare, which will allow the agency to regulate them under the Clean Air Act. In April this year, the EPA decided that carbon dioxide and five other GHGs could endanger human health and well-being. The decision was then made available for public comment, with the EPA receiving more than 300,000 comments over the given 60-day period. “EPA has finalized its endangerment finding on greenhouse gas pollution and is now authorized and obligated to make reasonable efforts to reduce greenhouse pollutants,” said Jackson. “This administration will not ignore science or the law any longer.” Jackson and President Obama have publicly stated that they would prefer Congressional action on climate change to EPA regulation through the Clean Air Act.

For additional information see: Environmental Protection Agency, BBC, Wall Street Journal, Reuters

This Decade Warmest on Record

On December 8, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released a new analysis that shows the decade spanning 2000 to 2009 will be the hottest on record. The WMO said that the global average temperature was 0.44°C above the 1961 to 1990 average temperature. This is an increase over the 1990s, the previous record holder, which was 0.23°C above the average. WMO also announced that it expects 2009 will be the fifth hottest year on record, though the data on that figure is still incomplete. "We are in a warming trend - we have no doubt about it,” said WMO Secretary General Michel Jarraud.

For additional information see: New York Times, BBC, Bloomberg

Climate Change to Drive Up to One Billion from Homes

On December 8, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) published a new report which forecasted that climate change could cause up to one billion people to leave their homes by 2050. “Further climate change, with global temperatures expected to rise between 2 and 5°C by the end of this century, could have a major impact on the movement of people,” the report said. IOM also estimated that 20 million people were left homeless in 2008 after environmental disasters. The report concluded that few “climate refugees” would be able to leave their countries. “Aside from the immediate flight in the face of disaster, migration may not be an option for the poorest and most vulnerable groups,” it said. Instead, IOM predicted that migrants would move into already crowded cities.

For additional information see: Reuters, Xinhua, AFP

New Report Identifies Species Affected by Climate Change

On December 7, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) released a new report titled, “Species Feeling the Heat: Connecting Deforestation and Climate Change,” which identified a list of species that are threatened by climate change. Notable threatened species from the report included the Bicknell's thrush, flamingoes, the irrawaddy dolphin, the musk ox, and the hawksbill turtle. “The image of a forlorn looking polar bear on a tiny ice floe has become the public's image of climate change in nature, but the impact reaches species in nearly every habitat in the world's wild places,” said WCS President Dr. Steven E. Sanderson. “In fact, our own researchers are observing direct impacts on a wide range of species across the world.”

For additional information see: Wildlife Conservation Society Press Release, Press Trust of India

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Coalition for Climate Change Study and Action

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Scientific American for Nov. 2009 has a very important article by Mark Jacobson (Stanford) and Mark Delucchi (UC Davis) titled, A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030. The authors have determined that a combination of wind, water and sunlight could provide 100% of the world’s energy, for all purposes, as early as 2030. The cost of generating and transmitting power on a per kWh basis, using a complete life-cycle analysis, will be less for these renewable energy sources than for nuclear or fossil fuel power. The greatest obstacles are shortages of a few specialty materials and a lack of political will. The article is a must read for anyone interested in a clean energy future. At: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=powering-a-green-planet

The site has a multimedia presentation by FlypMedia.com with a rank ordering of various energy sources, with wind first: 1) wind; 2) solar-thermal; 3) geothermal; 4) tides; 5) solar PV; 6) wave; 7) hydroelectric; 8) coal with carbon capture and storage; 9) nuclear; 10) natural gas; 11) oil; and 12) ethanol from corn and cellulose. Regular (current) coal plants are off the bottom of the scale.

The Business Standard for Oct. 22 has an article titled, India, China sign 5-yr pact to tackle climate change. The two countries have agreed to establish an India-China Partnership and Working Group on Climate Change to share best practices and policies. They agree that equal priority should be given to adaptation and mitigation. “China and India say wealthy countries including the US should lower emissions by 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020 and share technology with poorer nations to help them fight climate change.” At: http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/india-china-sign-5-yr-pact-to-tackle-climate-change/373961/

James Hansen gave a talk to the Club of Rome Global Assembly 2009 on October 26 titled, Global Warming Time Bomb: Actions Needed to Avert Disaster. In it he gave an impassioned plea for people – especially young people – to get involved to save the kind of planet on which civilization developed. He sees governments out of touch with science and nibbling around the edges of the climate change crisis instead of tackling it head-on. He points out that Antarctic Ice is melting at a rate of about 200 cubic kilometers per year, while Greenland is melting at about 300 cubic kilometers per year, with rates of both accelerating as we continue business as usual. At: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2009/ClubOfRome_20091026.pdf

Susan Cutter et al. of the Hazards and Vulnerability Institute at the University of South Carolina have issued a Final Report to Oxfam America, dated June 2009, titled, Social Vulnerability to Climate Variability Hazards: A Review of the Literature. The report considers hazards likely to increase with global warming such as floods, droughts, disease and sea level rise, and the vulnerability of people based on economic status, gender, age and ethnicity. The most vulnerable tend to be poor, members of minorities, women, children and the elderly. At:


The authors have evaluated vulnerability and produced maps of the Southeastern U.S., showing which areas are most vulnerable and least able to adapt. At: http://adapt.oxfamamerica.org/

Dana Milbank has an item in the Oct. 28 Washington Post titled, A Senator in a Hostile Climate, describing how Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma – famous (or infamous) for saying that global warming is a gigantic hoax on the American people – got hot around the collar and red in the face when his fellow senators, especially Republicans, said that climate change is an important problem that should be addressed. At: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/27/AR2009102702845.html?referrer=emailarticle

Laurie Williams and Allan Zabel have an article in the Oct. 31 Washington Post titled, Cap and Trade Mirage. The authors, who are lawyers with the EPA, argue that the offset provisions in the House energy bill (H.R. 2454) and in bills being developed in the Senate weaken the bills so much that they are unlikely to result in any reductions in GHG emissions, and may even result in increases! At:


The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has an excellent October article titled, Now it’s the Business World that is Urging Climate ‘Realism’. It points out that few if any countries that have pledged to reduce their GHG emissions have well-considered plans for how to achieve their goals. At: http://www.wbcsd.org/plugins/DocSearch/details.asp?type=DocDet&ObjectId=MzYxMzA

Vice Admiral Lee Gunn, President of the American Security Project, has an Oct. 20 article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists titled, Climate Change Could be the Next Great Military Threat. “Although the United States has faced many threats over the last few decades, climate change may be the most ominous. Specifically, it will contribute to resource scarcity, state failure, increasingly mobile populations, and regional instability.” Unless we begin preparing now, future generations may need “to deal with a world full of conflict, disease, hunger, displacement, and extremism.” At:


Suzanne Goldenberg has an article in The Guardian for Nov. 2 titled, Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth Sequel Stresses Spiritual Argument on Climate. Gore’s latest book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, is based on meetings and conversations he has had with scientists and others. At:


A paper by Dietz et al. in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, Nov. 3, is titled, Household actions can provide a behavioral wedge to rapidly reduce U.S. carbon emissions. In 10 years we could reduce CO2 emissions by 123 million metric tons, or 7.4% of the U.S. total. At: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/10/23/0908738106.full.pdf

A EurekaAlert posted by Cheryl Cybas of the National Science Foundation posted Nov. 11 was titled, Record highs far outpace record lows across US. Temperature records for the continental U.S. over the past decade from thousands of weather stations show that the ratio of the number of record daily highs to record daily lows has increased by a factor of two relative to earlier decades. Models project that business-as-usual continuation of carbon emissions could increase the ratio to about 20-to-1 by mid-century and 50-to-1 by 2100, as average temperatures continue to rise. At: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-11/nsf-rhf111209.php

Skeptical Science has a post from John Cook dated Nov. 17 titled, Why is Greenland’s Ice Loss Accelerating? He shows that ice loss determined by measurements of precipitation, water runoff and ice flow are consistent with satellite gravity measurements in showing an accelerating rate – particularly in the past 5 years. The major contributor is the increasing rate of glacial ice flow and calving into the sea. At: http://www.skepticalscience.com/Why-is-Greenlands-ice-loss-accelerating.html

In a Nov. 18 article in the Wall Street Journal titled, Senate to Put Off Climate Bill Until Spring, Ian Talley reported that the Senate is unlikely to have an energy/climate bill before March. There is a danger that the legislation will get lost in the race of members of Congress to get themselves reelected in 2010. At: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125850693443052993.html?mod=rss_whats_news_us

The following items are from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), Carol Werner, Executive Director. Past issues of its newsletter are posted on its website under "publications"
 at http://www.eesi.org/publications/Newsletters/CCNews/ccnews.htm

EESI’s newsletter is intended for all interested parties, particularly the policymaker community. For more information regarding either the newsletter or EESI please contact Amy Sauer at asauer@eesi.org.

Industrialized Nations Emissions Grew for Seventh Consecutive Year in 2007

On October 21, the United Nations announced that greenhouse gas emissions produced by industrialized countries rose 1 percent in 2007, the seventh consecutive year of emissions growth. The data comes from the 40 industrialized countries with reporting obligations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). “The continuing growth of emissions from industrialized countries remains worrying, despite the expectation of a momentary dip brought about by the global recession,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer. “So the numbers for 2007 underscore, once again, the urgent need to seal a comprehensive, fair and effective climate change deal in Copenhagen in December.”

For additional information see: AFP, AP, United Nations Press Release

Studies Question Carbon Accounting of Biofuels

In the October 22 issue of Science, two studies were published which called into question the carbon neutrality of biofuels. The first study, led by Jerry Melillo of the Marine Biological Laboratory, found that a major expansion of biofuel production could increase global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The researcher's model indicated that the amount of land used for biofuel production would exceed the total area currently devoted to agriculture and would displace food crops and drive deforestation, resulting in higher GHG emissions. The second study, conducted by Tim Searchinger of Princeton University, identified an accounting error regarding biofuels present in the Kyoto Protocol and the cap and trade legislation currently being considered by Congress. Both studies concluded that biofuels are not truly carbon neutral, arguing that increasing biofuel production displaces existing vegetation which sequesters more carbon than the new biofuel crops, which is known as land-use change. “Our analysis, which we think is the most comprehensive to date, shows that direct and indirect land-use changes associated with an aggressive global biofuels program have the potential to release large quantities of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere," said Melillo. Searchinger warned, “The error is serious, but readily fixable.” He recommended that Congress correct this flaw by including biofuels in the cap and trade program and then crediting those that are grown in a truly renewable fashion with carbon offsets.

For additional information see: Science, Reuters, Science, Washington Post, New York Times, AFP

Polls Find Fewer Americans Believe in Global Warming, Concern over Economy Greater than Climate

On October 22, a new poll from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that 57 percent of Americans believe there is strong scientific evidence that the Earth is warming, down from 71 percent in April 2008. Thirty-six percent of respondents agreed that temperatures were rising because of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion, down from 47 percent in 2008. Fifty percent supported setting limits on carbon emissions even if this leads to higher energy prices. “The priority that people give to pollution and environmental concerns and a whole host of other issues is down because of the economy and because of the focus on other things,” explained Pew Research Center Director Andrew Kohut. “When the focus is on other things, people forget and see these issues as less grave.”

On October 19, Public Strategies Inc./POLITICO released a new poll indicating that Americans care more about economic recovery than they do about taking action on climate change. Sixty-two percent of respondents agreed that “economic growth should be given priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent.” Additionally, only four percent of respondents said climate change was their most important issue. Public Strategies Managing Director David Iannelli said, “Concerns, although a little less extreme, are still overwhelmingly negative about the economy. Even though things may be getting a little better, you get the sense that people really want to focus on the economy until we get it locked down.”

For additional information see: Pew Research Center, AP, AFP, The Guardian, Politico, Politico Poll Results

Mississippi Landowners Get Go-Ahead for Global Warming Lawsuit

On October 16, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that a group of Mississippi landowners can move forward with their climate change lawsuit. In the lawsuit, filed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the landowners argued that over 30 fossil fuel companies were responsible for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that had increased the damage of the storm. Lead Attorney Gerald Maples said, “My primary goal [of the lawsuit] was to say you (Mississippi Energy Officials) are at risk within the legal system and you should be cooperating with Congress, the White House and the Kyoto Protocol.” The lawsuit was previously dismissed by a District Court, but the three-judge panel overturned this decision, arguing that both Mississippi and federal law permits the landowners the legal standing to attempt to prove the linkage between GHGs and Hurricane Katrina.

For additional information see: The Times-Picayune, U.S. 5th Circuit of Appeals

Leaders at Major Economies Forum Urge Progress in Climate Talks

On October 18-19, the Major Economies Forum (MEF) on Energy and Climate, consisting of the world's 17 largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters, met in London to discuss obstacles to a new international climate change treaty. Delegates at the MEF said that two of the key issues addressed were the transfer of green technologies and financial assistance to developing nations for climate change adaptation. Leaders at the summit urged negotiators to overcome their differences. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, “There are now fewer than 50 days to set the course of the next 50 years and more. If we do not reach a deal at this time, let us be in no doubt: once the damage from unchecked emissions growth is done, no retrospective global agreement in some future period can undo that choice. By then it will be irretrievably too late.” Brown then asked world leaders to attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen this December in person

For additional information see: Bloomberg, AP, The Guardian, Reuters, Wall Street Journal

EU Offers to Cut Emissions 95 Percent by 2050 if a Deal is Reached in Copenhagen

On October 21, the European Union (EU) offered to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below its 1990 baseline by 2020 and up to 95 percent by 2050 if an international climate change agreement is achieved this December in Copenhagen. This new position was negotiated at a meeting of the environment ministers of the EU's member states. Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren, who chaired the meeting, said, “This should be a clear message to the world.” UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband added, “Environment ministers are determined that the EU maintains its leadership position on climate change in order to promote an ambitious deal at Copenhagen.” The talks failed to find agreement on how to share the load among EU countries for a funding package for developing countries, as many poorer Eastern European countries are unwilling to offer financial assistance to rapidly growing economies such as China and India.

For additional information see: The Guardian, Deutsche Welle, Wall Street Journal, AFP

Eight South Asian Nations Resist Binding Emission Cuts

On October 20, eight South Asian countries, including India and Pakistan, announced they will not support any international climate change treaty that sets legally binding emission caps on developing nations. After a two-day regional meeting, Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said, “There is a consensus among South Asian nations that we should not budge from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kyoto Protocol and the Bali declaration,” all of which set no constraints on greenhouse gas emissions from developing nations. Following questions of India changing its position on emission targets, Ramesh reiterated, “India will never accept internationally legally binding emission reduction targets or commitments as part of any agreement or deal or outcome.”

For additional information see: AP, AFP, India Times

UK's Met Office Launches Climate Change Map Showing Impact of 4°C Rise

On October 22, the United Kingdom (UK) Met Office released a new map which shows the impacts of a 4°C increase in global temperatures. Last month, a Met Office study found that temperatures could rise by 4°C by 2060 if serious action is not taken to mitigate climate change. This map now shows the potential impacts in the United States, including drought and reduced agricultural productivity. “We cannot cope with a 4°C world. This map clearly illustrates the scale of the challenge facing us today,” said UK Foreign Minister David Miliband alongside his brother, Energy and Climate Change Minister Ed Miliband. “To tackle the problem of climate change, all of us, foreign ministries, environment ministries, treasuries, departments of defense, and all parts of government and societies, must work together to keep global temperatures to 2°C.”

For additional information see: UK Met Office Map, The Guardian, Global and Mail

Arctic Lake Sediment Suggests Signs of Climate Change

A study published in the October 19 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that biological and chemical changes at an Arctic lake are unprecedented over the past 200,000 years and are most likely a result of climate change. The scientists tracked the rise and fall of various macroinvertebrate and algae populations by examining the fossilized specimens in the sediment layers. The scientists found unprecedented increases of some algae types dependent on warmer weather that were almost never found during the pre-industrial era. Additionally, the midge species that had inhabited the lake for tens of thousands of years had disappeared in the last 50 years. “The past few decades have been unique in the past 200,000 years in terms of the changes we see in the biology and chemistry recorded in the cores,” said lead author Yarrow Axford of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Since 1950, periodic, well-understood variations in climate which would have normally led to cooling have been overridden by human activity and greenhouse gas emissions, according to the study of sediment cores in the lake. "Our results show that the human footprint is overpowering long-standing natural processes even in remote Arctic regions," said co-author John Smol of Queen's University.

For additional information see: Science, Globe and Mail, Boulder Daily Camera

Survey: Economists See Threat in Climate Change

On November 3, the New York University School of Law's Institute for Policy Integrity (IPI) released a new survey which found that 84 percent of economists polled believe that climate change poses a significant risk to the U.S. economy. IPI surveyed 289 economists who had published climate change-related studies in the top 25 economic journals over the past 15 years. Ninety-two percent of respondents wanted to set a price on carbon emissions through either a cap and trade program or a carbon tax. Ninety-four percent believed that the U.S. should negotiate an international agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions. “An economist treehugger is an imaginary creature," said IPI's Michael Livermore. “But we found that economists really see climate change poses a lot of risk to the economy.”

For additional information see: New York Times, Institute for Policy Integrity Press Release, USA Today

Companies Announce Formation of American Businesses for Clean Energy

On November 4, a group of companies, including several electric utilities, announced the creation of the lobbying group American Businesses for Clean Energy (ABCE). The group said it supports “Congressional enactment of clean energy and climate legislation that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Founding companies include FPL Group, PNM Resources, Calpine, Gap, Aspen Skiing Co., and Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors. Members of ABCE say it will not delve into the fine details of legislation the way other associations do, but instead will focus on a simple message of support for congressional action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “We know that leveraging each others' strengths will only help to drive this important work forward more quickly," said Gap Senior Director of Global Responsibility Kindley Walsh Lawlor.

For additional information see: Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle

EU Reaches Funding Deal on Climate Change

On October 30, European Union (EU) leaders concluded a two-day summit in Brussels during which they reached an agreement on funding for climate change adaptation for developing nations. The EU determined that developing nations will need 100 billion euros annually by 2020 to tackle climate change and have agreed to pay up to 50 billion euros a year as their share of the financial assistance. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, “The European Union and its member states are ready to contribute their fair share.” Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt added that “the EU now has a very strong negotiating position” to take to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen this December. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso warned other nations, “Our offer is not a blank check. We are ready to act, if our partners deliver.”

For additional information see: New York Times, AFP, Financial Times, Irish Times

Report: 250,000 Children Could Die Annually as a Result of Climate Change

On November 2, Save the Children, a UK-based charity, released a new report titled “Feeling the Heat” which concluded that 250,000 children will die next year because of climate change impacts. The report asserted that climate change is the largest health threat to children in the 21st century. It estimated that 160 million children will catch malaria and over 900 million will be affected by water scarcity over the next generation. Annually, 175 million children will be affected by climate change by 2030. Save the Children Director of Policy David Mepham said, “This is not just Africa's problem, it affects everyone. Global leaders need to act now to stop the needless deaths of millions of children.”

For additional information see: The Telegraph, The Guardian, UK Press

Up to 10 Percent of the Global Population Could Be Displaced by Climate Change by 2050

On November 3, the Environmental Justice Foundation released a new report called “Climate Refugees – No Place Like Home,” which estimated that climate change will result in the migration of up to 150 million climate refugees to other countries by 2050. Overall, 500-600 million people, or 10 percent of the global population, are at risk of displacement because of climate change over the coming years. The report said that 20 million people were temporarily displaced by climate-related natural disasters in 2008 and also predicted that 26 million people have already relocated. “Climate change impacts on homes and infrastructure, food and water and human health. It will bring about a forced migration on an unprecedented scale,” said Environmental Justice Foundation Director Steve Trent. “We must take immediate steps to reduce our impact on global climate, and we must also recognize the need to protect those already suffering along with those most at risk.”

For additional information see: Environmental Justice Foundation Report, The Guardian

Energy Watchdog Urges Deal on Climate

On November 12, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released their World Energy Outlook 2009, in which they urged world leaders to reach an international climate change agreement at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change this December. The IEA warned that temperatures will rise by 6°C if business continues as usual. “The time to act has arrived," the report said. “As the leading source of greenhouse-gas emissions, energy is at the heart of the problem and so must be integral to the solution.” A deal on emissions could reduce world oil demand by 16 million barrels a day by 2030, the agency projected. Failure to reach such a deal could raise the U.S.'s cost to import oil and gas from 1 to 2 percent of its gross domestic product. They further warned that the cost of keeping temperatures from rising above 2°C would increase by $500 billion each year that action to address climate change is delayed.

For additional information see: Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Bloomberg, International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook 2009 Executive Summary

EU-15 on Track to Meet Kyoto Targets

On November 12, the European Environment Agency (EEA) released a new progress report which concluded that the founding nations of the European Union (EU-15) are on track to meet the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets that were promised in the Kyoto Protocol. The EEA forecasted that GHG emissions in the EU-15 will drop by 13 percent below the 1990 baseline by 2012, even lower than the 8 percent below the 1990 level that was promised in the Kyoto Protocol. The EEA credited the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, the EU's cap and trade program, and their Renewable Energy Directive for the largest share of the emission reductions. “With the EU climate and energy package adopted earlier this year, we have already put in place the key measures to reduce our emissions much further to at least 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. No other region of the world has yet done this,” said EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas.

For additional information see: EurActive, PR Newswire, AFP

EPA Sends Final CO2 Endangerment Finding to White House

On November 9, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson announced that the EPA had submitted its greenhouse gas (GHG) endangerment finding to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The finding states that carbon dioxide (CO2) and other GHGs pose a danger to human health and welfare, and, if approved, would allow the EPA to regulate GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act. Jackson said OMB has 90 days to review the finding, but that she is “hoping for an expedited review” because automakers need to know if new fuel economy standards will be imposed on their 2012 models by March 2010.

For additional information see: Reuters, Denver Science News Examiner

First Power Facility to Capture and Store Carbon Begins Operating in West Virginia

On November 6, American Electric Power's Mountaineer Power Plant in West Virginia became the first coal-fired power plant to begin operating with technology for capturing and sequestering its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The plant will be able to capture 100,000 tons of CO2 per year, a small fraction of the plant's annual total emissions of 3.5 million tons. U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary for Energy Kristina Johnson said, “This pilot plant today shows that we can power our country, clean our air and grow our economy . . . It's a stunning demonstration of elegant engineering, design and innovation. This project is a critical step in the commercial-scale deployment of carbon capture and storage.”

For additional information see: AFP, Scientific American, Media General News Service

Religions Challenge World Leaders on Climate Change

On November 10, religious leaders from the Baha'ism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Shintoism, Sikhism and Taoism faiths met with British Royalty and United Nations (UN) representatives at Windsor Castle in England to urge world leaders to take action on climate change. At the event organized by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), called “Faith Commitments for a Living Planet,” religious leaders unveiled programs intended to motivate their followers to take action on climate change. ARC Head Martin Palmer said, “The Secretary General of the United Nations goes to Copenhagen not just with the prayers and best wishes of every major faith tradition in the world, but with the knowledge that if, God forbid, the nations of the world are unable to rise to the occasion at Copenhagen, the faiths will - and already have.” UN Assistant Secretary General Olav Kjorven added, “We expect to send a strong signal from religion to governments that we are extremely committed. It's about religions mobilizing their followers to act against climate change.”

For additional information see: AFP, Jerusalem Post, The Hindu, Alliance of Religions and Conservation Press Release

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Coalition for Climate Change Study and Action