Sunday, December 19, 2010



Christopher Martin of Bloomberg News wrote an article published in the Nov. 22 Wilmington News Journal titled, Mass. regulators OK deal to sell power from offshore turbines. It says that the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities has approved an agreement between Cape Wind and National Grid Pic for a 15-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for half of Cape Wind’s power from offshore wind for 18.7¢/kWh, increasing by 3.5% per year. The maximum power from the 130-turbine wind farm off Cape Cod is reported to be 468 MW. The cost of the project, excluding transmission lines will be about $2.4 billion, or a little over $5 per peak watt. The article said that Cape Wind may be the first U.S. offshore wind farm, but the date to start delivering power was not given. At:

Delaware, which got the first approved PPA for offshore wind in the U.S. – between Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power – is expected to begin generation in 2014 or 2015, at a starting price of 11¢/kWh.

On Nov. 23 Ken Salazar, Director of the Department of the Interior, announced a new federal Smart from the Start initiative to facilitate the siting, leasing and construction of new offshore wind projects along the Atlantic Coast and to spur the rapid and responsible development of this abundant renewable energy resource. At:

Some of us were concerned about delays in the permitting of offshore wind projects after the Minerals Management Service was dissolved in the wake of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. That agency has now been replaced by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE). See:

Climate Science has put together a web-based Rapid Response Team of climate science experts who have agreed to answer questions on climate change from members of the government or the media. They are responding to the wide gap between the current understanding of leading climate scientists and what is believed by the general public, most reporters and government officials. Questions from the latter groups can be sent to

Others can find educational material and information at Central Coast Climate Science Education at: and Skeptical Science at:

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has posted a tool on the web for looking at maps of the state showing areas that will be inundated (flooded) with sea level rises of 0.5, 1.0 and 1.5 meters. At:

Other coastal states may want to develop something similar.

On Nov. 28 Bruce Usher wrote an Op-Ed piece for the NY Times titled, On Global Warming, Start Small. In it he pointed out that meaningful progress on dealing with climate change is not likely to come at large international meetings, like the one in Cancun, Mexico, but from the bottom up, at the local and state levels. He pointed out that 31 states now have laws requiring increased production of renewable energy – 11 of them that vote largely Republican. At:

If national energy/climate legislation was difficult in the past, it will be even more so after the new Tea Party members of Congress take their seats.

The NY Times for Nov. 27 has an Op-Ed by Jack Hedin, a Minnesota farmer, titled An Almanac of Extreme Weather. Heavy rains and flash flooding in southern Minnesota have made him concerned about the future of agriculture in America’s grain belt. He writes, “In August 2007, a series of storms produced a breathtaking 23 inches of rain in 36 hours.” “The weather in our area has become demonstrably more hostile to agriculture, and all signs are that this trend will continue. Minnesota’s state climatologist … has concluded that no fewer than three “thousand-year rains” have occurred in the past seven years in our part of the state.” At:

Janet Raloff has an article in Science Times for Dec. 1 titled, Food security wanes as world warms. She writes, “Since summer, signs of severe food insecurity — droughts, food riots, five- to tenfold increases in produce costs — have erupted around the globe. Several new reports now argue that regionally catastrophic crop failures — largely due to heat stress — are signals that global warming may have begun outpacing the ability of farmers to adapt.” At:

Vinod Koshla, an investor in biofuels, has a Dec. 3 article in greentechmedia titled, Time to Move On. In it he argues that federal subsidies for new energy technologies should be limited to the time required for new industries to innovate, reduce costs, and grow to scale. Corn-based ethanol in the U.S. is 99.8% of the 11 billion gallon biofuels market, and has been receiving federal subsidies for 6 years. According to his calculations, the cost of reducing CO2 emissions through corn-ethanol is about $750/ton. That is very high compared to many other emerging technologies, such as solar PV, which are still in an early stage of development and discovery. It’s time for ethanol to stand on its own feet. At:

At the web site of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication ( you can find a number of videos, including Global Warming’s Six Americas, which describes six very different views of the reality and seriousness of climate change within the American public. There is also a PDF file of a presentation, Climate Change in the Public Mind, given by Anthony Leiserowitz, the Director of the Yale Project on Climate Change, at the Forum on Climate Change Communication at COP (Conference of the Parties) 16 in Cancun, Mexico. The COPs are an ongoing activity of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which grew out of the work of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). See:

Christopher Joyce has a 4 min 20 sec audio piece dated Dec. 5 on NPR titled,

Climate Groups Retool Argument For Global Warming. It suggests that a better way to get most people take the actions needed to address global warming is not to emphasize the worst that could happen, but to emphasize the benefits of those actions like improving human health, developing green jobs and industries, and improving energy security. At:

On Dec. 8 EarthTimes posted an article titled, Deepwater Wind Energy Center to be Nation's First Regional Offshore Wind Farm to Supply Multiple East Coast States. Deepwater Wind, a Rhode Island based company, has applied for a federal permit to build a wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island that could generate as much as 1000 MW to supply electricity to Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, with as many as 200 large turbines. It is called “second generation” because the turbines will be large (perhaps 5 MW each), located in deep water (over 100 feet deep) and far from land (mostly 20-25 miles). The farm could be producing electricity as soon as 2015. At:,1576396.html

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"

EESI’s newsletter is intended for all interested parties, particularly the policymaker community.

Cameron Urges More Unified Climate Action Ahead of Cancun

On November 16, UK Prime Minister David Cameron argued that fragmented approaches to tackling climate change would not cut greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently, and that global action was needed to make substantial progress. While he acknowledged that a global treaty was unlikely to occur during December’s climate negotiations in Cancun, he still urged the U.S. and Chinese governments to take action to set the stage for a global, legally binding deal. “To get a proper international deal, we need the Chinese to really agree to proper monitoring and evaluation and recording of their emissions,” Cameron said during this week’s climate summit organized by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. "But we also... need to persuade the American administration that it is worthwhile to have a deal that they enter into, as part of the rest of the world all making offers." He went on to say, “we need to work towards a global deal, otherwise we're all going to do our own individual bit. If we can't get the whole of the US and China on board, we're not going to get the kind of action we need to prevent dangerous climate change."

For additional information see: Business Green, Agence France-Presse

China Considers Cap and Trade to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

On November 17, Chinese officials announced they were studying a cap and trade system to help cut greenhouse gas emissions. Zhang Junko, head of development and strategy at the State Council’s development research center, said that the government may set emissions quotas for large industries and allow a certain portion of them to be traded. The study is still in early stages, and Zhang said that other options included a carbon tax. Richard Sandor, who helped establish the London-based climate exchange platform in 2003, said that a cap and trade market in China could be functioning as early as 2013.

For additional information see: Bloomberg

India Releases Second Climate Change Assessment

On November 17, the Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment (INCCA) released a report that predicts a net temperature increase of 1.7-2.2⁰C in the Northeast, Western Ghats, Himalayas and coastal region of India by 2030. According to the report, India’s four key sectors of agriculture, water, forest, and health will be significantly affected in these vulnerable regions due to an increase in temperature and precipitation. The report predicts that yearly extreme precipitation events in India may increase by 10 and cyclone storms may increase in intensity. The number of malaria infections is expected to rise in the Himalayan region but fall in coastal regions due to changes in moisture and temperature. "There is no country in the world that is as vulnerable, on so many dimensions, to climate change as India is,” said Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh following the release of the report. “This makes it imperative for us to have sound evidence-based assessments on the impact of climate change."

For additional information see: Hindustan Times, Times of India, Telegraph, Press Release

Staple Crop Prices to Rise Partly Due to Climate Change

On November 17, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released a report warning that food prices are expected to climb, partly due to extreme weather events that occur because of climate change. The biannual Food Outlook report states that a global food crisis could occur in 2011 due to climate change, speculation, competing land use, and soaring demand from markets in East Asia. The report reads: "adverse weather effects are undoubtedly a primary driver of wheat production shortfalls and, with climate change, may increasingly be so." Food prices on staple crops will rise by up to half by next year, which is especially troubling for the poorest people on the planet.

For additional information see: London Independent, UN Dispatch, FAO Report

Heat Stress Caused Record Losses to Caribbean Coral

On November 15, a study published in PLoS ONE shows that coral reef ecosystems in 2005 in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean suffered record losses as a consequence of high oceanic temperatures. Collaborators from more than 22 countries reported that more than 80 percent of the surveyed corals bleached, and more than 40 percent died in 2005. This event is now the most severe bleaching event ever recorded in the basin. Coral bleaching occurs when stressed corals expel their symbiotic algae, and can result in death. “Heat stress during the 2005 event exceeded any observed in the Caribbean in the prior 20 years, and regionally-averaged temperatures were the warmest in at least 150 years,” said C. Mark Eakin, coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Watch Program. “This severe, widespread bleaching and mortality will undoubtedly have long-term consequences for reef ecosystems, and events like this are likely to become more common as the climate warms.” The decline and loss of coral reefs has severe social, cultural, and economic consequences throughout the world. The economic services alone of coral reefs are estimated to be around $375 billion a year.

For additional information see: NOAA, Study Abstract

56 Religious Groups Urge Senate to Save the Clean Air Act

On November 23, a diverse group of 56 faith-based groups released a joint letter urging the Senate to continue allowing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act. The joint letter opens as follows: "As communities and people of faith, we are called to protect and serve God's great Creation and work for justice for all of God's people. We believe that the United States must take all appropriate and available actions to prevent the worst impacts of climate change; we therefore urge you to oppose any efforts to undermine the authority of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.” Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has submitted a proposal to delay EPA’s authority to regulate GHG emissions by two years. The proposal may receive a vote before the end of the year.

For additional information see: PR Newswire

California Plans for Climate Change

On November 22, the California Adaptation Advisory Panel released a report that provides plans for California to adapt to climate change impacts. The report calls for Governor-elect Jerry Brown to appoint a Climate Risk Council that would assess relevant science and provide guidance to the Governor on risks associated with climate change. The report focuses largely on coastal counties, and urged a more cohesive approach to three threats: diminishing water supplies, sea level rise, and severe fire outbreaks. “The picture is global and yet there are regional differences," Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences said. "California wants to make sure they understand what may happen in the case of sea level rise - not just along the coast, but inland as well. They want to take actions that will keep them ahead of the game."

For additional information see: Los Angeles Times, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Report

Norway Calls for More Research into Climate Impacts and Adaptation Measures

In the third week of November, the government of Norway released a report documenting Norway’s vulnerability to climate change and the possible adaptation measures that it could take to combat the effects of climate change. The report found that average annual temperatures in Norway are projected to rise 2.3-4.6°C, average annual precipitation is expected to increase five to 30 percent by 2100, ocean temperatures will rise along the entire Norwegian coastline, and sea levels could rise in varied amounts along the coast. The report supports long-term research programs that will specifically address climate change impacts and actions to adapt to those impacts. The report also emphasizes the need for knowledge dissemination and specially prepared climate projections that enables technical users to comprehend the models and make better decisions.

For additional information see: Science Daily, The Research Council of Norway

Carbon Emissions Set to Be Highest on Record in 2010

On November 21, the Global Carbon Project published a study in Nature Geoscience showing that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions levels in 2009 fell just 1.3 percent below 2008 levels, less than half of the 2.8 percent drop that was expected. The recession caused CO2 growth rates to be lower in the UK, Japan, Germany, France, Russia and the United States. However, CO2 emissions from China increased by eight percent in 2009. Additionally, the overall amount of global fossil fuel emissions was still the second highest in human history, at 30.8 billion tons, just below the record set in 2008. CO2 emissions levels in 2010 are expected to rise again and could reach record levels; this is largely due to the burning of oil, coal, and gas in countries like China and India as their economies grow. The study did show that CO2 emissions from deforestation have decreased by over 25 percent since 2000. The study was part of Global Carbon Project’s annual carbon budget update.

For additional information see: Telegraph, Business Green, Science Daily, Global Carbon Project

Cloud Study Predicts More Global Warming

In the third week of November, researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa published a study in the Journal of Climate showing that warmer climates are more sensitive to increases in greenhouse gases than previously thought. Currently, there is disagreement in many climate models about the magnitude of global warming due to the feedback caused by clouds. Some models predict that global average cloud cover will increase in a warmer climate, and other models predict that global average cloud cover will be reduced. This study applied a model developed at the International Pacific Research Center to study the clouds of a limited region of atmosphere over the eastern Pacific Ocean, which are known to greatly influence the present climate, but were previously poorly represented in climate models. Co-author Kevin Hamilton concludes, "If our model results prove to be representative of the real global climate, then climate is actually more sensitive to perturbations by greenhouse gases than current global models predict, and even the highest warming predictions would underestimate the real change we could see."

For additional information see: Science Daily, Abstract

Secretary Chu Warns that U.S. Faces a Sputnik Moment in Clean Energy Race

On November 29, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu spoke at the National Press Club, warning that the United States faces a “Sputnik moment” in the global clean energy race with China. Chu said that the United States needs to respond like it responded to the Soviet Union’s launch of the world’s first space satellite in 1957 to remain a leader in clean energy innovation. Chu outlined efforts currently underway at the Department of Energy to give America’s entrepreneurs and manufacturers an edge in clean energy investment and innovation, and defended the potential costs of climate change by comparing climate skeptics to homeowners who are repeatedly told to change wiring but keep looking for electricians to tell them they do not need to. Chu also focused on the threat of China as a technological competitor. "From wind power to nuclear reactors to high speed rail, China and other countries are moving aggressively to capture the lead,” Chu said. “Given that challenge, and given the enormous economic opportunities in clean energy, it's time for America to do what we do best: innovate. As President Obama has said, we should not, cannot, and will not play for second place."

For additional information see: DOE Press Release, Guardian, Reuters, New York Times, AFP

Representatives Threaten Funding Cuts for EPA

On November 30, House Republicans hoping to lead the Appropriations Committee in the new Congress threatened to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs) under the Clean Air Act. On November 29, Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, writing, “in addition to scrutinizing the agency’s entire FY 2012 budget, with particular attention to the agency’s rulemaking process, the House Appropriations Committee will be exercising its prerogative to withhold funding for prospective EPA regulations and defund through the rescissions process many of those already on the books.” Specifically, Lewis said that he wants to target EPA’s “ongoing arbitrary interpretation of the Clean Air Act.” He said he will refuse to support funding to EPA to regulate GHGs “unless Congress passes bipartisan energy legislation specifically providing the authority to do so.”

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), who is also seeking to lead the Committee, said of the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules, “I will look at it very carefully with that in mind. There are things that the Appropriations Committee and the legislative branch can defund or modify or do things about, and we now have a ticket to the table which we have not had for four years.” The EPA is scheduled to begin regulating GHGs in January 2011.

For additional information see: Politico, The Hill

Republican Senators Urge Climate-Aid Spending Freeze

On December 2, four Republican Senators sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying the United States must freeze climate-aid payments to developing nations. "We remain opposed to the U.S. commitment to full implementation of the Copenhagen Accord, which will transfer billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to developing nations in the name of climate change," they wrote. "We do not believe that billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars should be transferred to developing countries through unaccountable multilateral or bilateral channels for adaptation, deforestation and other international climate finance programs." The letter states that President Obama has requested $1.9 billion for 2011 out of $3.6 trillion in annual government spending. The money is part of the fast-track financing that Obama agreed to at last year’s UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen.

For additional information see: AFP, The Hill, Bloomberg

Island Nations: We Won’t Survive Temperature Rise Over 1.5°C

On November 29, the Alliance of Small Island States pleaded their case at the UN climate negotiations taking place in Cancun, Mexico, to keep the global temperature rise under 1.5°C. The Alliance represents 43 member states, but those most at risk include Kribati, Tuvalu, the Cook Islands, the Marshall Islands, and the Maldives. The islands face catastrophic consequences with increased sea level rise, and are already coping with eroding beaches and salt water contaminating fresh water supplies. “We are facing at this moment the end of history for some of us,” said Antonio Lima, an envoy from Cape Verde and vice- chair of the Alliance. He said of the countries most at risk, “all these countries are struggling to survive. They are going to drown. I have mountains in my country. I can climb. They cannot climb.”

For additional information see: Bloomberg, Reuters

Global Temperatures Could Rise 4°C by 2060s

On November 29, a series of journal papers was published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, showcasing how climate change could increase average global temperature by 4°C as early as the 2060s, and what that might mean for different societies and ecological systems. The international study team behind the researchers wrote that increasing greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decade rendered the target of keeping global warming below 2°C "extremely difficult, arguably impossible, raising the likelihood of global temperature rises of three or four degrees Celsius within this century." The scientists analyzed the non-binding emissions agreements made last year at the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen, and found that the cuts are not enough to prevent food shortages, rampant spread of disease, and mass migration. While a 4°C rise in temperature was once seen as an extreme scenario, researchers argue that it is becoming more plausible without a binding agreement to limit to greenhouse gas emissions.

For additional information see: Business Green, Science Development, Science Daily, Guardian

Carbon Cycle More Active in Frozen Soils than Previously Thought

On November 15, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that catabolic (carbon dioxide (CO2) production) and anabolic (biomass synthesis) processes in frozen soils are similar to those in unfrozen soil. Previously, scientists believed that microbes in frozen soils were inactive during colder months, but this study shows that the microbes remain active. The amount of CO2 sequestered in frozen soils is not completely known, although most scientists agree that the amount is massive. A group of soil scientists recently estimated the amount to be double that of atmospheric CO2. Ted Schuur, a permafrost expert and ecologist at the University of South Florida, estimates that under thawed conditions, 40 to 70 percent of the carbon stored in the permafrost would escape into the atmosphere within a decade, and vegetation would not be able to keep pace. These findings have important implications for carbon models and cycles. "These microbes are doing a lot more than staying alive," Ben Bond-Lamberty, a scientist at the Joint Global Change Research Institute at the University of Maryland, said. "And as we construct annual carbon budgets, this raises the possibility that there's a lot more wintertime CO2 coming out of these systems than we realized."

For additional information see: New York Times, Study Abstract

Court Denies Request to Block EPA Regulations

On December 10, the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied a request to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from implementing new rules on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Industry groups had appealed to the court, arguing that the EPA did not conduct enough of its own research when it found that carbon is a danger to human health. Critics of the rules also argued that the agency was not equipped to control GHG emissions and the rules would harm the economy. However, the court said the opponents' case did not meet the "stringent standards" necessary for the court to stop the rules. Opponents did not prove that the rules were "certain" to create negative consequences and not "speculative", the court said. Several lawsuits, however, still proceed against the EPA's climate-related rules.

For additional information see: Reuters, Politico

Committee Urges UK Government to Increase Carbon Emissions Cuts

On December 7, the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) released a report urging its government to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions 60 percent by 2030 from 1990 levels. This means that the 2020 target would have to be revised from a 34 percent to a 37 percent reduction. Prior CCC targets were turned into laws, and this target is a step to having a legally binding 80 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 as required by the nation’s Climate Change Act. "We are recommending a stretching but realistic fourth carbon budget and 2030 target, achievable at a cost of less than 1% of GDP. We therefore urge the government to legislate the budget, and to develop the policies required to cut emissions," said CCC Chair Adair Turner. The CCC also recommends a fundamental change in the UK’s electricity market. CCC recommends a better planned approach by having the government tender long-term contracts for low-carbon power generation and commit to buy a certain percentage of the power. The CCC also recommends that 60 percent of new vehicles in 2030 should be electric.

For additional information see: Business Green, Reuters, Guardian, Report

Report Ranks Countries on Climate Change Performance

On December 6, Germanwatch and Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe released its sixth annual Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) during the UN climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico. The index “compares the climate protection performance of 57 industrialized countries and emerging economies that together account for more than 90 percent of the global energy related carbon dioxide emissions.” The index is based on the strength of climate policies and how well countries control greenhouse gases. The first three spots were left vacant because no country did enough to earn the honor. The index ranks Brazil as the top climate protection performer (fourth) due to its efforts to cut emissions and reduce deforestation. Sweden, Norway, and Germany followed Brazil on the list. Canada was ranked fifty-seventh, followed by Australia, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia. The U.S. was ranked fifty-fourth.

For additional information see: United Press International, CBC News, Report

Ocean Acidification Could Threaten Food Security

On December 2, the United Nations Environment Program released a report showing that ocean acidification linked to climate change may threaten food security. The report shows that shellfish, mussels, shrimp, and lobsters could be most at risk because ocean acidification makes it harder for them to form protective shells. Additionally, the damage to coral reefs could cause problems for many commercial fisheries as the reefs for are critical for nurseries. The oceans have become 30 percent more acidic since the industrial revolution due to increased absorption of carbon dioxide (CO2). Ptetropods — tiny mollusks at the bottom of the food chain — may reduce in number due to the inability to form protective shells, which will affect a number of larger fish higher on the food chain. Carol Turley, lead author of the report, said, "we are seeing an overall negative impact from ocean acidification directly on organisms and on some key ecosystems that help provide food for billions. We need to start thinking about the risk to food security." The report states that fish supplies 15 percent of the protein requirements for three billion people, and another one billion people rely on fish as their primary source of protein. The report urges cuts in CO2 emissions to reduce ocean acidification and more support for research to quantify the risks and identify the species most at risk.

For additional information see: Reuters, Agence France Presse, CNN, UNEP Report

For additional information see: Reuters, New York Times, Press Release, Abstract

If you would like to receive my Climate Change News automatically by email and don’t already, just send an email message to:

If you want to stop receiving it, just send a message to If you come across some really interesting information, please send it along and I may include it in the next issue. Recent issues are available at:

Chad A. Tolman
Coalition for Climate Change Study and Action

Saturday, November 20, 2010



On Oct. 12 the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication issued a report titled, Americans’ Knowledge of Climate Change. The report finds that 63% of Americans believe that climate change is occurring, but most do not understand why. “The study also found important gaps in knowledge and common misconceptions about climate change and the earth system. These misconceptions lead some people to doubt that global warming is happening or that human activities are a major contributor, to misunderstand the causes and therefore the solutions, and to be unaware of the risks. Thus many Americans lack some of the knowledge needed for informed decision-making in a democratic society.” (emphasis added) At: The full 58-page report is available as a pdf file at:

The Oct. 12 NY Times has an article by Matthew Wald titled, Offshore Wind Power Line Wins Praise, and Backing. Wald reports that Google and Good Energies, a New York investment firm specializing in renewable energy, have agreed to invest heavily in a $5 billion underwater transmission line off the East Coast. The 350 mile 5000 MW line would link wind farms from northern NJ to southern VA, hasten the development of our large U.S. offshore wind resource, and help to provide power to large population centers along the coast. Linking wind farms over a large area reduces power variability because it is very unlikely that wind will not be blowing somewhere along the line. At:

The Oct. 20 NY Times has an article by David Broder titled, Climate Change Doubt Is Tea Party Article of Faith. It points out that only one Republican candidate for the Senate (Mark Kirk of Illinois) doesn’t question the science of climate change or oppose any comprehensive legislation to deal with it. Mike Castle of Delaware lost his bid for the Senate against Christine O’Donnell in the Republican primary largely because of his support for a cap and trade bill in the House in 2009. The big oil companies love the Tea Party candidates, and are pouring millions of dollars into their campaigns this year. At:

In the he Oct. 20 issue of the Washington Post Geoff Mulvihill, in an article titled, NJ Getting One of Nation’s Largest Solar Farms, reported that a 100 acre farm will be converted into a solar PV farm with a capacity of 20 MW, one of the largest in the U.S. The investment required is expected to be $85-90 million, or about $4.50 per peak watt. At:

Also on Oct. 20 Peter Asmus in ETSolar posted and article titled, U.S. Off-Shore Wind Industry Gets Not One, But Two Major Boosts. The two boosts are the offshore wind power transmission line to be financed by Google and others and the signing by Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior, of a 28-year lease for the MA Cape Wind Project and a promise to approval time required for future projects. The U.K. is the current world leader in offshore wind, with 5000 MW in various states of development toward a goal of 33, 000 MW by 2020 at a cost of $150 billion, or about $4.50 per peak watt. At:

[Note that the equal costs per peak watt of solar PV in NJ and offshore wind in the U.K. mean that the offshore wind costs about half as much per kWh. That because the capacity factor (CF) for solar PV in NJ is about 0.16 while the CF for offshore wind is typically about 0.35. The CF is the fraction of maximum possible power (peak wattage) from a power source, averaged over a period of a year. The CF of a coal-fired power plant is typically about 0.85, since some downtime is required for maintenance and repair.]

The Danish Commission on Climate Change Policy issued a 97-page report titled, Green Energy – The Road to a Danish Energy System Without Fossil Fuels. The report took approximately 2 years to prepare and was issued on Sept. 28, 2010. It concluded that Denmark could be energy independent and free of fossil fuels by 2050, using a combination of: 1) greatly increasing energy efficiency, 2) increasing the percentage of energy from electricity from 20% to 40-70%, 3) making offshore wind turbines the major energy source, 4) providing energy for transportation from electricity and biofuels, and 5) heating buildings with solar heat and heat pumps using electricity from wind turbines and from combined heat and power plants burning biomass. The reasons for restructuring the energy system include dealing with climate change, energy security, and avoiding the expected unstable and rising prices of fossil fuels. At:

Denmark is a small country (5.4 million), about the population of Maryland, but intends to be a world leader in the transition to a green energy economy.

Matthew Wald and Tom Zeller have an article in the Nov. 7 NY Times titled, Cost of Tapping Green Power Makes Projects Tougher Sell. It points out that renewable energy projects in the U.S. are being cancelled because regulators and politicians are reluctant to see any increase in the amounts customers pay in their electric bills. Deals to buy renewable power have been slowed or scuttled so that installation rates for wind turbines in the first three quarters are down 72% from what they were in 2009. The reason is that renewable energy today costs more than fossil fuels. Here’s the deal. If you think you might have cancer, it’s less expensive in the short term to ignore the symptoms rather than starting treatment now. This choice can ultimately be deadly. See:

On October 14 the federal Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, co-chaired by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), released its interagency report (dated Oct. 5, at: outlining recommendations to President Obama for how Federal Agency policies and programs can better prepare the United States to respond to the impacts of climate change. There was an earlier interim Progress Report of the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, issued March 16, 2010. Here are two quotes from it:

“Continuing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is critical to limiting the extent of climate change impacts, and resulting damage. The Obama Administration is committed to creating a clean energy economy and mitigating climate change by reducing emissions. While increased mitigation efforts will reduce the effects of climate change, impacts will continue to occur, reinforcing the need for adaptation and a focus on resilience.”

“The Task Force has found that climate change is affecting, and will continue to affect, nearly every aspect of our society and the environment. Some of the impacts are increased severity of floods, droughts, and heat waves, increased wildfires, and sea level rise. Climate change impacts are pervasive, wide-ranging and affect the core systems of our society: transportation, ecosystems, agriculture, business, infrastructure, water, and energy, among others.” At:

On Nov. 9 a YouTube video was by Juan Cole was posted showing a speech by Rep. John Shimkus (R of IL), who will seek the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee in the U.S. House. In it the Congressman quotes from Genesis to prove God will not allow the earth to be destroyed by catastrophic climate change because of His promise after the flood. For climate scientists like me this is very reassuring. See:

Prior to the current extinctions resulting from human activities ( there were five mass extinction events in the Earth’s geological history, the largest of which was the Permian Extinction about 250 million years ago, when more than 95% of the animal species were driven to extinction. A YouTube video released on 2/11/2010 suggests that the extinction was started by a huge volcanic eruption in Siberia. The large release of carbon dioxide caused the global temperature to increase about 5ºC, killing some of the animals on land. The really big die-off, however, occurred when the oceans warmed up enough to release large amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from solid methane hydrate on the ocean floor, increasing the global temperature by another 5ºC. See: The question we must ask is: Could human burning of fossil fuels release enough carbon dioxide to destabilize the methane hydrate that now sits on the seafloor – inducing another mass extinction on the same scale as the Permian?

The Nov. 14 issue of the NY Times had an article by Justin Gillis titled, As Glaciers Melt, Science Seeks Data on Rising Seas. Among other things, the article said, “To a majority of climate scientists, the question is not whether the earth’s land ice will melt in response to the greenhouse gases those people are generating, but whether it will happen too fast for society to adjust.” Sea level rise between now at 2100 is thought to likely be between 2.5 and 6.5 feet, with just over 3 feet most likely, but we don’t understand the ice loss well. Richard Alley of Penn. State University said, “Beyond a hundred years out, it starts to look really challenging.” At:

For a related video see:

For a related blog see:

There was an article by Orrin Pilkey posted last November in titled, Rising sea levels: a strategy for N.C. The author and Rob Young of Western Carolina University suggested that planning for major infrastructure should use a projected sea level rise (SLR) of 7 feet (2 meters). Many coastal states and cities are anticipating SLR of 3-5 feet, but scientists do not have a good understanding of how fast sea level will rise, and the water level in 2100 will depend strongly on how soon and how aggressively major emitters like the U.S. and China reduce their GHG emissions. Given the current political climate, it seems prudent to err on the side of caution.


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"

EESI’s newsletter is intended for all interested parties, particularly the policymaker community.

NOAA Publishes Arctic Report Card

On October 21, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published its annual Arctic Report Card confirming that the Arctic remains vulnerable to climate change. The report, based on the findings of 69 international researchers and 176 scientific references, states that Greenland had record high temperatures and glacier area loss in 2010; Arctic sea ice reached the third lowest recorded minimum since 1979 and Arctic snow cover duration was at a record minimum. NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco said, “whatever is going to happen in the rest of the world happens first, and to the greatest extent, in the Arctic."

For additional information see: Washington Post, NOAA Arctic Report Card

Judge Orders Obama Administration to Decide if Polar Bears Are Endangered

On October 20, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the Obama administration to clarify whether polar bears are endangered under U.S. law. Scientists believe that polar bears may soon become extinct because global warming has caused the rapid disappearance of Arctic sea ice upon which polar bears depend. Sullivan made the order after a coalition of environmental groups presented a case that the federal government should place polar bears on the endangered species list. The legal status of polar bears remains in question after the Obama administration supported the former President George W. Bush administration’s rule that polar bears are merely threatened. If polar bears are found to be endangered, there may be legal means to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Endangered Species Act.

For additional information see: Washington Post, Kansas City Star

USDA Report: U.S. Forests Offset 11 Percent of CO2 Emissions Annually

On October 15, the USDA Forest Service released a report that says U.S. forests offset roughly 11 percent of industrial carbon emissions annually. According to the report, U.S. forests currently store 41.4 billion metric tons of carbon and an additional 192 million metric tons are absorbed each year. Researchers say that this annual carbon absorption offsets carbon emissions from about 135 million cars. "America's forests play a critical role in combating climate change, collectively capturing and storing significant amounts of carbon that would otherwise pollute the atmosphere," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The report also shows that the amount of carbon stored in forests has increased steadily since 1990 because total forestland area has increased and carbon storage density is growing.

For additional information see: USDA Press Release, USDA Data Results, Reuters, Sustainable Business News

Survey Shows Britain as Carbon Pricing Leader

On October 19, Vivid Economics released a survey that ranked carbon pricing efforts by major economies to stimulate investment in cleaner energy. According to the survey, Britain had the strongest clean energy incentive by setting an implied carbon price at $29.30 per ton. Higher carbon prices stimulate investment in clean energy technologies by making dirty fuels like coal and oil more expensive and allowing new low carbon energy technologies opportunities to compete in the marketplace. After Britain, China came in second with an implied carbon price of $14.20 per ton, followed by the United States at $5.10, Japan at $3.10, Australia at $1.70 and South Korea at $0.70. In the past few years, Britain has taken measures to create a business-friendly environment for clean energy technologies. "Investment in clean energy in the United Kingdom reached around $11 billion in 2009," Erwin Jackson, deputy chief executive of the Climate Institute said in a statement.

For additional information see: Reuters

Experts Gather in Toronto to Discuss Climate Mitigation and Adaptation

On October 5, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society released a joint report outlining changes Canada will experience if global temperatures increase 2⁰C. The report found that Canada’s ski industry will suffer, shipping cargo across the Great Lakes could be more expensive because of lower water levels, Arctic sea ice is expected to decrease 50 percent, and the South Saskatchewan River may dry up, among many other changes. A few days after the report’s release, experts gathered in Toronto to discuss how Canadian cities are increasingly vulnerable to many different climate disasters. “Planning policy has to catch up with carbon-change policy,” said Eva Ligeti, executive director of Clean Air Partnership, at the meeting. “We need a coordinated, multi-disciplinary response plan, embedded in planning documents. We need to develop our adaptive capabilities and reduce emissions before we reach the point where we can no longer adapt.”

For additional information see: The Globe and Mail, Toronto Sun

Bangladesh and India Extremely Vulnerable to Climate Change Impacts

On October 20, British risk advisory firm Maplecroft released a Climate Change Vulnerability Index, which measures the vulnerability of 170 countries to adverse climate impacts over the next 30 years. The index evaluates 42 social, economic and environmental factors to assess national vulnerabilities to climate-related natural disasters, sea level rise and human impacts such as agricultural dependency and resource conflicts. Bangladesh and India ranked the highest within the ‘extreme risk’ category that also included the Philippines, Vietnam and Pakistan. At this moment, developing countries are attracting large foreign investment and climate change impacts are becoming serious concerns for investors. "Understanding climate vulnerability will help companies make their investments more resilient to unexpected change," according to Matthew Bunce, principal analyst at Maplecroft.

For additional information see: Reuters, Maplecroft Index

Gulf Coast to Face $350 Billion in Extreme Weather Damages by 2030

On October 20, Entergy Corporation released a study showing the U.S. Gulf Coast may face economic damages amounting to $350 billion by 2030 because of extreme weather events. The three types of hazards analyzed in the study were wind-related damage, gradual sea level rise, and sudden storm flooding. The report recommends a $50 billion investment for projects such as reinforcing beaches and improving building codes. According to the report, “with climate change, we should expect a Katrina/Rita-type year occurring every lifetime by 2030.” Entergy Chief Executive Officer J. Wayne Leonard said, “with the multiplier effect, the amount of economic loss to the Gulf Coast could rise to $700 billion, the gross domestic product for the entire region for one year.”

For additional information see: Bloomberg, Entergy Study

Western Hemisphere To Experience Extreme Drought

On October 19, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews published a study supported by the National Science Foundation that shows the United States and several other large nations may face increasingly dry conditions in the next 30 years because of warming temperatures. National Center for Atmospheric Research scientist Aiguo Dai used 22 computer climate models along with an index of drought conditions to provide evidence that the Western Hemisphere, along with regions in Eurasia, Africa and Australia, may experience unprecedented drought by 2100. Specifically, the results indicate that the western two-thirds of the United States will be very susceptible to extreme drought. Conversely, northern regions from Alaska to Scandinavia will experience wetter conditions, according to the study. “We are facing the possibility of widespread drought in the coming decades, but this has yet to be fully recognized by both the public and the climate change research community,” Dai said. “If the projections in this study come even close to being realized, the consequences for society worldwide will be enormous.”

For additional information see: NCAR News Release, Climate Progress, Reuters, Study Abstract in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews

European Companies Fund Senate Candidates Who Oppose Climate Policy

On October 25, the Climate Action Network Europe (CAN Europe) released a report which revealed that several large European companies are funding the campaigns of U.S. Senate candidates who oppose climate legislation. According to the report, Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Jim DeMint (R-SC) received $240,200 in campaign funding from Bayer, BASF, Solvay, Lafarge, BP, GDF-SUEZ, Arcelor-Mittal and EON in 2010. All of these companies are significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters themselves, together emitting 130 million tons of GHGs in 2009, according to CAN Europe. The report states, “European companies are funding almost exclusively Senate candidates who have been outspoken in their opposition to comprehensive climate policy in the U.S., and candidates who actively deny the scientific consensus that climate change is happening and is caused by people.”

For additional information see: Climate Action Network Press Release, Climate Action Network Europe Report, Guardian, Deutsche Welle

Largest Asian Cities Threatened by Climate Change

On October 22, the Asia Development Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the World Bank released a joint report showing that large Asian coastal cities will experience frequent flooding and extreme weather events if current climate change trends continue. The report studied potential risks due to climate change in the cities of Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Manila, and suggested measures and strategies to address these issues. In Bangkok, better control of ground water pumping and further investments in pump station capacity are needed to reduce urban vulnerability to flooding. In Ho Chi Minh City, 26 percent of the population is already affected by extreme weather events and a comprehensive climate change adaptation strategy was recommended. In Manila, city flooding may cause damages up to one-quarter of the city’s gross domestic product; a complete redesign of flood control infrastructure would be needed to protect against sea level rise and typhoons. The report concluded that climate-related risks need to be a central part of city planning.

For additional information see: Reuters, International Business Times, ADB Press Release, ADB Report

Pakistani Prime Minister Says Climate Change Mitigation is Urgent Issue

On October 22, Pakistan’s Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with the United Nations, held an international conference on climate change. During the conference, Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani said that climate change is a major environmental issue and urged nations to form a universal and collective response, particularly in vulnerable South Asian regions. Gilani said Pakistan is developing a comprehensive climate change strategy and the country is looking forward to a substantive outcome at December’s UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun. Pakistan was one of the first nations to sign the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Although Pakistan emits a small percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions, it faces severe climate change impacts such as melting of glaciers, sea level rise and flooding.

For additional information see: Business Recorder, Pakistan Observer, Daily Times

New Mexico Approves Cap and Trade Plan

On November 2, the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board approved a cap and trade program that will restrict greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The program, which will begin in 2012, requires a two percent reduction in GHG emissions per year until 2020. If entities are unable to cut their emissions by two percent they will be able to purchase emissions credits from other entities, allowing more efficient entities to profit from the sale of credits. The program will allow New Mexico to participate in trading carbon allowances in the Western Climate Initiative, a collaboration of four Canadian provinces and seven U.S. states that seek to cut GHG emissions 15 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. Economic predictions show a modest net benefit to the New Mexico economy. Governor Bill Richardson said that the U.S. government should build on New Mexico’s program to implement a national cap and trade system.

For additional information see: Bloomberg, AP, Press Release

UN Report Warns Climate Change Poses Threat to Human Progress

On November 4, the UN released a report that warned continued failure to tackle climate change risks decades of progress in improving the lives of the world’s poorest people. In the annual report, the UN said that unsustainable patterns of production and consumption posed the most substantial challenge to fight poverty. “For human development to become truly sustainable, the close link between economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions needs to be severed,” the report said. In one estimate, the UN explained that adverse effects of climate change could double the price of wheat. By 2050, the report predicted consumption of cereals would fall by a fifth, leaving 25 million additional children malnourished, principally in Asia. Affluent countries “need to blaze the trail” on making economic growth less dependent on fossil fuels and helping poor nation get on the path toward sustainable development, the report stated.

For additional information see: The Guardian, Agence France Presse, Report

Atmospheric CO2 Triggered a Global Warming Event 40 Million Years Ago

On November 5, a study published in Science shows that atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) was the primary driver of a 400,000 year global warming event known as the middle Eocene climatic optimum (MECO), an epoch between 55 million and 34 million years ago. The climate trend across the entire Eocene can be characterized as a period of transition from a warmer climate to a cooler climate. The MECO, however, changed this trend and represents the last major temperature increase before the end of the epoch. Researchers studied sediment taken from deep beneath the ocean floor that spanned the Eocene using paleothermometers to reconstruct changes in sea-surface temperature during the MECO. This study is different because it employed two independent paleothermometers that “can clearly differentiate between temperature changes and other factors.” The authors show that the sea surface warmed by 3-6° Celsius. The MECO is an interesting time span because there were no glaciers during the period, so the researchers could look exclusively at the relationship between CO2 and temperature without having to account for variations due to glacial ice. Co-author Alexander Houben stated that the results will help climatologists gain a better understanding of the climate sensitivity concept — the degree to which global temperature increase is dependent on an accompanying increase in CO2.

For additional information see: Scientific American, Abstract

IEA Urges Global Leaders to Abandon Fossil Fuel Subsidies

On November 9, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released a report urging nations to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies to curb energy demand and cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions which cause climate change. The World Energy Outlook 2010 suggests that the lack of substantial action at last year’s UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen means that much tougher action will be needed after 2020, and an additional $1 trillion in spending will be needed by 2030, to hold temperature rise to 2°C. Eliminating fossil fuels subsidies would cut CO2 emissions 5.8 percent by 2020, according to the IEA. Fossil fuel subsidies were estimated at $312 billion in 2009, compared with $57 billion for renewable energy. "Getting the prices right, by eliminating fossil-fuel subsidies, is the single most effective measure to cut energy demand in countries where they persist, while bringing other immediate economic benefits," said Nabuo Tanaka, head of the IEA. “The message here is clear. We must act now to ensure that climate commitments are interpreted in the strongest way possible and that much stronger commitments are adopted and taken up after 2020, if not before. Otherwise, the 2°C goal could be out of reach for good." On November 12, the G20 reaffirmed their commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies at the Seoul Summit.

For additional information see: Reuters, London Business Green, Nature, BBC, White House Press Release, World Energy Outlook 2010

New York Governor Paterson Releases Draft Plan to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

On November 9, the New York State Climate Action Council released a draft plan that would reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. The plan calls for doubling the state’s renewable energy resources by 2030, increasing efficiency in all buildings, shifting private transportation toward electric vehicles, and supporting job growth in clean energy industries. State officials stated that the plan was not just a tool for reducing emissions, but also a tool for economic growth. “Transitioning to clean energy means more than driving a zero-emission car,” said Governor Paterson. “It also means manufacturing that car right here in New York, employing New York workers, driving the New York economy and building New York’s tax base.” Paterson administration officials hope that Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo will use the plan, which they say is in line with Mr. Cuomo’s energy platform. Public comments on the draft plan will be accepted for 90 days.

For additional information see: New York Times, Draft Plan

Scientists Organize to Communicate Climate Change Science Effectively

On November 8, the American Geophysical Union (AGU), a non-partisan scientific organization, announced plans to re-launch its Climate Q & A service, a program that will help journalists understand climate change science. AGU announced that 700 scientists have signed up to help answer scientific questions about global warming and anthropogenic climate change. Scientists will not answer questions related to policy, ethics, or economics. Additionally, John Abraham of the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota is organizing 39 scientists who will be part of a rapid response team that will be available to correct climate change misinformation in the media. Abraham stated that scientists have a duty to engage with the public on climate change and it should be done in a policy neutral way. He also said that the effort was “in response to a real disconnect between what is known in the scientific community and the consensus among the general public." The Q & A service began in 2009 to help journalists cover the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen, and since then AGU has been working to re-launch the program in time for this December’s UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun.

For additional information see: The Guardian, Chicago Tribune, Agence France-Presse, Popular Science

Ocean Acidification Threatens Coral Reef Reproduction

On November 8, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that ocean acidification — the lowering of pH levels from an increased absorption of carbon dioxide (CO2) — affects the sexual reproduction of corals. Coral species’ ability to reproduce is affected by pH levels, and coral recruitment — fertilization and larvae settlement —could fall by 73 percent over the next 100 years. It is widely accepted that ocean acidification affects mature coral, but this is the first study to document the impacts of ocean acidification on fertilization and settlement efforts of coral.

For additional information see: Science News, Science Daily, Abstract

If you would like to receive my Climate Change News automatically by email and don’t already, just send an email message to:

If you want to stop receiving it, just send a message to If you come across some really interesting information, please send it along and I may include it in the next issue. Recent issues are available at:

Chad A. Tolman
Coalition for Climate Change Study and Action