CC NEWS FOR SEPT. 2012
In June the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) released its Renewables 2012 Global Status Report. While hydropower is still the largest renewable energy (RE) electrical power source, others - especially wind and solar - are growing rapidly. In 2011 nearly 17% of global energy consumption came from RE sources, and investment increased to $257 billion - a six-fold increase over 2004. 2011 also saw a 30% drop in the price of solar PV panels and a 10% drop in the price of offshore wind turbines - making these two RE power sources more competitive with coal and natural gas - without the environmental drawbacks of the fossil fuels, including destructive climate change. At: http://www.ren21.net/REN21Activities/Publications/GlobalStatusReport/GSR2012/tabid/79218/Default.aspx. The full 250-page report is a great way to see what is happening in RE around the world and is available online at: www.ren21.net/gsr.
J.Wylie Donald posted an article on July 8 on the ClimateLawyers Blog titled, The NFIP is Renewed and Reformed, and Climate Change is Very Much in the Picture. The NFIP is the National Flood Insurance Program, which has sometimes paid to rebuild homes severely damaged by floods multiple times. This year the NFIP was extended for five years and reformed under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. Provisions of the act include the following:
- Subsidies for many properties are being phased out. For example, a "severe repetitive loss property" (i.e., where payments for flood-related damage exceed fair market value of the property) is no longer eligible for a subsidized rate.
- In setting rates the principles and standards of the American Academy of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society are to be followed, including "an estimate of the expected value of future costs" .
- Insurance premiums can now rise up to 20% per year; earlier increases were capped at 10% per year.
- There are now minimum deductibles for flood claims..
- A Technical Mapping Advisory Council is established to address flood map revision and maintenance.
On Aug. 20 An Information Statement of the American Meteorological Society on climate change was adopted by the AMS Council and later posted on the web. It is “intended to provide a trustworthy, objective, and scientifically up-to-date explanation of scientific issues of concern to the public at large.” “It is based on the peer-reviewed scientific literature and is consistent with the vast weight of current scientific understanding as expressed in assessments and reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program.”
“There is unequivocal evidence that Earth’s lower atmosphere, ocean, and land surface are warming; sea level is rising; and snow cover, mountain glaciers, and Arctic sea ice are shrinking. The dominant cause of the warming since the 1950s is human activities.”
“Technological, economic, and policy choices in the near future will determine the extent of future impacts of climate change. Science-based decisions are seldom made in a context of absolute certainty. National and international policy discussions should include consideration of the best ways to both adapt to and mitigate climate change. Mitigation will reduce the amount of future climate change and the risk of impacts that are potentially large and dangerous. At the same time, some continued climate change is inevitable, and policy responses should include adaptation to climate change. Prudence dictates extreme care in accounting for our relationship with the only planet known to be capable of sustaining human life.” At:
One of the reasons that this statement is remarkable is that meteorologists are often thought of as being ill-informed about climate change. See the next item.
Forecast the Facts has a funny 2.7 minute video showing what you might see on TV if some weather forecasters tried to inform their audiences about climate change and extreme weather events. It’s at hoot, titled, Weathergirl goes rogue. At:
An Aug. 22 blog post by David Minkow on Climate Access was titled, Latinos’ Values Put Them Ahead of the Curve on Climate. It quotes Javier Sierra, a media consultant and columnist for the Sierra Club. “The toxic bombardment that many Latinos are subjected to on a daily basis that results in frequent nose bleeds, asthma and other health ailments is what raises environmental awareness. Latinos see how an unhealthy environment affects the health of their community.” Sierra says. He adds that it’s easy for Latinos to connect the dots between extreme weather and climate change because their professional activities—from construction to agriculture—tend to keep them in constant touch with a changing environment, and because they tend to keep close relationships with their home countries where climate change is a reality (in part because there aren’t “deniers polluting the public debate”). Latinos in California play a significant role in defeating Proposition 23 - an effort by the Koch brothers to derail California’s progress toward a clean energy future. At:
On Aug. 22 the Worldwatch Institute published a report titled, Fossil Fuel and Renewable Energy Subsidies on the Rise. It pointed out that while global subsidies for renewable energy (RE) sources have been increasing (to $66 billion in 2010), they are still dwarfed by fossil fuel subsidies - estimated at between $775 billion and over $1 trillion in 2012. RE subsidies are higher on a per kWh basis (1.7 to 15 cents) vs 0.1 to 0.7 cents/kWh for fossil fuels, but the latter have a much larger market share. “The U.S. National Academy of Sciences estimates that fossil fuel subsidies cost the United States $120 billion in pollution and related health care costs every year. But these costs are not reflected in fossil fuel prices.” Eliminating unnecessary subsidies for fossil fuels and pricing them at their real cost to society would level the playing field for renewable energy sources. At:
Ker Than for National Geographic News reported on Aug. 28, in an article titled, Arctic Sea Ice Hits Record Low—Extreme Weather to Come?, that the area of North Polar sea ice this August reached a new record low - less that the previous record set on Sept. 18, 2007 - and it is expected to shrink more before its minimum for 2012 is reached. If carbon emissions continue as they have (increasing by about 3% each year), all of the sea ice will be gone within 30 years - decades before complete loss was expected to occur - decreasing Earth’s albedo (reflectivity) and increasing the rate of global warming and the frequency of extreme weather events. At:
Thalif Deen ran an article on Aug. 28 in IPS News titled, Could Water Strife Lead to ‘Mass Killings’ in the Future? It grew out of an international water resoources meeting in Stockholm. He wrote, “As the world faces possible water scarcities in the next two to three decades, the U.S. intelligence community has already portrayed a grim scenario for the foreseeable future: ethnic conflicts, regional tensions, political instability and even mass killings.” Chris Kojm of the National Intelligence Council estimated that by 2030 nearly half of the world’s population will live in areas of severe water stress. At: http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/08/could-water-strife-lead-to-mass-killings-in-the-future/
Bill Chameides on Aug. 29 posted an analysis of the words used in the 21-page Romney-Ryan Energy Plan, an article titled, The Romney-Ryan Energy Plan by the Numbers, in National Geographic’s The Great Energy Challenge. The words ‘oil’ (used 154 times), ‘energy’ (148), ‘gas’ (82) and ‘energy independence’ (21) were some of the most commonly used words. The words ‘renewable’ (3), ‘conservation’ (2), ‘efficiency’ (1) and ‘biofuels’(1) were hardly used, and ‘climate’ (0) did not appear at all. At:
On Sept. 3 John Acheson posted an article on Common Dreams titled, We Are Writing the Epilogue to the World We Knew. He paints a pretty frightening picture of where society is headed - with the response of our political leaders ranging from denial (Republicans) to inadequate action (Democrats). I’m afraid he’s largely correct. At:
Reuters posted an article on Sept. 7 about RGGI (the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) titled, Fewer than expected bid for cap-and-trade emission permits. It pointed that the 9 states from ME to MD still in RGGI (NJ’s governor dropped out) sold only 24.6 million carbon dioxide emission allowances - 65% of those offered in the quarterly auction - at a bid price as low as $1.93 per ton of CO2 - too low to have a significant deterrent effect on emissions. The problem is that the power plants covered by RGGi emitted an annual average on only 126 millions tons of CO2 during the first three years compared to the cap of 188 million tons set before the economic slowdown and the drop in natural gas prices, which encouraged plants to switch to gas from coal. RGGI was designed to gradually reduce the cap by 10% by 2019. Clearly the system needs to be redesigned. At: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/07/us-usa-emissions-market-idUSBRE88612K20120907
A minister in North Carolina, the Rev. Lynn Michie, posted A Climate Change Confession on Sept. 9 in the Ashville Citizen-Times. In it she confessed to awakening to some realities during the past year:
1. Our planet is not changing slowly; it is collapsing even more quickly than many scientists predicted.
2. Climate change is not a problem we are leaving for our children and grandchildren to fix. If we do not begin to make major personal and policy changes now, it will be too late. In fact, we’ve already waited too late.
3. The most important thing any president can do right now to help American families is to focus on renewable energy and policies that will help us end our dependence on fossil fuels (not simply ending our dependence on foreign oil).
- Climate change is my problem and it is your problem. Scientists will not be able to fix the mess we have all collectively created.
On Sept. 10 Greentechsolar posted an article titled, US Solar Market Spikes With 742 MW in Solar Installations in Q2 2012. With 477 MW of utility-scale installations in the 2nd Quarter, the U.S. solar market grew by 45% over Q1 2012 and 116% over Q2 2011. While U.S. residential solar PV grew significantly from Q2 2010 to Q2 2012 - doubling capacity from about 50 to 100 MW in 2 years - utility-scale capacity increased from about 50 to 450 at the same time - a factor of 9! At: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/U.S.-Solar-Market-Spikes-with-742-MW-in-Solar-Installations-in-Q2-2012/
The Delaware Coastal Programs Division of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has now posted the Vulnerability Assessment report of the Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee, on which I represent the LWV of Delaware.
“This Vulnerability Assessment provides in-depth information about sea level rise and its potential impacts to Delaware in a 2-volume document, an Assessment and a Mapping Appendix. These documents contain background information about sea level rise, vulnerability assessment methods and a comprehensive accounting of the potential extent and impacts that sea level rise could have to 79 resources within the state.” The extents of sea level rise considered were 0.5, 1.0 and 1.5 meters (about 20, 40 and 60 inches) by 2100. Some of the resources in Delaware inundated by these increases of sea level are:
- 1-5% of the residences, approximately 3,500 to 17,000 of them
- 2-6% of the length of rail lines, including the Amtrak line through Wilmington linking Washington, DC with New York and Boston
- 8-11% of the land area of the state
- 36-72% of the Port of Wilmington property
- 84-98% of freshwater tidal wetlands
And these numbers are for a conservative “bathtub” model that does not include high water due to storm surges or wave heights, which are likely to increase in a warming world, as I pointed out in a Minority Statement in Appendix F (pages 190-191).
The complete 2-volume report is available at: http://de.gov/slrva
A Sept. 12 post by Quirin Schiermeier in Nature News is titled, Ice loss shifts Arctic cycles. It reports that the extent of Arctic sea ice, which is at a record=breaking low, is influencing both weather patterns and biological systems in unexpected ways. While computer models have indicated that the polar sea ice may be gone sometime between 2040 and 2100, it looks now as though an ice free summer may come as soon as 2030. At: http://www.nature.com/news/ice-loss-shifts-arctic-cycles-1.11387
The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported that the minimum area of Arctic sea ice, reached this year on Sept. 16, was the smallest since satellite measurements first became available in 1979. The area - 1.32 million square miles - was 18% below the previous record minimum set in 2007 and 49% below the 1979 to 2000 average minimum. At: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/
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.
Rate of Arctic Sea Ice Loss Much Greater than Anticipated
Images from CryoSat-2, the first satellite designed specifically to study the thickness of the polar ice caps, show that 900 cubic kilometers of summer sea ice has disappeared from the Arctic Ocean over the past year. The rate of melting is 50 percent higher than most climate projections. The satellite measurements also indicate that the Arctic ice has been thinning dramatically at the same time. In regions north of Canada and Greenland, where a decade ago ice was normally around five to six meters thick during the summer months, the ice has thinned to one to three meters. "Very soon we may experience the iconic moment when, one day in the summer, we look at satellite images and see no sea ice coverage in the Arctic, just open water," said Dr. Seymour Laxon of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modeling at University College London.
It is possible that the sea ice melting was exacerbated by a massive cyclone which passed over the Arctic Ocean during the week of August 6. As reported by NASA climate scientist Claire Parkinson, “It seems that this storm has detached a large chunk of ice from the main sea ice pack. This could lead to a more serious decay of the summertime ice cover than would have been the case otherwise, even perhaps leading to a new Arctic sea ice minimum.” Cyclones are normal this time of year, but according to Parkinson, “Decades ago, a storm of the same magnitude would have been less likely to have as large an impact on the sea ice, because at that time the ice cover was thicker and more expansive.”
Connecticut Officials Say Long Island Sound Must Be Protected Against Climate Change
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and other state officials took part in a panel discussion last week to discuss the impact of climate change on efforts to preserve the Long Island Sound. "The water is definitely getting warmer; there is no doubt about that," Malloy said. "Climate change is already having an impact on the Sound, and it is getting faster." The panelists were optimistic about ongoing sewage plant modernizations and a general trend toward reduced nitrogen levels and better conditions for aquatic life in the Sound. However, many expressed concern over the continued die-off of lobsters in the Sound and uncertainty about how warming waters, sea level rise and fiercer storms will affect life in the state. "We have reason to feel proud, but the lesson is, there is no rest for those seeking to protect this water body and make sure it remains as good as it can be," said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT). "Unless we help the Sound, it will not survive."
In a related story, one of two reactors at the Millstone nuclear power plant in Waterford, Connecticut, was shut down because the water in Long Island Sound was too warm to use as reactor coolant. The reactor’s safety rules state that cooling water can be no hotter than 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but on August 12 the water reached 76.7 degrees Fahrenheit, forcing Dominion Power to shut down the reactor. “Temperatures this summer are the warmest we’ve had since operations began here at Millstone,’’ said Dominion Power spokesman Ken Holt. The 2,100-megawatt Millstone power plant began operations in 1970. “We are evaluating our options for the future,” Holt continued. “We don’t know, is this year an anomaly or is it the continuation of a longer trend?”
Florida Keys Trying to Protect Against Rising Sea Levels
Monroe County, Florida, which encompasses all of the Florida Keys, is set to release its first ever climate action plan this fall. On some Florida islands, just one foot of elevation separates freshwater-dependent pine forests from saltwater mangrove marshes. "As the sea rises and the salt water keeps coming in, the rest of the area eventually is going to look like this marsh," said Chris Bergh, a director at the Nature Conservancy. "It's just a matter of time." David Bender, a botanist in the South Florida Ecological Services Office, said Monroe County could play a huge role protecting threatened species by buying and conserving land adjacent to public areas. The Keys contain many species that are unique to that part of Florida, and the county's cooperation will be needed to help create land corridors for plants and animals to move to higher elevations. The country’s action plan provides a framework for these kinds of climate refuges, stating that the Monroe County Land Authority should place "a high priority on purchasing natural areas for conservation purposes."
Tuvalu Threatened by Climate Change
Rising sea levels of five millimeters a year are slowly eroding Tuvalu, a small island country in the South Pacific. The nine coral atolls of Tuvalu are only two meters (6.5 feet) above sea level at their highest point. James Conway, an American advisor to the Tuvalu government, says, "Tuvalu just got on it very early and has been talking about being an advocate about climate change and sea-level rise since the late 1980s and early 1990s. It's been able to position itself internationally as uniquely threatened, let's say, by sea-level rise, the loss of land, the loss of culture, the loss of sovereignty, the loss of state." Though the New Zealand government accepts 75 Tuvalu islanders immigrants a year, there is no reported agreement by either New Zealand or Australia to accept the total population of 10,500 if the island is destroyed by the effects of climate change.
For additional information see: The Age
New Methodology Boosts Evidence for Future Droughts
A study published August 5 in the journal Nature Climate Change provides further support to recent findings (see August 13 issue) that the United States will suffer more severe droughts in the future, and that climate change will play an important role in increasing the frequency and intensity of those droughts. Previous climate models that predicted more severe and widespread droughts have been criticized because they did not fully reflect actual drought patterns when they were applied to historic conditions. This new study uses a statistical method that includes data on sea surface temperatures, and its model accurately portrays historic climate events when applied to past climate conditions. “We can now be more confident that the models are correct, but unfortunately their predictions are dire,” said study author Aiguo Dai, a researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Former IPCC Chair Says Planet Likely to Surpass Two Degrees Warming
Professor Sir Bob Watson, currently the chief scientist at the United Kingdom (UK) Department for Food and Rural Affairs and former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said that the international target of preventing global average temperatures from rising above two degrees Celsius was no longer viable. He joins a growing number of experts and organizations in this view, including the International Energy Agency. One of the UK government’s most senior science advisors, Dr. Watson cited a lack of progress at international climate meetings as a primary reason for his pessimism. "If we carry on the way we are there is a 50-50 chance that we will get to a three-degree rise. I wouldn't rule out a five-degree world and that would be quite serious for the people of the world, especially the poorest,” he explained. He said that increased political will and continued evolution of energy technology could help avoid the more catastrophic scenarios. Dr. Watson is set to leave his position in the UK government next month.
For additional information see: BBC
MIT Study Finds Carbon Tax Could Raise $1.5 Trillion
A new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) proposes a carbon tax that would raise $1.5 trillion over a 10-year period. Presented in light of looming budget cuts and growing national debt, the study examined the impact of a national tax of $20 per ton of carbon beginning in 2013 and increasing four percent per year. In addition to the direct financial benefits, the study projected that by 2050 the tax would cut oil imports by 10 million barrels per day and reduce carbon dioxide emissions 20 percent below 2006 levels. “Congress will face many difficult tradeoffs in stimulating the economy and job growth while reducing the deficit. But with the carbon tax there are virtually no serious tradeoffs. Our analysis shows the overall economy improves, taxes are lower and pollution emissions are reduced,” explained study co-author John Reilly. The MIT report comes weeks after Rep. Jim McDermott introduced carbon tax legislation in the House (see August 13 issue).
Substantial Methane Reservoirs Trapped under Antarctic Ice
A study published in the journal Nature on August 30 finds that the Antarctic likely holds substantial amounts of the potent greenhouse gas methane trapped under ice sheets. The assessment reveals that ancient organic carbon sedimentary basins are situated under Antarctic ice sheets. The sedimentary basins contain an estimated 21,000 billion tonnes of organic carbon and are expected to be biologically active, meaning that microbes probably have converted the organic carbon into carbon dioxide and methane over thousands of years. According to lead author Jemima Wadham, a professor in glaciology at Bristol University, "This is an immense amount of organic carbon, more than ten times the size of carbon stocks in northern permafrost regions. Our laboratory experiments tell us that these sub-ice environments are also biologically active, meaning that this organic carbon is probably being metabolised to carbon dioxide and methane gas by microbes." The methane – which at high pressure and sub-freezing temperatures becomes methane hydrate – is safely locked beneath the Antarctic ice; however, thinning of the ice could see its release, starting a dangerous positive feedback loop.
Note: The 21 Gt C that could be released to the atmosphere as Antarctic ice melts is about the amount released 56 million years ago in an event known to geologists as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which raised global average temperatures by 5-6 degrees C and caused an oceanic extinction event through ocean acidification by CO2. See an article called Hothouse Earth in National Geographic at:
Republican Group Aims to Challenge Party Wisdom on Climate Change
On August 20 an amalgamation of Republican groups came together to form the Young Conservatives for Energy Reform (YCER), propounding, among other solutions, reducing carbon emissions. The grassroots organization plans to host events and rallies where energy experts can discuss issues such as climate change with interested Republicans. The group’s founding is preceded by the launch of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, a conservative-run think tank which is focused on revising the tax code to disincentivize carbon emissions (see July 23 issue). Brian Smith, chair of YCER’s Midwest chapter, said, "Our position on climate change is that it really shouldn’t be a litmus test for Republicans. We want it to be an issue that Republicans can talk about."
South Florida City Infrastructure Plans to Help Prepare for Rising Sea Levels
Miami Beach is considering a $206 million makeover of its drainage system, due to continued episodes of flooding which raise questions about the existing infrastructure’s ability to withstand pressure from rising sea level. Salt water flooding threatens to contaminate ground water sources and sewage facilities, adding to the cost burden of flood management. The new infrastructure plan, if approved by the Miami Beach Commission, calls for additional pumps, backflow preventers, higher sea walls, and wells to store runoff, to combat short term sea level rise. City public works director Fred Beckmann said of the proposal, “It’s the first time, as far as I know, that any community in South Florida and actually in the entire state of Florida is taking into account sea level rise as they plan their storm water infrastructure.” Recent studies suggest that a three to seven inch rise in sea level is expected in South Florida over the next three decades, which would require investing hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade drainage systems.
For additional information see: Miami Herald
New Research Suggests Dramatic Increases in Food Prices Worldwide Due to Climate Change
A study by Oxfam, released on September 5, concludes that the future impacts of increased temperatures and frequency of extreme weather on food prices have been dramatically understated. The study finds that food prices will likely double by 2030, and with a repeat of the current U.S. drought, the price of maize could increase an additional 140 percent. Additional flooding and drought in Southern Africa could raise the price of corn meal, a staple food for poor families, 120 percent. Large droughts throughout India and vast flooding in Southeast Asia are predicted to increase the world market price of rice by 22 percent. The continuation of climate shocks in sub-Saharan Africa could have dramatic regional effects on grain availability and prices because 95 percent of the grain consumed in the region is grown locally. Tim Gore, climate change policy adviser at Oxfam, states, "Rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns hold back crop production and cause steady price rises. But extreme weather events – like the current U.S. drought – can wipe out entire harvests and trigger dramatic food price spikes." While the United Kingdom and the United States are predicted to be affected by these changes, the most vulnerable are the world's poorest people, who already are spending up to 75 percent of their income on food.
Carbon Stores Released from Thawing Siberian Ice
According to a new study published August 29 in the journal Nature, large portions of the Arctic Siberian coast that have remained frozen for tens of thousands of years are thawing as atmospheric temperatures rise. Trapped in the receding permafrost of the northern Siberian coastal and Arctic regions are roughly half of the global carbon pools stored in soil. As the ice melts, roughly 40 million tonnes of carbon is released into the atmosphere every year, 10 times the amount previously thought. "Coastal Yedoma (an area of Siberia twice the size of Sweden) is likely more vulnerable towards carbon release than other permafrost bodies as it is not only subject to thermal collapse from above but also to enhanced wave and wind erosion of the Yedoma-dominated coast brought on by sea-level rise and longer ice-free seasons," said study co-author Örjan Gustafsson, professor of biogeochemistry at Stockholm University. Occurring as a result of a changing climate, this release of carbon adds to global greenhouse gas emissions, creating a positive feedback loop and accelerating climate changes.
Climate Change Disrupts Power Plant Operations and Threatens Future Energy Production
Record high temperatures and drought in the United States has caused problems for power plants supplying electricity across the country this summer. The Millstone nuclear plant in Waterford, CT, the Braidwood Nuclear Plant in Braidwood, IL, and one other nuclear plant in the Midwest had to temporarily shut down due to high water temperatures and lack of water for cooling operations. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency granted exceptions to four coal-fired plants and four nuclear plants, permitting them to release cooling water into local waterways that is seven degrees hotter than federal clean-water permits allow. The severe drought has disrupted coal shipments on the Mississippi River used for electricity generation. Water levels at Lake Mead, the reservoir for the Hoover Dam, are 103 feet below maximum storage capacity, which corresponds to a loss of roughly 500 MW of electricity production this year.
The Colorado River basin, which supplies water to 40 million people and is the source of hydroelectric power for the Hoover Dam, is facing reduced water flow. The Bureau of Reclamation projects that in the next 50 years the lower Colorado River’s flow will decline between nine and ten percent because of climate change, and that water demand will exceed supply by more than a third. Additionally, agricultural demands for water are estimated to rise between three and 10 percent during the same period. University of Arizona law professor Robert Glennon portrayed the water crunch as “a collision.”
For additional information see: Washington Post
Rising Seas Becoming a Threat to New York City
Douglas Hill, an engineer at the Storm Surge Research Group, has criticized New York City for "lacking a sense of urgency" about the threat of rising sea levels to the city's infrastructure and roads. 200,000 residents in New York City live only four feet above high tide. Scientists warn that by mid-century sea levels could rise by two feet, and with higher water, common storms could be as damaging to the city as big storms and hurricanes are today. In light of rising waters, the city is hoping to set aside $2 billion of public and private money to pursue resilience strategies to strengthen the city's ability to deal with and recover from serious flooding. Mayor Bloomberg's administration is implementing features to mitigate future flooding through expanding wetlands to accommodate surging tides, installing green roofs to absorb rainwater, asking people to move boilers out of flood-prone basements, and attempting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, even with resilience strategies being put into place, Eddie Bautista, executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, warns that there are still many industries on the waterfront, including chemical manufacturing plants, oil-storage sites, and garbage transfer stations, which are prone to future flooding. In addition, current construction projects, such as a new recycling plant on a Brooklyn pier and the Port Authority transit hub at the World Trade Center site, are not necessarily being adapted to future flood risks.
For additional information see: New York Times
Researchers Consider Human Health Impacts of Climate Change
Researchers in the United States and the United Kingdom (UK) are starting to consider the human health impacts of a changing climate. George Luber, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said, “[Climate change] is a new topic for public health. This is emerging largely as a result that the scientific evidence around climate change has evolved to the point that public health feels confident engaging the science – that this is a credible threat.” Scientists at the CDC are assessing the local health effects of climate change. Increased atmospheric temperatures lead to more smog in dense urban centers, which can then cause or exacerbate asthma and other respiratory problems. Heat waves, extreme storms and infectious diseases could also increase in frequency and magnitude in a changing climate and thus pose risks for human health. The UK Health Protection Agency concluded that allergy and hay fever seasons could be extended by up to six weeks since flowers will likely bloom earlier with a warmer climate. Scientists at California State University, Bakersfield predict that as temperatures rise and precipitation decreases in arid inland regions, the hardy fungus, which causes valley fever, could flourish because its competitors will die off.
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Coalition for Climate Change Study and Action
Coalition for Climate Change Study and Action