Sunday, May 19, 2013


Stephen Schneider - the editor of the Journal of Climatic Change and Stanford Professor of Environmental Biology and Global Change - passed away in July of 2010.  Before he died however, he produced an excellent 12-minute video titled, Climate Science and Media Distortion, in which he pointed out the similarity of today’s campaign by the fossil fuel industry  and yesterday’s media campaign by the tobacco industry. Well worth watching.  At:
The NewScientist for January 16 had an article by Rob Gilhooly titled, Japan to build world's largest offshore wind farm, which describes the construction of a wind farm 16 km (10 miles) off the coast of Fukushima, Japan, the home of the nuclear power plant crippled by the 2011earthquake and tsunami.  The wind farm will be able to generate 1 GW of electrical power - enough to power a million homes.  Of the 54 nuclear plants in Japan that were operating before the earthquake, only two have returned to operation.  “The project is part of Fukushima's plan to become completely energy self-sufficient by 2040, using renewable sources alone. The prefecture is also set to build the country's biggest solar park.”  At:
On April 11 the Oregon Research and Policy Center released a report titled, In the Path of the Storm - Global Warming, Extreme Weather and the Impacts of Weather-Related Disasters in the United States from 2007 to 2012.  Here are some of the findings of the report:
  •   Since 2007, weather-related disasters have been declared in every U.S. state other than South Carolina.
•   The contiguous United States experienced its hottest month and hottest  year in recorded history in 2012.
  •    The U.S. experienced its most widespread drought in more than a half century, as a result of record heat and low rainfall. In July 2012, 64 percent of the nation experienced moderate to exceptional drought, according to the National Climatic Data Center, making it the most widespread drought since at least 1956.
    •    Hurricane Sandy broke or challenged multiple records. It was the largest tropical cyclone in terms of area since modern record-keeping began in 1988, was responsible for the lowest barometric pressure ever recorded along the Northeast U.S. coast, and produced record storm tides in the New York City area.
Some types of extreme weather events have become more common or intense in recent years and may continue to become more frequent or severe in a warming world.
•    Extreme downpours. The United States has experienced an increase in heavy precipitation events, with the rainiest 1 percent of all storms delivering 20 percent more rain on average at the end of the 20th century than at the beginning. The trend toward extreme precipitation is projected to continue, even though higher temperatures and drier summers will likely also increase the risk of drought in certain parts of the country.
•    Heat waves. The United States has experienced an increase in the number of heat waves over the last half century. Scientists project that heat waves and unusually hot seasons will likely become more common in a warming world.
•    Hurricane intensity and rainfall. Hurricanes may become more intense and bring greater amounts of rainfall in a warming world, even though the number of hurricanes may remain the same or decrease.
•    Global warming may also make weather events more dangerous. Rising sea level, ecosystem changes, and changes in the form of precipitation could reduce the ability of natural and man-made systems to withstand even “normal” weather events.

care2 ran an article on April 13 by Judy Molland titled, Finally! Climate Change Introduced to U.S. Science Curriculum.  She wrote: The Next Generation Science Standards are the first broad national recommendations for science instruction since 1996. They were developed by a consortium of 26 state governments and several groups representing scientists and teachers.  The consortium said the guidelines were intended to combat widespread scientific ignorance, to standardize teaching among states, and to raise the number of high school graduates who choose scientific and technical majors in college.  This is critical for the economic future of America, as the U.S. continues to lag in comparison to other countries: in a 2009 global education survey, for example,  Shanghai ranked number one, while the United States came in 26th, out of 65 places worldwide in combined scores for math, science and reading.”  The new standards include both evolution and climate change, and are for students in grades K-12.  At:

On April 15 James Hansen posted a communication titled, Making Things Clearer: Exaggeration, Jumping the Gun, and The Venus Syndrome.  In it he tells what he plans to do now that he has retired from government service: devote more time to climate science, explain it clearly to others, and pursue its policy implications.  He also answers some of his critics.  In a section on the Venus Syndrome he addresses the question of whether burning all of the fossil fuels now in the ground could lead to large positive feedbacks and a runaway climate analogous to what occurred on Venus, where the global average surface temperature is nearly 500 degrees Celsius and life as we know it cannot survive.  I have the greatest respect for Hansen, who is not only a great scientist but a great man, with deep respect for God’s Creation.  I think we have to take him very seriously when he writes: “But it is not an exaggeration to suggest, based on best available scientific evidence, that burning all fossil fuels could result in the planet being not only ice-free but human-free.”  (emphasis added)  At:
A few years ago I was the lead author on a paper on a related subject for the US League of Women Voters Climate Change Task Force titled, Positive Feedbacks and Climate Runaway - The Need to Act Without Delay.  At:

In April the Pew Charitable Trusts issued a report titled, Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2012 Edition.  You can find the report and watch Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew's clean energy work, discuss it in a 2.5-minute video.  The report and the video indicate that the global investment in renewable energy grew by a factor of five between 2004 and 2012, with nearly twice as much investment in China in 2012 ($65 billion) as in the U.S. ($36 billion).  The lack of a supportive and predictable long-term national energy policy in the U.S. is a major factor.  At:

The Rocky Mountain Institute’s Amory Lovins posted a blog on April 17 titled, Germany’s Renewables Revolution.  In it he points out that since 1990 Germany has substantially reduced electricity generation from coal and nuclear while greatly increasing its energy efficiency and renewable electricity generation, with solar PV growing especially rapidly - putting Germany in a very strong position as the costs of fossil fuels grow and the costs of renewables drop.  At:

The Siemens’ We Can Change the World Challenge is a program available to students in grades K-12 where young people can learn about sustainability through project-based learning projects.  The winners for 2012-13 and their winning projects were announced in April.  The high school projects can be related to energy, biodiversity, land management, water conservation & clean-up and/or air & climate.  At:

In  April the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication issued a report on American public opinion titled, Extreme Weather and Climate Change in the American Mind April 2013.  Here are some of the Highlights:
  • About six in ten Americans (58%) say “global warming is affecting weather in the United States.”
  • Many Americans believe global warming made recent extreme weather and climatic events “more severe,” specifically: 2012 as the warmest year on record in the United States (50%); the ongoing drought in the Midwest and the Great Plains (49%); Superstorm Sandy (46%); and Superstorm Nemo (42%).
  • About two out of three Americans say weather in the U.S. has been worse over the past several years, up 12 percentage points since Spring 2012. By contrast, fewer Americans say weather has been getting better over the past several years – only one in ten (11%), down 16 points compared to a year ago.
  • Many Americans (51%) also say weather in their local area has been worse over the past several years.
  • Overall, 85 percent of Americans report that they experienced one or more types of extreme weather in the past year, most often citing extreme high winds (60%) and extreme heat (51%).
  • Of those Americans who experienced extreme weather events in the past year, many say they were significantly harmed. Moreover, the number who have been harmed appears to be growing (up 5 percentage points since Fall 2012 and 4 points since Spring 2012).
  • Most Americans (80%) have close friends or family members (not living with them) who experienced extreme weather events in the past year, including extreme high winds (47%), an extreme heat wave (46%), an extreme snowstorm (39%), extreme cold temperatures (39%), an extreme rainstorm (37%), or a drought (35%).  At:
On May 2 Laura Gleason of the University of Delaware’s UDaily posted an article titled, Technology Milestone Reached: Electric Vehicles at UD Earn Revenue From Power Grid.  The potentially important milestone was the demonstration that a fleet of electric vehicles could receive electrical energy in their batteries from the grid, feed it back into the grid on demand, and get paid to do so.  Expansion of this Vehicle to Grid (V2G) energy storage technology to large scale would make it possible to greatly increase the fraction of electricity generated by intermittent renewable energy sources like wind and solar PV.  The demonstration was made possible by a collaboration of faculty and students from UD, the PJM (an abbreviation for Pennsylvania, Jersey and Maryland) grid, and NRG, on of the nation’s largest electrical generating companies.  The article can be found at
 and a short (1.5-minute) YouTube video of the electric V2G technology event at:

On May 5 Sue Sturgis posted an article in Truthout titled, North Carolina: A Banana Republic for Dirty Energy Interests?  It appears the fossil fuel interested have been pouring money and influence into the NC legislature to repeal a rather modest state Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard requiring that 12.5% of the electricity sold in NC come from renewable sources by 2021.  The list of fossil fuel interests supporting the repeal is a rogues gallery of organizations that have never seen carbon they didn’t want to burn, including Americans for Prosperity, American Commitment, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Heartland Institute.  The article says, “The phrase "banana republic" was coined by the writer O. Henry to describe a fictional country ruled by wealthy elites in which the national legislature is for sale.”  At:

On May 8 Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of RI recently gave a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate titled, God Won’t Save Us from Climate Catastrophe.  A video of his speech is available at:

On May 8 Davie Biello posted a blog on Scientific American titled, 400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere Reaches Prehistoric Levels.   He wrote, The last time CO2 levels at Mauna Loa were this high, Homo sapiens did not live there. In fact, the last time CO2 levels are thought to have been this high was more than 2.5 million years ago, an era known as the Pliocene, when the Canadian Arctic boasted forests instead of icy wastes. The land bridge connecting North America and South America had recently formed. The globe’s temperature averaged about 3 degrees C warmer, and sea level lapped coasts 5 meters or more higher.”
In spite of this, humanity seems to be no closer to making the substantial reductions in CO2 emissions needed to stabilize the atmospheric concentration or the global climate.  How much more suffering, death and economic loss will be necessary before the world’s leaders pay serious attention?

On May 10 Justin Gillis published an article in the NY TImes titled, Heat-Trapping Gas Passes Milestone, Raising Fears.  He wrote, “China is now the largest emitter, but Americans have been consuming fossil fuels extensively for far longer, and experts say the United States is more responsible than any other nation for the high level.”  “Indirect measurements suggest that the last time the carbon dioxide level was this high was at least three million years ago, during an epoch called the Pliocene. Geological research shows that the climate then was far warmer than today, the world’s ice caps were smaller, and the sea level might have been as much as 60 or 80 feet higher.”  At:  Note that the average elevation of Delaware - the lowest of any state in the nation - is only about 60 feet .  With that much sea level rise we lose more than half our land area.

On May 15 Paul Gipe reported in the progress that ten industrialized countries have made in increasing their percentages of renewable energy sources used for electricity generation since 1980.  He broke the total renewable energy (RE) as of 2012 into two categories: hydro and new RE (wind, solar, biomass and geothermal), as shown in a table titled Renewable Penetration in Selected Markets.  The actual amounts of energy generated in 2012 are shown in terawatt-hours (TWh).  A TWh is a billion kWh, the unit of energy used on you monthly utility bill.  Iceland and Norway are the only countries that get nearly all of their electricity from renewables; both have abundant hydropower.  Denmark has no hydropower resource, but gets about 45% of its electricity from new RE sources - mostly from wind.  The U.S.  is the largest country on the list and has the largest total generation, but the lowest percentage from new RE sources - only about 5%, with the rest of its 12.7% total RE coming from hydro.  For the full report and charts see: 

On May 16 there was a broadcast by a number of TV stations (including THIRTEEN and NJTV) titled, Superstorm Sandy: A Live Town Hall - What worked.  What didn’t. What’s next. It included speakers and audiences in both West Long Branch, New Jersey and New York City, was nearly 2 hours long, and was very well done.  It was hosted by Mike Schneider, managing editor of the NJTV's NJ Today with Mike Schneider, and is a must-see for those concerned about climate change, sea level rise, and our the future of coastal communities.  The full broadcast is available at: 

On May 19 an article by Jenny Anderson appeared in the NY Times titled, Rebuilding the Coastline, but at What Cost?  She writes, “Massive beach nourishment projects will restore beaches but require expensive upkeep and affect ecosystems. Individuals and communities are racing to rebuild sea walls that hasten erosion. And federal taxpayers will foot the bill to rebuild communities that continue to be at risk.”  She goes on to say, “And New Jersey and New York are offering voluntary buyouts to homeowners in flood-prone areas: New Jersey will use $300 million of federal money to buy as many as 1,000 homes, while New York has committed an initial $197 million to buying what it hopes will be over 2,000 homes.
In New Jersey, the goal is to target contiguous properties to restore floodplains. State officials said the effort was unprecedented — even if it applied to only a fraction of homes. “We’d have to buy out 200,000 if you wanted to move everyone from potential harm,” said Larry Ragonese, press director of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.”  At:  Note that $300 million for 1000 homes would be an average of about $300,000 a home;  $197 million for 2000 homes would be about $100,000 a home.  At $300,000 a home, 200,000 homes would cost $260 billion - just for NJ!  Where will all the money for buyouts come from?

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. 

U.S. Agrees to Cooperate with China and Japan on Climate Change

On April 13, the U.S. Department of State announced that the United States and China agreed to take collective and cooperative action on climate change. The State Department stated, “The two countries took special note of the overwhelming scientific consensus about anthropogenic climate change and its worsening impacts, including the sharp rise in global average temperatures over the past century, the alarming acidification of our oceans, the rapid loss of Arctic sea ice, and the striking incidence of extreme weather events occurring all over the world.” The details of the agreement will be worked out in July, but the statement continues, “Both sides recognize that, given the latest scientific understanding of accelerating climate change and the urgent need to intensify global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, forceful, nationally appropriate action by the United States and China – including large-scale cooperative action – is more critical than ever. Such action is crucial both to contain climate change and to set the kind of powerful example that can inspire the world.”
In related news, on April 14, the Department of State announced, that to further shared goals, the United States and Japan plan to “hold a new bilateral dialogue, based on three pillars of cooperation: a new, ambitious, global, post-2020 international agreement to combat climate change, cooperation to advance low-emissions development in the world, and cooperation on constructing climate-resilient societies.” The United States and Japan also hope to further their engagement in advancing low-carbon technologies. A State Department press release stated, “Moving forward, the governments of the United States and Japan intend to continue to treat climate change as an issue of high priority in the bilateral relationship as we work towards an ambitious and coordinated global response to this serious challenge.”

Rep. Ellison Introduces Financial Transaction Tax Legislation that Could Help Climate Action

On April 16, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) reintroduced the Inclusive Prosperity Act (H.R. 1579). The legislation would introduce a financial transaction tax, or “Robin Hood tax,” that would levy a 0.5 percent sales tax on each trade of stock and lower percentages on bonds, derivatives and other financial interactions. The tax could raise up to $300 billion annually, some of which would be used to fund climate mitigation and adaptation, as well as Medicare, Social Security and public infrastructure and education programs. H.R. 1579 is co-sponsored by eight House Democrats, including, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). Many major economies, including China, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and 11 European Union nations have implemented or are planning to adopt a financial transaction tax.
For additional information see: Robin Hood Tax, Rep. Ellison Press Release, H.R.1579

Federally-Funded FutureGen CCS Project May Never Come to Fruition

On April 3, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report stating that the carbon capture and storage (CCS) coal-fired power plant FutureGen may not succeed. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5) provided a total of $1 billion for FutureGen through 2015. According to the CRS report, “Nearly ten years and two restructuring efforts since FutureGen’s inception, the project is still in its early development stages.” The report continues, “Regulations, tax credits, or policies such as carbon taxation or cap and trade that increase the price of electricity from conventional power plants may be necessary to make CCS technology competitive enough for private sector investment. Even then, industry may choose to forgo coal-fired plants for other sources of energy that emit less CO2, such as natural gas.” FutureGen CEO Kenneth Humphreys has stated that the project will be completed by its intended goal of 2017 using $300 million in non-governmental funding.
For additional information see: The Hill, CRS Report

Starbucks, Nike, eBay, and 30 Other Business Leaders Urge Strong Action on Climate Change

Thirty-three major corporations, along with the sustainable business and investment advocacy group Ceres and the Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) coalition, sent a letter to the president and other policy makers, calling on them to take action on climate change. Anne Kelly, director of BICEP, stated, “The signers of the Climate Declaration have a clear message for Washington: Act on climate change. We are, and it’s good for our businesses. The cost of inaction is too high. Policymakers should see climate change policy for what it is: an economic opportunity.” The 33 companies that signed on to the letter – including IKEA, L’Oreal, EBay, Starbucks, Unilever, and Intel – collectively employ approximately 475,000 Americans and have annual revenue of approximately $450 billion.
For additional information see: Agence France-Presse, Ceres Press Release

Antarctic Ice Melting Faster than Any Time in Past 1,000 Years

New research published April 14 in the journal Nature Geoscience reveals that summer ice in the Antarctic Peninsula is melting faster than at any point in the past millennium. The report uses data collected from a 364-meter (400-yard) ice core that contains a historical record of melting and freezing over the past thousand years. While temperatures have risen steadily by 1.6 degrees Celsius (2.9 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past 600 years, the rate of melting over the past 50 years has accelerated. Lead author Dr. Nerilie Abram, research fellow at the Australian National University, said, "Summer melting at the ice core site today is now at a level that is higher than at any other time over the last 1,000 years. And while temperatures at this site increased gradually in phases over many hundreds of years, most of the intensification of melting has happened since the mid-20th century."
For additional information see: Guardian, Reuters, Study

Arctic Could Be Nearly Ice-Free in the Summer by 2050

According to a study published in Geophysical Research Letters, while most previous research suggests that the Arctic will have ice-free summers in 2070 or later, the Arctic sea ice is melting significantly faster than most current climate models predict. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researchers used updated data on ice melt and climate factors to run three different climate models. All of the models suggested that there would be major Arctic ice loss in the first half of this century, and two of the models predicted that it is likely to occur within the next two decades. Lead-author James Overland, research oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, explained, “Rapid Arctic sea ice loss is probably the most visible indicator of global climate change; it leads to shifts in ecosystems and economic access, and potentially impacts weather throughout the northern hemisphere. Increased physical understanding of rapid Arctic climate shifts and improved models are needed that give a more detailed picture and timing of what to expect so we can better prepare and adapt to such changes. Early loss of Arctic sea ice gives immediacy to the issue of climate change.”
For additional information see: Bloomberg, NOAA, Study

Experts Flock to Dublin to Discuss Climate Change and Food Security

Experts gathered in Dublin, Ireland April 11-16 at the First Food Security Futures Conference and the Conference on hunger, nutrition, and climate justice, both organized by the United Nations World Food Programme, to discuss the future of food security and what world leaders could expect by 2050. Researchers agreed that food insecurity in Africa and Asia would be exacerbated by a warming climate, and that by 2050, Africa could possibly turn into a permanent food insecurity zone. Frank Rijsberman, CEO of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers, who helped sponsor one of the conferences, said “Food production will have to rise 60 percent by 2050 just to keep pace with expected global population increase and changing demand. Climate change comes on top of that. The annual production gains we have come to expect . . . will be taken away by climate change. We are not so worried about the total amount of food produced so much as the vulnerability of the one billion people who are without food already and who will be hit hardest by climate change. They have no capacity to adapt.”

Members of Congress Take to the Floor to Discuss Climate Change on Earth Day

On April 22, Earth Day, Senators took to the floor to discuss climate change. Speaking about the complexities facing his home state of Delaware due to sea level rise, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) stated, “Changes in the world’s climate are at this point inevitable. It’s already happening and affecting our communities, and we can expect these impacts to intensify and accelerate as climate continues to change. In my view, we need to accept these facts and modify our behavior to prevent these effects from becoming cumulatively catastrophic. We can make better choices now to prevent a disaster later.” Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) also took to the floor to voice the imperative of climate action. Franken said, “In a time when Americans are dealing with record droughts and devastating hurricanes the Senate cannot afford to simply ignore climate change. We need to talk about it just as ultimately we have to come together to start addressing climate change before its damage and cost to society get out of control.” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) followed his colleague saying, “The Senator and I serve together on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. This will be priority business for us, and his thoughtful remarks today are yet another effort in terms of trying to bring people together. The focus of the Senator's remarks has been not to say it is this person's fault or another person's fault, it is about how Democrats and Republicans need to come together.”
In the House of Representatives, Members of Congress in the Safe Climate Caucus (see February 18 issue) spent the month of April speaking daily on the House floor to encourage Republicans to discuss climate change. On April 24, Rep. James Moran (D-VA) said, “I and 19 of my colleagues wrote to the Energy and Commerce Committee urging them to engage us in a debate on the House floor as to what our national policy should be in response to climate change.”

UN to Issue Guidance on Black Carbon Emissions Reporting for Global Inventory

A work group under the United Nations (UN) Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) is set to issue the first standard guidelines for estimating and reporting black carbon emissions – now considered to be the second greatest contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide (see January 21 issue) – a step toward creating an international inventory for this climate pollutant. The inventory will be created under the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution’s Gothenburg Protocol. Parties to the protocol, including the United States, Canada, and the European Union, will be required to report their black carbon emissions starting in 2015, although some are expected to start in 2014. Eastern European and Central Asian countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, are also expected to sign on to the protocol and undertake the reporting requirements. “The ECE’s inventory is a critical step towards more effective controls of black carbon,” said Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, “as we know that what gets measured gets managed.” The inventory will help form policies to reduce levels of a pollutant that not only influences climate change but also contributes to an estimated six million deaths every year (see March 11 issue). The Arctic Council also is considering a new legal instrument or arrangement to enhance efforts to reduce black carbon (see February 11 issue).
For additional information see: Bloomberg BNA, Draft Guidelines

San Francisco, Seattle and Eight Other Cities Join the Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign

On April 23, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to divest its entire fossil fuel holdings, amounting to $583 million of its $16 billion pension fund. Nine other cities, including Seattle, Madison, Boulder, and Ithaca, announced that they will sell their fossil fuel pension fund investments as well. In addition, several universities have already proceeded to or announced plans to divest (see December 10 issue). The divestment movement was started by writer and environmental advocate Bill McKibben and his nationwide campaign.
For additional information see: Bloomberg Businessweek, Guardian

Carbon Bubble Causing Overvaluation of Fossil Fuel Stocks

Overvaluation of fossil fuels has likely caused a large economic bubble, according to a report published April 19 by Lord Nicholas Stern from the London School of Economics and the non-profit organization Carbon Tracker. The report estimates that markets are currently invested in developing fossil fuel sources capable of producing 762 billion tonnes of carbon (CO2) emissions. However, to keep global temperature increases below two degrees Celsius, no more than 125-275 billion tonnes of CO2 can be released. Even if those limits are surpassed, the report argues that it is unlikely that current and future restrictions will allow all fossil fuel sources to be developed, leaving significant fossil fuel assets stranded. The report notes in 2012, the top 200 firms invested $674 billion, one percent of the world’s economy, in developing fossil fuel sources. Similar concerns have been expressed by a number of organizations, including Citi bank, the International Energy Agency, and the ratings agency Standard and Poor’s. Paul Spedding, an oil and gas analyst at HSBC, said, "The scale of 'listed' unburnable carbon revealed in this report is astonishing. This report makes it clear that 'business as usual' is not a viable option for the fossil fuel industry in the long term. [The market] is assuming it will get early warning, but my worry is that things often happen suddenly in the oil and gas sector."
For additional information see: BBC, Guardian, Bloomberg, Report

Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Act Introduced

On May 9, Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) introduced the Super Pollutant Emissions Reduction Act of 2013 (SUPER Act, H.R. 1943) to establish a task force to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) under existing authorities. The bill designates SLCPs, including methane, black carbon, hydrofluorocarbons and tropospheric ozone, as “super pollutants” because their global warming potential is hundreds to thousands of times higher than carbon dioxide. Collectively, these super climate pollutants have contributed up to 40 percent of observed global warming to date. Rep. Peters said, “Government at multiple levels is already beginning to address these super pollutants, but it is time to coordinate our efforts to maximize the effectiveness of the programs. Given the major impact of these super pollutants on our environment, it only makes sense to use already existing technologies to reduce our emissions and slow climate change.” “This bill comes at a perfect time,” said Dr. V. Ramanathan, professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, “Science has informed us it is still not too late to slow down the warming in the coming decades by a factor of two if we act now.” Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, said, “In addition to cutting the rate of global warming in half, fast action to reduce these pollutants can cut the rate of warming in the Arctic by two-thirds, and the rate of warming over the elevated regions of the Himalayas and Tibet by at least half.” A coalition of non-governmental organizations, including 181 foreign policy experts, previously sent a letter to the Obama Administration calling for an SLCP task force (see March 18 issue).
For additional information see: Rep. Peters Press Release, IGSD Press Release

Climate Change Advisory Committee Appointed by the Department of Interior

The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced the 25 members appointed to the new Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science on May 8. The panel – composed of representatives from federal, tribal, state and local government, academia, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector – will advise the DOI about its recent climate change adaptation science initiative. Matthew Larsen, associate director for climate and land-use change at the U.S. Geological Society, and David Behar, director of the climate program at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, will serve as co-chairs. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said, “Responding to climate change and its effects on our natural and cultural resources is an important priority for the nation. This committee embodies our commitment to working closely with our partners to strengthen our efforts to develop sound science that will help inform policymakers, land managers and the public in making important resource management decisions.”
For additional information see: DOI Press Release

Study: Ocean Acidification Impacting the Arctic

A new study released May 6 by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme finds that the Arctic Ocean is experiencing rapid acidification, potentially leading to huge changes in the marine ecosystem. The region is acidifying at a faster rate than oceans worldwide, largely because carbon dioxide is absorbed more rapidly in colder water. Additionally, sea ice, which once served as a protective cap, is melting and exposing more of the water’s surface to the air. Report chairman Dr. Richard Bellerby, chemical oceanographer at the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, said “We have already passed critical thresholds. [. . .] Even if we stop emissions now, acidification will last tens of thousands of years.”
For additional information see: BBC, Study Summary

Climate Change Increasing Likelihood of Extreme Rainfall and Drought

A NASA study set for publication in Geophysical Research Letters concludes that arid and temperate areas of the world will see an increase in droughts, while tropical zones will gain even more rainfall.”These results in many ways are the worst of all possible worlds,” said Peter Gleick, climatologist and president of the Pacific Institute. Lead author William Lau, deputy director for atmospheres at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, explained that because most of the world’s population resides in temperate and arid regions, the loss of rain in these zones will have the greatest societal impact. Areas that will see increased drought include the southwestern United States, Mexico, North Africa, the Middle East, northwestern China, South Africa, coastal Central America, northwestern Australia and northeastern Brazil.
For additional information see: Los Angeles Times, NPR, NASA Press Release

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
New Castle County Congregations of Delaware Interfaith Power and Light

No comments:

Post a Comment