Saturday, June 21, 2014



On April 7, 2013 Dr. Anthony Ingraffea of Cornell University published an important 23.5-minute video on UTube titled, The Intersection Between Fracking and Climate Change.  In it he points out that enough methane leaks during the production and transportation by pipeline of fracked gas that fracking is responsible for a substantial contribution to climate change, and the methane produced is responsible for more global warming per ton than coal.  At: 

On Nov. 13, 2013, Ryan Koronowski published in ClimateProgress an article titled, The Climate Campaigner On The Senate Floor: Sheldon Whitehouse’s 50 Climate Speeches In 50 Weeks.  In it he described Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s (D-RI) 50th attempt in 50 weeks to get the U.S. Senate to take some significant action on climate change.  “At the Newport tide gauge, sea level is up almost ten inches since the 1930s, when we had our catastrophic ‘38 hurricane in Rhode Island. You measure that. It takes, basically, a ruler.
We are about three to four degrees warmer in the winter in Narragansett Bay than we were fifty years ago when my wife’s URI mentor was doing his doctoral thesis. Three to four degrees. You measure that. It takes a thermometer.
And the ocean is acidifying at the fastest rate recorded in 50 million years. You measure that with a litmus test, which anybody with an aquarium does.
It’s one thing to be against science; it’s another to be the party against measurement. So the polluters and front groups don’t talk much about the oceans. But that doesn’t change the fact. This is real. And it is past denying.
He summarized the motivations of those who deny this basic science and the fossil fuel profits that often drive them to continue to advocate pollution. “We are a great country, but not when we’re lying and denying what’s real,” he said. “The atmosphere is warming; ice is melting; seas are warming, rising, and acidifying. It is time for the misleading fantasies to end.”
Senator Whitehouse outlined some solutions. One way to cut carbon pollution is to put a price on it, which Whitehouse and other climate hawks in the House have proposed.”  

The Huffington Post for May 23 had an article by Sam Stein and Kate Sheppard titled, Meet The Only Republican Senate Candidate Who Touts His Belief In Global Warming.  The Huffington Post reviewed the campaign websites of every Republican candidate running for Senate in the 31 states where Senate elections are being held.  Of the 107 Republicans running, only one, Jim Rubens, who is running against Republican Senator Scott Brown in the New Hampshire primary, not only talks about climate change on his web site, but actually talks about it on the campaign trail.  But he's hardly a wacko. He graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in chemistry and made his living investing in high-tech startups, which fed his belief in the importance of scientific research.”  At:
NOTE: It’s a sad day for the Republican Party, for the United States, and for the future of people and other living things when only one our of 107 Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate this year understands and accepts the science of climate change - a sad day indeed.

The NY TImes for May 27 had an Op-Ed by Eric Klein, a professor of classics and anthropology at George Washington University, titled, Climate Change Doomed the Ancients.  In the first sentence he wrote, THIS month, a report issued by a prominent military advisory board concluded that climate change posed a serious threat to America’s national security.”  Not surprisingly, Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, dismissed the report as a stunt.  Kline went on to say, “Perhaps the senator needs a history lesson, because climate change has been leading to global conflict — and even the collapse of civilizations — for more than 3,000 years. Drought and famine led to internal rebellions in some societies and the sacking of others, as people fleeing hardship at home became conquerors abroad.”  Klein ended his interesting article by pointing out an important difference between these ancient civilizations and our own: “The Late Bronze Age civilizations collapsed at the hands of Mother Nature. It remains to be seen if we will cause the collapse of our own.”  At: 

On May 28 Common Dreams published an article by Lauren McCauley titled, Will Big Oil Execs Ever Stand Trial for Willful Climate Deceit?  It said, Fossil fuel executives, watch out.  A group of environmental organizations want to know who is going to be held responsible for the corporate obstructionism of climate change information and policies, despite clear scientific consensus.  In a letter of warning issued Wednesday to over 75 major insurance and fossil fuel corporations, Greenpeace International, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) beg the question: Who will pay for this climate deceit?  Citing "asbestos to tobacco to oil spills," Carroll Muffett, president of CIEL, said history shows that "those who mislead the public, the market or the government about the risks of their products, or the availability of safer alternatives, can face substantial legal liability, both as companies and as individuals."”  At:
NOTE: Personal liability for the campaign of deceit and disinformation on the part of fossil fuel interests could turn the tide on effective global action on climate change.

On May 30 Noah of the Center for Biological Diversity published a paper in titled, Landmark Study: Human Population Growth, Consumption Has Increased Species Extinctions by More Than 1,000 Times Natural Rate.  It described a recent study in Science, which compared rates of species extinction now with those of earth’s past, as determined by the fossil record and analyses of DNA.  The study concluded that plants and animals are now going extinct at a rate more than 1000 times the past average,, and concluded that human impacts on the environment are the cause, with population growth and consumption as major contributors.  At:

President Obama ‘s recent address, Reducing Carbon Pollution in Our Power Plants, was captured in a 6.25-minute video  posted on May 31 and is well-worth seeing and hearing. He proposes regulations on existing power plants reducing CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030, at the same time that emissions of particulates that cause asthma in children are reduced.  At:
NOTE: This important step in reducing pollution is likely to be stronly resisted by major coal-producing states and power companies with big investments in old dirty coal plants.  Coal produces a lot more CO2 and toxic emissions per unit of electricity generated.

The NY TImes for June 1 had an article by Coral Davenport titled, Obama to Take Action to Slash Coal Pollution, described as one of the strongest actions ever taken by the United States government to fight climate change,” asking the EPA to propose regulations on carbon emissions from existing power plants.  While the action was welcomed by the environmental community, it was vigorously opposed by others.  To quote the article, “Scott Segal, a lawyer with the firm Bracewell & Giuliani, which represents coal companies and plans to sue over the rule, wrote in an email, “Clearly, it is designed to materially damage the ability of conventional energy sources to provide reliable and affordable power, which in turn can inflict serious damage on everything from household budgets to industrial jobs.”  Last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a report warning that the rule could lower the gross domestic product by $50 billion annually.”  At: 

A June 4 article by Reutters titled, U.S. carbon plan will not reach climate goals: study, said, A U.S. plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants is not enough to achieve its goals for limiting climate change, and all nations will need to significantly step up actions to curb warming, a group of scientists said in a report on Wednesday.  Washington announced plans on Monday to cut emissions from power plants by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, as the centerpiece of a U.S. policy to fight climate change.”
““Every little step has to be welcomed ... but this is not enough to get on a 2C pathway," said Climate Analytics' Bill Hare told a news conference.
"All governments will have to significantly increase their action on climate change – both before 2020 and after", to stay below 2 degrees, according to the report, released on the sidelines of a June 4-15 U.N. meeting in Bonn, Germany on ways to limit global warming.  The Climate Action Tracker suggested that overall U.S. emissions would be only about 10 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, roughly equal with existing levels, unless tougher action is taken in sectors from transport to agriculture.” At:
Important Energy/Climate Action by the U.S. League of Women Voters At its recent biennial national convention in Dallas, the national League took an important step in dealing with the growing threat of catastrophic climate change.  On June 9 it passed by a nearly unanimous vote the following Resolution from the Delaware League: 
The LWVUS should support a price on carbon emissions that will increase in stages, as part of an overall program to improve energy efficiency and to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, fast enough to avoid serious damage to the climate system.
The Resolution was based in part on an article by Bill McKibben, the founder of Global Warming's Terrifying New Math - Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe, where he pointed out that keeping the global average temperature from rising more than 2° C (3.6° F) above what it was in 1750 will require leaving at least 80% of the proven reserves of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) in the ground.  To do that, we need a significant and growing price on carbon – either through a direct tax or a system of cap-and-trade.  Also see The Economists Statement on Climate Change.

Pete Spotts has an article in the June 9 Christian Science Monitor titled, How dust in the wind may be quickening Greenland's ice melt.  It reports a recent study that finds the rate of ice loss is accelerating and that as much as 13% of that may be attributable to dust on the ice surface that reduces the reflection of sunlight and adds to the rate of heat absorption and surface melting.  It also has a 4.5-minute video showing what scientists know about changes of the surface elevation.  Loss of all of the Greenland ice would raise sea levels by 7.2 m, or 24 feet.  At:

Paul Krugman posted a wonderful Opinion piece in the NY TImes of June 8, 2014 titled, Interests, Ideology and Climate.  As he sees it, the major reason why reducing carbon emissions is so difficult politically is not so much the vested interests as it is the world view of the denialists and the anti-intellectualism that has always been a part of American life.  He writes, Well, think about global warming from the point of view of someone who grew up taking Ayn Rand seriously, believing that the untrammeled pursuit of self-interest is always good and that government is always the problem, never the solution. Along come some scientists declaring that unrestricted pursuit of self-interest will destroy the world, and that government intervention is the only answer. It doesn’t matter how market-friendly you make the proposed intervention; this is a direct challenge to the libertarian worldview.
And the natural reaction is denial - angry denial.  Read or watch any extended debate over climate policy and you’ll be struck by the venom, the sheer rage, of the denialists.
The fact that climate concerns rest on scientific consensus makes things even worse, because it plays into the anti-intellectualism that has always been a powerful force in American life, mainly on the right.” 
“So the real obstacle, as we try to confront global warming, is economic ideology reinforced by hostility to science. In some ways this makes the task easier: we do not, in fact, have to force people to accept large monetary losses. But we do have to overcome pride and willful ignorance, which is hard indeed.”  At:

The Oregonian on June 14 published a piece by Angus Duncan and John Russell titled, Now is the time for aggressive efforts on emissions: Guest opinion.  They wrote, This year's National Climate Assessment reaffirmed the findings of global scientists that the climate effects of greenhouse gas emissions are real, present, disruptive and imposing serious costs today.  To the dry language of science add the reports of droughts, flooding, extremes of heat and cold, forest fires and sea level rise that are piling up.
These findings paint a picture that is overwhelmingly probable, and perilous.  Climate deniers in the Congress and media, whatever their rationales or hidden agendas, are themselves a present danger to this country as they encourage inaction and delay.  More constructively, the president and EPA have proposed rules to limit carbon dioxide pollution from existing power plants – some 38 percent of overall U.S. emissions, most of it from coal.  This proposed rule, along with already adopted vehicle efficiency standards, will bring nearly 70 percent of U.S. CO2 emissions under emissions-reducing regulation.
There's a better approach: a nation-wide carbon cap or carbon tax.  Either would be more effective and cost less.  But Congress is high-centered on this issue as on so many others.  And we can't delay action on coal plants any longer.”  At:
On June 17 Joe Romm reported in ClimateProgress that the Japan Meteorological Agency recently reported that the global average spring temperature for the months March-May was the highest in 120 years of record keeping; it was also the hottest May on record.  At:

The following items are from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), Carol Werner, Executive Director. Past issues of its newsletter are posted on its website under "publications"
EESI’s newsletter is intended for all interested parties, particularly the policymaker community. 

1. Congressional Groups Hold Events to “Wake Up” Congress to Climate Change
On May 20 and 21, several Congressional groups dedicated to increasing awareness and action on climate change in both the House and Senate held a film screening and rally in Washington, DC. On Tuesday, members of the Senate Climate Action Task Force and the Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition (SEEC) hosted a panel and screening of the new Showtime series, “Years of Living Dangerously,” along with a discussion concerning how climate change threatens health, security, and the economy. Speakers for the panel included Dr. Thomas Armstrong, Executive Director of the U.S. Global Change Research Program; Sharon Burke, Senior Advisor at New America Foundation; Anne Kelly, Director of Public Policy at Ceres; and Dr. Sabrina McCormick, Associate Professor at George Washington University and Producer of “Years of Living Dangerously.” Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Ed Markey (D-MA) and Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) also addressed the audience on the importance of addressing climate change.
On Wednesday, May 21, the Senate Climate Action Task Force, SEEC, the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change, and the Congressional Safe Climate Caucus all banded together to “wake up” Congress to the impact of climate change. The rally was spearheaded by Senators Whitehouse and Boxer, both of whom head the Senate Climate Action Task Force. Hundreds of people gathered in the Dirksen Senate Office Building to hear one-minute speeches from Congressional members and then “sound the alarm” by having all cell phones go off at 5 PM in support of action on climate change. Boxer and Whitehouse said in a statement released before the rally that, “the devastating effects of climate change are all around us right now, and it is time for Congress to wake up. We must sound the alarm and act now to reduce carbon pollution for the sake of our health, our economy and the well-being of our children and grandchildren."
For more information see:

3. Evangelical Christian Leaders in Florida Press for Climate Action
On May 20, evangelical leaders held a discussion at a church in Longwood, Florida on why Christians should care about climate change and climate impacts in Florida. The panelists included Reverend Mitch Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network; Kevin Sherin, director of Florida Department of Health in Orange County; and Scott Hagen, professor at the University of Central Florida. Evangelical leaders in Florida have begun pushing Governor Rick Scott (R) to take action on climate issues, while also criticizing Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) for his comments doubting the connection between human activities and climate change. Rev. Hescox is gathering signatures for a petition calling on Gov. Scott to reduce carbon pollution and confront climate change impacts. Hescox writes that, “as Christians, we believe that God's grace empowers us to honestly confront the challenges we face and change for the better,” it reads. “We are failing to keep our air and water clean for our children, contributing to a changing climate that most hurts the world’s poor, and putting Floridians at risk as temperatures and sea levels continue to rise. To meet these challenges, we need leaders who understand our duty to God’s creation and future generations.”
For more information see:

4. Greenland Ice Sheet Vulnerable to Melt From Above and Below
On May 18, Nature Geoscience published a study revealing that underwater glacier canyons in Greenland are both deeper and extend further inland than previously thought, putting the glaciers in greater contact with warming oceans and exacerbating melting. The study was followed by a May 19 report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which found that forest fire-produced black carbon (commonly referred to as soot) is driving increased melting on the ice’s surface, as soot darkens the ice and captures more heat from sunlight. These two findings suggest the ice sheet is more vulnerable to accelerating melting from both above and below ground than previous assessments have suggested. As a result, the Greenland ice sheet is likely to contribute more to sea-level rise in the coming century than previously expected. Romina Picolotti, former Secretary of the Environment for Argentina and President of the Centre for Human Rights and Environment, stated, “Reducing black carbon soot and other short-lived climate pollutants can cut the rate of global warming by half and Arctic warming by two-thirds, and is critical for slowing the loss of Greenland ice and the resulting sea level rise.”
For more information see:

5. Climate Change Is Impacting National Landmarks, New Report Says
On May 20, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a report which describes the risks that climate change poses to historic landmarks and sites across the United States. The report details 30 at-risk sites, including Ellis Island, Cape Canaveral, the Everglades and historic Annapolis. Climate change impacts, including rising sea levels, increased wildfires, extended droughts, greater flooding and altered rainfall patterns, are putting these important cultural and historical sites in danger. Daniel Odess, head scientist for cultural resources at the National Park Service, said, “[Climate change] is very much something we’re thinking about. We have a lot of assets in harm’s way.” One site at risk is the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Dochester County, Maryland. The monument is the birthplace of Harriet Tubman and the location in which she helped at least 70 slaves – although some estimate as many as 300 – escape to freedom. The Tubman monument is threatened by the confluence of land subsidence and rising sea levels, a combination that is expected to bring close to two feet of sea level rise to the area by 2050. Alan Spears, government affairs cultural resources director at the National Parks Conservation Association, commented, “[Creating the national monument] was a decades-long effort to honor Harriet Tubman. So the idea that in 40 years much of that could be underwater is a pretty reprehensible notion.”
For more information see:

Insurance Leaders Call for Urgent Actions Against Climate Risks
On May 16, 66 CEOs of the world’s leading insurance and reinsurance companies issued the “Climate Risk Statement of the Geneva Association,” expressing their concerns about the consequences of extreme climate change, and calling for urgent climate mitigation actions by policymakers and other bodies. The CEOs, whose companies have assets totaling nearly $15 trillion, said they were willing to support the development of low carbon energy projects through specially designed insurance products. They also stated their commitment to research climate risks, as well as to implement sustainable practices, such as energy efficiency building codes. The statement was finalized during the annual meeting of the Geneva Association in Toronto, Canada. Al Gore, former Vice-President of the United States, spoke during the Geneva Association’s meeting, commenting, “The insurance industry has long ago taken the initiative on climate risk, and with this statement commits to do even more. . .our world is facing the gravest risks it has ever faced, [and] should turn to insurers for advice.”
For more information see:

Governor Brown of California Says Climate Change Is “Devastating” State
On May 19, Governor Jerry Brown commented about climate change’s devastating effects on California while addressing scientists at a conference about the drought’s impacts on the state’s agricultural sector. “We have to adapt because the climate is changing,” said Governor Brown. “Now there’s no doubt that the evidence has been strong for quite a while, and it is getting even stronger.” Brown has focused on the impacts of climate change throughout his tenure, traveling to China to promote greenhouse gas emissions reductions, pushing to continue California’s cap-and-trade program, and criticizing Congress for failing to coordinate federal measures to combat climate change. Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who recently signed an executive order to create a cap-and-trade program and updated his state’s emissions limits, said, “This is not a hypothetical thing for governors on the West Coast — this is fire alarms and floods. It’s not a next-century issue. This is a next half-hour issue.” Eight states have passed legislation aimed at reducing carbon emissions and ten states, including California, have adopted cap-and-trade policies. “We have to get other states and other nations on a similar path forward,” Governor Brown said, “and that is enormously difficult because it requires different political jurisdictions, different political values, to unite around this one challenge of making a sustainable future.”
For additional information see:

EPA Adds Four New Climate Change Indicators to Report
On May 28, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the third addition of the Climate Change Indicators report, naming four new indicators of climate change: Lyme disease, warmer and cooler days, wildfires, water level and temperature of the Great Lakes. The report also contains new features which connect data to local communities and areas of interest, such as the dates of the cherry blossom bloom in Washington, DC, or loss of land along the mid-Atlantic coast. In the report, EPA said the climate indicators are "observed long-term trends related to the causes and effects of climate change." They were selected based on data from government agencies, academic institutions and other organizations. With the addition of these four, the report now contains 30 indicators that show how climate change is impacting the environment in the United States. Janet McCabe, acting administrator for the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, stated in a press release, "These indicators make it clear that climate change is a serious problem and is happening now here in the United States and around the world."
For more information see: 

NRDC Releases Report on New EPA Regulation of Existing Power Plants
On May 29, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a report which stated that soon-to-be released Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions regulations for existing power plants will save American businesses and households $37.4 billion in electric bills in 2020. NRDC also predicted the regulation would create more than 274,000 jobs, and support energy efficiency investments. The regulations are also expected to offer more than $50 billion in health benefits and environmental benefits. “Most Americans support curbing dangerous carbon pollution from power plants because it’s the right thing to do,” commented Daniel Lashof, the COO at NextGen Climate America and a senior fellow at NRDC. “Cleaning up dirty power plants can be a bonanza for public health and a boon for energy efficiency jobs – and save Americans [money] on their utility bills.” NRDC’s study was conducted by ICF International, a firm which studies electricity markets under industry and government contracts. ICF International based their estimates on a December 2012 NRDC proposal, updated this past March, which is thought to have strongly influenced the EPA’s rulemaking. 
For more information see:

Industry Protests EPA Ozone Proposal
On May 27, the American Petroleum Institute (API) issued a letter asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to include the option of preserving current national ozone standards in the new proposed National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) ozone standards, open for public comment this fall. Both API’s letter, and another released by a group of industry bodies, argue that the standards will cost up to $90 billion annually by 2020, that 94 percent of the United States will not be able to comply with the strictest standards option, and the changes will provide minimal gains. The proposal aims to lower acceptable ozone levels from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to between 60-70 ppb, which the EPA estimates would result in reduced child exposure, lower hospitalizations and mortality rates, and reduced risk to lower lung function. Ozone levels are expected to increase under climate change conditions, as heat speeds up ozone formation, decreasing air quality and agricultural capacity, and contributing to further warming. Ozone in the troposphere is an air pollutant which contributes to global warming, and is formed by air- and climate-pollutants such as vehicle emissions and methane. The EPA plans to release its final ruling on December 1, 2014. “The EPA’s decision to improve ozone standards is another significant step forward in the global effort to rid the world of damaging climate pollutants and to help develop environmentally superior technology,” said Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “Cutting tropospheric ozone and other short-lived climate pollutants, including methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and black carbon, is the fastest way to save millions of lives a year and cut the rate of global warming by half in the mid-term and beyond.”
For more information see:

Catholic Bishops Ask United States to Take Action on Climate Change
On May 29, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sent a letter supporting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants to mitigate climate change. In the letter, Archbishop of Miami Thomas Wenski, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the USCCB, recognized the importance of reducing carbon pollution, saying, “these standards should protect the health and welfare of all people, especially children, the elderly, as well as poor and vulnerable communities, from harmful pollution emitted from power plants and from the impacts of climate change.” The letter also asks the EPA to take six principles from the teaching of Pope Francis into consideration when working to reduce carbon emissions, including “prudence on behalf of the common good” and “social and economic justice.” Archbishop Wenski added, “The USCCB stands ready to work with you, the Administration, and members of Congress to ensure that measures necessary to address climate change both care for creation and protect ‘the least of these.’”
For additional information see:

EPA Proposes Carbon Regulations for Existing Power Plants
On June 2, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposal for regulations on carbon pollution from existing power plants. This is the first time the federal government has proposed a regulation to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants, which account for 38.7 percent of domestic carbon emissions. The regulation, called the Clean Power Plan, offers individualized goals for each state to reduce emissions from its power plants by 2030. Rather than total emissions, the goal sets an emissions rate (pounds of CO2 per net megawatt hour (MWh)). The goals – different for each state – are based on the EPA’s analysis of opportunities within the state to reduce emissions, the carbon policies the state is already using, and on the unique structure of each state’s energy system (its utilities, power plants, electricity demand, etc.). The proposal lets states decide how to reduce their own emissions, without prescribing any policy or requiring particular power plant closures. The EPA estimates the rule offers public health and climate benefits valued at $55 billion to $93 billion annually by 2030, while costing $7.3 billion to $8.8 billion. According to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, “If other nations don’t act, our economy could wind up at a cost disadvantage, shifting jobs and emissions overseas. Still, President Obama is right to lead on this issue, since other nations won’t act if the United States does not. Acting first can confer long-term advantages -- if we do it right.” After the final rule is issued in 2015, states will have until June 30, 2016, to produce their state implementation plans (SIPs), mapping out how they plan to comply with the regulation. States do have an option for a one-year extension, and states which want to engage in multi-state plans can ask for a two-year extension.
For more information see:

Washington Post/ABC News Poll Finds Large Majority of Americans Support Carbon Regulations on Power Plants
On June 2, a Washington Post­-ABC News poll reported that a bipartisan majority of Americans support federal limitation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from power plants. Of those polled, 70 percent say the federal government should limit the release of GHG emissions from existing power plants. Republicans, Independents, and Democrats are in rare agreement – with 57, 76, and 79 percent, respectively, supporting regulation. Even in states where coal is the major source of electricity production, 69 percent support government limits on emissions. Respondents also reported a willingness to pay for increased energy expenses. When asked whether the government should still go forward with regulations if they “significantly lowered greenhouse gases but raised your monthly energy expenses by 20 dollars a month,” 63 percent of respondents said yes.
For more information see:

EIA Data Shows Variance of Energy Carbon Emissions Trends Across States and Regions
On June 3, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) published an analysis on the trends of energy-related domestic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from 2005-2011. The study shows CO2 emissions are decreasing in the United States in general, although regional emissions are decreasing at different paces. In general, the Northeast is experiencing larger emissions reductions than other regions (Midwest, West and South). The Northeast is increasingly urban, which makes energy use more efficient, and is home to more electricity from natural gas, nuclear, and renewable energy than other regions of the country. In contrast, the Midwest, West and South have more diverse state-level energy characteristics (such as more high-carbon energy generation and low-efficiency energy use), which have made their emissions reductions relatively slower. The EIA analysis found that Nevada had the biggest emissions drop of any state over the six-year period (33 percent), while Nebraska saw the largest increase (20 percent).
For more information:

IEA Says Current Trends of Low- and Zero-Carbon Energy Use Will Not Avert Dangerous Global Warming
On June 3, the International Energy Administration (IEA) released the 2014 World Energy Investment Outlook special report, which examined investments in energy. According to the report, approximately $1.6 trillion is invested in the global energy supply every year, but that amount needs to rise to $2 trillion in order to limit temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius. By 2035, the cumulative required investment in energy supply and efficiency would be $48 to $53 trillion. In order to meet this goal, investments in energy efficiency must rise from $130 billion annually to more than $550 billion annually across the globe by 2035. While companies and governments are still heavily invested in fossil fuels, Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA, noted that the recent plan to cut carbon emissions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was “very encouraging.” According to Maria van der Hoeven, chief executive of the IEA, “the reliability and sustainability of our future energy systems depend on investment, but this won’t materialize unless there are credible policy frameworks in place as well as stable access to long-term sources of finance. Neither of these conditions should be taken for granted. There is a real risk of shortfalls, as well as the risk that investments are misdirected because environmental impacts are not properly reflected in prices.”

For more information see:

Intersessional United Nations Climate Talks Meet in Bonn, Germany
United Nation (UN) leaders convened in Bonn, Germany from June 4-15 to discuss worldwide climate change action for the second time in 2014. It is one of many meetings being held by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ahead of the new worldwide climate change agreement that will be signed next year in Paris. The talks have focused on setting wide-reaching carbon emissions standards that will look to mitigate carbon dioxide emission and rising sea levels. The newly released U.S. carbon standards for existing power plants have placed more pressure on other major CO2 producers to take steps in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.  The conference has also focused on the devastating effects that rising sea level is beginning to have on low lying island nations, which are often very small contributors to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), but are facing some of the most severe effects of climate change.  "I urge everyone to think about the plight of small island developing states and to take inspiration from their efforts to address climate change, strengthen resilience and work for a sustainable future," said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. "Raise your voice, not the sea level. Planet Earth is our shared island. Let us join forces to protect it."
For more information see:

NOTE: It’s not just low lying island nations that are in danger because of sea level rise.  The five U.S. states with the lowest average elevations (in feet) are: Delaware (60), Florida (100), Louisiana (100), Rhode Island (200), and New Jersey (250).  D.C., which is not a state but contains the nation’s capitol, is 150.  At:

RGGI Auction Sells Out of CO2 Allowances
On June 6, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) announced that more than 18 million carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances were sold at the 24th RGGI auction at a clearing price of $5.02. Nine Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States participated in the auction, which generated $90.67 million for reinvestment in a variety of consumer-benefit initiatives in these states. Kelly Speaks-Backman, commissioner of the Maryland Public Service Commission and chair of the RGGI Board of directors said, “The release of EPA’s proposed carbon pollution rules has prompted many states to evaluate how they can cost-effectively reduce power-sector carbon pollution in as simple and transparent a manner as possible. With the RGGI states on pace to reduce our 2020 power-sector carbon emissions to levels about half that of 2005, the RGGI program has demonstrated a proven market-based model to do so.”
For more information see:

New York Seminary Is World’s First Seminary to Divest from Fossil Fuels for Climate Change
On June 11, Union Seminary in New York City became the first seminary in the United States to divest from fossil fuels. In an op-ed in Time Magazine, Serene Jones, the seminary’s president, announced the unanimous decision reached by Union’s Board of Trustees to divest their $108.4 million endowment. Jones cited a moral obligation to work towards finding a solution to climate change and protecting the Earth’s resources as a reason why the Seminary is choosing to move away from investing in fossil fuels. “We are actively committed to finding new ways to participate in healing our wounded creation,” said Jones in her statement to Time. “We believe that the divestment of our endowment from fossil fuel companies is one small step in this direction.” A study of the effects of the seminary’s divestment found that if the fund had gone fossil-free two decades ago, it would have experienced a loss on return of only six tenths of one percent. Union hopes that its actions spur other seminaries and universities to take similar actions in the fight against climate change. “Union is the cradle of progressive Protestantism in the US, so I expect this decision will have a major impact,” said Bill McKibben, the founder of “I predict this will be the first of many seminaries that heed the call to stand up for God’s creation.”
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New Study Discusses Different Methods to Stop Climate Change
On June 1, a study evaluating methods to combat climate change was published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology in the Environment. The  study found that overall, the best strategy to fight climate change is by reducing carbon emissions through energy efficiency, conservation usage and the adoption of renewable energy sources. The study examined five different approaches to reduce climate change: emissions reductions, carbon sequestration on land and in oceans using biological processes, carbon dioxide underground storage, and increasing cloud cover and solar reflection. Study authors evaluated each method based on its cost-effectiveness, feasibility, risk, governability and ethical considerations, and public acceptance. The study results show that although iron fertilization of the oceans and solar radiation management are cost-effective, they received the lowest ratings on most criteria. Daniela Cusack, the study's lead author and an assistant professor of geography in UCLA's College of Letters and Science, said, “We found that climate engineering doesn’t offer a perfect option. The perfect option is reducing emissions.” The study also stated that the strategies such as biochar production and geological carbon capture and storage deserve further research and development.
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Chad A. Tolman
New Castle County Congregations of Delaware Interfaith Power and Light

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