Friday, February 20, 2015



An item posted by Dan Krotz at the Berkeley National Laboratory News Center 0n Nov. 3 recently came to my attention.  Titled, Berkeley Lab Scientists ID New Driver Behind Arctic Warming, the article reports that Berkeley scientists have found a new mechanism that helps explain why the Arctic is warming about twice as fast as the global average.  Far infrared radiation is a part of the infrared (IR) section electromagnetic spectrum that we can’t see with our eyes, but it accounts for about half of the IR radiation leaving earth and going into space.  It is the balance between incoming solar radiation absorbed - mostly in the visible part of the spectrum - and the outgoing radiation - mostly in the longer wavelength IR - that determines whether the earth is gaining energy and warming or losing energy and cooling.  The scientists have found that ice is much more effective in emitting far IR radiation than is open ocean.  As sea ice melts, the Arctic  becomes more efficient in absorbing solar radiation during the summer when it illuminated and less efficient at emitting far IR during the dark winter, when it is in earth’s shadow.
NOTE: This is an example of positive feedback; the farther the ice loss goes, the faster it goes.

On Jan. 21 Eric Holthaus posted an article in Slate titled, Senate Votes 98-1 That Climate Change Is Real but Splits on That Pesky Cause.  That vote came on the nonbinding amendment, “climate change is real and not a hoax.”  The only holdout was Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi; Even Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma voted for the amendment, citing the Bible for support.  A second nonbiding amendmnt said in part, “human activity significantly contributes to climate change.”   On that one the Senate split 50-49 - not enough to pass because 60 Yes votes were required.

The Jan. 17-24 issue of The Economist has a special 10-page Energy and Technology report titled, Let there be Light.  The report also has an 11.7-minute audio recording of the report author, David Lucas, that is well worth listening to.

The Guardian for Jan. 30 has an article by Suzanne Golderberg and Stephanie Kirchgaessner titled, Washington's memo to the Vatican: the pope and Obama are in sync on climate change.  The article reported that Gina McCarthy, the head of the EPA, recently visited the Vatican with a message to Pope Francis that the president shares his view that fighting climate change is a moral obligation.  McCarthy said, “I think the most important thing that we can do, working with the pope, is to try to remind ourselves that this is really about protecting natural resources that human beings rely on, and that those folks that are most vulnerable – that the church has always been focused on, those in poverty and low income – are the first that are going to be hit and impacted by a changing climate,”

The Harvard Business Review for Jan. 30 has an interesting article by Andrew Winston titled, Why the Keystone Pipeline Is the Wrong U.S. Energy Debate.  He writes, Putting aside the divisive politics, let’s consider the pipeline on its merits, as an investment choice for the United States. In the short run, with oil at $50 per barrel, Keystone will connect refineries to oil that may be unprofitable to extract. In the long run, as the world turns away from fossil fuels aggressively, the pipeline will be moot — a relic of the past.”  He points out that unconventional sources of oil like Alberta tar sands require a lot of water and energy to produce and face the growing challenge of the damage of climate change and the falling prices for renewable energy.  He ends with, “ ..why would we invest in yesterday’s energy technologies when we have smarter options? Our investment choices should make our country more resilient, healthy, and prosperous. By that logic, the pipeline is a bad investment choice. That’s just simple arithmetic and economics. Given the challenging future facing unconventional, expensive fossil fuels, the Keystone XL is literally a pipeline to nowhere.”

The Feb.1 NY Times had an article by Burt Helm titled, Climate Change’s Bottom Line.  In it he describes the work of a group calling itself The Risky Business Project, led by billionaire Tom Steyer, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg; its 10 members include a former Senator, five former White House Cabinet members, two former mayors and two billionaires.  It’s first commissioned report, Risky Business - The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States - was published last June.  The Executive Summary of the 56-page report quotes Co-Chair Michael Bloomberg saying, Damages from storms, flooding, and heat waves are already costing local economies billions of dollars—we saw that firsthand in New York City with Hurricane Sandy. With the oceans rising and the climate changing, the Risky Business report details the cost of inaction in ways that are easy to understand in dollars and cents—and impossible to ignore.”  The Summary goes on to say, “Our findings show that, if we continue on our current path, many regions of the U.S. face the prospect of serious economic effects from climate change. However, if we choose a different path—if we act aggressively to both adapt to the changing climate and to mitigate future impacts by reducing carbon emissions—we can significantly reduce our exposure to the worst economic risks from climate change, and also demonstrate global leadership on climate.”

On Jan. 23, the Risky Business Project released its second report, Heat in the Heartland, focused on the economic effects of climate change on the Midwest. The next report will be on California.
NOTE: This involvement of recognized business and political leaders in assessing the economic risks posed by climate change in the U.S. and getting the word out to a broad audience is a very important - even critical - development.  As a scientist and person of faith, I say, “Thank God.”

Katherine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, has a 1.5-minute elevator pitch on climate change.  At:

The February issue of Scientific American has a thought provoking article by Michael E. Webber, the Deputy Director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, titled, Our Future Rises on Our Ability to Integrate Energy + Water + Food: A Puzzle for the Planet.  He writes, “Energy, water and food are the world’s three most critical resources.  Although this fact is widely acknowledged in policy circles, the interdependence of these resources on one another is significantly underappreciated.  Strains on any one can cripple the others.  This situation  has made our society more fragile than we imagine, and we are not prepared for the potential disaster that is waiting for us.”  He cites the example of California, where reduced snowpack, record drought and ongoing development have reduced the availabllity of Central Valley river water by a third.  The shortage of surface water led farmers in 2014 to double pumping for irrigation water over what it was the year before.  More water pumped from greater depths requires more electricity, but Southern California Edison had to shut down two large nuclear reactors for lack of adequate cooling water.  Large amounts of water are needed for food production (about 80% of the water we use), and California produces half of U.S. nuts, fruits and vegetables and nearly a quarter of its milk. Webber emphasizes the interdependence of energy, water and food, pointing out that though they are often addressed separately, they need to be addressed together.  By doing so we can make society sustainable; failing to do so is asking for big trouble.  Copies are available for purchase or subscription at:

The February issue of National Geographic has an article written by by Laura Parker with photographs by George Steinmetz tilted, Treading Water on the impacts especially economic - of climate change on Florida - including sea level rise and stronger coastal storms.  She writes, 
The most profound disruption will occur along the state’s 1,350 miles of coastline. Three-quarters of Florida’s 18 million people live in coastal counties, which generate four-fifths of the economy. Coastal development, including buildings, roads, and bridges, was valued in 2010 at two trillion dollars. Already more than half the state’s 825 miles of sandy beaches are eroding.”
“The oceans could rise two feet by 2060, according to the National Climate Assessment, as their waters warm and expand and as the Greenland and polar ice sheets melt. By 2100 seas could rise as much as 6.6 feet. That would put much of Miami-Dade underwater. For every foot the seas rise, the shoreline would move inland 500 to 2,000 feet.
A two-foot rise would be enough to strand the Miami-Dade County sewage-treatment plant on Virginia Key and the nuclear power plant at Turkey Point, both on Biscayne Bay.”  
Pages 126 and 127 show a map of the world with the top 10 coastal urban areas in terms of the cost of climate change in 2050; Miami heads the list.  The accompanying text says, “Higher seas mean greater financial exposure for coastal cities, where populations are growing and the value of buildings and infrastructure is increasing.  More frequent flooding would likely disrupt insurance underwriting and with it the financing that drives development in cities such as Miami.  If sea level rose just 16 inches by 2050, the flood damage in port cities could cost a trillion dollars a year.”
On Feb. 9 Elizabeth Cooney in the Harvard Medical School News reported the development of a ‘bionic leaf’ that can convert 1% of the incident solar energy into a liquid fuel - isopropanol.  The work was done by Pamela Silver, a professor of biology, and Daniel Nocera, a professor of energy.  The bionic leaf has a solar PV cell that generate electricity used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, and the hydrogen is fed to bacteria that use it to reduce carbon dioxide into isopropanol (C3H8O).  The 1% efficiency is very similar to what most green plants achieve in photosynthesis - a process developed through 2.6 billion years of evolution. Silver and Nocera have a target of 5%.  At: 
NOTE: The best that has been done in splitting water into H2 and O2 with solar PV is about 10% energy efficient (solar energy to chemical energy).  The efficiency of PV cells can exceed 40%, but the current market average is 12-18%; however, the electricity must be used immediately or stored - usually in rather expensive batteries.  See Scientific American, Plants versus Photovoltaics: Which Are Better to Capture Solar Energy?  at 

On Feb. 10 ClickGreen posted an article titled, NASA finds 19,500 square miles of polar ice now melts into the oceans each year  Claire Parkinson, a climate scientist at the Goddard Space Flight center has been looking at satellite measurements from Nov. 1979 through Dec.. 2013 of the areas of Northern and Southern polar sea sea ice and found the combined loss of ice area more than doubled from 8,300 sq miles per year from the average of the first half of the 34-year period to an average of 19,500 sq miles/yr during the second half.  Antarctica has been gaining some sea ice, but the Arctic has been loosing enough to more than make up for it.  While the melting of floating ice doesn’t add to sea level (Archimedes Principle), it decreases earth’s albedo by replacing shiny white ice by deep blue sea - accelerating the rate of heat absorbtion.
NOTE: Warming in the Arctic is about twice as fast as the global average.

On Feb. 11 Stephanie McClellan, Director of the University of Delaware's Special Initiative on Offshore Wind, posted a blog on The Hill titled, Lessons for the US in Germany’s energy transitionShe wrote, “Renewables now supply fully a quarter of Germany's energy needs — a dramatic transition that is the result of deliberate, courageous choices by its leaders. The country's ambitious energy goals were ridiculed by critics, who predicted dire economic consequences.”  “Today, Germany is having the last laugh as its economy reaps substantial benefits from this thrust into renewables. Germany’s GDP has grown steadily over the period of reducing emissions, with the clean energy sector adding more than 1.5 million jobs — all the while creating cleaner skies and stabilizing users' electricity prices.”   Germany “doubled its wind energy capacity from 2011 to 2014 and is expected to install more offshore wind this year than will any other nation.”  It’s time for the U.S. to get into the game; so far we don’t have a single offshore wind turbine in the water, yet we have a vast and untapped renewable energy resource just off our Atlantic Coast from North Carolina to Maine - not far from major population centers.

Katherine Bagley of Inside Climate News posted and article on Feb. 12 titled, 
Droughts Will Hammer U.S. West as 21st Century UnfoldsShe reported on the results of a recent study by scientists from NASA, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Cornell University, who reported that American Southwest and Central Plains are likely to experience longer droughts later this century than at any time during the last 1000 years.  Paleoclimatologist Eugene Wahl of NOAA called the results ‘stunning’, and said, "It is clear that they are seeing drought, especially in the Southwest, as being greater than any time in the past.  It is also clear that it is the higher temperatures in the future that are driving it."  Bagkey wrote that last month was the driest January on record in California, and that the snowpack is at historic lows.

The Feb. 12 issue of the NY TImes had an article by Justin Gillis titled, What to Call a Doubter of Climate Change?
He wrote, If not “skeptic,” what should the opponents of climate science be called?  As a first step, it helps to understand why they so vigorously denounce the science. The opposition is coming from a certain faction of the political right. Many of these conservatives understand that since greenhouse emissions are caused by virtually every economic activity of modern society, they are likely to be reduced only by extensive government intervention in the market.  So casting doubt on the science is a way to ward off such regulation. This movement is mainly rooted in ideology, but much of the money to disseminate its writings comes from companies that profit from fossil fuels.” (emphasis added)
NOTE: A group of scientists called Fellows of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry is supporting a petition to be sent to media outlets asking that they stop using the term “climate skeptic” and change to something like “climate science denier”.  The group is  circulating a petition and are looking for 25,000 signatories.  I have signed.  You can too 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.

Senate Votes that Climate Change Is Real, Less Sure It’s Human-Caused
On January 22, the Senate voted on three amendments to the Keystone XL Pipeline bill regarding climate change. One of the amendments passed, two failed. The passing amendment (S. Amd. 29), authored by Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI), states, “It is the sense of the Senate that climate change is real and not a hoax.” This amendment passed 98-1, with Sen. Reid (D-NM) not voting for health reasons, and Sen. Wicker (R-MS) casting the only ‘no’ vote. The remaining two climate amendments failed due to contention over humanity’s contribution to climate change. Sen. Hoeven’s (R-ND) amendment (S. Amd. 87), which stated that “human activity contributes to climate change,” fell one vote shy of the 60 votes needed to pass, with all Democrats and 15 Republicans voting for it. Sen. Schatz’s (D-HI) amendment (S. Amd. 58), which said “human activity significantly contributes to climate change,” failed 50-49, with the support of five Republicans.
In related news on January 21, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) introduced a separate amendment to the Keystone XL bill (S.Amd. 79) stating the bilateral agreement on climate reached in November 2014 between President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping has “no force and effect” in the United States. This amendment, like the ones mentioned above, is nonbinding and meant to express the “Sense of the Senate.” On January 22 the amendment failed, 51-46.
For more information see:

Poll Shows Climate Change Is One of America’s Top Policy Priorities
On January 15, Pew Research Center released a poll which found that 38 percent of Americans think climate change should be a top policy priority for President Obama and Congress. An additional 51 percent said the environment should be a top priority. The importance of climate change to the American people has increased 10 percent since last year. By political party, 66 percent of Democrats and 35 percent of Republicans think protecting the environment is important, while 54 percent of Democrats and 15 percent of Republicans think addressing global warming should be a top priority.
For more information see:

Poll Finds Most Americans Support Clean Power Plan
On January 19, the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College released a poll finding that a majority of Americans support the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed regulation to lower carbon emissions from existing power plants, called the Clean Power Plan. Sixty-seven percent of voters said they supported the Clean Power Plan, and 73 percent said they supported requiring reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants as well. Seventy-nine percent of respondents said they supported alternative and renewable energy mandates, and 84 percent supported higher energy efficiency standards for new homes and appliances. However, close to 60 percent of poll respondents opposed a carbon tax. The poll was conducted over a random telephone survey of 942 American adults from October to November in 2014, with a margin of error of 3.5 percent.
For more information see:

Bloomberg Donating $48 Million to Help States Comply with Clean Power Plan
On January 21, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s charity, in partnership with the Heising-Simons family, announced a new plan to donate $48 million over the next three years to help states use clean energy to comply with a coming regulation on carbon emissions. The proposed regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will require states to submit plans outlining how they will reduce carbon emissions from operating power plants in their territories. The Bloomberg and Heising-Simons plan, called the Clean Energy Initiative, will not award grants directly to state governments. It will instead finance local and national groups to help states, by providing technical assistance such as analyzing grid optimization for clean energy and doing economic forecasting. Michael Bloomberg stated, “These grants will help states meet new federal clean power requirements in ways that save money and lives.”
For more information see:

Climate Change Influencing the Increase of Animal Mass Die-Offs
On January 12, a Yale, UC San Diego, and UC Berkley study published in Proceedings of the National Academy Sciences found the rate and magnitude of massive mortality events (MME) of animal species are increasing worldwide. The study defined an MME as a large population die-off of over 1 billion animals, the death of 90 percent of a population, or 700 million tons of dead mass. Over the last 70 years, MMEs have increased on average at a rate of one extra every year. Climate-influenced events, such as extreme weather, caused 25 percent of the die-offs. Co-author of the study and assistant professor of biology at the University of San Diego Adam Siepielski stated, “The study provides yet another example of the challenges to life that organisms are confronted with on a planet increasingly dominated by the influence of humans in the environment.”
For more information see:

United Nations Says Food Diversity Important to Prepare for Climate Change
On January 19, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released a policy paper calling for more action to be taken to protect the genetic diversity of the world’s food against climate change. According to the FAO, 16-22 percent of wild crops -- including 61 percent of peanut species, 12 percent of potato species, and 8 percent of cowpea species -- are in danger of extinction within the next 50 years. These varieties may harbor important traits farmers can capitalize on as weather and pestilence patterns alter under climate change. The paper recommended expanding seed banks, better farming and breeding practices, and researching the effects of climate change impacts on food crops. “In a warmer world with harsher, more variable weather, plants and animals raised for food will need to have the biological capacity to adapt more quickly than ever before,” according to Maria Helena Semedo, FAO’s Deputy Director-General.
For more information see:

Wyoming Repeals Ban on Teaching Climate Change in Science Class
On January 26, the Wyoming House of Representatives voted 30-21 to reverse previous legislation that blocked the State Board of Education from adopting new science standards that would educate students on climate change as a human-related trend. The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. John Patton, repeals the original ban, which had been attached as a footnote to a state budget in March of last year. The ban was passed after Rep. Matt Teeters (R) had argued teaching anthropogenic climate change would shed a negative light on Wyoming’s coal energy-based economy. Rep. Patton commented, “[Climate science is] not against the economy,” adding, “Working for knowledge . . . is progressive, that is what we are in the state of Wyoming. This state is very, very proud of its educational system. It’s not broken.”
For more information see:

NOTE: It’s a sad day in the U.S. when legislators can block the teaching of climate science because the state mines a lot of coal.  Fortunately the Wyoming House of Representatives now sees the light.

Business Leaders at World Economic Forum Urge Action on Climate
On January 24, the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland ended, after four days of debate among 2,500 world leaders in business, government, academia and civil society that included many conversations on climate change. The French government had specifically requested that climate change be high on the WEF agenda, in advance of the United Nations Conference of the Parties meeting in Paris this year where it is anticipated that countries will seal an ambitious global deal on climate. On January 23, Christine Lagare, managing director of the International Monetary Fund; Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank; and Ban Ki-Moon, secretary general of the United Nations, held a public discussion on climate change, “Tackling Climate, Development and Growth.” The panel discussed the risks associated with rising global temperatures, the potential for a price on carbon, and the need for urgent action.
For more information see:

UK Releases Tool to Calculate Impact of Different Options to Reduce Global Climate Change
On January 28, the United Kingdom Department of Energy and Climate Change released a new online tool, the Global Calculator, which allows users to test the outcomes of different policies to address climate change. The tool showcases thousands of options, which users can control by manipulating 40 “levers,” each of which represents a policy for mitigating climate change – such as using more nuclear energy, or changing people’s diets. The levers are divided into four categories: lifestyle, technology and fuels, land and food, and demographics and long term emissions trajectories. The Department concurrently released a report with key findings from the Global Calculator, concluding that it is, “physically possible to achieve both our economic development and climate change goals by 2050.”
For more information see:

Poll Shows Americans in Five Key States Support President Obama’s Climate Actions
On January 22, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a poll which found a majority of likely voters in 2016 elections in five states – Colorado, Florida, Maine, New Hampshire, and Virginia – favored the president’s Climate Action Plan. Over 75 percent of respondents in each state thought environmental regulations were just right or too lenient. Majorities in each state also supported the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, including a majority of Republican respondents. Franz Matzner, associate director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), stated, “The bottom line is Americans don’t want dirty energy; instead, they’re calling for clean energy, health safeguards, and steady resolve to protect our future from dangerous climate change.”
For more information see:

Latest Risky Business Report Finds Climate Change Threatens Midwestern Economies
On January 23, the Risky Business Project, an organization headed by Michael Bloomberg, Henry Paulson, and Tom Steyer, released a report examining climate change-related risks in the Midwest on transportation, energy, labor productivity and agriculture. The report said “dangerous levels” of heat across the Southern Midwest will happen more often, and by the end of the century wheat and corn will decline 11 to 69 percent across the Midwest.  The report found that among Midwestern states, Iowa’s economy would be the most affected by climate change, due to reduced yields of corn. Iowa’s almost $10 billion corn industry, the largest in the United States, faces an 18 to 77 percent decline in yields. The crop decline will also harm associated manufacturing, insurance, and other industries throughout the Midwest. Greg Page, a business leader on the Risky Business advisory committee, said, “If we stand still, and fail to be thoughtful in building resilience, we could see a weather scenario that would produce an outcome that’s dire.”
For more information see:

President Obama’s Budget Request Funds Climate Work
On February 2, the White House released its budget for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16), with funding for a broad range of programs to promote clean energy and increase preparedness to climate change impacts. The budget requests $7.4 billion in funding for clean energy technology, the repeal of $4 billion in annual tax subsidies for fossil fuel producers, and $4 billion in funding to create a Clean Power State Incentive Fund to help states comply with EPA’s coming regulation on carbon emissions from existing power plants. The budget also permanently extends the production tax credit (PTC), upon which the wind industry heavily relies; the investment tax credit (ITC), which primarily supports solar power; and creates a new tax credit for carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) projects. The budget includes a $500 million initial investment (of a $3 billion total commitment) to the United Nation’s Green Climate Fund.
For more information see:

NOTE: The provision for repealing the $4 billion in subsidies for fossil fuel producers is especially noteworthy.  Subsidizing fossil fuels is like shooting yourself in the foot, and is foolhardy, so say the least.

President Obama Issues Executive Order on Sea Level Rise
On January 30, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the ‘Federal Flood Risk Management Standard’ which will require buildings constructed with Federal funds to take climate change and sea level rise into account. The order states, “It is the policy of the United States to improve the resilience of communities and Federal assets against the impacts of flooding. These impacts are anticipated to increase over time due to the effects of climate change and other threats.” This order requires buildings to either add two feet of elevation to base flood elevation levels (a 100-year floodplain) or use data from “best-available, actionable . . . climate science” in building planning. Critical infrastructure such as hospitals and evacuation centers is required to build three feet above base flood elevation levels (equivalent to a 500-year floodplain).
For more information see:

U.S. Scholars Rank Climate Change as Number One Foreign Policy Concern
On February 4, Foreign Policy Magazine published a survey, produced in partnership with the Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) project at William and Mary, which surveyed prominent international relations professionals about key foreign policy issues for the United States. The survey found 40.96 percent of the International Relations professionals believe that global climate change is the number one foreign policy issue for the United States today, and 45.9 percent believe it will continue to be the most important issue over the next ten years. Global climate change beat other important issues such as armed conflict in the Middle-East, failing or failed states, and China’s growing military power, by at least a 14 percent margin.
For more information see:

New Poll Finds Majority of Americans Support Government Action on Climate Change
On January 29, The New York Times, Stanford University, and environmental research group Resources for the Future released a nation-wide poll showing that a majority of Americans, including over half of Republicans, support government action to mitigate climate change. The poll found that 66 percent of respondents and 48 percent of Republican respondents reported they are more likely to vote for a candidate running on a campaign to fight climate change. Jon A. Krosnick, an author of the survey and professor at Stanford University, said the Republican support for a candidate who wants to fight climate change was, “the most powerful finding” of the poll. Eighty-one percent of respondents said they thought climate change was happening “at least in part” due to human activities.
For more information see:

NRDC Releases State Fact Sheets on Health Impacts of Clean Power Plan
On February 4, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released fact sheets for seven states on the health risks associated with effects of climate change. The fact sheets express NRDC’s strong support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants, especially in light of their findings of many negative health impacts due to climate change. The fact sheets for Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia cover a variety of public health concerns from climate impacts such as extreme heat, worsening air quality, extreme storms and flooding, increased exposure to diseases, with disproportionate risk to young, elderly and low-income populations.
For more information see:

White House Says Climate Change Major National Security Threat
On February 6, the White House released its National Security Strategy for 2015, in which it lists climate change as a significant risk to Americans at home and abroad, along with terrorism and a nuclear Iran. The report stated, “Increased sea levels and storm surges threaten coastal regions, infrastructure, and property. In turn, the global economy suffers, compounding the growing costs of preparing and restoring infrastructure.” The report says the United States will continue to take the lead on climate domestically and abroad, and engage strategic partners on these pressing issues. Last year, the United States and China made a historic climate deal, with both committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years.
In related news on February 10, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest stated climate change is a greater threat to Americans than terrorism. “There are many more people on an annual basis who have to confront the direct impact on their lives of climate change, or on the spread of a disease, than on terrorism,” Earnest said.
For more information see:

California Legislators Introduce Suite of Climate Bills
On February 10, California Senate Democrats released a package addressing climate change. The package focuses on expanding renewable energy power generation, reducing reliance on petroleum in the transportation sector, and divesting the state’s pension funds from coal. The legislation is intended to enact clean energy and climate objectives Governor Jerry Brown outlined in his inaugural speech last month (see EESI article). Brown said he and state Senate leader Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), “share a strong commitment to dealing with climate change in an aggressive and imaginative way.”
For more information see:

New Carbon Credit Reforestation Project Launched
On February 10, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Code REDD, a California-based advocacy group, announced the launch of an online market for carbon offsets, which will fund 12 forest conservation projects in Africa, Asia, and South America. While the carbon credit market has previously focused on companies, the Stand for Trees campaign is an online market that allows anyone to purchase for $10 the prevention of one metric ton of carbon dioxide from deforestation. The campaign’s goal is to raise $1 million within the first year – a help, but far from the $20 billion in estimated annual cost to reduce deforestation by half . . . the hope is that we’re starting something that over time will generate momentum,” said Peter Natiello, USAID’s mission director in Colombia.
For more information see:

NRC Report Advises Against Large Scale Geoengineering
On February 10, a National Research Council committee released two reports recommending holding off on two geoengineering strategies to offset global warming from greenhouse gases (GHG): albedo modifications to help cool the earth and carbon dioxide removal and sequestration techniques. The scientists found that albedo modification (reflecting the earth’s sunlight), which offers the chance to rapidly offset warming, is far too risky economically and environmentally to use. They also found that carbon removal and storage, which has less environmental risks, is not yet economical. Report authors said, “There is no substitute for dramatic reductions in the emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases to mitigate the negative consequences of climate change.”
For more information see:

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Chad A. Tolman
New Castle County Congregations of Delaware Interfaith Power and Light

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