2014-02-06. New U.S. 'Climate Hubs' to Provide Data to Farmers. Excerpt: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants to provide more useful data on climate to farmers, ranchers, and others affected by climate change. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced yesterday that he is designating seven so-called Climate Hubs at federal agriculture laboratories across the country that will seek to create more useful climate data and disseminate it more broadly. USDA already dedicates about $120 million to climate research, Vilsack told reporters at a press briefing. The new effort “will add on top of that,” he said. ...The nation must “be able to adapt and mitigate, because if we don’t, our economy is going to be impacted," Vilsack said at the White House yesterday. ...hubs could help visualize data in ways that make it more useful to the public ...Researchers have long had access to such data, but it hasn’t “been put into this kind of picture that people could readily understand,” says Sutherland, who works at OSU's Mesonet, which creates forecasts and other “data products” using weather stations and federal climatological data. (The precipitation and temperature data are updated yearly here).... http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2014/02/new-u.s.-climate-hubs-provide-data-farmers. Eli Kintisch, Science Magazine (AAAS).
2014-02-01. Tunisia embeds protection of climate in new constitution. Excerpt: Tunisia, the starting place for the massive protests three years ago that came to be known as the Arab Spring, did something remarkable this week: it embedded climate change into its constitution. The constitution, praised as one of the most progressive in the region, now obliges the state to “contribute to the protection of the climate … for future generations.” ...Tunisia ... has not only given its citizens the right to ask their government to deal with climate change — it has also “elevated the concept (of climate change) to one of an international law.” ...it could ...eventually allow bodies like the International Court of Justice to act on complaints that one country is causing harm to another by not abating its emissions.” ...Tunisia is the third country to include climate change in its constitution: Ecuador and Dominican Republic are the others.... http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/02/01/tunisia_embeds_protection_of_climate_in_new_constitution.html. Hassene Dridi, Associated Press (article in Toronto Star).
2014-01-28. Popular Flood Insurance Law Is Target of Both Political Parties. Excerpt: ...This week the Senate is expected to approve a measure that would block, repeal or delay many of the key provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which...sought to reform the nation’s nearly bankrupt flood insurance program, ending federal subsidies for insuring buildings in flood-prone coastal areas. Over the past decade, the cost to taxpayers of insuring those properties has soared, as payouts for damage from Hurricanes Katrina, Irene, Isaac and Sandy sent the program $24 billion into debt. The aim of the measure was to shift the financial risk of insuring flood-prone properties from taxpayers to the private market. Homeowners, rather than taxpayers, would shoulder the true cost of building in flood zones ...it would reflect the true cost of climate change, which scientists say is ushering in an era of rising sea levels and more damaging extreme weather, including more flooding. ...a year after the law passed, coastal homeowners received new flood insurance bills that were two, three, even 10 times higher than before. ...[a new bill] would delay most insurance rate increases by four years....
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/29/us/politics/popular-flood-insurance-law-is-target-of-both-political-parties.html. By Coral Davenport, The New York Times.
2014-01-21. NASA Finds 2013 Sustained Long-Term Climate Warming Trend. Excerpt: NASA scientists say 2013 tied with 2009 and 2006 for the seventh warmest year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures.... http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/january/nasa-finds-2013-sustained-long-term-climate-warming-trend/#.Uuc5cPbTl9I. NASA RELEASE 14-024. See also NOAA Global Analysis - Annual 2013 - http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2013/13
2014-01-16. U.N. Says Lag in Confronting Climate Woes Will Be Costly. Excerpt: Nations have so dragged their feet in battling climate change that the situation has grown critical and the risk of severe economic disruption is rising, according to a draft United Nations report. Another 15 years of failure to limit carbon emissions could make the problem virtually impossible to solve with current technologies, experts found... http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/17/science/earth/un-says-lag-in-confronting-climate-woes-will-be-costly.html?ref=science&_r=0 Coral Davenport, The New York Times
2013-12-05. Large Companies Prepared to Pay Price on Carbon. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — More than two dozen of the nation’s biggest corporations, including the five major oil companies, are planning their future growth on the expectation that the government will force them to pay a price for carbon pollution as a way to control global warming.... http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/05/business/energy-environment/large-companies-prepared-to-pay-price-on-carbon.html. Coral Davenport, The New York Times.
2013-11-16. Growing Clamor About Inequities of Climate Crisis. Excerpt: WARSAW — Following a devastating typhoon that killed thousands in the Philippines, a routine international climate change conference here turned into an emotional forum, with developing countries demanding compensation from the worst polluting countries for damage they say they are already suffering. Calling the climate crisis “madness,” the Philippines representative vowed to fast for the duration of the talks. Malia Talakai, a negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, a group that includes her tiny South Pacific homeland, Nauru, said that without urgent action to stem rising sea levels, “some of our members won’t be around.” ... Growing demands to address the issue have become an emotionally charged flash point at negotiations here at the 19th conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which continues this week. ...John Kioli, the chairman of the Kenya Climate Change Working Group, [said] Developed countries...have a moral obligation to shoulder the cost, considering the amount of pollution they have emitted since the Industrial Revolution. ...The United States and other rich countries have made their opposition to large-scale compensation clear.... http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/17/world/growing-clamor-about-inequities-of-climate-crisis.html Steven Lee Myers and Nicholas Kulish, The New York Times. [See also Japan Slashes CO2 Emissions Targets At UN Climate Talks, Prompting Criticism]
2013-11-12. Two years early, UC Berkeley meets its carbon-reduction target. For Excerpt: Two years ahead of schedule, a pledge made by UC Berkeley to reduce its carbon footprint to 1990 levels has been met, campus officials announced today (Tuesday, Nov. 12). The achievement also puts UC Berkeley eight years ahead of meeting the University of California Sustainable Practices Policy guidelines and of observing the state’s Global Solutions Warming Act of 2006. Both call for the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. UC Berkeley sustainability leaders said greenhouse-gas emissions were reduced by: Investing in energy efficiency and sustainable transportation practices...Buying greener power...from Pacific Gas & Electric, a utility that is required by state law to provide power that by 2020 will include 33 percent renewable energy...Improving data and methods. ...Specific projects included LED retrofits to the 1,000 exterior lamps throughout the campus and an incentive program that returns money to campus units that reduce their electricity use. UC Berkeley has completed 11 LEED-certified green building projects, which represent almost 7 percent of the campus’s total square footage. In addition, all major construction projects currently in the planning and design phase are expected to be LEED-certified.... http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2013/11/12/two-years-early-uc-berkeley-meets-its-carbon-reduction-target/. Gretchen Kell, UC Berkeley News Center.
2013-09-19. EPA moves to limit emissions of future coal- and gas-fired power plants.
The Environmental Protection Agency will move Friday to strictly limit
the amount of carbon that future coal- and gas-fired power plants can
pour into the atmosphere, the first such restrictions on greenhouse
gases imposed by the agency. ...The industry almost certainly will
challenge it in court. For the administration, the revised rule is the
first major domestic initiative since President Obama laid out his
climate action plan in June. Ahead is the EPA’s decision on limiting
emissions from existing power plants, which Administrator Gina McCarthy
said Thursday will be made in June 2014. “We’re providing at least some
certainty here that [coal plants] have an opportunity to be around in a
carbon-constrained world,” McCarthy said in an interview. “The president
wants every fuel to be able to compete in a clean environment.” ...Dan
Lashof, director of the climate and clean air program at the Natural
Resources Defense Council, said the Clean Air Act requires pollution
controls to be adequately demonstrated, but “there’s nothing in the
statute that says it’s the cheapest way to make electricity.” McCarthy
said: “Clearly the technology is available. It’s been fully
demonstrated.” The Energy Department has a $6 billion loan fund to help
finance development of clean energy technologies, she said. “We’re not
trying to deny that there is a cost associated with these, but any
first-generation technology is going to have that,” she said. ...The
standard, which would be finalized in a year, would require new coal
plants to emit no more than 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per
megawatt-hour. ...Hal Quinn, president and chief executive of the
National Mining Association, said the new standard “effectively bans
coal from America’s power portfolio, leaving new power plants equipped
with even the most efficient and environmentally advanced technologies
out in the cold.” ...But John Thompson, who directs the Fossil
Transition Project for the Clean Air Task Force, an advocacy group, said
his group has estimated that under a worst-case scenario, partly
capturing CO2 from coal plants would increase the cost of electricity by
13 percent over 30 years.... http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/epa-moves-to-limit-emissions-of-future-coal--and-gas-fired-power-plants/2013/09/19/e71728bc-2139-11e3-a358-1144dee636dd_story.html. By Lenny Bernstein and Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post.2013-09-03. NASA-Led Study Reveals Industrial Soot's Role in 1800s Glacier Retreat. Excerpt: A NASA-led team of scientists has uncovered strong evidence that soot from a rapidly industrializing Europe caused the abrupt retreat of mountain glaciers in the European Alps that began in the 1860s, a period often thought of as the end of the Little Ice Age. ...Black carbon is the strongest sunlight-absorbing atmospheric particle. When these particles settle on the snow blanketing glaciers, they darken the snow surface, speeding its melting and exposing the underlying glacier ice to sunlight and warmer spring and summer air earlier in the year. ...The Little Ice Age, loosely defined as a cooler period between the 14th and 19th centuries, was marked by an expansion of mountain glaciers and a drop in temperatures in Europe of nearly 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius). But glacier records show that between 1860 and 1930, while temperatures continued to drop, large valley glaciers in the Alps abruptly retreated by an average of nearly 0.6 mile (1 kilometer) to lengths not seen in the previous few hundred years. Glaciologists and climatologists have struggled to reconcile this apparent conflict between climate and glacier records. ...Thomas Painter, a snow and ice scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., [said] "Before now, most glaciologists believed the end of the Little Ice Age came in the mid-1800s when these glaciers retreated, and that the retreat was due to a natural climatic shift, distinct from the carbon dioxide-induced warming that came later in the 20th century. This result suggests that human influence on glaciers extends back to well before the industrial temperature increases." To help the scientists understand what was driving the glacier retreat, Painter and his colleagues turned to history. The researchers studied data from ice cores drilled from high up on several European mountain glaciers.... ...they were able to estimate how much black carbon was deposited on glacial surfaces at lower elevations, where levels of black carbon tend to be highest. The team then ran computer models of glacier behavior, ...the simulated glacier mass loss and timing finally were consistent with the historic record of glacial retreat, despite the cooling temperatures at that time. "We must now look closer at other regions on Earth, such as the Himalaya, to study the present-day impacts of black carbon on glaciers in these regions," said Georg Kaser, a study co-author from the University of Innsbruck, Austria, ..."This study uncovers likely human fingerprints on our changing environment," said co-author Waleed Abdalati, director of the Cooperative Institute for Research and Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder. "It's a reminder that the actions we take have far-reaching impacts on the environment in which we live.".... http://www.nasa.gov/press/2013/september/nasa-led-study-reveals-industrial-soots-role-in-1800s-glacier-retreat/. Alan Buis, NASA Release 13-273.
2013-07-16. Australian Leader Scraps Tax on Carbon Emissions. Excerpt: SYDNEY, Australia — Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia announced a plan Tuesday to replace a deeply unpopular tax on carbon emissions with a market-based trading system a full year ahead of schedule. ... Under the current system, Australia’s worst polluters pay a high fixed price on their carbon emissions. Since it went into effect last year ...the tax has proved wildly unpopular with big business and voters, due in part to a relentlessly negative campaign by the opposition. The current system was supposed to remain in place until 2015, then be replaced by a system in which market mechanisms would determine the cost of producing a ton of carbon. The move to bring forward the market-based system a full year earlier is expected to quickly produce a sharp drop in the cost of carbon, from a predicted $23.30 per metric ton in July 2014 to around $5.50 per ton in American dollars.... http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/17/world/asia/australian-leader-scraps-tax-on-carbon-emissions.html. Matt Siegel, New York Times.
2013-07-10. US and China to extend co-operation in effort to curb climate change. Excerpt: New initiatives announced in Washington by both countries – who jointly account for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. ...The new initiatives announced in Washington on Wednesday would see China and the US extend their climate co-operation to five new areas – beginning with heavy trucks, which are a significant cause of greenhouse gas emissions in both countries. ...That spirit of co-operation represents a drastic change from the calamitous Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, when diplomatic snubs and general distrust between the two countries wrecked any prospect for a deal. ...The countries also agreed to work together to develop carbon capture technologies, increase energy efficiency in buildings, promote smarter grids and improve reporting of greenhouse gas emissions.... http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jul/10/america-china-cooperation-reduce-climate-change. Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian.
2013-06-11. New York City Climate Change Adaptation Plan Way of Future. Excerpt: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today will share the city’s plan for adapting to climate change.... [It's posted at
http://www.nyc.gov/html/sirr/html/report/report.shtml; & Presentation (PDF)] Without support from Congress, cities are forced to take steps on their own to protect themselves from the impacts of climate change. ...New York City ... carefully mapped the city’s flooding risk using the latest science on sea level rise projections and exposure to storm surge. ...solutions are neither cheap nor easy. Protecting residents, their homes, and critical infrastructure, like energy, stormwater, and mass transit systems, requires good long-term planning, in addition to emergency preparedness. .... http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/nyc-adaptation-0388.html. Rachel Cleetus, Union of Concerned Scientists.
2013-06-10. Is a Sleeping Climate Giant Stirring in the Arctic? Excerpt: Permafrost zones occupy nearly a quarter of the exposed land area of the Northern Hemisphere. NASA's Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment [CARVE] is probing deep into the frozen lands above the Arctic Circle in Alaska to measure emissions of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane from thawing permafrost - signals that may hold a key to Earth's climate future. ..."Permafrost soils are warming even faster than Arctic air temperatures - as much as 2.7 to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius) in just the past 30 years," Charles Miller said. "As heat from Earth's surface penetrates into permafrost, it threatens to mobilize these organic carbon reservoirs and release them into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane, upsetting the Arctic's carbon balance and greatly exacerbating global warming." ... The CARVE science team is busy analyzing data from its first full year of science flights. What they're finding, Miller said, is both amazing and potentially troubling. ...We saw large, regional-scale episodic bursts of higher-than-normal carbon dioxide and methane in interior Alaska and across the North Slope during the spring thaw, and they lasted until after the fall refreeze...." Ultimately, the scientists hope their observations will indicate whether an irreversible permafrost tipping point may be near at hand. While scientists don't yet believe the Arctic has reached that tipping point, no one knows for sure.... http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-197. NASA/JPL release 2013-197.
2013-06-06. NASA Flights Target How Pollution, Storms and Climate Mix. Excerpt: ...NASA aircraft will take to the skies over the southern United States this summer to investigate how air pollution and natural emissions, which are pushed high into the atmosphere by large storms, affect atmospheric composition and climate. ...More than 250 scientists, engineers, and flight personnel are participating in the Studies of Emissions, Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys (SEAC4RS) campaign. ....Aircraft and sensors will probe the atmosphere from top to bottom at the critical time of year when weather systems are strong enough and regional air pollution and natural emissions are prolific enough to pump gases and particles high into the atmosphere. The result is potentially global consequences for Earth's atmosphere and climate. "In summertime across the United States, emissions from large seasonal fires, metropolitan areas, and vegetation are moved upward by thunderstorms and the North American Monsoon," Toon said. "When these chemicals get into the stratosphere they can affect the whole Earth. They also may influence how thunderstorms behave. With SEAC4RS we hope to better understand how all these things interact." SEAC4RS will provide new insights into the effects of the gases and tiny aerosol particles in the atmosphere. The mission is targeting two major regional sources of summertime emissions: intense smoke from forest fires in the U.S. West and natural emissions of isoprene, a carbon compound, from forests in the Southeast. Forest fire smoke can change the properties of clouds. The particles in the smoke can reflect and absorb incoming solar energy, potentially producing a net cooling at the ground and a warming of the atmosphere. The addition of large amounts of chemicals, such as isoprene, can alter the chemical balance of the atmosphere. Some of these chemicals can damage Earth's protective ozone layer. For more information on the mission, visit: http://espo.nasa.gov/missions/seac4rs ....http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2013/jun/HQ_13-167_SEAC4RS_Campaign.html. NASA Release 13-167.
2013 March. White House Council on Environmental Quality Releases 35 Federal Agency Climate Adaptation Plans for Public Review. Center for Climate Strategies (CCS), www.climatestrategies.us. Excerpt: Executive Order 13514 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/2009fedleader_eo_rel.pdf), signed by President Obama on October 5th, 2009, mandates Federal agencies to develop Sustainability Plans that provide an overview of how agencies are saving taxpayer dollars, reducing carbon emissions, cutting waste, and saving energy. On February 7th, 2013, 35 federal agencies released their third annual Sustainability Plans, which for the first time included Climate Change Adaptation Plans to help federal agencies reach sustainability and climate change resilience goals. These adaptation plans (within the broader sustainability plans) are now available for public review and comment by the week of April 9, 2013. ...links to each of the Agency Plans... at http://www.climatestrategies.us/agencyplans. ...review examples of adaptation-planning activities by States and Localities on the CCS website ... (use the search engine for “adaptation”), and at the Georgetown Federal State Climate Resource Center at http://www.georgetownclimate.org/adaptation. You can learn more about sustainability and climate change impacts and resilience planning in the United States at http://sustainability.performance.gov.
2013-02-27. South Africa to tax carbon emissions from 2015. | Science, AlsertNet. Excerpt: CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa, the continent's top greenhouse gas producer, plans to tax carbon emissions from January 2015, but will introduce some exemptions to protect industry and jobs, South Africa’s finance minister said on Wednesday. The tax, set at 120 rand ($14) per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent, has been criticised by carbon-intensive companies such as petrochemicals giant Sasol and ArcelorMittal South Africa who argue the state’s attempt to curb emissions blamed for global warming would hit profits. ...The Treasury proposed a 60 percent tax-free threshold until 2020 on annual emissions for all sectors, including electricity, petroleum, iron, steel and aluminium. ...South Africa wants to cut CO2 emissions by a third over the next decade but has little flexibility to make fast changes with major employers among the top polluters. Its cash-strapped power sector almost fully reliant on coal. The carbon tax, to be phased in over time, is one of several green initiatives aimed at reducing the carbon footprint in the continent's largest economy, including a biofuels production incentive and higher vehicle emissions taxes.... See South Africa Parliament News Release. See full article at http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/south-africa-to-tax-carbon-emissions-from-2015/.
2013 February 03. Rise in Oil Tax Forces Greeks to Face Cold as Ancients Did. By Suzanne Daley, New York Times. Excerpt: ...In the fall, the Greek government raised the taxes on heating oil by 450 percent. Overnight, the price of heating a small apartment for the winter shot up to about $1,900 from $1,300. ...In raising the taxes, government officials hoped not just to increase revenue but also to equalize taxes on heating oil and diesel, to cut down on the illegal practice of selling cheaper heating oil as diesel fuel. ... Many Greeks, like Ms. Pantelemidou, are simply not buying any heating oil this year. Sales in the last quarter of 2012 plunged 70 percent from a year earlier, according to official figures. So while the government has collected more than $63 million in new tax revenue, it appears to have lost far more — about $190 million, according to an association of Greek oil suppliers — in revenue from sales taxes on the oil. Meanwhile, many Greeks are suffering from the cold. In one recent survey by Epaminondas Panas, who leads the statistics department at the Athens University of Economics and Business, nearly 80 percent of respondents in northern Greece said they could not afford to heat their homes properly. The return to wood burning is also taking a toll on the environment. Illegal logging in national parks is on the rise, and there are reports of late-night thefts of trees and limbs from city parks in Athens, including the disappearance of the olive tree planted where Plato is said to have gone to study in the shade. At the same time, the smoke from the burning of wood — and often just about anything else that will catch fire — has caused spikes in air pollution that worry health officials. On some nights, the smog is clearly visible above Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, and in Athens, where particulate matter has been measured at three times the normal levels. ...Elias Bekkas, who provides oil to 65 buildings around the city, said that many of his clients had not ordered any oil, and that some who had could not pay the bill. Last winter, he said, his company sold a little more than a million gallons. This season, it has sold only about 65,000 gallons, and he doubted the total would get to 225,000....
2013 January 14. Federal Advisory Committee Draft Climate Assessment Report Released for Public Review | National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC). Excerpt: Draft Climate Assessment Report includes: Executive Summary; chapters on various Sectors (Water Resources; Energy Supply and Use; Transportation; Agriculture; Forestry; Ecosystems, Biodiversity, and Ecosystem Services; Human Health; Water, Energy, and Land Use; Urban Systems, Infrastructure, and Vulnerability; Impacts of Climate Change on Tribal, Indigenous, and Native Lands and Resources; Land Use and Land Cover Change; Rural Communities; Interactions of Climate Change and Biogeochemical Cycles). There are also chapters on specific Regions (Northeast, Southeast and Caribbean, Midwest, Great Plains, Southwest, Northwest, Alaska and the Arctic, Hawaii and the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands, Oceans and Marine Resources, Coastal Zone Development and Ecosystems. Also chapters on Decision Support, Mitigation, Adaptation and Research. Read the full article: http://ncadac.globalchange.gov/
2013 January 09. NASA Chases Climate Change Clues Into The Stratosphere. NASA Release 13-013. Excerpt: Starting this month, NASA will send a remotely piloted research aircraft as high as 65,000 feet over the tropical Pacific Ocean to probe unexplored regions of the upper atmosphere for answers to how a warming climate is changing Earth. … flights of the Airborne Tropical Tropopause Experiment (ATTREX; http://espo.nasa.gov/missions/attrex) …will study moisture and chemical composition in the upper regions of the troposphere, …tropopause layer between the troposphere and stratosphere, 8 miles to 11 miles above Earth's surface, … where water vapor, ozone and other gases enter the stratosphere. …Water vapor and ozone in the stratosphere can have a large impact on Earth's climate. … even small changes in stratospheric humidity may have significant climate impacts….
2012 December 27. Carbon Taxes Make Ireland Even Greener. By Elisabeth Rosenthal, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Ireland… imposed taxes on most of the fossil fuels used by homes, offices, vehicles and farms, based on each fuel’s carbon dioxide emissions, a move that immediately drove up prices for oil, natural gas and kerosene. Household trash is weighed at the curb, and residents are billed for anything that is not being recycled. The Irish now pay ...yearly registration fees that rise steeply in proportion to the vehicle’s emissions. Environmentally and economically, the new taxes have delivered results. Long one of Europe’s highest per-capita producers of greenhouse gases, with levels nearing those of the United States, Ireland has seen its emissions drop more than 15 percent since 2008. …when the Irish were faced with new environmental taxes, they quickly shifted to greener fuels and cars and began recycling with fervor. … as fossil fuels became more costly, renewable energy sources became more competitive, allowing Ireland’s wind power industry to thrive. Even more significantly, revenue from environmental taxes has played a crucial role in helping Ireland reduce a daunting deficit by several billion euros each year. …A recent report estimated that a modest carbon tax in the United States ... could generate about $1.25 trillion in revenue from 2012 to 2022, reducing the 10-year deficit by 50 percent.... ...Some of Europe’s strongest economies, like Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, have taxed carbon dioxide emissions since the early 1990s, and Japan and Australia have introduced them more recently. …Gas, always expensive in Europe, sells here for about $8 a gallon, around 20 percent more than in 2009 …. Read the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/28/science/earth/in-ireland-carbon-taxes-pay-off.html
2012 December 24. California Law Tests Company Responses to Carbon Costs. By Felicity Barringer, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Beginning Jan. 1, under the terms of a groundbreaking California environmental law known as AB 32, … 350 companies statewide will begin paying for those emissions, which trap heat and contribute to global warming. Companies ... have lobbied state regulators to minimize the costs. In the meantime they are weighing their options. Should they stay and adapt or move operations elsewhere? Should they retrofit and innovate to reduce emissions? Should they swallow the regulatory costs or pass them on to customers? … Regulators do not want California companies to lose their competitive edge, because that could make other state governments reluctant to adopt this approach. …For the 200,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted annually by Morning Star’s three plants, the company is being awarded about 192,500 free allowances the first year; the company must buy the remainder on the open market. In the first allowance auction in November, the allowance price settled at $10.09 a ton, meaning in the first year Morning Star has to pay roughly $75,000 to cover its emissions. But over the next five years, the number of free allowances will decrease sharply to encourage further emissions cuts. At current rates, that means Morning Star will have to buy 100,000 allowances for both 2017 and 2018, by which time the prices may have doubled or tripled in an open market. The company estimates the law will cost it an extra $20 million over the next seven years. Nick Kastle, a company spokesman, said it would almost certainly pass on the new costs to makers of ketchup and frozen pizza, which would be likely to share the extra costs with consumers. “People nationwide are going to be affected by AB 32,” he said.….
2012 November 23. Cap-and-Trade for California. From Science, News of the Week. Synopsis: Sacramento. Last week California launched a cap-and-trade system to cut greenhouse gas emissions. It is the first such comprehensive scheme in the United States. It began with an auction on emissions permits for the electricity sector, with a price floor of $10 per ton of carbon dioxide to prevent a crash of emissions prices. In 2015 the system will regulating 85% of California's total greenhouse gas pollution, covering transportation, commercial, and residential fuels….
2012 November 19. Shell, Swiss Re want ‘unambiguous price on carbon’. By Ben Geman, The Hill. Excerpt: Over 100 corporations including Royal Dutch Shell, food and consumer products giant Unilever, and the big re-insurer Swiss Re called Monday for a “clear, transparent and unambiguous price on carbon emissions.” Their joint statement arrives ahead of the next round of United Nations climate talks in Doha, Qatar, that gets under way in late November. “The private sector invests trillions of dollars into energy and other infrastructure projects, but, in most cases the goal of reducing [greenhouse gas] emissions does not guide such spending. A more effective approach is required, one that provides the right incentives to shift this private investment and makes best use of the limited pool of public funds,” states the “carbon price communiqué” released Monday. The companies say that creating a cost for carbon emissions should be part of nation-based climate policies that can eventually be interwoven. Policies to “price carbon” include a tax on emissions, and imposing a cap on emissions coupled with the buying and selling of emissions credits among polluters. The companies say that while there are multiple ways to set a price on emissions, they prefer market-based approaches like emissions credit trading “which offer both environmental integrity and flexibility for business.” However, proposals to price carbon have sputtered in the U.S. and face long odds politically. Cap-and-trade legislation collapsed in Congress in 2010...
2012 November 19. No nation immune to climate change, World Bank report shows. By Anna Yukhananov, Reuters. Excerpt: All nations will suffer the effects of a warmer world, but it is the world's poorest countries that will be hit hardest by food shortages, rising sea levels, cyclones and drought, the World Bank said in a report on climate change. Under new World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, the global development lender has launched a more aggressive stance to integrate climate change into development. …The report, called "Turn Down the Heat," highlights the devastating impact of a world hotter by 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, a likely scenario under current policies, …. As the first scientist to head the World Bank, Kim has pointed to "unequivocal" scientific evidence for man-made climate change to urge countries to do more. …Kim said 97 percent of scientists agree on the reality of climate change. …Kim said the World Bank plans to further meld climate change with development in its programs. Last year, the Bank doubled its funding for countries seeking to adapt to climate change, and now operates $7.2 billion in climate investment funds in 48 countries. The World Bank study comes as almost 200 nations will meet in Doha, Qatar, from Nov. 26 to Dec. 7 to try to extend the Kyoto Protocol, the existing plan for curbing greenhouse gas emissions by developed nations that runs to the end of the year....
2012 November 19. Holding Back Floodwaters With a Balloon. By Henry Fountain, New York Times. Excerpt: … The idea is a simple
one: rather than retrofitting [New York City’s subway system] tunnels
with metal floodgates or other expensive structures, the project aims to
use a relatively cheap inflatable plug to hold back floodwaters. In
theory, it would be like blowing up a balloon inside a tube. But in
practice, developing a plug that is strong, durable, quick to install
and foolproof to deploy is a difficult engineering task, one made even
more challenging because of the pliable, relatively lightweight
2012 October 13. A Grand Experiment to Rein In Climate Change.
By Felicity Barringer, The NY Times. Excerpt: …California embarks on its grand
experiment in reining in climate change. On Jan. 1, it will become the
first state in the nation to charge industries across the economy for
the greenhouse gases they emit. Under the system, known as “cap and
trade,” the state will set an overall ceiling on those emissions and
assign allowable emission amounts for individual polluters. A portion of
these so-called allowances will be allocated to utilities,
manufacturers and others; the remainder will be auctioned off…The
outsize goals of California’s new law, known as A.B. 32, are to lower
California’s emissions to what they were in 1990 by 2020 — a reduction
of roughly 30 percent — and, more broadly, to show that the system works
and can be replicated....
2012 September 11. New York Is Lagging as Seas and Risks Rise, Critics Warn.
By Myreya Navarro, New York Times. Excerpt: With a 520-mile-long
coast lined largely by teeming roads and fragile infrastructure, New
York City is gingerly facing up to the intertwined threats posed by
rising seas and ever-more-severe storm flooding. …So far, Mayor Michael
R. Bloomberg has commissioned exhaustive research on the challenge of
climate change. His administration is expanding wetlands to accommodate
surging tides, installing green roofs to absorb rainwater and prodding
property owners to move boilers out of flood-prone basements. But even
as city officials earn high marks for environmental awareness, critics
say New York is moving too slowly to address the potential for flooding
that could paralyze transportation, cripple the low-lying financial
district and temporarily drive hundreds of thousands of people from
their homes. Only a year ago, they point out, the city shut down the
subway system and ordered the evacuation of 370,000 people as Hurricane
Irene barreled up the Atlantic coast. …Others express concern for areas
like the South Bronx and Sunset Park in Brooklyn, which have large
industrial waterfronts with chemical-manufacturing plants, oil-storage
sites and garbage-transfer stations. Unless hazardous materials are
safeguarded with storm surges in mind, some local groups warn, residents
could one day be wading through toxic water. …Other cities are also
tackling these issues, .... New shoreline development around San
Francisco Bay must now be designed to cope with the anticipated higher
sea levels under new regional regulations imposed last fall. In Chicago,
new bike lanes and parking spaces are made of permeable pavement that
allows rainwater to filter through it. Charlotte, N.C., and Cedar Falls,
Iowa, are restricting development in flood plains. Maryland is pressing
shoreline property owners to plant marshland instead of building
retaining walls…. …Unlike New Orleans, New York City is above sea level.
Yet the city is second only to New Orleans in the number of people
living less than four feet above high tide — nearly 200,000 New Yorkers,
according to the research group Climate Central. …Klaus H. Jacob, a
research scientist at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, said the
storm surge from Irene came, on average, just one foot short of
paralyzing transportation into and out of Manhattan. …In 2009, a
commission warned that global warming posed “a new and potentially dire
challenge for which the M.T.A. system is largely unprepared.”. …. Read
the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/11/nyregion/new-york-faces-rising-seas-and-slow-city-action.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120911
2012 July 24. Satellites See Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Melt.
By Steve Cole, NASA. Excerpt: On average in the summer, about half of
the surface of Greenland's ice sheet naturally melts...this year the
extent of ice melting at or near the surface jumped dramatically.
According to satellite data, an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet
surface thawed at some point in mid-July. Researchers have not yet
determined whether this extensive melt event will affect the overall
volume of ice loss this summer and contribute to sea level rise...The
melting spread quickly. Melt maps derived from the three satellites
showed that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet's surface had
melted. By July 12, 97 percent had melted. This extreme melt event
coincided with an unusually strong ridge of warm air, or a heat dome,
over Greenland. The ridge was one of a series that has dominated
Greenland's weather since the end of May. "Each successive ridge has
been stronger than the previous one," said Mote. This latest heat dome
started to move over Greenland on July 8, and then parked itself over
the ice sheet about three days later. By July 16, it had begun to
2012 July 10. State of the Climate in 2011 : Highlights. By
Caitlyn H. Kennedy, David Herring, Katy Vincent, LuAnn Dahlman, Rebecca
Lindsey, and Susan Osborne, ClimateWatch Magazine. Excerpt: State of
the Climate in 2011 report provides a detailed peer-reviewed update on
global climate indicators and notable weather events from 2011.... See
also NOAA news story http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2012/20120710_stateoftheclimatereport.html
2012 June 26. D.C. appeals court upholds EPA regulations to fight global warming. By
Darryl Fears, The Washington Post. Excerpt: A federal appeals court on
Tuesday upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that
greenhouse gases contribute to global warming and are a threat to public
health, a major victory for the Obama administration and a setback to
states and trade groups that oppose government regulations on carbon
emissions. The opponents, including Virginia’s attorney general, Ken
Cuccinelli II (R), argued that EPA rules setting emissions standards for
cars and light trucks, and requiring construction and operating permits
for the nation’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, such as
coal-fired power plants, were based on a faulty interpretation of the
Clean Air Act, and therefore capricious and heavy handed. …But in a
sharply worded opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia Circuit rejected the challenge to the agency’s authority,
saying the EPA’s "interpretation of the . . . Clean Air Act provisions
is unambiguously correct." It said the EPA’s rules targeting large
polluters could not be challenged because of the authority granted the
agency in an earlier Supreme Court ruling. …In its remarks, the
three-judge panel seemed to bristle at the opponents’ argument that the
EPA improperly relied on assessments of climate science by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Research Council
and the U.S. Global Change Research Program to support its findings
that greenhouse gases contribute to warming, posing a threat to human
health. …"This is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove
the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific
question, the court said. The unanimous decision covered dozens of suits
bundled together under a group called the Coalition for Responsible
2012 May 10. Science
Academies Issue 'G-Science' Statements to Call World Leaders' Attention
to How Science and Technology Can Help Solve Global Challenges. By
William Skane and William Kearney, The National Academies. Excerpt:
National science academies from 15 countries issued joint statements
today calling on world leaders who are about to meet at the upcoming G8
Summit and other international gatherings this year to give greater
consideration to the vital role science and technology could play in
addressing some of the planet's most pressing challenges. The
"G-Science" statements recommend that governments engage the
international research community in developing systematic, innovative
solutions to three global dilemmas: how to simultaneously meet water and
energy needs; how to build resilience to natural and technological
disasters; and how to more accurately gauge countries' greenhouse gas
emissions to verify progress toward national goals or international
commitments... one of the G-Science statements says insufficient
attention is being paid to the links between energy and water or, in
other words, to the fact that energy requires water and water requires
energy. Without considering water and energy together, inefficiencies
will occur, increasing shortages of both, the statement warns. It
recommends that policymakers recognize the direct interaction between
water and energy by pursuing policies that integrate the two, and
emphasize conservation and efficiency. Regional and global cooperation
will also be required....
2012 May 25. U.N. climate talks stall over rich-poor divisions.
By Associated Press, SFGate. Excerpt: U.N. climate talks ran into
gridlock Thursday as a widening rift between rich and poor countries
risked undoing some advances made last year in the decades-long effort
to control carbon emissions that scientists say are overheating the
planet…At the heart of the discord was the larger issue of how to divide
the burden of emissions cuts between developed and developing nations….
2012 May 02. Experiments Underestimate Climate Change Impacts to Plants.
By Jessica Robertson, USGS Science Features. Excerpt: As the climate
has warmed, many plants are starting to grow leaves and bloom flowers
earlier. A new study published in the journal, Nature, suggests that
most field experiments may underestimate the degree to which the timing
of leafing and flowering changes with global warming. Understanding how
plants are responding to climate change will help develop more accurate
indicators of spring, forecast the onset of allergy season or the
chances of western wildfires, manage wildlife and invasive plants, and
help inform habitat restoration plans. …the USA-National Phenology
Network (USA-NPN) also provided support and assisted with assembling and
analyzing historical phenological observations and climate data. ...The
USA-NPN brings together citizen scientists, government agencies,
non-profit groups, educators and students of all ages to monitor the
impacts of climate change on plants and animals in the United States. …
sign up through the USA-NPN website
(http://www.usanpn.org/participate/observe), or contact the USA-NPN
Executive Director Jake Weltzin at email@example.com. Read a University
of California, San Diego, press release--http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressreleases/study_shows_experiments_underestimate_plant_responses_to_climate_change, as well as a NASA feature--http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/early-bloom.html, on this new article.
2012 Apr 13. NSF Press Release 12-071: Scientists Determined First-ever Census for Emperor Penguins.
Excerpt: A new study using satellite mapping technology reveals there
are twice as many emperor penguins in Antarctica than previously
The results provide an important benchmark for monitoring the impact of
environmental change on the population of this iconic bird, which breeds
in remote areas that are very difficult to study because they often are
inaccessible with temperatures as low as -58 degrees Fahrenheit.
Reporting this week in the journal PLoS ONE, an international team of
scientists describe how they used Very High Resolution satellite images
to estimate the number of penguins at each colony around the coastline
2012 Apr 06. NASA's New Ultra-green Building | Relevant to GSS Energy Use chapter 6, 7, 8, and Climate Change chapter
9. Excerpt: MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. -- NASA's newest building also is one
of the nation's greenest. Sustainability Base is a highly intelligent
facility designed to anticipate and react to changes in sunlight,
temperature, wind and occupancy. It is designed to achieve, and is
presently under consideration for, the U.S. Green Building Council's
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum status,
which is the highest LEED rating. Meeting the White House challenge to
lead by example, NASA has repurposed its technologies and incorporated
them into the new building. Sustainability Base features a Bloom Energy
Box, for example, that uses fuel cell technology in a clean
electrical-chemical process to produce electricity. The facility also
has a water recovery system, derived from one originally designed for
the International Space Station, which reduces unnecessary consumption
of potable water. Digital press kit of Sustainability Base: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/events/2012/sustainability-base-presskit.html Info about Sustainability Base: http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/sustainability-base Info about Ames' green technologies: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/greenspace
2012 Mar 23. The U.S. Navy – Navigating Through a Changing Climate
| By David Titley and Robert S. Freeman, e-International Relations.
Excerpt: …As a globally-distributed force, the U.S. Navy may be the
first military service to fully experience the impacts of climate
change. …Any objective evaluation of the data will verify that the
Earth’s climate is changing, a fact the U.S. Navy acknowledges. …the
appropriate approach is to determine the impact of climate change on
future naval readiness and ensure we are prepared for the challenges
that may confront us in the future. ... the Navy has been observing the
changes in the Arctic and considering the ramifications for future
operations. … Thermal expansion of the warming ocean and melting ice
sheets and glaciers over land may cause sea levels to rise as high as
one meter in some locations by the end of the century. Since the
majority of naval facilities are located on the coasts, this could
create significant problems for our bases, including the piers and
approaches. Enhanced tides and storm surges could create infrastructure
damage and salt water intrusion may compromise water supplies. Rising
sea levels will significantly expand the area of flooding and level of
damage of the most routine storms experienced today.…
2012 March 7. NASA RELEASE 12-079: Multi-Agency Satellite Begins Climate and Weather Studies.
Excerpt: NASA has completed commissioning of the Suomi National
Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite (NPP), which is now making global
environmental observations. The satellite will provide scientists with
critical insight into the dynamics of the entire Earth system, including
climate, clouds, oceans, and vegetation. It will also gather enhanced
data for improving our nation's weather forecasting system….
2012 March. Our Changing Planet for Fiscal Year 2012 Report
Released (PDF). Since 1990, the United States Global Change Research
Program (USGCRP) has developed and submitted an annual report, Our
Changing Planet, to Congress describing the current state of the USGCRP
and ongoing Federal research activities focused on global change. The
USGCRP is committed to building a knowledge base that informs human
responses to global change through coordinated and integrated federal
programs of research, education, communication, and decision support.
Download the Report here: http://downloads.globalchange.gov/ocp/ocp2012/ocp2012.pdf
2012 January 19. NASA Finds 2011 Ninth-Warmest Year on Record [includes a video of warming from Goddard Institute for Space Studies].
Excerpt: The global average surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth
warmest since 1880, according to NASA scientists. The finding continues a
trend in which nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern
meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000….
…The difference between 2011 and the warmest year in the GISS record
(2010) is 0.22 degrees F (0.12 C). This underscores the emphasis
scientists put on the long-term trend of global temperature rise.
Because of the large natural variability of climate, scientists do not
expect temperatures to rise consistently year after year. However, they
do expect a continuing temperature rise over decades….
2012 Feb 8. NASA Mission Takes Stock of Earth's Melting Land Ice.
NASA RELEASE : 12-048. Excerpt: In the first comprehensive satellite
study of its kind, a University of Colorado at Boulder-led team used
NASA data to calculate how much Earth's melting land ice is adding to
global sea level rise. Using satellite measurements from the NASA/German
Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), the
researchers measured ice loss in all of Earth's land ice between 2003
and 2010…. The total global ice mass lost from Greenland, Antarctica and
Earth's glaciers and ice caps during the study period was about 4.3
trillion tons (1,000 cubic miles), adding about 0.5 inches (12
millimeters) to global sea level. That's enough ice to cover the United
States 1.5 feet (0.5 meters) deep. …About a quarter of the average
annual ice loss came from glaciers and ice caps outside of Greenland and
Antarctica (roughly 148 billion tons, or 39 cubic miles). Ice loss from
Greenland and Antarctica and their peripheral ice caps and glaciers
averaged 385 billion tons (100 cubic miles) a year….
2012 Jan 12. NASA Study Shows Health, Food Security Benefits From Climate Change Actions
(Release 12-017). A new study led by a NASA scientist highlights 14 key
air pollution control measures that, if implemented, could slow the
pace of global warming, improve health and boost agricultural
production. The research, led by Drew Shindell of NASA's Goddard
Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City, finds that focusing
on these measures could slow mean global warming 0.9 ºF (0.5ºC) by
2050, increase global crop yields by up to 135 million metric tons per
season and prevent hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year.
While all regions of the world would benefit, countries in Asia and the
Middle East would see the biggest health and agricultural gains from
emissions reductions. "We've shown that implementing specific practical
emissions reductions chosen to maximize climate benefits also would have
important 'win-win' benefits for human health and agriculture," said
Shindell. The study was published today in the journal Science.
[This was chapter 8 in previous edition.]
Chapter 9 Article Archives:
Kyoto Treaty text
National Climate Assessment (NCA), originally required by the Global Change Research Act of 1990 and periodically updated, can be found on the U.S.Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) website. It informs the nation about already observed climate changes, the current status of the climate, and anticipated trends for the future. It integrates scientific information from multiple sources and sectors and provides input to Federal agencies, U.S. citizens, communities, and businesses as they create more sustainable and environmentally sound plans for the nation’s future. Prior and current drafts of the NCA can be found at http://www.globalchange.gov/what-we-do/assessment.
Climate Change Education.org
Carbon Mitigation Initiative - a joint project of Princeton University, BP and the Ford Motor Company to find solutions to the greenhouse and global warming problem. Researchers are developing strategies to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions that will be safe, effective, and affordable.
ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability was founded in 1990 by local governments at the United Nations Headquarters in New York as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). It's an association of cities, towns, counties, and local government associations ( (more than 600 in the U.S.) whose mission is to build and serve a worldwide movement to achieve tangible improvements in global sustainability.
Nature Conservancy pages on Climate Change
NOAA Global Climate Change page
a commentary site (blog) on climatology by climate scientists. Provides quick response to developing stories.
Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) - Climate & Energy Publications