Climate Change chapter 9: What Are Governments Doing?
Staying Up To Date - 2001-2007

30 November 2007. Climate Change May Cost Florida US$345 Billion a Year - Tufts Study. PlanetArk World Environment News. Excerpt: TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - If nothing is done to combat global warming, two of Florida's nuclear power plants, three of its prisons and 1,362 hotels, motels and inns will be under water by 2100, a study released Wednesday said. In all, Florida could stand to lose US$345 billion a year in projected economic activity by 2100 if nothing is done to reduce emissions that are viewed as the main human contribution to rising global temperatures, according to the Tufts University study [report, pdf]...."The status quo, the climate that we have right now, is not an available option unless we act immediately," said Frank Ackerman, a professor at Tufts' Global Development and Environmental Institute and co-author of the study. "Doing something may seem expensive, but doing nothing will be more expensive." ...Republican Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is among a growing list of state officials who have given up waiting for the federal government to take the lead on cutting greenhouse gas emissions and have passed their own measures to cap pollution by power plants and cars. Story
by Michael Peltier.

17 November 2007. U.N. Report Describes Risks of Inaction on Climate Change. By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL, NY Times. Excerpt: VALENCIA, Spain, Nov. 16 - In its final and most powerful report, a United Nations panel of scientists meeting here describes the mounting risks of climate change in language that is both more specific and forceful than its previous assessments, according to scientists here. ...the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the first time specifically points out important risks if governments fail to respond: melting ice sheets that could lead to a rapid rise in sea levels and the extinction of large numbers of species brought about by even moderate amounts of warming, on the order of 1 to 3 degrees.
..."This document goes further than any of the previous efforts," said Hans Verolme, director of the World Wildlife Fund's Global Climate Change Program. "The pressure has been palpable - people know they are delivering a document that will be cited for years to come and will define policy."
The previous three sections, released between February and April, focused on one issue at a time: the first on science, the second on how the world could adapt to warming and the third about how countries could "mitigate," or reduce the greenhouse gases produced.
This fourth and final assessment - the so-called synthesis report - seeks to combine lessons from all three. ...a powerful guide to what the scientists consider of utmost importance at the end of a five-year process, offering concrete guidelines for policy makers.
"You look to a synthesis report to provide clarity, to clarify what was obscure in previous reports," said Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University. "Now, how can we take these findings and formulate a policy response that's quick enough and big enough?"
While drafts of the panel's reports are written by panels of scientists, the language is reviewed and often altered by delegates from 130 governments who meet before their final approval and release. Those negotiations took place here this week, and were often contentious, with the United States, China and India raising many objections, said scientists who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to publicly refer to any countries by name.
...While the United States, Saudi Arabia and China tried to change the text in order to play down the consequences of global warming, developing nations - which will bear the initial brunt of climate change - were much more forceful than at previous meetings in opposing these efforts, one scientist who was in the negotiating room said....

14 November 2007. Governors Join in Creating Regional Pacts on Climate Change. By JOHN M. BRODER, NY Times. Excerpt: WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 - Frustrated with the slow progress of legislation in Washington on energy and global warming, the nation's governors have created regional agreements to cap greenhouse gases and are engaged in a concerted lobbying effort to prod Congress to act. Beginning Monday, three Western governors will appear in a nationwide television advertising campaign sponsored by an environmental group trying to generate public and political support for climate change legislation now before the Senate. The 30-second ad features Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican of California; Jon Huntsman Jr., Republican of Utah; and Brian Schweitzer, Democrat of Montana, standing in casual clothes in scenic spots talking about the threat posed by greenhouse gas emissions. The nation's governors are acting, but Congress is not, they say. "Now it's their turn," Mr. Schwarzenegger says.
Separately, in Milwaukee on Wednesday, nine Midwestern governors and the premier of Manitoba signed an agreement to reduce carbon emissions and set up a trading system to meet the reduction targets. The Midwestern accord is modeled on similar regional carbon-reduction and energy-saving arrangements among Northeastern, Southwestern and West Coast states.
The advertising campaign is underwritten by Environmental Defense, an advocacy group that is pressing for quick action on a climate change proposal sponsored by Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, and John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia.
The Lieberman-Warner legislation would cap carbon emissions at 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and set up a system for polluting industries to trade emissions credits to meet the goals. Like other such bills before Congress, it would provide incentives for research on capturing and storing carbon dioxide from power plants and subsidies to help the poor handle the higher costs of electricity in a carbon-constrained economy....

12 November 2007. UN official warns of ignoring warming. By ARTHUR MAX, Associated Press Writer Excerpt: VALENCIA, Spain - The U.N.'s top climate official warned policymakers and scientists trying to hammer out a landmark report on climate change that ignoring the urgency of global warming would be "criminally irresponsible.
Yvo de Boer's comments came at the opening of a weeklong conference that will complete a concise guide on the state of global warming and what can be done to stop the Earth from overheating. It is the fourth and last report issued this year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, co-winner of this year's Nobel Peace prize.
...Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning panel, said scientists were determined to "adhere to standards of quality" in the report. It was indirect barb at the government representatives, who have been accused by environmentalists of watering down and excluding vital information from the summaries of earlier reports to fit their domestic agendas.
...The report will provide the factual underpinning for a crucial meeting next month in Bali, Indonesia.
That conference will begin exploring a new global strategy to curb greenhouse gas emissions after the 2012 expiration of the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol, the landmark agreement that assigned binding reduction targets to 36 countries.... On the Net:
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

13 October 2007. Gore Shares Peace Prize for Climate Change Work. NY Times. By WALTER GIBBS and SARAH LYALL. Excerpt: OSLO, Oct. 12 - Former Vice President Al Gore, who emerged from his loss in the muddled 2000 presidential election to devote himself to his passion as an environmental crusader, was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, sharing it with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations network of scientists . The Norwegian Nobel Committee praised both "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change." The prize is a vindication for Mr. Gore, whose cautionary film about the consequences of climate change, "An Inconvenient Truth," won the 2007 Academy Award for best documentary, even as conservatives in the United States denounced it as alarmist and exaggerated. ...The award was also a validation for the United Nations panel, which in its early days was vilified by those who disputed the scientific case for a human role in climate change. In New Delhi, the Indian climatologist who heads the panel, Rajendra K. Pachauri, said that science had won out over skepticism....

25 September 2007. 'Arnie, ' 'Al' Push Climate Action. By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. UNITED NATIONS (AP) Excerpt: ''Arnie'' and ''Al,'' Republican and Democrat, shared the world spotlight to press for climate action.....President Bush, who did take part later in a small, private U.N. dinner with key players on climate, rejects the idea of international treaty obligations to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other ''greenhouse gases'' blamed for global warming -- an idea central to U.N. climate negotiations.
The Republican Schwarzenegger, on the other hand, has taken the lead on emissions caps at the state level, signing legislation mandating such reductions in California.
.....''The need to act is now,'' Democrat Gore told delegates to the one-day summit, which drew more than 80 world leaders. ''We need a mandate at Bali.''
He was referring the annual U.N. climate treaty conference, scheduled for December in Bali, Indonesia, where the Europeans and others hope to initiate talks for an emissions-reduction agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2012.
The 175-nation Kyoto pact, which the U.S. rejects, requires 36 industrial nations to reduce the heat-trapping gases emitted by power plants and other industrial, agricultural and transportation sources...
....Bush objects that Kyoto-style mandates would damage the U.S. economy and says they should be imposed on fast-growing poorer countries such as China and India in addition to developed nations...
On Thursday and Friday, Bush will host his own Washington climate meeting, limited to 16 ''major emitter'' countries, including China and India, the first in a series of U.S.-led gatherings expected to focus on those themes.
''The Washington meeting is a distraction,'' Hans Verolme, climate campaigner for the Worldwide Fund for Nature, told reporters here. The Bush administration needs ''to show they are serious and implement domestic legislation to reduce emissions,'' he said.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking at the summit, put the Washington meetings in a different light, describing them as designed ''to support and help advance the ongoing U.N. discussion....''

10 September 2007. Climate Change hits US Federal Land, Water-Report. WASHINGTON. Excerpt: More beetles and fewer spruce trees in Alaska, whiter coral and fewer scuba-divers in Florida and more wildfires in Arizona already show the impact of climate change on US lands and waters, a congressional watchdog agency reported on Thursday.
..."Undertaking activities that address the effects of climate change is currently not a priority" for the five US agencies that manage this territory, the report by the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress said.
These agencies are the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Interior Department, which includes three of the five agencies, ordered them in 2001 to analyze potential climate change effects on US-managed lands, but has not yet provided direction to managers on how to plan for climate change, the report said.
Resource managers at the other two agencies echoed that sentiment, according to the report.
...The authors based their conclusions on discussions with scientists, economists and federal resource managers, and field studies of four federal areas that represent distinct ecosystems.
These are: the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, representing coasts and oceans; the Chugach National Forest in Alaska, representing forests; Glacier National Park in Montana, representing fresh waters; and the Bureau of Land Management's Arizona field office, representing grasslands and shrublands.
In the Florida Keys, they found rising sea levels that can be attributed to climate change have already affected low-lying areas, and saltwater intrusion on land has cut the fresh water and habitat that support native plants and animals.
... global warming may hamper fishing and tourism in this ecosystem, ....
Warmer temperatures and reduced precipitation associated with climate change in Alaska's Chugach National Forest have contributed to outbreaks of insects, such as the spruce bark beetles which have killed some kinds of spruce trees over the forest's 400,000 acres (161,900 hectares), the report said.
In Montana, the glaciers that give Glacier National Park its name are dwindling, down from 150 in 1950 to 26 now, according to the report.
Arizona's Mojave Desert is suffering more virulent wildfires due at least in part to climate change, the report said, because drought has damaged native plants and allowed invasive grasses to take over, making it easier for fires to start and harder to extinguish them.

28 August 2007. Greenland's Ice Island Alarm. By Kendall Haven
Excerpt: In early spring, with the summer melt still weeks away, researchers flock like migrating birds to the Greenland Ice Sheet. ...Waleed Abdalati, head of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Cryospheric Sciences Branch, was one of those migrating researchers. His boots were on the ice most years from 1993 through 2004....
Scientists and policy makers asked: Is Greenland melting? If so, how fast, and how high will sea level rise as a result? "Through the 1990s, the only answer scientists could give was 'We don't know,'" Abdalati recalls.
What would large-scale ice loss on Greenland mean to the rest of the world? "Things we've come to count on could change," he explains. Coastlines will recede as sea level rises and ocean water edges inland, threatening coastal cities. The changing ice could impact ocean and atmospheric circulation patterns and the global climate to which life today has adapted. What will be the nature and impact of these changes? Abdalati's answer: "While the future impacts of the changing ice cover are uncertain, the potential effects are scary enough so that we better figure it out."
...Bill Krabill, a geoscientist at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, measured an inland gain of up to 1 meter of snow and up to three times average snowfall in some areas of Southeast Greenland between 2002 and 2003. In 2005, Ola Johannessen, from the University of Bergen's Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, measured a gain of 2.4 inches per year from 1992 to 2003 for elevations above 1,500 meters, with a net ice loss below that elevation. But even if the models were right, which trend-ice gain in the interior, or melting at the margin-would prove greater, and by how much?
...Isabella Velicogna, a scientist with a joint appointment at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab and the University of Colorado... explains... "We had to make new model assumptions. ...Her ... results showed a net mass loss for the ice sheet of 248 gigatons per year-enough to raise sea level about half a millimeter each year. (A gigaton is one billion metric tons, the mass of a cube of water that is 1 kilometer wide, tall, and deep.) Although other NASA researchers published similar findings shortly after Velicogna, these GRACE results showed a significantly larger loss-four to five times more ice loss-than most estimates that scientists had published before hers, based on different data from the 1990s through 2003....

See also:

19 September 2007

20 September 2007

25 September 2007.

28 August 2007. GREENHOUSE GASES LIKELY DROVE NEAR-RECORD U.S. WARMTH IN 2006. Excerpt: Greenhouse gases likely accounted for more than half of the widespread warmth across the continental United States last year, according to a new study by four scientists at NOAAâs Earth System Research Lab in Boulder, Colo. Last yearâs average temperature was the second highest since record-keeping began in 1895. The team found that it was very unlikely that the 2006 El Nino played any role, though other natural factors likely contributed to the unusual warmth. ...The NOAA team also found that the probability of U.S. temperatures breaking a record in 2006 had increased 15-fold compared to pre-industrial times because of greenhouse gas increases in Earth's atmosphere. Preliminary data available last January led NOAA to place 2006 as the warmest year on record. In May, NOAA changed the 2006 ranking to second warmest after updated statistics showed the year was 0.08 degree F cooler than 1998.

6 August 2007. Catching Up With Climate. Contact: Paul Preuss, science@berkeley lab. From the evidence of tree rings, the last 50 years were the warmest half-century in 1,300 years. Eleven of the past 12 years are the hottest on record since reliable record-keeping began in 1850; since 1870, sea level has risen some eight inches worldwide, and the rate is accelerating; since 1900, glaciers have shrunk 80 percent, and polar ice is melting fast; concentrations of carbon dioxide are 35 percent higher than preindustrial levels. Meanwhile, humans keep pouring CO2 into the air, ratcheting temperatures toward the tipping point. To buy time, we need the best mix of conservation, alternative energy sources, new fuels, carbon sequestration, and other strategies. Decisions we make now, or fail to make, will lead at best to discomfort - or to disaster for many. The shape of things to come may crucially depend on better climate models, based on better climate science. ..."Current climate models are a blunt tool. We want to sharpen that tool," says Bill Collins of Berkeley Lab's Earth Sciences Division (ESD). "Climate models of the future will have to be able to zoom in on the regional scale, make accurate predictions for the near term, and account for what humans actually do."....

11 July 2007. Warming Report Warns of Increased Flooding. By ANTHONY DePALMA. NY Times. Excerpt: One-hundred-year floods could come as often as once every 10 years by the end of this century, Long Island lobsters could disappear and New York apples could be just a memory if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report on the impact of global warming by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The report, which covers New York, New Jersey along with the entire Northeast, was released at a news conference at the New York Botanical Garden this morning, in the wake of an intense heat wave of the kind that scientists warned could come far more frequently if business continues as usual. ...New York City might have to swelter through a full month with temperatures over 100 degrees. The prolonged heat could dry up the Catskill Mountain waters that supply the city, and air quality could decline, worsening conditions for people with asthma and allergies.
Some changes, like earlier springs, longer summers and less snowy winters are already being seen.... But scientists said things would become far worse, and much more costly, ... sea levels could rise, inundating coastal areas on southern Long Island and pushing water over parts of lower Manhattan, flooding the financial district and pouring water into the subways, making them inoperable. The impact on New York State's $3.5 billion a year agricultural industry could be devastating, said David Wolfe, professor of plant ecology in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University.....
Professor McCarthy said the two alternative futures laid out in the study... the regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, in which all the Northeastern states agreed to reduce power plant emissions and establish a carbon trading program, and the recently approved New Jersey legislation to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions in the state to 20 percent of current levels by mid-century.
...The full report can be found at the Union of Concerned Scientists' Web site.

19 June 2007. Maine Law Caps Carbon Dioxide Emissions. By KATIE ZEZIMA. Excerpt: BOSTON, June 18 — Gov. John Baldacci of Maine signed a bill on Monday establishing how the state will reduce pollution and cap power plant emissions in a regional effort to reduce carbon dioxide output. Maine is one of 10 Eastern states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or R.G.G.I. (pronounced “Reggie”), which is intended to lower carbon dioxide output from power plants. ... Under the regional initiative, other states, including Maryland, can put into effect their rules through their environmental protection departments rather than their legislatures. ... Maine accounts for 3 percent of United States carbon emissions. It will cap its emissions at 5.9 million tons in 2009, and reduce them 10 percent by 2019. Under the new law, six power plants will start paying allowances to the state in 2009 that let them emit carbon dioxide. One allowance will pay for one ton of carbon dioxide emitted, with the price of each allowance dictated by a market in which companies can buy and sell the allowances. ...

30 May 2007. Research Finds that Earth's Climate is Approaching 'Tipping Point'. Press Release, NASA. Excerpt: "NASA and Columbia University Earth Institute research finds that human-made greenhouse gases have brought the Earth's climate close to critical tipping points, with potentially dangerous consequences for the planet. From a combination of climate models, satellite data, and paleoclimate records the scientists conclude that the West Antarctic ice sheet, Arctic ice cover, and regions providing fresh water sources and species habitat are under threat from continued global warming. The research appears in the current issue of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics... This study finds that global warming of 0.6¼C in the past 30 years has been driven mainly by increasing greenhouse gases, and only moderate additional climate forcing is likely to set in motion disintegration of the West Antarctic ice sheet and Arctic sea ice. Amplifying feedbacks include increased absorption of sunlight as melting exposes darker surfaces and speedup of iceberg discharge as the warming ocean melts ice shelves that otherwise inhibit ice flow... Lead author James Hansen, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, concludes: 'If global emissions of carbon dioxide continue to rise at the rate of the past decade, this research shows that there will be disastrous effects, including increasingly rapid sea level rise, increased frequency of droughts and floods, and increased stress on wildlife and plants due to rapidly shifting climate zones... While the researchers say it is still possible to achieve [an] alternative scenario, they note that significant actions will be required to do so. Emissions must begin to slow soon... With another decade of business-as-usual it becomes impractical to achieve the alternative scenario because of the energy infrastructure that would be in place.'"

18 May 2007. SOUTHERN OCEAN CARBON SINK WEAKENED. NASA Earth Observatory -- Excerpt: In research published today in Science, an international research team - including CSIRO's Dr. Ray Langenfelds - concludes that the Southern Ocean carbon dioxide sink has weakened over the past 25 years and will be less efficient in the future. Such weakening of one of the Earth's major carbon dioxide sinks will lead to higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide in the long-term. Dr. Paul Fraser, ... leads research into atmospheric greenhouse gases at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research.... "The researchers found that the Southern Ocean is becoming less efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide due to an increase in wind strength over the Ocean, resulting from human-induced climate change," Dr. Fraser says. "The increase in wind strength is due to a combination of higher levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and long-term ozone depletion in the stratosphere, which previous CSIRO research has shown intensifies storms over the Southern Ocean." The increased winds influence the processes of mixing and upwelling in the ocean, which in turn cause an increased release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, reducing the net absorption of carbon dioxide into the ocean....

15 May 2007. NASA FINDS VAST REGIONS OF WEST ANTARCTICA MELTED IN RECENT PAST. NASA Earth Observatory. Excerpt: A team of NASA and university scientists has found clear evidence that extensive areas of snow melted in west Antarctica in January 2005 in response to warm temperatures. This was the first widespread Antarctic melting ever detected with NASA's QuikScat satellite and the most significant melt observed using satellites during the past three decades. Combined, the affected regions encompassed an area as big as California. Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and Konrad Steffen, director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, led the team. Using data from QuikScat, they measured snowfall accumulation and melt in Antarctica and Greenland from July 1999 through July 2005.
...Evidence of melting was found up to 900 kilometers (560 miles) inland from the open ocean, ...and higher than 2,000 meters (6,600 feet) above sea level. Maximum air temperatures at the time of the melting were unusually high, reaching more than five degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) in one of the affected areas. They remained above melting for approximately a week. "Antarctica has shown little to no warming in the recent past ... but now large regions are showing the first signs of the impacts of warming as interpreted by this satellite analysis," said Steffen. ...Changes in the ice mass of Antarctica, Earth's largest freshwater reservoir, are important to understanding global sea level rise. Large amounts of Antarctic freshwater flowing into the ocean also could affect ocean salinity, currents and global climate....

9 May 2007. Clean Power That Reaps a Whirlwind. By KEITH BRADSHER, The New York Times. Excerpt: HOUXINQIU, China - The wind turbines rising 180 feet above this dusty village at the hilly edge of Inner Mongolia could be an environmentalist's dream... are also part of a growing dispute over a United Nations program that is the centerpiece of international efforts to help developing countries combat global warming. ...the Clean Development Mechanism, ...raising billions of dollars from rich countries and transferring them to poor countries to curb the emission of global warming gases. ...China is expected to pass the United States this year or next to become the world's largest emitter of global warming gases. ...the Clean Development Mechanism ...has grown at an extraordinary pace, to $4.8 billion in transfer payments to developing countries last year from less than $100 million in 2002. The Clean Development Mechanism ...helps advanced industrial nations stay within their Kyoto Protocol limits for emitting climate-changing gases like carbon dioxide. For each ton of global warming gases that a developing country can prove it has eliminated, the secretariat of the Clean Development Mechanism... awards it a credit. Developing countries sold credits last year... for an average price of $10.70 each. ...China captured $3 billion of the $4.8 billion.... African countries... totaled less than $150 million last year.... Even when very poor countries are able to organize development projects, they may lack expertise and must sometimes pay out as much as half the credits in the form of fees for international consultants and credit brokers. ...before manufacturers can obtain the subsidies, their national governments need to set up a legal framework for handling the money, which some of the poorest countries have not yet been able to do....The wind turbine project here in Houxinqiu ...generates nearly 24 megawatts of electricity that would otherwise come from coal. China is already building enough coal-fired power plants each year to light all of Britain. ...Li Guohai, a local peasant ...explained how he had received free electricity since the wind turbines were erected four years ago. He has saved enough money that he bought an all-steel plow for his mules to pull; the new plow now frees his son to finish junior high school and perhaps go to high school, Mr. Li said. The project is narrowly profitable even without Clean Development Mechanism payments, Mr. Tao, the general manager, said. But the payments made the project more attractive and made it easier to raise money for it.
...the wind farm saves the equivalent of 35,119 tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year. At $8 a credit, that is worth $281,000....

6 May 2007. When Carbon Is Currency. By HANNAH FAIRFIELD. NY Times. Excerpt: AMID steadily increasing carbon emissions, and a federal government hesitant to take the lead on climate legislation, 10 states have joined to create the first mandatory carbon cap-and-trade program in the United States. They aim to reduce emissions from power plants by 10 percent in 10 years. Leaders of state environmental and energy regulatory agencies hammered out the detailed model for the program, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, over the course of three years. The program sets a cap on the total amount of carbon that the 10 states - as a whole - can emit. Starting in 2009, each state will receive a set amount of carbon credits for its power plants, and each plant must have enough allowances to cover its total emissions at the end of three-year compliance periods. In 2003, George E. Pataki, then New York's governor, invited governors of 10 other states from Maine to Maryland to discuss a program to cut power plant emissions. All but one of the states joined the program; Pennsylvania has observer status. Officials have closely watched the European Union, which started its carbon trading market in 2005. ... In Europe, power companies received these credits directly and could buy or sell from one another as needed. But most companies passed the cost of the credits on to consumers even though they received them free - giving the companies windfall profits. Power companies in Britain alone made about $1 billion from free credits in 2005, according to a study by the British government....

1 May 2007. Arctic Sea Ice Melting Faster, a Study Finds. By ANDREW C. REVKIN, NY Times. Excerpt: Climate scientists may have significantly underestimated the power of global warming from human-generated heat-trapping gases to shrink the cap of sea ice floating on the Arctic Ocean, according to a new study of polar trends. The study, published online today in Geophysical Research Letters, concluded that an open-water Arctic in summers could be more likely in this century than had been estimated in the latest international review of climate research released in February by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "There are huge changes going on," said Julienne Stroeve, a lead author of the new study and a researcher at the National Snow and Ice Datajn Center in Boulder, Colo. "Just with warm waters entering the Arctic, combined with warming air temperatures, this is wreaking havoc on the sea ice, really." The intergovernmental panel concluded that if emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide were not significantly reduced, the region could end up bereft of floating ice in summers sometime between 2050 and the early decades of the next century....

May 2007. EU hammers out pact to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Karen H. Kaplan - Physics Today May 2007, page 26. (Full article can only be viewed by members of American Geophysical Union with password) Excerpt: European leaders applauded successful efforts by German chancellor Angela Merkel, current head of the European Union and a physicist, to guide the 27-member bloc in March to an agreement that is widely considered both a critical and impressive step in the battle against climate change....Under the pact, achieved after months of negotiations, the EU will cut greenhouse gas emissions by one-fifth from 1990 levels and produce one-fifth of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. As part of the plan, the EU also set a 10% minimum target on the use of biofuels for transport by 2020. The agreement aims to address climate change after the commitments for industrialized nations contained in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol expire in 2012. EU member states are among 140 governments worldwide that participate in Kyoto, which the US refused to ratify (see PHYSICS TODAY, January 2002, page 26)...."We can say to the rest of the world, 'Europe is taking the lead. You should join us in fighting climate change,' " Barroso said....In January 2005, the EU adopted the Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading Scheme, under which each member state has a national allocation plan that specifies caps on carbon emissions for individual power plants and other emissions sources. Each facility gets a certain emissions allowance for a particular period. To comply with the cap, facilities can either cut their emissions or buy allowances from other facilities....In BP's hydrogen program, coal is burned to produce CO2 and hydrogen; the CO2 is separated out and buried underground while the hydrogen is burned to generate power. "Needless to say, it's more expensive than the traditional way, just burning the coal and venting the CO2 to the atmosphere," Koonin acknowledged. "But we believe we can reduce costs."

25 April 2007. NASA's AIM (Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere) spacecraft began its two-year mission. The AIM mission is the first dedicated to exploring mysterious ice clouds that dot the edge of space in Earth's polar regions. These clouds have grown brighter and more prevalent in recent years and some scientists suggest that changes in these clouds may be the result of climate change. With AIM, Hampton University in Virginia becomes the first Historically Black College and University to lead a NASA satellite mission. Dr. James M. Russell, III, professor and co-director of Hampton University's Center for Atmospheric Sciences, is AIMs principal investigator.

24 April 2007. Satellites Offer Sunny Outlook on Understanding Polar Climate, With Help of Cloudy Skies. NASA Goddard News. Excerpt: Far beyond signaling the day's weather, clouds play a key role in regulating and understanding climate. A team of researchers recently completed a project to confirm what NASA satellites are telling us about how changes in clouds can affect climate in the coldest regions on Earth. ... In 2006, NASA simultaneously launched a pair of satellites, CloudSat and the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO), which together use state-of-the-art instruments as they orbit the globe to reveal detailed information about clouds and their effect on climate. ... "The polar regions are very sensitive indicators of climate change," said Deborah Vane, project manager and deputy principal investigator for the CloudSat mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "It's been well reported now that the polar ice caps are undergoing net melting. There's a complicated interaction between clouds and climate in polar regions that can contribute to temperature changes, and, in turn, speed the rate at which ice melts." ...CloudSat peers into clouds from hundreds of miles above to allow researchers a sneak peek into just how cloud droplets change to become rain or snow. CALIPSO uses laser technology called lidar to gather data globally that researchers will use to analyze how clouds and aerosols affect the atmosphere....

24 April, 2007.  First Mission to Explore Those Wisps in the Night Sky. By KENNETH CHANG. NY TIMES. Excerpt:…NASA is launching a small satellite to take a closer look at these clouds at the edge of outer space and to try to understand why, in recent years, they are appearing more often over more parts of the world. They are also becoming brighter. The clouds are called noctilucent or "night shining," because from the ground they can be seen only at night as they float about 50 miles above the surface, illuminated by light from a Sun that has already set below the horizon.  The clouds form in the polar regions from mid-May to mid-August in the Northern Hemisphere, mid-November to mid-February in the Southern Hemisphere…A British sky watcher named Thomas William Backhouse was perhaps the first to notice the odd blue wisps in 1885, and many scientists thought that the phenomenon was an atmospheric effect caused by ash thrown up by the gigantic volcanic eruption of Krakatoa in Indonesia two years earlier. Although the ash settled out of the air, the noctilucent clouds persisted and spread …..Since 1980, when regular space-based observations of noctilucent clouds began, their number has increased about 28 percent per decade, and they are reflecting more light, because the ice crystals are bigger….."The most plausible and leading theory is CO2 buildup, which causes global warming," Dr. Russell said. Increasing temperatures near the surface actually cause the upper part of the atmosphere to cool, and cooler temperatures could spur the formation of more clouds. "If that's true and we are changing the atmosphere in a remote location like this, that means we're changing the entire atmosphere," he said…..

23 April 2007. Climate Change Adds Twist to Debate Over Dams. By William Yardley. NY TIMES. KLAMATH FALLS, Ore., April 19 - Excerpt: The power company that  owns  four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River says the dams provide a crucial source of so-called clean energy at a time when carbon emissions have become one of the world's foremost environmental concerns. The clean-energy argument has entered a debate over dams. But the American Indians, fishermen and environmentalists who want the dams removed point  to what has happened since the first one was built nearly 90 years ago: endangered salmon have been blocked from migrating, Indian livelihoods have been threatened, and, more recently, the commercial fishing industry off the Oregon and California coasts has been devastated.. …The Klamath dams provide enough power to serve about 70,000 homes, a small fraction of PacifiCorp's 1.6 million customers, which span six Western states. But the company says only coal or natural gas are likely to be reliable enough to replace the river, which hits hydroelectric turbines four times on its way to the sea from east of the snow-capped Cascade Range. Those who support removing the dams largely dismiss the clean-energy argument, saying the benefits outweigh losing a relatively small source of hydropower. They note that PacifiCorp's increased interest in the environment comes as recent rulings by judges and federal fisheries agencies have given new momentum for removal. The company's federal license to run the dams expired last year, and the government has said PacifiCorp must build fish ladders over the four dams to get a new license, a proposition that could cost $300 million and reduce the power the dams generate, potentially making removal a less costly choice……The Klamath runs more than 250 miles from southwest Oregon to the California coast, connecting two states where power and water supply have long been contentious issues……The Northwest, where more than 80 percent of the power generated comes from hydroelectricity, has long had some of the lowest electricity rates in the nation. It has also been the setting for epic environmental fights that reflect the tension across the region's topographic and demographic divides……

19 April 2007. SCIENTISTS TRACK IMPACT OF ASIAN DUST AND POLLUTION ON CLOUDS, CLIMATE CHANGE. NASA Earth Observatory. Excerpt: Scientists using one of the nation's newest and most capable research aircraft are launching a far-reaching field project this month to study plumes of airborne dust and pollutants that originate in Asia and journey to North America ...Known as PACDEX (Pacific Dust Experiment), the project will be led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. ...The first mission will be launched in late April, depending on weather patterns in Asia. It will continue for two months.
To study the changes in the plumes as they move through the atmosphere from Japan to the western United States, the PACDEX team will deploy the NSF Gulfstream-V aircraft.... ...explains NCAR scientist Jeff Stith, a principal investigator on the project... "We want to determine how the various particles of dust and pollutants influence clouds and climate, and how far downwind those effects occur." ...As Asia's economies boom, scientists are increasingly turning their attention to the plumes, which pack a combination of industrial emissions (such as soot, smog, and trace metals) and dust from storms in regions such as Central Asia's Gobi Desert. The plumes can alter global temperatures by interacting with large-scale, mid-latitude cloud systems over the Pacific that reflect enormous amounts of sunlight and help regulate global climate....

7 April 2007. Late Changes Made Report More Dire, and Less. By ANDREW C. REVKIN. NY Times. Excerpt: Since it was created in 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been criticized from all sides at one time or another. ...The summaries of the panel's voluminous reports are fought over with particular vigor, especially at the point when they must pass muster with governments before they are officially approved. In final work among authors and a late-night showdown between authors and government officials, the wording of the latest report was adjusted in some cases to play up uncertainty and in others to spell out the downside of climate-related trends. In at least one section, on climate impacts in Europe, those with a more dire view clearly had their way. "In Southern Europe, climate change is projected to worsen conditions (high temperatures and drought) in a region already vulnerable to climate variability, and to reduce water availability, hydropower potential, summer tourism, and in general, crop productivity. It is also projected to increase health risks due to heat waves and the frequency of wildfires." "In Central and Eastern Europe, summer precipitation is projected to decrease, causing higher water stress." "Health risks due to heat waves are projected to increase. Forest productivity is expected to decline and the frequency of peatland fires to increase." In Northern Europe, climate change is initially projected to bring mixed effects, including some benefits such as reduced demand for heating, increased crop yields and increased forest growth. However, as climate change continues, its negative impacts (including more frequent winter floods, endangered ecosystems and increasing ground instability) are likely to outweigh its benefits." "Many millions more people are projected to be flooded every year due to sea-level rise by the 2080s. Those densely populated and low-lying areas where adaptive capacity is relatively low, and which already face other challenges such as tropical storms or local coastal subsidence, are especially at risk."

7 April 2007. Scientists Detail Climate Changes, Poles to Tropics. By JAMES KANTER and ANDREW C. REVKIN. NY Times. Excerpt: BRUSSELS, April 6 - In its most detailed portrait of the effects of climate change driven by human activities, the panel predicted widening droughts in southern Europe and the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, the American Southwest and Mexico, and flooding that could imperil low-lying islands and the crowded river deltas of southern Asia. It stressed that many of the regions facing the greatest risks were among the world's poorest. And it said that while limits on smokestack and tailpipe emissions could lower the long-term risks, vulnerable regions must adjust promptly to shifting weather patterns, climatic and coastal hazards, and rising seas.
Without such adaptations, it said, a rise of 3 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century could lead to the inundation of coasts and islands inhabited by hundreds of millions of people. But if steady investments are made in seawalls and other coastal protections, vulnerability could be sharply reduced. The group, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, also noted that the climate shifts would benefit some regions - leading to more rainfall and longer growing seasons in high latitudes, open Arctic seaways and fewer deaths from the cold. ...Under pressure from nations including Russia, China and Saudi Arabia, the authors said, sections on coral damage and tropical storms were softened in the summary. ....

5 April 2007. U.N. Draft Cites Humans in Recent Climate Shifts By ANDREW C. REVKIN. NY Times. Excerpt: The latest United Nations assessment of the role of humans in global warming has found with "high confidence" that greenhouse gas emissions are at least partly responsible for a host of changes already under way, including longer growing seasons and shrinking glaciers. ...Some of the changes could be beneficial, but most will prove harmful in the long run, the report says. It finds that global warming caused by humans has almost certainly contributed to recent shifts in ecosystems, weather patterns, oceans and icy regions, and that it will have large and lasting effects on human affairs and on the planet's web of life in this century. The draft report predicts a variety of health effects as well, with "increased deaths, disease and injury due to heat waves, floods, storms, fires and droughts," but also "some benefits to health such as fewer deaths from cold." Also in the plus column, higher concentrations of carbon dioxide... are contributing to a greener world.... "Based on satellite observations since the early 1980s, ...there has been a trend in many regions towards earlier greening of vegetation in the spring and increased net primary production linked to longer growing seasons and increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations," it said. ...Water supplies fed by alpine snows or ice sheets are already experiencing changes and could be greatly disrupted.... Among other findings, the draft says: "Coasts are very likely to be exposed to increasing risks due to climate change and sea-level rise, and the effect will be exacerbated by increasing human-induced pressures on coastal areas." "It is likely that corals will experience a major decline due to increased bleaching and mortality due to rising seawater temperatures." Many of the world's regions that are already vulnerable to climate and coastal hazards are likely to see the biggest effects from additional changes driven by the buildup of greenhouse gases. "Poor communities can be especially vulnerable," it says, "because they tend to be concentrated in relatively high-risk areas, have more limited coping capacities, and can be more dependent on climate-sensitive resources such as local water and food supplies." ....

13 March 2007. Britain Aims for CO2 - Limit Target Dates. By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. Excerpt: LONDON (AP) -- Britain proposed setting legally binding targets for cutting carbon dioxide emissions, saying Tuesday it wanted to lead by example in the global campaign against climate change. Environment Secretary David Miliband said the bill, which includes targets for reducing emissions that must be achieved by 2020 and 2050, was ''the first of its kind in any country. The debate on climate change has shifted from whether we need to act to how much we need to do by when, and the economic implications of doing so,'' he said....

9 March 2007. EU Leaders Agree to Cut Greenhouse Gases. By Paul Ames, The Associated Press. Excerpt: European Union leaders on Friday endorsed binding targets to cut greenhouse gases and ensure a fifth of the bloc's energy comes from green power such as wind turbines and solar panels. The deal also noted the role nuclear power could play in tackling greenhouse gas emissions, an inclusion not welcomed by all leaders. ...European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called the measures "the most ambitious package ever agreed by any institution on energy security and climate change."...European leaders hope their commitment to tackling climate change will encourage other leading polluters like the United States and China to agree on deep emissions cuts.
...The deal contains a reference to the role of nuclear power, a demand of the French, Czechs, Slovaks and others who argued it could play a crucial part in helping Europe move away from carbon fuels. ...Austria, Ireland and Denmark did not want the EU to sanction nuclear power, and the German government is split over whether to develop atomic energy. "Our Austrian attitude toward sustainable energy definitely does not include nuclear energy," Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik told reporters. Friends of the Earth said it was appalled by the mention of nuclear power. "Nuclear energy is too expensive," said Jan Kowalzig, a campaigner with the group. "Nations should invest more cleverly in developing other energy sources." He called the 20 percent target for renewables "too low," but said the group was pleased it was binding.

2 March 2007. UN REPORT EXCLUSIVE - Climate Change Impact More Extensive than Thought. By Volker Mrasek, Spiegel Online. Excerpt: Global climate change is happening faster than previously believed and its impact is worse than expected, information from an as-yet unpublished draft of the long-awaited second part of a United Nations report obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE reveals. No region of the planet will be spared and some will be hit especially hard....The second part of the [IPCC] report is to be presented in April .... The main conclusion of the report is that climate change is already having a profound effect on all the continents and on many of the Earth's ecosystems. The draft presents a long list of evidence:

  • Glacial lakes are increasing in both size and number, potentially leading to deadly floods.
  • Permafrost in mountainous regions and at high latitudes is warming increasing the danger of land slides.
  • As the temperature of rivers and lakes rises, their thermal stratification and water quality is changing.
  • River currents, affected by melting glaciers and ice, are speeding up during the spring.
  • Springtime is starting earlier, causing plants to bloom earlier and changing the migrations of birds.
  • Many plants and animals are expanding their habitats into mountainous regions and higher latitudes that are becoming milder.....
    Many natural resources are likely to fall victim to climate change according to the IPCC draft report:
  • Some 20 to 30 percent of all species face a "high risk of extinction" should average global temperatures rise another 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius from their 1990 levels. That could happen by 2050, the report warns.
  • Coral reefs are "likely to undergo strong declines."
  • Salt marshes and mangrove forests could disappear as sea levels rise.
  • Tropical rainforests will be replaced by savanna in those regions where groundwater decreases.
  • Migratory birds and mammals will suffer as vegetation zones in the Artic shift.
    The IPCC expects the following world regions to suffer the most due to climate change:
  • The Arctic due to the greatest relative warming
  • Small island states in the Pacific as sea levels rise
  • Africa south of the Sahel zone due to drought
  • Densely populated river deltas in Asia amid flooding....

25 February 2007. LAKES UNDER ANTARCTIC ICE LINKED TO SEA LEVEL RISE - This broadcast of Earth & Sky radio show featured NASA scientist Bob Bindschadler. The show is also available to download as an audio Podcast.

18 February 2007. FROM ICEHOUSE TO HOTHOUSE: MELTING ICE AND RISING CARBON DIOXIDE CAUSED CLIMATE SHIFT. Three hundred million years ago, Earth's climate shifted dramatically from icehouse to hothouse, with major environmental consequences.

15 February 2007. Study Questions Prospects for Much Lower Emissions. By MATTHEW L. WALD, NY Times. Excerpt: As Democratic leaders in Congress prepare to put climate change legislation on the agenda, some in the utility industry are arguing that it will take decades of investments and innovation to get substantial reductions in their emissions of greenhouse gases. Electric power companies, which emit about one-third of America's global warming gases, could reduce their emissions to below the levels of 1990, but that would take about 20 years, no matter how much the utilities spend, according to a new industry study. The report, prepared by the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit consortium, is portrayed as highly optimistic by its authors, who will present the findings on Thursday at an energy conference in Houston. It assumes that "money grows on trees and all research is successful," said one of them, Bryan J. Hannegan. "This is as good as we think we can get, right now." ...The 1990 Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which the Bush administration declined to support in 2001, calls for emissions from large industrial nations to be below 1990 levels by about the year 2010. In an interview, Dr. Hannegan said that cutting carbon dioxide that much would mean pursuing every option, including energy efficiency, zero-carbon wind and sun power; new nuclear reactors; coal plants that capture and sequester their carbon; and even plug-in hybrid electric cars, which would require making more electricity but would reduce carbon dioxide and save gasoline....

15 February 2007. California Air Resources Board (ARB) public workshop on proposed regulations to expand the existing Smog Index Label to include a Global Warming Index Label. See the Vehicle Emissions Labeling web site located at: Other interesting info at

7 February 2007. China Says Rich Countries Should Take Lead on Global Warming. By JIM YARDLEY, NY Times. Excerpt: BEIJING, Feb. 6 - China said Tuesday that wealthier countries must take the lead in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and refused to say whether it would agree to any mandatory emissions limits that might hamper its booming economy. Jiang Yu, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, said ... "It must be pointed out that climate change has been caused by the long-term historic emissions of developed countries and their high per capita emissions," she said, adding that developed countries have responsibilities for global warming "that cannot be shirked." ...China is the world's second largest emitter of the greenhouse gases contributing to climate change, .... Last November, the International Energy Agency in Paris predicted that China would pass the United States in emissions of carbon dioxide in 2009. ...Qin Dahe, chief of the China Meteorological Administration, told reporters ... "President Hu Jintao has said that climate change is not just an environmental issue but also ... ultimately a development issue." ..."As a developing country that's growing rapidly and has a big population, to thoroughly transform the energy structure and use clean energy would need a lot of money," Mr. Qin said, according to Reuters....

6 February 2007. SCIENTIST AT WORK SUSAN SOLOMON - Melding Science and Diplomacy to Run a Global Climate Review. By ANDREW C. REVKIN NY Times. Excerpt: ..."Thomas Jefferson once said something like, 'Science is my passion, politics my duty,' " Dr. Solomon, 51, said Sunday.... "That's probably how I think about it, too. Science does have a duty, when called upon, to provide information that's important to society the best way it can." In place of making expeditions to the South Pole and Greenland, her old stomping grounds, she spent chunks of the last five years hunkered in gray buildings in Beijing, New Delhi, Marrakech and Paris running meeting after meeting of experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The panel was convened by the United Nations in 1988 ... to provide regular reviews of climate science to governments to inform policy choices. Dr. Solomon, a senior scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Qin Dahe, head of the Chinese meteorological agency, were charged with generating the fourth report and summary since 1990 of advances in climate science. The final editing ... involved approval by 113 governments. Several participants credited Dr. Solomon with ensuring that last-minute demands, particularly from China and the United States, did not derail the process or distort the science. ...When a reporter asked Dr. Solomon "to sum up what kind of urgency this sort of report should convey to policy makers," she gave the furthest thing from a convenient sound bite. "I can only give you something that's going to disappoint you, sir, and that is that it's my personal scientific approach to say it's not my role to try to communicate what should be done," Dr. Solomon said. "I believe that is a societal choice. I believe science is one input to that choice, and I also believe that science can best serve society by refraining from going beyond its expertise.... Dr. Solomon, who fell in love with science at age 9 after watching Jacques Cousteau's films about the sea, said she was unfazed by the pressures of working on the panel. She faces months of additional work on reports related to the summary. After that, she said, she plans to take a little time off and, for the first time, really, enjoy the Rocky Mountains around her base in Boulder, Colo. "I'm going to learn how to fish," she said.

2 February 2007. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report was released. Download the 21 page document. See also NY Times article:
Science Panel Calls Global Warming 'Unequivocal' By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL and ANDREW C. REVKIN, Published NY Times: February 3, 2007. Excerpt: PARIS, Feb. 2 - In a grim and powerful assessment of the future of the planet, the leading international network of climate scientists has concluded for the first time that global warming is "unequivocal" and that human activity is the main driver, "very likely" causing most of the rise in temperatures since 1950. ..."In our daily lives we all respond urgently to dangers that are much less likely than climate change to affect the future of our children," said Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program.... The report is the panel's fourth assessment ... global climate is likely to warm 3.5 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit if carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere reach twice the levels of 1750, before the Industrial Revolution. ...It forecasts a [sea level] rise of 7 to 23 inches by 2100 and concludes that seas will continue to rise for at least 1,000 years to come. ...John P. Holdren, an energy and climate expert at Harvard, said the report "powerfully underscores the need for a massive effort to slow the pace of global climatic disruption before intolerable consequences become inevitable. Since 2001, there has been a torrent of new scientific evidence on the magnitude, human origins and growing impacts of the climatic changes that are under way," said Mr. Holdren, who is the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "In overwhelming proportions, this evidence has been in the direction of showing faster change, more danger and greater confidence about the dominant role of fossil-fuel burning and tropical deforestation in causing the changes that are being observed.".....

10 January 2007. Agency Affirms Human Influence on Climate. By ANDREW C. REVKIN NY Times. Excerpt: ... until yesterday, it appeared that no news release on annual climate trends out of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under the Bush White House had said unequivocally that a buildup of greenhouse gases was helping warm the climate. The statement came in a release that said 2006 was the warmest year for the 48 contiguous states since regular temperature records began in 1895. It surpassed the previous champion, 1998, a year heated up by a powerful episode of the periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean by El Ni–o. Last year, another El Ni–o developed, but this time a long-term warming trend from human activities was said to be involved as well. "A contributing factor to the unusually warm temperatures throughout 2006 also is the long-term warming trend, which has been linked to increases in greenhouse gases," the release said, emphasizing that the relative contributions of El Ni–o and the human influence were not known. A link between greenhouse gases and climate change was also made in a December news conference by Dirk Kempthorne, the secretary of the interior, as that agency proposed listing polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Still, the climate agency's shift in language came as a surprise to several public affairs officials there. They said they had become accustomed in recent years to having any mention of a link between climate trends and human activities played down or trimmed when drafts of documents went to the Commerce Department and the White House for approval. ....

10 January 2007. Schwarzenegger Orders Cuts in Emissions. By JENNIFER STEINHAUER and FELICITY BARRINGER. NY Times. Excerpt: SACRAMENTO, Jan. 9 - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Tuesday that he would ask regulators to require the state's petroleum refiners and gasoline sellers to cut by 10 percent the emissions of heat-trapping gases associated with the production and use of their products. ...It is the first example of the practical impact of a deal made last summer between the Legislature and the governor to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 25 percent by 2020. The transportation sector is responsible for about 40 percent of the state's carbon dioxide emissions, state officials said, and cars make up about half that amount. The 10 percent cut in emissions would be accomplished, experts said, largely through the use of alternative fuels, like ethanol and other gasoline blends, which would be provided by the refineries and other producers. Hal Harvey, the environmental program director for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, called Mr. Schwarzenegger's plan "a really big deal." "In my opinion there are no successful rules anywhere in the world, except Brazil, to get carbon out of fuels," Mr. Harvey said. ...Mr. Harvey and Fred Krupp, the president of Environmental Defense, said they hoped that the California approach would be a template for other governments, whether in state capitals, in Washington or abroad. The plan, Mr. Harvey said, is unusual in its focus on the so-called cradle-to-grave emissions associated with each fuel. In the case of ethanol, this can mean carbon emissions generated in the production of fertilizer, in the planting and harvesting of corn, in distilling the fuel and, finally, in transporting it to the distributor and burning it in a car. Thus, two otherwise identical gallons of ethanol could have different greenhouse-gas ratings, if one were refined using carbon-intensive coal-fired electricity, while the other was refined using relatively carbon-light electricity from natural gas.....

21 December 2006. Outsize Profits, and Questions, in Effort to Cut Warming Gases. By KEITH BRADSHER, NY Times. Excerpt: QUZHOU, China - Foreign businesses have embraced an obscure United Nations-backed program as a favored approach to limiting global warming. But the early efforts have revealed some hidden problems. ...Under the program, businesses in wealthier nations of Europe and in Japan help pay to reduce pollution in poorer ones as a way of staying within government limits for emitting climate-changing gases like carbon dioxide, as part of the Kyoto Protocol. Among their targets is a large rusting chemical factory here in southeastern China. Its emissions of just one waste gas contribute as much to global warming each year as the emissions from a million American cars, each driven 12,000 miles. Cleaning up this factory will require an incinerator that costs $5 million - far less than the cost of cleaning up so many cars, or other sources of pollution in Europe and Japan. Yet the foreign companies will pay roughly $500 million for the incinerator - 100 times what it cost. The high price is set in a European-based market in carbon dioxide emissions. Because the waste gas has a far more powerful effect on global warming than carbon dioxide emissions, the foreign businesses must pay a premium far beyond the cost of the actual cleanup. The huge profits from that will be divided by the chemical factory's owners, a Chinese government energy fund, and the consultants and bankers who put together the deal from a mansion in the wealthy Mayfair district of London. ...But critics of the fast-growing program, through which European and Japanese companies are paying roughly $3 billion for credits this year, complain that it mostly enriches a few bankers, consultants and factory owners. With so much money flowing to a few particularly lucrative cleanup deals, the danger is that they will distract attention from the broader effort to curb global warming gases, and that the lure of quick profit will encourage short-term fixes at the expense of fundamental, long-run solutions, including developing renewable energy sources like solar power....

19 December 2006. Environmental Stories to Watch in 2007. Includes excellent chart of "Comparison of climate change proposals" in PDF document.

15 December 2006. FY2007 Our Changing Planet now available -- The U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) annual report "Our Changing Planet" is now available at

11 December 2006. NASA PROVIDES NEW PERSPECTIVES ON THE EARTH'S CHANGING ICE SHEETS. NASA Earth Observatory News. - Recent advances in remote sensing, the use of highly sensitive instruments aboard satellites and aircraft, have enabled scientists to examine the mass balance of the ice sheets and to determine just where and how quickly the ice is growing or shrinking.

11 December 2006. MOULIN 'BLANC': NASA EXPEDITION PROBES DEEP WITHIN A GREENLAND GLACIER. NASA Earth Observatory News. - A NASA scientist recently led an expedition to send a NASA-built probe into the glacial chutes in the remote and isolated Pakisoq region of the West Greenland Ice Sheet.

6 December 2006. NASA RESEARCH REVEALS CLIMATE WARMING REDUCES OCEAN FOOD SUPPLY. NASA RELEASE: 06-364 Excerpt: WASHINGTON - In a NASA study, scientists have concluded that when Earth's climate warms, there is a reduction in the ocean's primary food supply. This poses a potential threat to fisheries and ecosystems. By comparing nearly a decade of global ocean satellite data with several records of Earth's changing climate, scientists found that whenever climate temperatures warmed, marine plant life in the form of microscopic phytoplankton declined. Whenever climate temperatures cooled, marine plant life became more vigorous or productive. The findings will appear in the journal Nature on Dec. 7. ...Phytoplankton are microscopic plants living in the upper sunlit layer of the ocean. They are responsible for approximately the same amount of photosynthesis each year as all land plants combined. Changes in phytoplankton growth and photosynthesis influence fishery yields, marine bird populations and the amount of carbon dioxide the oceans remove from the atmosphere. ... Scientists made their discovery by comparing the SeaWiFS record of the rise and fall of global ocean plant life to different measures of recent global climate change...

28 November 2006. New York Times. EDITORIAL: Global Warming Goes to Court. Excerpt: The Bush administration has been on a six-year campaign to expand its powers, often beyond what the Constitution allows. So it is odd to hear it claim that it lacks the power to slow global warming by limiting the emission of harmful gases. But that is just what it will argue to the Supreme Court tomorrow, in what may be the most important environmental case in many years.
A group of 12 states, including New York and Massachusetts, is suing the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to properly do its job. These states, backed by environmental groups and scientists, say that the Clean Air Act requires the E.P.A. to impose limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted by new cars. The Bush administration insists that the E.P.A. does not have the power to limit these gases. It argues that they are not "air pollutants" under the Clean Air Act. The act says that the E.P.A. "shall" set standards for "any air pollutant" that in its judgment causes or contributes to air pollution that "may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare." The word "welfare," the law says, includes "climate" and "weather." Beneath the statutory and standing questions, this is a case about how seriously the government takes global warming.

18 November 2006. Big Conference on Warming Ends, Achieving Modest Results. By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN and ANDREW C. REVKIN, NY Times Exceprt: NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov. 17 - The yearly United Nations conference on climate change ended Friday with only modest results after delegates failed to establish a timetable for future cuts on pollution linked to global warming. Despite nearly two weeks of meetings, which drew 6,000 participants to Nairobi from around the world, the delegates could not agree on a number of issues, especially how to move beyond the Kyoto Protocol, which requires cuts in emissions by most industrialized countries but expires in 2012. Two persistent problems were American reluctance to agree to any mandatory emissions limits and increased stubbornness by China and India, two of the world's fastest-growing polluters, which face no penalties under the Kyoto agreement for all the heat-trapping gases they pump into the atmosphere.

18 November 2006. City Approves 'Carbon Tax' in Effort to Reduce Gas Emissions. By KATIE KELLEY, NY Times. Excerpt: BOULDER, Colo., Nov. 14 - Voters in this liberal college town have approved what environmentalists say may be the nation's first "carbon tax," intended to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases. The tax, to take effect on April 1, will be based on the number of kilowatt-hours used. Officials say it will add $16 a year to an average homeowner's electricity bill and $46 for businesses. City officials said the revenue from the tax - an estimated $6.7 million by 2012, when the goal is to have reduced carbon emissions by 350,000 metric tons - would be collected by the main gas and electric utility, Xcel Energy, and funneled through the city's Office of Environmental Affairs. The tax is to pay for the "climate action plan," efforts to "increase energy efficiency in homes and buildings, switch to renewable energy and reduce vehicle miles traveled," the city's environmental affairs manager, Jonathan Koehn, said. The goal is to reduce the carbon levels to 7 percent less than those in 1990, which amounts to a 24 percent reduction from current levels, Mr. Koehn said. ...The tax grew out of efforts by a committee of residents and members of the City Council and Chamber of Commerce to try to enable Boulder to reach goals set by the United Nations Kyoto Protocol, which seeks to curb global warming. The protocol requires 35 developing nations to reduce their emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide. The world's top two polluters, the United States and China, have not signed the pact. The Boulder environmental sustainability coordinator, Sarah Van Pelt, said residents who used alternative sources of electricity like wind power would receive a discount on the tax based on the amount of the alternative power used. A total of 5,600 residents and 210 businesses use wind power, Ms. Van Pelt said...

30 October 2006. Budgets Falling in Race to Fight Global Warming. By ANDREW C. REVKIN. NY Times. Excerpt: ...For all the enthusiasm about alternatives to coal and oil, the challenge of limiting emissions of carbon dioxide, which traps heat, will be immense in a world likely to add 2.5 billion people by midcentury, a host of other experts say. Moreover, most of those people will live in countries like China and India, which are just beginning to enjoy an electrified, air-conditioned mobile society. The challenge is all the more daunting because research into energy technologies by both government and industry has not been rising, but rather falling. In the United States, annual federal spending for all energy research and development - not just the research aimed at climate-friendly technologies - is less than half what it was a quarter-century ago. It has sunk to $3 billion a year in the current budget from an inflation-adjusted peak of $7.7 billion in 1979, according to several different studies. ...Still, more than four dozen scientists, economists, engineers and entrepreneurs interviewed by The New York Times said that unless the search for abundant non-polluting energy sources and systems became far more aggressive, the world would probably face dangerous warming and international strife as nations with growing energy demands compete for increasingly inadequate resources. Most of these experts also say existing energy alternatives and improvements in energy efficiency are simply not enough. "We cannot come close to stabilizing temperatures" unless humans, by the end of the century, stop adding more CO2 to the atmosphere than it can absorb, said W. David Montgomery of Charles River Associates, a consulting group, "and that will be an economic impossibility without a major R.& D. investment." ...Without big reductions in emissions, the midrange projections of most scenarios envision a rise of 4 degrees or so in this century, four times the warming in the last 100 years. That could, among other effects, produce a disruptive mix of intensified flooding and withering droughts in the world's prime agricultural regions. ...A typical new coal-fired power plant, one of the largest sources of emissions, is expected to operate for many decades. About one large coal-burning plant is being commissioned a week, mostly in China. ...Many experts say this means the only way to affordably speed the transition to low-emissions energy is with advances in technologies at all stages of maturity. Examples include: Substantially improving the efficiency and cost of solar panels; Conducting full-scale tests of systems for capturing carbon dioxide from power plants and pumping it underground; Seeking efficient ways to generate fuels from crops; Finding new ways to store vast amounts of energy harvested intermittently from the wind and sun....Another area requiring immediate intensified work, Dr. Holdren and other experts say, is large-scale demonstration of systems for capturing carbon dioxide from coal burning before too many old-style plants are built....Current research ranges from work on algae strains that can turn sunlight into hydrogen fuel to the inkjet-style printing of photovoltaic cells - a technique that could greatly cut solar-energy costs if it worked on a large scale. One company is promoting high-flying kite-like windmills to harvest the boundless energy in the jet stream....

20 September 2006. NASA'S TRMM SATELLITE TRACKS 2006 HURRICANE RAINFALL. NASA scientists are using satellite data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission to determine the amount of rainfall that falls in the path of a hurricane. NASA Earth Observatory.

31 August 2006. Officials Reach California Deal to Cut Emissions. By FELICITY BARRINGER. NY Times. SACRAMENTO, Aug. 30 - California's political leaders announced an agreement on Wednesday that imposes the most sweeping controls on carbon dioxide emissions in the nation, putting the state at the forefront of a broad campaign to curb the man-made causes of climate change despite resistance in Washington. The deal between the Democratic-controlled Legislature and the Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, calls for a 25 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020, and could establish controls on the largest industrial sectors, including utilities, oil refineries and cement plants. ...The first major controls are scheduled to begin in 2012, with the aim of reducing the emissions to their level in 1990....

8 August 2006. Team Looks at Seafloor as Gas Trap. By ANDREW C. REVKIN. NY Times. As the world heads toward a midcentury population of some nine billion people with at least twice today's energy thirst, one vital way to limit global warming, many scientists say, will be to capture the heat-trapping carbon dioxide emitted by coal-fired power plants. But what can you do with what will amount to tens of billions of tons of the gas? Pumping carbon dioxide into the earth or deep into the sea have been suggested. But some escape is possible in both cases. Now a team of researchers propose what they say is a limitless, low-risk repository for carbon dioxide: seafloor sediments at depths and temperatures that would guarantee it would stay denser than the water above, and thus be permanently locked away. ...Several hundred yards beneath the seabed in waters about 10,000 feet deep, the temperature is typically about 35 degrees and the pressure from the water overhead would cause liquid carbon dioxide pumped into porous sediment to stay denser than water, the researchers said.

13 July 2006. NASA Explains Puzzling Impact of Polluted Skies on Climate. Excerpt: NASA scientists have determined that the formation of clouds is affected by the lightness or darkness of air pollution particles. This also impacts Earth's climate. In a breakthrough study published today in the online edition of Science, scientists explain why aerosols -- tiny particles suspended in air pollution and smoke -- sometimes stop clouds from forming and in other cases increase cloud cover. Clouds not only deliver water around the globe, they also help regulate how much of the sun's warmth the planet holds. The capacity of air pollution to absorb energy from the sun is the key. "When the overall mixture of aerosol particles in pollution absorbs more sunlight, it is more effective at preventing clouds from forming. When pollutant aerosols are lighter in color and absorb less energy, they have the opposite effect and actually help clouds to form," said Lorraine Remer of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Remer worked closely with the study's lead author, the late Yoram Kaufman of Goddard, on previous research into this perplexing "aerosol effect."

28 July 2006. ASME Capitol Update - CLIMATE CHANGE DEBATE RAGES ON BOTH SIDES OF CAPITOL HILL. Legislators on both sides of Capitol Hill took on the contentious issue of climate change prior to the August Congressional district work period.

20 July 2006. ...In his opening statement before a hearing on July 20th, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), Chair of the House Committee on Government Reform, asked, "Exactly what is climate change, and where are we with the science? There aren't many people left these days who would argue global warming isn't happening, per se. But beyond this, consensus - scientific, political, technological, and moral - remains elusive. That's where we must step in. It is our job to ask whether we're responding appropriately where there is scientific consensus." See his entire statement.

18 July 2006 ...A panel of expert witnesses testified on how the government and the business world are currently responding to concerns about global climate change and future policy initiatives that can produce effective government action on the matter. See the statement of each of the witnesses.

27 July 2006. ...the House Energy & Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee has held two hearings on the so-called "hockey stick" climate analysis prepared by Pennsylvania State University climatologist Michael Mann that has been the subject of Committee scrutiny for several months. The study was deemed valuable by a recent review by the National Academy of Sciences. For more information about these hearings, including witness testimony that supports or is critical of Mann's analysis, please visit:

20 July 2006. ...On the Senate side, Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT) introduced S. 3698, the "Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act" of 2006 that aims to cut U.S. greenhouse gases by 80 percent over the next half century. This bill would require that carbon dioxide emissions be capped at 1990 levels by 2020. New cars and most other vehicles would have to meet strict new tailpipe emission standards, and new power plants constructed after 2013 would have to be constructed so as to reduce greenhouse emissions by at least 60 percent below current levels. Read Senator Jeffords' entire statement, as well as the bill summary and complete text.

30 May 2006. The Greener Guys. By JAD MOUAWAD. NY Times. Excerpt: When Timberland, the outdoor clothing company, studied ways to reduce its carbon emissions four years ago, it weighed several options: building a wind farm..., buying power generated by renewable resources and setting up a vast bank of solar panels.... ...It chose to do all those things, ... Timberland ...has already cut its greenhouse gases by 17 percent from their 2002 level and aims to become carbon-neutral by 2010.... there are no rules in the United States regulating heat-trapping gases comparable to those that most other developed countries have adopted under the Kyoto Protocol. Some United States businesses, though, are responding for a variety of reasons anyway: to satisfy customers or shareholders who worry about the environment, to improve their public image or to drive down their energy costs. ...The United States is responsible for a quarter of all the carbon dioxide sent into the atmosphere each year. It has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, .... "This is a huge challenge for American businesses ... trying to compete internationally," said Adam Markham, executive director of Clean Air-Cool Planet, .... "Most of the rest of the developing world has a legislative mandate to curb emissions... ... the biggest strides have been achieved by corporations with operations outside the United States. I.B.M. and DuPont, for example, have long had programs to curb their energy use ... to cut manufacturing costs while decreasing their emissions. At DuPont, the savings from energy projects has totaled $2 billion over the last decade and a half. I.B.M. saved $115 million since 1998 by avoiding 1.3 million tons of carbon emissions, or the equivalent of taking 51,600 cars off the road, according to the climate change program at the World Wildlife Fund. Other companies, like 3M, Advanced Micro Devices and the Gap, have pledged voluntary reductions in their emissions. Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, announced a sweeping set of environmental goals last October, including doubling its truck fleet's efficiency and improving energy efficiency at its stores. Johnson & Johnson decided in the late 1990's to meet the Kyoto requirements globally. From 1990 to 2005, the company reduced carbon emissions by 11.5 percent. Meanwhile, sales grew by 350 percent....

3 May 2006. Federal Study Finds Accord on Warming. By ANDREW C. REVKIN. NY Times. Excerpt: A scientific study commissioned by the Bush administration concluded yesterday that the lower atmosphere was indeed growing warmer and that there was "clear evidence of human influences on the climate system." The finding eliminates a significant area of uncertainty in the debate over global warming, one that the administration has long cited as a rationale for proceeding cautiously on what it says would be costly limits on emissions of heat-trapping gases. ... The officials said that while the new finding was important, the administration's policy remained focused on studying the remaining questions and using voluntary means to slow the growth in emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide. ...The new study found that "there is no longer a discrepancy in the rate of global average temperature increase for the surface compared with higher levels in the atmosphere," in the words of a news release issued by the Commerce Department and approved by the White House. The report was published yesterday online at ... The study said that the only factor that could explain the measured warming of Earth's average temperature over the last 50 years was the buildup heat-trapping gases, which are mainly emitted by burning coal and oil. ...John R. Christy, an author of the new report whose analysis of satellite temperature records long showed little warming above Earth's surface, said he endorsed the conclusion that "part of what has happened over the last 50 years has clearly been caused by humans." ...Dr. Christy also said that even given what the models projected, it would be impossible to slow warming noticeably in the coming decades. Countries would be wise to seek ways to adapt to warming, he added, even as they seek new sources of energy that do not emit heat-trapping gases.

April 2006. Time Magazine Cover photo of polar bear on block of ice relates to Climate Change page 78.

26 January 2006. Early leadership on climate policy can pay off for California, study says. UC Berkeley, Public Affairs | Berkeleyan - Excerpt: New UC-led report makes case that climate action to meet Governor Schwarzenegger's goals is likely to promote economic growth in the state . ...The goals established by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005 include reducing greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions to 2000 levels by the year 2010, and to 1990 levels by 2020. "Managing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in California," issued on Monday, Jan. 23, finds that just eight policy strategies can take California halfway to the governor's 2020 targets while increasing the Gross State Product by approximately $60 billion and creating more than 20,000 new jobs. "Our study demonstrates that taking action to reduce global-warming emissions in California is good for the California economy," said Michael Hanemann, professor of agricultural and resource economics and co-author of the report. "Our research indicates that not only does climate action pay, but early climate action pays more." ...we find that the aggregate economic benefits of many GHG-mitigating policies outweigh their microeconomic costs, and more generally that it is possible for the state to reconcile growth and environmental objectives....

January 2006. Climate Change Could Become Irrevocable. PSR Reports - Physicians for Social Responsibility. Administration Struggles to Downplay Risks. With each passing month, research scientists discover new evidence that the threat of global climate change is growing more urgent and that world leaders must act immediately to forestall serious and potentially irreversible warming. Since 1990, when the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) first released its definitive scientific assessment of global warming, the base of evidence for climate change has only grown. There is now widespread consensus within the scientific community that human activities-especially the burning of fossil fuels-are the primary driver of climate change. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the earth has experienced a rise in global temperatures. This warming pattern is expected to continue, with the IPCC projecting an increase of 1.4° to 5.8°C (2.5° to 10.4°F) within the next 100 years. The shrinkage of glaciers, declines of some plant and animal populations, and earlier springtime emergence of insects are only a few examples of the lasting impacts already witnessed around the world. Beyond the serious and potentially irreversible effects on physical and biological systems being observed, there is also a growing body of research that suggests that global climate change will adversely affect public health....

28 December 2005. In Russia, Pollution Is Good for Business, By ANDREW E. KRAMER. Excerpt: MOSCOW, Dec. 24 - By its own admission, Russia's electricity monopoly is the world's largest corporate producer of greenhouse gases, accounting - by itself - for nearly as much carbon dioxide as is emitted by Britain. ...From smokestacks across Russia's 11 time zones, the company, Unified Energy Systems, spews out 2 percent of all human-generated carbon dioxide accumulating in the atmosphere. What will the utility get for being the world's largest greenhouse gas polluter? It is hoping for $1 billion. It is one of the paradoxes of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change that companies in Russia and other Eastern European countries, which are among the world's largest producers of greenhouse gases, are poised to earn hundreds of millions of dollars through trading their rights to release carbon dioxide into the air. The Kyoto treaty, negotiated in 1997 and adopted by 36 industrial nations, ... requires the 36 industrial nations - with varying targets - to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases below their 1990 levels, in the five years from 2008 to 2012. For the European Union, the target is to reduce emissions to 8 percent below 1990 levels. In an indication of how robust the demand for emissions credits may be, this year the European Union is 6 percent above its 1990 levels. The United States, which generates a fifth of greenhouse gases but has not joined the Kyoto Protocol, is 19 percent above its theoretical limits. Russia, in contrast, suffered an economic collapse in the 1990's, and is 43 percent below its 1990 baseline in the Kyoto agreement. In fact, Russia does not expect to reach 1990's emissions levels until around 2020 ...At the same time, Russian industry is generally wasteful with energy...President Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, citing the high cost to American industry....

7 December 2005. Pact Signed for Prototype of Coal Plant. By ANDREW C. REVKIN, NY Times. Excerpt: MONTREAL, Dec. 6 - Under pressure from other industrialized countries at talks here on global warming, the Bush administration announced on Tuesday that it had signed an agreement with a coalition of energy companies to build a prototype coal-burning power plant with no emissions. ... a formal agreement had been signed under which companies would contribute $250 million of a cost estimated at $1 billion. Environmental advocates at the talks criticized the announcement, saying it was intended to distract from continuing efforts by the American delegation to block discussion of new international commitments to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases that scientists link to global warming. "You are watching 163 nations do an elaborate dance to try to make progress when the United States is sitting in the middle of the road trying to obstruct," said Alden Meyer, a representative of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a group that has long criticized the Bush administration's climate approach. "It's getting to be like Charlie Brown with Lucy holding that football," he said. "Every time, at the last minute, the U.S. pulls it away."...While more than 150 countries have ratified the protocol, only about three dozen industrialized ones are subject to the binding terms. The world's biggest emitter, the United States, has not ratified it. And the fast-growing giants of the developing world, China and India, continue to insist that they will not accept cuts in emissions.

4 December 2005. On Climate Change, a Change of Thinking. By ANDREW C. REVKIN. NY Times. Excerpt: IN December 1997, representatives of most of the world's nations met in Kyoto, Japan, to negotiate a binding agreement to cut emissions of "greenhouse" gases. They succeeded. The Kyoto Protocol was ultimately ratified by 156 countries.... Today, in the middle of new global warming talks in Montreal, there is a sense that the whole idea of global agreements to cut greenhouse gases won't work. A major reason the optimism over Kyoto has eroded so rapidly is that its major requirement - that 38 participating industrialized countries cut their greenhouse emissions below 1990 levels by the year 2012 - was seen as just a first step toward increasingly aggressive cuts. But in the years after the protocol was announced, developing countries, including the fast-growing giants China and India, have held firm on their insistence that they would accept no emissions cuts, even though they are likely to be the world's dominant source of greenhouse gases in coming years. Their refusal helped fuel strong opposition to the treaty in the United States Senate and its eventual rejection by President Bush....As Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, a proponent of emissions targets, said in a statement on Nov. 1: "The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge."... the United States - by far the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases - continues to say that emissions targets or requirements would stunt economic growth in both rich and poor nations.

December 2005. SWEDEN PLANS ON BEING THE FIRST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD TO BE FREE FROM OIL IN 2020 Excerpt: Minister for Sustainable Development Mona Sahlin has declared that Sweden is going to become the first country in the world to break the dependence on fossil energy. Sweden will stop using oil by 2020 and eventually the energy supply of the country will be based on renewable energy only. The goal is to gradually rid the country of gasoline-run cars and oil-heated homes. This is going to be achieved through tax discounts, more efficiency in energy and by large-scale investments in renewable energy and in research.

28 November to 9 December 2005. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Montreal. The eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention (COP 11) is being held in conjunction with the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP) in Montréal. Quote from attendee [Nov 29]: "The US representatives at the talks are already throwing up impediments to a successful outcome. Our representative, Harlan Watson, said clearly that the US would not negotiate a future process for more action on climate change - a new process is, in fact, the reason why virtually every nation on earth is attending this conference. Please go to our website to see a short video of the international perspective from the point of view of the non-governmental organizations in attendance and that of Mr. Harlan Watson. The differences are astonishing. Keep checking the website as we will be trying to put up new material each day. [Dec 5] The climate talks are at a very critical juncture - the US continues to impede progress on many fronts. The good news is that 20 Senators are circulating a letter intended for President Bush demanding that the US join the global community in addressing global warming. We have been asked by the Climate Action Network (CAN), the umbrella group for all the non-governmental organizations here, to alert our supporters and ask that you contact your State and Federal representatives to demand immediate action. You can do so by clicking on this link to the Working Assets website.

28 September 2005. The Role of Science in Environmental Policy MakingTestimony of The Honorable Richard E. Benedick, Ambassador, ret. to the United States Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works. "The Case of the Montreal Protocol: Science Serving Public Policy" This testimony pertains to efforts to solve the ozone hole problem, but has lesson for other policy issues, such as actions regarding climate change or loss of biodiversity.

24 August 2005. 9 States in Plan to Cut Emissions by Power Plants. By ANTHONY DePALMA, NY Times. Officials in New York and eight other Northeastern states have come to a preliminary agreement to freeze power plant emissions at their current levels and then reduce them by 10 percent by 2020, according to a confidential draft proposal. The cooperative action, the first of its kind in the nation, came after the Bush administration decided not to regulate the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming... Enforcement of emission controls could potentially result in higher energy prices in the nine states, which officials hope can be offset by subsidies and support for the development of new technology that would be paid for with the proceeds from the sale of emission allowances to the utility companies.

1 June 2005. Governor Addresses Greatest Environmental Threat to California - Sets Strong Reduction Targets for Global Warming Emissions. San Francisco, CA -- Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an Executive Order today committing California to major reductions in global warming emissions, demonstrating yet again California's leadership role in a vacuum left by federal inaction to avert dangerous levels of climate change. The Governor's Executive Order establishes the following targets for reduction of global warming pollution:

  • By 2010, California emissions will be reduced to 2000 levels, or by 11 percent
  • By 2020, California emissions will be reduced to 1990 levels, or by 25 percent
  • By 2050, California emissions will be reduced to 80 percent below current levels

8 April 2005. Duke Energy endorses carbon dioxide tax. Greenwire CLIMATE CHANGE. Duke Energy Corp. will push for a tax on carbon dioxide emissions in order to combat climate change, Chief Executive Officer Paul Anderson said yesterday. Such a stance would run counter to the Bush administration's position on addressing CO2 emissions. Speaking in North Carolina to business and civic leaders at a Charlotte Business Journal event, Anderson said: "Personally, I feel the time has come to act -- to take steps as a nation to reduce the carbon intensity of our economy." Anderson added, "Any actions must be mandatory, economy-wide and federal in scope. Anderson said he does not expect to see a carbon tax enacted while President Bush is still in office. "The next couple of years are about getting the debate out in the open and getting the sides lined up," he said. "I'm not going to get invited to Exxon Mobil's Christmas party" (David Mildenberg, Charlotte Business Journal, April 7)...." He added, "You can imagine the reaction I get when I say 'carbon tax' in the halls of Duke Energy. One employee wrote me that as a shareholder, he couldn't fathom why I would advocate a position that would discourage use of our product by potentially increasing its price." ...There has been a steady increase in the number of companies setting voluntary emission goals, analysts said. While some companies are trying to hedge their bets against future carbon regulations, pressure from the financial community is also a significant factor.

16 February 2005. Mixed Feelings as Treaty on Greenhouse Gases Takes Effect. By MARK LANDLER NY Times. Excerpt: LUDWIGSHAFEN, Germany. ... Mr. Strube, chairman of BASF's [the world's largest chemical maker] supervisory board, responds with a hint of impatience when asked how European industry plans to comply with the Kyoto Protocol, requiring Germany and 34 other nations to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. As the agreement takes effect on Feb. 16, worries about its fairness are mixed with mild resentment. Europeans have set some of the most stringent targets for reducing greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the earth's atmosphere and have been linked by climate experts to global warming. It is bad enough, in their view, that American and Chinese companies will not bear these extra costs. But worse, the ultimate goal of curbing greenhouse gases will not be realized because carbon dioxide emissions, unlike polluted rivers, are a global rather than a local problem. "We have already done so much in the past that we feel others should not get a free ride," Mr. Strube said. "We could reach a situation where the leader is a lonely rider going into the sunset, and everyone else sits back and says, O.K., let's wait and see when he will return."...The carbon market has developed rapidly in Europe, with credits for six million tons of carbon traded in January. (Each credit represents a metric ton.) The price of a credit fell 19 percent over the month, to about $9. Carbon, like other energy markets, is affected by the weather, with emissions rising when it is colder. ... the trading system is considered one of the Kyoto system's innovative features. Recognizing that greenhouse gases are fungible - emissions in China are no different from those in Europe, and they all mix freely in the atmosphere - it is an efficient way to reduce the overall level by allowing less-polluting companies to sell unused rights to emit.

February 2005. KyotoUSA. A grassroots effort to encourage U.S. cities and their citizens to take action to end global warming.
The City of Berkeley endorsed the Kyoto Protocol at its January 18, 2005 City Council meeting. In doing so, it is pledging to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions well below the modest targets set by the Kyoto Protocol. Berkeley is also calling on cities and their citizens across America to make a similar commitment as part of a national effort to head off the consequences of global warming.

February 2005. US Mayors Climate Protection Agreemen. On February 16, 2005 the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement to address climate disruption, became law for the 141 countries that have ratified it to date. On that day, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels launched this initiative to advance the goals of the Kyoto Protocol through leadership and action by at least 141 American cities. Mayor Nickels, along with a growing number of other US mayors, is leading the development of a US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement; our goal is for at least 141 cities to sign onto the Agreement by the time of the U.S. Conference of Mayors June meeting in Chicago. See also KyotoUSA

January 2005. Publication of the first results of which uses people's home computers in a distributed computer network to do run climate prediction models.

28 December 2004. Private Sector: Greenhouse gasbags. It's time for U.S. to get ahead of Kyoto-style emission controls, which surely are coming. By Joseph Otis Minott. From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.... Even though U.S. citizens have been showered with science confirming global warming, it hasn't been reflected in the country's political awareness....

15 July 2004. NASA RELEASE : 04-217 Aura Launched, To Better Understand The Air We Breathe -- Aura, a mission dedicated to the health of the Earth's atmosphere, successfully launched today... NASA's latest Earth-observing satellite, Aura will help us understand and protect the air we breathe. ...Aura will help answer three key scientific questions: Is the Earth's protective ozone layer recovering? What are the processes controlling air quality? How is the Earth's climate changing? NASA expects early scientific data from Aura within 30-90 days.

20-22 April 2004. Global Warming International Center -- Conference in San Francisco

17 April 2004. Clouds Caused By Aircraft Exhaust May Warm The U.S. Climate. NASA scientists have that found cirrus clouds, formed by contrails from aircraft engine exhaust, are capable of increasing average surface temperatures enough to account for a warming trend in the United States that occurred between 1975 and 1994. NASA RELEASE: 04-140

17 February 2004. Implementing Climate and Global Change Research: A Review of the Final U.S. Climate Change Science Program Strategic Plan

26 January 2004. CLIMATE COLLAPSE. The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare. By David Stipp. The climate could change radically, and fast. That would be the mother of all national security issues. FORTUNE magazine. Global warming may be bad news for future generations, but let's face it, most of us spend as little time worrying about it as we did about al Qaeda before 9/11. Like the terrorists, though, the seemingly remote climate risk may hit home sooner and harder than we ever imagined. In fact, the prospect has become so real that the Pentagon's strategic planners are grappling with it. Also here.

11 December 2003. White House Attacked for Letting States Lead on Climate, by ANDREW C. REVKIN and JENNIFER 8. LEE.

14 October 2003. From EOS Transactions (Newspaper of the American Geophysical Union) p. 426, Vol 84, Number 41. Hearing is Prelude to Senate Showdown on Climate Change, by Randy Showstack, Staff Writer. Two U.S. senators who are sponsoring legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have indicated that they will loosen the reduction requirements in an effort to attract additional support for the bill. Senators John McCain (R-Arizona) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut) indicated they will offer the amended version in preparation for a Senate showdown on climate change expected later this fall.


19 December 2002. RESEARCHERS DETERMINE BIOSPHERE UNAFFECTED BY GEOENGINEERING SCHEMES. Using models that simulate the interaction between global climate and land ecosystems, atmospheric scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have shown that compensating for the carbon dioxide "greenhouse effect" by decreasing the amount of sunlight reaching the planet (geoengineering) could create a more vigorous ecosystem while helping to curb global warming.

2002. Climate Action Report 2002. The USA's Third National Communication Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change-- At EPA web site

1 April 2002. NASA PINPOINTS WHERE RAIN COMES FROM AND WHERE IT GOES. A new NASA computer model can now tell exactly where in the world rain or snow that provides local water originated. Scientists can use this "water vapor tracer" to improve rainfall and drought forecasts and gain a deeper understanding of climate change. The model simulates water movement in the atmosphere around the world, and traces it from the places where it evaporates to the places where it falls back to Earth.

8 Decemerb 2001. NASA Ames Research Center -- STUDY OF CIRRUS CLOUDS MAY IMPROVE CLIMATE CHANGE FORECASTS. Studies of cirrus clouds by some 150 scientists may lead to improved forecasts of future climate change. Beginning next summer, scientists from NASA, other government agencies, academia and industry will investigate cirrus clouds in Florida with the objective of reducing uncertainties in forecasts of the Earth's future climate. The project focuses on studies of high, tropical cirrus clouds. These clouds are composed of tiny ice crystals that float at altitudes from 20,000 feet (6,067 meters) to 55,000 feet (16,683 meters). Scientists will take measurements from a variety of aircraft and ground instruments for four to six weeks beginning in July. Analysis and reporting of the data are expected to take about two years. "Our objective is to find out how ice clouds affect global warming," said Eric Jensen, project mission scientist based at NASA Ames Research Center in the heart of California's Silicon Valley.

11 December 2001. SATELLITE DATA HELP RESEARCHERS TRACK CARBON IN NORTHERN HEMISPHERE FORESTS. How much carbon is being "absorbed" by forests in the Northern Hemisphere? NASA-funded Earth Science researchers, using high-resolution maps of carbon storage derived from NASA-developed satellite data sets, suggest that forests in the United States, Europe and Russia have been storing nearly 700 million metric tons of carbon a year during the 1980s and 1990s. RELEASE: 01-242

6 December 2001. TINY POLLUTION PARTICLES MAY CARRY LARGE CONSEQUENCES FOR EARTH'S WATER SUPPLY. A new study by NASA researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, argues that particles of human-produced pollution may be playing a significant role in weakening Earth's water cycle - - much more than previously realized. Tiny aerosols primarily made up of black carbon, the authors argue, can lead to a weaker hydrological cycle, which connects directly to water availability and quality, a major environmental issue of the 21st century. RELEASE: 01-239

1 October 2001. ICELANDIC WEATHER SYSTEM DECIPHERS CHANGES IN ARCTIC ICE PUZZLE. Largely natural "ups and downs" in a weather system centered near Iceland have contributed to regional variations and an overall decrease in Arctic sea ice cover over the last twenty years, according to new NASA research. RELEASE: 01-189.


17 May 2001. The Pacific Dust Express. North America has been sprinkled with a dash of Asia! A dust cloud from China crossed the Pacific Ocean recently and rained Asian dust from Alaska to Florida.

12 April 2001. DESERT DUST "COOLS" CLIMATE WARMING ESTIMATES. Desert dust may slightly diminish estimates on how warm the world will become, based on findings of how much sunlight is absorbed by dust. Scientists studying dust blowing off the Sahara Desert have found that dust particles absorb much less solar radiation than previously thought, reducing the amount of solar warming of the Earth's surface.

19 March 2001. Forecasting Fury. Experts predict a period of elevated storm activity during the next 15 years. However, data from the SeaWinds instrument aboard NASA's QuikSCAT satellite could allow researchers to detect potential hurricanes up to two days earlier than with traditional forecasting methods.

16 March 2001. ICE PROBE REVEALS FIRST-EVER IMAGES DEEP WITHIN ANTARCTIC STREAMSScientists have had their first inside look at ice layers, frozen debris and a surprising channel of water deep beneath an Antarctic ice stream, thanks to an ice probe designed by NASA's JPL. Plunged more than 1,200 meters (more than 3,900 feet) down four boreholes drilled in the West Antarctic ice sheet, JPL's probe paves the way for the development of technology capable of withstanding extreme environments on Earth and other planets. The Antarctic Ice Borehole Probe Project, a collaborative effort of scientists at JPL and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, looked into the dynamics of the West Antarctic ice sheet. The Antarctic ice sheet, equal in size to the United States and Mexico combined, holds a potential treasure trove of information related to the geological history of this frozen continent and the mechanisms by which ice flows from this area to the oceans. Studies show that significant changes in glacier melting and flow rates could have a considerable impact on global sea levels.


22 February 2001. UTAH SCIENTISTS FIND MORE EVIDENCE OF GLOBAL WARMING. University of Utah scientists have found that measuring temperatures inside holes in the ground accurately shows that Earth's Northern Hemisphere has warmed about 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the Industrial Revolution.

21 February 2001 UNEVEN GLOBAL SEA-LEVEL RISE EXPLAINED. Global climate change is having a direct impact on the Earth's sea level and scientists have shown the sea level "fingerprints" of polar ice sheet melting to prove it.

January 2001. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) prepares Third Assessment Report of the "Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis." Over 150 delegates from around 100 governments met in Shanghai, China for this. Summary for Policymakers of the report. The full report will be published by Cambridge University Press. Also, see CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS ON THE UNITED STATES: THE POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES OF CLIMATE VARIABILITY AND CHANGE. OVERVIEW. The IPCC was established by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environmental Program, and provides detailed reports as well as summaries for policymakers."