2007 December 10. Al Gore’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech.
2007 December 3. Climate Talks Take on Added Urgency After Report. By PETER GELLING and ANDREW C. REVKIN, NY Times. Excerpt: JAKARTA, Indonesia, Dec. 2 – Thousands of government officials, industry lobbyists, environmental campaigners and observers are arriving on the Indonesian island of Bali for two weeks of talks starting Monday that are aimed at breathing new life into the troubled 15-year-old global climate treaty.
A heightened sense of urgency surrounds the meeting in light of a report issued last month by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which detailed the potentially devastating effects of global warming in the panel’s strongest language yet.
…By far, the biggest obstacle to forging a new accord by 2009 is the United States, analysts say. Senior Bush administration officials say the administration will not agree to a new treaty with binding limits on emissions.
Instead, President Bush recently proposed that the world’s biggest countries work toward a common, long-term goal set decades in the future, without specific targets or limits, and more immediate goals set by individual nations using whatever means they choose.
In his latest statement on climate change last Wednesday, Mr. Bush said, “Our guiding principle is clear: we must lead the world to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and we must do it in a way that does not undermine economic growth or prevent nations from delivering greater prosperity for their people.”
…The United States will soon stand alone among industrialized nations in its refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, with the new Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd, having said in no uncertain terms that his country would now ratify it.
“The Bush administration is the only government in the world that is opposed to mandatory emissions reductions being included in a new treaty,” said Philip Clapp, the deputy managing director of the Pew Environment Group, based in Washington. “The question is, will they block others from moving forward.”
While most developing countries – including China, which is poised to overtake the United States as the largest source of greenhouse gases – have agreed to negotiate treaties that require richer nations to reduce emissions, they remain opposed to taking on such mandatory limits themselves….
2007 November 23. The ‘Geo-Engineering’ Scenario. Why even a desperate measure is starting to look reasonable. By Sharon Begley, Newsweek Web Exclusive. Excerpt: After decades spent studying volcanoes, Alan Robock can list 20 reasons why humans should not try to play God with the world’s climate by, well, mimicking Krakatoa. Proponents of “geo-engineering” actually like the idea because the eruptions spread sulfate aerosols and other particles throughout the planet’s atmosphere, reflecting incoming sunlight. The resulting cooling might counter the global warming caused by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. But that’s not all sulfates do, which is where Robock’s list comes in. The particles also deplete the planet’s ozone layer, which is just starting to repair itself now that ozone-shredding chemicals are banned. They cause acid rain, too. And by cooling large land masses like Asia and Africa, the heat-reflecting particles reduce the temperature difference between them and the already-cooler oceans, which could stifle the monsoons that millions of people depend on for agriculture. Because the particles block direct sunlight more than diffuse rays, they also alter the balance of radiation reaching Earth’s surface, with unknown consequences for plants that can be kind of finicky about the kind of sunlight they need.
And yet É In a sign of how dangerous global warming is starting to look and of how pitiful the world’s efforts to control greenhouse gases are, even Robock-list and all-hedges his bets. Geo-engineering, allows the Rutgers University meteorologist, “might be held in reserve for an emergency.”
…Studies of volcanoes established what amount of particles produces how much cooling, as well as how the particles spread and how long they remain aloft (a year or two). Knowing this, it should be possible to roll back the global warming projected for 2100 enough to return the planet to its climate of 1900, Damon Matthews and Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution reported in June.
The devil, however, is in the details. Injecting sulfates into the atmosphere-by lofting big, aerosol-filled balloons or rockets-would reduce global precipitation to below the levels of 1900, their study showed, threatening agriculture. Cooling would be uneven, with some regions benefiting more than others….
2007 November 17. IPCC – 4: the final, synthesis report from the International Panel on Climate Change.
2007 November 13. Challenges to Both Left and Right on Global Warming. By ANDREW C. REVKIN. NY Times. Excerpt: For many years, the battle over what to think and do about human-caused climate change and fossil fuels has been waged mostly as a yelling match between the political and environmental left and the right.
The left says global warming is a real-time crisis requiring swift curbs on smokestack and tailpipe gases that trap heat, and that big oil, big coal and antiregulatory conservatives are trashing the planet.
The right says global warming is somewhere between a hoax and a minor irritant, and argues that liberals’ thirst for top-down regulations will drive American wealth to developing countries and turn off the fossil-fueled engine powering the economy.
Some books mirror the divide, like the recent “Field Notes from a Catastrophe,” …by Elizabeth Kolbert, and “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming” by Chris Horner, a lawyer for the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Ms. Kolbert sounds a strong warning call, and Mr. Horner’s book fits with the position of the institute, a libertarian and largely industry-backed group that strongly opposes limits on greenhouse gases.
But in three other recent books, there seems to be a bit of a warming trend between the two camps. Instead of bashing old foes, the authors, all influential voices in the climate debate with roots on the left or the right, tend to chide their own political brethren and urge a move to the pragmatic center on climate and energy.
All have received mixed reviews and generated heated Internet debate … “A Contract With the Earth,” Mr. Gingrich, … a manifesto challenging conservatives not just to grudgingly accept, but to embrace, the idea that a healthy environment is necessary for a healthy democracy and economy.
… Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger in “Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility.” …call for an aggressive effort to invest in energy research, while also building societies that can be resilient in the face of the warming that is already unavoidable….
2007 October 8. Expert Studies Climate Change in Arctic. By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. Excerpt: OTTAWA (AP) — Climate change may make Arctic energy resources easier to reach but it could also make them harder to exploit because of changes to sea ice, a U.S. scientist said ahead of an international oil and ice conference in Alaska.
Hajo Eicken, a University of Alaska scientist, is one of the presenters from at least five countries scheduled to speak about oil spills in ice-choked waters at a conference in Anchorage, Alaska, that starts Wednesday.
Eicken said …”Conditions are more variable, less predictable. Even in winter, when normally you would expect to see the landfast ice to be stable and locked in place, we’re starting to see … larger tracts of landfast ice detach from shore and drift out to sea,” Eicken said.
The conference is organized by Ottawa-based SL Ross Environmental Research Ltd.2007 September 20. STUDENTS DISPLACED BY KATRINA TO ASSESS CLIMATE CHANGE. The World Wildlife Fund and the Allianz Foundation for North America have announced a new opportunity for high school students displaced by Katrina and now residing in nine U.S. cities to assess the climate change vulnerability of the Southeastern United States. “As these displaced students know from being on the frontlines, we’re all increasingly vulnerable to climate change,” said Dr. Lara Hansen chief climate scientist, World Wildlife Fund. “Now they have a unique chance to shape the future of their region — by exploring the science of what’s happening and using what they discover to inspire action.” The project will give participating youth an opportunity this spring to learn more about the science of climate change by working closely with scientists, using scientific tools for exploring and explaining regional vulnerability.
Through this project, 25 students will be chosen to assess the vulnerability of the Southeastern United States to climate change from public schools in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, LA; Gulf Port, Jackson, and Biloxi, MI; Mobile and Birmingham, AL; Atlanta, GA; and Nashville, TN. Participants will receive a $1500 stipend and an HP laptop computer for their college studies. Selected students will also attend Climate Camp in June 2008 as well as a Youth Summit in Washington D.C. July 7-11, 2008. Nationally, teachers can use a curriculum on climate change designed for high school students to integrate climate change into their lessons and equip students for future responsibility and leadership.2007 July 31. A CONVERSATION WITH HEIDI CULLEN–Into the Limelight, and the Politics of Global Warming. By CLAUDIA DREIFUS, NY Times. Excerpt: Heidi Cullen is the only climatologist with a Ph.D. in the country who has her own weekly show, a half-hour-long video-magazine focused on climate and the environment. …In June 2002, Heidi Cullen, a researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., received a telephone call from an executive at the Weather Channel. Would she audition for a program on climate and global warming that producers at the Atlanta-based cable television network were contemplating?…
Q: What were you studying when you got that call from the Weather Channel?
A: I was trying to understand the large-scale mechanisms that had caused a drought in Afghanistan from 1999 to 2001. I was also working with engineers in Brazil and Paraguay to apply climate forecasts to optimize water resource management at Itaipu Binacional, the largest operational hydropower facility in the world. I hesitated when I got that call. Television was a world I couldn’t imagine. No one I knew had ever done anything like that….
Q: Your coverage of global warming has been controversial. Are you surprised?
A: In a way, yes. To me, global warming isn’t a political issue, it’s a scientific one. But a lot of people out there think you’re being an advocate when you talk climate science….
Q: Rush Limbaugh accused you of Stalinism. Did you suggest that meteorologists who doubt global warming should be fired?
A: I didn’t exactly say that. I was talking about the American Meteorological Society’s seal of approval. I was saying the A.M.S. should test applicants on climate change as part of their certification process. They test on other aspects of weather science.
A lot of viewers want to know about climate change. They are experiencing events they perceive as unusual and they want to know if there’s a connection to global warming. Certainly when Katrina hit, they wanted to know if it was global warming or not. Most Americans get their daily dose of science through their televised weather report. Given that fact, I think it’s the responsibility of broadcast meteorologists to provide viewers with scientific answers….2007 July 8. Wealthy Nantucket Homeowners Stake $25 Million in a War With the Sea. Cornelia Dean, The New York Times. “When erosion became a serious threat to bluff-top homes in the village of Siasconset on the island’s southeast shore and homeowners decided to fight back by replenishing the beach, cost was not an issue. About two dozen of the owners joined with other island residents to form the Sconset Beach Preservation Fund, whose members are seeking permission to spend at least $25 million of their own money to dredge 2.6 million cubic yards of sand from a few miles offshore and pump it onto a 3.1-mile stretch of beach in Siasconset, or Sconset, as it is called here. They realize that the sand will inevitably wash away, so they are prepared to do much of the work all over again, perhaps as often as every five years. If the sand had to be transported by dump trucks, it could take 260,000 trips at 10 cubic yards a trip. Instead, it will be dredged up from the ocean bottom, mixed with water and pumped to shore as a slurry that will spew out onto the beach.”July – August 2007. Global Meltdown. By Andrew Revkin, for AARP magazine. Excerpt: It’s becoming a legacy issue for older Americans: what type of planet are we leaving our children? One of the nation’s top reporters on the environment reveals the latest science behind climate change.
KANGERLUSSUAQ, GREENLAND …Great warmings and coolings have sent ocean levels rising and falling as enormous amounts of water were locked in glaciers or released like the flows we see here in Greenland.
But the current warming trend is happening much faster than previous hot spells, says [snow scientist, Joe] McConnell, and none of the forces that usually affect climate-such as variations in the sun’s strength-are in sync with this recent change. Should these patterns continue, he believes, the consequences are clear. “If Greenland melted, it’d raise sea levels by twenty feet,” he explains. “There goes most of the Mississippi embayment. There go the islands in the South Pacific. Bangladesh is obliterated. Manhattan would have to put up dikes.” A similar amount of ice is vulnerable in western Antarctica, another focus of McConnell’s work. While this would most likely be a slow-motion sea change taking many centuries, gases being pumped into the atmosphere by cars, planes, factories, and power plants could raise the odds of such a shift.
…It may be that what we face is less a climate crisis than an energy challenge. Many experts believe the key to limiting climate risks and solving a host of momentous problems-including the end of abundant oil-is to begin an ambitious quest for new ways to conserve, harvest, and store energy without creating pollution.
Harnessing the power of the sun remains the Holy Grail of most energy experts. But research on solar technologies remains tiny in scale, though the potential has been clear for decades. Consider this incredibly prescient quote: “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
The year? 1931. The speaker? Thomas Edison….
2007 May 1. Recruiting Plankton to Fight Global Warming. The New York Times – MATT RICHTEL. Excerpt: SAN FRANCISCO, April 30 – Can plankton help save the planet? …Planktos, an “ecorestoration company,” will deploy a ship to dissolve tons of iron, an essential plankton nutrient, over a 10,000-square-kilometer patch of ocean. …In an effort to ameliorate the effects of global warming, several groups are working on ventures to grow vast floating fields of plankton intended to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and carry it to the depths of the ocean. … the first commercial project is scheduled to get under way this month when the WeatherBird II, a 115-foot research vessel, heads out from its dock in Florida to the Gal‡pagos and the South Pacific. The ship plans to dissolve tons of iron, an essential plankton nutrient, over a 10,000-square-kilometer patch. …When the trace iron prompts growth and reproduction of the tiny organism, scientists on the WeatherBird II plan to measure how much carbon dioxide the plankton ingests. The idea is similar to planting forests full of carbon-inhaling trees, but in desolate stretches of ocean. “This is organic gardening, not rocket science,” said Russ George, the chief executive of Planktos, the company behind the WeatherBird II project. “Can it possibly be as easy as we say it is? We’re about to find out.”….
2007 April 28. It’s Maple Syrup Time, So Why the Whiff of French Fries? The New York Times – SAM HOOPER SAMUELS. Excerpt: WESTMINSTER, Vt. – …To do his bit to stave off global warming, Mr. Crocker this year converted his sugar house from regular fuel oil to used vegetable oil. Such oil, sometimes pumped into the tanks of environmentally friendly “grease cars,” can also be used as an alternative to heating oil. While a dwindling number of small, traditional sugar makers still boil their sap over wood fires, the majority burn heating oil, a fossil fuel that contributes to global warming. Derived from living plants rather than fossil fuels, used vegetable oil adds little or no carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Mr. Crocker buys his from a company that collects it as a waste product from restaurants, then filters and processes out the dirt and impurities. By converting from traditional oil, Mr. Crocker is taking a stand for the environment. As an industry, Vermont’s maple sugaring is highly vulnerable to climate change. Last year, of the 1.45 million gallons produced in the United States, nearly a third came from Vermont. The entire year’s harvest of sap is gathered during a short season, which generally begins in March and ends by early April. …That short season of daily freeze-thaw cycles is getting shorter. “Right now, the season is starting about a week earlier throughout New England than it did 40 years ago,” said Timothy Perkins, director of the Proctor Maple Research Center at the University of Vermont, who has been warning of the challenge posed by global warming for a while now. “And it’s ending about 10 days earlier than it did. Over 40 years, we’ve lost a net of three days of the season.” Three days may not sound like much. But because the season lasts only about a month, it represents about a 10 percent reduction in the crop….
2007 April 3. Reports From Four Fronts in the War on Warming. By ANDREW C. REVKIN. NY Times. Excerpt: Over the last few decades, as scientists have intensified their study of the human effects on climate and of the effects of climate change on humans, a common theme has emerged: in both respects, the world is a very unequal place. …Those most vulnerable countries also tend to be the poorest. And the countries that face the least harm – and that are best equipped to deal with the harm they do face – tend to be the richest. …Around the world, there are abundant examples of how wealth is already enabling some countries to gird against climatic and coastal risks, while poverty, geography and history place some of the world’s most crowded, vulnerable regions directly in harm’s way. …[Article contains] four views of the climate divide. Malawi …Australia …India …The Netherlands….
2007 April 1. Poor Nations to Bear Brunt as World Warms. The New York Times. By ANDREW C. REVKIN Excerpt: The world’s richest countries, which have contributed by far the most to the atmospheric changes linked to global warming, are already spending billions of dollars to limit their own risks from its worst consequences, like drought and rising seas. But despite longstanding treaty commitments to help poor countries deal with warming, these industrial powers are spending just tens of millions of dollars on ways to limit climate and coastal hazards in the world’s most vulnerable regions – most of them close to the equator and overwhelmingly poor. …”The inequity of this whole situation is really enormous if you look at who’s responsible and who’s suffering as a result,” said Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations climate panel. …The lack of climate aid persists even though nearly all the world’s industrialized nations, including the United States under the first President Bush, pledged to help when they signed the first global warming treaty, the Framework Convention on Climate Change, in 19927
March 2007. If we want to save the planet, we need a five-year freeze on biofuels. George Monbiot, The Guardian. Excerpt: Oil produced from plants sets up competition for food between cars and people. People – and the environment – will lose….The governments using biofuel to tackle global warming know that it causes more harm than good. But they plough on regardless. In theory, fuels made from plants can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by cars and trucks. Plants absorb carbon as they grow – it is released again when the fuel is burned. By encouraging oil companies to switch from fossil plants to living ones, governments on both sides of the Atlantic claim to be “decarbonising” our transport networks. …So what’s wrong with these programmes? …Already we know that biofuel is worse for the planet than petroleum. The UN has just published a report suggesting that 98% of the natural rainforest in Indonesia will be degraded or gone by 2022. Just five years ago, the same agencies predicted that this wouldn’t happen until 2032. But they reckoned without the planting of palm oil to turn into biodiesel for the European market. This is now the main cause of deforestation there and it is likely soon to become responsible for the extinction of the orangutan in the wild….2….
2007 March 14. Renewing a Call to Act Against Climate Change. By FELICITY BARRINGER, NY Times. Excerpt: MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – …Bill McKibben … is 46, his role as the philosopher-impresario of the program of climate-change rallies called Step It Up, …. His online call for locally inspired, locally run demonstrations on April 14 has generated plans for a wave of small protests under the Step It Up banner – 870 and counting, in 49 states (not South Dakota) – to walk, jog, march, ski, swim, talk, sing, pray and party around the idea of cutting national emissions of heat-trapping gases 80 percent by 2050. Skiers in Wyoming plan to descend a shrinking glacier. New Yorkers plan to form an unbroken human line (dress code: blue shirts) along what might be the new southern shoreline of Manhattan. A group of Dominican sisters and a Wisconsin environmental group are organizing a conference on Sisinawa Mound overlooking the Mississippi River…. Mr. McKibben also noted in a column on the environmental Web site Grist.org that popular momentum had lagged. “We don’t have a movement,” he wrote. “The largest rally yet held in the U.S. about global warming drew a thousand people. If we’re going to make the kind of change we need in the short time left us, we need something that looks like the civil rights movement, and we need it now. Changing light bulbs just isn’t enough.” …Van Jones, director the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, Calif., is one of relatively few black community organizers to find common cause with those calling for drastic cuts in emissions from the country’s tailpipes and smokestacks. Such changes could make poor peoples’ electrical bills go up. But Mr. Jones says climate change will hit the poor first and harder than any increase in their electricity. “Two thousand seven is the year that global warming will become a marching issue; 2008 is the year it will become a voting issue,” Mr. Jones said. “McKibben is one of the main drivers in moving this thing from the cafes and blogs into the streets.”….
13 March 2007. From a Rapt Audience, a Call to Cool the Hype. By WILLIAM J. BROAD. NY Times. Excerpt: Hollywood has a thing for Al Gore and his three-alarm film on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” …. But part of his scientific audience is uneasy… alarmed, some say, at what they call his alarmism. “I don’t want to pick on Al Gore,” Don J. Easterbrook, an emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, told hundreds of experts at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. “But there are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are seeing, and we have to temper that with real data.” …Some backers concede minor inaccuracies but see them as reasonable for a politician. James E. Hansen, …director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a top adviser to Mr. Gore, said, “Al does an exceptionally good job of seeing the forest for the trees,” adding that Mr. Gore often did so “better than scientists.” Still, Dr. Hansen said, the former vice president’s work may hold “imperfections” and “technical flaws.” He pointed to hurricanes, an icon for Mr. Gore, who highlights the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and cites research suggesting that global warming will cause both storm frequency and deadliness to rise. Yet this past Atlantic season produced fewer hurricanes than forecasters predicted (five versus nine), and none that hit the United States. “We need to be more careful in describing the hurricane story than he is,” Dr. Hansen said of Mr. Gore. “On the other hand,” Dr. Hansen said, “he has the bottom line right: most storms, at least those driven by the latent heat of vaporization, will tend to be stronger, or have the potential to be stronger, in a warmer climate.”…the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change… estimated that the world’s seas in this century would rise a maximum of 23 inches – down from earlier estimates. Mr. Gore, citing no particular time frame, envisions rises of up to 20 feet and depicts parts of New York, Florida and other heavily populated areas as sinking beneath the waves, implying, at least visually, that inundation is imminent. …”Nowhere does Mr. Gore tell his audience that all of the phenomena that he describes fall within the natural range of environmental change on our planet,” Robert M. Carter, a marine geologist at James Cook University in Australia, said….
12 March 2007. Cooling Off Global Warming From Space. By John C. Cramer, Analog Science Fiction and Fact Magazine. Excerpt: …Is there anything that can be done to avert this global calamity? Several technical fixes have been suggested. One of them is based on the cooling effects of volcanic eruptions… The side-effects of such a remedy, however, appear to be as bad as the problem it is intended to fix. Acid rain form the sulfuric acid formed from the sulfur dioxide would become the standard kind of rainfall, irreversibly altering the ecology of the planet.
…Prof. Roger Angel of the University of Arizona, a prominent astronomer and creator of some of the world’s largest telescope mirrors, has proposed an interesting alternative. He would like to place scatterers at the L1 Lagrange point of the Earth-Sun system that would remove about 1.8% of the ambient sunlight.
…What goes into the L1 orbit and how much will it cost? The cheapest solution would be to place a light-absorbing dust cloud there. However …one must instead use a “cloud” of autonomous sunshade spacecraft with “station-keeping” capabilities. Angel’s unit sunshade spacecraft design is essentially a navigable sheet of silicon nitride containing holes with their centers placed 15 mm apart in a vast hexagonal planar array, so that light passing through the holes is coherently deflected in an interference pattern by a few degrees. Each unit has a mass of about a ton (1000 kg) and has a shade area of about 2.4 square kilometers.
…If the lifetime of the project is 50 years, than average annual cost would be $100 billion, about 0.2% of the world’s gross domestic product… Nevertheless, it’s an interesting idea, and it certainly has implications for science fiction as well as geopolitics.
March 2007 Exxon Exposed. Catalyst magazine, Union of Concerned Scientists. By Emily Robinson.Excerpt: While publicly expressing concern about global warming, oil giant ExxonMobil has quietly funded organizations that portray climate science as uncertain. The disinformation strategy parallels the tobacco industry’s campaign to confuse the public about the dangers of smoking. …As concern over global warming has grown, some oil companies such as BP, Occidental Petroleum, and Shell have made public commitments to reducing their heat-trapping emissions and have begun investing in clean energy technologies. ExxonMobil has made no such commitment, instead choosing to confuse the public’s understanding of the problem.
…Scientific Spokespeople Affiliated with ExxonMobil-funded Groups
Sallie Baliunas Annapolis Center for Science Based Public Policy; Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow; Competitive Enterprise Institute; George C. Marshall Institute; Global Climate Coalition; Heartland Institute; Heritage Foundation; Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace; Tech Central Station
Robert C. Balling, Jr. Cato Institute; Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow; Heritage Foundation; International Policy Network; Tech Central Station John Christy Competitive Enterprise Institute; Independent Institute….
March 2007. Will the Northeast Be the Next Dixie? Catalyst magazine, Union of Concerned Scientists. By Erika Spanger-Siegfried. Excerpt: Without deep cuts in heat-trapping emissions, summers in New York near the end of the century may feel as hot as Georgia summers do today. Fortunately,
it’s not too late to preserve the traditional character of our northeastern states.
…In recent decades, … the characteristic climate of the Northeast has begun to change dramatically. Between 1970 and 2000 alone, summer temperatures rose about one degree Fahrenheit (¼F) and winter temperatures rose nearly 4 ¼F. Spring is arriving sooner, summers are growing hotter, and winters are becoming warmer and less snowy.
…If global warming emissions continue unabated, a number of large northeastern cities could experience triple the number of days over 90 ¡F by mid-century. In the latter part of the century, most of these cities could experience more than 60 days per year with temperatures topping 90 ¡F, and some could experience as many as 80 days. With lower emissions, roughly half this increase is expected.
…Emphasizing the regional consequences of global warming can motivate local policy makers.
The findings of the October 2006 NECIA report Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast have not only received the attention of the region’s media but its policy makers as well.
…To download the full report (in PDF format) visit the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Climate Choices website (http://www.climatechoices.org/ne). ….
March 2007. Carbon offset calculator – Native Energy
13 February 2007. Companies Pressed to Define Green Policies. By CLAUDIA H. DEUTSCH, NY Times. Excerpt: Tracey C. Rembert, the coordinator of corporate governance and engagement for the Service Employees International Union, acknowledges that Wells Fargo is the country’s largest purchaser of renewable energy offsets and has specialists on staff studying all of the implications of climate change on its businesses. Still, Ms. Rembert’s union has filed a shareholder’s resolution asking Wells Fargo to specify how it is addressing both the risks and market opportunities presented by global warming…. “We want them to rethink their business, and set themselves up to take strategic advantage of climate change,” Ms. Rembert said. The New York City Comptroller’s Office feels the same way about Dominion Resources, an electric power and natural gas company, and Massey Energy, a coal mining company. The Sierra Club Mutual Fund feels that way about the retailer Bed Bath & Beyond, and the Calvert Group about ACE Insurance. All of them are calling upon companies to provide proof that their business decisions also consider issues involving climate change…. According to Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmental groups, investors have filed 42 resolutions asking for such information during the 2007 proxy season, up from 31 last year. And today, Ceres will issue a list of 10 companies that shareholders say are not looking at climate change through an investor’s eye and may not be investing in alternative energy technologies. “This has nothing to do with social investing,” the president of Ceres, Mindy S. Lubber, said. “These investors are owners who want the companies to stop being laggards when it comes to minimizing risk and taking advantage of opportunities.”….
13 February 2007. A Cool $25 Million for a Climate Backup Plan. By JOHN TIERNEY, NY Times. Excerpt: On Friday, when Richard Branson offered a $25 million prize to anyone who figures out how to remove a billion tons of carbon dioxide per year from the atmosphere, Al Gore sat by his side and called it an “important and welcome” initiative. …may be the start of competitions that ultimately yield nanobots or microbes capable of gobbling up carbon dioxide. As far-fetched as it seems today, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere could turn out to be a lot more practical than the alternative: persuading six billion people to stop putting it there. …the Gulf Stream scenario …about it shutting down and sending Europe into an ice age, …, originated by a 19th-century oceanographer, is “the earth-science equivalent of an urban legend,” in the words of Richard Seager, a climate modeler at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University….February 2007. Political Science: A Report on Science and Censorship at National. Produced by Coalition Against Censorship. NCAC promotes and defend First Amendment values of freedom of thought, inquiry and expression.
12 December 2006. The Cost of an Overheated Planet. By STEVE LOHR. Published: NY Times. Excerpt: The iconic culprit in global warming is the coal-fired power plant. It burns the dirtiest, most carbon-laden of fuels, and its smokestacks belch millions of tons of carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas. So it is something of a surprise that James E. Rogers, chief executive of Duke Energy, a coal-burning utility in the Midwest and the Southeast, has emerged as an unexpected advocate of federal regulation that would for the first time impose a cost for emitting carbon dioxide. But he has his reasons. “Climate change is real, and we clearly believe we are on a route to mandatory controls on carbon dioxide,” Mr. Rogers said. “And we need to start now because the longer we wait, the more difficult and expensive this is going to be.” …”Setting a real price on carbon emissions is the single most important policy step to take,” said Robert N. Stavins, director of the environmental economics program at Harvard University. “Pricing is the way you get both the short-term gains through efficiency and the longer-term gains from investments in research and switching to cleaner fuels.” …Mr. Rogers, who is also chairman of the Edison Electric Institute,… are also pushing for a carbon dioxide-pricing policy to reduce the risk to their companies. …The two methods of pricing carbon are to charge a tax on each ton of carbon dioxide emitted into the air, or to place a cap on total emissions and then let polluters trade permits to emit a ton of carbon dioxide. Economists like William D. Nordhaus of Yale and Mr. Cooper of Harvard … suggested an initial tax around $14 a ton of carbon dioxide emitted, which he calculated would translate roughly into a 100 percent tax on coal and add 12 cents to each gallon of gasoline. Such a tax would raise as much as $80 billion a year in the United States. …a cap-and-trade system … limit would be placed on overall emissions, with polluters allocated permits. Then, companies able to go below their emission targets would be allowed to sell their unused “permits to pollute” to companies that could not. … developing nations like China and India, energy specialists say, would certainly avoid joining any international effort on global warming without an emphatic move by the United States….
27 November 2006. Changing Climate Is Forcing World Cup Organizers to Adapt, By NATHANIEL VINTON Excerpt: Nov. 26 – High temperatures in Europe have disrupted the Alpine skiing World Cup, throwing the calendar of the sport’s premier circuit into disarray and raising questions about the future of a sport so vulnerable to climate change. “It will very quickly be a big crisis for us if we continue canceling races in December,” said Atle Skaardal, who oversees the women’s portion of the tour for the International Ski Federation. On Saturday, race organizers in St. Moritz, Switzerland, canceled World Cup races scheduled for Dec. 9-10, saying temperatures were too high for them to make artificial snow. Men’s races scheduled for that weekend in Val d’Isere, France, are in peril, too, and the International Ski Federation, which runs the World Cup, will make a decision about that race Wednesday. There is a chance that some of the canceled events will be relocated to Colorado, where forecasters predict a heavy snowstorm over the early part of the week. Until Wednesday, when the F.I.S. makes its final decision about the European races, a number of World Cup athletes are stranded in the United States, looking for training venues and accommodations. Others will go home, and possibly fly back if the races are indeed rescheduled at Aspen or Beaver Creek – the two resorts considering adopting the canceled European races. In recent years, managers of some of the highest ski resorts in the Alps have taken the extreme measure of wrapping glaciers and snowfields with foam insulation to decelerate the ravages of summer heat. Resorts that do chose to have World Cup races – especially those early in the season – have always cast a worried eye on late-arriving winters. They run the risk of a major financial hit, both in operational costs and lost television marketing value. Resorts playing host to World Cup events must provide at least 100,000 Euros ($131,352) in prize money for each race, production of a live television broadcast feed, and accommodations for athletes and team staff.
22 November 2006. Co-op America’s 12-Step Plan for Climate Action. Excerpt: …Scientists at the Princeton University’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI) …propose stabilizing carbon emissions by … doable action “wedges” of equal size-each with the capacity to reduce carbon emissions by 1 billion tons/year by 2054. …Here at Co-op America, we … screened out measures that are too dangerous, costly, and slow (like nuclear power plants, synfuels, and “clean” coal), and we beefed up those that are safe and cost-effective. …Here’s our 12-step plan:
1. Increase fuel economy for the world’s 2 billion cars … 30 mpg to 60 mpg.
2. Cut back on driving. Decrease from 10,000 to 5,000 miles per year….
3. Increase energy efficiency …in existing buildings and appliances….
4. Decrease tropical deforestation to zero, …double …new tree plantings.
5. Stop soil erosion. …Encourage local, organic agriculture.
6. Increase wind power. Add 3 million 1-MW windmills, 75x current….
7. …solar power. Add 3,000 GW-peak …photovoltaic units, 1,000x current….
8. Increase efficiency of coal plants from …32% efficiency to 60%….
9. Replace 1,400 GW of coal with natural gas, a 4x increase ….
10. Sequester carbon dioxide at existing coal plants….
11. Develop …plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles powered by renewable energy.
12. Develop biomass as a short-term replacement for fossil fuel….
12 September 2006. A CONVERSATION WITH JAMES E. LOVELOCK: Updating Prescriptions for Avoiding Worldwide Catastrophe, By ANDREW C. REVKIN. NY Times. September 2006. Arctic sea ice continues “drastic” melting. Earth & Sky Radio Show.
27 June 2006. THE ENERGY CHALLENGE | EXOTIC VISIONS – How to Cool a Planet (Maybe). By WILLIAM J. BROAD. Excerpts: In the past few decades, a handful of scientists have come up with big, futuristic ways to fight global warming: Build sunshades in orbit to cool the planet. Tinker with clouds to make them reflect more sunlight back into space. Trick oceans into soaking up more heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
…Dr. Angel outlined a plan to put into orbit small lenses that would bend sunlight away from earth – trillions of lenses, he now calculates, each about two feet wide, extraordinarily thin and weighing little more than a butterfly.
… Paul J. Crutzen …paper newly examines the risks and benefits of trying to cool the planet by injecting sulfur into the stratosphere. …Dr. Broecker of Columbia proposed doing so by lacing the stratosphere with tons of sulfur dioxide, as erupting volcanoes occasionally do. The injections, he calculated in the 80’s, would require a fleet of hundreds of jumbo jets and, as a byproduct, would increase acid rain. By 1997, such futuristic visions found a prominent advocate in Edward Teller, a main inventor of the hydrogen bomb. “Injecting sunlight-scattering particles into the stratosphere appears to be a promising approach,” Dr. Teller wrote in The Wall Street Journal. “Why not do that?” … John Latham, an atmospheric physicist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, told how he and his colleagues had unsuccessfully sought for many years to test whether spraying saltwater mists into low ocean clouds might increase their reflectivity. …Other plans called for reflective films to be laid over deserts or white plastic islands to be floated on the world’s oceans, both as ways to reflect more sunlight into space. Another idea was to fertilize the sea with iron, creating vast blooms of plants that would gulp down tons of carbon dioxide and, as the plants died, drag the carbon into the abyss. …Critics of geoengineering argued that it made more sense to avoid global warming than to gamble on risky fixes. They called for reducing energy use, developing alternative sources of power and curbing greenhouse gases….
13 June 2006. Atlantic Hurricane Trends Linked to Climate Change. Michael E. Mann, EOS TRANSACTIONS, AMERICAN GEOPHYSICAL UNION, Vol. 87, No. 24, pp. 233-244. Excerpt: Increases in key measures of Atlantic hurricane activity over recent decades are believed to reflect, in large part, contemporaneous increases in tropical Atlantic warmth [e.g., Emanuel, 2005]. Some recent studies [e.g., Goldenberg et al., 2001] have attributed these increases to a natural climate cycle termed the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), while other studies suggest that climate change may instead be playing the dominant role [Emanuel, 2005; Webster et al., 2005]. Using a formal statistical analysis to separate the estimated influences of anthropogenic climate change from possible natural cyclical influences, this article presents results indicating that anthropogenic factors are likely responsible for long-term trends in tropical Atlantic warmth and tropical cyclone activity. In addition, this analysis indicates that late twentieth century tropospheric aerosol cooling has offset a substantial fraction of anthropogenic warming in the region and has thus likely suppressed even greater potential increases in tropical cyclone activity. climate data [e.g., Delworth and Mann, 2000].
24 April 2006. Earth’s Big Heat Bucket. By Michon Scott ·for NASA Earth Observatory. Excerpt: … Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Goddard Institute for Space Studies have learned to think of the ocean as … Earth’s “biggest heat bucket.” And like a bucket placed under an overflowing sink, the ocean is filling up with the heat that increasing levels of greenhouse gases are preventing from escaping to space. By comparing computer simulations of Earth’s climate with millions of measurements of ocean heat content collected by satellites and in-the-water sensors, a team of climatologists and oceanographers has provided what leading NASA climate scientist James Hansen calls the “smoking gun” of human-caused global climate change: a prediction of Earth’s energy imbalance that closely matches real-world observations. …”It turns out that the atmosphere, the air, really can’t hold that much heat,” explains Josh Willis, an oceanographer with the California Institute of Technology working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Heat capacity is the amount of energy that must be put into something to change its temperature, and air has a very low heat capacity. “If you put energy into the ocean, on the other hand, its temperature changes only very slightly.”
2005December 2005. CO2: Should We? Could We? by Seth Fisher. Pollution Engineering Newsletter. In Pollution Engineering’s October newsletter, we asked two survey questions: “Should we control CO2 emissions,” and “Is current technology available to adequately control CO2 emissions?” Your answers painted a grim picture; 67.9 percent believing we need to cut down on this greenhouse gas, but only 37.2 percent thought that currently available technology could do the job. … Atmospheric CO2 content is up to 379 ppm from an estimated 280 ppm at the onset of the industrial age. … there’s a very good chance that Global Warming is being caused by human activity. So doing something about it now, if we can, hedges our bets.But don’t take that last qualifier too lightly. According to our survey, the readers of Pollution Engineering, whom I would believe should know more about this kind of thing than the readers of MAD, or even National Geographic for that matter, don’t think that currently available technology can control CO2. Certainly, international attempts to do so support this position. Of the 141 nations to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, many are having a hard time meeting their quotas – at last count, only four European Union countries were on track to meet their emissions target – and some of those that aren’t can blame an economic crash (e.g. Russia) more than regulatory efforts for their success….The thinking is that this act of global solidarity can create an economic incentive to produce new technology, and even if we don’t meet the official goal, the effort will have done more than enough good to justify itself. That seems a lot more responsible than a nation of SUVs pulling out because the treaty’s unfairly kind to a nation of bicycles. …the Department of Energy has been researching a plan to literally pump their CO2 to the bottom of the ocean, where it will supposedly create a static cloud. …The best solution I’ve heard so far is to put grass gardens on top of our buildings. This would mean installation and maintenance cost hikes galore. But supposedly, grass on the roof can significantly help with insulation – lowering heating costs to a degree – while also giving residents and workers a pleasant leisure area….October 2005. “Americans and Climate Change — Closing the Gap Between Science and Action” – an interesting book that looks at American attitudes around this issue. It’s a synthesis of insights and recommendations from the 2005 Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies Conference on Climate Change. Free download, linked from http://environment.yale.edu/climate/1
2 July 2005. Exxon Mobil Becomes Focus of a Boycott. By Felicity Barringer. Washington, July 11 – A coalition of environmental and liberal lobbying groups is planning a boycott of Exxon Mobil products to protest the company’s challenges to warnings about global warming and its support for oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The boycott is part of a public relations campaign to brand Exxon Mobil, the nation’s biggest oil company, as an “outlaw,” the groups say…A spokesman for Exxon Mobil said in an e-mail message that the company did recognize the risk of climate change. The spokesman, Russ Roberts, said Exxon Mobil had committed to “investments and strategic planning that address emissions today, as well as industry-leading research on technologies with the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the future.”
18 February 2005. Experts: Global Warming is Real. Sharon Smith of the University of Miami found melting Arctic ice was taking with it algae that formed an important base of the food supply for a range of animals. And the disappearing ice shelves meant big animals such as walruses, polar bears and seals were losing their homes. “In 1997 there was a mass die-off of a bird called the short-tailed shearwater in the Bering Sea,” Smith told the news conference. The birds, which migrate from Australia, starved to death when warmer waters caused a plankton called a coccolithophore to bloom in huge numbers, turning the water an opaque turquoise color. “The short-tailed shearwater couldn’t see its prey,” Smith said.
February 2004. Global Warming “Undo-it”. Twenty steps people can take to reduce global warming — Environmental Defense Action Fund.
16 July 2002. LOOKING AT CLOUDS FROM ALL SIDES NOW. NASA-led research of cirrus clouds by more than 450 scientists could lead to improved forecasts of future climate change — forecasts of your weather today, tomorrow and years into the future. RELEASE: 02-125
26 June 2001. A cloud of African dust crossing the Atlantic and raining bits of the Sahara Desert over the Caribbean. TOMS aerosol movie, which spans the interval June 13 through 21, 2001.