2012 December 27. Carbon Taxes Make Ireland Even Greener. By Elisabeth Rosenthal, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Ireland… imposed taxes on most of the fossil fuels used by homes, offices, vehicles and farms, based on each fuel’s carbon dioxide emissions, a move that immediately drove up prices for oil, natural gas and kerosene. Household trash is weighed at the curb, and residents are billed for anything that is not being recycled. The Irish now pay …yearly registration fees that rise steeply in proportion to the vehicle’s emissions. Environmentally and economically, the new taxes have delivered results. Long one of Europe’s highest per-capita producers of greenhouse gases, with levels nearing those of the United States, Ireland has seen its emissions drop more than 15 percent since 2008. …when the Irish were faced with new environmental taxes, they quickly shifted to greener fuels and cars and began recycling with fervor. … as fossil fuels became more costly, renewable energy sources became more competitive, allowing Ireland’s wind power industry to thrive. Even more significantly, revenue from environmental taxes has played a crucial role in helping Ireland reduce a daunting deficit by several billion euros each year. …A recent report estimated that a modest carbon tax in the United States … could generate about $1.25 trillion in revenue from 2012 to 2022, reducing the 10-year deficit by 50 percent…. …Some of Europe’s strongest economies, like Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, have taxed carbon dioxide emissions since the early 1990s, and Japan and Australia have introduced them more recently. …Gas, always expensive in Europe, sells here for about $8 a gallon, around 20 percent more than in 2009 …. Read the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/28/science/earth/in-ireland-carbon-taxes-pay-off.html
2012 December 24. California Law Tests Company Responses to Carbon Costs. By Felicity Barringer, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Beginning Jan. 1, under the terms of a groundbreaking California environmental law known as AB 32, … 350 companies statewide will begin paying for those emissions, which trap heat and contribute to global warming. Companies … have lobbied state regulators to minimize the costs. In the meantime they are weighing their options. Should they stay and adapt or move operations elsewhere? Should they retrofit and innovate to reduce emissions? Should they swallow the regulatory costs or pass them on to customers? … Regulators do not want California companies to lose their competitive edge, because that could make other state governments reluctant to adopt this approach. …For the 200,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted annually by Morning Star’s three plants, the company is being awarded about 192,500 free allowances the first year; the company must buy the remainder on the open market. In the first allowance auction in November, the allowance price settled at $10.09 a ton, meaning in the first year Morning Star has to pay roughly $75,000 to cover its emissions. But over the next five years, the number of free allowances will decrease sharply to encourage further emissions cuts. At current rates, that means Morning Star will have to buy 100,000 allowances for both 2017 and 2018, by which time the prices may have doubled or tripled in an open market. The company estimates the law will cost it an extra $20 million over the next seven years. Nick Kastle, a company spokesman, said it would almost certainly pass on the new costs to makers of ketchup and frozen pizza, which would be likely to share the extra costs with consumers. “People nationwide are going to be affected by AB 32,” he said.….
2012 November 23. Cap-and-Trade for California. From Science, News of the Week. Synopsis: Sacramento. Last week California launched a cap-and-trade system to cut greenhouse gas emissions. It is the first such comprehensive scheme in the United States. It began with an auction on emissions permits for the electricity sector, with a price floor of $10 per ton of carbon dioxide to prevent a crash of emissions prices. In 2015 the system will regulating 85% of California’s total greenhouse gas pollution, covering transportation, commercial, and residential fuels….
2012 November 19. Shell, Swiss Re want ‘unambiguous price on carbon’. By Ben Geman, The Hill. Excerpt: Over 100 corporations including Royal Dutch Shell, food and consumer products giant Unilever, and the big re-insurer Swiss Re called Monday for a “clear, transparent and unambiguous price on carbon emissions.” Their joint statement arrives ahead of the next round of United Nations climate talks in Doha, Qatar, that gets under way in late November. “The private sector invests trillions of dollars into energy and other infrastructure projects, but, in most cases the goal of reducing [greenhouse gas] emissions does not guide such spending. A more effective approach is required, one that provides the right incentives to shift this private investment and makes best use of the limited pool of public funds,” states the “carbon price communiqué” released Monday. The companies say that creating a cost for carbon emissions should be part of nation-based climate policies that can eventually be interwoven. Policies to “price carbon” include a tax on emissions, and imposing a cap on emissions coupled with the buying and selling of emissions credits among polluters. The companies say that while there are multiple ways to set a price on emissions, they prefer market-based approaches like emissions credit trading “which offer both environmental integrity and flexibility for business.” However, proposals to price carbon have sputtered in the U.S. and face long odds politically. Cap-and-trade legislation collapsed in Congress in 2010…
2012 November 19. No nation immune to climate change, World Bank report shows. By Anna Yukhananov, Reuters. Excerpt: All nations will suffer the effects of a warmer world, but it is the world’s poorest countries that will be hit hardest by food shortages, rising sea levels, cyclones and drought, the World Bank said in a report on climate change. Under new World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, the global development lender has launched a more aggressive stance to integrate climate change into development. …The report, called “Turn Down the Heat,” highlights the devastating impact of a world hotter by 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, a likely scenario under current policies, …. As the first scientist to head the World Bank, Kim has pointed to “unequivocal” scientific evidence for man-made climate change to urge countries to do more. …Kim said 97 percent of scientists agree on the reality of climate change. …Kim said the World Bank plans to further meld climate change with development in its programs. Last year, the Bank doubled its funding for countries seeking to adapt to climate change, and now operates $7.2 billion in climate investment funds in 48 countries. The World Bank study comes as almost 200 nations will meet in Doha, Qatar, from Nov. 26 to Dec. 7 to try to extend the Kyoto Protocol, the existing plan for curbing greenhouse gas emissions by developed nations that runs to the end of the year….
2012 November 19. Holding Back Floodwaters With a Balloon. By Henry Fountain, New York Times. Excerpt: … The idea is a simple one: rather than retrofitting [New York City’s subway system] tunnels with metal floodgates or other expensive structures, the project aims to use a relatively cheap inflatable plug to hold back floodwaters. In theory, it would be like blowing up a balloon inside a tube. But in practice, developing a plug that is strong, durable, quick to install and foolproof to deploy is a difficult engineering task, one made even more challenging because of the pliable, relatively lightweight materials required….
2012 October 13. A Grand Experiment to Rein In Climate Change. By Felicity Barringer, The NY Times. Excerpt: …California embarks on its grand experiment in reining in climate change. On Jan. 1, it will become the first state in the nation to charge industries across the economy for the greenhouse gases they emit. Under the system, known as “cap and trade,” the state will set an overall ceiling on those emissions and assign allowable emission amounts for individual polluters. A portion of these so-called allowances will be allocated to utilities, manufacturers and others; the remainder will be auctioned off…The outsize goals of California’s new law, known as A.B. 32, are to lower California’s emissions to what they were in 1990 by 2020 — a reduction of roughly 30 percent — and, more broadly, to show that the system works and can be replicated….
2012 September 11. New York Is Lagging as Seas and Risks Rise, Critics Warn. By Myreya Navarro, New York Times. Excerpt: With a 520-mile-long coast lined largely by teeming roads and fragile infrastructure, New York City is gingerly facing up to the intertwined threats posed by rising seas and ever-more-severe storm flooding. …So far, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has commissioned exhaustive research on the challenge of climate change. His administration is expanding wetlands to accommodate surging tides, installing green roofs to absorb rainwater and prodding property owners to move boilers out of flood-prone basements. But even as city officials earn high marks for environmental awareness, critics say New York is moving too slowly to address the potential for flooding that could paralyze transportation, cripple the low-lying financial district and temporarily drive hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. Only a year ago, they point out, the city shut down the subway system and ordered the evacuation of 370,000 people as Hurricane Irene barreled up the Atlantic coast. …Others express concern for areas like the South Bronx and Sunset Park in Brooklyn, which have large industrial waterfronts with chemical-manufacturing plants, oil-storage sites and garbage-transfer stations. Unless hazardous materials are safeguarded with storm surges in mind, some local groups warn, residents could one day be wading through toxic water. …Other cities are also tackling these issues, …. New shoreline development around San Francisco Bay must now be designed to cope with the anticipated higher sea levels under new regional regulations imposed last fall. In Chicago, new bike lanes and parking spaces are made of permeable pavement that allows rainwater to filter through it. Charlotte, N.C., and Cedar Falls, Iowa, are restricting development in flood plains. Maryland is pressing shoreline property owners to plant marshland instead of building retaining walls…. …Unlike New Orleans, New York City is above sea level. Yet the city is second only to New Orleans in the number of people living less than four feet above high tide — nearly 200,000 New Yorkers, according to the research group Climate Central. …Klaus H. Jacob, a research scientist at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, said the storm surge from Irene came, on average, just one foot short of paralyzing transportation into and out of Manhattan. …In 2009, a commission warned that global warming posed “a new and potentially dire challenge for which the M.T.A. system is largely unprepared.”. …. Read the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/11/nyregion/new-york-faces-rising-seas-and-slow-city-action.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120911
2012 July 24. Satellites See Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Melt. By Steve Cole, NASA. Excerpt: On average in the summer, about half of the surface of Greenland’s ice sheet naturally melts…this year the extent of ice melting at or near the surface jumped dramatically. According to satellite data, an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface thawed at some point in mid-July. Researchers have not yet determined whether this extensive melt event will affect the overall volume of ice loss this summer and contribute to sea level rise…The melting spread quickly. Melt maps derived from the three satellites showed that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet’s surface had melted. By July 12, 97 percent had melted. This extreme melt event coincided with an unusually strong ridge of warm air, or a heat dome, over Greenland. The ridge was one of a series that has dominated Greenland’s weather since the end of May. “Each successive ridge has been stronger than the previous one,” said Mote. This latest heat dome started to move over Greenland on July 8, and then parked itself over the ice sheet about three days later. By July 16, it had begun to dissipate….
2012 July 10. State of the Climate in 2011 : Highlights. By Caitlyn H. Kennedy, David Herring, Katy Vincent, LuAnn Dahlman, Rebecca Lindsey, and Susan Osborne, ClimateWatch Magazine. Excerpt: State of the Climate in 2011 report provides a detailed peer-reviewed update on global climate indicators and notable weather events from 2011…. See also NOAA news story http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2012/20120710_stateoftheclimatereport.html
2012 June 26. D.C. appeals court upholds EPA regulations to fight global warming. By Darryl Fears, The Washington Post. Excerpt: A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that greenhouse gases contribute to global warming and are a threat to public health, a major victory for the Obama administration and a setback to states and trade groups that oppose government regulations on carbon emissions. The opponents, including Virginia’s attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli II (R), argued that EPA rules setting emissions standards for cars and light trucks, and requiring construction and operating permits for the nation’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, such as coal-fired power plants, were based on a faulty interpretation of the Clean Air Act, and therefore capricious and heavy handed. …But in a sharply worded opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected the challenge to the agency’s authority, saying the EPA’s “interpretation of the . . . Clean Air Act provisions is unambiguously correct.” It said the EPA’s rules targeting large polluters could not be challenged because of the authority granted the agency in an earlier Supreme Court ruling. …In its remarks, the three-judge panel seemed to bristle at the opponents’ argument that the EPA improperly relied on assessments of climate science by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Research Council and the U.S. Global Change Research Program to support its findings that greenhouse gases contribute to warming, posing a threat to human health. …”This is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question, the court said. The unanimous decision covered dozens of suits bundled together under a group called the Coalition for Responsible Regulation….
2012 May 10. Science Academies Issue ‘G-Science’ Statements to Call World Leaders’ Attention to How Science and Technology Can Help Solve Global Challenges. By William Skane and William Kearney, The National Academies. Excerpt: National science academies from 15 countries issued joint statements today calling on world leaders who are about to meet at the upcoming G8 Summit and other international gatherings this year to give greater consideration to the vital role science and technology could play in addressing some of the planet’s most pressing challenges. The “G-Science” statements recommend that governments engage the international research community in developing systematic, innovative solutions to three global dilemmas: how to simultaneously meet water and energy needs; how to build resilience to natural and technological disasters; and how to more accurately gauge countries’ greenhouse gas emissions to verify progress toward national goals or international commitments… one of the G-Science statements says insufficient attention is being paid to the links between energy and water or, in other words, to the fact that energy requires water and water requires energy. Without considering water and energy together, inefficiencies will occur, increasing shortages of both, the statement warns. It recommends that policymakers recognize the direct interaction between water and energy by pursuing policies that integrate the two, and emphasize conservation and efficiency. Regional and global cooperation will also be required….
2012 May 25. U.N. climate talks stall over rich-poor divisions. By Associated Press, SFGate. Excerpt: U.N. climate talks ran into gridlock Thursday as a widening rift between rich and poor countries risked undoing some advances made last year in the decades-long effort to control carbon emissions that scientists say are overheating the planet…At the heart of the discord was the larger issue of how to divide the burden of emissions cuts between developed and developing nations….
2012 May 02. Experiments Underestimate Climate Change Impacts to Plants. By Jessica Robertson, USGS Science Features. Excerpt: As the climate has warmed, many plants are starting to grow leaves and bloom flowers earlier. A new study published in the journal, Nature, suggests that most field experiments may underestimate the degree to which the timing of leafing and flowering changes with global warming. Understanding how plants are responding to climate change will help develop more accurate indicators of spring, forecast the onset of allergy season or the chances of western wildfires, manage wildlife and invasive plants, and help inform habitat restoration plans. …the USA-National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) also provided support and assisted with assembling and analyzing historical phenological observations and climate data. …The USA-NPN brings together citizen scientists, government agencies, non-profit groups, educators and students of all ages to monitor the impacts of climate change on plants and animals in the United States. … sign up through the USA-NPN website (http://www.usanpn.org/participate/observe), or contact the USA-NPN Executive Director Jake Weltzin at email@example.com. Read a University of California, San Diego, press release–http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressreleases/study_shows_experiments_underestimate_plant_responses_to_climate_change, as well as a NASA feature–http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/early-bloom.html, on this new article.
2012 Apr 13. NSF Press Release 12-071: Scientists Determined First-ever Census for Emperor Penguins. Excerpt: A new study using satellite mapping technology reveals there are twice as many emperor penguins in Antarctica than previously thought.
The results provide an important benchmark for monitoring the impact of environmental change on the population of this iconic bird, which breeds in remote areas that are very difficult to study because they often are inaccessible with temperatures as low as -58 degrees Fahrenheit. Reporting this week in the journal PLoS ONE, an international team of scientists describe how they used Very High Resolution satellite images to estimate the number of penguins at each colony around the coastline of Antarctica….
2012 Apr 06. NASA’s New Ultra-green Building | Relevant to GSS Energy Use chapter 6, 7, 8, and Climate Change chapter 9. Excerpt: MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. — NASA’s newest building also is one of the nation’s greenest. Sustainability Base is a highly intelligent facility designed to anticipate and react to changes in sunlight, temperature, wind and occupancy. It is designed to achieve, and is presently under consideration for, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum status, which is the highest LEED rating. Meeting the White House challenge to lead by example, NASA has repurposed its technologies and incorporated them into the new building. Sustainability Base features a Bloom Energy Box, for example, that uses fuel cell technology in a clean electrical-chemical process to produce electricity. The facility also has a water recovery system, derived from one originally designed for the International Space Station, which reduces unnecessary consumption of potable water. Digital press kit of Sustainability Base: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/events/2012/sustainability-base-presskit.html Info about Sustainability Base: http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/sustainability-base Info about Ames’ green technologies: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/greenspace
2012 Mar 23. The U.S. Navy – Navigating Through a Changing Climate | By David Titley and Robert S. Freeman, e-International Relations. Excerpt: …As a globally-distributed force, the U.S. Navy may be the first military service to fully experience the impacts of climate change. …Any objective evaluation of the data will verify that the Earth’s climate is changing, a fact the U.S. Navy acknowledges. …the appropriate approach is to determine the impact of climate change on future naval readiness and ensure we are prepared for the challenges that may confront us in the future. … the Navy has been observing the changes in the Arctic and considering the ramifications for future operations. … Thermal expansion of the warming ocean and melting ice sheets and glaciers over land may cause sea levels to rise as high as one meter in some locations by the end of the century. Since the majority of naval facilities are located on the coasts, this could create significant problems for our bases, including the piers and approaches. Enhanced tides and storm surges could create infrastructure damage and salt water intrusion may compromise water supplies. Rising sea levels will significantly expand the area of flooding and level of damage of the most routine storms experienced today.…
2012 March 7. NASA RELEASE 12-079: Multi-Agency Satellite Begins Climate and Weather Studies. Excerpt: NASA has completed commissioning of the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite (NPP), which is now making global environmental observations. The satellite will provide scientists with critical insight into the dynamics of the entire Earth system, including climate, clouds, oceans, and vegetation. It will also gather enhanced data for improving our nation’s weather forecasting system….
2012 March. Our Changing Planet for Fiscal Year 2012 Report Released (PDF). Since 1990, the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) has developed and submitted an annual report, Our Changing Planet, to Congress describing the current state of the USGCRP and ongoing Federal research activities focused on global change. The USGCRP is committed to building a knowledge base that informs human responses to global change through coordinated and integrated federal programs of research, education, communication, and decision support. Download the Report here: http://downloads.globalchange.gov/ocp/ocp2012/ocp2012.pdf
2012 January 19. NASA Finds 2011 Ninth-Warmest Year on Record [includes a video of warming from Goddard Institute for Space Studies]. Excerpt: The global average surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880, according to NASA scientists. The finding continues a trend in which nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000….
…The difference between 2011 and the warmest year in the GISS record (2010) is 0.22 degrees F (0.12 C). This underscores the emphasis scientists put on the long-term trend of global temperature rise. Because of the large natural variability of climate, scientists do not expect temperatures to rise consistently year after year. However, they do expect a continuing temperature rise over decades….
2012 Feb 8. NASA Mission Takes Stock of Earth’s Melting Land Ice. NASA RELEASE : 12-048. Excerpt: In the first comprehensive satellite study of its kind, a University of Colorado at Boulder-led team used NASA data to calculate how much Earth’s melting land ice is adding to global sea level rise. Using satellite measurements from the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), the researchers measured ice loss in all of Earth’s land ice between 2003 and 2010…. The total global ice mass lost from Greenland, Antarctica and Earth’s glaciers and ice caps during the study period was about 4.3 trillion tons (1,000 cubic miles), adding about 0.5 inches (12 millimeters) to global sea level. That’s enough ice to cover the United States 1.5 feet (0.5 meters) deep. …About a quarter of the average annual ice loss came from glaciers and ice caps outside of Greenland and Antarctica (roughly 148 billion tons, or 39 cubic miles). Ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica and their peripheral ice caps and glaciers averaged 385 billion tons (100 cubic miles) a year….
2012 Jan 12. NASA Study Shows Health, Food Security Benefits From Climate Change Actions (Release 12-017). A new study led by a NASA scientist highlights 14 key air pollution control measures that, if implemented, could slow the pace of global warming, improve health and boost agricultural production. The research, led by Drew Shindell of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City, finds that focusing on these measures could slow mean global warming 0.9 ºF (0.5ºC) by 2050, increase global crop yields by up to 135 million metric tons per season and prevent hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year. While all regions of the world would benefit, countries in Asia and the Middle East would see the biggest health and agricultural gains from emissions reductions. “We’ve shown that implementing specific practical emissions reductions chosen to maximize climate benefits also would have important ‘win-win’ benefits for human health and agriculture,” said Shindell. The study was published today in the journal Science.
2011 Dec 14. U.S. Envoy Relieved by Climate Talks’ Outcome. By John M. Broder, The NY Times Green Blog. Excerpt:
…The senior American climate change envoy, Todd D. Stern, is back in Washington from the double-overtime United Nations negotiations in Durban, South Africa, and has declared himself pretty well satisfied with the result, although closing the deal wasn’t easy….
…He said the United States team arrived in Durban with two goals. The first was to deepen the agreements reached at the two previous United Nations climate conferences, in Copenhagen and Cancún, Mexico…The Americans’ second goal was to find some solution to what could be called the Kyoto conundrum — that is, what sort of treaty or agreement should replace the Kyoto Protocol… Resolving that problem proved to be a huge challenge, and the reason that a conference that was supposed to end Friday evening did not conclude until sunrise on Sunday…. The standoff boiled down to a dispute over what most observers would consider arcane legal language but that meant a lot to the parties involved….
…Of course there is a lot of work ahead. The delegates agreed only to begin negotiations with a deadline of 2015 to produce a new agreement to take effect in 2020. There is no certainty about what will be in such an agreement, and no confidence that the United States Senate will ratify it. But those are problems for another day….
2011 Nov 24. A How-To Guide to Slashing California’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050. By Don Krotz, Berkeley Lab News Center. Excerpt: What will a day in the life of a Californian be like in 40 years? If the state cuts its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 — a target mandated by a state executive order — a person could wake up in a net-zero energy home, commute to work in a battery-powered car, work in an office with smart windows and solar panels, then return home and plug in her car to a carbon-free grid.
Such is a future envisaged in a study published Nov. 24 by the journal Science that analyzes the infrastructure and technology changes needed to reach California’s aggressive emissions reduction goal….
…“To reach this goal, energy efficiency comes first, followed by decarbonization of electricity generation, followed by the electrification of transportation and other sectors,” says Jim Williams, the paper’s lead author….
2011 November 25. New insight into climate change in the Pacific. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Media Release. Excerpt: New research providing critical information about how climate change is affecting Australia’s Pacific island neighbours and East Timor has been released today by the Australian Government’s Pacific Climate Change Science Program (PCCSP).
The landmark, peer-reviewed publication, Climate Change in the Pacific: Scientific Assessment and New Research, presents the most comprehensive scientific analysis to date of climate change in the Pacific region….
…The report includes climate projections for Cook Islands, East Timor, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Mr Hennessy also announced that information about the future climate of these countries would be easily accessible via a new interactive online tool called Pacific Climate Futures….
[Read the full report at http://www.cawcr.gov.au/projects/PCCSP/publications.html. Download the Pacific Climate Futures tool at http://www.pacificclimatefutures.net/]
2011 November 20. Congress kills request for National Climate Service. By Brian Vastag, The Washington Post. Excerpt: ….The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wanted to reshuffle its offices to establish a National Climate Service akin to the agency’s National Weather Service. It asked for no new funding to do so.
But in a political climate where talk of the earthly kind of climate can be radioactive, the answer in last week’s budget deal was “no.” Congress barred NOAA from launching what the agency bills as a “one-stop shop” for climate information….
…Demand for that data is threatening to overwhelm NOAA’s ability to deliver it… Between 2009 and 2010, the amount of climate data grabbed from NOAA Web sites shot up 86 percent. Climate-related phone calls and e-mails jumped from 26,000 to 30,000.
And with data spread across agency offices and Web sites, people are “often confused where to go for climate information,” said Mary Glackin, the NOAA deputy undersecretary heading up the proposal. The new service would streamline delivery, she said, and make it easier for people to find information, such as seasonal growing outlooks and drought, wildfire and flood forecasts…
2011 Nov 18. Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). The Summary for Policymakers of the Special Report on SREX was approved today by member governments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It provides insights into how disaster risk management and adaptation may assist vulnerable communities to better cope with a changing climate in a world of inequalities.
2011 November 14. UN chief Ban Ki-Moon makes climate plea at Dhaka summit. By Anbarasan Ethirajan, BBC News Asia. Excerpt: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged world leaders to establish a climate fund to help those countries worst affected by climate change.
Speaking at a conference in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, he said efforts must be made to create a $100bn (£63bn) Green Climate Fund….
…The event was organised by the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), which connects countries affected by extreme weather.
Mr Ban said governments meeting in Durban later this month for UN climate talks must make concerted efforts to help countries likely to bear the brunt of climate change….
October 28, 2011. NASA RELEASE : 11-361 NASA Launches Multi-Talented Earth-Observing Satellite. Excerpt: …NPP carries five science instruments, including four new state-of-the-art sensors, which will provide critical data to help scientists understand the dynamics of long-term climate patterns and help meteorologists improve short-term weather forecasts. The mission will extend more than 30 key long-term datasets NASA has been tracking, including measurements of the ozone layer, land cover, and ice cover….
2011 October 13. NASA RELEASE 11-347: NASA Continues Critical Survey of Antarctica’s Changing Ice. Excerpt:
WASHINGTON — Scientists with NASA’s Operation IceBridge airborne research campaign began the mission’s third year of surveys this week over the changing ice of Antarctica….
Ninety-eight percent of Antarctica is covered in ice. Scientists are concerned about how quickly key features are thinning, such as Pine Island Glacier, which rests on bedrock below sea level. Better understanding this type of change is crucial to projecting impacts like sea-level rise….
IceBridge science flights put a variety of remote-sensing instruments above Antarctica’s land and sea ice, and in some regions, above the ocean floor. The G-V carries one instrument: a laser-ranging topography mapper. The DC-8 carries seven instruments, including a laser altimeter to continue the crucial ice sheet elevation record begun by the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) mission, which ended in 2009. The flying laboratory also will carry radars that can distinguish how much snow sits on top of sea ice and map the terrain of bedrock below thick ice cover.
While scientists in recent years have produced newer, more detailed data about the ice sheet’s surface, the topography of the rocky surface beneath the ice sheet remains unknown in many places. Without knowing the topography of the bedrock, it is impossible to know exactly how much ice sits on top of Antarctica….
2011 Oct 13. Speech by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D; Rhode Island). Summary: There are some laws that Congress can change. The laws of nature aren’t among them. While lobbyists continue to call for more and more “second” opinions, Sheldon points out to his colleagues that the scientific community is solidly behind the fact that climate change is a real threat.
2011 October 12. NASA RELEASE 11-345: NASA Readies New Type of Earth-Observing Satellite for Launch. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — NASA is planning an Oct. 27 launch of the first Earth-observing satellite to measure both global climate changes and key weather variables.
The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP) is the first mission designed to collect critical data to improve weather forecasts in the short-term and increase our understanding of long-term climate change. NPP continues observations of Earth from space that NASA has pioneered for more than 40 years.
NPP’s five science instruments, including four new state-of-the-art sensors, will provide scientists with data to extend more than 30 key long-term datasets. These records, which range from the ozone layer and land cover to atmospheric temperatures and ice cover, are critical for global change science….
2011 October 4. NASA RELEASE 11-337: Arctic Sea Ice Continues Decline, Hits Second-Lowest Level. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — Last month the extent of sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean declined to the second-lowest extent on record. Satellite data from NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado in Boulder showed that the summertime sea ice cover narrowly avoided a new record low….
…The near-record ice-melt followed higher-than-average summer temperatures, but without the unusual weather conditions that contributed to the extreme melt of 2007. “Atmospheric and oceanic conditions were not as conducive to ice loss this year, but the melt still neared 2007 levels,” said NSIDC scientist Walt Meier. “This probably reflects loss of multiyear ice in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas as well as other factors that are making the ice more vulnerable.”
Joey Comiso, senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said the continued low minimum sea ice levels fits into the large-scale decline pattern that scientists have watched unfold over the past three decades….
2011 August 17. All Climate is Local: How Mayors Fight Global Warming. By Cynthia Rosenzweig, Scientific American. Excerpt: For years scientists have urged national leaders to tackle climate change, based on the assumption that prevention efforts would require the coordinated actions of entire nations to be effective. But as anyone who has watched the past 15 years of international climate negotiations can attest, most countries are still reluctant to take meaningful steps to lower their production of greenhouse gases, much less address issues such as how to help developing countries protect themselves from the extreme effects of climate change. Frustrated by the ongoing diplomatic stalemate, a number of urban leaders have decided to take matters into their own hands, adopting solutions that already exist or inventing new ones for limiting greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for the effects of ongoing global warming.
2011 July 13. Utility Shelves Ambitious Plan to Limit Carbon. By Matthew L. Wald and John M. Broder, The NY Times. Excerpt: A major American utility is shelving the nation’s most prominent effort to capture carbon dioxide from an existing coal-burning power plant, dealing a severe blow to efforts to rein in emissions responsible for global warming….
…American Electric Power Company officials, who plan an announcement on Thursday, said they were dropping the larger, $668 million project because they did not believe state regulators would let the company recover its costs by charging customers, thus leaving it no compelling regulatory or business reason to continue the program.
…The abandonment of the A.E.P. plant comes in response to a string of reversals for federal climate change policy. President Obama spent his first year in office pushing a goal of an 80 percent reduction in climate-altering emissions by 2050, a target that could be met only with widespread adoption of carbon-capture and storage at coal plants around the country. The administration’s stimulus package provided billions of dollars to speed development of the technology; the climate change bill passed by the House in 2009 would have provided tens of billions of dollars in additional incentives for what industry calls “clean coal.”
But all such efforts collapsed last year with the Republican takeover of the House and the continuing softness in the economy, which killed any appetite for far-reaching environmental measures….
2011 May 23. A City Prepares for a Warm Long-Term Forecast. By Leslie Kaufman, The NY Times. Excerpt: …Chicago is getting ready for a wetter, steamier future. Public alleyways are being repaved with materials that are permeable to water. The white oak, the state tree of Illinois, has been banned from city planting lists, and swamp oaks and sweet gum trees from the South have been given new priority. Thermal radar is being used to map the city’s hottest spots, which are then targets for pavement removal and the addition of vegetation to roofs. And air-conditioners are being considered for all 750 public schools, which until now have been heated but rarely cooled…..
…The precise consequences of the increase of man-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are hard to determine, but scientists are predicting significant sea level rise; more extreme weather events like storms, tornadoes and blizzards; and, of course, much more heat….
…Some of these events will occur in the near-enough term that local governments are under pressure to act. Insurance companies are applying pressure in high-risk areas, essentially saying adapt or pay higher premiums — especially in urban and commercial areas….
2011 May 17. Chris Huhne pledges to halve UK carbon emissions by 2025. By Fiona Harvey and Allegra Stratton, The Guardian. Excerpt: The UK is to put in place the most ambitious targets on greenhouse gases of any developed country, by halving carbon dioxide emissions by 2025, after a tumultuous week of cabinet rifts on the issue….
…The energy and climate secretary, Chris Huhne, announced to parliament that the “carbon budget” – a 50% emissions cut averaged across the years 2023 to 2027, compared with 1990 levels – would be enshrined in law….
…The carbon budget runs from 2023 to 2027, part of efforts to meet legally binding emissions cuts of 80% by 2050, and will put the UK on target for 60% cuts by 2030. There will be a review of the budget in 2014, under a compromise….
2011 April 22. NASA RELEASE 11-121: NASA and Partners Fund New Climate Impact Studies On Species and Ecosystems. Excerpt: …NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Smithsonian Institution will provide $18 million for 15 new research projects during the next four years. Organizations across the United States in academia, government and the private sector will study the response of different species and ecosystems to climate changes and develop tools to better manage wildlife and natural resources….
…”We know very little about how the majority of species and ecosystems will respond to environmental changes related to changing climates,” said Woody Turner, manager of NASA’s Ecological Forecasting program in Washington. “These projects bring together NASA’s global satellite data of the physical environment with ground-based data on specific species and ecosystems and computer modeling to detect and understand biological responses to climate. As a result, we will improve our management and mitigation of the impact of changing climate.” …
2011 March 28. Forest Service adopts climate-change ‘scorecard.’ By Bob Berwyn, Summit County Citizens Voice. Excerpt: Recognizing that climate change calls for a coordinated response, the U.S. Forest Service is implementing a climate change road map to guide the agency’s efforts in the face of potentially staggering impacts to the landscapes and watersheds it manages across the country….
…The scorecard approach will help field-level rangers plan actions that fit into a broader scope of landscape-level action aimed at addressing climate change, rather than relying on “random acts of conservation,” said regional agency planners familiar with the effort….
2011 January 12. NASA RELEASE: 11-014: NASA Research Finds 2010 Tied For Warmest Year On Record. Excerpt: Global surface temperatures in 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest on record, according to an analysis released Wednesday by researchers at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.
…The record temperature in 2010 is particularly noteworthy, because the last half of the year was marked by a transition to strong La Nina conditions, which bring cool sea surface temperatures to the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean….
2010 August 19. Worldwide Slowdown in Plant Carbon Uptake. Excerpt: Deep and extended droughts are responsible for a recent slowdown in the amount of carbon dioxide that land plants pulled from the atmosphere as they grew, a new study suggests…
…Satellite data suggest that between 1982 and 1999, the world’s net primary production — the amount of carbon pulled from the air as CO2 and stored in living plants each year — rose about 6 percent, says Maosheng Zhao, an ecologist at the University of Montana in Missoula…
…Previous studies have hinted that drought is a major contributor to declines in plant productivity, says Inez Fung, an atmospheric scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. But, she adds, “what’s really cool about this paper is the global time series of satellite observations” — a set of data that can’t be reproduced by simply extrapolating from occasional studies of widely scattered plots of forest.
…The new study also indicates that the CO2 fertilization effect on vegetation, thought by a few scientists to be a possible solution to the ever-increasing concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, isn’t automatic, Fung says. “Water is a major, major thing,” she notes…
2010 July 20. NASA RELEASE: 10-173: First Map of Global Forest Heights Created From NASA Data. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — Scientists have produced a first-of-its kind map of the height of the world’s forests by combining data from three NASA satellites. The map will help scientists build an inventory of how much carbon the world’s forests store and how fast that carbon cycles through ecosystems and back into the atmosphere.
…The primary data… used was from a laser technology called lidar on the ICESat. Lidar can capture vertical slices of forest canopy height by shooting pulses of light at the ground and observing how much longer it takes for light to bounce back from the surface than from the top of the forest canopy. Since lidar can penetrate the top layer of forest canopy, it provides a detailed snapshot of the vertical structure of a forest.
…Measuring canopy height has implications for efforts to estimate the amount of carbon tied up in Earth’s forests and for explaining what absorbs 2 billion tons of “missing” carbon each year. Humans release about 7 billion tons of carbon annually, mostly in the form of carbon dioxide. Of that, 3 billion tons end up in the atmosphere and 2 billion tons in the ocean. It’s unclear where the remaining 2 billion tons of carbon go, although scientists suspect forests capture and store much of it as biomass through photosynthesis.
…Sassan Saatchi, senior scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., already has started combining the height data with forest inventories to create biomass maps for tropical forests. Global biomass inventories will eventually be used to improve climate models and guide policymakers on carbon management strategies.
July 2010. Touring the Atmosphere Aboard the A-Train. By Tristan S. L’Ecuyer and Jonathan H. Jiang, Physics Today. Excerpt: To better understand the climate system, climate scientists need to quantify the complex relationships that connect water in all three phases to heat exchanges between the surface, atmosphere, and space; to aerosols; and to trace gases. That is a daunting task, given the sheer number and diversity of measurements and parameters involved, but a one-of-a-kind constellation of satellites collectively known as the A-Train is helping scientists to meet the challenge
…Together the satellites view Earth from the UV to the microwave—a wavelength span of four orders of magnitude. That wavelength diversity, coupled with the distinct viewing geometries and scanning patterns of the instruments aboard the A-Train, provides composite information about a wide variety of climate parameters
…The data from the four satellites yield new information about the three-dimensional structure of clouds and aerosols in Earth’s atmosphere. Armed with those data, scientists can quantitatively determine how clouds and aerosols influence global energy balance.
…The A-Train carries tools for evaluating how well climate models represent several aspects of present-day energy and water cycles, atmospheric composition and transports, and surface–atmosphere exchanges. Such tests are critical because accurate prediction of climate variability on decadal and longer time scales requires that models be capable of simulating current climate and short-term variations such as the diurnal and annual solar cycles and the year-to-year variations associated with the El Niño Southern Oscillation.
2010 June 29. White House Energy Session Changes No Minds. By John M. Broder, The NY Times. Excerpt: …Democrats continued to insist on putting some sort of price on greenhouse gas emissions; Republicans continued to insist that to do so would be to impose a tax that would smother the economy.
…This battle has divided the Senate for a year and must be somehow resolved in the coming weeks if the Senate is to produce a comprehensive energy bill that also addresses the gases contributing to climate change.
…Among the ideas circulating in Washington are a so-called energy-only bill that would encourage conservation and greater efficiency in buildings and vehicles; more government incentives for alternative fuels; a plan to cap greenhouse gas emissions from electric power plants while delaying regulation of other major sources of pollution for years; and a measure to rapidly build nuclear power plants and electrify the American vehicle fleet.
…The House Energy and Commerce Committee will take up a bill called the Blowout Prevention Act that will require oil companies digging high-risk wells in deep water to use more sophisticated emergency equipment with backup systems to ensure they work in the case of a blowout. The bill also sets strict new rules for how wells are designed, cemented and encased and requires that a relief well be started within 15 days of an accident.
2010 June 24. Defense Experts Want More Explicit Climate Models. By Lauren Morello, The NY Times. Excerpt: …While political leaders on Capitol Hill seek definitive answers about how quickly the world’s climate will change, military and national security experts say they’re used to making decisions with limited information.
…But as they turn their attention to the geopolitical implications of climate change, they’re pressing scientists to help them understand the risk and uncertainty inherent in forecasts of future environmental shifts.
…”We had to use a low-resolution [climate] model,” she said. “We were constrained by the computer model we had. And what that doesn’t do is give you the outliers” — extreme, but low probability, events.
…Still, climate scientists said their models have improved greatly since the last report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was released in 2007. At the Hadley Center, they’re running a new model — for the next IPCC report — that covers changes in the atmosphere, the ocean, the carbon cycle, chemistry and land use.
…Observations of key aspects of climate change are also improving. Scripps glaciologist Helen Fricker noted that scientists now understand how melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica and glaciers on land contribute to sea level rise — something that was an open question just a few years ago.
…According to Titley, the Navy and Air Force are in talks with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to develop next-generation climate models that will incorporate knowledge of the social sciences, agriculture, and marine ecosystems — “not just understanding that temperature is going up ‘X’ degrees.”
2010 June 8. Release 10-135: NASA Icebreaker Voyage to Probe Climate Change Impact on Arctic. Excerpt: …The “Impacts of Climate on Ecosystems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment” mission, or ICESCAPE, will investigate the impacts of climate change on the ecology and biogeochemistry of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. A key focus is how changes in the Arctic may be altering the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. The greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is a leading cause of global warming.
…The Arctic Ocean, unlike other oceans, is almost completely landlocked, making it an ideal location to study ongoing climate changes in a marine ecosystem already heavily impacted by declining sea ice cover, ocean acidification, and an increase in incoming solar radiation. These changes are likely to modify the physics, biogeochemistry, and ecology of this environment in ways that are not well understood. Satellite remote sensing has provided some insight into these changes which ICESCAPE is designed to advance.
…”The ocean ecosystem in the Arctic has changed dramatically in recent years, and it’s changing much faster and much more than any other ocean in the world,” said ICESCAPE chief scientist Kevin Arrigo of Stanford University. “Declining sea ice in the Arctic is certainly one reason for the change, but that’s not the whole story. We need to find out, for example, where the nutrients are coming from that feed this growth if we are going to be able to predict what the future holds for this region.”
2010 April 15. Release 10-059: “Missing” Heat May Affect Future Climate Change. NSF. Excerpt: Current observational tools cannot account for roughly half of the heat that is believed to have built up on Earth in recent years, according to a “Perspectives” article in this week’s issue of the journal Science.
Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., warn that satellite sensors, ocean floats, and other instruments are inadequate to track this “missing” heat, which may be building up in the deep oceans or elsewhere in the climate system….
The authors suggest that last year’s rapid onset of El Niño, the periodic event in which upper ocean waters across much of the tropical Pacific Ocean become significantly warmer, may be one way in which the solar energy has reappeared.
…”The flow of energy through the climate system is a key issue in understanding climate change,” says Eric DeWeaver, program director in NSF’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, which funds NCAR. “It poses a major challenge to our observing systems.”…
2010 April 1. U.S. Issues Limits on Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Cars. By John M. Broder, NY Times. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — The federal government took its first formal step to regulate global warming pollution on Thursday by issuing final rules for greenhouse gas emissions for automobiles and light trucks.
The move ends a 30-year battle between regulators and automakers but sets the stage for what may be a bigger fight over climate-altering emissions from stationary sources like power plants, steel mills and refineries.
The new tailpipe rules, jointly written by the Transportation Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, set emissions and mileage standards that would translate to a combined fuel economy average for new vehicles of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. Most drivers will see lower mileage figures in actual driving.
The rules are expected to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases about 30 percent from 2012 to 2016.
Officials said the program would save the owner of an average 2016 car about $3,000 in fuel over the life of the vehicle and eliminate emissions of nearly a billion tons of greenhouse gases over the lives of all regulated vehicles….
2010 March 18. RELEASE 10-067: NASA IceBridge Mission Prepares for Study of Arctic Glaciers. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — NASA’s Operation IceBridge mission, the largest airborne survey ever flown of Earth’s polar ice, kicks off its second year of study when NASA aircraft arrive in Greenland March 22.
The IceBridge mission allows scientists to track changes in the extent and thickness of polar ice, which is important for understanding ice dynamics. IceBridge began in March 2009 as a means to fill the gap in polar observations between the loss of NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite, or ICESat, and the launch of ICESat-2, planned for 2015. Annual missions fly over the Arctic in March and April and over Antarctica in October and November.
“NASA’s IceBridge mission is characterizing the changes occurring in the world’s polar ice sheets,” said Tom Wagner, cryosphere program manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The mission’s goal is to collect the most important data for improving predictive models of sea level rise and global climate change.”
Researchers plan to resurvey previous flight lines and former ground tracks of ICESat while adding new areas of interest. Scientists also will target some areas that have been undergoing mysterious changes. The major glaciers in southeast Greenland once thinned simultaneously, but some of those glaciers have been thinning at an accelerated rate — as much as 40 feet per year — while others have thickened. And glaciers in northwest Greenland, once a stable region, have mostly begun to thin….
2010 Feb 23. New NASA Web Page Sheds Light on Science of a Warming World. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — Will 2010 be the warmest year on record? How do the recent U.S. “Snowmageddon” winter storms and record low temperatures in Europe fit into the bigger picture of long-term global warming? NASA has launched a new web page to help people better understand the causes and effects of Earth’s changing climate.
The new “A Warming World” page hosts a series of new articles, videos, data visualizations, space-based imagery and interactive visuals that provide unique NASA perspectives on this topic of global importance.
…The new web page is available on NASA’s Global Climate Change Web site at: http://climate.nasa.gov/warmingworld
2010 February 18. Road Transportation Emerges As Key Driver of Warming. Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Excerpt: For decades, climatologists have studied the gases and particles that have potential to alter Earth’s climate. They have discovered and described certain airborne chemicals that can trap incoming sunlight and warm the climate, while others cool the planet by blocking the Sun’s rays.
Now a new study led by Nadine Unger of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City offers a more intuitive way to understand what’s changing the Earth’s climate. Rather than analyzing impacts by chemical species, scientists have analyzed the climate impacts by different economic sectors.
Each part of the economy, such as ground transportation or agriculture, emits a unique portfolio of gases and aerosols that affect the climate in different ways and on different timescales
…The new analysis offers policy makers and the public a far more detailed and comprehensive understanding of how to mitigate climate change most effectively, Unger and colleagues assert. “Targeting on-road transportation is a win-win-win,” she said. “It’s good for the climate in the short term and long term, and it’s good for our health.”
2010 Feb 18. U.N. Climate Chief Resigns. By Neil MacFarquhar and John M. Broder, NY Times. Excerpt: UNITED NATIONS — The sense of disarray in the global effort to address climate change deepened Thursday with the resignation of Yvo de Boer, the stolid Dutch bureaucrat who led the international climate change negotiations over four tumultuous years.
His departure, which takes effect on July 1, comes after a largely unsuccessful meeting in Copenhagen in December that was supposed to produce a binding international treaty but instead generated mostly acrimony and a series of unenforceable pledges by nations to reduce their global warming emissions.
Mr. de Boer did not directly link his decision to step down to the chaos at Copenhagen. But he was known to be frustrated and exhausted by the meeting’s failures. His resignation was seen by some as a further sign that the United Nations framework, which for almost two decades has been viewed as the best approach to tackling global warming, may have outlived its usefulness. And it raised questions about whether any significant progress toward a global treaty would be made by December, when the next United Nations climate talks are to be held in Cancún, Mexico….
2010 Feb 1. Panel Suggests 100 Ways Buildings Can Be Greener. By Mireya Navarro, The NY Times. Excerpt: A panel of experts convened by the mayor and City Council issued more than 100 recommendations Monday on how to make New York City’s building codes more environmentally sound by imposing energy-saving requirements on construction and renovation work.
The measures, presented to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the Council’s speaker, Christine C. Quinn, include rules for insulating glass skyscrapers and a plan that would place temperature controls in individual apartments, eliminating the winter ritual of opening windows to vent excess heat….
The recommendations are the city’s latest attempt to reduce the greenhouse gases produced by its buildings, which are estimated to be the source of about 75 percent of the city’s emissions over all. In December, the City Council passed legislation requiring owners of New York’s largest buildings to pay for energy audits, upgrade lighting and take other steps to reduce energy consumption….
2010 Feb 1. Countries Submit Emission Goals. By John M. Broder, The NY Times. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — The climate change accord reached at Copenhagen in December passed its first test on Monday after countries responsible for the bulk of climate-altering pollution formally submitted their emission reduction plans, meeting the agreement’s Jan. 31 deadline.
Most major nations — including the United States, the 27 nations of the European Union, China, India, Japan and Brazil — restated earlier pledges to curb emissions by 2020, some by promising absolute cuts, others by reducing the rate of increase from a business-as-usual curve.
In all, 55 developed and developing countries submitted emission reduction plans to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the body overseeing global negotiations. Two major nations — Mexico and Russia — had not submitted plans as of Monday evening.
United Nations officials said that the countries that have already filed plans account for 78 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally….
2010 January 21. NASA RELEASE 10-017. NASA Research Finds Last Decade was Warmest on Record, 2009 One of Warmest Years.Excerpt: WASHINGTON — A new analysis of global surface temperatures by NASA scientists finds the past year was tied for the second warmest since 1880. In the Southern Hemisphere, 2009 was the warmest year on record.
Although 2008 was the coolest year of the decade because of a strong La Nina that cooled the tropical Pacific Ocean, 2009 saw a return to a near-record global temperatures as the La Nina diminished, according to the new analysis by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York….
“There’s always interest in the annual temperature numbers and a given year’s ranking, but the ranking often misses the point,” said James Hansen, GISS director. “There’s substantial year-to-year variability of global temperature caused by the tropical El Nino-La Nina cycle. When we average temperature over five or ten years to minimize that variability, we find global warming is continuing unabated.”
January 2000 to December 2009 was the warmest decade on record. Looking back to 1880, when modern scientific instrumentation became available to monitor temperatures precisely, a clear warming trend is present, although there was a leveling off between the 1940s and 1970s.
In the past three decades, the GISS surface temperature record shows an upward trend of about 0.36 degrees F (0.2 degrees C) per decade. In total, average global temperatures have increased by about 1.5 degrees F (0.8 degrees C) since 1880….
2010 January. Carbon Markets – An Approach to Mitigate Climate Change. Maine Bureau of Air Quality.
2009 Dec. 18. NASA RELEASE : 09-291. NASA and Maryland Researcher Recognized for Data that Provides Clues to Earth’s Changing Climate, Forests, and Crops. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — A NASA-led team has been recognized with a prestigious award for helping scientists better understand our home planet. NASA and the U.S. Department of the Interior presented the William T. Pecora Award to the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System, or CERES, team and to Forrest Hall, senior research scientist at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
…presented Dec. 17 in San Francisco during the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. …Led from Langley, the CERES team has compiled a critical data set for monitoring and predicting climate change. The data set, which comes from five instruments on three spacecraft, is being used to improve our understanding of the natural and human-induced changes in the climate through accurate measurements of the Earth’s radiative energy balance. This balance is the amount of energy Earth receives from the sun and keeps in the atmosphere or radiates back into space. Along with measurements of oceans, land, snow, ice, clouds, aerosols and meteorology, CERES data products provide a scientific basis for developing global environmental policies.
“CERES is a major NASA success story,” said Freilich. “The team has made an exceptional contribution to understanding the Earth system. This interagency, academic, international effort has resulted in critical data that, among other benefits, has supported the conclusions of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”….
Winter 2010. Why Cap and Trade is a Bad Idea. By Rep. Peter DeFazio. Forest Magazine, Winter 2010. Excerpt: Less than three months ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act. If signed into law, the bill would implement a cap-and-trade program in the United States intended to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.
I agree that addressing climate change is the most serious environmental challenge of our time, but this bill is fatally flawed.
A cap-and-trade program works by setting pollution limits (the “cap”) and distributing allowances to regulated entities that can be bought and sold in a market to meet emission targets (the “trade”). Theoretically, emissions would be reduced as the number of available allowances is ratcheted down over time.
A cap-and-trade program has been in place in Europe since 2005 and has largely been a failure. In 2007, the last year for which numbers are available, greenhouse gas emissions in Europe rose 1.1 percent; that is three consecutive years of higher emissions in Europe under a cap-and-trade program.
Why has the European cap-and-trade system failed? I see at least three reasons.
First, Europe deregulated its carbon market and allowed unregulated entities to buy, trade and sell allowances. As a result, the European carbon market has been prone to market manipulation, speculation and profiteering that have brought higher costs to consumers without benefits.
Second, Europe gave away allowances to industry for free based on historical emission levels. In some cases, this allowed industry to generate windfall profits to the tune of $10 billion by selling unused allowances.
Third, Europe allowed regulated entities to use international offsets to meet their emission targets. Offsets allow industry, governments and private business to invest in promised pollution reduction projects-such as overseas forestry projects-to meet emission targets. These projects can be highly questionable and forestall meaningful emission reductions.
Unfortunately, when the House of Representatives passed the Clean Energy and Security bill in June 2009, it incorporated the fatal flaws of Europe’s cap-and-trade program. Like Europe, a cap-and-trade program in the United States would create a carbon market open to speculators. Wall Street will have enormous opportunities to game the system with new exotic financial products, new derivative markets and volatile prices for allowances.
The bill gives away most allowances to industry free of charge. Total giveaways to industry are estimated to be $821 billion over the first seven years of the cap-and-trade program alone. …Finally, but perhaps most fatally, the bill relies on questionable international offsets to meet emission targets. International offsets are one of the keys to my opposition to the bill in its current form.
…Peter DeFazio has represented Oregon’s Fourth Congressional District since 1984. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee, among others.
2009 Dec 15. Weather Device Also Tracks Greenhouse Gas. By KENNETH CHANG. Excerpt: A satellite instrument designed to improve weather forecasts has provided a wealth of data on the flow of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, scientists said Tuesday.
The data also verified a mechanism in which rising temperatures increase the rate of ocean evaporation, and the increased water vapor, also a potent greenhouse gas, raises the earth’s temperatures further.
The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder – called AIRS for short – aboard NASA’s orbiting Aqua spacecraft measures temperature and cloud cover by recording infrared emissions across the entire globe twice a day. The data helps meteorologists predict major storms.
… “In essence, we’re videotaping the atmosphere and its constituents,” Thomas Pagano, the instrument’s project manager, said at a news conference in San Francisco during a meeting of the American Geophysical Union….
2009 November 23. U.S. to Set Emissions Target Before Climate Talks. By John M. Broder, The NY Times. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — The United States will propose a near-term target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions before the United Nations climate change meeting in Copenhagen next month, a senior administration official said Monday. President Obama, the official said, will announce the specific target “in coming days.”
… The lack of consensus in Congress puts Mr. Obama in a tricky domestic and diplomatic bind. He cannot promise more than Congress may eventually deliver when it takes up climate change legislation next year. But if he does not offer some concrete pledge, the United States will bear the brunt of the blame for the lack of an international agreement….
2009 November 2. E.P.A. Lawyers Challenge ‘Cap and Trade’ for Climate. By Andrew C. Revkin, The NY Times. Excerpt: When an economist at the Environmental Protection Agency rejected the Obama administration’s stance on global warming by writing an unsolicited report challenging the scientific consensus on greenhouse dangers, groups fighting restrictions on greenhouse gases hailed him as a courageous maverick. Climate campaigners said he was irrelevant and ill informed.
Now two more functionaries at the agency — Laurie Williams and Allan Zabel, who are lawyers and a married couple — have sharply criticized the core element of climate legislation pushed by Democratic lawmakers and President Obama.
Their views are unlikely to be welcomed by either side in the political fight. Like the administration, they say that human-driven climate change poses enormous risks; they just completely reject the cap and trade system favored by Democratic leaders and some environmental groups. This system would force overall emission reductions but allow flexibility through a market that trades credits accrued by companies or institutions that make extra-deep cuts.
…They argued that the trading system provides far too much leeway for dealing in “offsets,” credits earned by avoiding or preventing emissions of carbon dioxide. In summary, they wrote: “Together, the illusion of greenhouse-gas reductions and the creation of powerful lobbies seeking to protect newly created profits in permits and offsets would lock in climate degradation for a decade or more.”…
2009 October 29. China outperforms US on green issues. By Jim Giles, NewScientist. Excerpt: China is often accused of not doing enough to reduce the carbon dioxide and other pollution pouring from its factories and coal-fuelled power stations. But a new report suggests the country is doing more to tackle climate change than it gets credit for: in fact, its environmental standards surpass the US in some key measures.
The World Resources Institute (WRI), a respected environmental think tank based in Washington DC, says China is on track to meet its main climate change target, which is a 20 per cent reduction in energy intensity – the amount of energy used per dollar of gross domestic product – by the end of next year….
China is also making good progress towards its goal of generating 15 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, according to the report. By the end of the next decade it will have 150 gigawatts of wind power installed – over five times the current US level. One in 10 Chinese homes already has solar heaters, with the number growing by 20 per cent per year….
2009 October 14. Arctic Now Traps 25 Percent of World’s Carbon — But That Could Change. USGS. Excerpt: The arctic could potentially alter the Earth’s climate by becoming a possible source of global atmospheric carbon dioxide. The arctic now traps or absorbs up to 25 percent of this gas but climate change could alter that amount, according to a study published in the November issue of Ecological Monographs.
In their review paper, David McGuire of the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and his colleagues show that the Arctic has been a carbon sink since the end of the last Ice Age, which has recently accounted for between zero and 25 percent, or up to about 800 million metric tons, of the global carbon sink. On average, says McGuire, the Arctic accounts for 10-15 percent of the Earth’s carbon sink. But the rapid rate of climate change in the Arctic – about twice that of lower latitudes – could eliminate the sink and instead, possibly make the Arctic a source of carbon dioxide….
Carbon generally enters the oceans and land masses of the Arctic from the atmosphere and largely accumulates in permafrost, the frozen layer of soil underneath the land’s surface. Unlike active soils, permafrost does not decompose its carbon; thus, the carbon becomes trapped in the frozen soil. Cold conditions at the surface have also slowed the rate of organic matter decomposition, McGuire says, allowing Arctic carbon accumulation to exceed its release.
But recent warming trends could change this balance. Warmer temperatures can accelerate the rate of surface organic matter decomposition, releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Of greater concern, says McGuire, is that the permafrost has begun to thaw, exposing previously frozen soil to decomposition and erosion. These changes could reverse the historical role of the Arctic as a sink for carbon dioxide….
2009 August 7. Glacier melt accelerating, federal report concludes. By Jim Tankersley, LA Times. Excerpt: …Washington – The federal government Thursday released the most comprehensive study of melting glaciers in North America — and the results show a rapid and accelerating shrinkage over the last half a century because of global warming.
One of the glaciers in the study, the South Cascade Glacier in Washington state, has lost nearly half of its volume and a quarter of its mass since 1958, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey said. The two others in the study, the Wolverine and Gulkana glaciers in Alaska, have both lost nearly 15% of their mass.
In all three cases, the melting has increased over the last two decades. The acceleration is the result of warmer, drier climates in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska caused by global warming, the researchers said.
“By having a 50-year record, you can look over what’s going on, look over the meteorological, climatological record, and really get an idea of what’s going on in the mountains,” said Edward Josberger, a scientist with the USGS Washington Water Science Center in Tacoma, Wash., who has worked for a decade on the study.
“Climate change effects are starting to become more and more noticeable,” he added, “and this is one of the effects that’s being displayed.”…
2009 July 16. NASA RELEASE : 09-167. NASA Airborne Expedition Chases Arctic Sea Ice Questions. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — A small NASA aircraft completed its first successful science flight Thursday as part of an expedition to study the receding Arctic sea ice and improve understanding of its life cycle and the long-term stability of the Arctic ice cover. The mission continues through July 24.
NASA’s Characterization of Arctic Sea Ice Experiment, known as CASIE, began a series of unmanned aircraft system flights in coordination with satellites. Working with the University of Colorado and its research partners, NASA is using the remotely-piloted aircraft to image thick, old slabs of ice as they drift from the Arctic Ocean south through Fram Strait — which lies between Greenland and Svalbard, Norway — into the North Atlantic Ocean.
NASA’s Science Instrumentation Evaluation Remote Research Aircraft, or SIERRA, will weave a pattern over open ocean and sea ice to map and measure ice conditions below cloud cover to as low as 300 feet.
“Our project is attempting to answer some of the most basic questions regarding the most fundamental changes in sea ice cover in recent years,” said James Maslanik, a research professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and principal investigator for the NASA mission. “Our analysis of satellite data shows that in 2009 the amount of older ice is just 12 percent of what it was in 1988 — a decline of 74 percent. The oldest ice types now cover only 2 percent of the Arctic Ocean as compared to 20 percent during the 1980s.”…
2009 July 9. World powers accept warming limit. BBC News. Excerpt: Developed and developing nations have agreed that global temperatures should not rise more than 2C above 1900 levels, a G8 summit declaration says. That is the level above which, the UN says, the Earth’s climate system would become dangerously unstable.
US President Barack Obama said the countries had made important strides in dealing with climate change. But the G8 failed to persuade developing countries to accept targets of cutting emissions by 50% by 2050. On Wednesday, the G8 agreed its own members would work towards 80% cuts by the same date.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the G8 had not done enough and should also set 2020 targets. He said that while the G8’s Wednesday agreement was welcome, its leaders also needed to establish a strong and ambitious mid-term target for emissions cuts.
…RK Pachauri, who chairs the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, praised the declaration’s mention of the 2C limit but said more details were needed.
“It certainly doesn’t give you a roadmap on how you should get there but at least they’ve defined the destination,” he told the BBC World Service Newshour programme.
…BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin says the declaration is a significant step, with all big countries rich and poor agreeing there is a scientific limit on the amount we should warm the climate. But there is still a huge way to go, he says, as developing nations like India will not sign up to any 2050 targets unless rich nations show more determination and offer more cash….
2009 June 27. House Passes Bill to Address Threat of Climate Change. By JOHN M. BRODER, NY Times. Excerpt: The 219-212 vote marked the first time that either house of Congress has approved a bill aimed at curbing the heat-trapping gases scientists have linked to climate change, and it could lead to sweeping changes in the economy.
2009 June 12. Climate Change Treaty, to Go Beyond the Kyoto Protocol, Is Expected by the Year’s End. By Elisabeth Rosenthal, The NY Times. Excerpt: The world is on track to produce a new global climate treaty by December, the top United Nations climate official said Friday as delegates from more than 100 nations concluded 12 days of talks in Bonn, Germany.
The delegates issued a 200-page document that they said would serve as the starting point for treaty negotiations that open in Copenhagen in December.
…The goal is a climate treaty that would go beyond the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, a climate-change agreement that set emissions targets for industrialized nations. Many of those goals have not been met, and the United States never ratified the accord.
The document issued Friday outlines proposals for cutting emissions of heat-trapping gases by rich countries and limiting the growth of gases in the developing world. It also discusses ways of preventing deforestation, which is linked to global warming, and of providing financing for poorer nations to help them adapt to warmer temperatures.
…environmentalists took heart from the strong involvement of many nations, especially the United States and China, which jointly produce 40 percent of the world’s heat-trapping emissions. (In declining to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the United States cited China and India’s lack of participation.)…
2009 April 27. Clinton Says U.S. Is Ready to Lead on Climate. By John M. Broder, The NY Times. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — After eight years largely on the sidelines of the international policy debate on climate change, the United States is prepared to lead negotiations toward a new global warming treaty, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday.
“The United States is fully engaged and determined to lead and make up for lost time both at home and abroad,” Mrs. Clinton told delegates from 16 countries at a State Department conference on energy and climate. “We are back in the game.”
The meeting in Washington was the first of three planned sessions among the participating countries, who together account for roughly 75 percent of emissions of the gases blamed for the heating of the planet….
…Mrs. Clinton said there was no longer any question that growing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other gases were causing a warming of the planet, with potentially catastrophic results. She said global climate change posed environmental, economic, health and security challenges that must be addressed by individual countries and by the community of nations.
Speaking directly to representatives of developing nations, who are skeptical of the motives of the United States and other industrialized countries on the issue, Mrs. Clinton that the United States would not seek to limit the use of energy in the developing world but would help make it cleaner.
“We want your economies to grow,” she said as representatives of Brazil, China, India and Indonesia listened. “We want your people to have a higher standard of living.”…
2009 April 6. NASA RELEASE: 09-079. Satellites Show Arctic Literally on Thin Ice. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — The latest Arctic sea ice data from NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center show that the decade-long trend of shrinking sea ice cover is continuing. New evidence from satellite observations also shows that the ice cap is thinning as well.
…Scientists who track Arctic sea ice cover from space announced today that this winter had the fifth lowest maximum ice extent on record. The six lowest maximum events since satellite monitoring began in 1979 have all occurred in the past six years (2004-2009).
Until recently, the majority of Arctic sea ice survived at least one summer and often several. But things have changed dramatically, according to a team of University of Colorado, Boulder, scientists led by Charles Fowler. Thin seasonal ice — ice that melts and re-freezes every year — makes up about 70 percent of the Arctic sea ice in wintertime, up from 40 to 50 percent in the 1980s and 1990s. Thicker ice, which survives two or more years, now comprises just 10 percent of wintertime ice cover, down from 30 to 40 percent.
According to researchers from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., the maximum sea ice extent for 2008-09, reached on Feb. 28, was 5.85 million square miles. That is 278,000 square miles less than the average extent for 1979 to 2000.
“Ice extent is an important measure of the health of the Arctic, but it only gives us a two-dimensional view of the ice cover,” said Walter Meier, research scientist at the center and the University of Colorado, Boulder. “Thickness is important, especially in the winter, because it is the best overall indicator of the health of the ice cover. As the ice cover in the Arctic grows thinner, it grows more vulnerable to melting in the summer.”…
2009 February 17. New York Must Prepare for Global Warming, Mayor’s Panel Says. By Mireya Navarro, The NY Times. Excerpt: New York City must prepare for higher temperatures, more rain and an increased risk of coastal flooding in the coming decades as a result of global climate change, an advisory panel said on Tuesday.
The panel, formed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to study the potential effects of global warming on the city, said that mean annual temperatures in New York could increase by up to 3 degrees and the average sea levels rise by 2 to 5 inches by the 2020s. By the 2080s, temperatures could increase by up to 7 ½ degrees, and sea levels could rise 12 to 23 inches by the end of the century, the panel said.
…City officials said that to prepare for the expected effects of climate change, the city should plan to keep cooling centers for people without air-conditioning open longer during heat waves, move critical equipment in city buildings above sea level and incorporate climate changes into the design of buildings, among other measures.
…“Planning for climate change today is less expensive than rebuilding an entire network after the catastrophe,” the mayor said in response to the report. “We cannot wait until after our infrastructure has been compromised to begin to plan for the effects of climate change now.”…
2008 July 16. US EPA Says Greenhouse Emissions Endanger Health. By Deborah Zabarenko, Planet Ark. Excerpt: WASHINGTON – The US Environmental Protection Agency said on Monday that greenhouse gas emissions endanger human health, a critical finding that has languished in bureaucratic limbo since last December.
In a 149-page document, the agency’s scientists said that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal” and that potential health risks include more heat waves, floods and droughts, insect outbreaks and and wildfires, along with crop failure and decline in livestock and fisheries productivity.
“This is a long-awaited EPA analysis that has been kept under wraps by the White House,” said Vickie Patton of Environmental Defense. “It’s of critical importance because it looks at the extensive body of science demonstrating that global warming threatens Americans’ health and well-being.”
The document posted on EPA’s Web site was part of the environment agency’s response to an April 2007 Supreme Court ruling that for the first time found that greenhouse gases can be regulated as a pollutant under the US Clean Air Act…
This information had been sent to the White House last December by e-mail, but officials there refused to open it…
The Bush administration has opposed economy-wide moves to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Both major presidential candidates, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, have said they would act to stem climate change.
2008 May 28. New Climate Report Foresees Big Changes. By ANDREW C. REVKIN, NY Times. Exerpt: The rise in concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from human activities is influencing climate patterns and vegetation across the United States and will significantly disrupt water supplies, agriculture, forestry and ecosystems for decades, a new federal report says.
The changes are unfolding in ways that are likely to produce an uneven national map of harms and benefits, according to the report, released Tuesday and posted online at climatescience.gov. The authors of the report and some independent experts said the main value of its projections was the level of detail and the high confidence in some conclusions. That confidence comes in part from the report’s emphasis on the next 25 to 50 years, when shifts in emissions are unlikely to make much of a difference in climate trends. The report also reflects a recent, significant shift by the Bush administration on climate science. During Mr. Bush’s first term, administration officials worked to play down a national assessment of climate effects conducted mainly during the Clinton administration, but released in 2000.
The new report, which includes some findings that are more sobering and definitive than those in the 2000 climate report, holds the signatures of three cabinet secretaries. According to the report, Western states will face substantial challenges because of growing demand for water and big projected drops in supplies….2008 May 14. NASA STUDY LINKS EARTH IMPACTS TO HUMAN-CAUSED CLIMATE CHANGE. NASA RELEASE: 08-127. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — A new NASA-led study shows human-caused climate change has made an impact on a wide range of Earth’s natural systems, including permafrost thawing, plants blooming earlier across Europe, and lakes declining in productivity in Africa.
Cynthia Rosenzweig of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Science in New York and scientists at 10 other institutions have linked physical and biological impacts since 1970 with rises in temperatures during that period. The study, to be published May 15 in the journal Nature, concludes human-caused warming is resulting in a broad range of impacts across the globe.
“This is the first study to link global temperature data sets, climate model results, and observed changes in a broad range of physical and biological systems to show the link between humans, climate, and impacts,” said Rosenzweig, lead author of the study. …Observed impacts included changes to physical systems, such as glaciers shrinking, permafrost melting, and lakes and rivers warming. Biological systems also were impacted in a variety of ways, such as leaves unfolding and flowers blooming earlier in the spring, birds arriving earlier during migration periods, and plant and animal species moving toward Earth’s poles and higher in elevation. In aquatic environments such as oceans, lakes, and rivers, plankton and fish are shifting from cold-adapted to warm-adapted communities….