Posts tagged ‘Climate Change’

EPA Confirms Climate IS Changing

In another display of the sea change that has occurred at the US Environmental Protection Agency under the current administration, a new report was issued yesterday regarding indicators of climate change. The report, entitled “Climate Change Indicators in the United States,” measures 24 separate indicators showing how climate change affects the health and environment of US citizens.

The report represents another step in a series of actions/statements taken on the climate change by the EPA. This EPA has certainly proved to be more active than previous administrations on this issue. They have labeled CO2 as a gas that can be regulated under the Clean Air Act because it is a significant greenhouse gas. New vehicle emissions standards have been established as well as greenhouse gas standards for such vehicles. On April 15, the EPA published the National US Greenhouse Gas Inventory. The Climate/Energy Bill currently working its way through the Senate has been heavily influenced by EPA actions and consultations. And now a report is issued regarding the indicators of climate change.

“These indicators show us that climate change is a very real problem with impacts that are already being seen,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “The actions Americans are taking today to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions will help us solve this global challenge.”

The following are some of the key climate change indicators.

– Greenhouse gas emissions from human sources are increasing. From 1990 to 2008, emissions have grown by 14 percent in the US.

– Average temperatures are rising. Seven of the top ten warmest years on record for the continental US have occurred since 1990.

– Tropical cyclone intensity has increased in recent decades. Of the ten most active hurricane seasons, six have happened since the mid 1990’s.

– Sea levels have risen between 1993 and 2008 at twice the rate of the long-term trend.

– Glaciers are melting and their loss of volume has accelerated over the last decade.

– The frequency of heat waves has steadily risen since the 1960’s. The percentage of the US population experiencing heat waves has also increased.

Collecting and analyzing environmental indicators can help in understanding the causes of climate change as well as predict what the future will bring. Understanding this is critical in devising strategies to avoid the worst effects of climate change as well as devising strategies for adapting to a different climate. The EPA’s report primarily describes trends within the United States but also includes global trends to provide a basis for comparison.

The report includes some very sobering statistics of how climate change is affecting a range of things like temperature, precipitation, sea levels, and extreme weather. Knowing these trends now can greatly help in the future as we grade ourselves on efforts that we undertake to address climate change.

For More click HERE

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April 28, 2010 at 9:19 AM Leave a comment

Ocean salinities show an intensified water cycle

Evidence that the world’s water cycle has already intensified is contained in new research to be published in the American Journal of Climate.

The stronger water cycle means arid regions have become drier and high rainfall regions wetter as atmospheric temperature increases.

The study, co-authored by CSIRO scientists Paul Durack and Dr Susan Wijffels, shows the surface ocean beneath rainfall-dominated regions has freshened, whereas ocean regions dominated by evaporation are saltier. The paper also confirms that surface warming of the world’s oceans over the past 50 years has penetrated into the oceans’ interior changing deep-ocean salinity patterns.

“This is further confirmation from the global ocean that the Earth’s water cycle has accelerated,” says Mr Durack — a PhD student at the joint CSIRO/University of Tasmania, Quantitative Marine Science program.

“These broad-scale patterns of change are qualitatively consistent with simulations reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“While such changes in salinity would be expected at the ocean surface (where about 80 per cent of surface water exchange occurs), sub-surface measurements indicate much broader, warming-driven changes are extending into the deep ocean,” Mr Durack said.

The study finds a clear link between salinity changes at the surface driven by ocean warming and changes in the ocean subsurface which follow the trajectories along which surface water travels into the ocean interior.

The ocean’s average surface temperature has risen around 0.4ºC since 1950. As the near surface atmosphere warms it can evaporate more water from the surface ocean and move it to new regions to release it as rain and snow. Salinity patterns reflect the contrasts between ocean regions where the oceans lose water to the atmosphere and the others where it is re-deposited on the surface as salt-free rainwater.

“Observations of rainfall and evaporation over the oceans in the 20th century are very scarce. These new estimates of ocean salinity changes provide a rigorous benchmark to better validate global climate models and start to narrow the wide uncertainties associated with water cycle changes and oceanic processes both in the past and the future — we can use ocean salinity changes as a rain-gauge,” Mr Durack said.

Based on historical records and data provided by the Argo Program’s world-wide network of ocean profilers — robotic submersible buoys which record and report ocean salinity levels and temperatures to depths of two kilometres — the research was conducted by CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans Flagship and partially funded by the Australian Climate Change Science Program. Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System is a significant contributor to the global Argo Program.

For more information, go to CSIRO or American Journal of Climate

April 21, 2010 at 9:29 AM Leave a comment

EU backs U.N. climate report despite skepticism

Climate skepticism has gathered pace since the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) admitted in January that its latest report in 2007 had exaggerated the pace at which Himalayan glaciers were melting.

Last month, it also said it had overstated how much of the Netherlands was prone to sea flooding.

The EU ministers said they considered the IPCC’s science “solid and robust” despite the errors, and were convinced it offered the most authoritative assessment of climate change.

In their conclusions, the ministers also called for the rapid mobilization of the $10 billion a year that rich countries have promised to give poor nations to help them tackle climate effects in 2010-2012.

The pledge was one of the few elements agreed on during a global climate summit in Copenhagen last December. Many EU countries are scaling back their hopes of a legally binding deal at ministerial climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, in November.

Mexican Environment Minister Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada told reporters at the EU meeting that many milestones were still achievable at Cancun, including the urgent funding.

“Funds need to be operational,” he said. “It’s not only about the amount of money, but also about demonstrating to the developing world that it’s possible.”

“Developing countries are telling me they need clear signals and to move toward Cancun with something in their hands.”

The ministers asked the EU executive to report to them on what it would take for the 27 EU members to deepen their planned cuts in greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade to 30 percent below 1990 levels. They currently plan a 20 percent cut.

The impact of the economic slowdown, combined with the large opportunity to buy carbon offsets, means the current EU goal will result in domestic emissions cuts of only around 4 percent below business-as-usual levels, said a report Monday by the CE Delft consultancy for Green politicians.

“We do not need more research — there is a wealth of evidence that underlines why the EU needs to increase its target now,” said Bas Eickhout, a Dutch GreenLeft member of the European Parliament.

click HERE for article

March 16, 2010 at 9:29 AM Leave a comment

Deep-sea volcanoes play key climate role

A vast network of under-sea volcanoes pumping out nutrient-rich water in the Southern Ocean plays a key role in soaking up large amounts of carbon dioxide, acting as a brake on climate change, scientists say.

A group of Australian and French scientists have shown for the first time that the volcanoes are a major source of iron that single-celled plants called phytoplankton need to bloom and in the process soak up CO2, the main greenhouse gas.

Oceans absorb about a quarter of mankind’s CO2 from burning fossil fuels and deforestation, with the Southern Ocean between Australia and Antarctica among the largest ocean “carbon sinks.”

Phytoplankton underpin the ocean’s food chain. When they die or are eaten, they carry large amounts of carbon that they absorb to the bottom of the ocean, locking up the carbon for centuries.

There have been a number of studies showing iron is released from deep-sea volcanoes, said Andrew Bowie, a senior research scientist with the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Center in Hobart, Tasmania.

“But no study has considered that on a global level and considered its importance on Southern Ocean carbon storage,” Bowie, one of the authors, told Reuters.

The volcanoes are dotted along deep ocean ridges that mark major plate boundaries of the earth’s crust and the study is based in part on measurements of how much iron there is in the Southern Ocean at depths of up to four kilometres (nearly three miles).

Click HERE for full article

March 15, 2010 at 2:09 PM Leave a comment

Senator Graham calls cap-and-trade plan dead

Lindsey Graham, one of three senators working against daunting odds to produce a compromise climate bill, has recently turned against imposing the kind of cap-and-trade system used in Europe, which involves companies buying and selling pollution permits.

Graham did not specify whether another mechanism or some sort of cap-and-trade would be used more narrowly, such as to control emissions in the power utility sector. “The cap-and-trade bills in the House and Senate are dead. The concept of cap-and-trade is going to be replaced,” he said.

Cap-and-trade would involve cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions between 2012 and 2050 by establishing a regulated financial market where a wide range of companies would buy and trade a shrinking number of permits to pollute, which critics say would raise costs for consumers and companies.

International climate change negotiations hinge in part on the ability of the United States, the largest carbon polluter in the developed world, enacting a pollution-control law.

Meanwhile, some lawmakers were pressing ahead with plans to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon emissions if Congress fails to pass a bill.

Senator John Rockefeller told reporters he is preparing legislation giving the EPA a two-year timeout on such regulations on stationary sources of pollution.

A permanent prohibition is being offered by Senate Republicans. In the House of Representatives, Republican leader John Boehner and 85 of his colleagues introduced their version.

Democratic Senator Evan Bayh cautioned that the future of a climate change bill may be closely linked to how Congress gets through a rancorous debate in this election year over healthcare reform.

“Let’s get through healthcare because the world might look a lot different depending on how that’s handled,” Bayh told Reuters when asked about a climate bill.

Both issues are high priorities of President Barack Obama.

The controversial environmental bill pits various regional and energy interests against each other.

A group of 13 Democratic senators from the east and west coasts wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday urging that any climate bill require coal-fired power plants to meet modern pollution standards.

COAL PLANTS

The senators complained that a bill passed by the House “rolled back” Clean Air Act requirements for existing coal plants, many of which are old and high-polluting.

Midwestern states rely heavily on energy from those coal-fired plants and lawmakers fear their constituents will be jolted by higher costs if the plants must be revamped.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said there was still a chance the Senate would pass a climate bill this year with a cap-and-trade program.

“It is not dead,” Chu told Bloomberg TV, referring to the cap-and-trade approach. “We need a comprehensive bill. We would very much want and need it this year.”

Democratic Senator John Kerry told reporters he hoped a compromise climate control bill could be put together this month, although many meetings still must be held. Graham told reporters it will be “weeks” before a bill is ready.

But Senator Joseph Lieberman, an independent working with Graham and Kerry, said a detailed outline of a bill could come within days and that it will have to include a ceiling on greenhouse gas emissions that drops in future years.

Last June, the House narrowly passed a climate change bill with cap-and-trade as its centerpiece and a carbon-reduction target of 17 percent by 2020, from 2005 levels. The initiative stalled in the Senate, despite Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approval of a similar bill.

But Kerry said he was feeling “more confident” that a climate change bill could be presented to the Senate for passage this year. “We’re looking at a new way of coming at this that we think can attract greater support,” he said.

Environmentalists speculated that the bill the senators will produce could take a “sectoral approach” by imposing a new carbon-pricing mechanism on utilities, which account for about 40 percent of the emissions blamed for global warming.

Sources also have said there is talk of a transportation tax. Pollution controls on manufacturers could be put off for a few years to give time for more affordable alternative energy sources to come on line, they have said.

Kerry said it was “not necessarily accurate” that there will be such a sectoral approach.

Asked about taxes being inserted into a climate bill, Lieberman would only say: “Nothing frozen yet, so I have to be evasive about that.”

Click HERE for more

March 3, 2010 at 11:17 AM Leave a comment

Green Collar Economy in the Bay Area

What a green-collar economy means to workers

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ian Kim directs the Green Collar Jobs Campaign for the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland. It’s a job title that didn’t even exist a decade ago, but now the issue, long championed by the center, is front and center in the national economy – and Oakland, too. Last week, the city announced that it, the Ella Baker center and other cities and groups had won $40 million in federal stimulus grants for energy efficiency – and to help train under-skilled workers in that industry. Kim, a 34-year-old Yale MBA who lives in San Francisco, talked to reporter Matthai Kuruvila about what this so-called “green-collar economy” means for the current recession.

Q: Why is fighting poverty and fighting climate change so intertwined for you?

A: Green technology is and will be the next industrial revolution in the California economy and globally… We need to put solar panels up everywhere. We need to build wind farms. That’s work that you can’t export. And there are at least three ways poor people are disproportionately affected by climate change: environmental health, job opportunities and cost of living.

Q: What about Oakland in particular makes it such an ideal ecosystem for the green-collar economy to flourish?

A: Oakland has a lot of different realities. It’s consistently one of the top 10 green cities in the country (according to the Natural Resources Defense Council). At the same time, there are big problems with our education system, big problems with violence and poverty. Oakland was a thriving blue collar town a couple generations ago. We have the potential to be a green-collar powerhouse as well. The combination of environmental leadership and the problems of poverty and education that exist in a place like Oakland means that there’s a dynamic tension that has a lot of potential.

Q: Why do you love Oakland?

A: Oakland has a kind of groundedness and a kind of soul that you don’t often see in San Francisco. Oakland is the second most diverse place ethnically in the country (according to the Census). We have a vibrant Chinatown. We have a really vibrant hip-hop culture where young talent is coming up all the time. There’s such a strong activist culture here, too. Despite all the challenges, there’s a spirit to do better, to become better, a stubbornness that I have a lot of respect for. Oakland’s a real town.

This article appeared on page C – 5 of the San Francisco Chronicle

February 23, 2010 at 1:44 PM Leave a comment

Multitasking, Climate Saving Measures

by Bruce Mulliken, Green Energy News

On a clear, hot summer’s day a barefoot walk on an asphalt road is a foot-burner: The black surface is absorbing sunlight and heat is radiating into the soles ones’s feet and everything else nearby. A barefoot walk on a on light gray sidewalk is not so bad, hot perhaps but not burning. Sunlight is being reflected from the light-colored surface, not absorbed. As a whole our planet is like the street and sidewalk. The dark oceans, which cover most of our home, absorb the Sun’s rays as do the land areas not covered by snow and ice. Those areas that are the glistening white, those cloud tops and snowy icy areas, reflect sunlight back into space where it can do us no harm. Yet as glaciers and the ice caps shrink (mostly the Arctic cap for the time being) more dark sunlight-absorbing surfaces are being exposed adding warmth to the planet. The ability to reflect sunlight is known as a change in Earth’s albedo, and it is changing. But if man is responsible for warming the planet’s atmosphere with his emissions and causing white, reflecting areas to melt and disappear, man can also counteract the changing albedo by adding man-made reflectivity to his surroundings.

For full story click HERE

February 22, 2010 at 4:16 PM Leave a comment

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