Busy week for climate change

November 20, 2008 at 5:28 pm | Posted in Climate and economy, Climate and politics | Leave a comment
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It’s been another busy week for pronouncements and announcements about climate change.  Indeed, it seems with each passing day since Senator Barack Obama was declared President-elect, the Google alert lists for ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ grow longer.

At the start of the week, President-elect Obama signaled that climate change is a priority issue for his administration by addressing via video message an international conference on global warming hosted by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. 

In his message, Obama reiterated his plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and pave the way for deeper reductions by 2050 with investments in clean energy. 

According to The Boston Globe, Obama said in his message:

“Few challenges facing America – and the world – are more urgent than combating climate change,” he said in the video. “Climate change and our dependence on foreign oil, if left unaddressed, will continue to weaken our economy and threaten our national security.”

Obama continued that “too often, Washington has failed to show the same kind of leadership. That will change when I take office. My presidency will mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process.”

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Obama gets a wish list from green groups

November 15, 2008 at 3:45 am | Posted in Climate and politics | Leave a comment
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More than 30 leading environmental groups endorsed a set of recommendations on climate and energy policy delivered to President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team in the days after the election.

The groups involved include the Environmental Defense Fund, the League of Conservation Voters, the National Audubon Society, and the National Wildlife Federation, among others.

According to the groups, the policy changes proposed are necessary to stem increases in the earth’s average surface temperature to 2 degrees Fahrenheit, a threshold that many scientists think it would be dangerous to cross.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that temperatures can likely be held below a 2-degree rise if developed countries cut their emissions by 25 percent to 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, and by 80 percent by 2050.

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Leaders call for climate change leadership

November 12, 2008 at 5:36 am | Posted in Climate and politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Four world leaders urged representatives to take action on climate change at the recent G-20 summit convened to discuss the global financial crisis. As reported by The Times of India, the leaders made their plea in a joint op-ed published in The International Herald Tribune.

“The global financial crisis is most immediate; the more existential is climate change. The urgency of the first is no excuse for neglecting the second. To the contrary, it is an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone,” reads the op-ed written by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

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Two new scary climate studies

November 9, 2008 at 4:15 am | Posted in Climate science research | 1 Comment
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Photo by Nick Russill, Flickr Creative Commons.

Photo by Nick Russill, Flickr Creative Commons.

People who are skeptical that global warming is something to worry about like to point out that the earth’s climate has gone through many warmings and coolings.  Hence, the term ‘ice age.’

Most scientists, however, agree that today’s climate change is different.  In the first place, it’s human-caused, brought on by increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels.  And, as far as we know, it’s happening faster than has occurred in the past. 

A new study from Cornell University gives further proof for this point.  As reported by Agence France-Presse, the study found that the current rate of warming is more dramatic than in any other period over the last 5,000 years.  

For the study, researchers looked at temperatures, oceanic circulation and changes in migration patterns, and then compared their findings to the paleoclimate record. 

Scientists are able to understand paleoclimate, dating back to millions of years ago, by studying ice cores, lake levels, and cave deposits, among other natural records. 

The Cornell research team found that the melting of Arctic ice has brought on significant shifts in the location of plants and animals in the North Atlantic.  Of particular note, the researchers found that microscopic algae have moved from the Pacific to the Atlantic for the first time in 800,000 years. 

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How “enviro” were Tuesday’s votes?

November 7, 2008 at 5:45 am | Posted in Climate and politics | 1 Comment
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After two long years of electioneering, the American political climate seemed to change in a moment on Tuesday night when Barack Obama became the next president-elect of the United States. 

And although he won’t officially take the reins until January, world leaders are already calling for him to act fast on climate change. 

On Wednesday, The Globe and Mail reported that Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper is “proposing to strike a joint climate-change pact” with Obama.  Such a pact could establish common standards for carbon emissions trading systems, and meet some of U.S. energy demand with supplies from oil sands in Ottawa. 

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Germany’s Foreign Minister called for Obama to work closely with Europe to tackle climate change at a conference today. 

While international cooperation will be critical to deal with climate change, cooperation between the White House and Congress, as well as with state-level officials across the country, will be equally important.

So, now that America will soon have a president who is likely to act on climate change, will it have a Congress and state leaders who are ready to do the same?

It’s not a question with an easy answer.  But a new Web site, Envirovote, takes a first step toward assessing what the new political climate will mean for the world’s natural climate. 

The site is tracking gubernatorial and U.S. congressional races across the nation, and as the results continue to come in from Tuesday’s votes, rating what they mean for the environment on a “green meter.”

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Adding climate change into the economic forecasts

November 3, 2008 at 1:36 am | Posted in Climate and economy | Leave a comment
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Once again it’s been a week of numbers.  The Dow Jones stock index rallied 11.3 percent over the last week, along with other stock measures around the world.  The Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan cut interest rates to grease lending and spending.  Consumer spending declined in the U.S. for the first time in 17 years, and a bailout’s now being considered for Detroit’s Big Three automakers. 

Courtesy of thisbluedot.net.

Courtesy of thisbluedot.net.

Despite – and perhaps because of – the maelstrom of mostly dark economic news over the last few weeks, there is now more and more talk about how dealing with climate change should figure into economic planning. 

On Monday former World Bank economist Nicholas Stern issued a warning that ignoring the risks posed by climate change could result in far greater consequences than ignoring risks in the financial system. 

Stern is famous for a 700-page economic report he released in 2006, which claimed inaction on climate change could result in disasters on the scale of the Great Depression or World Wars I and II. 

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Supercomputer launched to study sea level rise

November 2, 2008 at 5:48 am | Posted in Climate science research | Leave a comment
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If temperatures increase and ice sheets continue to melt, it’s certain sea level will rise.  What’s less certain is by how much and how much fast.

Answering those number questions will take more study of the ice sheets that sit atop Greenland and the Antarctic.

And lots of math.    

A new supercomputer being deployed in Wales is about to be set to work running the many numbers involved. 

The computer – called Blue Ice – will be used to study the behavior of melting polar ice sheets. 

Continue Reading Supercomputer launched to study sea level rise…

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