The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
“Researchers have been startled to see signs of rapid melting in Greenland and Antarctica, but lack enough data to precisely calculate how much coastal flooding could result. Scientists long believed that the collapse of the gigantic ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica would take thousands of years, with sea level possibly rising as little as seven inches in this century, about the same amount as in the 20th century.
But researchers have recently been startled to see big changes unfold in both Greenland and Antarctica.
As a result of recent calculations that take the changes into account, many scientists now say that sea level is likely to rise perhaps three feet by 2100 — an increase that, should it come to pass, would pose a threat to coastal regions the world over. “
“As the party in control of Washington during 18 consecutive months of 9%+ unemployment,
Democrats suffered a devastating defeat this week. An election night survey clearly illustrates
that Members’ support for the 2009 American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) did not
contribute to this defeat.”
“On November 10, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) published a set of guidance documents to assist state permitting authorities and industry permitting applicants with the Clean Air Act “prevention of significant deterioration” (PSD) and title V permitting for sources of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Under EPA’s previously finalized “Tailoring Rule,” PSD and title V permitting for certain new and modified major GHG sources will begin on January 2, 2011. Among other things, the guidance documents provide advice on PSD “best available control technology” (BACT) determinations for such sources.”
“Tropical air now has to get a little hotter and more humid than it did in the 1980s before produces rain, with serious implications for human survival. THERE may come a point, if the world warms enough, when parts of the tropics will become so hot and humid that humans will not be able to survive. Models predict that this could start to happen in places in as little as 100 years in the worst case scenario. Now, observations show the process is already under way.
As humidity rises, sweating cools us less, so we suffer heat stress at lower air temperatures. For now, no place on Earth exceeds the human threshold for heat tolerance, with the exception of a few caves like the Naica cave in Mexico. That is thanks to a fortunate natural thermostat: when humid air gets hot, it rises and causes storms that cool things down.
But there is a catch. The point at which air begins to rise – the stability threshold – depends on how warm and moist surrounding air is. Models predict that as the entire tropics warm, the stability threshold will rise. “
“New research puts the entire life cycle of coral reefs at risk from acidification of the oceans. New research puts the entire life cycle of coral reefs at risk from acidification of the oceans. This is the first study to look at the impact of acidifying oceans on the reproductive cycle of corals, though its disastrous effects on the ability of marine creatures to build their calcium carbonate skeletons and shells is well known.
Manmade CO2 does more than just warm the planet, more of it is finding its way into the world’s oceans as they absorb some of the excess atmospheric carbon dioxide.
The gas forms carbonic acid when it dissolves in sea water and is progressively making the oceans more acidic. The scale of the impact on marine life is only just beginning to be understood. “
“OSLO (Reuters) – Global losses from natural disasters could triple to $185 billion a year by 2100, excluding the impact of climate change, according to a report, which calls for a shift in focus from relief work to preventative measures. The joint report by the United Nations and the World Bank, published on Thursday, said the number of people at risk of storms or earthquakes in large cities could double to 1.5 billion by 2050. Simple preventative measures could curb losses from natural disasters, it said, citing Bangladesh’s success in building shelters to protect against cyclones.
The study of natural hazards including earthquakes, heatwaves and floods called for investment in everything from improving weather forecasts, to re-painting steel bridges to avoid rust, and keeping storm drains clear of debris.
“Preventing deaths and destruction from disasters pays, if done right,” according to the 250-page report by 70 experts entitled “Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters.””
“Survey reveals drought, shortages, flooding and rising prices are damaging companies in water-intensive industries. At least one in five of the companies using the largest amounts of water in the world is already experiencing damage to their business from drought and other shortages, flooding, and rising prices.
The wide scope of commercial problems posed by growing pressure on global water supplies and changing weather patterns is revealed by a survey of the 302 biggest companies in the most water-intensive sectors, across 25 countries.
The study was commissioned by the increasingly influential Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which conducts an annual study of what companies are doing to measure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on behalf of investors holding US$16trillion (£9.9tr) of assets.
About half the companies responded to the water survey, of whom 39% said they were already experiencing “detrimental impacts”. In answer to a separate question, about half said the risks to their businesses were “current or near term” – in the next one to five years – a sample likely to have significant crossover with those already reporting problems.”
(This newsletter provides more information about the following topics with links to reports and commentary)
Summary: As Republicans expand their power in the Congress, look for a reshaped climate change and air quality policy agenda. Republican leaders have committed to defunding or delaying EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. They might also seek to modify EPA’s suite of conventional pollutant rulemakings focused on the electric power sector . . . President Obama said that cap-and-trade is not the only way to “skin the cat,” and expressed interest in working with Republican legislators on energy efficiency, nuclear power, natural gas, and electric vehicles; Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell responded with tentative interest . . . With the election over, when will the White House release EPA’s BACT guidance? . . . California voters rejected Proposition 23, allowing the A.B. 32 program to go forward, but muddied the waters by supporting Proposition 26, which raises hurdles to adoption of regulatory fees. California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols said that Proposition 26 does not affect rules implementing AB 32 . . . The New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board voted 4-3 to approve a cap-and-trade program for the state and join the Western Climate Initiative, but the incoming Republican governor has expressed her opposition. In other WCI news, British Columbia enacted WCI-implementing regulations.
– Obama Expresses Willingness to Work With Republicans on Energy Issues.
– EPA Proposes to Approve Implementation Plans for GHG Permitting in Five States.
– OMB Completes Review of GHG Reporting Rules for Oil and Natural Gas Sector and Fluorinated Gases.
– Heinzerling to Depart EPA
– Midterm Elections Reshape Climate Debate.
– States and Land Trusts File Brief Opposing Petition for Certiorari in Climate Tort Case
– California Voters Deny Challenge to AB 32 Implementation, But Trouble Lurks With Passage of Proposition 26.
– New Mexico Approves WCI Participation
– British Columbia Moves Forward With WCI Implementing Regulations
– Environmental Organizations Argue Election Not a Referendum on Climate and Clean Energy Policies
– Pew Center Reports on Federal Adaptation Efforts
– French Academy of Sciences Says Climate Change “Unequivocally” Due to Human Activity.
– Mexico Hosts Final International Climate Summit Before Cancùn Meeting
– Biodiversity Treaty Incorporates Climate Change-Related Provisions
– U.N. Report Provides Details for Raising $100B in Climate Funding
Special thanks to rb137 for help compiling this series.
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