Posts Tagged ‘Global Warming’

Omaha World-Herald: Nebraskans call for state action on climate change

Friday, September 18th, 2015

Many rural Nebraskans appear to be ready for the state to develop an action plan on climate change, according to a University of Nebraska-Lincoln poll released Monday, and a university initiative getting underway this week will be tapped by a state legislator to draft one.

The Nebraska Rural Poll, an annual survey, found that 61 percent of those responding agreed or strongly agreed that the state should develop a plan to adapt to the effects of climate change. Seventeen percent disagreed.

The poll, conducted by the UNL Department of Agricultural Economics and the NU Rural Futures Institute, didn’t probe whether people believe humans are responsible for climate change, said Becky Vogt, survey research manager.

“(Most) people believe there needs to be a plan to adapt to climate change,” Vogt said.

The survey was done by mail and netted 1,191 responses, a 32 percent response rate, she said.

This week, UNL will begin a series of eight workshops to gather ideas on how the state can adapt to increasingly extreme weather. The workshops are by invitation, but four will be preceded by public forums. Areas being examined include agriculture, energy, public health, wildfire, communities and nature.

“It is important … to prepare,” said Don Wilhite, the UNL climatologist helping to organize the workshops. “These roundtables will be the first step in mobilizing … to work collaboratively.”

While UNL doesn’t get involved with legislative policies, Nebraska legislators can expect to see the results of the workshops in the coming session. Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm said he will propose a state plan in January and will draw from the UNL discussions.

Haar said acceptance of climate change is increasing, “and with that I believe the realization we have to do something.”

A UNL analysis of the impact of climate change on Nebraska found that winter is shrinking, the frost-free season is expanding, and nights are warming faster than days — a hidden stressor on livestock, crops and ecosystems.

Precipitation changes in Nebraska aren’t as obvious as they are just to the east, in Iowa, where gully-washing rains have compounded problems with flooding and field work.

“The magnitude and rapidity of projected changes in the climate is unprecedented,” the UNL analysis stated.

In Iowa, one of the nation’s foremost experts on global warming’s impact on agriculture said a state plan can soften the blows ahead, especially in protecting soil.

Jerry Hatfield, laboratory director at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Ames, said people don’t comprehend the vulnerability of soil — the foundation of productive fields — to climate change.

Heavier rains accelerate erosion; strengthening springtime winds sweep away soil; and changes in the timing and nature of rainfall depress yields.

“Ag states need to be much more aggressive … about managing our soils,” he said.

UNL’s workshop series this week kicks off with an examination of the implications of climate change on Nebraska’s faith community. A public forum on the topic will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at Sheridan Lutheran Church, 6955 Old Cheney Road in Lincoln.

Religious leaders concerned about climate change have organized a weekend prayer service in Omaha in advance of Pope Francis’ address to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 24. Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy will be among those participating in the Gathering for the Planet on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at First United Methodist Church, 7020 Cass St.

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The New York Times: U.S. and Chinese Climate Change Negotiators to Meet in Los Angeles

Friday, September 18th, 2015

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s top climate change negotiator met with his Chinese counterpart in Los Angeles on Tuesday to announce joint actions by cities, states and provinces in both countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The summit meeting followed a historic accord reached in Beijing in November by Mr. Obama and President Xi Jinping, who pledged to enact policies to cut emissions significantly. Mr. Obama said the United States would reduce planet-warming carbon emissions up to 28 percent by 2025, while Mr. Xi vowed that Chinawould halt its emissions growth by 2030.

That announcement by the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas polluters was seen as a breakthrough after decades of deadlock on efforts to forge an effective global accord on climate change. Now Mr. Obama and Mr. Xi are pushing for completion of such a deal, signed by every nation on earth, at a United Nations summit meeting in Paris this fall.

White House officials said Tuesday’s meeting was intended to demonstrate that both countries were moving forward to meet the terms of their agreement. Last month, Mr. Obama unveiled a sweeping regulation aimed at forcing heavily polluting power plants to cut emissions, and the United States and China have submitted details of their national plans to the United Nations.

Brian Deese, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser on climate change, said the additional actions from cities, states and provinces could add momentum to those efforts. The administration also hopes that the announcements will quiet critics who say any climate deal will hamstring the United States and cede an economic advantage to China.

“Last year was about the U.S. and China making those commitments,” Mr. Deese said. “This year, having made those commitments, needs to be a year of implementation, as our two countries demonstrate commitment to implement those goals with concrete steps.”

The choice of Los Angeles for the meeting was no coincidence. California has by far the most aggressive state-level climate change policy in the country. The state, which has an economy larger than that of all but a handful of countries, has put in place a “cap and trade” system, in which an overall limit is imposed on greenhouse gas pollution, and companies buy and sell permits to pollute.

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The Atlantic: Not Doomed Yet: A New Newsletter About Climate Change

Friday, September 18th, 2015

I remember the first time I learned about climate change. I was sitting at a fancy restaurant with my parents, reading a science magazine under the table. (I think it was Kids Discover, which—with its full-page photos, friendly writing, and cartoonish illustrations—ranked up there with the Klutz books as ’90s edutainment par excellence.) In the bottom half of a page, there was an info box: Scientists had identified something called the greenhouse effect, which could make disastrously extreme weather more common and the planet too hot to inhabit. I remember looking around the table, anxiously, before stammering out a question to my parents: Did they know about this? Humanity breaking the planet, and adults were doing nothing about it?

I have lost count of the number of people who have identified climate as “the political issue of the 21st century.” It ranks up there for me. Food, water, protection from the elements: It feels insufficient to say that climate touches everything, because it in fact permeates us. Physically, materially, existentially, the climate determines what it feels like to have a human body in this biosphere. And that means that every consideration of the future—of security personal, economic, and international—winds back to climate.

When I consider whether to have children, I think about climate change. When I consider where I want to live, I think about climate change. When I stand on the beach and play catch with my younger brothers and wonder what their young adulthood will be like, I think of refugees and resource wars—and, thus, climate change.

Even my current career, as a technology reporter, was inflected by the climate: When I first got into technology in the mid-2000s, I was partly drawn to it because I thought all that new wealth—and all that new expertise in handling data—might flow toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change, a phenomenon without a mind, is engrained in every texture of my every ordinary day.

And I want to follow it better. So I’m starting this.

Posts will live here in The Atlantic’s new Science section, but they’ll also go to readers’s inboxes.

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Nature World Report: United Nations climate change pact negotiations continue to advance

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Bonn, Germany- After a weeklong session of negotiations in Bonn, the United Nations has moved forward in its efforts to put together a climate change pact. So far negotiators have simply been trying to compile all of the relevant information and hot points regarding climate change, and the actual work of hashing out a pact has remained uncompleted. Now, leading officials have given the greenlight for the negotiations to progress to the next stage, meaning the actual writing of the pact itself.

The biggest rift between negotiators has been between developed and developing countries. Many negotiators from developing countries fear that efforts to curb their greenhouse gas emissions could severely restrict economic growth. Said negotiators have also pointed out that many already developed countries have been pumping out massive amounts of greenhouse gases for decades, and thus should bear the brunt of the burden.

Negotiators from developed countries, however, have been pointing out that this is a global issue, and will need to be addressed on a global scale. Developed countries also appear to be wary of potential liability claims by other countries that may be affected by global warming.

The climate change deal will attempt to curb the worrisome rise in greenhouse gases that many scientist claim is causing the Earth to warm. If the Earth’s temperatures were to rise be even a few degrees, it could upset the delicate balance of the world’s ecosystems and could cause vast changes in weather patterns.

The world is seeing an increasing number of severe weather related problems. A massive and prolonged drought in Syria, for example, is being blamed by many for causing the instability now seen in the region. Meanwhile, the United States is facing what couldamount to a record breaking blizzard season.

Given the potential threat of global warming, negotiators have been wary of drawing up a sort of “lowest common denominator” bill that would only half-heartedly address climate change, but would be politically appeasing to governments not ready to take the problem head on. Signing such a politically expedient deal could actually mark a defeat for negotiators. It could given citizens the false impression that climate change is being dealt with, when in reality the quick fixes would amount to nothing more than temporary bandaids, at best.

The deal has been in the works for quite a long time, but progress has been slow. Just a few weeks ago it seemed possible that negotiations might collapse completely, but recent progress has put the deal back on track. As of now, negotiators are aiming for a deadline in October of 2016, so that a deal can be signed and put in place by December, but given the progress made thus far, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the deadline pushed back.

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NRDC Switchboard: Virginia set to use finance to fight climate change

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said it well: “Climate change is real. Climate change is happening. It’s going to have a dramatic impact on the Virginia economy.” I could not agree more.

To combat and adapt to climate change, the governor created a Climate Commission, charging it to think in big and bold ways to bring him its top recommendations for taking climate action while strengthening the Virginia economy.

Its No. 1 recommendation, which came in a vote this week, is to create an energy and resiliency bank to help increase private investment in both sectors. Called the New Virginia Bank for Energy and Resiliency, it would help to use limited state funds to bring in dramatically more private investment in projects like solar energy, energy efficiency and strengthening critical infrastructure along the state’s coastline.

The approach has been successful in other states.

Connecticut’s Green Bank, the first in the country, for example, has brought in $10 in private funds for every one public dollar of investment, known as financial leverage, and increased total clean energy investment more than ten-fold in the state in just four years. The increase in investment had led to a far-more than ten-fold increase in solar capacity installation: in the decade before the green bank, an average of about 4 MW was installed each year; after the green bank started the paceof installation picked up rapidly and last year over 60 MW were installed.

Still in its early stages, New York Green Bank already has a capital pipeline in excess of $350 million, with another $150 million recently approved by the New York Public Service Commission, while New Jersey has the Energy Resilience Bank and Rhode Island the Infrastructure Bank.

If implemented, the Virginia energy and resiliency bank would make the state the first in the South to approach its clean energy and resiliency spending in this way – one that is comprehensive and has the potential to be broadly transformative.

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