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The right thing in climate policy for all the big countries is a carbon tax, which is simpler and less vulnerable to fluctuations in emissions than cap-and-trade schemes. Current environmental policies will not keep the rise in global temperatures to below 2°C—the maximum that most climate scientists think safe. A carbon tax, if stiff enough, could.
In rejecting Keystone, President Obama would not solve the underlying problem, which is consumption. Nor would he halt exploitation of the tar sands. But he would put a brake on the process. Once Keystone is built, there will be no putting the tar back in the sands. The pipeline isn’t inevitable, and it shouldn’t be treated as such. It’s just another step on the march to disaster.
The servers at the innocuously titled Utah Data Facility will have the capacity to store 100 years worth of the worldwide communications, phones and emails, but the ill-examined ecological impacts of the site, and other smaller but similar NSA data hording facilities like it, is far from sustainable.
International airlines have agreed for the first time to global curbs on their greenhouse gas emissions – but fell well short of the measures to combat climate change that green campaigners had demanded – they did not agree to a global limit on greenhouse gas emissions from air travel, or detail how governments should implement a market-based mechanism to cover all airlines.
Pricing carbon to reduce emissions and tackle global warming is moribund in Congress for now, but not elsewhere. A new World Bank report finds that more than 40 national governments and 20 sub-national governments have either put in place carbon-pricing schemes or are planning one for the years ahead.
In China, transport-based GHG emissions are expected to four-fold increase from 2004 to 2030, mainly due to rising demand for road freight transport. A GEF/World Bank project supports the demonstrations of green trucks, a more efficient model of freight transport that can contribute to reducing GHG emissions and to improving air quality.
The rise in the surface temperature of earth has been markedly slower over the last 15 years than in the 20 years before that. That lull in warming has occurred as greenhouse gases have accumulated in the atmosphere at a record pace. This current plateau will end at some point, and a new era of rapid global warming will begin.
Food waste in America is a problem that has grown by 50 percent since the 1970s. Today, as much as 40 percent of food produced in America is thrown away. Decomposing food releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is more than 20 times as effective at trapping atmospheric heat than carbon.
Relentlessly rising greenhouse-gas emissions, and the fear that the earth might enter a climate emergency from which there would be no return, have prompted many climate scientists to conclude that we urgently need a Plan B: geoengineering. But is it wise to try to play God with the climate?
Scientists at the British Antarctic Survey have been working with a host of international collaborators to present the most detailed map yet of Antarctica’s landmass. Bedmap2 reveals a landscape of mountain ranges and plains cut by gorges and valleys much deeper than previously seen. The Bedmap2 project is about more than making a map of the landscape. The data we’ve put together on the height and thickness of the ice and the shape of the landscape below are fundamental to modelling the behaviour of the ice sheet in the future. This matters because in some places, ice along the edges of Antarctica is being lost rapidly to the sea, driving up sea level. Knowing how much the sea will rise is of global importance, and these maps are a step towards that goal.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL develops technologies and practices, advances science and engineering, and transfers knowledge and innovations to address the nation’s energy and environmental goals.
Infrastructure such as roads and bridges, wastewater systems, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) centers are vulnerable to changes in the climate. Changes in precipitation and sea levels, as well as increased intensity and frequency of extreme events, are projected to impact infrastructure in a variety of ways.
The Climate and Development Knowledge Network supports decision-makers in designing and delivering climate compatible development. We do this by combining research, advisory services and knowledge management in support of locally owned and managed policy processes. We hold strongly to the ideals of human development and environmental sustainability.
The GEF IW:Science Synthesis Report, brings together the findings and efforts of the IW System Type Working Groups (Groundwater, Lakes, Rivers, Land-based Pollution Sources and, Large Marine Ecosystems and the Open Ocean). This report provides a global perspective on the state of challenges and pressures facing transboundary water systems, both freshwater and marine.
Climate change has been a key factor in the rise and fall of societies and states from prehistory to the recent fighting in the Sudanese state of Darfur. The ways in which cultures have met the climate challenge provide object lessons for how the modern world can handle the new security threats posed by unprecedented global warming.
The failure to make much progress at the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar this winter was yet another reminder that the world might soon face extreme climate shifts. In response, it is becoming increasingly likely that governments will adopt risky strategies, known as “geoengineering,” to rapidly cool the planet.
Scientists estimate that the average acidity of surface ocean waters worldwide is now about 30% higher than before the Industrial Revolution. The researchers forecast major changes in the marine ecosystem, but say there is huge uncertainty over what those changes will be.
Green Depot is the nation’s leading supplier of environmentally friendly building products, services and home solutions. Green Depot’s mission is to make green building products readily accessible, affordable and gratifying so that sustainable practices can easily be adopted into standard construction operations.
Over the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar and yet the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade. Despite all the work on sensitivity, no one really knows how the climate would react if temperatures rose by as much as 4°C. Hardly reassuring.
Some carmakers try harder than others to be green. Besides making their models cleaner to run, many carmakers are also trying to reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing them. Having been depicted as environmental villains since the 1950s, cars and their makers may soon be able to move out of the spotlight.
Over decades California’s green rules have inspired other states and the federal government to follow. Older rules focused on conservation, newer ones focus on investment, new technologies and development projects.
For consumers, homebuilders, and companies that want to feel confident that their buildings are made with environmentally friendly materials, it can be hard to know what building materials to use. Seizing on this lack of information in the market, and consumer interest in sustainability, Sarah Beatty started Green Depot.
Thatcher was a breaker of consensus, not a builder of it. And she did not care about everybody. She seemed not to care about the poor and the near-poor, whose misfortunes she tended to regard as failures of character. The moral high point of her tenure was a passionate speech on global warming, delivered at the United Nations in 1989.
To run his coal trains, Buffet needs to seize land from a bunch of Montana cowboys. The coal industry will ignore global warming. But a federal agency charged with weighing the environmental consequences of a coal-carrying railroad should do better. So should America’s most admired investor.
Without nitrogen, the machinery of photosynthesis cannot function. Corn, wheat, and rice, the crops on which humanity depends for survival, are among the most nitrogen hungry of all plants. Yet, runaway nitrogen is suffocating wildlife in lakes and estuaries, contaminating groundwater, and even warming the globe’s climate.
A line of Mini Coopers, each attached to the regional power grid by a thick cable plugged in where a gasoline filler pipe used to be, no longer just draws energy. The power now flows two ways between the cars and the electric grid, as the cars inject and suck power in tiny jolts, and get paid for it.
For the past three years, we’ve compiled an annual review of natural disasters, highlighting not only overall trends for the year but drawing out lessons to prepare for future disasters. Given the fact that the frequency, intensity and unpredictability of natural disasters is expected to increase as a result of climate change, it is more important than ever that we learn from the past.
Many analysts predict that climate change and development in high-risk zones will only increase those costs as sea levels rise and weather becomes more extreme. So there’s plenty of incentive to prevent and reduce losses, and a massive opportunity for those with ideas of how to go about doing so.
Mr Obama named the officials charged with fulfilling his climate policy: Gina McCarthy, his choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, and Ernest Moniz, the prospective new secretary of energy. Their selection suggests that Mr Obama is indeed serious about tackling climate change, but not doctrinaire in his approach.
The IISS believes climate change could have a serious effect on regional and global stability. Its Climate Change and Security Programme explores how global warming may affect disputes over territory, water and other resources, or could otherwise threaten peace and stability, and considers international mechanisms for producing the best solutions for climate security.
President Barack Obama’s promise to attack climate change is likely to light a fire under federal agencies slow to comply with a mandate to cut energy use – which could be very good news for companies that specialize in systems that save power. Major efficiency companies have been working to develop project proposals.
The International Renewable Energy Agency is an intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as the principal platform for international cooperation, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy.
If EU policies work as intended, electricity from renewables will gradually take a larger share of overall generation. But at the moment, EU energy policy is boosting usage of the most polluting fuel, increasing carbon emissions, damaging the creditworthiness of utilities and diverting investment into energy projects elsewhere.
Critics counts air conditioning as more a curse than a miracle. Cooling buildings and vehicles pumps out almost half a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. Between 1995 and 2004 the proportion of homes in Chinese cities with air conditioning rose from 8% to 70%.
Greenhouse gas emissions have continued to grow, signals of human-induced climate change have clearly emerged, and a preponderance of scientists studying the issue project more adverse consequences to come unless stronger actions are taken…
Chicago claims to have the densest network of charging stations for electric vehicles, and to be home to more wind-farm companies than any city in America. The state is spending up to $3.2 billion on modernising the electrical grid in Illinois. It has also put aside $72.5m to invest in new smart-grid technology.
Russia has coasted on an oil legacy inherited from Soviet days. Much of the oil still in the ground will be more difficult and costly to find and produce. As expenses go up, profit margins will decline. At the same time, the oil industry will have to spend more of its remaining profits on its own renewal.
By venting methane into the atmosphere, the lakes are amplifying the global warming that created them: Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. Carbon dioxide is the main one, because the atmosphere holds 200 times as much of it. But a given amount of methane traps at least 25 times as much heat…
Governments around the world have been investing in plans to “climate-proof” their cities against weather-related calamities. Even if we managed to stop increasing global carbon emissions tomorrow, we would probably experience several centuries of additional warming, rising sea levels, and more frequent dangerous weather events.
What would help solve our fiscal problem: Give up your home mortgage deduction and wait two more years for Social Security and Medicare, or pay a little extra for gasoline and electricity? These will be our choices. The carbon tax would clean up the air for our kids, drive innovation and make us less dependent on the most unstable region in the world: the Middle East.
2012 was the hottest year ever recorded in the contiguous United States. 34,008 daily high records were set at weather stations across the country. 10 warmest years on record all fell within the past 15 years. 11 disasters in 2012 have exceeded $1 billion in damages, with Hurricane Sandy likely to exceed $60bn.
Industrial ecology (IE) is the study of material and energy flows through industrial systems. It is concerned with the shifting of industrial process from linear (open loop) systems, in which resource and capital investments move through the system to become waste, to a closed loop system where wastes can become inputs for new processes.
RealClimate is a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. Real Climate aims to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary.
The Global Environment Facility unites 182 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives.
International insurers committed to the principles: Lead in risk analysis, Inform public policy making, Support climate awareness amongst our customers, Incorporate climate change into our investment strategies, Reduce the environmental impact of our business, Report and be accountable.
The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. The environment group works to strengthen environmental policies and practices in ways that protect terrestrial and marine systems worldwide.
Ceres has been working for more than 20 years to advocate for sustainability leadership. Ceres mobilizes a powerful network of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices to build a healthy global economy.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature focuses on conserving biodiversity. IUCN demonstrates how biodiversity is fundamental to some of the world’s greatest challenges: climate change, sustainable energy, human well-being and building a green economy.
The Center for International Environmental Law works to strengthen and use international law and institutions to protect the environment, promote human health, and ensure a just and sustainable society. CIEL provides legal counsel and advocacy, policy research and capacity building services.
The CPR believes sensible safeguards in the areas of health, safety, and the environment, serve important values including doing the best we can to prevent harm to people and the environment, distributing environmental harms and benefits fairly, and protecting the earth for future generations.
The world has been so preoccupied with the man-made catastrophes of subprime mortgages and sovereign debt that it may not have noticed how much economic mayhem nature has wreaked. With earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, floods in Thailand and Australia and tornadoes in America, last year was the costliest on record for natural disasters.
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity is an international initiative to draw attention to the economic benefits of biodiversity, the costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and to draw together expertise from science, economics and policy to enable practical actions moving forward.
The mission of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Reinsurance (E) Task Force is to monitor and coordinate activities and areas of interest, which overlap to some extent the charges of other working groups, specifically the International Insurance Relations (G) Committee.
Jared Diamond is a professor of geography and physiology at the University of California, a MacArthur Fellow, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Medal of Science. He is author of the books: Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies; and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.
Sir Martin Rees is the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Master of Trinity College, and Emeritus Prof. of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the book: Our Final Hour: How Terror, Error, and Environmental Disaster Threaten Humankind’s Future In This Century.
Biologist Edward O. Wilson is University Research Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, and author of the books: The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth; The Future of Life; and The Diversity of Life, which describes how man is in the process of causing the “sixth extinction”.
350.org is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. To preserve our planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 392 parts per million to below 350 ppm. 350 is a symbol of where we need to head as a planet.
The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment is a research centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Its mission is to be a world-leading centre for policy-relevant research, teaching and training in climate change and the environment.
Our vision is to leave a sustainable world for future generations. Today’s society faces unprecedented challenges. Dwindling natural resources, declining economies, a rapidly changing climate and other threats require that all of us begin working together to reach common solutions.
The OECD’s environmental research covers topics such as: Biodiversity, Water, and Natural Resource Management; Climate Change; Consumption and Innovation; and Sustainable Development. OECD works on ecosystem services valuation, and creation of economic incentives and markets…
We have a strong reputation in innovative re/insurance and risk management solutions. We provide wholesale re/insurance products, insurance-based capital market instruments, and supplementary risk management services to Property & Casualty and Life & Health clients and brokers around the globe.
Swiss Re has been a strong advocate of cuts in greenhouse gas emissions for over twenty years. Swiss Re provides innovative climate solutions, and is well positioned to play a major role in driving forward the low-carbon economy and in shaping climate-resilient development.
Aimed at the insurance industry, government, and the wider public, the objectives of the GA’s climate-linked research have been to identify and analyse issues of specific relevance to the insurance industry, as well as external challenges to be addressed at the political, educational and social levels.
Established in 1892, the Sierra Club is the most influential grassroots environmental organization in the US. It has developed a set of initiatives that will help cut emissions, create clean economy, and protect our natural heritage, communities, and country from the consequences of climate change.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations. It is the UN system’s authoritative voice on the state and behaviour of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, the climate it produces and the resulting distribution of water resources.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts. The IPCC’s work is policy-relevant, yet policy-neutral, never policy-prescriptive.
Since 1863, the National Academy of Sciences has provided advice on the scientific and technological issues that frequently affect policy decisions. National Research Council reports have led to some of the most significant and lasting improvements in the health, education, and welfare of all Americans.
For 50 years, WWF has been protecting the future of nature. WWF’s unique way of working combines global reach with a foundation in science, involves action at every level from local to global, and ensures the delivery of innovative solutions that meet the needs of both people and nature.
The Copenhagen Consensus Center is a think-tank that publicizes
the best ways for governments and philanthropists to spend aid and development money. CCC focuses on solving the world’s biggest challenges and on how to do this in the most cost-efficient manner.
The Government Accountability Office provides public access to its wide-ranging research related to Natural Resources and Environment. Covered topics include Mining, Oil and Gas Production, Energy Conservation, Health Risk Assessments, and Federal Land Management.
The Government Accountability Office provides public access to its wide-ranging research related to Energy. Covered topics include nuclear regulation, energy conservation and climate change, renewable energy, oil and gas, defense infrastructure, biofuels, and energy policy.
The Congressional Budget Office analyzes proposed policies for limiting damage resulting from pollution that affects the atmosphere, land, and water resources. Of particular concern are the increasingly large quantities of greenhouse gases that are being emitted as a result of human activities.