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On Feb. 14, 2017 Inside Climate News published a paper by Nichlas Kusnetz titled, The impacts of global warming already affecting species have been widely underestimated, new research shows.  He wrote,
“Climate change may be harming far more of the world's threatened species than previously thought. A new study suggests that nearly half of the mammals and a quarter of the birds on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's "red list" have already become victims of a shifting climate.
The research, published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change, concludes that scientists and wildlife conservationists have failed to account for the damage inflicted by global warming.
"Our results clearly show that the impact of climate change on mammals and birds to date is currently greatly under-estimated and reported upon," co-author James Watson, of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Queensland in Australia, said in a statement. "We need to greatly improve assessments of the impacts of climate change on species right now, we need to communicate this to the wider public and we need to ensure key decision-makers know that something significant needs to happen now to stop species going extinct.”
"Climate change is not a future threat anymore."”

On Feb. 19 the Washington Post published an article by Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney titled, Countries made only modest climate-change promises in Paris. They’re falling short anyway.  The article pointed out that though the mood in Paris two years ago was euphoric, because 195 nations had pledged to reduce carbon emissions enough to keep the global average temperature increase to 2 ℃ or less, the increase will go beyond 2 ℃ even if all of the countries meet their pledges.  With the U.S.  - the world’s largest economy - droping out of the accord,, continued deforestation in Brazil, and rapid growing emissions from countries like Turkey, the prospects look rather dim.  The bright spots are the rapidly growing renewable energy industries in China and India, the possibility that many countries will decrease their emission pledges, and the fact that many cities and businesses are getting on board.  The authors write, “The problem, experts say, is that if the world’s emissions don’t start declining decisively by then (2020, added)— and declining fast — it may be too late to stave off devastating sea level rise, crippling droughts and storms, and other catastrophic effects of climate change.”

On Feb 21 Reuters published an article by Sebastien Mali titled, U.S., Canadian provinces launch first cap-and-trade auction to battle climate change
The article announces that Ontario has now joined California and Quebec in putting a price on carbon emission through a cap-and-trade system.  The merger has created the second largest emissions trading market in the world.  The author wrote, “For now, the European Union is considered the world’s largest carbon emission market, but China’s market is rapidly growing, experts say.”

The following items are from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), Carol Werner, Executive Director. Past issues of its newsletter are posted with the title, on its website under "publications"
 at http://www.eesi.org/publications/Newsletters/CCNews/ccnews.htm 
EESI’s newsletter is intended for all interested parties, particularly the policymaker community. 

Trump Administration Proposes Deep Cuts to EPA's Budget Once Again

On February 12, the Trump administration released its annual budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2019. The proposal would reduce EPA's budget by 23 percent, a cut of more than $2.5 billion. It also proposes to eliminate several dozen programs, including partnerships to clean up the Gulf of Mexico and other large water bodies. Nearly all of the agency's climate change programs would be eliminated, including slashing a third of the funding for EPA's Office of Science and Technology. Meanwhile, the administration's priorities of Superfund cleanups and storm and waste water infrastructure would see an increase in support. EPA's popular Energy Star program is no longer on the administration's chopping block, but it would be funded entirely through fees, under the proposal. Overall, the Trump administration has sought to reduce EPA's workforce by more than 20 percent, dating back to its Fiscal Year 2018 budget. Environmental groups have been highly critical of the proposals, stating the agency cuts are a vehicle for culling federal environmental safeguards across the board.

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Intelligence Chief Warns Congress of "Abrupt" Climate Change Consequences

On February 12, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned members of Congress about the devastating impacts of a warming climate and how they are likely to cause economic and social turmoil. Coats said, "Research has not identified indicators of tipping points in climate-linked earth systems, suggesting a possibility of abrupt climate change." Coats' words mark the first time a Trump administration intelligence official has assigned such a high degree of urgency and risk to climate change. Recently, Defense Secretary James Mattis said that the military is preparing for climate change, although the Pentagon did not address climate action in its latest National Defense Strategy. The Trump administration did include a $720 million request for a new heavy icebreaker in its Fiscal Year 2019 budget request, a vessel the Coast Guard called essential as warming temperatures open up new territory in the Arctic region. There is no official requirement for the White House to act on the intelligence community's warnings.

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NOTE: In 2009 I wrote a paper for the LWV Toolkit for Climate Action titled, Positive Feedback and Climate Runaway - the Need to Act Without Delay.  It describes a tipping point based on human-caused decomposition of methane hydrates -  causing an accelerating increase in carbon emissions

Interior Department to Loosen Rule for Capturing Methane Emissions on Federal Land

The Department of Interior (DOI) intends to replace a 2006 regulation for methane emissions produced by oil and gas extraction on federal lands. DOI is expected to revert back to regulations that were in place prior to the Obama administration. The announcement marks the fourth time the Trump administration has delayed, set aside, or replaced this rule, which was finalized in late 2016. The rule requires energy companies to capture methane released at drilling sites, often through burning it off or flaring. Methane is a primary component of natural gas, with an estimated $330 million worth of methane from operations on federal lands wasted each year. However, many energy companies regard regulations to control the waste emissions as "unnecessary and overly intrusive." A federal judge rejected the administration's attempt to wholly repeal the rule in 2017, citing a lack of a "reasoned explanation" for doing so. The current effort would replace, rather than eliminate the existing methane rule.

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White House Continues to Neglect Key Science and Technology Appointments

The Trump administration has yet to nominate an individual to serve as the president's chief science advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Instead, the role is currently occupied by OSTP's deputy assistant, Michael Krastios, who has no professional scientific background. One of the rumored nominees to take over the job is William Happer, an emeritus physics professor at Princeton University, who espouses "there is no problem from CO2." (emphasis added). Prior advisors caution that leaving the position vacant makes the country more vulnerable to crises that require a scientific leader to manage a rapid and informed response. In a letter, a group of Democratic senators urged the President to appoint a science advisor, writing, "Scientific and technical input would have contributed to decisions around climate change, the Iran nuclear deal, and North Korea's nuclear program - areas where key decisions have been made over the past nine months in absence of a science adviser."

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NOTE:  How can a physics professor at Princeton be so ignorant of basic climate science that he says, "there is no problem from CO2"? 

I recommend a booklet on the basic science of climate change for decision makers and educators, released jointly by. the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.K.’s Royal Society in 2014, titled, Climate Change : Evidence and Causes.

Alaskan Fishing Communities Explore Adding Climate Risk to Accounting Metrics

Climate change is becoming a real threat to the economy in Alaska's coastal fishing communities, as the state is warming twice as fast as the rest of the country. Dramatic changes in the marine ecosystem are affecting communities that rely almost entirely on their fishing industries, like the small town of Unalaska on the Bering Sea, which, along with other towns, is considering the addition of climate risks to their balance sheets. Even though the state's treasurer, Deven Mitchell, said that climate change is not a risk to the state's credit, some hold that having a credit rating for individual cities can help communities better understand their particular financial situation, especially when it comes to funding large infrastructure needs. Unalaska Mayor Frank Kelty noted that fishing is the region's only major industry, adding, "The trickle-down effect you get for jobs throughout the community is all driven by the health and well-being of the seafood industry."

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Satellite Data Shows Sea Levels Rising at Accelerated Rate

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the annual rate of global sea level rise is accelerating. The researchers used 25 years of satellite data to measure fluctuations in the oceans over time. They observed a total global sea level increase of 7 centimeters, which lined up with the generally accepted current rate of 3 millimeters per year. Lead author Steve Nerem of the University of Colorado-Boulder explained, "This acceleration, driven mainly by accelerated melting in Greenland and Antarctica, has the potential to double the total sea level rise by 2100 as compared to projections that assume a constant rate, to more than 60 centimeters." The study's findings also concur with the most recent climate models published by the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which projects sea level rise of 52-98 centimeters under a "business as usual" scenario. More than half of the current sea level rise was found to be the result of thermal expansion, with the rest resulting from melting glacial melting.

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Bat Populations Are Migrating Earlier and Staying Longer As Climate Warms

Each spring, millions of bats fly towards their breeding cave near San Antonio, Texas, with scientists tracking their movement by radar. Scientists recently reviewed this data and found that the bats are migrating two weeks earlier than they did just 20 years ago, with 3.5 percent of the population spending the winter in Texas as well. Researchers suspect this change in migration is due to altered food chains and weather patterns caused by climate change. Spring is seeing the highest temperature increases of all the seasons, which could disrupt the seasonal pest control cycle that the bats provide, causing crop damage and a heightened need for pesticides. In addition, increased temperatures mean bats may run out of a primary food source, the corn-earworm moth, potentially affecting their ability to reproduce. Overall, there is already not much for the bats to eat in the hot and dry climate of Texas, and global warming is intensifying that plight.

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Study: As Oceans Acidify, Cold-Water Coral Reefs May Face Severe Decline

Hard corals prefer specific seawater saturation levels of a calcium carbonate called aragonite. According to a new study in Nature, ocean acidification can alter these saturation levels, creating corrosive conditions that can dissolve coral skeletons over time and leave fewer habitable regions for them. The study found that up to 70 percent of the cold-water coral living below depths of 1,500 meters in the North Atlantic Ocean may be threatened by the impacts of ocean acidification by midcentury. The researchers investigated changes to a "global conveyor belt" known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, which is now transporting acidified seawater to the deep ocean. As a result, transport of aragonite to the deep oceans has dropped by 44 percent since the Industrial Revolution and may continue to drop until the flow is only a fraction of pre-industrial levels. Without cold-water reefs, some marine ecosystems may lack a place for fish to gather and breed in an otherwise barren landscape.

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Study: Decline in Krill Poses Threat to Antarctic Wildlife 
According to a new study in the journal Plos One, a combination of climate change and industrial-scale fishing is harming the krill population in the Antarctic, threatening the regional ecosystem. The tiny animals are at the base of the Antarctic food chain and serve as a key source of nutrition for whales, seals, and penguins. The krill themselves feed on marine algae and carbon-rich food, excreting this waste when they move to deeper, colder waters. Since the 1970s, krill populations have declined by 80 percent. The study also estimated that krill size could shrink by up to 40 percent in parts of the Scotia Sea, leading to a drop in predator populations. This drastic reduction has been partly attributed to global warming reducing the ice surfaces where the krill's food sources, algae and plankton, reside. Krill populations are facing additional pressures from a growing global demand for krill-based products and advances in fishing technologies that enable larger catches.

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Trump Budget Tries to Eliminate Energy Star Funding for Second Consecutive Year

The Trump administration is facing stiff resistance to its plan to halt federal funding for the EPA's Energy Star program. The President's budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 called for the elimination of the program's entire $42 million budget. Under the proposal, companies seeking an Energy Star certification for their products would be required to pay a fee to EPA. Implementing the proposal would require congressional action, followed by the EPA setting up the fee structure. The Energy Star program provides energy efficiency benchmarks for appliances, electronics, building materials, lighting, and other products and allows companies to label their products with the program's insignia if they meet certain performance criteria. The program maintains broad support with industry, consumers, and environmentalists. Advocates note that the program generates an estimated $30 billion in energy savings annually. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MI), ranking member on the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees EPA, said, "I've heard from builders, realtors, manufacturers, and retailers and they all support [Energy Star]."

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EPA Administrator's Effort to Hold "Debate" on Climate Science Hits Snag

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been publicly sharing his plans to convene a "red team-blue team" event to push back against established climate science since at least July 2017. However, the effort appears to have stalled for the time being. Advocates for conducting the exercise have questioned Pruitt's ability to lead the effort, while others have expressed concern about the potential political fallout for the administration if it fails to produce a desirable outcome for President Trump's anti-climate agenda. Most recently, the so-called "red team" was being pitched as an internal review of policy, but Pruitt has informed Congress that the original exercise is still expected to happen. Michael Mann, a Penn State University climatologist, said, "The impacts of climate change are now obvious to anyone with an even half-open mind, and I suspect that [the administration's] own polling tell them that their anti-science tropes no longer are playing well with the public."

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There is a video on You Tube whose first 16 minutes is called When the Earth Melts.  It describes the methane that is released when the permafrost melts, and shows a big flame of burning methane when a hole is made in an ice covered lake in the presence of a source of ignition.  Russia has the largest area of permafrost of any country in the far north.  Release of the methane as the earth warms as a result of burning fossil fuels could drive the global average temperature substantially higher, in what is called a positive feedback in the climate system.

On Oct. 10, 2016 ScienceDirect published an article by Uwe Brand and eight other authors titled. Methane Hydrate: Killer cause of Earth’s greatest mass extinction.  This is what they wrote in the Abstract:
“The cause for the end Permian mass extinction, the greatest challenge life on Earth faced in its geologic history, is still hotly debated by scientists. The most significant marker of this event is the negative δ13C shift and rebound recorded in marine carbonates with a duration ranging from 2000 to 19 000 years depending on localities and sedimentation rates. Leading causes for the event are Siberian trap volcanism and the emission of greenhouse gases with consequent global warming. Measurements of gases vaulted in calcite of end Permian brachiopods and whole rock document significant differences in normal atmospheric equilibrium concentration in gases between modern and end Permian seawaters. The gas composition of the end Permian brachiopod-inclusions reflects dramatically higher seawater carbon dioxide and methane contents leading up to the biotic event. Initial global warming of 8–11 °C sourced by isotopically light carbon dioxide from volcanic emissions triggered the release of isotopically lighter methane from permafrost and shelf sediment methane hydrates. Consequently, the huge quantities of methane emitted into the atmosphere and the oceans accelerated global warming and marked the negative δ13C spike observed in marine carbonates, documenting the onset of the mass extinction period. The rapidity of the methane hydrate emission lasting from several years to thousands of years was tempered by the equally rapid oxidation of the atmospheric and oceanic methane that gradually reduced its warming potential but not before global warming had reached levels lethal to most life on land and in the oceans. Based on measurements of gases trapped in biogenic and abiogenic calcite, the release of methane (of ∼3–14% of total C stored) from permafrost and shelf sediment methane hydrate is deemed the ultimate source and cause for the dramatic life-changing global warming (GMAT > 34 °C) and oceanic negative-carbon isotope excursion observed at the end Permian. Global warming triggered by the massive release of carbon dioxide may be catastrophic, but the release of methane from hydrate may be apocalyptic. The end Permian holds an important lesson for humanity regarding the issue it faces today with greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, and climate change.”

NOTE: GMAT > 34 °C means a global mean average temperature above 93 °F.  The End Permian Extinction that the authors refer to is the greatest extinction event in geologic history, about 252 million years ago, when up to 96% of marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species became extinct.  The “negative δ13C spike” referred to above, means a relative rapid decrease in the ratio of 13C/12C (the two non-radioactive isotopes of carbon), which paleontologists have taken to mean an addition to the atmosphere of massive amounts of methane released by the thermal decomposition of methane hydrates by global warming.  A similar but less extensive extinction event occurred about 55.5 million years ago, called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) also accompanied by a negative δ13C spike and a temperature increase of 5-8 °C.
The significance of this for us is that continued burning of fossil fuels may be able to initiate a runaway situation that we would not be able to stop.
More about the interaction of climate change and methane hydrate can be found here.
The total mass of methane in the methane hydrate on the continental shelves of the world is estimated to be between 1 and 5 x 1012 metric tons - about the same as the 3 x 1012 metric tons of CO2 in the atmosphere (in 2007)!  About 10 years ago I wrote a paper for the League of Women Voters titled, Positive Feedbacks and Climate Runaway - the Need to Act Without Delay.

Stephen Fesler posted and article in The Urbanist on Jan. 10 titled, $20 Per Ton: Governor Inslee Proposes Carbon Tax.  In it the author wrote that Gov. Inslee of Washington State, in his recent State of the State speech, said that he favored a tax on carbon emissions, starting at $20/ ton of CO2 and increasing by 3.5% plus inflation per year.

NOTE: An increasing price on carbon - through a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system - is one of the most effective ways to reduce CO2 emissions - the primary source of global warming.

On Jan. 9 Jeff Tollefson pasted and article in Nature titled, Climate scientists unlock secrets of ‘blue carbon’.  (The article is on an encrypted website.). Blue Carbon is the term used to describe the carbon stored in coastal wetlands, which is substantial.  The author writes, “Tidal wetlands come in many forms, but they could be more alike below the surface than anyone realized. Whether it’s a mangrove forest in Florida, a freshwater swamp in Virginia or a saltwater marsh in Oregon, the amount of carbon locked in a soil sample from each of these coastal ecosystems is roughly the same.”
A report that the EPA released in April last year, found that the United States’ 3.8 million hectares of coastal wetlands soak up 8.1 million tonnes of CO2 each year.

On Jan. 10 the NY Times published an article by Karen Weintraub titled, More Female Sea Turtles Born as Temperatures Rise.  She wrote,
“Male sea turtles are disappearing from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.  A new study of gender ratios found that 99 percent of immature green turtles born in the northern part of the reef are female. Among adult turtles, 87 percent are female, suggesting that there has been a shift in gender ratios over the last few decades.
A sea turtle’s sex is determined by its nesting environment. As sands warm, more females will hatch relative to males; if the sand temperature tops 84.7 degrees during incubation, only females will emerge.
The gender shift suggests that climate change is having a significant effect on one of the biggest green turtle populations in the world, said Michael Jensen, lead author of the new study, published in Current Biology.”
“The group conducted its research over 16 days in July 2014, plying small boats around the Howick Group of islands in the north Great Barrier Reef — “an absolutely magical place,” according to Dr. Jensen. They captured 411 foraging turtles, one at a time, drawing blood to measure gender hormones and taking skin samples for DNA. The genetic analysis allowed them to determine whether the turtle had been born in the northern or southern parts of the reef, which are separated by about 1,200 miles.’
“Turtles born in the cooler south were only biased 65 to 69 percent female, the study showed. Researchers still don’t know the ideal ratio, or how many males to females it takes to effectively sustain the population, Dr. Jensen said.
Without the new study, he said, scientists might not have recognized the gender skewing in the north for decades — perhaps missing the window to make a difference.
“The result is definitely alarming,” Dr. Jensen said. “But now we know and can focus our research on the right questions and start thinking about what can be done. So I’m hopeful as well.””

On Jan. 11 Bloomberg published an article by Christopher Flavelle titled, Disaster Mitigation Targeted by Trump Saves $6 for Every $1 Spent, Report Says.  The author wrote,
“The report, released Thursday by the National Institute of Building Sciences, found that every $1 the federal government spends on so-called mitigation projects, such as elevating homes at risk of flooding, improving stormwater management systems or strengthening buildings against earthquakes, reduces future costs by an average of $6.”
“Trump’s first budget request called for cutting many of the programs designed to protect Americans from the effects of climate change. He and some of his cabinet members have questioned the science of global warming, rolling back many of the programs and regulations established by President Barack Obama to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
“Yet 2017 went on to become the most expensive year on record for natural disasters, with $306 billion in damage (emphasis added) and 362 deaths in the U.S. led by hurricanes in the southeast and wildfires in the west. The results have drawn scrutiny to whether the government does enough to prepare for those disasters, especially as much of Puerto Rico remains without electricity. And they have focused new attention on the costs of those disasters to federal taxpayers, not least from Republicans in Congress, and how to reduce those costs.”
On January 11 106 bipartisan members of he U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to President Trump on the importance of climate change to our national security.  Here is part of what they wrote:

“As Members of the House of Representatives with a deep interest in the many dimensions of our national security, we write to express our concern about your National Security Strategy, which fails to recognize climate change as a threat to the United States..
We have heard from scientists, military leaders and civilian personnel who believe that climate change is a direct threat to America’s national security and to the to the stability of the world at large.  As global temperatures become more volatile, sea levels rise, and landscapes change, our military installations and our communities are increasingly at risk of devastation.  It is imperative that the United States addresses this growing geopolitical threat.”

 On Jan. 16 Sarah Parsons of the World Resources Institute wrote an article titled, 
Bad Air to Better Oceans: 6 Environment and Development Stories to Watch in 2018.  I’ll give the detail for just two.  Click on the link above to see the others.

Bad Air Days
The Future of Oil
Progress on International Climate Action
Negative Emissions

Water and Conflict
Most people point to sociopolitical dynamics and economics as the reasons behind humanitarian crises, but water stress is often another underlying and underreported trigger. Drought preceded Syria’s civil war. The drying up of Lake Chad led to the displacement of more than 2 million people. Without interventions, the situation is poised to worsen: Projections show that 33 countries will face extremely high water stress by 2040.
At the same time, the world is making major progress in monitoring the world’s water. Can early warnings prevent future conflict?
The UN Security Council may take up a climate resolution later this year, which would formally recognize water scarcity’s role in conflict prevention. Emerging platforms like the Aqueduct mapping tool can provide data to support better resource management: It evaluates current and future water stress, and will soon analyze water availability’s potential impact on staple crops in every region of the world.

Ocean Rising
Half the world’s corals have been lost to bleaching; nearly 60 percent of fisheries have been fished to capacity; and experts predict the oceans will hold more plastic than fish by 2050. “This is a tragedy of the commons writ large,” Steer said.
Oceans are rising — literally, in terms of sea levels — and also  on political agendas. Will it be enough to save the seas?
Forty countries have already banned or restricted the use of plastic bags that often end up in the water. Last year, the UN appointed a Special Envoy for Oceans, while countries made 1,400 commitments to ocean protection at the UN Ocean Conference.
This year, Canada has promised to put oceans on the agenda for the upcoming G7 meeting. We will see new initiatives introduced to improve ocean management at theWorld Economic Forum later this month. And negotiations may begin for a UN Treaty on the High Seas. Research shows that world needs to bring 30 percent of the world’s oceans under protection in order to achieve sustainability. Political and business leaders would do well to pay attention—key ocean assets are worth a whopping $24 trillion.”

On Jan. 17 Bloomberg News posted an article by Gerald Silverman titled, Northeast States Tap the Gas Pump for Carbon Emissions Cuts
The seven states that are part of the Transportation and Climate Initiative - Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont—and the District of Columbia are seriously considering pricing carbon emissions through a cap-and-trade system like that used in RGGI (the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) for power plant emissions and to which the seven states already belong.  RGGI has decreased emissions from the electric sector by over 40% since 2009, so that transportation now makes a larger contribution than electricity generation in several RGGI states. The author wrote,
“The policy framework for the program was laid out in a report from the Transportation and Climate Initiative, which outlines the key options and the benefits and drawbacks from different approaches. The report didn’t make a specific recommendation but favored a cap-and-trade program that covers a minimum of gasoline and on-road diesel fuels.”

The following items are from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), Carol Werner, Executive Director. Past issues of its newsletter are posted on its website under "publications"
 at http://www.eesi.org/publications/Newsletters/CCNews/ccnews.htm 
EESI’s newsletter is intended for all interested parties, particularly the policymaker community. 

Negotiations between Senate staff, consumer advocates, mortgage companies, and clean energy supporters have yielded a compromise on the Property Assessed Clean Energy program (PACE). The compromise, devised by the Senate Banking Committee to address fraud concerns, would grant the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau the authority to regulate PACE and establish lending and repayment standards. The program has assisted more than 180,000 homeowners in financing solar panels and energy efficient appliances through their local tax bills. PACE is not a federal program, but is instead administered at the local level and often facilitated by state legislation. The PACE model was originally used for financing the replacement of infrastructure before being adapted as a tax assessment for individual energy projects. Repayment of the tax assessment is the responsibility of the homeowner, comes at no cost to other taxpayers, and can be passed on to a new owner if a property is sold. Energy savings resulting from the upgrades are often enough to cover the cost of borrowing for property owners.

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EPA Is Shedding Scientists and Other Employees, with Replacements Unlikely
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has seen its workforce decline by more than 700 people since the start of the Trump administration. More than 200 of these departed employees were scientists, with another 96 categorized as "environmental protection specialists," a broad job set that can deal with the analysis and investigation of pollution levels. Dozens of attorneys and program managers, as well as nine department directors have also left. The employees have quit, retired, or been bought out and most are not being replaced. The Trump administration has publicly declared its desire to reduce the agency's workforce by 20 percent (3,200 jobs). Republican-led budget cuts caused EPA to shrink to about 15,000 employees during the Obama administration. EPA offices that deal with science and research have been hit particularly hard, causing observers to worry that EPA's capabilities in these fields will be diminished over the long-term and hinder its ability to safeguard public health.

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Natural Disasters Took a Historic Toll on U.S. Communities in 2017
A steady stream of hurricanes, wildfires, heat waves, tidal flooding, and extreme rainfall have put 2017 on track to be the costliest year in American history in terms of natural disasters. Property damage to residences, transportation infrastructure, and the electrical grid has stressed government programs, insurance agencies, and individuals. Hurricane Maria alone is estimated to have caused $40 billion in lost economic output and $55 billion in property damage. The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico was among the locales hardest hit by the storm, with the government still struggling to restore basic utility services. California's wildfires have caused $9.4 billion in damages so far this year, even with the damage from ongoing wildfires in the southern portion of the state not yet accounted for. There were at least 15 extreme weather events costing at least a billion dollars each in 2017, with the cumulative damages eliminating 0.2-0.3 percent of U.S. wealth. Another consequence is the long-term shuttering of local businesses and the evacuation of residents, placing a community's jobs and growth on hold.

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Study: Europe Could See Significant Increase in Asylum Seekers Due to Climate Change
According to a new study in the journal Science, Europe could see a significant increase in asylum seekers due to climate change by 2100. Under current climate change scenarios, the continent would have three times as many migrants applying for asylum versus today's levels, independent of other political and economic factors. Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, said, "Hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of people will be exposed to coastal sea level rise and shifts in extreme weather that will cause mass migrations away from the most vulnerable locations. We know from human history that such migrations often lead to conflict and war." Ward added that models examining the economic impacts of climate change often neglect to account for migration-related conflicts. Europe could be a particularly attractive destination for asylum seekers..
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On Nov. 12 talks by Dr. James Hansen and Daniel Galpern - given at the world climate conference in Bonn, Germany - were published on YouTube in a 28-minute video titled, Making the Carbon Majors Pay for Climate Action.  Dr. Hansen, formerly a scientist at NASA and a professor at Columbia University, has been a whistle-blower for decades on the threat posed by climate change and the need for climate action; Mr. Galpern is an environmental lawyer who acts as Hansen’s legal advisor.

NOTE: This video is a must-see for anyone interested in the climate change threat and what is being done about it in the courts.  I strongly recommend it.  On the link in the paragraph above one can find links to nearly 20 useful videos featuring Hansen and otherl

On Nov. 14 USA TODY published an article by Doyle Rice titled, Global warming makes 'biblical' rain like that from Hurricane Harvey much more likely.  He wrote, “The odds of a storm dumping Harvey-like rain on Texas have gone up sixfold in the past 25 years, thanks to man-made climate change, a study said.  And looking ahead, the chances probably will triple that by 2100.
In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a 1% chance of a 20-inch rainfall somewhere in Texas in a given year. Now it’s up to 6%, and by the end of the century, it’ll hit 18%,  said meteorologist Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who led the study. 
"That's a huge increase in the probability of that event," and the change is the result of global warming, he said. The study appeared in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”
Harvey dumped a U.S. storm record of 5 feet of rain across southeastern Texas in late August, leading to catastrophic flooding and the nation's worst natural disaster since Katrina in 2005. Harvey killed at least 70 people and likely caused at least $100 billion in damage. 
"Harvey’s rainfall in Houston was ‘biblical’ in the sense that it likely occurred around once since the Old Testament was written,” the study said.”

On Nov. 14, YaleEnvironment360 published an article by Christian Schwagerl titled, In Drive to Cut Emissions, Germany Confronts Its Car Culture.  He wrote, “Despite its green image, Germany is being held back by its national love of the gasoline-powered car. To truly transition to renewable energy, experts say, Germans must start moving beyond private autos and embrace new digitally-run systems of shared mobility.”
“Germans like to think of themselves as the most environmentally friendly people on earth. They see their sophisticated recycling programs, their love of forests, and, most recently, the country’s drive to replace both nuclear and coal-fired power production with renewable sources — the so-called Energiewende, or “energy turn” (“energy transition” is a better translation; comment added) — as evidence of their strong environmental consciousness, especially compared to top polluters like the United States and China.”
The author goes on to say that Germany, in spite of its desire to be an environmental leader, has had a century’s love affair with fast, gas-guzzling cars - like those made by BMW and Mercedes-Benz, making it difficult to meet the country’s CO2 emissions-reduction targets.  He writes, “Germany has made major strides in deploying wind and solar power to generate electricity. But plastering the landscape with wind turbines is an easy task compared to changing the way Germans move between places. The greening of Germany’s transportation sector will be a decades-long project. One obvious solution is the electrification of the nation’s vehicle fleet. But that will lead to significantly reduced emissions only when the country’s electricity is generated by renewable sources, whereas today more than half of the country’s electricity comes from burning coal and natural gas.”
“Increasingly, German transportation experts, entrepreneurs, and environmentalists say the solution to greening the nation’s transportation sector needs to go beyond replacing gasoline-powered automobiles with electric ones. These advocates are calling for deeper changes, envisioning a future with a greatly diminished role for individually owned cars and the adoption of what is called “cooperative” or “coordinated” mobility. This would mean creating a new transport system that connects bicycles, buses, trains, and shared cars, all controlled by digital platforms that allow users to move from A to B in the fastest and cheapest way — but without their own car.”
The author pointed out that the typical privately-owned car is on the road for only about one hour per day, and sits idle for 23; during the rush hour there are so many cars on the road that traffic moves at a crawl.  This could be avoided if more travel were on public transportation and bicycles, and a much smaller number of cars could be used if they could communicate with each other and be shared.

NOTE: This is the kind of out-of-the-box thinking we need in an increasingly crowded and industrialized world - especially since in both Germany and the U.S. the transportation sector produces nearly as much CO2 as electricity generation.  Moving toward all-electric vehicle fleets with better batteries, and with the electricity to charge them generated from renewable energy sources, will also be a large step in the right direction.

On Nov. 30, 2017 Yale Climate Connections posted the names and Abstracts of a number of books published since 2008 under the heading, Climate Change and International Conflict.  Some of the titles are:

Here is the Abstract for Climate Wars: In this major book Harald Welzer shows how climate change and violence go hand in hand. Climate change has far-reaching consequences for the living conditions of peoples around the world: inhabitable spaces shrink, scarce resources become scarcer, injustices grow deeper, not only between North and South but also between generations, storing up material for new social tensions and giving rise to violent conflicts, civil wars and massive refugee flows. Climate change poses major new challenges in terms of security, responsibility and justice, but as Welzer makes disturbingly clear, very little is being done to confront them. (emphasis added) (The paperback edition includes a new preface that addresses the most recent developments and trends.)

On Dec. 12 an article was published by Doyle Rice in USA Today titled, The Arctic is warming faster than it has in 1,500 years.  He wrote, “The Arctic is running a fever.  The magnitude and pace of the recent Arctic sea-ice decline and ocean warming is "unprecedented" in at least the past 1,500 years and likely much longer, according to a federal report released Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The polar region shows no sign of returning to its reliably frozen state of recent decades, and its permafrost is thawing faster than ever before, the report warned.”
““The Arctic is going through its most unprecedented transition in human history, and we need better observations to understand and predict how these changes will affect everyone, not just the people of the north,” said Jeremy Mathis, head of NOAA's Arctic Research Program. "The Arctic has traditionally been the refrigerator to the planet, but the door of the refrigerator has been left open."”

NOTE: The acceleration of the loss of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean and permafrost in the land is partly because humans keep adding more CO2 to the atmosphere every year by burning carbon-containing fuels, and partly because of positive feedbacks: The loss of ice causes more heating and an increasing rate of loss of additional ice.  The loss of sea ice reduces the reflection of sunlight as bright white ice is replaced by deep blue sea and the water warms faster; the melting of permafrost releases methane and CO2 as the organic material in the soil decays - like the food in your freezer if you leave the door open.

On Dec, 12 The Sydney Morning Herald published an article by Nicole Hasham titled, World's biggest 100 polluting companies put on notice by investors to tackle climate change.
She wrote, “Shareholders have turned up the heat on the world's 100 biggest polluting companies including Australian firms BHP Billiton, Wesfarmers and Rio Tinto, in the first coordinated global effort by investors to force corporate action on climate change.  The Climate Action 100+ initiative … will target 100 global companies responsible for an estimated 15 per cent of global emissions.
It marks a significant escalation of investor pressure on corporations to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, improve climate-related financial disclosures and increase governance on climate change.
More than 200 of the world's biggest investors, responsible for $26 trillion in assets, have signed up to the initiative.”
“Shareholder action on climate change has been gathering pace, given new momentum by the Paris climate accord. A strong response from the international corporate sector is needed if the goal of limiting the global rise in average temperatures to no more than two degrees is to be met.”
On Dec. 15 an article was published in Mashable by Andrew Freedman titled, We may be in for far higher amounts of sea level rise than ever thought before.  He wrote, “The amount of sea level rise that many of us will experience in our lifetimes may be more than double what was previously anticipated, unless we sharply curtail greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new study that factors in emerging, unsettling research on the tenuous stability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. 
Importantly, the study highlights that cuts we could still make to greenhouse gas emissions during the next several years would significantly reduce the possibility of a sea level rise calamity after 2050.”
The study referred to was published on Dec. 14 in Earth’s Future - An Open Access AGU Journal.  The AGU is the American Geophysical Union.  The authors are Robert E. Kopp (Rutgers), Robert DeConto (Univ. of Mass.), Danial Bader (Columbia), Caring Hay (Boston College), Bradley Horton (Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory), Scott Kulp (Princeton), Michael Oppheimer (Princeton), David Pollard (Penn State) and Benjamin Strauss (Climate Central).  The title of their study is Evolving Understanding of Antarctic Ice-Sheet Physics and Ambiguity in Probabilistic Sea-Level Projections.  The authors looked at the effects of ice shelf fracturing as a result of water accumulation on the top of the ice and ice-cliff collapse for a number of different scenarios of future carbon dioxide emissions.  Thy found that without protective measures, the global mean sea level rise by 2100 for a low emissions scenario could be 0.3 to 1.0 m (meter) while for the high emission scenario it could be 0.9 to 2.4 m, submerging land currently home to 153 million people.  By 2300 the difference in sea level rise could give a difference for the two scenarios of more than 10 m (33 feet), with the higher one inundating land now occupied by 950 million (nearly a billion) people.  Thus significantly reducing CO2 emissions soon can provide a tremendous positive benefit for future generations.

The following items are from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), Carol Werner, Executive Director. Past issues of its newsletter are posted on its website under "publications"
 at http://www.eesi.org/publications/Newsletters/CCNews/ccnews.htm 
EESI’s newsletter is intended for all interested parties, particularly the policymaker community. 

House Bill Would Require Exploration of Geoengineering Oversight and Risk

Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-CA) has introduced a bill directing the National Academies of Science (NAS) to investigate geoengineering technologies. The Geoengineering Research Evaluation Act (HR 4586) would lead to two reports on a potential research agenda, oversight issues, and an assessment of the risks involved with geoengineering methods. Rep. McNerney explained, "It's very important that we understand what our tools are. What options do we have? How much risk is there?" There are currently few options available as scientists investigate these questions. One concern is that certain methods could result in one part of the globe benefitting and another suffering unintended consequences. A country taking up geoengineering alone presents another issue, as the rest of the region may not approve of the risk. Anna-Maria Hubert, principal investigator at the Geoengineering Research Governance Project, said, "The current framework for ensuring accountability under international law is pretty thin on what it substantively requires. Whether it could even be enforced is a separate question."

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Government Audit Finds Many Military Facilities Are Behind in Planning for Climate Impacts

On December 13, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report stating that the Department of Defense (DOD) is not adequately tracking the costs incurred from the effects of extreme weather events on military installations. The report stated that "the military services lack the information they need to adapt infrastructure at overseas installations to weather effects associated with climate change and develop accurate budget estimates for infrastructure sustainment." The report's authors found that only a third of the 45 military facilities they toured had integrated climate adaptation into their overall planning. GAO recommended that DOD make it mandatory for all military facilities to track climate and extreme weather costs; incorporate adaptation measures in installation-level plans; and conduct a climate vulnerability survey at relevant sites. A DOD response claimed GAO had relied upon outdated policies and that the next iteration of the department's National Defense Strategy will address some of the issues raised.

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Report: Lack of Enforcement Significantly Undermines Effectiveness of Flood Insurance Program

An investigation by Reuters has documented widespread violations of National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) rules governing where homes may be built or rented. Local, state, and federal officials have fallen short in enforcing regulations meant to limit the construction of new buildings in high-risk flood zones. From 2000-2015, new construction projects in flood-prone areas across the country led to more than $9 billion in claims for structural damage under the NFIP. The regulation of new construction, the maintenance of accurate flood plain maps, and the performance of community-level enforcement audits are some of the critical tools cited by federal officials. However, the audits have become infrequent for many communities and FEMA has been largely ineffective in mandating fixes to major violations. An analysis of results from 6,253 floodplain-management enforcement audits from 2009-2016 found evidence of significant issues in 13 percent of those cases. During that span, no federal or state auditor visited the highest-risk communities in 13 states.

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Report: Lack of Enforcement Significantly Undermines Effectiveness of Flood Insurance Program

An investigation by Reuters has documented widespread violations of National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) rules governing where homes may be built or rented. Local, state, and federal officials have fallen short in enforcing regulations meant to limit the construction of new buildings in high-risk flood zones. From 2000-2015, new construction projects in flood-prone areas across the country led to more than $9 billion in claims for structural damage under the NFIP. The regulation of new construction, the maintenance of accurate flood plain maps, and the performance of community-level enforcement audits are some of the critical tools cited by federal officials. However, the audits have become infrequent for many communities and FEMA has been largely ineffective in mandating fixes to major violations. An analysis of results from 6,253 floodplain-management enforcement audits from 2009-2016 found evidence of significant issues in 13 percent of those cases. During that span, no federal or state auditor visited the highest-risk communities in 13 states.

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World Bank to Cease Financing of Oil and Gas Exploration Projects

During the One Planet Summit in Paris, France, the World Bank announced it will cut off its financial support for oil and gas exploration after 2019. The Bank currently spends about $1 billion annually on upstream oil and gas development in developing nations. The financial institution is on track to spend 28 percent of its lending on climate change projects by 2020, but 1-2 percent of its $280 billion portfolio is still dedicated to oil and gas. An exception to the ban would be projects in the poorest countries where energy access is lacking, so long as it does not conflict with a country's Paris Agreement obligations. The Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, which promotes the disclosure of climate risks by companies and banks, also announced its progress at the summit. The Task Force's ranks include 20 globally significant banks and eight of the largest asset managers and insurance companies in the world. The participants have pledged to use their financial reports to highlight direct and indirect climate change risks.

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On Nov. 10 Flannery Winchester of the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) published an article titled, Climate Solutions Caucus members introduced a carbon pricing bill in Congress.  The bill, sponsored by Democrats in the Caucus,  would put an increasing national price on CO2 emissions, starting at $49 per ton and increasing at 2% per year plus inflation.  Under the bill the money raised would be used for several purposes, including: repairing or replacing crumbling infrastructure, helping workers and communities heavily dependent on fossil fuels make the transition to renewable energy sources and jobs, and helping low-income families with their energy bills.  More on the America Wins Act on be found on the CCL Communities page on legislation of interest
One significant difference between this scheme and that from CCL is that the latter proposes that all of the money raised (minus administrative costs) be used for a monthly dividend to all citizens, with none going for other purposes.
While the bill is unlikely to become law without significant bipartisan support and without a veto by Trump, it is encouraging for the future.

The Sierra Club recently announced that there are 10 cities across the U.S. that in 2017 committed themselves to transition to 100% renewable energy. They are some of the more than 160 mayors who have committed themselves so far.  You can get the new report for 2017, along with a 1-minute video from the website above.

Climate Access has announced a webinar on Nov. 21 at 1:00 to 2:00 PM with speakers from Pueblo, Colorado and Atlanta, Georgia - cities that have pledged themselves to 100% renewable energy.  If you would like to attend,, please register at the website.

Alexander Kaufman in the Huffington Post of Nov.13 posted an article titled, Fossil Fuel Emissions Set To Hit All-Time High In 2017 As Coal Burning Increases.  He wrote, 
“Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are surging again after staying flat for three years, climate scientists reported on Monday, a sign that efforts to rein in planet-warming gases still have a long way to go.
Emissions from fossil fuels and industrial uses are projected to grow 2 percent this year, reaching 41 billion tons by the end of 2017, according to the report presented at the United Nations’ climate summit in Bonn, Germany. The increase was predicted to continue in 2018.
Total greenhouse gas emissions remained level, at about 36 billion tons per year from 2014 to 2016, even as the global economy grew, which suggested carbon dioxide emissions had crested with the rise of renewable electricity sources and improved fuel efficiency standards. But emissions from fossil fuels will hit 37 billion tons this year, a report from the Global Carbon Project finds. The report draws from three papers in the journals Nature Climate Change, Environmental Research Letters and Earth System Science Data Discussions.
This is very disappointing,” Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, said in a statement. “We need to reach a peak in global emissions in the next few years and drive emissions down rapidly afterwards to address climate change and limit its impacts.”The uptick comes as climate change is becoming more tangible. Vicious hurricanes ravaged the Atlantic this summer, killing hundreds and leaving billions of dollars of destruction in places such as the Barbuda, Puerto Rico and Houston. In August, flooding and mudslides killed thousands in disasters from the South Asian nations of India, Nepal and Bangladesh to Sierra Leone in West Africa. The grueling six-year civil war in Syria, which began shortly after its worst drought in 900 years, is now considered the world’s first major “climate war.”

On Nov. 13 William J. Ripple published a paper in BioScience titled, World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice.  They wrote,
“Twenty-five years ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists and more than 1700 independent scientists, including the majority of living Nobel laureates in the sciences, penned the 1992 “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” (see supplemental file S1). These concerned professionals called on humankind to curtail environmental destruction and cautioned that “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.” In their manifesto, they showed that humans were on a collision course with the natural world. They expressed concern about current, impending, or potential damage on planet Earth involving ozone depletion, freshwater availability, marine life depletion, ocean dead zones, forest loss, biodiversity destruction, climate change, and continued human population growth. They proclaimed that fundamental changes were urgently needed to avoid the consequences our present course would bring.
The authors of the 1992 declaration feared that humanity was pushing Earth's ecosystems beyond their capacities to support the web of life. They described how we are fast approaching many of the limits of what the ­biosphere can tolerate ­without ­substantial and irreversible harm. The scientists pleaded that we stabilize the human population, describing how our large numbers—swelled by another 2 billion people since 1992, a 35 percent increase—exert stresses on Earth that can overwhelm other efforts to realize a sustainable future (Crist et al. 2017). They implored that we cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and phase out fossil fuels, reduce deforestation, and reverse the trend of collapsing biodiversity.
On the twenty-fifth anniversary of their call, we look back at their warning and evaluate the human response by exploring available time-series data. Since 1992, with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse (figure 1, file S1). Especially troubling is the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change due to rising GHGs from burning fossil fuels (Hansen et al. 2013), deforestation (Keenan et al. 2015), and agricultural production—particularly from farming ruminants for meat consumption (Ripple et al. 2014). Moreover, we have unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century.”
“They ended with the following Epilogue:
“We have been overwhelmed with the support for our article and thank the more than 15,000 signatories from all ends of the Earth (see supplemental file S2 for list of signatories). As far as we know, this is the most scientists to ever co-sign and formally support a published journal article. In this paper, we have captured the environmental trends over the last 25 years, showed realistic concern, and suggested a few examples of possible remedies. Now, as an Alliance of World Scientists ­scientists.forestry.oregonstate.edu) and with the public at large, it is important to continue this work to document challenges, as well as improved situations, and to develop clear, trackable, and practical solutions while communicating trends and needs to world leaders. Working together while respecting the diversity of people and opinions and the need for social justice around the world, we can make great progress for the sake of humanity and the planet on which we depend.”

The following items are from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), Carol Werner, Executive Director. Past issues of its newsletter are posted on its website under "publications"
 at http://www.eesi.org/publications/Newsletters/CCNews/ccnews.htm 
EESI’s newsletter is intended for all interested parties, particularly the policymaker community. 

On November 3, the U.S. government issued the fourth edition of its authoritative report on climate science, the National Climate Assessment (NCA4). The publication represents the first of two volumes to be issued for the NCA4. The second volume of the NCA4, as well as the State of the Carbon Cycle Report, are currently going through a public review period. The NCA4 was authored by scientists from across the federal government and academia, including NOAA, NASA, and the Department of Energy, and drew from more than 1,500 scientific studies. The report found that it is "extremely likely" that human activities are the "dominant cause" of global warming, and that greenhouse gas emissions from industry and agriculture are the largest contributors. The report stated that the past 115 years have been the warmest in modern history, with global average temperatures increasing by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit during that time. Without emission mitigation efforts, this mark could soar to 9 degrees F relative to the pre-industrial baseline. The NCA4 also noted that sea levels have risen 3 inches since 1993, a rate faster than during any century over the past 2,800 years. The NCA4's findings directly contradict the positions of many high-ranking Trump administration officials.

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Alaska Governor Issues Administrative Order on Climate Change

On October 31, Alaska Governor Bill Walker signed an administrative order establishing an Alaska Climate Change Strategy and a leadership team for addressing climate change in the state. The leadership team is responsible for developing a plan of action by September 1, 2018. The team will be headed by Lt. Gov. Byron Mallot and will include 15 "diverse stakeholders" from the public. In announcing the administrative order, Gov. Walker expressed hope that Alaska will transition toward renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydro. Walker emphasized the need for community and economic resilience, while "mitigating environmental harm." The order comes days after 16 Alaskan youth joined to sue the state for failing to act on climate change. The group claimed that the state is violating their constitutional rights by valuing their long-term safety and well-being less than fossil fuel production. The plaintiffs in the case were unimpressed by Walker's administrative order, which doesn't include any actionable rules for limiting fossil fuels.

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New Zealand Considering Creation of Special Visa Designation for Climate Change Refugees

New Zealand's newly elected Labour-led governing coalition is actively exploring the creation of a visa category for people displaced by climate change. The proposal for the special visa was part of the Green party's campaign platform, which promised to issue 100 such visas and increase the country's overall refugee quota. Recently, two families were rejected by New Zealand immigration authorities after trying to seek asylum from climate impacts on the island of Tuvalu. Despite Tuvalu's lack of clean water and rising sea levels, a tribunal ruled the family was not being persecuted, making them ineligible for refugee status under the 1951 international convention. A 2014 case saw a resident of the Pacific island of Kiribati apply to become the world's first climate refugee, but the case was dismissed by New Zealand's supreme court. Professor Alberto Costi of Victoria University noted, "The conditions are pretty strict. These people who arrive here hoping to seek asylum on environmental grounds are bound to be sent back to their home countries."

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NOTE: It. looks like we have a ways to go before nations realize that there can be such a thing as a climate refugee.  I’m sure that if we stick to a “business as usual” path, the number of refugees will be staggering.

Report: Climate Change Poses Major Threat to Public Health Worldwide

A new report published in the Lancet has found that hundreds of millions of people around the world are experiencing detrimental health impacts from climate change. The report draws its findings from research conducted at 26 different institutions, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Meteorological Organization. Heatwaves, air pollution from burning fossil fuels, crop losses due to extreme weather, and the increasing prevalence of deadly diseases are among the threats documented. Temperature increases have placed the greatest number of people at risk. Outdoor laborers and the elderly are two groups that are particularly vulnerable to the surge in heat and humidity. Research also showed that warmer temperatures have facilitated the spread of dengue fever, since mosquitoes that carry the disease are able to breed more quickly. Professor Anthony Costello of WHO said, "The outlook is challenging, but we still have an opportunity to turn a looming medical emergency into the most significant advance for public health this century."

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NOTE: Another health effect we can expect is the spread of the Zika virus, carried by  mosquitos, farther north.

Cost of Combating U.S. Forest Fires Continues to Escalate

The U.S. federal government spent $2.7 billion combating national forest fires in fiscal year 2017, surpassing the overall record of $2.1 billion set two years prior. Hotter and drier weather in already fire-prone areas has increased the frequency of fires while extending the wildfire season. Federal, state, and local agencies share the fiscal responsibility for combatting wildfires. The U.S. Forest Service exceeded their firefighting budget by $500 million in 2017, which was 25 percent more than the allocated funds. CalFire, California's firefighting agency, had a more robust budget of $1 billion, plus $469 million in emergency funding for significant fires. However, in three months alone California has used half of its emergency funding. Agencies have considered expanding these budgets, but do not want to cut programs like forest management, which help prevent fires. Two bills to re-label forest fires as natural disasters have been introduced by the U.S. Congress. If passed, some efforts to combat major wildfires could be eligible for financial assistance from the Disaster Relief Fund.

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Hazardous Waste from California Wildfires Causes Public Health Emergency

In the wake of recent wildfires, at least three Northern California counties declared public emergencies over the health risks of toxic ash and debris. The fires burned more than 5,700 structures, most of them homes, each containing a potentially dangerous mix of household chemicals. Risks include pesticides, paint, plastics, propane, gasoline, treated wood, and even melted electronics, which can release harmful metals such as lead. As the wildfires are brought under control, the next challenge for Californians will be cleaning up the waste left behind. Dr. Alan Lockwood, a retired neurologist, called the situation in California "unprecedented" and a "major hazard for the public." Ash and debris, if not swiftly removed, can adversely affect community health and the local ecosystem. Following a 2011 fire in Alberta that destroyed 400 homes, the local landfill was found to be leaching toxins after receiving the fire debris. At the moment, it's unclear who will take the lead on clean-up efforts - the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state and local governments, or the impacted homeowners. Many residents fear a prolonged clean-up period will delay rebuilding for years.

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Phoenix Tries to Adapt to Searing Heat

Phoenix, AZ suffered 150 heat-related deaths in 2016, the most since agencies began keeping track. Climate change is expected to make conditions even worse in the future, with average temperatures projected to climb for the Phoenix metropolitan area. Scientists anticipate Phoenix's current record high of 122 degrees Fahrenheit may become the new average yearly high before the end of the century. Today, Phoenix's "hot season," featuring temperatures exceeding 100 degrees F, starts an average of three weeks earlier and lasts two to three weeks longer than it did 100 years ago. Heat-related fatalities are often overlooked since they occur over a prolonged period and tend to make existing health conditions worse, masking some of the blame. Many urban heat wave victims live in poorer neighborhoods that lack cooling greenspaces and the money to either own or operate an air-conditioner. Studies show that neighborhoods with minimal tree cover can experience average temperatures eight degrees warmer during the summer versus areas with more..
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The Guardian on July 10 published and article by Tess Riley titled, Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says.  She wrote, 
“Just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, according to a new report.
The Carbon Majors Report (pdf) “pinpoints how a relatively small set of fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions,” says Pedro Faria, technical director at environmental non-profit CDP, which published the report in collaboration with the Climate Accountability Institute.”
“The report found that more than half of global industrial emissions since 1988 – the year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established – can be traced to just 25 corporate and state-owned entities. The scale of historical emissions associated with these fossil fuel producers is large enough to have contributed significantly to climate change, according to the report.
ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron are identified as among the highest emitting investor-owned companies since 1988. If fossil fuels continue to be extracted at the same rate over the next 28 years as they were between 1988 and 2017, says the report, global average temperatures would be on course to rise by 4C by the end of the century. This is likely to have catastrophic consequences including substantial species extinction and global food scarcity risks.”

On Aug. 4 The Guardian published an article by Nicola Davis titled, Extreme weather deaths in Europe ‘could increase 50-fold by next century’.  She wrote, “Deaths from weather disasters could increase 50-fold in Europe by the start of the next century if no action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or protect citizens, researchers have warned.
A new study estimates a toll of 152,000 deaths a year between 2071 and 2100 as a direct result of hazards relating to extreme weather, with those living in southern Europe likely to be the hardest hit.”
Actions to protect citizens included adaptation as well as mitigation (reducing GHG emissions).  It turns that high temperatures and humidity are expected to be the cause of 99% of the increase in deaths.

NOTE: The record European heatwave in August 2003 was responsible for at least 35,000 deaths - mostly in France.

On Aug. 4 an article was published in Scientific American by Nina Heikkinen titled, Obama Emissions Rules Could Yield $300 Billion Annually by 2030.  She reported,
”The benefits of Obama-era rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions would greatly exceed the costs in the coming years, according to a new analysis.
Regulations designed to control emissions from power plants, oil production and motor vehicles could together lead to close to $300 billion in net benefits per year by 2030, according to the report by Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.
The paper comes as President Trump has sought to roll back any regulations his team says could hinder domestic energy development and is part of a broader shift in focus away from action on climate change throughout the administration.
While the Trump administration has taken other actions to depart from the Obama administration’s climate change priorities—like pulling out of the Paris Agreement—the analysis cites the elimination of these rules as having the greatest impact on the nation’s ability to address climate change.”
“The $370 billion in gross benefits includes the positive impacts of reducing 980 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030, along with the health benefits of also reducing other pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides.
These benefits would be four times greater than the projected $84 billion in total costs of implementing major regulations crafted under the Obama administration, said researchers in a paper published on the center’s website yesterday.”

On Aug. 9 the Environmental and Energy Study Institute  (EESI) released a report written by Andrew Wollenberg and titled, Fact Sheet: Plug-In Electric Vehicles (2017).  It covers all-electric (or battery-electric) vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), which are powered by a combination of battery-electricity and liquid fuels that can be used when the battery is depleted.  In order to compare the efficiency of these cars with regular gasoline powered cars the EPA has developed what they all the miles per gallon equivlent (MPGe).  It equates 33.7 kWh of electrical energy with the energy produced by one gallon of gasoline.  Wollenberg wrote,
“It is important to note that while plug-in vehicles produce no tailpipe emissions, generating the electricity plug-in vehicles use may produce pollution, depending on the energy source used. Nevertheless, even though about two-thirds of U.S. electricity is generated by carbon-emitting natural gas and coal, the electricity required to power BEVs produces less than half the carbon dioxide of a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. And, BEVs do not emit the harmful particles released by gasoline-powered engines, which means battery electric vehicles have the potential to save billions of dollars in health and climate costs. Indeed, a study performed by the American Lung Association of California found that gasoline vehicles are responsible for $37 billion in health and climate costs each year.“
He also gives the Make/Model, Type, Price, Electric Range (miles) and MPGe (city/highway) for seven BEVs and PHEVs currently marketed in the U.S.  It turns out that at the current price of about $2.32 per gallon of gasoline, it casts about half as much to power a car with electricity as it does with gas.
The Fact Sheet can be downloaded and printed as a PDF file.

NOTE: This article is a must-read for anyone interested in electric vehicles.

On Aug.10 the NY Times published an article by John Scwartz titled, Students, Cities and States Take the Climate Fight to CourtHe wrote,
“Can the courts fix climate change?
Several groups and individuals around the United States have gone to court to try to do what the Trump administration has so far declined to do: confront the causes and effects of global warming.
In California, two counties and a city recently sued 37 fossil fuel companies, seeking funds to cover the costs of dealing with a warming world. In Oregon, a federal lawsuit brought on behalf of young people is moving toward a February trial date, though the so-called children’s suit could be tossed out before that. And more than a dozen state attorneys general have sued to block Trump administration moves to roll back environmental regulations.
Efforts in the United States are part of a wave of litigation around the world, including a 2015 decision in which a court in the Netherlands ordered the Dutch government to toughen its climate policies; that case is under appeal. A 2017 report from the United Nations Environment Program found nearly 900 climate litigation suits in more than 20 countries. In Switzerland, a group of nearly 800 older women known as Senior Women for Climate Protection have sued their government over climate change. In New Zealand, a court recently heard a climate case brought by a law student, Sarah Lorraine Thomson; a decision is pending.
But in the United States, lawsuits to get American courts to take on the climate fight have until now gone nowhere. In 2011, the Supreme Court threw out a case filed by eight states and New York City against electric power producers. A lawsuit brought by inhabitants of Kivalina, Alaska, against fossil fuel companies over the diminished buffer of sea ice that had protected the town was dismissed by a federal judge in 2009. A federal appeals court and the Supreme Court declined to reinstate the case.  
The new California cases resemble the state tobacco lawsuits of the 1990s, which argued that the industry knew and concealed the dangers of smoking, leaving the states with enormous health care bills. In the new suits, Marin and San Mateo Counties and the City of Imperial Beach are accusing the oil companies of knowing that their industry would cause catastrophic climate change and covering up the evidence.

NOTE: Thank God for the courts!

On Aug. 10 the World Resources Institute posted an article by Johannes Friedrich, Mengpin Ge and Alexander Tankou titled, 6 Charts to Understand U.S. State Greenhouse Gas Emissions.  They wrote,
“As major global greenhouse gas emitters, U.S. states have the economic heft and legislative authority to move the United States toward much lower emissions and cleaner energy. While many have done so in the last decade, some remain stuck in the high-emitting past. 
The following six charts show how emissions from U.S. states compare, how they are changing and what could come next. These are based on the latest greenhouse gas emissions data. World Resources Institute compiled for all 50 states (through 2014, the latest year for which in-state emissions data is available).”
They show that 10 states are responsible for nearly 50% of U.S. GHG emissions, with TX and CA at the top because of their large populations and economies.  Over the 10-year period of 2015 to 2014, the last year for which compete data are available, total U.S. emissions decreased by only 6%.  Thirty five states and Washington DC reduced their emissions, with Vermont, Maine and Alaska having the greatest reductions, while 15 states, including North Dakota, Montana and Iowa in the lead. Fugitive emissions are a growing problem in Texas and North Dakota, especially from methane leakage associated with natural gas production.
The authors ended with the following:
“With the U.S. representing a significant share of global emissions, it’s a good sign to see many poised to step up their efforts on action to address global warming in the absence of federal leadership. As we have looked to how states got to where they are, there’s a new direction being carved out through the We Are Still In coalition and America’s Pledge on climate change to determine where they are going.  To reign in emissions across all sectors and prevent the worst impacts of climate change, states must accelerate a shift towards clean power and greater efficiency.  There is ample proof that this is not only possible but can also be an economic opportunity.

NOTE: The article also has a link to emissions from many countries around the world. 

On Aug. 12 Peter Sinclair published an article in Climate Denial Crock of the Week titled, Something’s Burning: Greenland Fire Update.  Recently back from a trip to Greenland, Sinclair reports that thousands of acres of permafrost moss, lichens and grass are burning on Greenland.  Fire warms the permafrost below it, releasing methane, a flammable gas, and producing soot that darkens the surface of the ice sheet, causing it to absorb more solar radiation and melt faster.  This provides another example of positive feedback, where the more the ice melts, the faster it melts.

NOTE: The Greenland ice sheet holds enough ice that when it all melts, enough water will be produced to raise global average sea level by 7 m or about 23 feet.  NASA measurements of the ice loss by satellites show that is has been accelerating.

On Aug 15 an article in Grist by Eric Holthaus titled, Meet July, the hottest month yet.  NASA recently reported that last July had the highest global average temperature ever recorded.  He wrote, “Using measurements collected from about 6,300 land- and ocean-based weather stations around the world, NASA scientists calculated that the planet’s average temperature during July was about 2.25 degrees C (4.05 degrees F) warmer than the long-term annual average.”
“Such a warm month during the peak of the Northern Hemisphere’s summer created a cascade of extreme weather conditions. In western Canada, the worst forest fires in nearly 60 years have already torched upwards of a million acres, more than four times what normally burns in an entire wildfire season. In California, Death Valley recorded the hottest month ever measured anywhere on Earth, with an average temperature of 107.24 degrees F. Several days topped 120 degrees.”

NOTE: Do you think that the destructiveness of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma might be related to the unusually high temperatures?

On Aug. 18 The Economic Times published an article by Vishwa Mohan titled, Climate change costs India $10 billion every year: Government. The author wrote,
“Extreme weather events are costing India $9-10 billion annually and climate change is projected to impact agricultural productivity with increasing severity from 2020 to the end of the century. 
In a recent submission to a parliamentary committee, the agriculture ministry said productivity decrease of major crops would be marginal in the next few years but could rise to as much as 10-40% by 2100 unless farming adapts to climate change-induced changes in weather.” 

NOTE: A loss of 40% of India’s major crops could be a catastrophe - especially if its population continues to grow.  The population is expected to increase until India’s becomes the largest in the world.

On Sept. 3 the Popular Resistance Newsletter published a powerful article by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers titled Climate Breakdown.  They wrote:
Climate breakdown, as George Monbiot calls it, is happening before our eyes at the same time the science on climate change grows stronger and has wider acceptance. Hurricane Harvey, which struck at the center of the petroleum industry – the heart of climate denialism – provided a glimpse of the new normal of climate crisis-induced events. In Asia, this week the climate message was even stronger where at least 1,200 people died and 41 million were impacted. By 2050, one billion people could be displaced by climate crises.
Climate disasters demonstrate the immense failure of government at all levels. The world has known about the likely disastrous impacts of climate change for decades. Next year will be the thirtieth anniversary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which  operates under the auspices of the United Nations and was founded in 1988. The IPCC published the first of five reports in 1990. Thousands of scientists and other experts write and review the reports and 120 countries participate in the process. The most common surprises in successive reports are more rapid temperature increases and greater impacts than scientists had predicted.
The science on climate change has become extremely strong as the final draft of the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Climate Science Special Report showed. The document was leaked last month because scientists feared the Trump administration would amend, suppress or destroy it. The report describes overwhelming evidence of man-made climate change impacting us right now and the urgent need to get to zero net carbon emissions.”

NOTE: The article is both powerful and extremely well written.  I recommend that you read the whole thing.

On Sept. 20 Time updated an article by Justin Worland titled, Republican Senator Endorses ‘Price on Carbon’ to Fight Climate Change.  Worland wrote:
“Sen. Lindsey Graham endorsed a "price on carbon" to fight climate change, breaking with much of the Republican Establishment.
Speaking at a climate change conference held by former Secretary of State John Kerry at Yale University, the South Carolina Republican called for a "price on carbon," saying he would take the idea to the White House for consideration.

"I'm a Republican. I believe that the greenhouse effect is real, that CO2 emissions generated by man is creating our greenhouse gas effect that traps heat, and the planet is warming," said Graham. "A price on carbon—that's the way to go in my view."
Graham said he is working Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, on legislation. Despite the statement, any significant global warming legislation would meet near-certain failure in the Republican-controlled Congress.
Still, the announcement makes Graham part of an increasingly vocal contingent of Republicans on Capitol Hill bucking their party along with 28 Republican members of a bipartisan climate change caucus (though the group has not endorsed a carbon tax or anything close to it).
Another group of prominent Republican elder statesmen, including former secretaries of State James Baker and George P. Shultz and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, offered a proposal earlier this year for a carbon tax and dividend that would pay returns to taxpayers.”

NOTE: This growing Republican support for dealing with rather than denying climate change by is an important development.  Climate change is a critical issue demanding a response that members of both parties might work together on.

 The following items are from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), Carol Werner, Executive Director. Past issues of its newsletter are posted on its website under "publications"
at http://www.eesi.org/publications/Newsletters/CCNews/ccnews.htm 
EESI’s newsletter is intended for all interested parties, particularly the policymaker community. 

Scientists Fear Trump Administration May Suppress Findings of Prominent Climate Change Report

A draft section of the National Climate Assessment concludes that "many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change." The congressionally-mandated quadrennial report is the product of numerous federal agencies and cites evidence from thousands of past studies indicating the causes and impacts of climate change. These findings are in direct conflict with the Trump administration's public views on climate science, resulting in a heightened level of scrutiny towards how the White House decides to handle the report. Scientists have expressed concerns..
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On July 14 the New York Magazine published an article by David Wallace-Wells titled, The Uninhabitable Earth, Annotated Edition.  He called it, ”The facts, research, and science behind the climate-change article that explored our planet’s worst case scenarios”.  He based the July 14 article on an unannotated version called, The Uninhabitable Earth that had appeared in the magazine a few days earlier, on July 10.  In the annotated version he wrote,
“We published “The Uninhabitable Earth on Sunday night, and the response since has been extraordinary — both in volume (it is already the most-read article in New York Magazine’s history) and in kind. Within hours, the article spawned a fleet of commentary across newspapers, magazines, blogs, and Twitter, much of which came from climate scientists and the journalists who cover them.
Some of this conversation has been about the factual basis for various claims that appear in the article. To address those questions, and to give all readers more context for how the article was reported and what further reading is available, we are publishing here a version of the article filled with research annotations. They include quotations from scientists I spoke with throughout the reporting process; citations to scientific papers, articles, and books I drew from; additional research provided by my colleague Julia Mead; and context surrounding some of the more contested claims. Since the article was published, we have made four corrections and adjustments, which are noted in the annotations (as well as at the end of the original version). They are all minor, and none affects the central project of the story: to apply the best science we have today to the median and high-end “business-as-usual” warming projections produced by the U.N.’s “gold standard” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
But the debate this article has kicked up is less about specific facts than the article’s overarching conceit. Is it helpful, or journalistically ethical, to explore the worst-case scenarios of climate change, however unlikely they are? How much should a writer contextualize scary possibilities with information about how probable those outcomes are, however speculative those probabilities may be? What are the risks of terrifying or depressing readers so much they disengage from the issue, and what should a journalist make of those risks?
I hope, in the annotations and commentary below, I have added some context. But I also believe very firmly in the set of propositions that animated the project from the start: that the public does not appreciate the scale of climate risk; that this is in part because we have not spent enough time contemplating the scarier half of the distribution curve of possibilities, especially its brutal long tail, or the risks beyond sea-level rise; that there is journalistic and public-interest value in spreading the news from the scientific community, no matter how unnerving it may be; and that, when it comes to the challenge of climate change, public complacency is a far, far bigger problem than widespread fatalism — that many, many more people are not scared enough than are already “too scared.” In fact, I don’t even understand what “too scared” would mean. The science says climate change threatens nearly every aspect of human life on this planet, and that inaction will hasten the problems. In that context, I don’t think it’s a slur to call an article, or its writer, alarmist. I’ll accept that characterization. We should be alarmed.”

NOTE: Many years ago I was very concerned about the possibility of a large scale nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, which I concluded could cause changes on the earth’s surface and atmosphere similar to those that resulted in the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.  When I heard Jim Hansen’s congressional testimony in 1968, I realized that climate change was another way that humans could drive themselves and many other life forms to extinction.
The article by David Wallace-Wells is a must-read for anyone interested in the future of life on the planet -  if we don’t take the scientists seriously and continue on the self-destructive business-as-usual path we are on.

On July 25 Dolye Rice posted an article in USA Today titled, Algae are turning Greenland green - and that’s a problem for sea-level rise.  He writes,
“Thanks to global warming, algae are expanding on Greenland, helping to slowly melt the massive island's ice sheet and turning it "green." 
The microscopic algae that grow on the Greenland ice sheet are dark, which means they absorb more sunlight and warm up the surface more quickly than white ice, which reflects light.
"More algae means a darker surface, and darker surfaces melt faster," said Martyn Tranter, head of the British research project Black and Bloom, the first group to study the phenomenon.
As this feedback loop continues, the extra warming from increased algae coverage causes a more rapid melting of the ice sheet. That's a problem because if all the ice on Greenland melted, sea levels would rise by as much as 20 feet in spots worldwide, inundating coastal cities.” 

NOTE: It’s been known for some time that the Arctic has been warming twice as fast as the global average temperature.  The reason has been described as the positive feedback produced when highly reflective snow and ice are replaced by deep blue sea, which absorbs more of the sun’s energy: the farther it goes the faster it goes. The algae have a similar effect, replacing snow and ice by a darker, less reflective surface.  The result is to accelerate sea level rise.

On July 26 Timothy Cama posted an article in TheHill titled, Dem senators pitch carbon tax to conservatives.  He wrote,
“Two Democratic senators spoke at a conservative think tank Wednesday to introduce legislation to establish a tax on carbon dioxide emissions.
Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) pitched their American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act as a proposal Republicans should be able to get behind due to its simplicity and the fact that the revenues would go back to taxpayers.
It would set a $49 per ton fee, increasing annually, on carbon dioxide emissions, charged at the point of a fossil fuel’s extraction or importation.”

NOTE: This proposal is very similar to one supported by the national Citizen’s Climate Lobby.  The Fee and Dividend system they propose is also advocated by Jim Hansen.

On July  26 Alister Doyle posted an article in Reuters titled, Scientists dim sunlight, suck up carbon dioxide to cool planet.  He wrote,
“Scientists are sucking carbon dioxide from the air with giant fans and preparing to release chemicals from a balloon to dim the sun's rays as part of a climate engineering push to cool the planet. 
Backers say the risky, often expensive projects are urgently needed to find ways of meeting the goals of the Paris climate deal to curb global warming that researchers blame for causing more heatwaves, downpours and rising sea levels.
The United Nations says the targets are way off track and will not be met simply by reducing emissions for example from factories or cars - particularly after U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the 2015 pact.
They are pushing for other ways to keep temperatures down.
In the countryside near Zurich, Swiss company Climeworks began to suck greenhouse gases from thin air in May with giant fans and filters in a $23 million project that it calls the world's first "commercial carbon dioxide capture plant".
Worldwide, "direct air capture" research by a handful of companies such as Climeworks has gained tens of millions of dollars in recent years from sources including governments, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the European Space Agency.
If buried underground, vast amounts of greenhouse gases extracted from the air would help reduce global temperatures, a radical step beyond cuts in emissions that are the main focus of the Paris Agreement.
Climeworks reckons it now costs about $600 to extract a tonne of carbon dioxide from the air and the plant's full capacity due by the end of 2017 is only 900 tonnes a year (emphasis added). That's equivalent to the annual emissions of only 45 Americans.”  (who now produce on average about 20 metric tons per person each year.)

“The Paris Agreement seeks to limit a rise in world temperatures this century to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), ideally 1.5C (2.7F) above pre-industrial times.
But U.N. data show that current plans for cuts in emissions will be insufficient, especially without the United States, and that the world will have to switch to net "negative emissions" this century by extracting carbon from nature.
Riskier "geo-engineering" solutions could be a backstop, such as dimming the world's sunshine, dumping iron into the oceans to soak up carbon, or trying to create clouds.
Among new university research, a Harvard geo-engineering project into dimming sunlight to cool the planet set up in 2016 has raised $7.5 million from private donors. It plans a first outdoor experiment in 2018 above Arizona.
"If you want to be confident to get to 1.5 degrees you need to have solar geo-engineering," said David Keith, of Harvard.”
Keith’s idea is to release finely divided calcium carbonate into the upper atmosphere with the idea that the white powder will reflect much of the sun’s light back into space.  The problem is that such geo-engineering might have serious unintended consequences.

NOTE: This work shows that we are still a very long way from a geo-engineering solution to climate change.  Global emissions of CO2 are now about 36 billion metric tonnes, for an average of about 5 tonnes per person per year.

On July 29 the NY Times published ab article by Diane Cardwell titled, Utility Helps Wean Vermonters from the Utility Grid. She wrote, 
“In a new low-income development that replaced a trailer park here, rooftop solar panels sparkle in the sun while backup batteries quietly hum away in utility closets.
About an hour away, in Rutland, homes and businesses along a once-distressed corridor are installing the latest in energy-saving equipment, including special insulation and heat pumps.
And throughout Vermont, customers are signing up for a new program that will allow them to power their homes while entirely disconnected from the grid.
The projects are part of a bold experiment aimed at turning homes, neighborhoods and towns into virtual power plants, able to reduce the amount of energy they draw from the central electric system. But behind them are not green energy advocates or proponents of living off the land. Instead, it’s the local electric company, Green Mountain Power.”
The system involves solar panels, wind turbines, and high-capacity batteries that can supply power when the sun and wind can’t meet the demand.
“Even as the Trump administration has broken with almost all the world’s nations by renouncing the Paris climate accord, the Vermont program offers just one example of the continuing efforts at the local level to rethink a largely carbon-based power system. The initiatives are driven by financial advantages as well as environmental ones.”

NOTE: It’s an inspiring story - one that should be replicated around the world.

The Aug. 1 NY Times posted an article by Lisa Friedman titled, Islamic State and Climate Change Seen as World’s Greatest Threats, Poll Says.  The author wrote, “Climate change is essentially tied with the Islamic State as the most-feared security threat across much of the world — except in the United States, where cyberattacks are considered a greater danger than global warming, according to a Pew Research Center report released on Tuesday.
Residents of 13 countries ranked climate change as the greatest threat to national security, while in 17 countries the Islamic State was considered a more immediate problem.
In the United States, however, a gaping partisan divide pushed climate change to third-most severe perceived threat, after ISIS and cyberwarfare. Just 56 percent of Americans surveyed identified global warming as the most serious threat to the country, compared to 71 percent for cyberwarfare and 74 percent for Islamic State attacks.
The American intelligence community concluded that Russia used cyberweapons to interfere with the presidential election last year, perhaps accounting for the heightened sense of threat. The Trump administration has consistently played down the dangers of a warming climate and has withdrawn the United States from the Paris accord on climate change signed by nearly 200 nations.”
Although 56% of Americans think that global warming is the most serious danger we face, the issue is highly partisan, with 86% of left-leaning Americans thinking that it is a serious threat, only 31% on the right do.  The small percentage of those on the right reduces the ranking of climate change for Americans to third place, after ISIS and cyberattacks, making it unique among the nations surveyed.

On Aug. 2 the National League of Cities (NLC) posted an article by Paul Konz, Cooper Marton and Daniel Barry titled, NLC Launches Local Climate Solutions Engagement Program.  The NLC partnered with ecoAmerica, a national communications and engagement group.  The authors wrote,
“One of the most important skills for local elected officials is the ability to lead their communities in productive and civil debate, particularly in today’s political environment. City leaders need to communicate with residents using messages that are clear, positive, inclusive and relevant to their concerns. Nowhere is this more challenging than on issues related to climate and environmental policy. One of the most important skills for local elected officials is the ability to lead their communities in productive and civil debate, particularly in today’s political environment. City leaders need to communicate with residents using messages that are clear, positive, inclusive and relevant to their concerns. Nowhere is this more challenging than on issues related to climate and environmental policy.”  Assistance to polcy makers was in the form of several guides to effective communication, which included:

On August 3 an article by Trevor Nace was published in Forbes titled, Global Ocean Circulation Appears To Be Collapsing Due To A Warming Planet.  They wrote, “Scientists have long known about the anomalous "warming hole" in the North Atlantic Ocean, an area immune to warming of Earth's oceans. This cool zone in the North Atlantic Ocean appears to be associated with a slowdown in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), one of the key drivers in global ocean circulation.
A recent study published in Nature outlines research by a team of Yale University and University of Southhampton scientists. The team found evidence that Arctic ice loss is potentially negatively impacting the planet's largest ocean circulation system. While scientists do have some analogs as to how this may impact the world, we will be largely in uncharted territory.
AMOC is one of the largest current systems in the Atlantic Ocean and the world. Generally speaking, it transports warm and salty water northward from the tropics to South and East of Greenland. This warm water cools to ambient water temperature then sinks as it is saltier and thus denser than the relatively more fresh surrounding water. The dense mass of water sinks to the base of the North Atlantic Ocean and is pushed south along the abyss of Atlantic Ocean.”
The main idea is that loss of the AMOC will greatly slow  the heat transfer north by the Gulf Stream - cooling Europe and leading to greater heating elsewhere.  Scientists are uncertain about what the other effects might be.

On Aug. 8 the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab reported in a press release I received titled, Annual DOE Report Finds that Wind Energy is Being Sold at Record-Low Prices, based on the publication of an annual report on wind power for electricity generation in the U.S.: 2016 Wind Technologies Market Report.  The report contained the following conclusions:

Wind power additions continued at a rapid clip in 2016, with $13 Billion invested in new plants.
Bigger turbines are enhancing wind project performance, especially because of the use of longer turbine blades.
Low wind turbine pricing continues to push down installed project costs.
Wind energy prices remain low, with a national average price of 2 cents/kWH.
The supply chain continued to adjust to swings in domestic demand for wind equipment.
Continued strong growth in wind capacity is anticipated in the near term.

On August 8 The Conversation published an article by Jon Christensen titled, Climate gloom and doom? Bring it on. But we need stories about taking action, too.The jist of it is that just talking about the science of climate change tends to be full of gloom and doom, and leaves a lot of people unconvinced, or even if they believe the science, doesn’t leave them with the feeling that there is much that they can do in their own lives.  He wrote,
“There’s been no shortage of pessimistic news on climate change lately. A group of climate scientists and policy experts recently declared that we have just three years left to dramatically turn around carbon emissions, or else. Meanwhile a widely circulated New York magazine article detailed some of the most catastrophic possible consequences of climate change this century if we continue with business as usual.
Critics pounced on the article, claiming gloom-and-doom messages are disempowering and thus counterproductive.
But are they? And is there a better way to communicate to people about the urgency of climate change? In a somewhat unorthodox way – creating a mini-series of videos on climate change – my colleagues and I think we’ve gained some insight into these questions.”
What he did was to work with Vox and a number of professors from the University of California, using the results of research on climate change communication, to produce a series of short (8-9 minutes) videos on various topics related to climate change, including one on how we can significantly reduce GHG emissions and food costs by reducing food waste.  (Currently, 40% of the food grown in the U.S. is wasted!) 
 The 6 videos produced so far can be found at a website called the Climate Lab.

NOTE: There is a useful book by the Union of Concerned Scientists titled, Cooler Smarter - Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living, which has lots of ideas fir what ordinary people can do to reduce their own carbon emissions.  It claims that almost anyone can reduce their emissions by 20% within a year.  It costs less than $12 for a new paperback and much less for a used one.

The following items are from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), Carol Werner, Executive Director. Past issues of its newsletter are posted on its website under "publications" at http://www.eesi.org/publications/Newsletters/CCNews/ccnews.htm 
EESI’s newsletter is intended for all interested parties, particularly the policymaker community. 

Climate Change Viewed as a "Threat Multiplier" to Department of Defense's Mission

Former Department of Defense (DOD) officials are working with members of Congress to communicate the risks climate change poses to the military. Roundtables and hearings have been taking place on the Hill recently in an effort to illustrate the specific..
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Brian Kahn of Climate Central published an article titled, Carbon Dioxide Set an All-Time Monthly High.  It occurred this May, which is the month when CO2 reaches its highest concentration in the northern hemisphere.  After that, photosynthesis becomes rapid enough that the CO2 concentration in the northern hemisphere decreases.  The annual highest concentration has been increasing for many years because carbon emissions every year have continued to be greater than the rate of carbon uptake by the oceans and plants.  The highest reading this year at the Mauna Loa Observatory was 409.65 ppm (parts per million).  Stopping the annual increase of CO2 concentration will basically require replacing the burning of fossil fuels by renewable energy sources.

On June 20 Katie Fehrenbacher published an article in The Guardian titled, Climate goals: inside California’s effort to overhaul it ambitious emissions plan.
The first three paragraphs say:
California has one of the world’s most sophisticated and ambitious cap-and-trade programs, which are designed to provide financial incentives to big polluters, such as electricity providers and oil refineries, to lower their greenhouse gas emissions.
The complex program, which began only in 2013, is a signature component of California’s plan to cut emissions in the midst of a controversial makeover by state policymakers, after they passed a landmark bill last year that created one of the world’s most aggressive climate change goals: to lower carbon emissions to 40% below the 1990 levels by 2030.
Fierce debates over how to achieve the new, ambitious goals began before President Trump’s decision earlier this month to withdraw the US from the Paris agreement. That decision will likely put a greater spotlight on how California – considered a leader in fighting climate change – will redesign its cap-and-trade program, which many say needs better market mechanisms and metrics to measure its successes and failures.”
The article goes on to discuss some of the details of how to go about meeting the aggressive new goal set in last year’s legislation, including how the cap-and-trade system works.  

NOTE: California is unique among the states in that its cap-and-trade system applies to electricity generation, transportation, and several large industries - over 80% of all GHG emissions.  It also includes the Canadian province of Quebec and soon will include Ontario.  The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which involves nine Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states also uses a cap and trade system with a decreasing cap, but it covers only electricity generation in the participating states.

On June 20 BBC News published an article titled, Phoenix flights cancelled because it's too hot for planes.  The article said, “The weather forecast for the US city suggests temperatures could reach 120F (49C) on Tuesday.
That is higher than the operating temperature of some planes.
American Airlines announced it was cancelling dozens of flights scheduled to take off from Sky Harbor airport during the hottest part of the day.”
The cancelled flights were scheduled to take off between 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM local time - the hottest tie of the day.
“At higher temperatures, air has a lower density - it is thinner. That lower air density reduces how much lift is generated on an aircraft's wings - a core principle in aeronautics.
That, in turn, means the aircraft's engines need to generate more thrust to get airborne.
It's a well-known problem - a 2016 report from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) even warned that higher temperatures caused by climate change could "have severe consequences for aircraft take-off performance, where high altitudes or short runways limit the payload or even the fuel-carrying capacity".(emphasis added)

On June 21 an article by Raktrrm Katakey titled, Oil Majors Risk Wasting $2.3 Trillion If Peak Demand Looms, was updated for Bloomberg News.  He wrote,
“Oil companies risk wasting $2.3 trillion of investments should demand peak in the next decade as the world works toward its goal of limiting global warming, according to a report from Carbon Tracker.”
Exxon Mobil Corp. is the most exposed oil major with as much as 50 percent of potential spending to 2025 on projects that wouldn’t be needed as the world changes its energy mix to meet climate targets, according to the report published on Wednesday in collaboration with the Principles for Responsible Investment. Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Chevron Corp., Total SA and Eni SpA risk wasting as much as 40 percent of expenditure and BP Plc up to 30 percent.”
““There are clear signs that oil demand could peak in the early 2020s -- so companies need to start taking project options that would come on stream then off the table, and be transparent about how they are aligning with a low carbon future,” James Leaton, Carbon Tracker’s research director, said in the report. “Sticking with the growth at all costs scenario just doesn’t add up for shareholder value when the policy and technology momentum is heading in the opposite direction.”
The companies are already facing some pressure from investors. Last month, Exxon shareholders, in a split with the company, urged the explorer to publish a detailed analysis on how carbon curbs could affect the value of its oil fields, refineries and pipelines.”

On June 23 Laura Parker and Craig Welch posted an article in National Geographic titled, Coral Reefs Could Be Gone in 30 Years.  They wrote,
“The world’s coral reefs, from the Great Barrier Reef off Australia to the Seychelles off East Africa, are in grave danger of dying out completely by mid-century unless carbon emissions are reduced enough to slow ocean warming, a new UNESCO study says.
And consequences could be severe for millions of people.
The decline of coral reefs has been well documented, reef by reef. But the new study is the first global examination of the vulnerability of the entire planet’s reef systems, and it paints an especially grim picture. Of the 29 World Heritage reef areas, at least 25 of them will experience twice-per-decade severe bleaching events by 2040—a frequency that will “rapidly kill most corals present and prevent successful reproduction necessary for recovery of corals,” the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization concluded. In some areas, that’s happening already.
“These are spectacular places, many of which I’ve visited. Seeing the damage being wrought has just been heartbreaking,” says Mark Eakin, a reef expert with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and a lead author of the new report. “We’re to the point now where action is essential. It’s urgent.””

On June 24 WhoWhatWhy published an article by Christine Capozziello titled, EPA Drops Scientists, Invites in Corporations.  She wrote,
“Since May, Trump-appointed EPA administrator and climate change skeptic Scott Pruitt has informed dozens of scientists on the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) that their tenure will not be extended. That would leave over half of the positions on the panel empty and effectively cripple the BOSC, which cancelled five meetings that had been scheduled for summer and fall.
Pruitt hasn’t been shy about his plans to include industry advocates to fill the void. He expressed his intent to increase representation of coal and oil companies on a board designed to regulate those same industries. In an interview in March, Pruitt revealed he does not believe that CO2 emissions are a primary contributor to global warming, leading many to voice concern over whether or not he would be able to perform the duties of his position.”

On June 26 The Real Climate News Network posted a 17-minute video titled, Estimates of Sea Level Rise Have Tripled in the Last Few Years.  In 2013 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that said that if emissions keep growing as they have, global sea level could could rise by a meter (nearly 40 inches) by 2100.  It did not take into account the accelerating pace of loss of ice from the big ice sheets on Greenland an Antarctica.  NOAA scientists increased the estimate of maximum sea level rise by 2100 to 2.7 m.  In a talk early this year NASA scientist Eric Rignot said that a temperature increase of 1.5 to 2 degrees C in the next 100 to 200 years could raise sea level by 6-9 m (20-30 ft).  In addition to the video there is a transcript of the conversation.

On June 26 Lizette Alvarez posted an article in the NY Times titled, Mayors, Sidestepping Trump, Vow to Fill Void on Climate Change.  She wrote,
“MIAMI BEACH — Meeting in a city confronted daily with the issues of rising seas and climate change, the United States Conference of Mayors approved a resolutions on Monday to urge the federal government to rejoin the Paris climate agreement and to redouble their own efforts to combat climate change and commit to renewable energy.

“If the federal government doesn’t act, it doesn’t mean we don’t have a national policy; the federal government doesn’t occupy the only place on this,” Mitch Landrieu, the mayor of New Orleans and the new president of the conference, said before the vote on the nonbinding resolutions. “Mayors have to respond to circumstances. We have to keep moving no matter what.””
“Rather than bemoan President Trump’s decision this month to pull out of the Paris Agreement, an accord signed by 195 nations to battle rising temperatures, many Republican and Democratic mayors here said the move had re-energized them. A separate effort by Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, and a group whose members call themselves the Climate Mayors also picked up support here; more than 300 mayors have signed a document to abide by the Paris accord and “intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ climate goals.””

On June 28 I received an email from Donald Anderson with a copy  of a letter to him from U.S. Senator Angus King of Maine attached.  Here I quote the first few paragraphs of King’s letter.
“Every week, I hear examples of a changed climate in Maine. As the Gulf of Maine warms, fishermen are finding the range of fish and lobster populations to be very different from what they were a generation ago. Populations of iconic animals like puffin, and many species of groundfish, are declining. Every year, foresters and farmers are combating additional non-native species and new diseases in their woodlots and fields. Shellfish harvesters and those involved in aquaculture are watching and wondering what an increasingly acidic ocean will mean for their future livelihoods. Municipalities and utilities are struggling to maintain infrastructure pummeled by increasingly frequent severe storms. In other parts of the country, Americans’ lives and livelihoods are being negatively impacted by droughts, floods, forest fires, and other changed weather patterns. The Arctic’s ice-pack, which I have seen first-hand, is at historic lows.  

I feel strongly that the repercussions of our rapidly changing climate are more than a political or a scientific concern—they are a moral issue. We have an obligation to future generations to be responsible stewards of the land, water, and air we have been given, and to pass it on in as good or better shape than we found it.  

Unfortunately, the Administration’s approach to climate change has been, in my opinion, reckless and short-sighted. Right now, I believe that one of the biggest threats to our collective and individual future wellbeing, and especially that of our children and their children, is our changing climate and I have seen nothing to date to show that the President truly understands this threat.  

Please be assured that I will continue to advocate for policies and programs that address climate change, transition our country away from our dependence on fossil fuels, and improve our stewardship of the environment. Future generations must be able to experience the natural treasures that we currently have the privilege of enjoying. Like other complex challenges we have overcome in our past, no one single step will stop or reverse climate change alone; but, in combination, they represent a comprehensive framework that will help us pass on a stable and hospitable climate to future generations. “ 

On June 28 Climate Central published an article by Bobby Magill titled, States betting on Giant Batteries to Cut Carbon.  The reason for this is that wind and solar power because there are times when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining.  Sometimes more electricity is generated from these renewable sources than required, and the extra energy is wasted.  One way around this problem is to build large batteries to store the extra energy for times when the demand is more than the renewable sources can supply.  Now most of the energy is supplied by burning fossil fuels - especially coal and natural gas - which produce carbon dioxide - the major source of global warming, along with other pollutants.  Some of the giant batteries weigh 30 ton, but can produce thousands of kilowatts of electrical power.  He writes,
“The Tesla PowerPack, for example, is composed of 16 pods that together weigh more than 3 tons and are 7 feet tall. The pods are daisy-chained together and provide hundreds of kilowatts of power.
New York officials say batteries are critical to the state’s goal of generating half of its electricity from renewables by 2030. (emphasis added). As more states create energy storage incentives and targets, more power plants using fossil fuels are likely to be eventually replaced or supplemented with batteries, helping to cut the amount of time the power plants are used. 
Jeremy Firestone, director of the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration at the University of Delaware, said mandates and incentives for energy storage in some of the most populous states will help reduce climate pollution and drive innovation. They will also help to lower energy storage costs as batteries are adopted more widely, just as costs for wind and solar installations have fallen as more have been built, he said.”

On June 30 an article with 12 authors was published in Science titled, Estimating economic damage from climate change in the United States.  The following is a quotation from the Abstract:
“Estimates of climate change damage are central to the design of climate policies. Here, we develop a flexible architecture for computing damages that integrates climate science, econometric analyses, and process models. We use this approach to construct spatially explicit, probabilistic, and empirically derived estimates of economic damage in the United States from climate change. The combined value of market and nonmarket damage across analyzed sectors—agriculture, crime, coastal storms, energy, human mortality, and labor—increases quadratically in global mean temperature, costing roughly 1.2% of gross domestic product per +1°C on average. Importantly, risk is distributed unequally across locations, generating a large transfer of value northward and westward that increases economic inequality. By the late 21st century, the poorest third of counties are projected to experience damages between 2 and 20% of county income (90% chance) under business-as-usual emissions (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5).”
The combination of several models shows a probability distribution of models with the most likely global average temperature of about 3.5 degrees C (6.1 degrees F) by 2080 to 2099.  The total aggregated U.S. loss is about 1.2% of GDP for each 1 degree C increase in global average temperature.

On July 1 the NY Times posted an article by Coral Davenport titled, Counseled by Industry, Not Staff, E.P.A. Chief Is Off to a Blazing Start.  She wrote,
“In the four months since he took office as the Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt has moved to undo, delay or otherwise block more than 30 environmental rules, a regulatory rollback larger in scope than any other over so short a time in the agency’s 47-year history, according to experts in environmental law.
Mr. Pruitt’s supporters, including President Trump, have hailed his moves as an uprooting of the administrative state and a clearing of onerous regulations that have stymied American business. Environmental advocates have watched in horror as Mr. Pruitt has worked to disable the authority of the agency charged with protecting the nation’s air, water and public health.”
“Since February, Mr. Pruitt has filed a proposal of intent to undo or weaken Mr. Obama’s climate change regulations, known as the Clean Power Plan. In late June, he filed a legal plan to repeal an Obama-era rule curbing pollution in the nation’s waterways. He delayed a rule that would require fossil fuel companies to rein in leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from oil and gas wells. He delayed the date by which companies must comply with a rule to prevent explosions and spills at chemical plants. And he reversed a ban on the use of a pesticide that the E.P.A.’s own scientists have said is linked to damage of children’s nervous systems.”
It’s a sad day for America, and for it’s most vulnerable citizens.

On July 5, I learned that the George Mason Center for Climate Change Communication issued a report titled, Climate Change in the American Mind. - May 2017, describing results of a recent study of American attitudes on climate change.  Here are some of the Key Findings:

Seven in ten Americans (70%) think global warming is happening, which nearly matches the highest level in our surveys (71%), recorded in 2008. By contrast, only about one in eight Americans (13%) think global warming is not happening. 
Americans are also more certain global warming is happening – 46% are “extremely” or “very” sure it is happening, its highest level since 2008. By contrast, far fewer – 7% – are “extremely” or “very sure” global warming is not happening. 
Over half of Americans (58%) understand that global warming is mostly human caused, the highest level since our surveys began in November 2008. By contrast, three in ten (30%) say it is due mostly to natural changes in the environment – the lowest level recorded since 2008.” 
There are several more findings.  
The LA Times for July 12 published an article by Alexandre Zavis and Sean Greene  titled, An iceberg the size of Delaware just broke off of Antarctica.
They wrote, “Sometime in the last few days, a block of ice the size of Delaware broke away from Antarctica and is now floating freely in the Weddell Sea.
The iceberg, which at around 1 trillion tons is one of the largest on record, poses no immediate threat to sea levels. But scientists say the break may have altered the profile of the continent’s western peninsula for decades to come and offers a preview of what global warming might do to marine ice shelves.
Scientists at Project Midas, a research team from Swansea University and Aberystwyth University in Britain, first confirmed the break Wednesday using data from NASA satellites.
They said they had been monitoring a rift in an ice shelf called Larsen C for years before it started to grow rapidly in January, increasing in length to about 120 miles and leaving the..
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On May 22 Chris Mooney posted an article in the Washington Post titled, Scientists say the pace of sea level rise has nearly tripled since 1990.  He reported and new study that showed that prior to 1990 the global average rate was about 1.1 millimeters per year, or 0.43 inches per decade.  From 1993 through 2012, though, it found that it rose at 3.1 millimeters per year, or 1.22 inches per decade - about three times as fast.  Thus sea level is not only rising; it is accelerating.
““We have a much stronger acceleration in sea level rise than formerly thought,” said Sönke Dangendorf, a researcher with the University of Siegen in Germany who led the study along with scientists at institutions in Spain, France, Norway and the Netherlands.”
“The cause, said Dangendorf, is that sea level rise throughout much of the 20th century was driven by the melting of land-based glaciers and the expansion of seawater as it warms, but sea level rise in the 21st century has now, on top of that, added in major contributions from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.”

On May 23  Marine Strauss and Brian Perkin posted an article in Bloomberg titled,  China, EU and Canada Form Climate Pact as Trump Stands Alone.  The three are joining forces to advance the Paris Climate Agreement. They wrote, “Canada’s environment minister Catherine McKenna, EU Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete and China’s special envoy for climate change Xie Zhenhua are meeting Tuesday in Berlin to discuss climate leadership and how to maintain momentum if the U.S. pulls out of the Paris Agreement. In September, the three will convene a ministerial-level meeting in support of the Paris accord, Canete said …”
“It’s very important that we continue the shared programs on climate change," McKenna said in an interview at the Petersberg Climate Dialog hosted by Chancellor Angela Merkel. “There is a need to bring together key players. We think that China, Canada and the EU are in a good position to bring together other countries at the ministerial level to have high-level discussions about how we’re going to move forward on the Paris Agreement."

On May 24 the NY Times published an article by Nadja Popovich titled, Mapping 50 Years of Melting Ice in Glacier National Park.
She wrote that in 1910, when Glacier Nation Park was founded, the park and surrounding national forest had over 150 glaciers,  Now most of them are gone.  She reported that aerial and satellite images showed that of the 39 remaining named glaciers, 10 had lost more than 50% of their area in the past 50 years.  Grinnel, the most visited glacier in the park, has lost 45% of its area.  Scientists attribute most of the loss to human-caused global warming.

On June 2 Maggie Fo posted an article in NBC News titled, Trump Climate Decision Endangers Human Health, Doctors Say.
It said, “President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement will endanger human health and make it hard to prevent even more damage from global warning, medical groups said Thursday.
Many studies clearly lay out the risks from climate change — including respiratory and heat-related illnesses, insect-borne infections, water-borne diseases, and threats to safe food and water.
““The elderly, the sick, and the poor are especially vulnerable,” the American College of Physicians said.”

On June 5 The Guardian published an article by Naomi Oreskes titled, The Republican Party - not Trump - is the biggest obstacle to climate action.  She wrote, “As America and the world attempt to fathom the US withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, most of us are blaming Donald Trump. On one level this is obviously correct. During the presidential election campaign, Trump pledged, if elected, to pull the US out of the accord; he has now made good on that pledge. Withdrawal from the Paris agreement is also consistent with his belligerent personality and isolationist approach to foreign policy. Yet there is a larger context that needs to be understood if we are to find a way forward.
The fact is, Republicans have been resisting action on climate change for just about as long as scientists have been asking the world to do something about it. In 1992, George HW Bush signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), pledging to translate the written document into “concrete action to protect the planet”.
“He did this – along with other world leaders – because the scientific community had already made clear that anthropogenic interference in the climate system represented a serious threat to our future health, wellbeing and prosperity.
But even before Bush went to Rio, members of his own administration were objecting. The White House chief of staff, John Sununu, circulated a contrarian report that insisted – contrary to the emerging scientific consensus – that any observed warming was entirely natural, caused by the sun.
“Shortly thereafter, Bush lost his bid for re-election, and Democrat Bill Clinton took office. Clinton did not particularly care about climate change, but his smart and articulate vice-president, Al Gore, did. As Gore made climate change an issue, and proposed the adoption of a carbon pricing system (a “BTU tax”), Republican opposition began to harden. Even while acknowledging that economists considered an energy tax to be most economically efficient means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, they insisted (without evidence) that it would hamstring the economy and destroy jobs.
In fairness, Democrats did not rally around the carbon tax, but neither did they reject the scientific evidence that climate change was a real problem. Conservative and libertarian thinktanks with close links to the Republican party, however, did. They promoted the rejection of climate science, insisting (again without evidence) that the science was unsettled and that if climate change turned out to be a real issue, we could simply adapt. They also launched highly personal attacks on climate scientists.”
“American business and religious leaders, distinguished senior Republicans who served in the Nixon and first Bush administrations, and even the Pentagon have called for action on climate change. But it has had no impact on Republican policies.”
“But as scientists have called upon us to accept the reality of climate change, we must accept the reality that American climate change denial is not bipartisan. It is Republican. And the only way to fix it is to change the Republican party, or to vote Republicans out of office.”

NOTE: Naomi Oreskes is a Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University and the co-author, with Erik M Conway, of Merchants of Doubt (Bloomsbury, 2010).  While I have quoted some of the more telling parts of her article, the whole thing is very well written and well worth reading.

On June 9 David Shepardson posted an article in Reuters titled, Coalition of 13 states to challenge Trump on vehicle emission standards.
He wrote, “New York State's attorney general and 12 other top state law enforcement officials said on Friday they would mount a vigorous court challenge to any effort to roll back vehicle emission rules by the Trump administration.”
“The push to weaken the rules by the Trump administration comes as automakers are worried that consumers shift to larger vehicles and low gas prices will make it expensive or impossible to meet the regulations. They also fear a prolonged fight with states over the rules could make revising their product plans difficult.”
“"In light of the critical public health and environmental benefits the standards will deliver, if EPA acts to weaken or delay the current standards for model years 2022-25, like California, we intend to vigorously pursue appropriate legal remedies to block such action," the state attorneys wrote in a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency including Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa, Washington State, Oregon and Rhode Island.”
“California has opposed weakening the rules, threatened to pursue tougher standards unilaterally and could mount a legal challenge.”
“Without a deal, automakers could be forced to meet one set of standards in California and a dozen states that have adopted its rules and other rules in the rest of the country.
In 2011, Obama said the rules would save motorists $1.7 trillion in fuel costs over the life of the vehicles, but cost the auto industry about $200 billion over 13 years.”

On June 13 ABC News published an article by Kathleen Ronayne titled, California governor named adviser for UN climate conference.  She wrote, 
“California Gov. Jerry Brown was named Tuesday as a special envoy to states at the next United Nations Climate Change Conference, further elevating his international profile as a leader on the issue as President Donald Trump backs away from a key international agreement.
The announcement of Brown's role at the November conference in Bonn, Germany, by Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama comes on the heels of the governor's meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks to discuss climate change.”
“The four-term governor has made reducing greenhouse gas emissions and boosting green technology a key tenet of his administration. He's launched non-binding climate change pacts, including the newly formed U.S. Climate Alliance of states committed to upholding the carbon reductions goals in the Paris climate agreement, from which Trump plans to withdraw.”
“Brown won't be the only governor potentially playing an outsize role at the conference. Fellow West Coast Govs. Kate Brown of Oregon and Jay Inslee of Washington, who also traveled to Sacramento on Tuesday, both plan to attend with other governors in the state's Climate Alliance.”
“The state agreement is a non-binding commitment to uphold the Paris goals, which include reducing the country's emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels. Many of the 13 states involved already have their own targets in place, and the goal of the coalition is to collaborate and share ideas on using green technology and other means to meet the goal.”
"When the president decided to run up the white flag of surrender to the challenge of climate change, we jumped right into the barricades," Inslee said.

The following items are from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), Carol Werner, Executive Director. Past issues of its newsletter are posted on its website under "publications"
 at http://www.eesi.org/publications/Newsletters/CCNews/ccnews.htm 
EESI’s newsletter is intended for all interested parties, particularly the policymaker community. 

Trump Administration's Budget Would Eliminate Climate Programs and Clean Energy Research

On May 23, the Trump administration released a full budget proposal that bears a close resemblance to the outline published in March 2017. Overall, the President's budget would eliminate 66 federal programs spread across numerous agencies. Environment, energy, and climate programs would see steep cuts, with EPA's popular Energy Star Program, several NASA earth science missions, the Green Climate Fund and Global Climate Change Initiative, and the Department of Energy's (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency all zeroed out. During a press conference, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney characterized past spending on climate science as "crazy." Energy research programs at DOE saw an 18 percent ($3.1 billion) reduction from last year. Jason Bordoff, director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, said, "It is incredibly shortsighted to slash funding for energy R&D and let other countries take the lead in developing new technologies and markets that are going to grow quickly in the years to come." Many aspects of the budget have already drawn rebukes from Congress. In response to the proposed divestment of government-owned transmission lines connecting 20 Western states, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) stated, "Selling government-owned transmission lines to the highest bidder will just have the effect of jacking up power rates, and no one in that region is going to be in favor of this."

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President Trump Urged by European Leaders to Keep the United States in the Paris Agreement

Throughout his recent European trip, President Trump received encouragement from world leaders to maintain the United States' participation in the Paris Climate Agreement. German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed representatives from 30 countries on the importance of international cooperation on climate, stating, "I am trying to convince doubters. There is still work to do." Merkel was scheduled to meet with Trump during the G7 summit held May 26-27. At the Vatican on May 24, Pope Francis gifted Trump a copy of his 2015 encyclical calling for immediate and significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. During a trip to Brussels for a NATO meeting, French President Emmanuel Macron had a "very frank" discussion on climate change with Trump, urging the U.S. president to avoid making a "hasty decision" on withdrawing from the agreement. Speaking with reporters earlier that day, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump was "still thinking about [the Paris Agreement]," but would not consider the issue again until his return to Washington over the weekend.

For more information see:

California Engages World, and Stands Up to Trump, on Climate Change

California is emerging as a national and global leader in efforts to curb climate change. According to Mario Molina, a Nobel-winning scientist from Mexico, "California demonstrates to the world that you can have a strong climate policy without hurting your economy." California has an annual economic output of $2.4 trillion, the sixth largest economy in the world, while its policies served as a model for national environmental regulations like the Clean Power Plan. The Chinese government has recently worked with experts from the state to develop a cap and trade program, and California is working with Canada and Mexico to create a regional cap and trade market. California is also preparing to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency if they revoke a waiver allowing the state to set fuel economy standards higher than the federal level. As the Trump administration weighs pulling out of the Paris Agreement, Gov. Jerry Brown plans on representing California at the next United Nations climate meeting, stating, "We may not represent Washington, but we will represent the wide swath of American people who will keep the faith on this."

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State Laws Limiting Food Waste Deliveries to Landfills Can Reduce Methane Emissions and Create Jobs

In 2014, the United States produced 38 million tons of food waste. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that food makes up 21.6 percent of the waste sent to landfills and incinerators, where it produces methane gas, a significant contributor to climate change. Reducing food waste can limit these environmental impacts, support the economy, and alleviate hunger-a "win-win-win" according to Meghan Stasz of the Grocery Manufacturers Association. New York recently passed legislation providing tax credits to farmers who donate what is left unharvested in their fields to food banks. Many farmers do not harvest entire fields because of high labor costs and consumer demand for perfect produce. In 2014, Massachusetts banned businesses from sending organic waste to landfills if they produce over one ton of organic waste each week. This waste is instead converted into electricity, livestock feed, or compost. A follow-up study of the law found that in two years this initiative generated over 900 jobs and $175 million in economic activity. Currently only four other states limit the amount of food waste that can be sent to landfills.

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India Continues to Invest Aggressively in Renewables, Efficiency, and Electricity Infrastructure

On May 11 at the Vienna Energy Forum, India's Energy Minister Piyush Goyal stated, "We must decouple economic growth from environmental impacts and leave a better world. Every moment counts." Although India is currently powered primarily by coal, the country is adopting a number of clean energy initiatives with surprising speed and plans to extend electricity access to thousands of rural villages. India is in the process of replacing 770 million household and street lights with more efficient LED bulbs, reducing annual carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 80 million tonnes annually. India is also increasing its use of solar and wind power, with plans to have a total of 186 gigawatts (GW) by 2022. The United States currently has around 100 GW of wind and solar installed. Solar is now cheaper than coal in India, potentially eliminating the need to import coal for energy. Goyal also believes no subsidies would be required to have all of India's vehicles run completely on electricity by 2030. The country currently taxes gasoline at the world average, which is 50 percent higher than the rate in the United States.

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On Sept. 23, 2014 a 3.8-minute video was published that was shown at the U.N. Climate Summit that year.  It was narrated by Morgan Freeman and titled, What’s Possible: Take Part.  It’s short but inspiring - well worth watching.

Robinson Meyer on April 13, 2017 posted an article in The Atlantic titled, Carbon Emissions Fell in Obama’s Last Year in Office.  The key point is that while carbon emissions have been falling in the electricity generation sector - largely because of a switch from coal to cheaper natural gas - emissions in the transportation sector have been steadily increasing because of growing consumption of gasoline and diesel fuel.  The drop in liquid fuel prices made possible by fracking has encouraged people to buy larger, less fuel-efficient vehicles.  2016 was the first year when U.S. carbon emissions were greater from transportation than from electricity generation.  According to the author, “… federal fuel-efficiency rules must either get more stringent or there must be a mass consumer move to electric vehicles.”

NOTE: My bet is that the future of transportation will involve both a mass move to electric vehicles and a transition to electricity for their batteries from solar and wind power.  The only question is whether we can complete this transition in time to avoid serious damage to the climate system.

Matt Tinder and John Schneidawind issued a press release on April 17 from the American Institute of Architects titled, Where we stand: Architects respond to climate challenges.  They said, “As the nation prepares to celebrate Earth Day, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) today issued eight principles governing how architects can mitigate climate change and urged the government to protect policies designed to conserve energy and reduce carbon in the built environment.
"Architecture and design can mitigate climate impact while simultaneously reducing operating costs for building owners," said AIA President Thomas Vonier, FAIA. "We need the federal government to keep and even expand incentives that are already producing major advances in energy efficient design and cutting the carbon footprint of buildings."
"These principles reinforce our strong national position on how energy-conscious urban planning and appropriate building design can help meet global climate challenges," Vonier noted. "In fact, the business case for meeting these challenges has never been greater."
Vonier said that the design and construction of sustainable and resilient buildings is already creating jobs and growing the American economy:”
It went on to say, “AIA's Energy Leadership Group recently issued a commentary that calls on the profession to mobilize against climate change and on the United States to honor its commitment to the Paris climate accord. That treaty, ratified in 2016, calls for substantive national and international climate change mitigation actions, most of them implicating the building sector.
"Today, more than half of the world population lives in urban areas, with cities generating more than 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from buildings," the commentary states. "By 2030, world population is expected to increase by 1.1 billion people, with all of that occurring in urban areas."”  

On April 25 Hiroko Tabuchi posted an article in the NY Times titled, With Government in Retreat, Companies Step Up on Emissions.  He wrote:
“The Trump administration may be pondering a retreat from the United States’ climate commitments, but corporate America is moving ahead with its own emissions goals.
Nearly half of the Fortune 500 biggest companies in the United States have now set targets to shrink their carbon footprints, according to a report published Tuesday by environmental organizations that monitor corporate emissions pledges. Twenty-five more companies adopted climate targets over the last two years, the groups said.
Almost two dozen companies, including Google, Walmart and Bank of America, have pledged to power their operations with 100 percent renewable energy, with varying deadlines, compared with just a handful in 2015. Google’s data centers worldwide will run entirely on renewable energy by the end of this year, the technology giant announced in December.
“We believe that climate change is real, and it’s a severe crisis,” said Gary Demasi, who directs Google’s energy strategy. “We’re not deviating from our goals.””
The real laggards in announcing any plans, as you might expect, are the largest emitters - the big energy companies Exxon-Mobil, Phillips 66 and Chevron.

The Omaha World-Herold ran an article May 1 titled, Iowa’s biggest utility aims to produce all its energy from renewable sources.  MidAmerican Energy plans to add about 1000 wind turbines to the 2000 it already has, increasing the 55% of the electricity it now generates from wind power to nearly 90%.  On top of that, the company has agreed not to raise the price of its electricity till at least 2029!

NOTE: Hoping that companies that have made fortunes from producing and selling fossil fuels might actually plan to reduce their emissions is like expecting tobacco companies to admit that nicotine is addictive, or that smoking causes lung cancer.  The words that come to mind to describe their actions are understandable, but despicable.

On May 3 The Boston Globe ran an article by Naomi Oreskes and Jeremy Jones titled, Want to protect the climate? Time for carbon pricing.  Oreskes is a Harvard professor of the history of science, and Jones is the founder of Jones Snowboards and Protect Our Winters.  They wrote, “OUR COUNTRY IS feeling the effects of a changing climate. The West is witnessing dramatic changes to winter, including decreased snowpack — which means less water availability the rest of the year — and tremendous destruction of Western forests by bark beetles that used to die off in winter, but now don’t. Here in Massachusetts, people might think that shorter, milder winters are a good thing. But they are not. If we don’t deal with climate change now, the snowpack will be confined to only the highest of elevations.
Of course, renewable energy is helping to stop further climate change. But solar and wind have trouble competing with fossil fuels, because it’s just not a fair market. Fossil fuels — whose greenhouse gas emissions drive climate change — are more widely available than clean energy, and they are usually cheaper, due to ongoing subsidies. A carbon pricing system would level the playing field.
Putting a price on carbon is a proven market mechanism that has widespread, bipartisan support, and is increasingly being adopted around the globe. It will account for the true cost of burning fossil fuels, creating a more competitive market for clean energy sources. And, it can be implemented quickly to begin reducing carbon pollution.
In Massachusetts, there are two carbon pricing bills pending in the Legislature, with co-sponsorship of more than one-third of our lawmakers. These proposals focus on putting a price on fossil fuels once they enter the state and distributing revenue collected back to businesses and households in the form of rebates. One proposal returns 100 percent of the revenue collected; the other returns 80 percent of revenue while reinvesting the remaining 20 percent into a Green Infrastructure Fund, funding energy efficiency, climate resilience and adaptation measures, and public transportation. Either one would be a great step in the right direction.”

NOTE: So if fossil fuels are wrecking snowboarding in Massachusetts and the world’s climate in general, why do we keep subsidizing them?  Go figure.

On May 3 Phil McKenna of InsideClimate News posted an article titled, 
"We switched on more megawatts in the first quarter than in the first three quarters of last year combined," said Tom Kiernan, the CEO of the American Wind Energy Association.
“Nationwide, wind provided 5.6 percent of all electricity produced in 2016, an amount of electricity generation that has more than doubled since 2010. Much of the demand for new wind energy generation in recent years has come from Fortune 500 companies including Home Depot, GM, Walmart and Microsoft that are buying wind energy in large part for its low, stable cost.”

On May 7 James Ayre posted an article in CleanTechnica titled, World’s Oceans Experiencing Significant Decline In Dissolved Oxygen.  The article says, “The amount of dissolved oxygen in the water of the world’s oceans — an important marker of overall oceanic biological health/livability — has been declining at a notable rate for more than 2 decades now, according to a new analysis from the Georgia Institute of Technology.”
“The oxygen in oceans has dynamic properties, and its concentration can change with natural climate variability,” commented Taka Ito, an associate professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences who led the research. “The important aspect of our result is that the rate of global oxygen loss appears to be exceeding the level of nature’s random variability.”
With falling oxygen levels in ocean water, habitability for larger forms of marine life becomes harder and large-scale hypoxic events (dead zones) became more likely.
While it’s long been known that rising ocean temperatures would result in less oxygen being present in the waters, oxygen levels have been falling much more rapidly than was expected”
“The trend of oxygen falling is about 2 to 3 times faster than what we predicted from the decrease of solubility associated with the ocean warming,” Ito commented. “This is most likely due to the changes in ocean circulation and mixing associated with the heating of the near-surface waters and melting of polar ice.””
“With falling oxygen levels in ocean water, habitability for larger forms of marine life becomes harder and large-scale hypoxic events (dead zones) became more likely.”

NOTE: I was not aware of this depletion of oxygen in ocean water, which is considerably greater than would be expected based on the known decrease in solubility of oxygen as water warms.  It doesn’t sound good.

On May 9 Reader Supported News posted an article titled, CO2 Emissions Soar as Alaska Heats Up.  It said, “The Alaskan tundra is releasing an increasingly large amount of CO2 due to a warmer climate, new research shows.
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that CO2 emitted from the tundra between October and December of each year increased more than 70 percent from 1975 to 2015, likely influenced by season creep and increasingly warmer winters.
"There is a lot of potential CO2 from these soils, which worries people," lead author Roisin Commane told the Guardian. "We'd prefer the carbon stays there."
The study suggested that the tundra's emissions of CO2 have become greater than its uptake during the spring and summer growing season.
"Tundra soils appear to be acting as an amplifier of climate change," co-author Steve Wofsy, a Harvard atmospheric scientist, said in a statement issued by NASA. "We need to carefully monitor what it's doing up there, even late in the year when everything looks frozen and dormant."

NOTE: This increasing rate of emissions as the climate warms is another example of positive feedback in earth’s climate system: The more the climate changes, the faster it goes.  In this case organic material in the ‘permafrost’ can be oxidized by microorganisms using atmospheric oxygen.  If the warming takes place without much oxygen present, methanogenic bacteria can produce methane - a much more powerful greenhouse gas.

On May 11 Jason Pontin, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the MIT Technology Review, delivered a striking 15-minute video presentation  at the Statoil Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas titled, How Will We Solve Big Energy Challenges?.  Statoil is a large Norwegian oil and gas company.  He compared the necessary mobilization of clean energy systems that do not emit greenhouse gases to the American effort to put two men on the moon - but on a far larger global scale - saying that it can be done if we work together and put a significant and increasing price on carbon emissions.

On May 12 The Real News Network posted a short (2.3 min) video interview of Bill McKibben (the founder of 350.org) on what we need to do now that Trump is President.  One thing he emphasizes is the need to set a goal of 100% renewable energy - no more partial measures to address global climate change.  The title is Inevitable Renewable Energy Will Win.

On May 18 the Union of Concerned Scientists posted an article titled, Largest Producers of Industrial Carbon Emissions.  It points out that nearly 2/3 of all CO2 an methane emissions since 1854 can be attributed to just 90 companies - 83 producers of coal, oil and natural gas and 7 cement makers.  “The top five investor-owned companies on the list — Chevron, ExxonMobil, British Petroleum, Shell, and ConocoPhillips — are responsible for one-eighth (12.5%) of all industrial carbon emissions from 1854 to 2010.”  The article points out that two of the companies - Chevron and ExxonMobil - have not only contributed disproportionately to carbon emissions and climate change, but have spent millions of dollars on misinformation campaigns to convince the public that climate change isn’t really happening, or it has nothing to do with human activities, or, even if it does, addressing it would cost far too much.
The article is linked to a list of Frequently Asked Questions and answers:

How do we know that humans are the major cause of global warming?
Why does CO2 get most of the attention when there are so many other heat-trapping gases (greenhouse gases)?
What is the latest climate science?
Does air pollution—specifically particulate matter (aerosols)—affect global warming?
How does the sun affect our climate?
Is there a connection between the hole in the ozone layer and global warming?
What is the best source of scientific information on global warming?
Will responding to global warming be harmful to our economy?
What are the options for the vast stores of coal around the world?
Is global warming already happening?

The article also takes the reader to what it calls an Infographic titled, Climate Science vs. Fossil Fuel Fiction.  The lead sentence is, “Fossil fuel companies and their lobbying groups have been deceiving the public for nearly 30 years about the facts of global warming. They continue to do so today.”

On May 18 Justin Gillis and Johathan of the NY Times emailed me a 3-part series of photos, videos, graphics and four virtual reality films put together by four reporters from the Times reporting on two weeks they spent in Antarctica.  The series was called, Antarctic Dispatches: Miles of Ice Collapsing into the Sea.  In Part 1 the authors wrote, “Glaciers in certain areas have been undercut by warmer ocean waters, and the flow of ice is getting faster and faster.  
The acceleration is making some scientists fear that Antarctica’s ice sheet may have entered the early stages of an unstoppable disintegration.  Because the collapse of vulnerable parts of the ice sheet could raise the sea level dramatically, the continued existence of the world’s great coastal cities - Miami, New York, Shanghai and many more - is tied to Antarctica’s fate.”
“A rapid disintegration of Antarctica might, in the worst case, cause the sea to rise so fast that tens of millions of coastal refugees would have to flee inland, potentially straining societies to the breaking point. Climate scientists used to regard that scenario as fit only for Hollywood disaster scripts. But these days, they cannot rule it out with any great confidence.”
“Recent computer forecasts suggest that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at a high level, parts of Antarctica could break up rapidly, causing the ocean to rise six feet or more by the end of this century. That is double the maximum increase that an international climate panel projected only four years ago.”
The authors wrote this in Part 2: “Extensive satellite monitoring began in the 1990s and, within a decade, evidence emerged that the ice sheet was already starting to speed up, retreat and destabilize. Since then, the rate at which some of the glaciers are dumping ice into the ocean has tripled. More than 100 billion tons are lost every year.
In 2016, Robert M. DeConto of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and David Pollard of Pennsylvania State University published a study, based on a computer analysis of Antarctica, that raised alarms worldwide.
Incorporating recent advances in the understanding of how ice sheets might break apart, they found that both West Antarctica and some vulnerable parts of East Antarctica would go into an unstoppable collapse if the Earth continued to warm at a rapid pace.
In their worst-case scenario, the sea level could rise by six feet by the end of this century, and the pace could pick up drastically in the 22nd century.”
“If the rise turns out to be as rapid as the worst-case projections, it could lead to a catastrophe without parallel in the history of civilization.”  (emphasis added)

NOTE:  Going through the dispatches you are asked if you would like to provide your email to receive more information on climate change around the world.  I signed up.

The following items are from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), Carol Werner, Executive Director. Past issues of its newsletter are posted on its website under "publications"
 at http://www.eesi.org/publications/Newsletters/CCNews/ccnews.htm 
EESI’s newsletter is intended for all interested parties, particularly the policymaker community. 

Seventeen Republican House Members Sign Resolution Vowing to Act on Climate Change

Seventeen Republican House members have signed a resolution entitled "Expressing the Commitment of the House of Representatives to Conservative Environmental Stewardship," which recognizes that humans have contributed to climate change and calls for "economically viable ... and broadly supported private and public solutions." While the Republican base may disagree with increased government regulation on environmental issues, the members of Congress who signed the resolution recognize the need for action on this critical issue. First-term Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) stated, "[Climate change] is such a big issue that it should not be taken lightly on any side of the aisle." Conservative support for climate action is increasing and the congressional backing of the "eco-Right," an array of new policy groups including RepublicEn, R Street, and the Niskanen Center, suggests a promising future for bipartisan climate action. Other Republicans have taken action as well, such as through the establishment of a Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group that seeks to determine economically and socially viable solutions to climate change.

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On March 13 the Sierra Club posted an article by Jason Mark titled, IS THE U.S. GOING TO PULL OUT OF THE PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT? AND WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF IT DOES?  He wrote, 
“The Trump administration’s promised assault on President Obama’s climate action legacy is well underway. This week, President Trump is expected to sign an executive order directing the Environmental Protection Agency to start unraveling the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s effort to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. The White House is scheming with Big Auto to roll back Obama-era increases in vehicle fuel efficiency as it conspires with Congressional Republicans to undo rules that address oil and gas wells’ leakage of methane, a heat-trapping gas that is about 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Trump’s forthcoming budget even threatens to dismantle the EPA’s Energy Star program, a 20-year-old initiative that encourages the adoption of energy-efficient appliances and home heating and cooling—a program that, historically, has enjoyed bipartisan support since it saves Americans money. 
All of this has environmentalists wondering when the other shoe will drop: Are these moves just the first steps toward a feared U.S. retreat from the Paris Climate Agreement? 
During last year’s presidential campaign, Trump promised that, if elected, he would “cancel” the Paris Agreement. But during his Senate confirmation hearings, Secretary of State Tillerson argued that the United States should keep “a seat at the table.” According to various reports (see here and here) White House advisors are split on the issue. While svengali Stephen Bannon is said to be arguing for a Paris pullout—a position in-line with his hardline nationalist vision—Tillerson and Ivanka Trump and consigliere/son-in-law Jared Kushner are making the case that the United States should remain a party to the international agreement.
Environmentalists, meanwhile, are feeling a bit left in the dark. “I think my crystal ball broke months ago,” Vicki Arroyo, director of the Georgetown Climate Center, says wryly. “I wouldn’t want to make a prediction.” Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International and a longtime fixture at international climate talks, told me much the same thing: “You know, with this administration, it’s impossible to know anything.” 
Still, longtime climate action advocates are trying to remain guardedly optimistic, hopeful that, in the end, reason will prevail and that career diplomats at the State Department will successfully convince the White House to keep the United States within the Paris Agreement. A U.S. withdrawal would be nothing short of a “nuclear option,” in Arroyo’s words, that would erode American credibility and set back U.S. interests on other issues requiring global cooperation. “Aggravating our allies and walking away from an agreement that we helped craft is not a great practice,” Arroyo says. “It would undermine us on other issues that we care about.””
“Though a U.S. exit would be a blow, environmentalists say that global action to reduce greenhouse gas emission will nevertheless continue. The world’s largest emitter, China, remains committed to ambitious climate action; its greenhouse gas emissions have stayed stable or in decline for four years in a row. The European Union member nations and the many countries—think, Bangladesh, Pacific Island nations, poorer countries in Latin America and Africa—that are already experiencing stresses due to climate change also remain committed to fulfilling their Paris pledges. “There is an unprecedented show of unity from nations around the world,” Arroyo says. “Countries are standing together and they are sticking with it [the Paris Agreement]. In a surprising turnaround since [the 2009 climate talks in] Copenhagen, China is taking a lead. It can show international leadership with the vacuum of U.S. leadership.” (emphasis added)
“Trump likes to say that he’s going to “Make America Great Again,” and put “America First.” A withdrawal from global climate agreements would do neither. It would, instead, be a retreat from the U.S.’s moral responsibility to address the climate crisis. It would put the U.S. last, a country playing catch-up to other countries heading toward the clean energy future.”

On March 14 Lydia Saad of Gallup posted a report  titled, Global Warming Concern at Three-Decade High in US.  When asked if they worried ‘a great deal’ about global warming, the percentage from 2016 to 2017 increased from 36% to 45%.  A new high of 62% said that global warming is happening now, and the percentage that believe that global warming poses a serious threat is up to 42%.  All three concerns are up significantly since 2015.  

NOTE: It is encouraging to me that more Americans are realizing the magnitude of the threat they face - in spite of the efforts to mislead them by a number of wealthy corporations and individuals with a lot of money invested in fossil fuels.

On March 17 the World Resources Institute posted an article by Noah Kaufman titled, Why the Social Cost of Carbon Is Critical for America to Make Sound Policies.  He wrote, 
According to reports, President Trump is poised to sign a new directive dropping climate change as a consideration when evaluating government agencies’ actions. The move would also reconsider the government’s use of a metric known as the “social cost of carbon,” which helps analysts assess the economic benefits of climate action and economic costs of inaction.
The social cost of carbon (SCC) assigns a dollar value to the benefits from reducing carbon dioxide emissions and addressing climate change. Examples of such benefits are wide ranging, from preserving crop yields and protecting human health to limiting the risk of flooding to coastal properties. With these estimates in hand, agencies can determine if the benefits from efforts to curb carbon pollution – such as standards calling for more efficient appliances or vehicles -- are worth the investment.

If agencies stop using the SCC, it would prevent the government from using the best available science to inform their decisions and from holding polluters accountable for damages caused by carbon dioxide emissions.

How the Social Cost of Carbon Came to Be
In 1981, President Reagan required federal agencies to quantify the benefits and costs of major regulations before deciding whether to impose them and how stringent to make them. Federal agencies began estimating SCCs following a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that led to the U.S. government regulating carbon dioxide emissions as an air pollutant.
In 2009, the Obama administration brought together a group of technical experts to develop a single set of U.S. government SCC estimates based on the best available science and economics. Because estimates of the SCC are highly uncertain—it requires forecasting how changes in emissions affect the climate, how changes in the climate affect economies around the world, and the value of climate damages occurring around the world over centuries—the U.S. government recommends using a wide range of values, from $11 to $105 dollars per ton of CO2 in 2015.

Why We Need the Social Cost of Carbon
Eliminating the use of the SCC in federal regulations would squelch agencies’ ability to follow President Reagan’s guidance and conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses for regulations impacting carbon emissions. After all, without quantifying the benefits, how can we hope to compare the benefits of emissions reductions with the associated costs?
Worse still, the Trump administration could continue using benefit-cost analysis to make regulatory judgments with the assumption there is no value in curbing carbon emissions, despite the mountain of scientific evidence that shows otherwise. Virtually all regulations would then artificially appear too costly to justify, leading to a situation where polluters have license to spew carbon into the atmosphere with no accountability for the damages they cause.
The courts will likely find moves eliminating the SCC to be illegal, because they have ruled (and subsequently affirmed) since 2007 that “the value of carbon emissions reduction is certainly not zero.” In 2016, a Federal Court of Appeals struck down a challenge to the U.S. government’s SCC estimates. The Trump administration will have the challenging task of finding support for such a drastic change to the current U.S. government estimates, while evidence points in the opposite direction. In a recent poll of 1,100 experts on the economics of climate change, 69 percent said the U.S. government’s current “central SCC” estimate of $36 per ton is too low for the benefits of emissions reductions, while less than 10 percent said it was too high.
Following years of study, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently released a report outlining ways to improve SCC estimates and research priorities going forward. Rather than ditching the SCC, the Trump administration could use the findings of this report as a basis for continuing the constructive discussion over the benefits of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and avoiding the risks from climate change. In contrast, eliminating the use of the SCC in federal rulemaking would ignore the recommendations of the country’s top experts and push the Trump administration into a court battle that it has a high likelihood of losing.”

NOTE:  While I often quote parts of an article in this blog, this one is so good that I quoted it in its entirety.

On March 20 Reuters posted an article by Emily Flitter titled, Republican green groups seek to temper Trump on climate change.  She wrote,
“President Donald Trump's outspoken doubts about climate change and his administration's efforts to roll back regulation to combat it have stirred a sleepy faction in U.S. politics: the Republican environmental movement.
The various groups represent conservatives, Catholics and the younger generation of Republicans who, unlike Trump, not only recognize the science of climate change but want to see their party wrest the initiative from Democrats and lead efforts to combat global warming.
Conservative green groups such as ConservAmerica and republicEn, along with politically neutral religious groups such as Catholic Climate Covenant and bipartisan groups such as the Citizens Climate Lobby, have ramped up efforts to recruit more congressional Republicans to work on addressing climate change since Trump's election.
Conservative environmental advocates promote what they call "free enterprise" solutions to climate change, like a carbon tax. That stands in contrast to the approach of liberal environmentalists under former President Barack Obama, who backed bans on certain kinds of oil drilling and regulations aimed at discouraging petroleum use.
But whatever their differences, the conservative groups say they have an important role to play.
"Conservatives now have a chance to earn back the trust of Americans on environmental issues," said Alex Bozmoski, director of strategy for republicEn. "They can lead in a completely different direction that actually grows the economy while cutting greenhouse gasses."
The activists' efforts have not swayed anywhere near a majority yet on Capitol Hill. Only 20 or so of the 237 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have spoken out on climate change this year. But they hope to build a big enough bloc in Congress, or enough influence at the White House, to temper Trump's agenda.
Lobbying has yielded some early results: a pro-environment voting bloc in Congress, the Climate Solutions Caucus, for example, has signed on more Republicans in the last two months than in it had in the final year of Obama's administration - its first year in existence.”

NOTE: It’s very encouraging to me to see some younger and better-informed Republicans coming forward to say the climate change is an important problem that needs to be addressed.  In my opinion, participation of significant numbers of Republicans and businesses is going to be required if a global scale catastrophe is going to be avoided.

On March 21 the NY Times published an article by Nadja Popovich, John Schwartz, and Tationa Schlossberg titled, How Americans Think About Climate Change, in Six Maps.  The maps are the result of congressional district and county opinion studies of adults by the Yale Program for Climate Change Communication over the period 2008-2016.  For example when asked if people support strict limits on CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants, 69% said yes; in fact a majority in every congressional district were favorable.  Most of those asked thought that climate change is happening and is harming people in the U.S., but didn’t think it will harm them personally.  The authors see part of the problem is risk perception.  They write,
“Global warming is precisely the kind of threat humans are awful at dealing with: a problem with enormous consequences over the long term, but little that is sharply visible on a personal level in the short term. Humans are hard-wired for quick fight-or-flight reactions in the face of an imminent threat, but not highly motivated to act against slow-moving and somewhat abstract problems, even if the challenges that they pose are ultimately dire.”  Those who are most concerned tend to live on coasts where they see sea level rise and flooding, or in the West where drought and large wildfires are becoming commonplace.

NOTE:  The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication is one of the best sources of public opinion on climate change in the U.S.  Its web site has a blog dated Feb. 5, 2016 titled, Act on Climate Change with lots of information in four sections:

Learn more and stay informed.
Reduce your carbon emissions.
Become a citizen scientist.
Take political action.

On March 21 the NY Times also published a paper by Coral Davenport titled, Trump Lays Plans to Reverse Obama’s Climate Change Legacy.  It says, ”President Trump is poised in the coming days to announce his plans to dismantle the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s climate change legacy, while also gutting several smaller but significant policies aimed at curbing global warming.
The moves are intended to send an unmistakable signal to the nation and the world that Mr. Trump intends to follow through on his campaign vows to rip apart every element of what the president has called Mr. Obama’s “stupid” policies to address climate change. The timing and exact form of the announcement remain unsettled, however.
The executive actions will follow the White House’s release last week of a proposed budget that would eliminate climate change research and prevention programs across the federal government and slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 31 percent, more than any other agency. Mr. Trump also announced last week that he had ordered Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator, to revise the agency’s stringent standards on planet-warming tailpipe pollution from vehicles, another of Mr. Obama’s key climate change policies.
While the White House is not expected to explicitly say the United States is withdrawing from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, and people familiar with the White House deliberations say Mr. Trump has not decided whether to do so, the policy reversals would make it virtually impossible to meet the emissions reduction goals set by the Obama administration under the international agreement.
In an announcement that could come as soon as Thursday or as late as next month, according to people familiar with the White House’s planning, Mr. Trump will order Mr. Pruitt to withdraw and rewrite a set of Obama-era regulations known as the Clean Power Plan, according to a draft document obtained by The New York Times. The Obama rule was devised to shut down hundreds of heavily polluting coal-fired power plants and freeze construction of new coal plants, while replacing them with vast wind and solar farms.”
“At a campaign-style rally on Monday in the coal-mining state of Kentucky, Mr. Trump told a cheering audience that he is preparing an executive action that would “save our wonderful coal miners from continuing to be put out of work.”
Experts in environmental law say it will not be possible for Mr. Trump to quickly or simply roll back the most substantive elements of Mr. Obama’s climate change regulations, noting that the process presents a steep legal challenge that could take many years and is likely to end up before the Supreme Court. Economists are skeptical that a rollback of the rules would restore lost coal jobs because the demand for coal has been steadily shrinking for years.
Scientists and climate policy advocates around the world say they are watching the administration’s global warming actions and statements with deep worry. Many reacted with deep concern to Mr. Pruitt’s remarks this month that he did not believe carbon dioxide was a primary driver of climate change, a statement at odds with the global scientific consensus.” 

On March 28 the Whitehouse issued an Executive Order titled, Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.

On March 28 the mayors of 75 American cities sent a social media letter to President Trump, titled, #ClimateMayors Letter to President Trump on Roll Back of US Climate Actions.  It said,

“Dear President Trump,
As members of the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda (MNCAA), we represent more than 41 million Americans in 75 cities across our nation — in red and blue states alike. We write to strongly object to your actions to roll back critically important U.S. climate policies including the Clean Power Plan and vehicle fuel efficiency standards, as well as proposed budget cuts to the EPA and critical federal programs like Energy Star.
Climate change is both the greatest single threat we face, and our greatest economic opportunity for our nation. That is why we affirm our cities’ commitments to taking every action possible to achieve the principles and goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, and to engage states, businesses and other sectors to join us.
As Mayors, we work with our constituents face-to-face, every day, and they demand that we act on climate to improve quality of life and create economic growth. As public servants and stewards of public funds and infrastructure, we also cannot ignore the costs of inaction. That is why we are also standing up for our constituents and all Americans harmed by climate change, including those most vulnerable among us: coastal residents confronting erosion and sea level rise; young and old alike suffering from worsening air pollution and at risk during heatwaves; mountain residents engulfed by wildfires; farmers struggling at harvest time due to drought; and..
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