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On May 17 Damian Carrington published an article the The Guardian titled, 
He wrote, “Global warming is on track to cause a major wipeout of insects, compounding already severe losses, according to a new analysis.
Insects are vital to most ecosystems and a widespread collapse would cause extremely far-reaching disruption to life on Earth, the scientists warn. Their research shows that, even with all the carbon cuts already pledged by nations so far, climate change would make almost half of insect habitat unsuitable by the end of the century, with pollinators like bees particularly affected.
However, if climate change could be limited to a temperature rise of 1.5C - the very ambitious goal included in the global Paris agreement - the losses of insects are far lower.
The new research is the most comprehensive to date, analysing the impact of different levels of climate change on the ranges of 115,000 species. It found plants are also heavily affected but that mammals and birds, which can more easily migrate as climate changes, suffered less.
“We showed insects are the most sensitive group,” said Prof Rachel Warren, at the University of East Anglia, who led the new work. “They are important because ecosystems cannot function without insects. They play an absolutely critical role in the food chain.””

On May 23 Alan Bjerga posted an article on Bloomberg titled,  Honeybees May Be Dying in LargerNumbers Due to Climate Change.  He wrote,
“Beekeepers in the U.S. reported an increase in honeybee deaths over the last year, possibly the result of erratic weather patterns brought on by a changing climate, according to the scientist leading an annual survey on the insects.
U.S. beekeepers said 40 percent of their hives, also called colonies, died unexpectedly during the year that ended March 31, according to a survey released Wednesday by researchers from Auburn University and the University of Maryland. That’s up from 33 percent a year earlier.
Elevated bee-loss rates have been an agricultural concern for the past decade, since a mysterious malady called Colony Collapse Disorder coincided with a doubling of honeybee death rates and spurred greater attention and research on commercial and wild bees. Higher death rates make pollination more expensive for beekeepers and farmers.
An autumn that began with hurricanes in southern states, followed by abnormal temperature patterns and frequent winter storms, may have disrupted bee feeding patterns and increased their vulnerability to other maladies, said survey coordinator Geoffrey Williams, an assistant professor at Auburn in Alabama.
"Changes in climate and weather affect food and forage for bees," he said. "It’s pretty obvious that if you have bees already on the edge and you have a radical, quick weather shift, they aren’t going to do as well."
Other factors that may contribute to bee deaths are air pollution, pesticides, and large rapid weather changes.

A May 30 article by Sean Couglan in BBC News reports recent data showing that childres’s learning and performance on exams decreases at higher temperatures.  The title of the article is Hotter years 'mean lower exam results'.
The author wrote, “In years with hotter weather pupils are likely to perform less well in exams, says a major study from researchers at Harvard and other US universities.
There is a "significant" link between higher temperatures and lower school achievement, say economic researchers.
An analysis of test scores of 10 million US secondary school students over 13 years shows hot weather has a negative impact on results.
The study says a practical response could be to use more air conditioning.”
“But this study, from academics at Harvard, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and Georgia State University, claims to have produced the first clear evidence showing that when temperatures go up, school performance goes down.
Researchers have tracked how secondary school students performed in tests in different years, between 2001 and 2014, across the different climates and weather patterns within the US.”

NOTE: This is yet another reason why low income children in poorly funded schools are disadvantaged compared to children from higher income families and schools.

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. 

Federal Agency Recommends Greater Action to Prepare Chemical Facilities for Extreme Weather

Officials with the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board have issued findings and recommendations to the Arkema chemical company, government officials, and chemical industry members. Arkema's facility in Crosby, Texas was flooded by six feet of water during Hurricane Harvey. The flooding took out the backup generators and cooling system, resulting in multiple explosions that exposed the community to hazardous chemicals. The investigation found that the facility had been at risk prior to the hurricane, but that Arkema appeared to be "unware." The board, an independent federal agency responsible for investigating industrial chemical accidents, recommended that the nonprofit Center for Chemical Process Safety work with companies to develop guidance on determining the risks posed to chemical facilities by extreme weather events. Board chair Vanessa Allen Sutherland said, "Given that experts predict that extreme weather events are likely to increase in number and severity, the chemical industry must be prepared for the worst-case scenarios. We cannot stop the storms, but by working together we can mitigate the damage and avoid future catastrophic events."

For more information see: 

City of Norfolk Is Serving as a Laboratory for Climate Adaptation

Officials in Norfolk, Virginia are trying out creative solutions to help the city adapt to the frequent flooding and creeping sea level rise plaguing the city. Norfolk houses the largest naval base in the country, but is also experiencing sea level rise at a rate twice the global average. The city hopes to combine climate adaptation with economic development in order to assist impoverished and vulnerable neighborhoods. That includes Tidewater Gardens, where regular flooding hampers the quality of life of its residents. Proposals to leave the Tidewater site as open space and move people elsewhere have raised concerns that some residents may not be able to afford the neighborhoods they would have to relocate to. Meanwhile, the city's decision to designate the zones most vulnerable to flooding as ineligible for flood protection has residents worried that property values in those areas could crater. Norfolk overhauled its zoning codes in January 2018, featuring incentives to direct new development away from the coast and flood-prone areas. Norfolk's planning director, George Homewood, said, "Let's focus on the areas that aren't at risk, and how we can develop and improve and densify those areas."

For more information see:

Houston Attempts a More Resilient Rebuild Following Hurricane Harvey

Houston is attempting to rebuild following Hurricane Harvey without repeating the planning mistakes that contributed to the storm's destructiveness. Northwest Houston is rebuilding according to new, stricter standards that account for projections of additional extreme weather events in the coming decades. The 2018 hurricane season, scheduled to start June 1, is already expected to be worse than last year's. City officials are also requesting additional flexibility in how billions of dollars in federal emergency funds can be used to address frequently flooded neighborhoods. The nation's fourth-largest city has never had zoning regulations and only added flood-protection standards about 20 years ago, leading to some neighborhoods springing up in flood-prone areas. Part of the problem was a rush to provide housing for Houston's booming population, even if it meant building in flood plains. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner called Harvey "a wake-up call" and has worked to implement building regulations that consider the latest weather projections. Turner noted, "We have had three 500-year storms in the last three years."

For more information see:

New Mexico's Farmers Fear Rio Grande May Dry Up in 2018

Climate change is clouding the long-term outlook of the Rio Grande. Arid conditions and the second-lowest mountain snowpack on record are threatening to bring water shortages to regions that rely upon the river. Farmers in New Mexico may be without irrigation water by the end of July - three months earlier than normal. Some are counting on the seasonal monsoon rains to meet their needs, but the storms can be highly unpredictable. The Rio Grande itself has long been a "feast or famine" river, with alternating wet and dry years. However, warmer temperatures due to climate change could make that year-to-year recovery more difficult. David Gutzler, a climate scientist with the University of New Mexico, said, "The effect of long-term warming is to make it harder to count on snowmelt runoff in wet times. And it makes the dry times much harder than they used to be." The river's conservancy district was able to store water upstream during an exceptionally wet 2016-17 season, but farmers are wary that those types of reserves will be unavailable if 2019 is dry.

For more information see: 

Climate Change Disrupts Long-Term Plans for California's Farmers

America's avocado industry is already experiencing the effects of climate change. Avocados are particularly sensitive to temperature fluctuations, as the trees start to falter when temperatures drop below 28 degrees Fahrenheit or rise above 100 degrees. Cold weather can shorten the trees' pollination period, while water shortages, salt accumulation in the soil, and warm-weather loving pests can also lead to death. California farmer Chris Sayer says all of these hazards are "quite possible in the next few decades, as the climate shifts." During a February freeze, Sayer's trees shed their leaves, which then caused the exposed avocados to burn in the sun. A string of strange weather events has stressed California's crops, which produces two-thirds of the fruits and nuts in the United States. Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at NASA, cautioned, "It's a virtual certainty that California will get drier. I don't think it's a climate that's conducive to orchard crops anymore." Farmers who grow tree-based crops have to deal with the fact that it can take years for those trees to mature and pay off, which makes long-term planning in the face of an uncertain climate all the more challenging.

For more information see: 

Study: Limiting Global Warming to 1.5 Degrees Celsius Could Save Tens of Trillions of Dollars

A new study appearing in the journal Nature asserts that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius could lead to $20 trillion in savings. The Paris Climate Agreement's goal is to cap warming at two degrees C over preindustrial levels within this century. However, prior research found that the national commitments under the agreement would still lead to an increase of three degrees by 2100. Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve these goals will require substantial investments, but will also result in benefits; the researchers wanted to determine what the value of those investments might be. They used historical data to calculate the relationship between temperature fluctuation and gross domestic product (GDP), then estimated how projected temperature increases would affect a country's economy. The study found that if temperatures were contained within the 1.5 degree C target, it could save around three percent of global GDP ($30 trillion). Co-author Noah Diffenbaugh of Stanford University noted, "Low-latitude countries are highly likely to benefit from lower levels of warming because of the fact that they're highly likely to incur damages for higher levels of warming."

For more information see:

Study: Increased Levels of Carbon Dioxide Could Diminish Nutritional Value of Rice Crops 

Scientists have discovered that higher concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide could significantly lessen the nutritional value of rice. The study, appearing in the journal Science Advances, grew several varieties of rice in experimental plots. Some of the plots were enclosed and had their CO2 levels raised to a concentration of 580 parts per million, reflecting the projected atmospheric conditions after 2050 if no action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or deforestation. The rice plots otherwise received the same levels of sunlight, water, and other factors. The rice grown in higher CO2 concentrations saw severe declines in protein, zinc, iron, and B vitamins per grain. B9 vitamins are especially important to fetus development and a deficiency can result in birth defects. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, rice, corn, and wheat provide 60 percent of the global population's food supply. Professor Kristie Ebi of the University of Washington said, "When you look at a country like Bangladesh, three out of every four calories comes from rice. Obviously, that means any decline in nutritional value is very significant."

For more information see:

Trump Administration Rescinds Tailpipe Emission Monitoring Requirement

On May 30, the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) announced in the Federal Register that it would be repealing an oversight rule regarding vehicle tailpipe emissions. The rule required around 400 state transportation departments and municipal planning organizations to track the annual amount of carbon dioxide emitted by vehicles traveling on the country's national highway system. The effort would have also captured traffic congestion data and had an initial report scheduled for completion by October 2018. The repeal will officially take effect at the end of June 2018. The rule also ordered states to set two or four-year emission reduction plans, but the provision did not establish any binding targets. The transportation sector was responsible for more than a third of all U.S. carbon emissions in 2016. A coalition of states, including California, Massachusetts, Washington, and Iowa, had previously sued in 2017 to require the Trump administration to continue enforcing the rule, contingent on a formal review of the rescission proposal.

For more information see:

Trump Administration Files Repeal of National Vehicle Emission Standards, Setting Up Clash with California

On May 31, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposal to repeal a rule requiring automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of its passenger vehicle fleet to more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025. The auto industry had expressed opposition to the rule and had been discussing a potential rollback with Trump administration officials. An EPA spokesperson said the proposal had been sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review, indicating a formal rule could soon appear in the Federal Register for public comment. The move sets up a showdown between California and the federal government over the state's special exemption status. Under the Clean Air Act, California may set its own vehicle emission standards, which have been adopted by 12 other states. These 13 states account for one-third of the total U.S. auto market. Industry experts fear the administration's policy shift could create two divergent sets of fuel economy standards in the United States, which could create significant compliance burdens for the auto industry as a whole.

For more information see:

Climate Change Makes Life Harder for Stakeholders in Senegal's Fishing Economy

The fish sellers of Senegal are struggling to keep up with the impacts of climate change. Warmer water temperatures and rising sea levels have caused commercial fish populations to either migrate farther north or decline altogether. In addition to climate change, growing competition and territorial disputes with neighboring Mauritania and fleets of foreign industrial fishing ships operating illegally in the area have placed enormous pressure on Senegal's fishing economy. In the coastal city of Saint-Louis, women largely occupy the job of processors, who purchase and prep fish for salting. The salted fish has a long shelf life and serves as a crucial nutritional supplement for people of modest means. However, the decline in fish stocks has led to an increase in price, threatening the livelihood of the..
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On Dec. 6, 2011 David Roberts posted a blog in Grist titled, The brutal logic of climate change. It has been generally accepted that the global average temperature should rise no more than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels if we are to avoid serious damage to the climate system.  He writes that the additional amount of CO2 needed to reach that temperature change is about 1300 to 2200 gigatons  (billion tons); the range is because of uncertainty in the temperature response to a given amount of added added CO2.  The additional CO2 required to reach 2 degrees C is called the “climate budget” the total amount of cumulative CO2 that can be tolerated before crossing the red line.  Total annual emissions, which are now about 40 Gt per year and are growing every year, need to reduced soon to have any chance of staying within budget.  The longer we take to start reducing emissions, the less time we’ll have to reduce them to near zero. 

You may ask, What’s wrong with relaxing the carbon budget and setting the allowable temperature rise to 4 degrees C?  Kevin Anderson, a professor of energy and climate change was, until recently, the director of Britain’s leading climate research institution, the Tyndall Energy Program.   Along with his colleague Alice Bows, he published a paper called “Beyond ‘dangerous’ climate change: emission scenarios for a new world” [PDF].  Roberts wrote, “ … if 2 degrees C is extremely dangerous, 4 degrees C is absolutely catastrophic. In fact, according to the latest science, says Anderson, “a 4 degrees C future is incompatible with an organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’, is devastating to the majority of ecosystems, and has a high probability of not being stable.””

Roberts goes on to write,
“One of the most uncertain areas of climate science today has to do with feedbacks — processes caused by climate change that in turn accelerate (or decelerate) climate change. For instance, heat can melt the Arctic permafrost, which releases methane, which accelerates climate change, which melts more permafrost, etc.
Based on current scientific understanding, positive climate feedbacks — the ones that accelerate the process — considerably outweigh negative feedbacks. At some level of temperature rise, some of those positive feedbacks are likely to become self-reinforcing and effectively unstoppable, no matter how much emissions are cut.  (emphasis added).”

NOTE: Something like the climate runaway that humans might inadvertently trigger by adding more CO2 to the atmosphere, was an event that happened about 55 million years ago, long before there were humans, that was possibly triggered by increasing concentrations of CO2 from volcanos, but was driven by methane emissions.  It was called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) and caused the global average temperature to increase 5-8 degrees C, along with a global oceanic extinction event.
In 2009 I wrote a paper for the League of Women Voters titled, Positive Feedbacks and Climate Runaway - The Need to Act without Delay, giving more background for the interested reader.

He wrote,”In 2017, extraordinary wildfires, floods, and storms pummeled large sections of the United States and led to never-before-seen destruction. The complex of fires that torched California's Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino Counties in October caused more than $10 billion in damages, making them the most expensive wildfires in U.S. history. At least 44 people lost their lives during the firestorm. The surreal Christmas-season fires near Santa Barbara led to another $2.5 billion in destroyed property. In August and September, widespread flooding during Hurricane Harvey caused at least $125 billion in damages in the greater Houston area and contributed to 93 deaths. Hurricane Irma damaged $50 billion worth of property in Florida, while Hurricane Maria's September scouring of Puerto Rico caused another $90 billion in damages. At least 60 people in Puerto Rico died as a direct result of the storm; as many as 1,000 lives may have been lost due to the long-running electricity blackout on the island. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2017 was the most expensive year for natural disasters in U.S. history, costing a total of $306 billion.
The mounting price tag of extreme weather events and the prospect of greater destruction to come have brought into focus a question that has been lurking at the edges of climate change conversations: Who should pay the costs of the death and destruction caused by human-driven global warming?”  (emphasis added)
In the late 1980s, when climatologists were still trying to determine the magnitude of the risks from industrial greenhouse gas emissions, academics and policy specialists began calling attention to the fact that the alteration of the planet's atmosphere would lead to unequal harms, and that basic principles of fairness would require that those harms be compensated.”  
“"Climate change reparations" is the shorthand for this claim—reparations meaning, basically, "a rectification of past and ongoing harms." A plainer word would be justice. But justice is elusive, difficult to calculate, and often impossible to enforce. The notion of climate reparations, also referred to as "climate restitution," has proved radioactive within international climate change talks, as richer nations resist acknowledging the responsibilities they may hold.” 
“THESE ETHICAL DILEMMAS are beginning to disentangle as the impacts of climate change become immediate. Climate change is no longer a far-off threat to be suffered by future generations. It is happening here and now, the destruction in real time. 
Meanwhile, new research is tightening the chain of causality between fossil fuel consumption and extreme weather disasters. After Superstorm Sandy walloped New York City in 2012, many people were careful not to attribute the storm's strength to human actions. That uncertainty is evaporating under the glare of a hot new sky. Climatologists report that record-breaking heat and strong winds intensified the disastrous 2017 Northern California wildfires. A few weeks before, San Francisco had posted an unprecedented September high of 106°F. On the first night of the fires, the Diablo winds were clocked at a hurricane-force 79 miles per hour. The record rainfall during Hurricane Harvey (one Texas community measured 51 inches) was three times more likely to occur than it would have been during a storm a century earlier. In December, the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society issued a first-ever report linking extreme weather events to climate change.
On January10, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference to announce that the largest city in the United States was moving to divest its holdings in fossil fuel corporations and was filing a lawsuit against five Carbon Barons—ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Royal Dutch Shell—seeking to recover damages from Hurricane Sandy as well as the costs for sea level rise adaptation. 
"For decades, Big Oil ravaged the environment, and Big Oil copied Big Tobacco," (emphasis added) the mayor said. "They used a classic cynical playbook. They denied and denied and denied that their product was lethal. Meanwhile, they spent a lot of time hooking society on that lethal product. . . . It's time for them to start paying for the damage they've done."” 
“Most damning are the recent revelations that, for nearly 40 years, the leaders of these companies have been aware that their products were emitting dangerous greenhouse gases. A series of exposes published in 2015 by the Los Angeles Times and Inside Climate News showed that in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the oil companies' own in-house scientists had confirmed that CO2 from oil products was contributing to the greenhouse effect. As early as 1977, scientists at Exxon warned the company that the "use of fossil fuels . . . should not be encouraged" because of the risk they posed. In a 1980 presentation to members of the American Petroleum Institute (API), a scientist warned that a global temperature rise of 2.5°C would likely have "major economic consequences" and that further rises would likely produce "globally catastrophic effects." A year later, a director in Exxon's research unit warned that the CO2 emissions modeled in the company's 50-year planning documents "will later produce effects which will indeed be catastrophic (at least for a substantial fraction of the earth's population)." There's the smoking gun, in the form of an engineer's memo.” 

NOTE: While winning lawsuits against big oil, natural gas and coal companies will be very difficult because of their wealth and political power - and  the fact that they provide jobs - the idea of the justice of reparations may dawn on even the most ardent deniers of climate science, once the damage is clear enough for anyone to see.

On April 25 Bloomburg published an articlel by Christopher Lavelle titled, FEMA Proposes Letting People Rebuild Homes After Taxpayer Buyouts.  He wrote,
“The Federal Emergency Management Agency is proposing to allow owners of homes destroyed by storms and bought out by the government to rebuild on the same flood-prone land.  (emphasis added)
Currently, FEMA offers to buy homes that have been repeatedly damaged by flooding but then tears down the structure and turns the land into open space. The policy is intended to limit future disaster costs, by removing buildings in locations that make them particularly vulnerable to floods.
Under a change proposed in February, the agency would let homeowners sell their homes to the government but retain ownership of the property underneath it. Once FEMA tears down the home, the owners would be allowed to rebuild the house, so long as the new structure "meets community flood management building codes."
"Why would you want to change the rules?" Larry Larson, senior policy adviser for the Association of State Floodplain Managers, said in an interview. "That doesn’t make sense."

NOTE: Allowing the owner whose home has been repeatedly destroyed by flooding to build there again costs FEMA (you the tax payer) more at a time when FEMA is paying out more for flood damage than it has income to cover the loses.  Stupido.

On April 26 The NY Times posted a newsletter by Nadja Popovich in its weekly Climate Fwd., titled, What countries are most responsible for carbon emissions?
She wrote,
Using data from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center going back more than 160 years, we compared how much planet-warming CO2 has been released by every country since the industrial revolution. You can see the results in the chart.
Today’s highly industrialized economies — the United States and Europe — got a big head start on burning fossil fuels. But China and other developing nations have ramped up output in recent years.
In total, the United States pumped more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other nation between 1850 and 2014, the latest year for which the center’s data is available. The European Union, including Britain, was the second-largest source of fossil-fuel emissions over that period; China came in third.”
“China may emit twice as much carbon dioxide as the United States today, but the country is home to four times as many people (about 1.4 billion compared to 328 million). Divvying up national emissions by population gives us a different view of “responsibility.”
Small countries with fossil-fuel-intensive economies, like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, tend to top the per capita emissions list. But among more populous nations, the United States, Canada and Australia rank highest.
In 2014, the average American was responsible for more than twice as much carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere (16.2 metric tons per person) as the average Chinese citizen (7.5 metric tons); two and a half times as much as the average Briton (6.5 metric tons); and 10 times as much as the average Indian (1.7 metric tons).”

NOTE: You can subscribe for weekly electronic delivery of NY Times newsletters on climate change here.  You can also submit questions.

On May 9 The Seattle Times published an article by Hal Bernton titled, Washington state regulators tell utilities to tally social costs of carbon emissions.
He wrote, 
“State regulators this week stepped up their activism on the climate front by telling three utilities to reconsider the carbon-emission costs of producing electricity from coal and other fossil fuels.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission directives were sent to Puget Sound Energy, Avista Corp and Pacific Power, which collectively serve more than 1.47 million state customers from a mix of coal, natural gas and renewable power.
The commission asks the utilities to assign a hefty cost to carbon emissions, a pollution source that scientists say is driving climate change.
This would be for planning purposes, and not used to try to justify higher rates. But such an accounting would bolster the financial case for the three utilities to hasten their planned exit from the Colstrip Generating Plant, a major Montana coal plant in which each as an ownership stake.
“The higher the (carbon) price, the less economic that facility will look, “ said Ken Johnson, a vice president of Puget Sound Energy, which currently forecasts to be off of coal-fired power by the early 2030s.”

NOTE: The “social cost of carbon” (SC-CO2) is an estimate of the total cost to society in dollars per metric ton of CO2 emitted.  Prior to the Trump administration, the best estimate used by the EPA and other federal agencies was $42 per ton in 2020 and $60/ton by 2040 as the impacts of climate change increase.  Since Trump’s election the cost estimate has been greatly reduced to $1 to $6 per ton, making fossil fuels much more economically attractive.

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. 

Declining Snowpack Levels Continue to Plague Western United States

Officials in the western United States are dealing with a range of issues stemming from low flow in parts of the Rio Grande and Colorado River. States in the Colorado River Basin are being urged to install drought contingency plans by the end of 2018 to prepare for an increasingly strained water supply. Meanwhile, officials are trying to save endangered fish in New Mexico, where the Rio Grande is beginning to run dry at an unusually early time of year. The Southwest's wildfire season has also started early, with at least 10 major wildfires having already burned tens of thousands of acres. Researchers are eyeing diminished mountain snowpack in the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains as one culprit behind the parched conditions. The California Department of Water Resources found that the Sierra's snowpack levels were only 52 percent of its historical average. The Colorado River Basin has also experienced some of its lowest snowpack levels in decades. Collectively, the mountain snowpack provides drinking water to millions of people, while the spring runoff helps moisten the soil and reduce stress on vegetation.

For more information see:

Alaska's Policies Strive to Catch Up to Climate Realities

The state of Alaska is actively discussing policies to address climate change, including greenhouse gas emission reduction goals targeting 2025 and a potential carbon tax on industry emissions. Alaska is already experiencing the effects of global warming. The permafrost located underneath much of the state's buildings and infrastructure is beginning to thaw and destabilize the construction above. At least 31 towns and cities may have to relocate farther inland due to the loss of sea ice buffers and severe wave erosion of the shoreline. Alaska's Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott said, "The change has been so real and so widespread that it's become impossible to ignore. Folks are realizing that it's something we have to deal with." A task force established by Gov. Bill Walker is scheduled to provide recommendations by September 2018 on policies to help Alaska reduce its emissions and better adapt to climate change. This desire to deal with climate change is contradicted by the fact that 85 percent of Alaska's budget is funded by revenue from oil production. Gov. Walker and Lt. Gov. Mallott recently declared in an op-ed that "[Alaska] will continue to be an energy producer for as long as there is a market for fossil fuels."

For more information see:

Study: As Manufacturing Moves Beyond China and India, Emissions Rise

A study from researchers at the University of East Anglia has documented an increasing number of industries relocating from China and India to less-developed Asian countries. This trend may undermine global emission reduction targets outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement, since the less-developed nations typically have less capacity or resources to deal with large-scale emission reductions. The study found that energy-intensive industries, including electronics manufacturing and steel production, are moving to countries with cheaper labor like Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. Meanwhile, China's economy is beginning to shift to "higher value-added" products and services as its labor costs rise. China itself has sought to cut its emissions from these industries in order to improve its air quality and preserve worker health, but less-developed countries have begun exporting more and experienced a simultaneous surge in emissions. International trade increased by 50 percent between 2005 and 2015, with 60 percent of that representing growth in exports from developing countries. Lead author Dabo Guan said that China and India should help ensure their former industries adopt energy efficient technologies and methods in less-industrialized nations.

For more information see:
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On Feb. 22 Yoshiguro Yugi posted a blog in MAHB (Millenial Alliance for Humanity and Biosphere, which originated at Stanford) titled, Fatal Errors of Humanity.  The author wrote:
“The current ways of civilization cannot be continued much longer, because the basic concepts of human existence are wrong and humanity has been destroying her community and her only habitat. This essay is an attempt to point out the fundamental errors that will lead to the destruction of the ecosystem and civilization and to show a way to a peaceful world, by clearly conceptualizing what many people seem to be feeling but unable to formulate.”
“Humanity has a narrow window of time to choose a path for the future from two options. One is the continuation of the current ways. This will lead to further social conflicts, likely another global war, and probably to an end of civilization as we know it, if not to the end of Homo sapiens.”
“Humanity needs to understand, and correct, the cause of the current situation, namely, the lack of rational guiding principles, or constitution of humanity. Instead we have the following combination of irrationality, idealism, shortsightedness, egoism, brutality and ignorance:
– freedom of procreation,
– right to own whatever wealth one can acquire based on competition,
– promotion of consumption for economic growth,
– right to life for every human while animals and plants are viewed as consumable resources,
– idealized view of human nature that does not admit evil in the human mind,
– justification of killings and seizure of territory and properties by wining wars,
– perception of environment as a trash dump,
– disregard of the finiteness of space, resources, and capacities of the planetary systems,
– disregard of the principles of the biosphere,
– disregard of the conditions necessary for functional planetary systems.” 

NOTE: The author’s article is unusual, but very thought provoking. I don’t know what the third phrase from the end means, but I agree that we are living in an unsustainable way that will have grave consequences unless we change course before it is too late.  

Fiona Harvey on March 19 posted an article in The Guardian titled, Climate change soon to cause movement of 140m people, World Bank warns
Climate change will result in a massive movement of people inside countries and across borders, creating “hotspots” where tens of millions pour into already crowded slums, according to the World Bank.
More than 140 million people in just three regions of the developing world are likely to migrate within their native countries between now and 2050, the first report on the subject has found.
The World Bank examined three regions, which between them account for 55% of the developing world’s population. In sub-Saharan Africa, 86 million are expected to be internally displaced over the period; in south Asia, about 40 million; and in Latin America, 17 million.
Such flows of people could cause enormous disruption, threatening governance and economic and social development, but the World Bank cautioned that it was still possible to stave off the worst effects.
“Climate change-driven migration will be a reality, but it does not need to be a crisis, provided we take action now and act boldly,” said John Roome, a senior director for climate change at the World Bank group.”
“He laid out three key actions governments should take: first, to accelerate their reductions of greenhouse gases; second, for national governments to incorporate climate change migration into their national development planning; and third, to invest in further data and analysis for use in planning development.”

On March 20, 2018 Damian Carrington published an article in The Guardian titled, Can Climate Litigation Save the World?
He wrote, “Courts are a new front line of climate action with cases against governments and oil firms spiralling, and while victories have so far been rare the pressure for change is growing.”
“Global moves to tackle climate change through lawsuits are poised to break new ground this week, as groups and individuals seek to hold governments and companies accountable for the damage they are causing.
On Tuesday, action by 12 UK citizens reaches the high court for the first time, while on Wednesday in San Francisco, the science of climate change will effectively be on trial at a key moment in a lawsuit.
The litigation represents a new front of climate action, with citizens aiming to force stronger moves to cut carbon emissions, and win damages to pay the costs of dealing with the impacts of warming.”
“They are inspired by momentous cases from the past, from the defeat of big tobacco to the racial desegregation of schools in the US. Big oil is fighting back hard, but though victories have been rare to date wins are more likely in future, as legal experts say the attitudes of judges often shift with the times.
A flurry of billion-dollar cases against fossil fuel companies brought by New York city and communities in California over the rising seas has pushed climate litigation into the limelight. But cases are being brought across the globe, with more than 1,000 suits now logged by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia law school in New York.”

On March 22 Ethanol Producer Magazine publised andd article titled, Toyota reveals world-first flexible fuel hybrid prototype.It said, 
“A prototype of the world's first hybrid flexible-fuel vehicle (hybrid FFV), debuted in an event Toyota recently held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Stakeholders including the state government, universities, and the sugarcane association (the Sugarcane Industry Union: UNICA) attended the event. The prototype is the combination of a flexible-fuel vehicle (FFV) that can be powered by both gasoline and alternative fuels such as ethanol, and Toyota's famous hybrid system which combines a combustion engine and an electrical powertrain.”
“The development of hybrid FFV represents one of Toyota's efforts to achieve its "Environmental Challenge 2050" where it challenges itself to reduce vehicle CO2 emissions by 90 percent in comparison with 2010 levels, by 2050. Another objective of the Environmental Challenge is to completely eliminate CO2 emissions from the vehicle lifecycle, including materials, parts and manufacturing. In line with that goal, Toyota also targets to have more than 5.5 million electrified vehicles in its global new vehicle sales by 2030.”

On March 22 Nina Chestney Poster an article in Reuters titled, Global emissions hit record high in 2017.  She wrote,
”Global energy-related carbon emissions rose to a historic high of 32.5 gigatons last year, after three years of being flat, due to higher energy demand and the slowing of energy efficiency improvements, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said.  
Global energy demand rose by 2.1 percent last year to 14,050 million tonnes of oil equivalent, more than twice the previous year’s rate, boosted by strong economic growth, according to preliminary estimates from the IEA.  Energy demand rose by 0.9 percent in 2016 and 0.9 percent on average over the previous five years.
Over 70 percent of global energy demand growth was met by oil, natural gas and coal, while renewables accounted for almost all of the rest, the IEA said in a report.”

NOTE: Scientists have warned that we must begin soon to drastically reducing CO2 emissions, yet they are increasing.  This is not smart.

Onn March 23 PBS Frontline published a report by Katie Worth titled. Mailings to Teachers Highlight a Political Fight over Climate Change in the Classroom.
She wrote, “Last spring across the nation science teachers began to receive unsolicited classroom materials from a liberterian group that rejects the scientific consensus on climate change.
This spring some of the same teachers are opening packages containing very different materials: A book written by a Cornell University affiliate called “The Teacher Friendly Guide to Climate Change,” which embraces the prevailing science, explains the phenomenon in detail and includes information on how to teach the subject to children.”
“Last year’s mailings were sent out by the Heartland Institute, an Illinois-based think tank that holds an annual conference that has become a pilgrimage for those who reject the overwhelming findings of the scientific community that humans are causing earth’s climate to change. The packages contain pamphlets a book titled “Why Scientists Disagree about Global Warming.”  A spokesman for the group said it sent out more than 350,000 packages to K-12 and college-level science teachers last year.”

On March 28 Climate Home News published an article by Zak Derler titled, UN Security Council makes ‘historic’ warning on climate threat to Somalia.
He wrote “The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has formally recognised climate change as a destabilising factor in Somalia.
In a resolution adopted on Tuesday as part of a renewed mandate for assistance and peacekeeping in the country, the council noted “the adverse effects of climate change, ecological changes and natural disasters among other factors on the stability of Somalia, including through drought, desertification, land degradation, and food insecurity”.
The council emphasised the need for peacekeepers and governments working in Somalia to be better prepared to cope with complications arising from climate impacts.
The links between climate change and insecurity have been emerging on the ground and in the halls of diplomacy.”

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. 

Final Omnibus Budget Bill Preserves Climate Programs, Boosts Scientific Research

On March 22, the House passed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill to fund the government through September 2018. The Senate followed suit late that night ahead of a March 23 deadline to avoid a government shutdown. The massive bill largely rebuked the President's budget proposal, which contained deep cuts and numerous eliminations for federal climate, energy, and environmental programs. Instead, the bill either maintained or increased funding levels for these programs. EPA's $8.1 billion overall budget remained stable, despite the White House's demand to cut it by one-third. The Department of Energy saw increases to its research and energy efficiency programs, including the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), both of which were targeted for cuts by the administration. NOAA's major weather and polar observation satellite programs received full funding, while NASA's ongoing earth science initiatives were also spared the chopping block. Numerous "poison pill riders" were left out of the final bill, including a provision that would have prohibited funding to enforce a Bureau of Land Management methane emission reduction rule.

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Energy Secretary Pledges to Support Research Program Trump Wants to End

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry defended his agency's $30 billion budget and the $300 million Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program at a March 20 Senate committee hearing. ARPA-E focuses on funding promising early-stage energy technologies that are deemed too risky for private investment. The Trump administration wanted to slash funding for the program again this year, claiming the private sector would be a better judge of what technologies should be funded. At the hearing, Perry pledged to back the program, "If this Congress ... supports the funding of that, it will be operated in a way that you will be most pleased with." During a prior appearance at a major ARPA-E summit, Perry praised the program's "power of innovation" and named it a "window into our future." ARPA-E enjoys bipartisan support in Congress, including from the chair and ranking members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Congress' recently issued budget bill increased funding for ARPA-E, despite the White House's proposal to eliminate it.

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Report Explores Unique Climate Threats to Alaskans

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) published a report discussing the health impacts of climate change on Alaskans. The DHSS report emphasized two themes: food access and storage and vulnerability to mental and emotional stress. According to the report, as temperatures rise, it becomes more difficult to store food and thus the risks of foodborne illnesses increase, especially in the native communities where people hunt for wild food. As climate change begins to limit access to wild foods and traditional storage methods (like permafrost cellars), Alaskans are starting to rely on store-bought food, which is not as nutritious and tends to be more expensive. Solastalgia, a distress caused by rapid environmental change in people's communities, could lead to mental health issues. Lead author Sarah Yoder said, "As people's way of life changes and as anxiety about how things around the community might change ... that can all impact their general feelings of well-being." Gov. Bill Walker (I) signed an administrative order in the fall of 2017 to create an Alaska Climate Change Strategy and other entities to address these challenges.

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U.S. District Judge Requests Climate Science Tutorial from Litigants 

On March 22, the U.S. District Court for Northern California heard a lawsuit that the cities of San Francisco and Oakland filed against oil companies, including Chevron and Exxon, over the firms' liability for damages stemming from greenhouse gas emissions. The suit argues that the industry knew about the likely consequences of fossil fuel use decades ago, but actively fought regulations and spread false information about scientific findings. Presiding Judge William Alsup ordered a five-hour tutorial on climate change science at the hearing. Each side would have 120 minutes to talk about climate science history and the state of today's best available climate science. The litigants have been asked to answer a series of questions produced by Alsup, such as, "What are the main sources of heat that account for the incremental rise in temperature on Earth?" Alsup is known for asking litigants to tutor him on technical issues, but legal experts claim that such a hearing on climate change is novel. Both sides regard the tutorial as an opportunity to argue for their claims.

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Study: American Beef Consumers Responsible for Significant Portion of Diet-Related Greenhouse Gas Emissions

A new study from the University of Michigan and Tulane University found that 20 percent of American eaters, whose diets were heavily reliant on beef, were responsible for nearly half of diet-related greenhouse gas emissions. If this group decreased its beef consumption and calorie intake, they could achieve 10 percent of the emissions reductions needed for the United States to meet its goals under the Paris Climate Agreement. When diets were ranked by their emissions, the study found that the top 20 percent were responsible for eight times more emissions than the lowest 20 percent, with beef consumption accounting for 72 percent of the gap. This was the first study to look at what individual people actually consumed, rather than measuring how food commodities move through the broader economy. The study's researchers constructed a database of the environmental impacts of producing 300 commonly eaten foods and connected this to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a survey that includes self-reported dietary data for more than 16,000 Americans.

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NOTE: This study supports the idea that people who want to reduce their family’s carbon footprint should greatly reduce their consumption of beef.  Producing beef not only requires a lot of feed (and water), but cattle make a lot of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, that goes from their digestive system into the atmosphere. 

Climate Change Putting a Damper on Outdoor Ice Rinks 

Backyard ice rinks are a long-standing tradition in Canada, where winter sports are deeply embedded in the culture. However, climate change has led to rapid warming in the Northern Hemisphere, making it increasingly difficult to maintain a backyard rink and drastically shortening the outdoor skating season. Robert McLeman of Wilfrid Laurier University noted a temperature of 23 degrees Fahrenheit or lower is necessary to maintain a good skating surface. "Any warmer than that and the rink is no longer skateable. And that's sort of on the horizon for us in the second half of the 21st century," he said. Researchers with Rink Watch, a citizen science project gathering data from more than 1,500 backyard rinks, predicts the number of skating days in Toronto will decline by 34 percent by 2090. His colleague Colin Robertson said, "The fact that this could be taken away and is tied to climate has been a real eye-opener." The changing conditions have led everyone from skating enthusiasts to the National Hockey League to give renewed consideration to global warming.

For more information see:

NOTE: The path going to my front..
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On Feb. 27 Eric Holthaus posted an article in Grist titled, Meet the teens schooling us on climate.  He reports that teenagers “are increasingly finding their voices in the Trump era, expanding media-savvy campaigns for racial equality and gun control to encompass climate change. A group of high school students are now planning a nationwide series of climate marches on July 21, when they will confront lawmakers in Washington, D.C., with a list of their demands for a livable climate.”  The head leader of he marches is Jamie Margolin, a 16-year old high school sophomore.
“Margolin is one of 13 young plaintiffs suing Washington state government for not taking sufficient action to address climate change.”  “And the Seattle teen is not an anomaly: Statistically, young women of color like Margolin are the demographic most engaged on climate issues.
“Margolin started planning the upcoming climate march, which she calls “Zero Hour,” last August, after the Trump administration announced its plans to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. She recruited Mrinalini Chakraborty, head of strategy for the national Women’s March, to help the students file for permits and plan logistics. Now, the organizing committee includes dozens of youth from Connecticut to California. The official website for the march launched last week.
Now, the group is drawing inspiration from the teen-led movement for federal gun control in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Margolin was particularly impressed when the Parkland students confronted lawmakers about accepting money from the NRA — which produced some predictably awkward stammers. Her team is considering making similar demands for politicians to refuse money from the fossil fuel industry.”

NOTE: Thank God, for the youth! They can get the older ones like me to finally get up off their duffs and provide a healthy, livable world for future generations.  The actions of these young people reminds me of Our Children’s Trust - a law suit brought against the government of the United States for not protecting the rights of young people to life, liberty and property.  You can see a 2-minute video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZVfNDcWOpU

Climate Home News published an article on January 3 by Joseph Curtin titled, Only one country will be to blame if the Paris climate deal fails.  He writes,
“US scientists like Charles Keeling and James Hansen are largely responsible for drawing the world’s attention to global warming. States like California are leading the world in their policy response, and American innovation in areas like electric vehicles and battery storage may well prove crucial in long-term. At the same time, American politics has prevented real action to reduce emissions for two decades, not just at home but globally.”
“No country has a perfect record, but the situation either side of the Atlantic is incomparable. Each European emits about 6.4 tonnes of heat-trapping CO2 per year, compared to 16.5 tonnes for the average American. (emphasis added)The EU will overachieve its 2020 targets by a considerable distance, whereas the US federal government has reneged on its commitments.
A notable achievement is the EU-wide emissions trading scheme, which places a modest but steadily increasing price on carbon emissions. Binding targets for the growth of renewables have spurred their uptake, while demanding energy standards for appliances, vehicles and homes have transformed behaviour.”
Curtin points out that though China has been the world’s major emitter (tons of CO2/yr) since 2006, CO2 has such a long atmospheric lifetime that it is the total amount that is most important in warming the climate.  Since 1870 the total Chinese emissions have been 194 billion metric tons tons while those of the U.S. have been 393 billion.  Furthermore, China has taken the lead in manufacturing solar panels and electric cars, while the U.S. is falling behind in the technologies of the future.  Curtin ends with this:
“It is often said that climate change is a global problem requiring a global solution. This might be true, but the biggest barrier to action is that the biggest contributor with the greatest means refuses to lead. America holds the key, and if its government, its capital, its innovators, its communities, and its citizens can lead, the world will follow. I have absolutely no doubt that change is around the corner, but the clock is ticking.”

On Feb. 28 the NY Times Climate Forward published an article by Henry Fountain titled, What are the leading/viable technologies to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere?  This is what he wrote:

“There are five major approaches to carbon dioxide removal:
Plant more forests. Trees remove carbon dioxide naturally, incorporating it into their tissues as they grow. Worldwide, forests store about one billion to two billion tons of carbon annually, offsetting a chunk of the roughly 10 billion tons emitted by human activity. Reforestation and afforestation, properly managed, could remove a lot more and keep it out of the atmosphere. But planting forests is slow work — as Icelanders know well — and requires a lot of land. The world is currently much better at cutting down forests than planting new ones.
Crush a lot of rock. This technique is called enhanced weathering, and is based on the fact that some types of rock weather by naturally combining with carbon dioxide in the air or water. One suggested approach would use the mineral olivine, which is plentiful, crushing it into fine sand and spreading it on land, perhaps along coastlines. But mining, crushing and transporting the billions of tons needed would be expensive and energy intensive. And the carbon removal would still be exceedingly slow.
Burn plants for energy and capture the carbon dioxide. In this high-tech approach, called bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or BECCS, vegetation would be used to naturally remove carbon dioxide. The vegetation would then be burned in a power plant and the carbon dioxide in the exhaust gases would be captured and stored. So far there are only a handful of working BECCS projects; others have been canceled. Among the many questions about the technology is whether emissions are really negative if the carbon cost of growing and harvesting the vegetation is taken into account.
Sprinkle iron in the ocean. Like enhanced weathering, fertilizing the ocean by putting iron particles or other nutrients in the water is among the more far-fetched approaches. The idea is that the nutrients would stimulate the growth of tiny marine plants called phytoplankton, which would incorporate carbon dioxide as they grew and then sink to the bottom of the ocean when they died, taking the carbon with them. Generally, however, putting large amounts of metal or chemicals into seawater is considered ocean dumping. There have been only a few tests of the idea, one of which was conducted without scientific oversight off Western Canada in 2012 under the pretense of helping a native Canadian community improve its salmon catch.
Suck carbon dioxide out of the air. There has been a significant amount of research into “direct air capture.” Much of the technology is similar to what is used in carbon capture projects at power plants: chemicals bind with carbon dioxide molecules and then are heated or otherwise treated to release them for capture. Several companies, including Carbon Engineering and Climeworks, have developed machines to do this. But carbon capture at a fossil-fuel plant, where carbon dioxide can make up perhaps 5 to 10 percent of the exhaust gases, is one thing. Doing it from the air is another. For all the rightful concern about rising carbon dioxide levels, the gas still makes up only about 0.04 percent of the atmosphere. Removing a significant amount of it would involve moving huge volumes of air through thousands upon thousands of capture machines, and powering the machines for decades.

Fountain wrote:  
“Some removal technologies are more fanciful than others, but as for which are most viable, it could be argued that none are, at least not yet. In a report last month, the European Academies of Science Advisory Council offered a pessimistic outlook for carbon removal, saying that it offered only “limited realistic potential” to have a climate impact. The authors argued that the world should not count on removal technologies to make up for a failure to sharply reduce or eliminate emissions in the first place.”

On March 1 Hiroko Tabuchi posted an article in the NY Times titled, Parts Suppliers Call for Cleaner Cars, Splitting With Their Main Customers: Automakers. He wrote,

On March 7 Nicholas Kusnetz posted an article in Inside Climate News titled, Children’s Climate Lawsuit Heads to Trial: Court Rejects Trump Attempt to Block It.  He wrote,”A federal appeals court rejected the Trump administration's attempt to halt a landmark climate change lawsuit on Wednesday, ruling that the case can proceed to trial in a lower court.
The lawsuit, brought in 2015 by 21 youths, argues that the federal government has violated their constitutional rights by failing to act on climate change.
"We're excited to be back in the district court," said Julia Olson, chief legal counsel for Our Children's Trust, a nonprofit that is representing the youths. "We'll promptly ask for a new trial date for 2018 and get there as quickly as we possibly can, given the urgency of the climate crisis."
The plaintiffs are asking the courts to force the government to enact policies that would cut the nation's greenhouse gas emissions and end subsidies to fossil fuel companies.
The Obama administration tried to get the case dismissed in 2016, but a federal district judge in Oregon rejected the request and set a trial date for February 2018. Last year, the Trump administration tried to halt the case, this time by employing an unusual legal tactic to have an appeals court review the lower court's ruling before the case proceeded to trial.”

On March 13 Georgina Gustin posted an article in Inside Climate News titled, 22 National Science Academies Urge Government Action on Climate Change.  She wrote,
“As some of the world's biggest polluters resist efforts to address climate change—most glaringly, the United States—thousands of scientists from countries that make up the Commonwealth of Nations say their governments need to take bolder steps to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
On Monday, the national science academies of 22 Commonwealth countries, including from the UK, Canada, India and Australia, issued a "Consensus Statement on Climate Change," declaring that the "Commonwealth has the potential, and the responsibility, to help drive meaningful global efforts and outcomes that protect ourselves, our children and our planet."
The statement comes one month before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, where leaders intend to discuss sustainability and climate change.
Monday's statement warns that countries need to adopt stronger measures to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels—the goal of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. The statement points out that, even if countries meet their existing greenhouse gas reduction targets under the agreement, a recent report from the United Nations projects "a global temperature rise of 3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
In the statement, scientists from 22 national academies of sciences call on the government leaders to use the "best possible scientific evidence to guide action on their 2030 commitments" under the agreement and "take further action to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions during the second half of the 21st Century."
“The 53 countries of the Commonwealth comprise former territories of the British Empire, including Botswana, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and are home to about 2.4 billion people.”  (emphasis added)

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. 

Federal Judge Orders Trump Administration to Enforce Methane Emission Controls

On March 1, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ordered the Trump administration to cease its suspension of rules that require oil and natural gas producers on federal and tribal lands to take preventative measures against rogue methane leaks. Judge William Orrick granted New Mexico and California’s bid for a preliminary injunction against the repeal of the rules, which had taken effect in January 2017. The case was combined with a similar suit filed by a coalition of 17 tribal and environmental groups. Orrick reasoned that the Bureau of Land Management had not provided substantial evidence for justifying the rules’ repeal. Orrick stated, “[The plaintiffs] have shown irreparable injury caused by the waste of publicly owned natural gas, increased air pollution and associated health impacts, and exacerbated climate impacts.” This marks the third federal court to rule in favor of preserving the rules. Oil and gas industry representatives and the states of Texas and North Dakota had joined the administration in pursuing the repeal.
For more information see:

Hurricane Debris Adds to U.S. Virgin Islands' History of Environmental Strife

During the 4.5 months since Hurricane Maria struck the U.S. Virgin Islands, the U.S. Army Corps and local contractors have gathered more than 61,000 truckloads of debris in their effort to clean up the three major islands of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. The consequence of this work has been mountains of waste appearing at local landfills, to the point that they have become part of the visible landscape on the scenic islands. Gov. Kenneth Mapp has requested the Army Corps remove the debris from the islands, fearing they pose a fire hazard. Residents fear burning the waste would present threats to public health and the environment. The cleanup effort is already projected to cost $275 million. The U.S. territory has a history of environmental incidents being inflicted upon it. Hess constructed one of the world's largest oil refineries in St. Croix in the 1960s, but residents suffered from a string of issues. Complaints over the lax environmental standards there led to the facility closing in 2012.

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As a Water Shortage Worsens, Inequality in Cape Town becomes More Apparent

In a few months Cape Town's primary water supply could run dry. The drought that has hit the South African city is proving to be a challenge for all citizens, but some are more affected than others. The water crisis seems to be widening the divide between rich and poor. The wealthy have been spending on several countermeasures, such as buying enormous quantities of bottled water, hiring companies to dig wells, and purchasing desalination machines. Many of the city's impoverished residents are left to consider cutting back on food to buy water at inflated prices. Giulio Boccaletti, of the Nature Conservancy, said, "Inequity plays out in water very obviously, and what we're seeing in Cape Town risks becoming an example of that." Residents in informal settlements around and within Cape Town, just a few kilometers from the expensive villas of the richer neighborhoods, are the most affected. The government has announced that these informal settlements will be prioritized in the emergency water distribution plan. 

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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.

For more information see:

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."

For more information see:

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."

For more information see:

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.

For more information see:

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.

For more information see:

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.

For more information see:

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."

For more information see:

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."

For more information see:

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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