Archive

Archive for the ‘climate change’ Category

National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change

May 15, 2014 Comments off

National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change
Source: CNA Corporation

In this follow-up to its landmark study, National Security and the Threat of Climate Change, CNA Corporation’s Military Advisory Board (MAB) re-examines the impact of climate change on U.S. national security in the context of a more informed, but more complex and integrated world.

The MAB’s 2007 report described projected climate change as a “threat multiplier.” In this report the 16 retired Generals and Admirals who make up the board look at new vulnerabilities and tensions posed by climate change, which, when set against the backdrop of increasingly decentralized power structures around the world, they now identify as a “catalyst for conflict.”

In the seven years since the first MAB report, developments in scientific climate projections, observed climate changes (particularly in the Arctic), the toll of extreme weather events both at home and abroad, and changes in the global security environment have all served to accelerate the national security implications of climate change. While there has been some movement in efforts to plan effective responses to these challenges, the lack of comprehensive action by both the United States and the international community to address the full spectrum of projected climate change issues remains a concern.

The specific questions addressed in this update are:

Have new threats or opportunities associated with projected climate change or its effects emerged since our last report? What will be the impacts on our military?
The 2014 National Climate Assessment indicates that climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present. What additional responses should the national security community take to reduce the risks posed to our nation and to the elements of our National Power (Political, Military, Social, Infrastructure, and Information systems (PMESII))?

About these ads

Insurers Should Push for Climate Resilience

May 14, 2014 Comments off

Insurers Should Push for Climate Resilience
Source: Lloyd’s

The debate over whether climate change is a man-made phenomenon is no longer as important as the debate over how to plan for, and mitigate, the risks posed by it.

The past year has been one of many weather extremes; several all-time temperature records were set in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, death Valley in California hit 129.2 °F (the hottest temperature ever recorded in June on Earth), and January 2014 was the wettest month in the UK since 1767. We talk to Lloyd’s Chairman, John Nelson, about the implications of extreme weather conditions for insurers, and how they should be tackling the issues.

Lloyd’s has published a report Catastrophe Modelling & Climate Change which calls for the insurance industry to think about climate change and the potential impact it will have on their bottom line. As part of this, insurers should ensure that the tools they use – and I am expressly thinking about models here – adequately measure and price risks, including the influence of climate change.

CRS — Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress (updated)

May 8, 2014 Comments off

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the region’s future. The United States, by virtue of Alaska, is an Arctic country and has substantial interests in the region. On May 10, 2013, the Obama Administration released a national strategy document for the Arctic region. On January 30, 2014, the Obama Administration released an implementation plan for this strategy.

Record low extents of Arctic sea ice over the past decade have focused scientific and policy attention on links to global climate change and projected ice-free seasons in the Arctic within decades. These changes have potential consequences for weather in the United States, access to mineral and biological resources in the Arctic, the economies and cultures of peoples in the region, and national security.

USGCRP Releases National Climate Assessment, Launches New Website

May 6, 2014 Comments off

USGCRP Releases National Climate Assessment, Launches New Website
Source: U.S. Global Change Research Program

Today, delivering on our legal mandate and the President’s Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Global Change Research Program released the Third National Climate Assessment, the most comprehensive, authoritative, transparent scientific report on U.S. climate change impacts ever generated.

The report confirms that climate change is affecting every region of the country and key sectors of the U.S. economy and society, underscoring the need to combat the threats climate change presents and increase the preparedness and resilience of American communities.

The Third National Climate Assessment is available to download and can be explored interactively through our newly redeployed website. In this mobile-compatible site, every piece of the report is shareable, including graphics, key messages, regional highlights, full chapters, and more. More broadly, the new site features accessible and dynamic information, topical call-outs, resources, and news about global change and related Federal research and engagement efforts.

The findings of the Third National Climate Assessment are fully traceable and supported by metadata through the Global Change Information System (GCIS), a new gateway to Federal global change information that delivers on goals set in USGCRP’s 2012–2021 Strategic Plan. The GCIS enables traceability between environmental data streams (such as observations from sensors and outputs from models) and the resulting scientific findings and publications. Going forward, the GCIS is intended to expand to provide this traceability for other key reports.

Nation’s Authoritative Land Cover Map New and Improved

April 21, 2014 Comments off

Nation’s Authoritative Land Cover Map New and Improved
Source: U.S. Geological Survey

Just released, the latest edition of the nation’s most comprehensive look at land-surface conditions from coast to coast shows the extent of land cover types from forests to urban areas. The National Land Cover Database (NLCD 2011) is made available to the public by the U.S. Geological Survey and partners.

Dividing the lower 48 states into 9 billion geographic cells, the massive database provides consistent information about land conditions at regional to nationwide scales. Collected in repeated five-year cycles, NLCD data is used by resource managers and decision-makers to conduct ecosystem studies, determine spatial patterns of biodiversity, trace indications of climate change, and develop best practices in land management.

Emerging Arctic Explored in New CFR InfoGuide

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Emerging Arctic Explored in New CFR InfoGuide
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has released a new interactive guide examining the economic opportunities and environmental risks emerging in the Arctic. Climate change, technological advances, and a growing demand for natural resources are driving a new era of development in the Arctic region. Many experts assert that Arctic summers could be free of sea ice in a matter of decades, opening the region up to hundreds of billions of dollars in investment, most notably in energy production and shipping.

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns: Summary of a Workshop (2014)

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns: Summary of a Workshop (2014)
Source: National Research Council

The Arctic has been undergoing significant changes in recent years. Average temperatures are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere in the world. The extent and thickness of sea ice is rapidly declining. Such changes may have an impact on atmospheric conditions outside the region. Several hypotheses for how Arctic warming may be influencing mid-latitude weather patterns have been proposed recently. For example, Arctic warming could lead to a weakened jet stream resulting in more persistent weather patterns in the mid-latitudes. Or Arctic sea ice loss could lead to an increase of snow on high-latitude land, which in turn impacts the jet stream resulting in cold Eurasian and North American winters. These and other potential connections between a warming Arctic and mid-latitude weather are the subject of active research.

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns is the summary of a workshop convened in September 2013 by the National Research Council to review our current understanding and to discuss research needed to better understand proposed linkages. A diverse array of experts examined linkages between a warming Arctic and mid-latitude weather patterns. The workshop included presentations from leading researchers representing a range of views on this topic. The workshop was organized to allow participants to take a global perspective and consider the influence of the Arctic in the context of forcing from other components of the climate system, such as changes in the tropics, ocean circulation, and mid-latitude sea surface temperature. This report discusses our current understanding of the mechanisms that link declines in Arctic sea ice cover, loss of high-latitude snow cover, changes in Arctic-region energy fluxes, atmospheric circulation patterns, and the occurrence of extreme weather events; possible implications of more severe loss of summer Arctic sea ice upon weather patterns at lower latitudes; major gaps in our understanding, and observational and/or modeling efforts that are needed to fill those gaps; and current opportunities and limitations for using Arctic sea ice predictions to assess the risk of temperature/precipitation anomalies and extreme weather events over northern continents.

A Few Winners, But Many More Losers: Southwestern Bird and Reptile Distributions to Shift as Climate Changes

April 9, 2014 Comments off

A Few Winners, But Many More Losers: Southwestern Bird and Reptile Distributions to Shift as Climate Changes
Source: U.S. Geological Survey

Dramatic distribution losses and a few major distribution gains are forecasted for southwestern bird and reptile species as the climate changes, according to just-published research by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of New Mexico, and Northern Arizona University.

Overall, the study forecasted species distribution losses – that is, where species are able to live – of nearly half for all but one of the 5 reptile species they examined, including for the iconic chuckwalla. The threatened Sonoran (Morafka’s) desert tortoise, however, is projected to experience little to no habitat losses from climate change.

Breeding bird ranges exhibited greater expansions and contractions than did reptile species. For example, black-throated sparrows and gray vireos are projected to experience major gains in breeding habitat, but pygmy nuthatches, sage thrashers and Williamson sapsuckers are forecasted to experience large losses in breeding habitat, in some cases by as much as 80 percent. Thus, these three species might be expected to experience large future population declines.

The iconic pinyon jay is expected to experience from one-fourth to one-third loss in breeding habitat in the future, as its welfare is tied to declining pinyon pine habitat.

CRS — Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress (updated)

April 8, 2014 Comments off

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of North Texas Digital Library)

The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the region’s future. The United States, by virtue of Alaska, is an Arctic country and has substantial interests in the region. On May 10, 2013, the Obama Administration released a national strategy document for the Arctic region. On January 30, 2014, the Obama Administration released an implementation plan for this strategy.

Record low extents of Arctic sea ice over the past decade have focused scientific and policy attention on links to global climate change and projected ice-free seasons in the Arctic within decades. These changes have potential consequences for weather in the United States, access to mineral and biological resources in the Arctic, the economies and cultures of peoples in the region, and national security.

IPCC Report: A changing climate creates pervasive risks but opportunities exist for effective responses; Responses will face challenges with high warming of the climate

March 31, 2014 Comments off

IPCC Report: A changing climate creates pervasive risks but opportunities exist for effective responses; Responses will face challenges with high warming of the climate (PDF)
Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report today that says the effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans. The world, in many cases, is ill-prepared for risks from a changing climate. The report also concludes that there are opportunities to respond to such risks, though the risks will be difficult to manage with high levels of warming.

The report, titled Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, from Working Group II of the IPCC, details the impacts of climate change to date, the future risks from a changing climate, and the opportunities for effective action to reduce risks. A total of 309 coordinating lead authors, lead authors, and review editors, drawn from 70 countries, were selected to produce the report. They enlisted the help of 436 contributing authors, and a total of 1,729 expert and government reviewers.

The report concludes that responding to climate change involves making choices about risks in a changing world. The nature of the risks of climate change is increasingly clear, though climate change will also continue to produce surprises. The report identifies vulnerable people, industries, and ecosystems around the world. It finds that risk from a changing climate comes from vulnerability (lack of preparedness) and exposure (people or assets in harm’s way) overlapping with hazards (triggering climate events or trends). Each of these three components can be a target for smart actions to decrease risk.

+ Summary and Full Report

CRS — Climate Change Legislation in the 113th Congress

March 26, 2014 Comments off

Climate Change Legislation in the 113th Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

In the 113th Congress, Members have introduced multiple bills that include provisions that would directly or indirectly address climate change-related issues. In some cases, it is difficult to distinguish between direct and indirect climate change bills, because a specific bill or action may seek to achieve multiple objectives. The bills listed in this report include provisions that directly address climate change, as opposed to those that primarily address other issues (e.g., energy efficiency) but could have ancillary impacts on climate.

Human Rights, Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Migration: A New Paradigm

March 25, 2014 Comments off

Human Rights, Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Migration: A New Paradigm
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Climate change and environmental degradation will likely displace millions of people in the coming years, either directly or indirectly. Although today’s international legal framework provides a degree of protection to certain environmental migrants, major gaps in the framework often prevent recognition of their vulnerability and endanger their rights.

One major problem is that there is little consensus on the definition of environmental migrants, in large part because it is difficult to ascertain the influence of environmental factors, such as degradation and climate change, on migration. In the absence of a precise definition, ambiguity about the legal rights of migrants and the responsibilities of governments and international organizations lead to difficulties in implementing solutions.

This issue in brief emphasizes the need to defend the rights of migrants whose movement is induced by environmental degradation or climate change, particularly in the highly vulnerable Asia-Pacific region, by pursuing an integrated approach to climate change that incorporates rights-based strategies. The brief evaluates the current human rights framework; identifies gaps both in the legal framework and in implementation; and then reviews different legal options available to the international community. Finally, the brief makes recommendations on how to strengthen the “soft law” approach as an interim step before there is broad global consensus on a possible binding framework to protect the rights of environmental migrants.

Asia — Energizing Green Cities: Solutions to Meet Demand and Spark Economic Growth

March 21, 2014 Comments off

Energizing Green Cities: Solutions to Meet Demand and Spark Economic Growth
Source: World Bank

Cities in Southeast Asia (SEA) are growing twice as fast as the rest of the world and by 2030, it is expected that 70 percent of SEA population will live in cities. Worldwide, cities account for around two-thirds of global energy demand and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While cities have always been the engines of economic growth, now they also hold the key to a sustainable development in SEA. Given their size and dynamic growth, SEA cities today have a unique opportunity to also become global engines of green growth by choosing energy-efficient solutions for their infrastructure needs.

Improving energy efficiency isn’t just good for the environment; it’s good for economic growth, says a World Bank report, “Energizing Green Cities in Southeast Asia – Applying Sustainable Urban Energy and Emissions Planning.” According to the report, there is a clear correlation between investments in energy efficient solutions in infrastructure and economic growth, based on a study of three cities – Da Nang in Vietnam, Surabaya in Indonesia and Cebu City in the Philippines. By improving energy efficiency and reducing GHG emissions, cities not only help the global environment, but they also support local economic development through productivity gains, reduced pollution, and more efficient use of resources.

Climate Change: Evidence and Causes (PDF Booklet) (2014)

March 19, 2014 Comments off

Climate Change: Evidence and Causes (PDF Booklet) (2014)
Source: National Academy of Sciences, Royal Society

Climate Change: Evidence and Causes is a jointly produced publication of The US National Academy of Sciences and The Royal Society. Written by a UK-US team of leading climate scientists and reviewed by climate scientists and others, the publication is intended as a brief, readable reference document for decision makers, policy makers, educators, and other individuals seeking authoritative information on the some of the questions that continue to be asked.

Climate Change makes clear what is well-established and where understanding is still developing. It echoes and builds upon the long history of climate-related work from both national academies, as well as on the newest climate-change assessment from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It touches on current areas of active debate and ongoing research, such as the link between ocean heat content and the rate of warming.

What We Know: The Reality, Risks and Response to Climate Change

March 18, 2014 Comments off

What We Know: The Reality, Risks and Response to Climate Change
Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science

The overwhelming evidence of human-caused climate change documents both current impacts with significant costs and extraordinary future risks to society and natural systems. The scientific community has convened conferences, published reports, spoken out at forums and proclaimed, through statements by virtually every national scientific academy and relevant major scientific organization — including the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) — that climate change puts the well-being of people of all nations at risk.

Surveys show that many Americans think climate change is still a topic of significant scientific disagreement. Thus, it is important and increasingly urgent for the public to know there is now a high degree of agreement among climate scientists that human-caused climate change is real. Moreover, while the public is becoming aware that climate change is increasing the likelihood of certain local disasters, many people do not yet understand that there is a small, but real chance of abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes with highly damaging impacts on people in the United States and around the world.

It is not the purpose of this paper to explain why this disconnect between scientific knowledge and public perception has occurred. Nor are we seeking to provide yet another extensive review of the scientific evidence for climate change. Instead, we present key messages for every American about climate change…

CRS — Keystone XL: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessments in the Final Environmental Impact Statement

March 12, 2014 Comments off

Keystone XL: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessments in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

On June 25, 2013, President Obama announced a national “Climate Action Plan” to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHG), as well as to encourage adaptation to climate change. During his speech, the President made reference to the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project—a pipeline that would transport crude oil derived from Canadian oil sands deposits in Alberta to a market hub in Nebraska for further delivery to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. He stated that an evaluation of the proposed pipeline’s impacts on climate change would be “critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.”

The State Department released a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on January 31, 2014, to inform the project’s national interest determination. Among the various environmental impacts analyzed, the FEIS estimates GHG emissions that would be attributable to both the approval and the denial of the permit application for the project.

Members of Congress remain divided on the merits of the project, as many have expressed support for the potential energy security and economic benefits, while others have reservations about its potential health and environmental impacts. Though Congress, to date, has had no direct role in permitting the pipeline’s construction, it has oversight stemming from federal environmental statutes that govern the review. Further, Congress may seek to influence the State Department’s process or to assert direct congressional authority over approval through new legislation.

CRS — Canadian Oil Sands: Life-Cycle Assessments of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

March 12, 2014 Comments off

Canadian Oil Sands: Life-Cycle Assessments of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Recent congressional interest in U.S. energy policy has focused in part on ways through which the United States could secure more economical and reliable petroleum resources both domestically and internationally. Many forecasters identify petroleum products refined from Canadian oil sands as one possible solution. Increased production from Canadian oil sands, however, is not without controversy, as many have expressed concern over the potential environmental impacts. These impacts include emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) during resource extraction and processing. A number of key studies in recent literature have expressed findings that GHG emissions per unit of energy produced from Canadian oil sands crudes are higher than those of other crudes imported, refined, and consumed in the United States. The studies identify two main reasons for the difference: (1) oil sands are heavier and more viscous than lighter crude oil types on average, and thus require more energy- and resource-intensive activities to extract; and (2) oil sands are chemically deficient in hydrogen, and have a higher carbon, sulfur, and heavy metal content than lighter crude oil types on average, and thus require more processing to yield consumable fuels by U.S. standards.

The Effect of Renewable Energy Development on Carbon Emission Reduction: An Empirical Analysis for the EU-15 Countries

March 7, 2014 Comments off

The Effect of Renewable Energy Development on Carbon Emission Reduction: An Empirical Analysis for the EU-15 Countries (PDF)
Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

The increased concerns about climate change have made renewable energy sources an important topic of research. Several scholars have applied different methodologies to examine the relationships between energy consumption and economic growth of individual and groups of countries and to analyze the environmental effects of energy policies. Previous studies have analyzed carbon emission savings, using renewable energy usage as an individual source or in combination with traditional sources of energy (e.g., hybrid plants) in connection with lifecycle analysis methods. It is shown that after a certain period, economic growth leads to the promotion of environmental quality. However, econometric modelling critiques have opposed the results of these studies. One reason is that the effectiveness of governance-related parameters has previously been neglected. In this research, we analyze the impact of renewable energy development on carbon emission reduction. We estimate a model to evaluate the effectiveness of renewable energy development, technological innovation, and market regulations in carbon emission reduction. The empirical results are based on a panel data estimation using the EU-15 countries data observed from 1995 to 2010. The elasticities of CO2 emissions are estimated, in order to evaluate the effectiveness of each parameter. The findings show that the effects of a negative climate change could be mitigated by governance-related parameters instead of economic development.

CRS — President Obama’s Climate Action Plan (updated)

March 6, 2014 Comments off

President Obama’s Climate Action Plan (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

On June 25, 2013, President Obama announced a Climate Action Plan (CAP) to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHG), and to encourage adaptation to expected climate change. The President affirmed his 2009 pledge to reduce U.S. GHG emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 if all other major economies agreed to limit their emissions as well. In 2011, U.S. gross GHG emissions were approximately 7% below 2005 levels.

On June 25, 2013, President Obama announced a Climate Action Plan (CAP) to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHG), and to encourage adaptation to expected climate change. The President affirmed his 2009 pledge to reduce U.S. GHG emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 if all other major economies agreed to limit their emissions as well. In 2011, U.S. gross GHG emissions were approximately 7% below 2005 levels.

The President stated willingness to work with Congress toward enacting a bipartisan, marketbased scheme to reduce GHG emissions. He also said that he would take executive branch actions in the absence of congressional support. His CAP identifies measures in three categories:
• Cut carbon pollution in America.
• Prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change.
• Lead international efforts to address global climate change. Many measures in the CAP have been under way. The plan specifies few timelines or metrics for evaluating progress of individual measures.

CRS — Drought in the United States: Causes and Current Understanding

March 6, 2014 Comments off

Drought in the United States: Causes and Current Understanding (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Drought is a natural hazard, often with significant societal, economic, and environmental consequences. Public policy issues related to drought range from how to identify and measure drought to how best to prepare for, mitigate, and respond to drought impacts, and who should bear associated costs. Severe droughts in 2011 and 2012 in Texas and the midcontinent region, and the current drought in California and the American Southwest, have fueled congressional interest in drought and its near-term effects on water supplies and agriculture, as well as interest in long-term issues, such as drought forecasting and links between drought and human-induced climate change. Continuing drought conditions throughout the country contribute to ongoing interest in drought.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 893 other followers