“We’ve never seen anything like this…”

In case you haven’t noticed, several new words and phrases have become more common in newspapers and on the evening news lately. They are used so often, in fact, that they are replacing “war torn nation” and “’tis the season” as the tritest phrases in the news business. This would be trivial except for one thing: The words reveal something very important about our times and about our upcoming elections. Here are some of them: Unprecedented Record-breaking Not in my lifetime Disaster Tragic Loss Victims Deaths Homeless Floods Heat Wildfire Firefighter Drought Evacuation Everything lost New normal These are part of the emerging lexicon of climate change.  We don’t have to rely on computer models and climatologists anymore to know whether global warming is real. Millions of Americans, as well as billions of people worldwide, are experiencing it first-hand. The people who still deny that climate change is real -- including the President of the United States, his Cabinet and more than half of the members of Congress -- are looking more and more ridiculous, like the proverbial ostriches with

Getting America Back on Course

By William S. Becker With important elections coming up this fall and in 2020, the American people will have opportunities to correct the mistake of putting Donald Trump in the White House, where he has used his office to undermine some of our most important institutions and laws. Trump’s damage has been widespread. Others have spoken about his impact on international relations; the stewardship of public lands; the press and the courts; the government’s divorce from science; and so on. Of special importance to those of us in the environmental sector is Trump’s great leap backward on environmental protection, energy policy and climate change. The question now is what we can do to rebuild what Trump and his minions have weakened or destroyed. On these and other issues, there seems to be three levels of volume in national politics right now. There is virtually no sound coming from the Democratic Party. It seems to have no message beyond an implicit “We’re not Trump”. Perhaps party strategists are content to remain quiet and hope that Trump will hang himself along with

More Mosquito Bites? Blame Coal

By William S. Becker I’ve said it before: If you follow the latest information about global climate change, you’ll get the impression that it might cause everything from swimmers’ itch to male- pattern baldness. The speculation can seem ridiculous. However, it is true that the consequences of climate change are ubiquitous and pervasive. After all, climate determines the weather and the weather is everywhere all the time. The impacts get as small as those mosquito bites you’ll get this summer. That’s the buzz from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of many agencies around the world that monitor “vector-borne diseases”, the illnesses spread by insects such as fleas, mosquitoes and ticks. Climate scientists have warned for many years that warmer weather would allow the insects to thrive in places that used to be too cold for them. As a result, more Americans are falling ill from diseases that we associate with the tropics. The CDC reported this week that the number of Americans who get diseases from these insects has tripled since 2004. About 300,000 people

2018 Substainable Energy in America Factbook

The rapid deployment of energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy in 2017 generated economic benefits without requiring increases in energy consumption or greenhouse gas emissions. So say Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy in their 2018 energy fact book. Read More

February 21st, 2018|Climate & Energy|

US Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization

In compliance with the Paris Climate Agreement, the Obama Administration issued a mid-century strategy for deep reductions in U.S. carbon emissions. The MCS demonstrates how the United States can meet the growing demands on its energy system and lands while achieving a low-emissions pathway, maintaining a thriving economy, and ensuring a just transition for Americans whose livelihoods are connected to fossil fuel production and use.

February 20th, 2018|Climate & Energy|

Paris Agreement

The American Meteorological Society has issued a new report that explains the extreme weather events of 2015 from a climate perspective. The AMS says its research provides evidence that climate change is altering some extreme event risk. In December 2015 after 21 years of negotiations, 195 nations gathered in Paris and signed off on an international climate action agreement. PARIS – The world made history at approximately 7:25 p.m. Paris time on Saturday when 195 nations did something that had never been done before. They all agreed on something. The “something” is really something: a global commitment to confront global climate change after 21 years of diplomatic wrangling. In the plenary hall at a former airport in Paris, there were tears among the hundreds of delegates and support staff who worked for years toward this achievement, climaxing in more than two weeks of around the clock effort to reach that moment on Saturday. Among them were a tired Secretary of State John Kerry and an obviously delighted Al Gore, who has dedicated years of his life and has taken

February 13th, 2018|Climate & Energy|

Explaining Extreme Events from a Climate Perspective

The American Meteorological Society has issued a new report that explains the extreme weather events of 2015 from a climate perspective. The AMS says its research provides evidence that climate change is altering some extreme event risk. Many papers in this year’s report demonstrate that science is capable of separating the effects of natural drivers from the influences of long-term human-induced climate change. click here for more information

January 4th, 2017|Climate & Energy|

Climate Change Indicators in the United States 2016 (Fourth Edition)

EPA's 2016 assessment of climate change indicators in the U.S. showed that the Earth’s climate is changing. Rising temperatures, shifting snow and rainfall patterns, and more extreme climate events like heavy rainstorms and record-high temperatures were already taking place. EPA has issued its latest assessment of climate change indicators in the U.S. The Earth’s climate is changing. Temperatures are rising, snow and rainfall patterns are shifting, and more extreme climate events—like heavy rainstorms and record-high temperatures—are already taking place. Scientists are highly confident that many of these observed changes can be linked to the levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, which have increased because of human activities. HOW IS THE CLIMATE CHANGING? Since the Industrial Revolution began in the 1700s, people have added a significant amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, largely by burning fossil fuels to generate electricity, heat and cool buildings, and power vehicles—as well as by clearing forests. The major greenhouse gases that people have added to the atmosphere are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. When these

December 14th, 2016|Climate & Energy|

From Risk to Return

The U.S. economy faces significant risks from unabated climate change. Every year of inaction serves to broaden and deepen those risks. Founded by co-chairs Michael R. Bloomberg, Henry M. Paulson, Jr., and Thomas F. Steyer, the Risky Business Project examines the economic risks presented by climate change and opportunities to reduce them. Executive Summary In our 2014 inaugural report, “Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States,” we found that the economic risks from unmitigated climate change to American businesses and long-term investors are large and unacceptable. Subsequent scientific data and analysis have reinforced and strengthened that conclusion. As a result, we, the Co-Chairs and Risk Committee of the Risky Business Project, are united in recognizing the need to respond to the risk climate change poses to the American economy. Read More    

December 7th, 2016|Climate & Energy|

Climate Science is Complex

Climate science is complex. Even the most highly circulated, well-read journalism sometimes inadvertently spreads misinformation. Now a group of climate scientists has taken on the job of fact-checking reporting on global warming. Their project is called Climate Feedback. Climate science is complex. Even the most highly circulated, well-read journalism sometimes inadvertently spreads misinformation. Now a group of climate scientists have taken on the job of fact-checking reporting on global warming. Their project is called Climate Feedback.  Participating scientists review a variety of online media articles and provide ‘feedback’ on the scientific accuracy of the information presented. Readers can view these annotations directly alongside the original texts and see exactly where the article’s information is consistent — or inconsistent — with scientific thinking and state-of-the-art knowledge in the field.

Effects of Tax Policy on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In 2013, a committee created by the National Academy of Sciences conducted a “carbon audit” of the U.S. tax code. Its purpose was to analyze the impact that subsidies and other tax policies have on greenhouse gas emissions. The conclusion:  tax policy could help reduce emissions, the current code is not very effective at doing so.

April 8th, 2016|Climate & Energy|