March 2012

Climate Crisis Causes Extinction March 2, 2012 : 3:17 PM

Hundreds of birds are being put at risk for extinction:

“There may be less birds for birders to see in the world as the planet warms. Climate change, in combination with deforestation, could send between 100 and 2,500 tropical birds to extinction before the end of century, according to new research published in Biological Conservation. The wide range depends on the extent of climate and how much habitat is lost, but researchers say the most likely range of extinctions is between 600 and 900 species, meaning about 10-14 percent of tropical birds, excluding migratory species.”

"Birds are perfect canaries in the coal mine—it's hard to avoid that metaphor—for showing the effects of global change on the world's ecosystems and the people who depend on those ecosystems," says lead author and notable ornithologist Çağan Şekercioğlu with the University of Utah. "Compared to temperate species that often experience a wide range of temperature on a yearly basis, tropical species, especially those limited to tropical forests with stable climates, are less likely to keep up with rapid climate change."

Source: Mongabay

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Bill Press and Stephanie Miller Come to Current March 8, 2012 : 1:58 PM

I’ve followed Stephanie and Bill for years. They provide the kind of smart, insightful news analysis that so many Americans want to hear. Bill brings a vital perspective based on his years of experience inside the political system, and Stephanie’s fresh take on politics and news has a decidedly outsider flair. We’re really looking forward to bringing their voices to our viewers.

For more details visit: Current.com.

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Bill Press and Stephanie Miller Come to Current March 8, 2012 : 1:58 PM

I’ve followed Stephanie and Bill for years. They provide the kind of smart, insightful news analysis that so many Americans want to hear. Bill brings a vital perspective based on his years of experience inside the political system, and Stephanie’s fresh take on politics and news has a decidedly outsider flair. We’re really looking forward to bringing their voices to our viewers.

For more details visit: Current.com.

Link

A Single Minded Purpose March 10, 2012 : 12:37 PM

Climate Reality CEO Maggie Fox writes at the National Journal:

“The climate debates taking place right now in the Court of Appeals and in the court of public opinion have something in common: the purposeful spreading of doubt by the fossil fuel industry. The petitioners opposing the EPA standards and the Heartland Institute have the same single-minded purpose — to cast doubt on what we know about the climate crisis by misrepresenting and challenging the most up-to-date climate science. They are trying to argue that the basic science of climate change is in question. It is not.”

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Who Pays for the Climate Crisis? March 11, 2012 : 1:31 PM

A fascinating piece in the FT about the impacts of Thailand's floods on insurance premiums and manufacturing:

“Soaring premiums and increasing losses are transforming Thailand’s Bt150bn ($5bn) insurance industry following the devastating floods last year, and having knock-on effects on the recovery efforts of some of the world’s biggest companies."

"The floods were the fifth costliest insured loss event in the past 31 years, according to AM Best, the insurance rating agency. Insured losses are already more than $15bn and could surpass $20bn, according to specialist market Lloyd’s of London."

"Large insurance pay-outs and the fear of further floods have led many insurers and reinsurers to either withdraw, increase their premiums or refuse to renew contracts, while the Thai government has stepped in with a disaster fund to cushion the blow should floods strike again."

"Standard & Poor’s said last week it had changed its assessment of risk in Thailand, noting that the insurance losses “have been so high that it has changed our opinion on those markets being catastrophe-remote”, meaning disasters such as flooding are now seen as more likely. S&P, which said it would maintain a negative outlook on the Thai non-life insurance market, estimates that terms and conditions on catastrophe reinsurance would continue to tighten and that reinsuring pricing for natural disasters will continue to “increase significantly”.

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Fascinating New Research from Climate Central on Sea Level Rise in the US March 14, 2012 : 11:21 PM

Today, the scientists at Climate Central have published new research on the impacts of sea level rise on the United States. I urge you to check out their website and use their interactive tools.

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4th Warmest Winter On Record March 16, 2012 : 2:54 PM

Another warm weather milestone:

“The stats are in on the winter that wasn’t, and the December through February period stacks up as the fourth-warmest winter on record for the Lower 48 states, according to newly released numbers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).”

“The average temperature for the Lower 48 states during the December through February period, the time span defined as meteorological winter, was 3.9 degrees Fahrenheit above the 1901-2000 long-term average, making it the warmest winter since 2000. The other winters that were warmer than this one occurred in 1992 and 1999.”

Source: Climate Central

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Game Change March 19, 2012 : 12:10 PM

New video games are being developed that incorporate climate messaging and activism:

“The prevalence of games in our culture provides an opportunity to increase the understanding of our global challenges. In 2008 the Pew Research Center estimated that over half of American adults played video games and 80% of young Americans play video games. The vast majority of these games serve purely to entertain. There are a growing number of games that aim to make a difference, however. These games range from those that show players the complexity of creating adequate aid packages and delivering them to places in need to games that require people to get out and work to improve their communities to do well in the game.”

“Looking at the climate change challenge there are a number of games and interactive tools to broaden our understanding of the dynamics involved. Climate Interactive, for one, has led the development of the role-playing game World Climate, which simulates the UN climate change negotiations and is being adopted from middle school all the way up to executive management-level classrooms. Many are recognizing the power of games and everyone from government agencies to NGOs to a group of teenagers is trying to launch a game to help address climate change. Below are some of the climate and sustainability-related games we’ve found. Let us know if you’ve found others.”

Source: Climate Interactive

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2,200 Records March 20, 2012 : 8:01 PM

March's biggest records weren't set on the basketball court:

"The March heat wave continues to shatter longstanding records from the Upper Midwest to the Northeast, with more than 2,200 warm temperature records set during themonth so far. It’s quite possible that this March heat wave will be considered an unprecedented event in the U.S. historical record, which extends back to the late 19th century, based on the margin by which records are being exceeded, the wide geographic scope of the heat wave, the duration of the event and the time of year when it is occurring."

“This will be a March event that we’ll look back on as one of the big March events of modern history,” said Deke Arndt, who leads the climate monitoring branch of the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. “If it’s not unprecedented, it’s definitely very impressive.”

Source: Climate Central

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Science Not Politics March 22, 2012 : 11:10 AM

A great op-ed in the Seattle Times:

“Should elected officials and policymakers let public-opinion polls decide our nation's future response to climate change? Indisputably, no.”

“The roller-coaster path of public acceptance on climate change charted by political polls is frustrating to the pragmatists among us. With nearly 98 percent of the world's climate scientists saying climate change already is affecting the natural world, effective action requires the knowledge we gain from focused investigations and sound science — not political polls.”

Read the entire Op-Ed by clicking here.

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800,000 Years March 23, 2012 : 4:19 PM

The level of carbon dioxide n our atmosphere reached 390 parts per million, the highest concentration in nearly 800,000 years:

“Greenhouse gases have risen to their highest level since modern humans evolved, and Australian temperatures are now about a degree warmer than they were a century ago, a major review by the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology has found.”

“The national climate report, to be released today, said Australia's current climate ''cannot be explained by natural variability alone'' and that emissions resulting from human activity were playing an increasingly direct role in shaping temperatures.”

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

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Bringing Renewable Energy to Africa March 25, 2012 : 8:08 PM

An exciting step toward delivering energy and solar power to new areas of the world:

“It's long been established doctrine in international development circles that diesel engines are the most cost-effective tools for pumping water and powering villages.”

“But Robert Freling has been turning that doctrine on its head. The executive director of the Washington-based Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), Freling has proven that solar power can be more economical than internal combustion engines, if the cost-benefit analysis looks beyond the short term. Exhibit A is SELF's development project in Benin, a small country in West Africa.”

Source: National Geographic

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No New Coal March 27, 2012 : 3:33 PM

The EPA has issued a new rule today that will effectively halt the construction of new coal-fired power plants – a vital step towards reducing industrial carbon pollution that causes the climate crisis:

"The Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first limits on greenhouse-gas emissions from U.S. power plants, the largest source of carbon dioxide linked to climate change."

"The rules will permit emissions from new power plants at 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, about the level for a modern natural-gas plant, the EPA said today in an e-mailed statement. The limit would effectively preclude construction of new coal-fired plants, which are struggling to compete with decade-low natural gas prices."

“This is an important common-sense step towards tackling the ongoing threat of climate change,” Lisa Jackson, administrator of the EPA, told reporters today. “We build on where the industry is going and lock that trend in, which we believe is an important signal for investors.”

"The proposed nationwide standard is the first of its kind issued by the EPA for carbon dioxide. With the failure of Congress to cut carbon emissions, agency actions are seen by environmental groups as the best chance to combat global warming."

Source: Bloomberg

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Green Jobs March 28, 2012 : 5:46 PM

Despite right-wing mythology, green jobs are real:

“For the first time, the federal government on Thursday released an estimate of the number of so-called green jobs in the United States economy, saying that 3.1 million people are employed in the production of goods and services that benefit the environment.”

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics, a unit of the Labor Department, spent more than a year compiling its report, which found that green goods and services accounted for 2.4 percent of total United States employment in 2010. The study, based on a survey of employers and a relatively broad definition of the term ”green,” will provide a baseline against which future job growth or decline can be measured.”

Source: New York Times Green Blog

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$2 Billion March 29, 2012 : 5:00 PM

Extreme weather in Texas extracts a heavy price:

“Agriculture officials say losses from Texas' historic drought are more than $2 billion more than previously thought.”

“The Texas AgriLife Extension Service now estimates crop and livestock losses at $7.62 billion for 2011. The extension service's preliminary estimate of $5.2 billion in August already topped the previous record of $4.1 billion in 2006.”

Source: USA Today

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