Thursday, December 06, 2007

Literary Warrant [23]

  • Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney General, New York State, et al., Attorney General Cuomo Sues EPA for Denying the Public Access to Information on Toxic Chemicals in Their Neighborhoods (Press release) (November 28, 2007)

    "The EPA will allow thousands of companies to avoid disclosing information to the public about the toxic chemicals they use, store, and release into the environment by rolling back chemical reporting requirements. The suit seeks to overturn the weakened reporting requirements and provide the public with the access they had in the past."

  • Earthjustice, States, Cities and Environmental Groups Urge EPA to Reduce Global Warming Pollution from Aircraft (Press release) (December 5, 2007)

    "A coalition of environmental groups, states and regional governments filed petitions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today urging the agency to address the effects of vast amounts of global warming pollution from the world's aircraft fleet. The petitions are the first step in a process that requires the EPA to evaluate the current impacts of aircraft emissions, seek public comment and develop rules to reduce aircraft emissions or explain why it will not act. Earthjustice filed the environmental groups' petition on behalf of Friends of the Earth, Oceana and the Center for Biological Diversity.

    "Also filing petitions today are the States of California, Connecticut, New Jersey and New Mexico and the District of Columbia through their Attorneys General, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through its Department of Environmental Protection, the City of New York through its Corporation Counsel, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District through its District Counsel."

  • EnviroStats!, The Scherer Power Plant in Juliette, Georgia, Was the Top CO2 Emitting Power Plant in the US in 2006 at 25,300,000 tons of CO2 (20th Highest in the World), with Other Plants in US Top 100 list (November 30, 2007)

    The EnviroStats! blog posts identified in this beSpacific post refer to CARMA: Carbon Monitoring for Action as the source of data for its findings.

  • European Environment Agency (EEA), Greenhouse Gas Emission Trends and Projections in Europe 2007: Tracking Progress Towards Kyoto Targets (EEA Report No 5/2007) (November 27, 2007)

    "The latest projections from pre-2004 EU Member States (EU-15) show that the EU-15 can meet, and may even overachieve, its 2008–2012 Kyoto target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 8% below 1990 levels if Member States implement now all additional policies being planned. Based on Member States projections, existing domestic policies and measures will reduce EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions by a net effect of 4.0% below base-year levels. When additional domestic policies and measures (i.e. those planned but not yet implemented) are taken into account, the EU-15 could reduce emissions by an additional 3.9%. The projected use of Kyoto mechanisms by ten of the EU-15 Member States will reduce emissions by a further 2.5%. These governments have set aside EUR 2.9 billion to pay for this. The use of carbon sinks, such as planting forests to remove CO2, will reduce emissions by an additional 0.9%. As a result, the EU-15 could achieve an 11.4% reduction. All new Member States with a target expect to meet their target. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme will bring significant emission reductions between 2008 and 2012. It is expected to contribute a reduction of at least 3.4%, part of which is already reflected in some Member States projections. This would represent a further reduction of at least 1.3% to the total of 11.4% from base-year emissions in the EU-15."

  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC), FTC Reviews Environmental Marketing Guides, Announces Public Meetings (Press release) (November 26, 2007)

    "The Federal Trade Commission is beginning a regulatory review of its environmental marketing guidelines, also known as the Green Guides. The guides outline general principles for all environmental marketing claims and provide specifics about certain green claims, such as degradabilty, compostability, recyclability, recycled content, and ozone safety. In a Federal Register Notice, the Commission is requesting comments on the guides, including standard questions about costs, benefits, and effectiveness of the guides, and questions on specific topics, including 'sustainable' and 'renewable' claims. While the review was scheduled to begin in 2009, because of the current increase in green advertising claims, the Commission is reviewing the guides at this time to ensure they reflect today’s marketplace. The guides were last updated in 1998."

  • Global Business Network (GBN), Energy Strategy for the Road Ahead: Scenario Thinking for Business Executives and Corporate Boards (2007)

    "In the last year, energy and climate change issues have moved from the sidelines to center stage. Once a topic 'owned' by the environmentalists, it is increasingly one that is ranked as urgent by senior executives from just about every industry. There has been a wholesale shift in business attitudes in the U.S. around climate change and energy in the last year, coinciding with the course of this project. Companies are beginning to see the true costs of carbon-centric energy consumption patterns exemplified by recent natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, combined with volatility in energy markets, geopolitical turmoil, changes in the regulatory climate, surging energy demands from emerging economies, and changes in the attitudes of customers. This congruence of concerns around cost, supply reliability, and environmental impacts of the energy needed to sustain our economies and very way of life are increasingly influencing business decisions at the highest level. In short, our relationship to the energy that drives our economies and societies is in the throes of a fundamental transformation."

  • Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), An HSUS Report: The Impact of Animal Agriculture on Global Warming and Climate Change (2007)

    "Animal agriculture’s greatest environmental influence may be its contributions to global warming and climate change. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the animal agriculture sector is responsible for 18 percent, or nearly one-fifth, of human-induced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, greater than the share contributed by the transportation sector. At every step of meat, egg, and dairy production, climate changing gases are released into the atmosphere, disrupting weather, temperature, and ecosystem health. Mitigating—and preventing—these serious problems requires immediate and far-reaching changes in current animal agriculture practices and consumption patterns."—Abstract.

  • Insurance Information Institute, Catastrophes: Insurance Issues, Issues Updates (December 2007)

    "The term 'catastrophe' in the property insurance industry denotes a natural or man-made disaster that is unusually severe and affects many people. An event is designated a catastrophe by the industry when claims are expected to reach a certain dollar threshold, currently set at $25 million, and more than a certain number of policyholders and insurance companies are affected.

    "Catastrophe losses in 2005 totaled $61.2 billion from 24 disasters. The final tally for Hurricane Katrina losses is $41.1 billion stemming from 1.75 million claims. By contrast, losses for 2006, a year of little hurricane activity in the U.S., were $9.2 billion."

  • InterAcademy Council (IAC), Lighting the Way: Toward a Sustainable Energy Future (October 2007)

    "Commissioned by the governments of Brazil and China, this report identifies a scientific consensus framework for directing global energy development. It lays out the science, technology and policy roadmap for developing energy resources to drive economic growth in both industrialized and developing countries while also securing climate protection and global development goals. The report was produced by a study panel of 15 world-renowned energy experts, co-chaired by Nobel Laureate Steven Chu, Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in the United States, and José Goldemberg, former Secretary of State for the Environment for the State of São Paulo, Brazil."

  • Marine Fish Conservation Network, Taking Stock: The Chronic Overfishing of America’s Oceans (2007)

    "In numerous cases around our coasts, no amount of warning—economic or ecological—has deterred continued overfishing. Too often fishing pressure is intense enough to reduce fish populations below the minimum needed to sustain themselves, or to prevent recovery to sustainable levels. Examples abound, including the collapse of the Pacific sardine fishery in the 1960s, the halving of the Atlantic swordfish population since the 1970s, the depletion of red drum during the blackened red fish craze of the 1980s, and the epic New England fishery disaster of the early 1990s....

    "The findings of this report indicate that there has been very limited improvement in reducing overfishing since 1998, when NMFS issued its first report on the status of U.S. fish stocks. The most recent report to Congress on the status of stocks (for 2006) actually showed an increase in the number of stocks experiencing overfishing, for the first time in eight years. Moreover, the findings of this report indicate that overfishing is still a chronic problem in many U.S. fisheries, primarily in regions where managers have failed to employ science-based catch limits and to close fisheries when the catch reaches those limits."—Summary and Findings.

  • new economics foundation (nef) & International Institute for Environment and Development(IIED), Up in Smoke? Asia and the Pacific: The Threat from Climate Change to Human Development and the Environment (The Fifth Report from the Working Group on Climate Change and Development) (November 2007)

    "The human drama of climate change will largely be played out in Asia, where over 60 per cent of the world’s population, around four billion people, live. Over half of those live near the coast, making them directly vulnerable to sea-level rise. Disruption to the region’s water cycle caused by climate change also threatens the security and productivity of the food systems upon which they depend. In acknowledgement, both of the key meetings in 2007 and 2008 to secure a global climate agreement will be in Asia."—Executive Summary.

  • Peter Orszag, Issues in Climate Change (Presentation for the CBO Director's Conference on Climate Change) (November 16, 2007)

    "Policymakers would have several key decisions to make in designing a cap-and-trade program. One such decision would be whether to sell emission allowances or give them away. Policymakers’ decisions about how to allocate the allowances could have significant effects on the overall economic cost of achieving a given cap on CO2 emissions, as well as on the distribution of gains and losses among U.S. households. Another key decision for policymakers is determining the appropriate level at which to set the cap. More stringent caps would lead to lower emissions, which in turn would reduce future risks but raise near-term costs. The choice of stringency is further complicated by the fact that the benefits (reductions in future damage) and costs of alternative levels of stringency are both uncertain."

  • Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Cash Starved Forest Service Spends $600,000 to Buy Tasers (News release) (December 4, 2007)

    "The U.S. Forest Service has bought $600,000 worth of 'Electronic Control Devices' without any training program, rules for use or even a written explanation as to why the devices are needed, according to agency records posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The devices, known as Tasers, are sitting in storage and cannot be issued because the agency has yet to develop a training course."

  • Elizabeth A. Stanton & Frank Ackerman, Tufts University, Global Development and Environmental Institute, Florida and Climate Change: The Costs of Inaction (November 2007)

    "This report examines the potential costs to Florida if greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked. To do so, we compare an optimistic scenario and a pessimistic one. Under the optimistic scenario—called 'rapid stabilization'—the world begins taking action in the very near future and greatly reduces emissions by mid-century with additional decreases through the end of the century. Under the pessimistic scenario—called 'business-as-usual—greenhouse gas emissions continue to skyrocket throughout the 21st century. The business-as-usual scenario is based largely on the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a panel of more than 2,000 scientists whose consensus findings are approved by all participating governments, including the United States.

    "The cost of inaction—the difference between these two scenarios—is the human, economic, and environmental damage that may be avoidable with vigorous, timely actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many of these costs do not have dollar-and-cents price tags; increased deaths due to more intense hurricanes, or the destruction of irreplaceable ecosystems by sea-level rise or temperature increases, transcend monetary calculation. Lives, and ways of life, are at stake; the most important damages are priceless."—Executive Summary.

  • United Nations, International Year of Sanitation 2008 (UN Pulse) (November 23, 2007)

    "The International Year of Sanitation (IYS) was officially launched on Wednesday, 21 November at the UN Headquarters to accelerate progress for the 2.6 billion people worldwide who are without proper sanitation facilities. Every year inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene contribute to the deaths of 1.5 million children. The goal of the International Year is to raise awareness and accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goal target to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation by 2015."

  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Forest Service, Interim Update of the 2000 Renewable Resources Planning Act Assessment (FS-874) (April 2007)

    "A recent Forest Service determination finds climate change could affect the distribution and diversity of plants and animals in the United States. In an update of the 2000 Renewable Resources Planning Act (RPA) Assessment (US Forest Service 2001) conducted by the Forest Service, 15 key findings have emerged since the publication of the original assessment. on the status and trends of natural resources of U.S. forests and rangelands."—Press release (No. 0725) (December 4, 2007)

  • United States Department of Energy, Office of Integrated Analysis and Forecasting, Energy Information Administration, Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2006 (DOE/EIA-0573(2006)) (November 2007)

    "Total U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were 7,075.6 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) in 2006, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 2005 level according to Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2006, a report released today by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Since 1990, U.S. GHG emissions have grown at an average annual rate of 0.9 percent. The 2006 emissions decrease is only the third decline in annual emissions since 1990."—Press release (November 28, 2007)

  • United States Senate, Budget Committee, Senate Budget Committee Releases Updated Tally of Hurricane-Related Spending (Press release) (November 30, 2007)

    "Following the enactment of the 2007 emergency supplemental appropriations bill, which included $6.527 billion in additional hurricane recovery spending on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita of 2005, the Senate Budget Committee today issued an updated tally of congressional legislation related to the 2005 hurricanes. Enacted hurricane-related relief is now more than $129 billion."

  • David D. Zhang et al., Global Climate Change, War, and Population Decline in Recent Human History Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS), v.104, no.49, pp.19214-19 (December 4, 2007)

    "Although scientists have warned of possible social perils resulting from climate change, the impacts of long-term climate change on social unrest and population collapse have not been quantitatively investigated. In this study, high-resolution paleo-climatic data have been used to explore at a macroscale the effects of climate change on the outbreak of war and population decline in the preindustrial era. We show that long-term fluctuations of war frequency and population changes followed the cycles of temperature change. Further analyses show that cooling impeded agricultural production, which brought about a series of serious social problems, including price inflation, then successively war outbreak, famine, and population decline successively. The findings suggest that worldwide and synchronistic war–peace, population, and price cycles in recent centuries have been driven mainly by long-term climate change. The findings also imply that social mechanisms that might mitigate the impact of climate change were not significantly effective during the study period. Climate change may thus have played a more important role and imposed a wider ranging effect on human civilization than has so far been suggested. Findings of this research may lend an additional dimension to the classic concepts of Malthusianism and Darwinism."—Abstract.


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