Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #13, 1978
- Ceres, Investors Achieve Major Company Commitments on Climate Change (Press release) (August 20, 2008)
"Investors engaging with U.S. companies on the financial risks and opportunities from climate change achieved breakthrough results during the 2008 proxy season. A record 57 climate-related shareholder resolutions were filed with U.S. companies, of which nearly half were withdrawn after the companies agreed to positive climate-related commitments. Remaining resolutions that went to a vote received record high average voting support of 23.5 percent, including 39.6 percent support for a resolution filed with coal company CONSOL Energy, the highest vote ever on a global warming shareholder resolution."
- Manasi Deshpande, Senior Research Assistant, The Hamilton Project & Douglas W. Elmendorf, Senior Fellow, Economic Studies, Brookings Institution, An Economic Strategy for Investing in America's Infrastructure (Hamilton Project Strategy Paper) (July 2008)
"Infrastructure investment has received more attention in recent years because of increased delays from road and air congestion, high-profile infrastructure failures, and rising concerns about energy security and climate change. The United States now has the opportunity to channel public concern and frustration into a national infrastructure strategy that promotes infrastructure as a central component of long-term, broadly shared growth. While increased spending on infrastructure is likely to be needed, this paper emphasizes the large gains that could be reaped by using existing infrastructure more efficiently and by making better decisions about how to invest in infrastructure.
"For physical infrastructure, we recommend establishing pricing mechanisms such as road congestion fees and air traffic control fees to make users bear the costs of their infrastructure use more fully. At least part of the revenues from these fees should be used to offset their potential adverse distributional effects. The federal government can also promote better decisionmaking about new investments by removing distortions in its own policies and providing more flexibility in exchange for accountability by states and localities. For telecommunications infrastructure, we propose that the government make better use of the wireless spectrum by facilitating sales and leases of unused spectrum and by introducing more flexibility in its policy of interference prevention. Further, the government should consider targeted, cost-effective subsidies to encourage private firms to expand high-speed Internet access to unserved rural areas."—Abstract.
- Terry Dunworth et al., Urban Institute, Beyond Ideology, Politics, and Guesswork: The Case for Evidence-Based Policy (revised August 11, 2008)
"U.S. public policy has increasingly been conceived, debated, and evaluated through the lenses of politics and ideology. The fundamental question—Will the policy work?—too often gets short shrift or even ignored. A remedy is evidence-based policy—a rigourous approach that draws on careful data collection, experimentation, and both quantitative and qualitative analysis to determine what the problem is, which ways it can be addressed, and the probable impacts of each of these ways. Examples of how evidence informs good policy and lack of evidence can invite bad include health insurance coverage, education, sentencing policy, and redress for housing discrimination."—Abstract.
- Environmental Defense Fund, As Katrina Anniversary Looms, South Louisianans Say Coastal Erosion is More Serious Concern than Crime, Economy (August 21, 2008; updated September 24, 2008)
"A new poll released a week before the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina (August 29, 2005) shows that voters in south Louisiana are more concerned about coastal erosion than they are about crime or the economy. The poll also shows South Louisianans are almost as concerned about coastal erosion as they are about their highest-ranking worry—gas prices."&Press release.
- Gunnar S. Eskeland & Torben K. Mideksa, World Bank, Transportation Fuel Use, Technology and Standards: The Role of Credibility and Expectations (Policy Research Working Paper, no. WPS 4695) (August 19, 2008)
"There is a debate among policy analysts about whether fuel taxes alone are the most effective policy to reduce fuel use by motorists, or whether to also use mandatory standards for fuel efficiency. A problem with a policy mandating fuel economy standards is the 'rebound effect,' whereby owners with more efficient vehicles increase vehicle usage. If an important part of negative externalities from transport are associated with vehicle kilometers (accidents, congestion, road wear) rather than fuel consumption, the rebound effect increases negative externalities. Taxes and standards should be mutually supportive because fuel taxes often meet political resistance. Over time, fuel efficiency standards can reduce political resistance to fuel taxes. Thus, by raising fuel efficiency standards now, politicians may be able to pursue higher fuel tax paths in the future. Another argument in support of fuel efficiency standards and similar policies is that standards to a greater extent than taxes can be announced in advance and still be credible and change the behavior of inventors, firms, and other agents in society. A further argument is that standards can be used with greater force and commitment through international coordination."—Summary.
- Paul C. Light, Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service, Wagner School of Public Service, New York University's (NYU) Center for Catastrophe Preparedness and Response (CCPR) & The Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI), Predicting Organizational Crisis Readiness: Perspectives and Practices toward a Pathway to Preparedness (2008)
"In the report, Dr. Light...examines characteristics that better position organizations and government to recover after a crisis, identifying those that serve as significant predictors of crisis readiness. He also presents recommendations for enhancing organizational preparedness. The report includes the results of a survey of opinion leaders from government, for-profit, and non-profit sectors comparing crisis characteristics of organizations.
"Among the key recommendations are:
- Priorities: Crisis readiness should be given the same organizational priority as other mission-centered activities, such as fund-raising and sales, marketing, branding, and measurement.
- Budgeting: Crisis readiness should be given an identifiable line in the organizational budget and it should not be subsumed in another budget.
- Accountability: Crisis readiness should be given clear grants of authority from the leadership and board.
- Stafford Act Reform: Raise the limits of support, and decease the barriers for application, for small businesses in the aftermath of a disaster.
- Regulation: Set voluntary standards for crisis readiness through statues and award programs"
- Bruce R. Lindsay, Analyst in Emergency Management Policy, Government and Finance Division, Congressional Research Service (CRS), The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC): An Overview (CRS Report for Congress, Order Code RL34585) (July 21, 2008)
"The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) is an agreement among member states to provide assistance after disasters overwhelm a state’s capacity to manage consequences. The compact, initiated by the states and coordinated by the National Emergency Management Association, provides a structure for requesting emergency assistance from party states. In 1996 Congress approved EMAC as an interstate compact (P.L. 104-321). EMAC also resolves some, but not all, potential legal and administrative obstacles that may hinder such assistance at the state level. EMAC also enhances state preparedness for terrorist attacks by ensuring the availability of resources for fast response and facilitating multi-state cooperation in training activities and preparedness exercises.
"In June of 2008, a bill to reform mutual aid agreements for the National Capital Region (P.L. 110-250) was enacted to expand the types of organizations and agencies in the region that are authorized to enter into agreements and ease the requirements for agents and volunteers to respond to an incident. Legislation in the 110th Congress (S. 1452) would require EMAC to ensure that licensed mental health professionals with expertise in treating vulnerable populations are included in the leadership of the National Disaster Medical System and are available for deployment with Disaster Medical Assistance Teams."—Summary.
- Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development, Louisiana Citizen Awareness and Disaster Evacuation Guides (2008)
Guides for Southeast and Southwest, as well as sections of the Metropolitan New Orleans Contraflow Plan.
- Sabrina McCormick, University of Pennsylvania, American Sociological Association, Hot or Not?: Recognizing and Managing the Health Impacts of Climate Change (October 2008)
"Climate change is already detrimentally affecting the lives and health of many people and is resulting in 160,000 annual deaths globally, caused by vector borne diseases, food insecurity, and heatwaves. This paper presents an analytical framework for the newly recognized and socially-contested category of 'climate-induced illnesses.' In it, I aim to first, expand the range of disaster research and theory by examining health crises as a 'new species of trouble' and by applying the insights of disaster research to population health. Second, I attempt to make contributions to medical sociology by exploring how the social construction and framing of illness functions for illnesses identified as climate-induced. I examine three illnesses recently recognized as exacerbated by climate change: West Nile Virus in the Northeast United States, increasing toxicological exposures in coastal Alaska Native communities, and heat-induced illnesses in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I argue that there are institutional obstacles to illness crisis management reflected in competing illness paradigms. Responses on the part of affected communities, medical practitioners, and governmental representatives interact to form socially shared public etiological and epidemiological understandings that shape subsequent prevention methods. This research presents an opportunity to apply multiple sociological theories to the pressing subject of climate change, with special focus on its impacts."—Abstract.
- National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Study Links California Hospitalizations to Hotter Weather Thousands Needed Emergency Care During 2006 Heat Wave (Press release) (August 26, 2008)
"Rising temperatures have already impacted the health of thousands of Californians, according to a paper in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), written by scientists at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). 'The 2006 California Heat Wave: Impacts on Hospitalizations and Emergency Department Visits,' describes the enormous health impacts of California’s severe heat wave in 2006. According to a separate analysis by NRDC, these impacts were estimated to have cost California $133 million in health-related costs. More intense, more frequent and longer duration heat waves are projected for California in the coming decades due to global warming."
- Oceana, Sea the Value: Quantifying the Value of Marine Life to Divers (August 21, 2008)
"Scuba divers find personal value in seeing healthy marine life when they explore the underwater world. Quantifying this value is important, in part because it provides economic justification for the protection of marine wildlife. In fact, divers are valuable participants in ecotourism and provide economic incentives for coastal areas to protect and preserve the oceans. Many non-coastal cities and states also are home to scuba divers and dive shops that rely heavily on healthy oceans, benefiting from the economic activities of the dive community."—Press release.
- Alexander Ochs, American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS), Johns Hopkins University, Overcoming the Lethargy: Climate Change, Energy Security, and the Case for a Third Industrial Revolution (AICGS Policy Report, no. 34) (2008)
"This Policy Report starts with an exploration of the comprehensive challenge of climate change and energy security. It then describes what a third industrial revolution could look like and what it will need to induce it. The subsequent section looks at the costs and benefits of action and non-action, making a strong economic case for adoption of the former. It continues with an analysis of the past and present of transatlantic climate and energy policy and detects new opportunities for German-U.S. cooperation in the field for the years ahead. The conclusion offers some suggestions for how the dialogue between both countries can be strengthened."—Introduction.
- Oxfam America, Mirror on America: How the State of Gulf Coast Recovery Reflects on Us All (2008)
"The barriers to a complete recovery are most apparent in the housing and jobs sectors.. More than 35,000 individuals still living in FEMA trailers in the Gulf Coast, according to Oxfam’s report. In Louisiana, 82,000 apartments were damaged or destroyed by Katrina and Rita, but the highest official estimate proposes to replace only about 25,000 affordable units. In Mississippi, federal money that was mandated for use in rebuilding low income housing was, instead, diverted to improving the shipyards in Biloxi."—Press release (August 26, 2008)
- Larry Parker, Peter Folger & Deborah D. Stine, Resources, Science, and Industry Division, Congressional Research Service (CRS), Capturing CO
2from Coal-Fired Power Plants: Challenges for a Comprehensive Strategy (CRS Report for Congress, Order Code RL34621) (August 15, 2008)
"Much of the debate about developing and commercializing carbon capture technology has focused on the role of research, development, and deployment (technology-push mechanisms). However, for technology to be fully commercialized, it must also meet a market demand—a demand created either through a price mechanism or a regulatory requirement (demand-pull mechanisms). Any conceivable carbon capture technology for coal-fired powerplants will increase the cost of electricity generation from affected plants because of efficiency losses. Therefore, few companies are likely to install such technology until they are required to, either by regulation or by a carbon price. Regulated industries may find their regulators reluctant to accept the risks and cost of installing technology that is not required."—Summary.
- President's Council on Integrity & Efficiency & Executive Council on Integrity & Efficiency, Oversight of Gulf Coast Hurricane Recovery: A Semiannual Report to Congress (October 1, 2007—March 31, 2008) (August 2008)
"This is the fifth in a series of semiannual reports on Gulf Coast hurricane recovery oversight. The report details the efforts that are a part of the oversight of the activities and expenditures directly linked to the recovery from the devastating 2005 hurricane season.
"Inspector General oversight continues with the ultimate goal of identifying fraud, waste, and abuse, and ensuring that the assets and resources employed in the recovery are used efficiently and effectively. The efforts of the Inspector General community continue to benefit the Federal government’s hurricane relief activities. Additionally, the Homeland Security Roundtable, which became the natural forum for the Inspector General community’s oversight of hurricane recovery efforts, has initiated similar efforts on issues related to recent natural disasters, such as the flooding in the Midwest and fires in California."
- John F. Sargent, Specialist in Science and Technology Policy, Resources, Science, and Industry Division, Congressional Research Service (CRS), Nanotechnology and Environmental [sic], Health, and Safety: Issues for Consideration (CRS Report for Congress, Order Code RL34614) (August 6, 2008)
"Nanotechnology—a term encompassing nanoscale science, engineering, and technology—is focused on understanding, controlling, and exploiting the unique properties of matter that can emerge at scales of one to 100 nanometers. A key issue before Congress regarding nanotechnology is how best to protect human health, safety, and the environment as nanoscale materials and products are researched, developed, manufactured, used, and discarded. While the rapidly emerging field of nanotechnology is believed by many to offer significant economic and societal benefits, some research results have raised concerns about the potential adverse environmental, health, and safety (EHS) implications of nanoscale materials. Some have described nanotechnology as a two-edged sword. On the one hand, some are concerned that nanoscale particles may enter and accumulate in vital organs, such as the lungs and brains, potentially causing harm or death to humans and animals, and that the diffusion of nanoscale particles in the environment might harm ecosystems. On the other hand, some believe that nanotechnology has the potential to deliver important EHS benefits such as reducing energy consumption, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions; remediating environmental damage; curing, managing, or preventing diseases; and offering new safety-enhancing materials that are stronger, self-repairing, and able to adapt to provide protection.
"Stakeholders generally agree that concerns about potential detrimental effects of nanoscale materials and devices—both real and perceived—must be addressed to protect and improve human health, safety, and the environment; enable accurate and efficient risk assessment, risk management, and cost-benefit trade-offs; foster innovation and public confidence; and ensure that society can enjoy the widespread economic and societal benefits that nanotechnology may offer.
"Congressionally-mandated reviews of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) by the National Research Council and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology have concluded that additional research is required to make a rigorous risk assessment of nanoscale materials."—Summary.
- United Nations, General Assembly, International Law Commission, Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters (Memorandum by the Secretariat) (A/CN.4/590) (December 11, 2007)
"Disasters affect large numbers of individuals each year, in all regions of the world, causing widespread loss of life, injury and economic loss. International cooperation in the provision of disaster relief assistance, while not a recent phenomenon, has become more prevalent in contemporary times, which has given rise to a need for enhanced legal regulation.
"The present study aims to provide an overview of existing legal instruments and texts applicable to a variety of aspects of disaster prevention and relief assistance, as well as of the protection of persons in the event of disasters, focusing primarily on natural disasters. Although no generalized multilateral treaty on the topic exists, a number of relevant rules have been codified in some multilateral treaties (mostly sectoral), both at the global and regional levels, as well as in over 150 bilateral treaties and memorandums of understanding. In addition, over 100 national laws directly concerning the topic, and countless national laws which relate to a specific aspect of the topic, have been identified....—Summary.
- United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, Reforming Energy Subsidies: Opportunities to Contribute to the Climate Change Agenda (2008)
"Reforming environmentally harmful energy subsidies will need to play a central role in moving the world onto a more sustainable development path. Consensus on the detrimental impact of rising fossil-energy consumption on climate change now calls for renewed attention and urgency of the reform process. However, there is a lack of information and understanding about the size of the problem, the need for policy reform and the best way to go about it.
"This report summarises, in non-technical language, the issues and challenges in removing or modifying subsidies on energy that undermine the pursuit of sustainable development. It updates the first edition, published jointly by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) in 2002, drawing on the findings of recent work related to energy subsidies by various organisations."—Introduction.
- United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Hurricane Protection System Improvements (rev. June 2, 2008)
"This page contains an overview and specific information about improvements that USACE is making to the Southern Louisiana Hurricane Protection System (HPS). Each summary below has links to (High) for high speed cable connection. (Medium) DSL connection, and (Low resolution) for Telephone connection. (Flash Player version 9 is needed for viewing.)"
- United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Updated Incident Annexes of the National Response Plan (June, August 2008)
"A number of Incident Annexes of the National Response Plan (NRP) were recently updated by the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security. The Incident Annexes address contingency or hazard situations requiring specialized application of the NRP. The annexes describe the policies, situation, concept of operations, and responsibilities pertinent to the type of incident in question."—Homeland Security Digital Library (blog) (August 26, 2008)
- United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (OSHA 3114-07R 2008) (2008)
"The dumping of hazardous substances poses a significant threat to the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) data show that over 18 million tons of hazardous substances covered by TRI were disposed of or released into the environment from 1998 through 2004. Hazardous substances are a serious safety and health problem that continues to endanger human and animal life and environmental quality. Discarded hazardous substances that are toxic, flammable, or corrosive can cause fires, explosions, and pollution of air, water, and land. Unless hazardous substances are properly treated, stored, or disposed of, they will continue to do great harm to living things that contact them, now and in the future."—Introduction.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), EPA, States and Tribes Work in Collaboration to Meet the 24-hour Fine Particle National Air Quality Standard (Press release) (August 19, 2008)
"In response to recommendations from state and tribal representatives, the agency sent letters outlining areas it is considering designating as attainment or nonattainment for the 24-hour fine particle standards. Today, the agency notified 25 states that they currently meet the fine particle standards, while the remaining states have at least one area under consideration for a nonattainment designation. A nonattainment area would include counties with monitors violating the 24-hour standard and nearby counties that contribute to that violation."
- United States Geological Survey (USGS), Hurricane Gustav: USGS Maps Potential for Coastal Change (August 31, 2008)
"Hurricane landfall and associated elevated water levels, waves, and currents can lead to severe coastal change through erosion and re-deposition. In order to understand the vulnerability of coasts to storms, USGS scientists monitor U.S. coasts before and after impacts to determine the severity and patterns of erosion and accretion. Depending on storm characteristics and coastal elevations, as well as other factors, impacts can vary. The most extreme coastal change regime is associated with inundation, when storm surge exceeds the elevation of the primary dune or beach berm and the entire beach system is submerged. For Gustav, the USGS Hurricane and Extreme Storms Research Group has conducted pre-storm analyses of potential impacts in five major areas along the Northern Gulf of Mexico coastline where Gustav is likely to make landfall."—Press release.
- United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Hurricane Katrina: Continuing Debris Removal and Disposal Issues (August 25, 2008)
"The Water Resources Development Act of 2007 directed GAO to address certain activities related to debris management in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. We briefed relevant committee staff on the results of our work on March 6, 2008, and held subsequent discussions with them in March and April 2008. We are following up with this report, which provides more detail on the topics covered in the briefing. This report describes (1) key plans and practices federal and state agencies are currently using to oversee debris removal and disposal in response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, (2) enforcement actions state and federal agencies have taken related to Katrina debris removal and disposal, and (3) actions by LDEQ and EPA in response to potential environmental issues at the Gentilly Landfill in New Orleans. The report also provides information on the status of the Chef Menteur Landfill in New Orleans; an EPA disaster debris reduction pilot project in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana; and a debris provision in the Water Resources Development Act."
- Brian A. Weatherford, Henry H. Willis & David S. Ortiz, Rand Supply Chain Policy Center, The State of U.S. Railroads: A Review of Capacity and Performance Data (Technical Report) (2008)
"Concern about the ability of the U.S. railroad system to accommodate a significant increase in rail freight volume without degrading the speed and reliability of railroad service has motivated several recent studies of railroad infrastructure. Many of these studies were commissioned by trade associations or organizations representing interested parties, and it is challenging to disentangle facts about the current capacity and performance of railroads from advocacy positions of carriers or shippers. This report draws from publicly available data on the U.S. railroad industry to provide observations about rail infrastructure capacity and performance in transporting freight."—Summary.