Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Literary Warrant [19]

  • Association of American Railroads, National Rail Freight Infrastructure Capacity and Investment Study (Final Report) (September 2007)

    "This study is an assessment of the long-term capacity expansion needs of the continental U.S. freight railroads. It provides a first approximation of the rail freight infrastructure improvements and investments needed to meet the U.S. Department of Transportation's (U.S. DOT) projected demand for rail freight transportation in 2035. The U.S. DOT estimates that the demand for rail freight transportation—measured in tonnage—will increase 88 percent by 2035....

    "[T]he findings point clearly to the need for more investment in rail freight infrastructure and a national strategy that supports rail capacity expansion and investment."—Executive Summary.

  • John C. Austin et al., The Brookings Institution, Great Lakes Economic Initiative, Healthy Waters, Strong Economy: The Benefits of Restoring the Great Lakes Ecosystem (September 2007)

    "Restoring the Great Lakes to health will create $50 billion in economic benefit for the region, a new cost-benefit analysis conducted by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program finds.

    "According to Healthy Waters, Strong Economy: The Benefits of Restoring the Great Lakes Ecosystem (16 pages, PDF), efforts to improve the health of the Great Lakes will produce economic gains that are worth almost twice as much as the cost of those efforts. Funding to modernize wastewater treatment systems would reduce sewage and other contamination, which would result in improved water quality and fewer beach closings; efforts to eliminate invasive species would increase the supply of fish in the lakes and stem the dislocation of sport-fishery workers and assets; restoring and protecting wildlife habitat for birds and waterfowl would benefit naturalists and hunters; and removing contaminated sediment in areas of high concern would reclaim communities and increase property values."—Press release (September 19, 2007)

  • Anthony H. Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy, The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Global Energy, Economic Interdependence, Iraq And the Gulf (September 2007)

    "The real issue is not taking oil for the US; it is securing oil for the global economy. The US depends on that economy for its growth and at least indirectly for part of every job in the US. It not only needs direct imports, it needs oil to flow from Gulf to all of its major trading partners: Europe, China, Japan, South Korea, and all of the other powers that trade and invest with the US. If they cannot buy oil reliably at market prices, the world economy will weaken and the US economy with it.

    "As the attached briefing show, the stability and security of the Gulf is absolutely critical to the world and will be for decades to come. That security also is not a matter of Iraq's oil or Iran's. It is the security of all Gulf oil and especially southern Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE. If the US goes to war with a nation like Iraq, it is because of the strategic importance of the region, and the broader threat it poses, not because of the size of oil reserves that the US could only exploit profitably if it totally controlled Iraqi oil for decades."—Synopsis.

  • Environmental Defense, Analysis of Greenhouse Gas Reductions from an Energy Bill (September 24, 2007)

    "A new analysis released today by Environmental Defense shows that energy legislation passed by the House and Senate would let greenhouse emissions continue to increase for the next three decades, even if the best fuel-saving and renewable energy provisions in both bills were combined in conference committee."

  • Gareth Evans, President, International Crisis Group & Chair, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Scientific Forum 2007, Vienna, Nuclear Energy in the Next Quarter Century: The IAEA's Role (Concluding Report to General Conference) (September 20, 2007)

    "Throughout the deliberations of the Scientific Forum there was a strong sense that the matters we were discussing were at the cutting edge of the international public policy debate—with widespread current concerns about energy security, about the environmental impact of fossil fuels and renewed fears about a new surge of nuclear weapons proliferation making the whole constellation of issues about both the peaceful and non-peaceful uses of nuclear energy more alive and important than they have been for many years. There was a recurring hope evident in the presentations that policymakers would be willing to think hard about whether present policies and institutional structures and resources were really up to the multiple challenges the international community was now facing."

  • Lisa Heinzerling, Georgetown University, O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law Scholarship, Climate Change, Human Health, and the Post-Cautionary Principle (Research Paper no. 4) (September 2007)

    "In this Article, I suggest two different but related ways of reframing the public discourse on climate change. First, I propose that we move further in the direction of characterizing climate change as a public health threat and not only as an environmental threat. Second, I argue that we should stop thinking of responses to climate change in terms of the precautionary principle, which counsels action even in the absence of scientific consensus about a threat. We should speak instead in terms of a 'post-cautionary' principle for a post-cautionary world, in which some very bad effects of climate change are unavoidable and others are avoidable only if we take dramatic steps, and soon. These points are related insofar as they together create a moral imperative both to adapt to the changes we cannot prevent and to mitigate those we can. Without these efforts, people will fall ill and many will die, and we know now that this will occur. No fancy moral theory is required to condemn, and to make every attempt to avert, this large-scale knowing killing."—Abstract.

  • Justice Talking: The Public Radio Show about Law and American Life, Revisiting New Orleans: Katrina's Effect on the Legal System (September 17, 2007)

    "Two years after the largest natural disaster in U.S. history, New Orleans has been forced to redevelop neighborhoods, schools and most of its urban infrastructure. But what has happened to the city’s criminal justice system? Join us on this edition of Justice Talking for a detailed look at how Hurricane Katrina has affected police practices, the state and federal court systems, jails and alternative sentencing plans, and what the changes mean for citizens of and visitors to this famous city."—Overview.

  • National Aeronautics and Space Association (NASA), NASA Finds Greenland Snow Melting Hit Record High in High Places (September 25, 2007)

    "A new NASA-supported study reports that 2007 marked an overall rise in the melting trend over the entire Greenland ice sheet and, remarkably, melting in high-altitude areas was greater than ever at 150 percent more than average. In fact, the amount of snow that has melted this year over Greenland could cover the surface size of the U.S. more than twice."

  • National Parks Conservation Association, Unnatural Disaster: Global Warming and Our National Parks (September 24, 2007)

    National park"Hot, dry conditions generated by global warming can cause highly destructive wildfires in the national parks. At Yosemite National Park, warming and drought have made the wildfire season longer and more damaging. Higher temperatures at Saguaro National Park are enabling invasive grasses to displace native plants and fuel wildfires, which used to be rare.

    "Wildfires strain the budget of the already severely under-funded National Park Service, risk the safety of visitors and park staff, drastically alter natural ecosystems, and contribute harmful smoke to the atmosphere—making it harder to breathe in already polluted parks like Sequoia.

    "Congress and the Administration should act now to slow or halt global warming. If we take meaningful steps now, future generations of Americans should be able to fully experience the shared history and natural wonders protected by our national parks. If we wait too long, much will be lost."—Press release.

  • Eric A. Posner & Cass Sunstein, University of Chicago Law School, Climate Change Justice (U. of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 354; U. of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 177) (August 2007)

    "Greenhouse gas reductions would cost some nations much more than others, and benefit some nations far less than others. Significant reductions would impose especially large costs on the United States, and recent projections suggest that the United States has relatively less to lose from climate change. In these circumstances, what does justice require the United States to do? Many people believe that the United States is required to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions beyond the point that is justified by its own self-interest, simply because the United States is wealthy, and because the nations most at risk from climate change are poor. This argument from distributive justice is complemented by an argument from corrective justice: The existing stock of greenhouse gas emissions owes a great deal to the past actions of the United States, and many people think that the United States should do a great deal to reduce a problem for which it is largely responsible. But there are serious difficulties with both of these arguments. Redistribution from the United States to poor people in poor nations might well be desirable, but if so, expenditures on greenhouse gas reductions are a crude means of producing that redistribution: It would be much better to give cash payments directly to people who are now poor. The argument from corrective justice runs into the standard problems that arise when collectivities, such as nations, are treated as moral agents: Many people who have not acted wrongfully end up being forced to provide a remedy to many people who have not been victimized. The conclusion is that while a suitably designed climate change agreement is in the interest of the world, a widely held view is wrong: Arguments from distributive and corrective justice fail to provide strong justifications for imposing special obligations for greenhouse gas reductions on the United States. These arguments have general implications for thinking about both distributive justice and corrective justice arguments in the context of international law and international agreements."—Abstract.

  • Qin Chen, Lixia Wang, Haihong Zhao, & Scott L. Douglass, Prediction of Storm Surges and Wind Waves on Coastal Highways in Hurricane-Prone Areas, Journal of Coastal Research, v.23, pp.1304-17 (September 2007)

    "A recent study reveals that more than 60,000 miles (96,500 km) of coastal roadways are in the 100-year floodplain in the United States and vulnerable to the attacks of water surges and storm waves generated by hurricanes. Mitigating the effects of coastal flooding requires accurate predictions of the destructive hydrodynamic forces. This study demonstrates a methodology for integrating state-of-the-art storm surge and wave prediction models as an effective tool for engineering design of coastal infrastructure and facilitation of hurricane emergency management. The methodology has the capability of resolving complex geometry and topography typical of coastal road flooding. The surge model incorporates moving shoreline conditions associated with flooding and allows for nonlinear interactions among astronomical tide, storm surge, and wave setup. The wave model takes into account the unsteadiness of wind forcing, currents, and water levels. A historical hurricane event is simulated for the landfall of Hurricane Georges (1998) on the north coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Good agreement between the modeled and measured surge hydrographs in Mobile Bay, Alabama, has been found. The advanced surge model (ADCIRC), coupled with the wave model, successfully simulates the inundation and measured high water marks along two highways adjacent to the bay. The thirdgeneration wind wave model (SWAN) coupled with the hydrodynamic model reveals the temporal and spatial variability of wave heights and wave periods in the Mobile Bay estuary and on the flooded highways. Numerical experiments were carried out to examine the response of the estuary to various forcing agents, including the offshore surge hydrograph, local wind forcing, and wave thrust."—Abstract.

  • Martha G. Roberts, Timothy D. Male & Theodore P. Toombs, Environmental Defense, Potential Impacts of Biofuels Expansion on Natural Resources: A Case Study of the Ogallala Aquifer Region (2007)

    Ogallala outcrops"Biofuels are getting a lot of attention as a way to slow global warming. But not all biofuels are created equal. Whether they help the environment depends on how they are produced. A new Environmental Defense report recommends polices that will ensure that renewable fuels live up to their promise. Specifically, our study shows that we need:

    • a low-carbon fuel standard to spur production of biofuels with low greenhouse gas emissions and

    • better protections for water and land resources that are vulnerable to increasing production of biofuel feedstocks."

  • Brian Seasholes, National Center for Policy Analysis, Bad for Species, Bad for People: What's Wrong with the Endangered Species Act and How to Fix It (September 2007)

    "The Endangered Species Act (ESA), passed in 1973, was designed to recover species to a level at which they are no longer considered endangered and therefore do not require the Act's protection. Unfortunately, the law has had the opposite effect on many species. The ESA can severely penalize landowners for harboring species on their property, and as a result many landowners have rid their property of the species and habitat rather than suffer the consequences.

    "Over 1,900 species of plants and animals—1,351 domestic and 570 foreign—are currently considered by the federal government to be in danger of extinction. Once a species is listed, they are subject to a variety of conservation efforts, including federal recovery plans that can include a wide variety of measures including habitat protection. However, these conservation efforts rarely, if ever, consider the total costs of species recovery to federal, state or local governments, and especially to private landowners."—Executive Summary.

  • Bernice Steinhardt, Director, Strategic Issues, United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Influenza Pandemic: Opportunities Exist to Clarify Federal Leadership Roles and Improve Pandemic Planning (Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and Science and Technology, Committee on Homeland Security, House of Representatives) (September 26, 2007)

    "An influenza pandemic is a real and significant potential threat facing the United States and the world. Pandemics are unlike other emergencies because they are not a singular event nor discretely bounded in space and time.

    "This testimony addresses (1) federal leadership roles and responsibilities for preparing for and responding to a pandemic, (2) our assessment of the Strategy and Plan, and (3) opportunities to increase clarity of federal leadership roles and responsibilities and improve pandemic planning. GAO used its characteristics of an effective national strategy to assess the Strategy and Plan."—Why GAO Did This Study.

  • United Nations, Gateway to the UN System's Work on Climate Change

    A consolidation of news, reports, and information about UN instruments and agencies that deal with climate change.

  • United States Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, Audit Division, Superfund Activities in the Environment and Natural Resources Divisions for Fiscal Years 2004 and 2005 (Audit Report 07-43) (September 2007)

    "As required by CERCLA, the DOJ Office of the Inspector General conducted this audit to determine if the cost allocation process used by ENRD and its contractor provided an equitable distribution of total labor costs, other direct costs, and indirect costs to Superfund cases during FYs 2004 and 2005. We compared costs reported on the contractor-developed Accounting Schedules and Summaries for FYs 2004 and 2005 to costs recorded on DOJ accounting records to review the cost distribution system used by ENRD to allocate incurred costs to Superfund and non-Superfund cases.

    "In our judgment, ENRD provided an equitable distribution of total labor costs, other direct costs, and indirect costs to Superfund cases during FYs 2004 and 2005. However, we make three recommendations to improve ENRD operations and ensure compliance with DOJ directives."—Executive Summary.

  • United States Government Accountability Office, Natural Hazard Mitigation: Various Mitigation Efforts Exist, but Federal Efforts Do Not Provide a Comprehensive Strategic Framework (Report to the Ranking Member, Committee on Financial Services, House of Representatives, GAO-07-403) (August 2007)

    "The nation has experienced vast losses from natural hazards. The potential for future events, such as earthquakes and hurricanes, demonstrates the importance of hazard mitigation—actions that reduce the long-term risks to life and property from natural hazard events. GAO was asked to examine (1) natural hazards that present a risk to life and property in the United States, areas that are most susceptible to them, factors that may be increasing these risks, and mitigation activities that reduce losses; (2) methods for encouraging and impediments to implementing mitigation activities; and (3) collaborative efforts of federal agencies and other stakeholders to promote mitigation."—Why GAO Did This Study.

  • WeatherBill, Inc., Temperature Trends in Major U.S. Cities (September 12, 2007)

    "WeatherBill analyzed 30 years of daily temperature data from the nation's most populous cities to determine longterm trends in daily average temperatures in major US cities. The study is restricted to weather data from 130 cities which, as of the 2006 Census, had more than one hundred thousand residents and maintained a National Weather Service weather station with a clean historical record of at least 30 years of daily data, either within the city proper or at a nearby location.

    "To isolate seasonal temperature trends for each city in question, daily average temperature data is studied for both winter (November through February) and summer (June through September) seasons. Daily average temperature is defined as the midpoint of the high and low temperatures of the day. For each city, the mean (or average) and standard deviation (or volatility) of daily average temperature are calculated for winters and summers from 1977 through 2006. A Mann-Kendall test is used to determine the statistical significance of seasonal trends in the means and standard deviations of temperature over time."—Introduction.

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