Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Literary Warrant [24]

  • Roger Alford, Opinio Juris, Availability Cascades and Global Warming (January 2, 2008)

    Brief blog posting on a recent New York Times article addressing "the role of availability cascades in media coverage of global warming."

  • Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), Implications of Climate Change for Urban Water Utilities (December 2007)

    "Warming of the earth’s atmosphere will continue to put mounting pressure on America’s drinking water sources, leading to diminishing supplies in some regions and flooding in others, according to an analysis released today by the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), a nonprofit organization of the largest publicly owned drinking water systems in the United States.

    "AMWA’s report, Implications of Climate Change for Urban Water Utilities, forecasts the likely impacts of climate change on water supplies in different regions of the U.S., such as an accelerated hydrologic cycle of evaporation and precipitation, water contamination, rising sea levels and pressure on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems."—Press release (December 13, 2007)

  • California Air Resources Board, Comparison of Greenhouse Gas Reductions Under the CAFE Standards and ARB Regulations Adopted Pursuant To AB1493 (Technical Assessment) (January 2, 2008)

    "In public comments explaining his denial of a waiver under Sec. 209(b) of the Clean Air Act for California to enforce its regulations implementing AB1493, U.S. EPA Administrator Steven Johnson makes the claim, without supporting documentation, that California’s motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) rules are less effective than the recently adopted national CAFE standards in reducing global warming pollution. The California Air Resources Board’s (ARB) staff analyzed this claim and prepared and documented its own technical evaluation.

    "California standards regulate GHG emissions; federal CAFE standards are aimed at reducing the nation’s fuel consumption. This study makes the necessary calculations to allow the two programs to be evaluated so that the reductions in GHG gases under the California rules can be compared to those expected from implementation of the CAFE portion of the 2007 Energy Bill. The results show that the Administrator’s claim that the federal CAFE program is better than California’s program at reducing GHG emissions from motor vehicles is wrong, both in California and in those states that adopt the California standards."

Read the rest of this post . . . .
  • European Environment Agency (EEA), Climate Change: The Cost of Inaction and the Cost of Adaptation (EEA Technical Report no. 13/2007)

    "Significant changes in climate are already visible globally, and are expected to become more pronounced in the future. These will lead to wide ranging impacts on the natural and man-made environment across different sectors and regions, which in turn will lead to economic costs. These economic costs of climate change are often known as the 'costs of inaction' and are increasingly helping to inform the policy debate. It is also evident that even if emissions of greenhouse gases stop today, changes in climate will continue for many decades. Therefore, in addition to mitigation, it is essential to develop adequate adaptive responses (adaptation) as a means of moderating damages or realising opportunities associated with climate change. To allow a fully informed debate on adaptation, there is a need to consider the economic aspects of adaptation."—Executive Summary.

  • Jinxia Wang, World Bank Development Research Group, Sustainable Rural and Urban Development Team, Can China Continue Feeding Itself? The Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture (Policy Research Working Paper 4470) (January 200[8])

    "Several studies addressing the supply and demand for food in China suggest that the nation can largely meet its needs in the coming decades. However, these studies do not consider the effects of climate change. This paper examines whether near future expected changes in climate are likely to alter this picture. The authors analyze the effect of temperature and precipitation on net crop revenues using a cross section consisting of both rainfed and irrigated farms. Based on survey data from 8,405 households across 28 provinces, the results of the Ricardian analysis demonstrate that global warming is likely to be harmful to China but the impacts are likely to be very different in each region. The mid latitude region of China may benefit from warming but the southern and northern regions are likely to be damaged by warming. More precipitation is beneficial to Chinese farmers except in the wet southeast. Irrigated and rainfed farmers have similar responses to precipitation but not to temperature. Warmer temperatures may benefit irrigated farms but they are likely to harm rainfed farms. Finally, seasonal effects vary and are offsetting. Although we were able to measure the direct effect of precipitation and temperature, we could not capture the effects of change in water flow which will be very important in China. Can China continue feeding itself if climate changes? Based on the empirical results, the likely gains realized by some farmers will nearly offset the losses that will occur to other farmers in China. If future climate scenarios lead to significant reductions in water, there may be large damages not addressed in this study."—Summary.

  • Cassandra Johnson & D.B.K. English, United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Visitor Diversity on National Forests—How Should Managers Respond? (Proceedings: National Workshop on Recreation Research and Management, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-698)

    National Park"Historically, Anglo Americans have been the primary clientele at nature-based outdoor recreation areas in the United States. Goldsmith highlighted the lack of racial and ethnic diversity among National Park visitors. Citing a Texas A&M study, Goldsmith reported that less than 1% of car visitors to Yosemite National Park were African American and less than 4% of bus riders to the park were African American. Visitation by Hispanics at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona was similar to that for Blacks. Natural resource managers and policy makers also have been mostly Anglo. Not surprisingly, the resulting management 'culture' has privileged traditional natural resource values and beliefs rooted in White, middle American culture."

  • Bruce Katz, Christopher Geissler & Robert Puentes, Brookings Institution, America’s Infrastructure: Ramping Up or Crashing Down (January 2008)

    "Infrastructure has a dramatic effect on the economic competitiveness of our nation, the health of our environment and our quality of life. And infrastructure—freight ports, airports, bridges, roads, rail and transit networks, water and sewer systems, web of channel communications—is the connective tissue of our nation. Smart policies and investments can enhance and further national prosperity and the health and vitality of metropolitan areas, where the bulk of our population lives and jobs are located.

    "A long-term infrastructure plan can foster productive growth in our economy, sustainable growth that furthers energy independence and real solutions to climate change and inclusive growth so that low and moderate-income families have access to opportunity."—Executive Summary.

  • National Association of Counties, Counties & Residential Green Building Standards (Green Government Initiative)

    "The built environment has a profound impact on the natural environment, the economy, and human health and productivity. Homes account for over 20% of the nation’s energy use and as a result, for over 20% of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. Home builders and home buyers throughout the country are demonstrating an increased interest in green building—for environmental, health, and financial reasons. Counties can play an important role in providing services, incentives, programs and policies that support the green building movement."—Introduction.

  • The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Harnessing Farms and Forests in the Low-Carbon Economy How to Create, Measure, and Verify Greenhouse Gas Offsets, eds. Zach Willey & Bill Chameides, Environmental Defense (Duke University Press 2007)

    "This guide is the first comprehensive technical publication providing direction to landowners for sequestering carbon and information for traders and others who will need to verify the sequestration. It will provide invaluable direction to farmers, foresters, land managers, consultants, brokers, investors, regulators, and others interested in creating consistent, credible greenhouse gas offsets as a tradable commodity in the United States."

  • Jonathan Thompson, Running Dry: Where Will the West Get Its Water?, Science Findings (United States Department of Agriculture, Pacific Northwest Research Station) (No. 97) (October 2007)

    "Late summer streamflow in western and central Oregon and northern California is almost exclusively due to immense groundwater storage in the Cascade Range. The volume of water stored in permeable lava flows in the Cascades is seven times that stored as snow. Nonetheless, until recently, virtually all examinations of streamflow trends under future climates in the West have focused on the anticipated loss of snowpack. This has painted an incomplete picture of the looming water resource crisis that is expected because of global warming."—In Summary.

  • Toronto City Planning, Design Guidelines for 'Greening' Surface Parking Lots (Draft) (November 2007)

    Parking lot"When functional requirements are the only objectives considered in parking lot design, the design outcome is generally undesirable, with poor quality landscaping, unattractive streetscapes and a lack of pedestrian safety, comfort and amenity.

    "Conventional surface parking lots also represent an environmental challenge. Large expanses of asphalt contribute to the urban heat island effect, which raises local air temperature, elevates smog, and, in turn, increases energy demand for summer cooling. Vehicles left to 'bake in the sun' can be significant polluters as well, emitting smog-forming contaminants when parked and requiring additional energy for cooling when travel resumes."—Introduction.

  • Trust for America's Health, Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism (Issue Report) (December 2007)

    "This report finds that on some measures, significant progress has been made in the nation’s preparedness. There are important areas, however, where continued, concerted action is needed. From assuring an adequate stockpile of pandemic influenza countermeasures to having a public health workforce large enough and trained enough to respond to an emergency, federal and state policies still fall short of their stated goals.

    "Almost half the states do not provide sufficient legal protection from liability for health care volunteers who respond to the nation’s call for assistance in an emergency. In many other areas, a lack of transparency makes it hard for the American people and their elected representatives to know whether their government is protecting them. The variation in preparedness among the states, while not as great as in past years, does mean that where one lives still determines how well one is protected. Until all states measure up, the United States is not safe."—Introduction.

  • United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library, Department of Public Information, UN Pulse, Climate Action (December 24, 2007)

    "Climate Action (e-book) is an international communication platform established by Sustainable Development International in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to educate businesses, governments and NGOs as to what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The publication and supporting website will assist institutional investors in analysing and comparing companies that are responding to the business risks and opportunities resulting from global warming."

  • United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library, Department of Public Information, UN Pulse, UNICEF: 3 Years after Tsunami (December 21, 2007)

    "The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reports on the organization's progress in helping children in countries affected by the tsunami of 26 December 2004 in the areas of education, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, HIV/AIDS and child protection. The report Three Year UNICEF Tsunami Anniversary Monitoring Report is available in pdf (full-text, 292 KB)."

  • United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2007/2008—Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World (2007)

    "As the Human Development Report 2007/2008 argues, climate change poses challenges at many levels. In a divided but ecologically interdependent world, it challenges all people to reflect upon how we manage the environment of the one thing that we share in common: planet Earth. It challenges us to reflect on social justice and human rights across countries and generations. It challenges political leaders and people in rich nations to acknowledge their historic responsibility for the problem, and to initiate deep and early cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Above all, it challenges the entire human community to undertake prompt and strong collective action based on shared values and a shared vision."

  • United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Preparing and Protecting Security Personnel in Emergencies (OSHA 3335-10N) (2007)

    "Security personnel (i.e., guards) potentially risk occupational exposures to hazardous substances including chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) materials during emergencies. Emergencies involving the release of hazardous chemicals at industrial facilities, including chemical manufacturers and industrial facilities utilizing hazardous substances, are the most likely and predictable incidents that may involve security personnel. Security personnel, however, work at a variety of locations with the potential for emergency incidents. Although general chemical release emergencies may be the most likely, incidents resulting from natural disasters or involving weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are also of concern to both private and public sector employers and the security personnel they employ. Security personnel working at companies for the protection of the facilities, materials, and products, as well as those employed by government agencies, are often called upon to provide support during hazardous substance emergencies and the emergency planning in preparation for such incidents is key to successful implementation of emergency response operations.

    "This document specifically addresses emergencies involving hazardous substance releases and provides guidance for employers, and their security personnel, who may be involved in the emergency response. It does not address other safety and health hazards (e.g., workplace violence) that security personnel may be exposed to while performing their routine duties."—Introduction.

  • United States Fish & Wildlife Service, Bulletin: Statement for Polar Bear Decision (News release) (January 7, 2008)

    "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working diligently to reach a final decision on the proposal to list the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. We expect to provide a final recommendation to the Secretary of the Interior and finalize the decision within the next month."

  • United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Army Corps of Engineers: Known Performance Issues with New Orleans Drainage Canal Pumps Have Been Addressed, but Guidance on Future Contracts Is Needed (Report to the Chairman, Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate) (GAO-08-288) (December 2007)

    "Schedule concerns drove the Corps’ decisions in developing specifications for the pumping systems and awarding the contract, but the rush to award the contract resulted in deficiencies in key contract provisions. Specifically, the original factory test requirements were ambiguous, there were only limited provisions for on-site testing, and there were no criteria for acceptance of the pumping systems by the government. The Corps conducted an expedited competition to contract for the pumping systems and selected a supplier for contract award based largely on its ability to deliver the pumping systems by the June 1 start of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season."—What GAO Found.

  • United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Coastal Wetlands: Lessons Learned from Past Efforts in Louisiana Could Help Guide Future Restoration and Protection (Report to Congressional Addressees) (GAO-08-130) (December 2007)

    "Over the last 17 years under CWPPRA, federal agencies and Louisiana have designed and/or constructed 147 projects to restore and protect over 120,000 acres of coastal wetlands—about 3 percent of the Louisiana coast. Projects have included large-scale efforts that reintroduce freshwater and sediment to declining wetlands, as well as smaller projects such as shoreline barriers and vegetation plantings to protect and restore the coastal landscape. As of June 2007, of these 147 projects, 74 were completely constructed, 16 were under construction, and 57 were being designed and engineered. While the majority of projects are full-scale restoration and protection efforts, 22 were demonstration projects, initiated to test new techniques and materials. The cost of projects can vary considerably from about $9,000 per acre to plant marsh plants to almost $54,000 per acre to restore barrier islands. As of June 2007, the estimated cost to complete all 147 projects was $1.78 billion. Projects also require a continuous source of funding to maintain them over their expected life spans, which in most cases are about 20 years—yet like naturally occurring wetlands, most restored wetlands are also subject to continuous erosion and subsidence over time. Because the CWPPRA program has not implemented a comprehensive evaluation and monitoring approach, it is not possible to determine the collective success of constructed projects."—

  • United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Natural Disasters: Public Policy Options for Changing the Federal Role in Natural Catastrophe Insurance (Report to the Ranking Member, Committee on Financial Services, House of Representatives) (GAO-08-7) (November 2007)

    "Large numbers of Americans are not insured for natural catastrophes. Homeowners may not purchase natural catastrophe insurance because doing so is voluntary and they may not believe that the risk justifies the expenditure. In addition, some homes may be underinsured—that is, not insured for the full replacement value. GAO estimates that the federal government made about $26 billion available to homeowners who lacked adequate insurance in response to the 2005 Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. Given the unsustainable fiscal path of federal and state governments, they will be challenged to maintain their current fiscal role."—What GAO Found.

  • United States House of Representatives, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Political Interference with Climate Change Science under the Bush Administration (December 2007)

    "For the past 16 months, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been investigating allegations of political interference with government climate change science under the Bush Administration. During the course of this investigation, the Committee obtained over 27,000 pages of documents from the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Commerce Department, held two investigative hearings, and deposed or interviewed key officials. Much of the information made available to the Committee has never been publicly disclosed.

    "This report presents the findings of the Committee’s investigation. The evidence before the Committee leads to one inescapable conclusion: the Bush Administration has engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public about the dangers of global warming."—Executive Summary.

  • Beth Wellington, LLRX.com, Analysis of the Energy Bill, the EPA's Refusal to Grant Waivers and State Laws With Respect to Climate Change (December 23, 2007)

    "[A]s the calendar turns to 2008, it will fall to the courts and Congress, not the Bush Administration, to lead the way in fighting climate change."

  • Harry C. Zinn & Alan R. Graefe, Emerging Adults and the Future of Wild Nature, International Journal of Wilderness, v. 13, no. 3 (December 2007)

    "Many resource managers and wilderness advocates see links between appreciating
    wild nature, participating in traditional outdoor activities, and support for protecting wild areas. Some of these individuals express concern that the values and recreation behavior of today’s young people may suggest less support for protecting wilderness in the future. Although emerging adults appear to express strong pro-environmental values, they exhibit outdoor recreation patterns strikingly different from the past. More questions than answers exist about emerging adults’ environmental and wilderness values, and how these values relate to their outdoor recreation behavior."—Abstract.


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