Climate news this week: green stimulus afterglow edition--2/20
Climate news this week: green stimulus afterglow edition--2/20
In others, President Obama made his first trip abroad this week, to our northern neighbors. Mr. Obama met with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottowa, and discussed climate change among many other issues.
The leaders announced what they called “a clean energy dialogue” to work out their differences on environmental issues, among the thorniest between the United States and Canada, and engage in joint research on technology to reduce carbon emissions.
The United States is the biggest importer of Canadian oil, and Mr. Harper has been trying to win an agreement to exempt Canada’s vast tracts of oil sands, which may contain up to 173 billion barrels of recoverable oil bound into sand and clay, from any new American environmental regulations. Mr. Obama is under intense pressure from environmentalists to resist that effort.
“We’re not going to solve these problems overnight,” the president said.His statements were just ambiguous enough to satisfy both American environmentalists and the Canadian oil industry. Dave Collyer, the president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, called the announcement “an important framework that strikes the right balance and sets a pragmatic approach.” Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, the director of the Canada program at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, called the dialogue “a logical first step,” adding, “What we heard him say is that addressing global warming is a top priority.”
There’s also more good news this week from the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he wants to pass global warming legislation by the end of the summer:
The Nevada Democrat told The Associated Press in an interview late Thursday that the Senate in the next few weeks will move to pass an energy bill focusing on several of President Barack Obama's priorities, but then " hopefully late this summer do the global warming part of it."
There is widespread agreement that the climate change issue must be addressed. But there remains sharp disagreement on just how to do it.
Many Republicans argue that the Democrats' plan to cap the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming may be too expensive and produce higher energy costs. Democratic congressional leaders maintain that costs can be contained and that failure to act soon could have even more severe economic consequences.
Reid says he is convinced that many senators want to move on the issue this year."We have to take a whack at it," he said.
Meanwhile, we continue to receive reports about the worldwide consequences of climate change. Soon, climate change may have a huge impact on both Brazil’s economy and on our morning cup o’ joe:
The future for Brazil's mighty farm sector could be grim, with hotter temperatures pushing crops past its borders, uphill into the Andes and toward the tip of South America.
So Brazilian scientists and agronomists are rushing to deter the effects of climate change on the world's biggest coffee producer and second-ranking soybean grower, a country crucial to the international food supply.
Already, the world economic crisis has thrown Brazilian agricultural commodities into a slump, with grain prices plunging on weak demand. But climate change remains an acute long-term concern: The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts an increase in global temperatures of 3.6 to 7.2 degrees in the next 20 years, with even greater temperature increases in the Amazon.
We’re bracing for the impacts of climate change on our own shores as well. This week a panel of scientists convened by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg released a report on the possible effects of sea level rise on the Big Apple’s infrastructure.
Water levels around New York City could rise by 2 feet or more in the coming decades and average temperatures will likely go up 4 to 7.5 degrees, according to a report released Tuesday by a panel of scientists convened by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The city must adapt to global warming or risk having to rebuild facilities after flooding, Bloomberg said in releasing the report by the New York City Panel on Climate Change.
…The New York City report, which was funded by a $350,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, predicts that sea levels will rise by 12 to 23 inches and possibly more by the end of the century. Accelerated ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica could mean that sea levels will rise as much as 41 to 55 inches, the report says.
The report predicts that heat waves, short periods of intense rain, droughts and coastal flooding will all become more frequent and more intense.
According to the report, New York City can expect 2.5 to 4.5 times more days per year over 90 degrees than it experienced from 1971 to 2000.
Last but not least, this week NASA is busy getting ready to launch their Orbiting Carbon Observatory, a new probe that will help us better understand the science of greenhouse gases and climate change!
OCO is poised to launch from California's Andean Air Force Base atop a Taurus XL rocket on Feb. 24 to begin its carbon dioxide-hunting mission. The spacecraft will use three high-resolution spectrometers built by Hamilton Sundstrand Sensor Systems of Pomona, Calif., to measure carbon dioxide and oxygen molecules in the Earth's atmosphere based on the way those molecules absorb sunlight.
That data will then be used to show the specific regions where natural and man-made sources are producing carbon dioxide as well as highlighting areas, called sinks, where oceans and plants are removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. OCO will circle the Earth every 99 minutes, mapping the globe every 16 days from its near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit.Through various activities including forest fires and the burning of fossil fuels, sources on Earth emit approximately 8 billion tons of carbon every year. But only half of that carbon remains in the atmosphere. The other half is hidden — absorbed by Earth's oceans, plants and soils, said Anna Michalak, OCO science team member from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
That’s it for this week’s news roundup. Let us know if you have any other good hits by sharing in the comments section!