Friday, September 15, 2006

Hansen says Limit Greenhouse Gases Definitively within 10 Years and Hold Increase to 1 degree C

Link: Planet Ark : World Has 10-Year Window to Act on Climate - Expert.

NASA scientist James Hansen, widely considered the doyen of American climate researchers, said governments must adopt an alternative scenario to keep carbon dioxide emission growth in check and limit the increase in global temperatures to 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

"I think we have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change ... no longer than a decade, at the most," Hansen said at the Climate Change Research Conference in California's state capital.

If the world continues with a "business as usual" scenario, Hansen said temperatures will rise by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 7.2 degrees F) and "we will be producing a different planet."

On that warmer planet, ice sheets would melt quickly, causing a rise in sea levels that would put most of Manhattan under water. The world would see more prolonged droughts and heat waves, powerful hurricanes in new areas and the likely extinction of 50 percent of species.

Hansen, who heads NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has made waves before by saying that President George W. Bush's administration tried to silence him and heavily edited his and other scientists' findings on a warmer world.

He reiterated that the United States "has passed up the opportunity" to influence the world on global warming.

The United States is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, most notably carbon dioxide. But Bush pulled the country out of the 160-nation Kyoto Protocol in 2001, arguing that the treaty's mandatory curbs on emissions would harm the economy.

Hansen praised California for taking the "courageous" step of passing legislation on global warming last month that will make it the first US state to place caps on greenhouse gas emissions.

He said the alternative scenario he advocates involves promoting energy efficiency and reducing dependence on carbon burning fuels.

"We cannot burn off all the fossil fuels that are readily available without causing dramatic climate change," Hansen said. "This is not something that is a theory. We understand the carbon cycle well enough to say that."

September 15, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

ABA SEER quick conference on Tacoma v. FERC decision

American Bar Association         Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources
 
                                        Hydro Power Committee

City of Tacoma v. FERC: Did the Hydro Industry Get the Number of that Train?

      
       
         

Friday, September 29, 2006
         
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Eastern / 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Central
  10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Mountain / 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Pacific

         

Program Overview:
         
On August 22, 2006, the U.S. District Court of Appeals issued a decision in the case of City of Tacoma v. FERC. The decision addressed a number of issues that may significantly change that way that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues licenses for hydropower projects pursuant to the Federal Power Act. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals modified in part and granted in part, Petitions for Review of the FERC Order Issuing New License for the Cushman Hydroelectric project on the Skokomish River in the State of Washington. Some of the issues were: (i) whether a relicensing proceeding or a new license proceeding should be undertaken for a project that previously held a minor part license, (ii) whether the mandatory conditioning authority under Federal Power Act Section 4(e) is limited to those areas where the hydro project is located on a federal reservation, (iii) must the federal agencies who submit “mandatory” conditions pursuant to FPA Section 4(e), and presumably Section 18, comply with FERC’s regulatory deadlines for submittal of the conditions, (iv) the degree to which FERC must evaluate a state water quality agency’s compliance with Clean Water Act Section 401, (v) whether a FERC license that makes a project uneconomic to operate constitutes a de facto decommissioning of the project, and (vi) how FERC should treat the state of Washington’s decision not to object to the project under the state’s Coastal Zone Management Act authority.

Faculty:
      
Moderator:
      Nino J. Mascolo, Southern California Edison Company, Rosemead, CA

Panelists:
        John Katz, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC
        Mark Quehrn, Perkins Coie, LLP, Bellevue, WA
        Bella Seawall, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, DC

Click Here to Register

Link:Tacoma v. FERC program


September 14, 2006 in Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Summer of 2006 - It was HOT!!!

Link: National Climatic Data Center - Climate of Summer 2006

Based on preliminary data, globally averaged combined land and sea surface temperature was fourth warmest on record for August and third warmest on record for boreal summer (June - August 2006).     * June - August temperatures were above average in much of North America, Europe and Asia. There were no notable areas of colder than average conditions.     * Precipitation during June - August was above average in the U.S. Northeast, southern Argentina, and east Asia, with drier than average conditions in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, western Australia, and Scandinavia.     * ENSO conditions remained neutral during August.

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September 14, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

IPCC Narrows Range of Projected Global Warming

It appears that IPCC projects global mean temperatures will likely rise 2 - 4.5 degree C by 2100.  Temperature_distribution Link: Tiempo Climate Newswatch, Week ending September 17th 2006.  Remember the geographic distribution of global warming: a 3 degree increase on average may translate into an 8 - 10 degree increase in the polar regions.  That sort of increase is not good for ice sheets and other positive feedback mechanisms:

Leaked information from the forthcoming Fourth Assessment of the International Panel on Climate Change suggests that the more extreme forecasts of global warming rates may be revised down. The current draft narrows the range of predictions for the year 2100 from 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius to 2 to 4.5 degrees Celsius, reflecting increasing confidence in the forecasts. Holding greenhouse gas emissions at current levels would limit the rise to two degrees by the end of the century, the draft report concludes. The report will finalized in the first quarter of 2007.

September 13, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Recovery Plans Critical to Success

GAO's recent report indicates that recovery plans have been important in improving the status of endangered species.  Link: GAO report

September 13, 2006 in Biodiversity | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Most corals unable to adapt to warming oceans - life - 13 September 2006 - New Scientist

Link: New Scientist.

Three-quarters of the world’s coral reefs may lack the ability to cope with climate change, despite previous optimistic predictions, according to a new review of coral research.

Earlier studies had demonstrated that some corals are able adapt to warmer water temperatures by forming new, additional symbiotic relationships with algae. But a new analysis of more than 400 coral species suggests that only one-quarter of them would be able to adapt in this way.

These latest findings add to already bleak predictions for the world’s coral reefs, which are also threatened by coastal pollution and acidifying oceans. Stressors such as these cause coral to lose the algae that keep it alive by supplying it with nutrients. Even a 1 degree rise in temperature can cause the death of this fragile animal. Some experts have predicted that Australia’s Great Barrier Reef will lose 95% of its living coral by 2050.

However, two studies published in 2004 offered hope that some corals had coped with changing water temperatures by hosting new types of algae. For example, the corals along the Panama coast that were able to switch from one type of Symbiodinium algae, known as clade C, to another one called clade D.

These corals survived the particularly devastating 1997-1998 El Nino event – a recurring climate occurrence that causes elevated sea temperatures of up to 5C on the longitude line that crosses Peru and Ecuador (see Corals adapt to cope with global warming).
One at a time

Tamar Goulet at the University of Mississippi in the US carried out a review of these two research papers and 41 others to try to understand what proportion of all coral species might possess an ability to switch algae.

She found the only corals documented to be able make this swap are those that can host multiple algae. And those that can host only one clade, or type, of algae at a time have no such switching ability.

Only 23% of the 442 coral species included in Goulet's research review were able to host more than one clade of algae. As a result, she suggests that less than one-quarter of coral species may have the ability to adapt to climate change by swapping symbiotic algae. Without adaptation, coral becomes bleached and dies.

However, Goulet says she does not know the division of species among the world’s coral reefs: it is possible that adaptable species of coral are more prevalent. The studies included in Goulet’s review only covered a small fraction of the 93,000 coral species known to exist.

Journal reference: Marine Ecology Progress Series (vol 321, p 1, 2006)

September 13, 2006 in Biodiversity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Environmental Law Article Hit Parade

Link: SSRN Top Downloads.

Rank Downloads Paper Title
1     104     Montreal vs. Kyoto: A Tale of Two Protocols
                Cass R. Sunstein, University of Chicago Law School
2     74     Administrative Law in the U.S. Supreme Court, 2004-2006:                     Trends, Cases, and Unexploded Bombshells
                Robin Kundis Craig, Florida State University
3     65     Citizen Participation in Rulemaking: Past, Present, and                       Future
                Cary Coglianese, Harvard University - John F. Kennedy                     School of Government, University of Pennsylvania Law                     School
4     60     Waters of the United States: Legal Theory, Legal Practice                 and Cross Purposes at the Supreme Court
                Jamison E. Colburn, Western New England College
5     58     Regulation of Health, Safety, and Environmental Risks
                W. Kip Viscusi, Vanderbilt University
6     54     The White House and the Kyoto Protocol: Double                             Standards on Uncertainties and their Consequences                         Philippe Tulkens, Henry Tulkens, TERI School of Advanced                 Studies, Catholic University of Louvain - Center for                         Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE)
7     50     Sustainability Reporting Frameworks
                Nigel Finch, Macquarie UniversityGraduate School of                         Management
8     49     The Transatlantic GMO Dispute Against the European
                 Communities: Some Preliminary Thoughts
                David A. Wirth, Boston College Law School
9     37     CO2 Prices, Energy and Weather
                Maria Mansanet Bataller, �ngel Pardo Tornero,
                Enric Valor, University of Valencia - Faculty of Economics,
10    37     Constructing the License to Operate: Internal Factors and                 Their Influence on Corporate Environmental Decisions                     Jennifer Howard-Grenville, Jennifer Nash, Cary                                 Coglianese       
                Boston University School of Management, Harvard                             University - John F. Kennedy School of Government,                         University of Pennsylvania Law School

September 13, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Jurist Blogger

      This widget is from Jurist Bloggers -- which is attempting to combine all law blogs into a single community feed.  You might consider adding it to your blog.  This is an adaptation of the original widget which had ads and feeds included.  I just eliminated the java script.

                                                
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September 13, 2006 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Science of Global Warming: Surface Sea Temperatures -- global warming or natural cycles

Real Climate just posted an assessment of the contribution of the previously posted Santer study to the scientific debate over the link between global warming and hurricane activity.  Real Climate link
The conclusion:

At least four studies, two based entirely on analyses of observations, and the other two based on climate model simulations, independently come to the conclusion that warming tropical Atlantic and Pacific SSTs cannot be purely attributed to any natural oscillation. These studies do not conclusively show a hurricane/global warming link, let alone determine what it's magnitude might be, but they do strengthen one pillar of that linkage.

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September 11, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bird Flu Blues: Another View of Air Travel Bans

Link: Aches on a Plane -- Enserink 2006 (911): 1 -- ScienceNOW.

By scouring mortality data from 121 cities across the United States, Harvard researchers have found footprints of 9/11 that they say should guide policy during an influenza pandemic. The decline in air travel in the months after the terrorist attacks delayed the annual flu season in the United States by almost 2 weeks, they conclude--a finding that suggests that a flu pandemic, too, could be slowed down, perhaps by months. But researchers who have studied the same question using computer models--and found closing down airports to be less useful--are skeptical.

The 2003 outbreak of SARS drove home the widely held belief that global mobility helps spread infections; indeed, it's almost a clich� among researchers to say that the most important disease vector today is the Boeing 747. But air-travel restriction won't help slow a flu pandemic much, three model studies concluded earlier this year--especially when compared to the judicious use of vaccines, antiviral drugs, isolation, and quarantine (ScienceNOW, 2 May).

But in the real world, the 27% reduction in air-travel volume after 9/11 appears to have caused a 13-day delay in the 2001-02 influenza season--considerably more than the models would predict, say John Brownstein and Kenneth Mandl of Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School in a paper released on 11 September by PLoS Medicine. And analyzing data from 1996 to 2005, the team found a consistent correlation between higher air-travel volumes in the fall and a slightly earlier flu season. Extrapolations suggest that a full-blown travel ban, as opposed to the post-9/11 slump, might delay a flu pandemic by as much as 2 months, says Brownstein--precious time to activate countermeasures and work on a vaccine.

World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson Gregory Hartl says the new study is "very interesting" and "opens up the debate again." The modelers aren't convinced, however. One--Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London--says there is no proof that the relation between travel and timing of the flu season is causal. In addition, he questions the team's use of a complex statistical measure to determine the timing of the peak. Although the study is "very nice," the 9/11 effect "is an n of 1; it's intriguing, but you can't draw any conclusions," says Ira Longini of the University of Washington, Seattle, who co-authored a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in April that also concluded that travel bans had little value.

September 11, 2006 in Governance/Management | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Science of Global Warming: Hurricanes

Science reported on Santer's study published in PNAS this week linking hurricane activity to global warming.  Santer's team concluded that there is a very high probability (84%) that two-thirds of the observed temperature changes were caused by human activities. "There is no way of explaining the observed increases without positing a large human impact on these ocean temperatures." ScienceNOW linkPicture of oceansThe 3-day average sea surface temperatures as Hurricane Katrina approached the Louisiana coast. Areas in yellow, orange, or red represent SSTs of 82 degrees Fahrenheit or more.

PNAS Abstract : Previous research has identified links between changes in sea surface temperature (SST) and hurricane intensity. We use climate models to study the possible causes of SST changes in Atlantic and Pacific tropical cyclogenesis regions. The observed SST increases in these regions range from 0.32°C to 0.67°C over the 20th century. The 22 climate models examined here suggest that century-timescale SST changes of this magnitude cannot be explained solely by unforced variability of the climate system. We employ model simulations of natural internal variability to make probabilistic estimates of the contribution of external forcing to observed SST changes. For the period 1906-2005, we find an 84% chance that external forcing explains at least 67% of observed SST increases in the two tropical cyclogenesis regions. Model "20th-century" simulations, with external forcing by combined anthropogenic and natural factors, are generally capable of replicating observed SST increases. In experiments in which forcing factors are varied individually rather than jointly, human-caused changes in greenhouse gases are the main driver of the 20th-century SST increases in both tropical cyclogenesis regions.

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September 11, 2006 in Climate Change, Governance/Management, Physical Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)