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February 22, 2007
It's All About Water, Stupid!
My Sustainable Natural Resources class went to Ankeny National Wildlife Reserve today to learn first hand about the management issues faced by the reserve. Our guide was a USFWS officer stationed at the Willamette Valley complex of reserves that focus on protection of Dusky geese and other migratory birds. She provided a first-class introduction to the Reserve, its resources, and management concerns. She described the population explosion of other Canada Goose sub-species, the challenge of managing migrating species with geologically distant breeding grounds, the ever present problem of poachers, finding the optimal balance given differing management regimes required for various species, etc.
She responded to my question about how USFWS is incorporating climate change impacts into its conservation planning by saying that they have a lot of taskforces...but, its really hard to do because we don't know exactly what's going to happen. That said, she went on to describe how her refuges are very water dependent and that regional climate change impacts may reduce water availability -- and some of the refuges have water rights and some don't.
Here's another account about how climate change will affect that most important and increasingly scarce Western resource: water. The National Research Council has just published its report on climate impacts on Colorado River basin Management. Though complete with the standard caveats, the most likely scenario is less water overall and more severe and frequent droughts. Here are some excerpts from the report brief:
Colorado River Basin Water Management:
Evaluating and Adjusting to Hydroclimatic Variability
Recent studies of past climate and streamflow conditions have broadened understanding of long-term water availability in the Colorado River, revealing many periods when streamflow was lower than at any time in the past 100 years of recorded flows. That information, along with two important trends—a rapid increase in urban populations in the West and significant climate warming in the region—will require that water managers prepare for possible reductions in water supplies that cannot be fully averted through traditional means. Successful adjustments to these new conditions will entail strong and sustained cooperation among the many entities involved in Colorado River water management and science programs.
This report from the National Research Council resulted from concerns regarding the long-term adequacy of Colorado River water supplies. Severe drought conditions have affected much of the region since the late 1990s, with 2002 and 2004 being among the 10 driest years on record in the upper basin states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Water storage in the basin’s reservoirs dropped sharply during this period due to very low streamflows; for example, 2002 water year flows into Lake Powell were roughly 25 percent of average.
During this same time period, there were several studies that produced “reconstructed” Colorado River flows over the past several centuries. These studies, based on data from annual growth rings of trees, show that there have been many past severe and extended droughts across the region. Just as important, they show that direct measurements of streamflow over the past 100 years, which have guided many administrative decisions for the river’s allocation and use, may offer an overly optimistic forecast of future water availability.
This report assesses existing scientific information—including temperature and streamflow records, tree-ring based reconstructions, and climate model projections—and how it relates to Colorado River water supplies and demands, water management, and drought preparedness.
Past Climate Information is Creating a New Water Management Paradigm
For many years, scientific understanding of Colorado River flows was based primarily on measurements of the river’s flow at gaging stations along the river. The first gaging stations on the river were established in the 1890s. As records of the river’s flow measurements accumulated through the years and as the number of gaging stations grew, a more complete understanding of Colorado River flows and variability emerged.
The Colorado River basin extends over seven U.S. states and parts of northwestern Mexico. For example, it is now known that the Colorado River Compact of 1922, which governs water allocations between the upper and lower Colorado River basin, was based on a short record of relatively high annual flows. Since the 1970s, the gaged record has been complemented by many different studies of past hydroclimate conditions. Some of these studies are based on indirect, or proxy, evidence of past climates. Some of these proxy studies are based on tree-ring data. Because annual growth rings in trees at lower elevations can reflect moisture availability, tree-ring data can be used to reconstruct records of past river flows. Using data from coniferous tree species with long life spans in the Colorado River region, flow records dating back several centuries have been reconstructed.
Past water management decisions have been based largely on the gaged record, and there has been an implicit assumption that there is a single value of the river’s average annual flow—about 15 million acre-feet/year—around which inter- annual flow variations occur. Even though the basin experienced wet and dry periods, river flows and weather conditions were expected to return to a “normal” state, largely defined by climate of the early and middle 20th century. However, recent tree-ring based reconstructions demonstrate that Colorado River flows occasionally shift into decadal-long periods in which average flows are lower, or higher, than the supposed mean value of 15 million acre-feet/year. These reconstructions reinforce the point that the gaged record covers only a small subset of the range of natural hydroclimatic variability in the river basin over several centuries. The basin’s future hydrology thus may not be reasonably characterized based on the gaged record alone.
Regional Climate Warming Points to Reductions in Water Supplies
Temperature records across the Colorado River basin and the western United States document a warming trend over the past century. These temperature records, along with climate model projections, suggest that temperatures across the region will continue to rise in the foreseeable future. Higher temperatures will result in less upper basin precipitation falling and being stored as snow, increased evaporative losses, and will shift the timing of peak spring snowmelt to earlier in the year. There is less consensus regarding future trends in precipitation. However, based on analysis of many climate model simulations, the preponderance of scientific evidence suggests that warmer future temperatures will reduce future Colorado River streamflow and water supplies. Reduced streamflow would also contribute to increasing severity, frequency, and duration of future droughts.
Increases in Urban Water Demand Will Stress Supplies
Rapid population growth across the western United States is driving increases in water demand. From 1990-2000, Arizona’s population increased by about 40 percent, while Colorado’s population increased by about 30 percent. Population projections suggest that this trajectory will continue. Although many innovative urban water conservation programs have reduced per capita uses, population growth is driving increases in urban water demands; water consumption in Clark County, Nevada (which includes Las Vegas), for example, approximately doubled in the 1985-2000 period. Steadily rising population and increasing urban water demands in the Colorado River region will inevitably result in increasingly costly, controversial, and unavoidable trade-off choices tobe made by water managers, politicians, and their constituents.
A significant trend in the quest to meet rising water demand has been the sale, lease, and transfer of agricultural water rights to municipalities, particularly in southern California and Colorado (in Arizona, tribal settlements, with transfers to municipalities, have also been important). With about 80 percent of western U.S. water supplies devoted to irrigated crop production, agricultural water appears to constitute the most important, and perhaps final, large source of available water for urban use in the arid U.S. West. Modest shifts of agricultural water to municipal and industrial uses can do much to help meet increasing urban water demands. At the same time, however, agricultural-urban transfers often entail “third party” effects that include costs for rural communities, ecosystems, and others indirectly dependent on water supplies affected by the transfers. Moreover, even though the amount of water allocated to western agriculture is large, it is finite, and thus there are limits on its ability to satisfy expanding urban water demands.
Technologies and Conservation May Not Fully Meet Future Demands
A wide array of technological and conservation measures can be used to help stretch existing water supplies. These measures include underground storage, water reuse, desalination, weather modification, conservation, and creative water pricing structures. These measures may not necessarily be inexpensive or easy to implement, but many of them show promise and will continue to be pursued and developed as water supplies tighten in future years. However, technological and conservation options for augmenting or extending water supplies—although useful and necessary—in the long run will not constitute a panacea for coping with the reality that water supplies in the Colorado River basin are limited and that demand is inexorably rising.
Sustained Collaboration Important for Better Drought Preparedness
Drought conditions have prompted the Colorado River basin states to move toward a new level of cooperation. This is illustrated by a February 2006 letter from the seven basin states to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, which was written in response to a request that the states develop guidelines for coping with water shortages. The interstate cooperation and initiative exhibited in this letter represent a welcome development that will prove increasingly valuable—and likely essential—in coping with future droughts and growing water demands.
In addition to interstate cooperation, enhanced communication and collaboration between the scientific and water management communities will be vital. The knowledge base of Colorado River hydrology and climate rivals and may exceed comparable knowledge bases for any of the world’s river systems. Some of this information has been incorporated into key legal and operational decisions, but some of it may not be as well integrated in Colorado River basin water policy as it might be. A commitment to two-way communication among scientists and water managers is necessary for improving preparedness and planning for drought and other water shortages.
Warming, population hit Colorado River
Experts: Even worse water shortages possible due to warming, population
MSNBC staff and news service reports
Updated: 10:25 a.m. PT Feb 22, 2007
- The 25 million Americans who rely on the Colorado River for water
should expect continued — and even worsening — drought spells and water
shortages as rising temperatures and growing populations create a
double whammy, experts warned in a new report.
experts, convened by the National Research Council, based their
concerns on climate models and recent studies that found a cycle of
droughts in the region over time. The studies used tree-ring histories
to reconstruct local climate patterns over the last 500 years.
reconstructions, along with temperature trends and projections for the
region, suggest that future droughts will recur and that they may
exceed the severity of droughts of historical experience, such as the
drought of the late 1990s and early 2000s," the experts wrote in the
report released Wednesday.
The report said the region should expect higher temperatures that melt snow too early and allow too much runoff to evaporate.
records across the Colorado River basin and the western United States
document a significant warming over the past century," the experts
noted. "These temperature records, along with climate model projections
that forecast further increases, collectively suggest that temperatures
across the region will continue to rise for the foreseeable future."
than 25 million people in seven states — Arizona, California, Colorado,
New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming — rely on the Colorado River for
water and power. The river also supports a diverse riparian system that
has suffered as flows dropped.
'Trade-off choices' necessary
report said the combination of threats could overwhelm the seven river
states, which have struggled to produce a short-term drought plan.
scientists did not propose specific policy changes, but urged Western
water managers to work together on new ideas and prepare to make
difficult decisions about how water is used.
basin is going to face increasingly costly, controversial and
unavoidable trade-off choices," said Ernest Smerdon, a former dean of
engineering at the University of Arizona and one of the report's
authors. "Our hope would be that the community and the decision-makers
will have planned before crises occur."
experts noted that population pressure has added to the problem.
Arizona's population grew by 40 percent in the 1990s, they noted, while
Colorado's grew by 30 percent.
conservation measures have helped somewhat, but consumption has boomed
in certain areas. For example, Nevada's Clark County, which includes
Las Vegas, saw water use double from 1985 to 2000.
combination of limited water supplies, rapidly increasing populations,
warmer regional temperatures, and the specter of recurrent drought
point to a future in which the potential for conflict among existing
and prospective new water users will prove endemic," the research
council said in a statement that accompanied the report.
report was commissioned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Southern
Nevada Water Authority and two California water agencies.
cities will force states to strike more deals with farmers for water
rights, but even that supply is limited, according to the scientists.
In addition, the report ruled out the idea of a solution built around conservation or water-saving technologies.
and conservation options for augmenting or extending water supplies —
although useful and necessary — in the long run will not constitute a
panacea for coping with the reality that water supplies in the Colorado
River basin are limited, and that demand is inexorably rising," the
Much of the region has seen
severe drought since the late 1990s, with 2002 and 2004 being among the
10 driest years on record in the upper basin states of Colorado, New
Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.
in basin reservoirs dropped sharply during that time due to very low
streamflows, the experts noted. For example, 2002 water year flows into
Lake Powell were roughly 25 percent of average.
February 22, 2007 in Climate Change | Permalink
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Live trees include mortally injured, "dying" trees
Lands Council v. Martin
Term "live trees" in Umatilla National Forest plan, which prevented
harvesting of old-growth "live trees," included all old-growth trees
that were not dead, and included mortally injured, "dying" old-growth
trees that were likely to die in relatively near future but that had
not yet died, and thus the National Forest Management Act (NFMA)
prevented post-fire logging sales of those dying old growth trees,
since the Forest Service had not adopted a technical meaning to the
term and a common understanding of the term "live" was "not dead."
February 22, 2007 in Biodiversity, Cases, Economics, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, Law, Sustainability, US | Permalink
February 21, 2007
World Council of Churches endorses Global Roundtable statement
Here's the Global Roundtable statement issued yesterday.Download GROCC_statement_2-19.pdf . The Roundtable includes senior officials from an array of corporations, universities, religious institutions, and NGOs:
All China Federation of Industry and Commerce
American Association of Blacks in Energy
American Council on Renewable Energy
American Electric Power
Association of British Insurers
Business Leaders Group on Climate Change
California Clean Energy Fund
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
Canadian Electricity Association
Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School
Chicago Climate Exchange
China Renewable Energy Industries Association
City of Reykjavík
The Climate Group
The Climate Institute
The Climate Trust
Coalition for Rainforest Nations
Confederation of Indian Industry
Credit Suisse First Boston
Earth Institute at Columbia University
Electricité de France International North America
Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand
Energy Holding Romania
European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasts
European Commission Delegation to the United Nation
Federation of Canadian Municipalities
Florida Power and Light
Ford Motor Company
German Electricity Association
Global Energy Network Institute
Global Environment Facility
Goldman Sachs & Co.
Iceland GeoSurvey (ISOR)
Indian Merchants Chamber
Institute for Global Environmental Strategies
Institute of Process Engineering, ETH Zurich
Insurance Information Institute
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
International Chamber of Commerce
International Council on Mining and Metals
International Energy Agency
International Gas Union
International Research Institute for Climate and Society
International Trade Union Confederation
Landsvirkjun (The National Power Company of Iceland)
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratories
Marsh and McLennan Cos.
MissionPoint Capital Partners
Munich Climate Insurance Initiative
Nand and Jeet Khemka Foundation
NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
National Commission on Energy Policy
National Development and Reform Commission of China: National
Coordination Committee on Climate Change and Energy Research Institute
National Energy Assistance Directors Association
National Council of Churches
Natural Resources Defense Council
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Nippon Mining Holdings
OECD Environment Directorate
Old Harbor Outfitters
Papua New Guinea, Office of the Prime Minister
Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Recycled Energy Development
Republic of Iceland, Office of the President
Resources for the Future
Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Office of U.S. Senator Olympia J Snowe
Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS)
State Street Global Advisors
StoraEnso North America
Toyota Motor North America
Underground Coal Gasification Partnership
Union of Concerned Scientists
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Environment Programme- Finance Initiative
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat
United States Combined Heat and Power Association
University of Iceland
University of Tokyo
U.S. Green Building Council
U.S. Renewables Group
Verde Venture Partners
Western Governors’ Association
World Business Council on Sustainable Development
World Coal Institute
World Council of Churches
World Liquid Petroleum Gas Association
World Petroleum Council
World Wildlife Fund
Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Energy and Environment
Here's the executive summary:
Climate change is an urgent problem requiring
global action to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other
greenhouse gases (GHGs). Energy use is vital for a modern economy.
Burning fossil fuels produces CO2. Thus, confronting climate change
depends, in many ways, on adopting new and sustainable energy
strategies that can meet growing global energy needs while allowing for
the stabilization of atmospheric CO2 concentrations at safe levels.>
efficiency must play an important role in these strategies, but
long-term success will require a concerted effort to de-carbonize the
global energy system. This means significantly increasing the use of
non-fossil-fuel energy sources, significantly raising the energy
efficiency of fossil-fuel power plants through advanced technologies,
and developing and deploying technologies that trap and store the CO2
produced by the fossil fuels that will remain in use.>
Cost-efficient technologies exist today, and others could be developed
and deployed, to improve energy efficiency and to help reduce emissions
of CO2 and other GHGs in major sectors of the global economy. Research
indicates that heading off the very dangerous risks associated with
doubling pre-industrial atmospheric concentrations of CO2, while an
immense challenge, can be achieved at a reasonable cost.
to act now would lead to far higher economic and environmental costs
and greater risk of irreversible impacts. To meet this challenge and
take advantage of these opportunities:
- The world's governments should set scientifically informed targets, including an ambitious but
achievable interim, mid-century target for global CO2 concentrations, for "stabilization of greenhouse
gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic
interference with the climate system," in accordance with the stated objective of the Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
- All countries should be party to this accord, which should include specific near- and long-term
commitments for action in pursuit of the agreed targets. Commitments for actions by individual
countries should reflect differences in levels of economic development and GHG emission patterns
and the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities.
- Clear, efficient mechanisms should be established to place a market price on carbon emissions
that is reasonably consistent worldwide and across sectors in order to reward efficiency and
emission avoidance, encourage innovation, and maintain a level playing field among possible
- Government policy initiatives should address energy efficiency and de-carbonization in all sectors,
allow businesses to choose among a range of options as they strive to minimize GHG emissions and
costs, encourage the development and rapid deployment of low-emitting and zero-emitting energy
and transportation technologies, and provide incentives to reduce emissions from deforestation and
harmful land management practices.
- Governments, the private sector, trade unions, and other sectors of civil society should undertake
efforts to prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change, since climate change will occur
even in the context of highly effective mitigation efforts.
to this statement will support scientific processes including the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); work to increase
public awareness of climate change risks and solutions; report
information on their GHG emissions; engage in GHG emissions mitigation,
which can include emissions trading schemes; champion demonstration
projects; and support public policy efforts to mitigate climate change
and its impacts.
World Council of Churches (see below)
WCC SUPPORTS GROUNDBREAKING GLOBAL FRAMEWORK TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE
The World Council of
Churches (WCC) has endorsed a groundbreaking climate change statement,
fruit of an unprecedented consensus among high-level representatives of
the corporate world as well as civil, religious and educational
This statement is
"carefully drafted and urgently needed", wrote WCC general secretary
Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia in a letter endorsing "The Path to Climate
Sustainability: A Joint Statement by the Global Roundtable on Climate
Change" on behalf of the WCC. The Council "will continue to participate
in the process of bringing the concerns this statement addresses to the
world", he added.
Endorsed by an
unprecedented group of companies and organisations from around the
world, the statement calls on governments to set scientifically
informed targets for greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide (CO2)
emissions. It also urges them to place a price on carbon emissions and
to set forth policies aimed at addressing energy efficiency and
de-carbonisation in all sectors.
Calling climate change "an
urgent problem," the statement lays out a bold, proactive framework for
global action to mitigate risks and impacts while also meeting the
global need for energy, economic growth and sustainable development. It
outlines cost-effective technologies that exist today and others that
could be developed and deployed to improve energy efficiency and help
reduce CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases.
"The Path to Climate
Sustainability" statement has been released today at a press conference
in New York chaired by Jeffrey D. Sachs, head of the Global Roundtable
on Climate Change (GROCC) and director of the Earth Institute at
Endorsements come from
critical stakeholders, including leading corporations from all economic
sectors to smaller firms with very different perspectives and concerns;
they also include an array of civil, religious, environmental, research
and educational institutions as well as a distinguished list of
world-leading experts from the fields of climate science, engineering,
economics and policy studies. [See a list here.]
"The WCC is anxious to
encourage large companies like those included in the Global Roundtable
to take action in their own businesses and provide leadership in the
private sector that will result in limiting the polluting emissions
that are causing climate change", said Dr. David G. Hallman, advisor of
the WCC Climate Change Programme.
February 21, 2007 in Climate Change | Permalink
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February 20, 2007
ExxonMobil --Some progress towards a clear message
original post 2/15; revised 2/20
Here's the text of ExxonMobil CEO's recent speech. I still think Exxon should clarify the reasons why Tillerson discusses economic development, poverty eradication, and public health (according to Ken Cohen, to make effective policy with the interests of developing countries in mind -- not to suggest that we can't afford aggressive climate change policy). But, the overall message does strike me as clearer.
No discussion about the realities facing
our industry today would be complete without reference to the issue of
greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. This is an issue that crosses all
boundaries, impacts industry and governments, but most importantly will
directly impact consumers in every part of the world.
The majority of the growth in energy demand will come from developing nations
as their growing populations pursue higher standards of living. With this
improvement in living standards will come most of the growth in future
greenhouse gas emissions.
By the year 2030 it is expected that global emissions of carbon dioxide will
approach 40 billion tons per year, up from close to 28 billion tons per year
So, we know our climate is changing, the average temperature of the earth is
rising, and greenhouse gas emissions are increasing. We also know that climate
remains an extraordinarily complex area of scientific study. While our
understanding of the science continues to evolve and improve, there is still
much that we do not know and cannot fully recognize in efforts to model and
predict future climate system behavior.
Having said that, the risks to society and ecosystems from climate change
could prove to be significant. So, despite the uncertainties, it is prudent to
develop and implement sensible strategies that address these risks while not
reducing our ability to progress other global priorities such as economic
development, poverty eradication and public health.
Our industry has a responsibility to contribute to policy discussions on these
important issues – and to take concrete actions ourselves to reduce emissions.
As an industry, we are already improving efficiency in our operations -
greatly enhancing our energy efficiency while supplying more products than
ever before. Steps taken at ExxonMobil, for example, since 1999 to improve
energy efficiency at our facilities, for example, resulted in CO2 emissions
savings of 11 million metric tons in 2005. That’s equivalent to taking two
million cars off the road.
But we must do more. We must continue to foster and support scientific
research into technology breakthroughs to deliver new sources of energy with
even lower emissions. One example is Stanford University’s Global Climate and
Energy Project, which ExxonMobil and other partners are supporting with a
collective contribution of $225 million.
The approaches policymakers adopt to address climate risks are also important.
A global approach is needed that promotes energy efficiency, ensures wider
deployment of existing emissions-reducing technologies and supports research
into new technologies.
It is also critical to maintain support for fundamental climate research,
recognizing that there remains much that we still do not understand.
Specific policy tools should be assessed for their likely effectiveness,
scale, and costs, as well as their implications for economic growth and
quality of life. In that regard, rigorous and informed debate - - debate that
takes into account the essential role played by energy in advancing social and
economic progress -- will best support thoughtful policymaking.
In our view, the most effective approaches will maximize the use of markets.
This will help promote global participation and facilitate the rapid spread of
Consistent with a market-based approach, effective policies will ensure a
uniform and predictable cost of reducing carbon emissions, maximize
transparency, minimize complexity, and adjust to new developments in climate
science and the economic impacts of policies.
Just as technology has continually been the driver of progress in our
industry, I am confident that future technology advances will both expand our
understanding of the climate system and enable an effective response.
We must encourage all participating in this debate to frame the discussion in
terms of the realities we face – the realities of growing demand and the need
for affordable, reliable energy to enable the world’s consumers to achieve
genuine improvements in their quality of life.
The policy measures adopted today will have far-reaching implications in the
years ahead. We must consider the potential impacts on future economic growth
and quality of life for not just the current generation, but those of our
children and grandchildren.
Last week, I summarized my reaction to Planet Ark reports on the ExxonMobil CEO's most recent statement on global warming as "little progress on a clearer message."
ExxonMobil obviously is still not ready to assume a leadership position on climate policy and continues to play the "balancing" game:
"It is prudent to develop and implement sensible
strategies that address these risks while not reducing our ability to
progress other global priorities, such as economic development, poverty
eradication and public health,"
Ken Cohen had indicated that Exxon was not arguing that climate change policy had to be formulated to assure economic development and poverty eradication. It sure sounds like it to me.
My opinion was based on the Planet Ark report. Exxon sent me the full speech. Looking at the speech as a whole, I think that the message delivered is clearer. I believe that "some progress" is a more accurate description. But the problem for Exxon remains that it speaks in nuanced language that doesn't dramatically depart from its prior positions. Until Exxon takes a dramatic step, such as joining the Climate Action Partnership or otherwise sending an unequivocal signal that it supports immediate progress on creating an global climate policy, including strict targets in reducing GHG emissions, Exxon will still be perceived as dragging its feet.
Planet Ark report:
Exxon Mobil CEO: Climate Policy Would be Prudent
HOUSTON - Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief
Executive Rex Tillerson said Tuesday nations should work toward a
global policy to fight climate change -- another sign the oil giant is
softening its stance on global warming.
"The risks to society and ecosystems from climate change could prove to be significant," Tillerson said.
"It is prudent to develop and implement sensible
strategies that address these risks while not reducing our ability to
progress other global priorities, such as economic development, poverty
eradication and public health," he said.
The comments come after Exxon Mobil, a long-time foe of
limits on greenhouse emissions, began engaging in talks with about 20
other companies on ways the United States could regulate heat-trapping
Speaking at a conference sponsored by Cambridge Energy
Research Associates, Tillerson said climate change is a global problem
and policy should lend itself to global participation, including from
the Asia Pacific region, where rapid economic growth could boost
He also said that the most effective policy approaches
would maximize the use of markets. Europe uses a cap-and-trade system
to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in which government sets an
emissions limit and companies buy and sell the right to pollute against
Tillerson said that regional approaches to the problem
are "not likely to make much of a difference." And he added he believes
that there is still much uncertainty about climate.
"Everyone recognizes that no one can conclusively say
100 percent what's going on," he said. "Whatever we do needs to have
the flexibility to accommodate the fact that this is going to continue
to evolve ... It will not turn out the way any of us expect it to turn
A United Nations panel of scientists said this month
that mankind is to blame for global warming, and predicted droughts,
heatwaves and rising sea levels even if greenhouse gas emissions are
Since Democrats won control of Congress in November,
heavy industries have been nervously watching which route the United
States may take on future regulations of carbon dioxide and other
Exxon in 2006 stopped funding the Competitive Enterprise
Institute, a nonprofit advocating limited government regulation, and
other groups that have downplayed the risks of greenhouse emissions.
Last year, CEI ran advertisements, featuring a little girl playing with
a dandelion that downplayed the risks of carbon dioxide emissions.
Tillerson also said policymakers should remain realistic
about the limited role biofuels can play in the wider energy market,
saying it will be difficult to increase the amount of biofuel produced
absent a technological advance.
"I'm no expert on biofuels. I don't know much about
farming and I don't know much about moonshine," he said. "There is
really nothing (Exxon) can bring to that whole (biofuels) issue. We
don't see a direct role for ourselves with today's technology," he
February 20, 2007 in Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, International, Legislation, Sustainability | Permalink
American Scientists Speak: Is Anyone Really Listening?
AAAS Board Releases New Statement on Climate Change
The retreating Qori Kalis glacier in the Andes of Peru in 2000
Photograph courtesy of Lonnie Thompson, Ohio State University
The following statement on global climate change was released
today during the AAAS Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The statement
was approved by the board on 9 December 2006.
The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by
human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to
society. Accumulating data from across the globe reveal a wide array of
effects: rapidly melting glaciers, destabilization of major ice sheets,
increases in extreme weather, rising sea level, shifts in species
ranges, and more. The pace of change and the evidence of harm have
increased markedly over the last five years. The time to control
greenhouse gas emissions is now.
The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, a critical
greenhouse gas, is higher than it has been for at least 650,000 years.
The average temperature of the Earth is heading for
levels not experienced for millions of years. Scientific predictions of
the impacts of increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse
gases from fossil fuels and deforestation match observed changes. As
expected, intensification of droughts, heat waves, floods, wildfires,
and severe storms is occurring, with a mounting toll on vulnerable
ecosystems and societies. These events are early warning signs of even
more devastating damage to come, some of which will be irreversible.
Delaying action to address climate change will increase the
environmental and societal consequences as well as the costs. The
longer we wait to tackle climate change, the harder and more expensive
the task will be.
History provides many examples of society confronting grave threats
by mobilizing knowledge and promoting innovation. We need an aggressive
research, development and deployment effort to transform the existing
and future energy systems of the world away from technologies that emit
greenhouse gases. Developing clean energy technologies will provide
economic opportunities and ensure future energy supplies.
In addition to rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it is
essential that we develop strategies to adapt to ongoing changes and
make communities more resilient to future changes.
The growing torrent of information presents a clear message: we are
already experiencing global climate change. It is time to muster the
political will for concerted action. Stronger leadership at all levels
is needed. The time is now. We must rise to the challenge. We owe this
to future generations.
The conclusions in this statement reflect the scientific consensus represented by, for example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the joint National Academies’ statement.
For more information, see the AAAS Global Climate-Change Resources page.
18 February 2007 9:05 pm PST
February 20, 2007 in Climate Change | Permalink