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February 11 2014

20:17

EPA Leader McCarthy Talks Good Jobs, Green Jobs at D.C. Conference

Global warming, job creation and the growing divide in incomes and wealth – three controversial, divisive issues that have come to take center stage in U.S politics and society since the dawn of the new millennium. Though his efforts have wholly pleased neither left nor right, Democrat or Republican, oil industry executive or environmentalist, President Obama and his administration have sought to address all three, and in an integrated manner, to a greater degree than any of his predecessors.

Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference highlights the benefits of the green economyHeard, read about and seen in various guises – sustainable development, the green economy or low-carbon society – the President has been assembling the elements of a new self-organizing paradigm for the U.S. economy and society in the 21st century, one that recognizes that while economic development and growth are vital to the health and well-being of society, so is a fair, equitable and inclusive distribution of income and wealth, and so are clean air, clean waters, biodiversity and healthy ecosystems.

Taking this green economy platform out to the public, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is one of a host of prominent Americans speaking today and tomorrow at the eighth Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference in Washington, D.C.

Environment, economy, ethics

In the Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference’s first plenary session, a panel that included United Steelworkers International president Leo W. Gerard, BlueGreen Alliance Foundation President David Foster, and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar discussed U.S. infrastructure needs.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was the featured speaker in an afternoon panel session that also included Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards. Ms. McCarthy opened with a strong statement of values and environmental ethics:

“Whether it’s the teachers union or the steelworkers, the moral of the story is the same, our work and our family values have little value without fair protections that keep us all safe and healthy. At the end of the day, what is economic productivity worth if our water is too dirty to drink and our air is too dirty to breathe?”

The terrible, and rising, costs of climate change inaction

Times they are a’changing, the EPA Administrator continued, highlighting the emergence of a new, clean energy economy and the growing costs and threats posed by climate change. “Climate impacts are not only hurting our people and our planet, they are a threat to our economy.”

By how much exactly?  Emergency and disaster relief cost the U.S. government and taxpayer $110 billion in 2012, the second highest price tag in American history, “all off budget,” Ms. McCarthy highlighted.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka earlier this month talked about the already high and terrible costs of climate change inaction, Ms. McCarthy noted. Repeating Trumka for emphasis, “The nation that goes all in on innovation today will own the global energy [of] tomorrow,” she stated.

“That’s what this president, President Obama, said in his State of the Union. President Trumka, President Obama know what they’re talking about. They agree on these issues. That’s why we need to work together to explore creative approaches to meet our energy demands.

Making lemonade

“That’s why President Obama reiterated his commitment to climate action in the State of the Union. And we need to take action without sacrificing the health protections, without sacrificing jobs in our communities, and without sacrificing a reliable, affordable energy system. And we need to do it with every sensitivity to the workers who have brought energy to American families for decades.

“It’s not just about jobs, it is about fairness, it is about communities, communities where those workers live, and we need to be sensitive to those issues as we struggle to find the right solutions moving forward.”

Strong words. Good words. Positive words, delivered with what sure looks like hones belief and genuine commitment. Tune in and listen to Ms. McCarthy’s entire speech

*Image credit: Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference

The post EPA Leader McCarthy Talks Good Jobs, Green Jobs at D.C. Conference appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

December 20 2011

22:31

US Needs to Be Better Prepared for Extreme Weather, Ecological Changes Resulting from Climate Change


Ecological changes in the 21st Century

Climate change will cause changes in plant communities across nearly half the Earth’s land surface by 2100, driving conversion of nearly 40 percent of land-based ecosystems from one major ecological community type – forest, grassland or tundra – toward another, according to a new computer study conducted by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

The study’s results may put what’s been a record year for US weather-related disasters in a much broader perspective. While it’s impossible to draw a causal link between any one weather event and global warming or climate change, climate change is probably increasing the intensity of some disasters, such as the Texas drought, according to experts from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Addressing attendees at a briefing on Capitol Hill, AAAS’s representatives said that regardless of cause, the frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters is increasing, which is causing greater financial losses than ever. They cautioned that governments and societies need to be better prepared, according to an Insurance News Net report.

Mounting Financial Costs of Climate Change

It’s not useful to debate whether or not climate change exacerbated by humans caused or causes any particular weather event Jay Gulledge, a senior scientist at the nonprofit Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), told Insurance News Net, adding that statistical trends are consistent with scientists’ expectations of climate change.

Texas state climatologist and Texas A&M professor of atmospheric science John Nielsen-Gammon noted that La Niña was the triggering event for this year’s drought in Texas, which is expected to last through next summer. He added that climate change likely intensified the drought by adding about 1 degree Fahrenheit to annual average temperatures in the state. Drought as severe as this year’s could be more likely as a result of ongoing climate change, he added, although more research is needed to confirm that.

Ultimately, increasingly severe and frequent weather events pose a serious risk management problem for public officials and society, and we need to be better prepared, Gulledge said. “This is a risk problem, and we have to manage it as a risk problem,” he said at the 2 December briefing, which was entitled, Drowning and Drought: Extreme Weather Impacts on Our Economy and Society.

JPL-Caltech Climate Change Study

The parts of Earth not covered by land or desert are projected to undergo a 3o percent change in plant cover at minimum, and that means humans as well as plants and animals will need to adapt and in many cases relocate.

JPL and Cal Tech researchers, who investigated how plant life on Earth is likely to react over the next three centuries in response to rising levels of greenhouse gases, published their findings in the journal Climatic Change.

The results show rising emissions will increase ecological stress and change in Earth’s biosphere, with growing numbers of plant and animal species competing for survival. Species turnover will be significant, as some species invade areas occupied by others, according to the researchers’ report.

Besides altering plant communities, “the study predicts that climate change will disrupt the ecological balance between interdependent and often endangered plant and animal species, reduce biodiversity and adversely affect Earth’s water, energy, carbon and other element cycles,” according to JPL’s news release.

“For more than 25 years, scientists have warned of the dangers of human-induced climate change,” said Jon Bergengren, a scientist who led the study while a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech. “Our study introduces a new view of climate change, exploring the ecological implications of a few degrees of global warming. While warnings of melting glaciers, rising sea levels and other environmental changes are illustrative and important, ultimately, it’s the ecological consequences that matter most.”

Image Credit: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

October 04 2011

18:19

The Spiraling Costs of Climate Change Denial


Climate change deniers continue to try to hammer home the idea that enacting proactive climate change policies would cost too much, would hurt consumers, and hamper economic growth. These assertions have consistently been challenged and refuted, but in recent weeks there’s been a string of events and new research reports that highlight the spiraling costs of climate change denial and inaction in greater-than-ever detail.

The following list is a summary sample of them:

* Marking World Habitat Day, Oct. 4, UN officials warned that climate change could create as many as 200 million refugees around the world. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon noted that 60 million people live within one meter of sea level. As thousands fled densely populated Luzon - home to Manila and the Philippines’ main island – due to heavy rainfall and two successively close typhoons,  the increasing frequency of severe storms and rise in mean global sea level put coastal cities at greater and greater risk, the Secretary-General said.

* Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly called on local and international organizations public and private to assist the country as it tries to cope with the latest series of floods. Climate change is already taking a particularly heavy toll on countries that don’t have the resources to develop and enact long-term, large-scale climate change action plans. Yim pointed out the Cambodia has suffered heavily from Mekong River and flash floods over the last decade. “It cost human lives, destroyed agricultural crops, infrastructure, homes and so on,” he said. “It has slowed down Cambodia’s efforts to develop the nation.”

* Climate change could cost Caribbean countries as much as 5% of their collective annual GDP between 2011 and 2050 if climate change mitigation and adaptation actions aren’t taken, according to a report from the Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC). Caribbean countries are among the first to be substantially affected by climate change, given their geographies and economies, Hirohito Toda, Office-in-Charge of ECLAC sub-regional headquarters stated. “Since more than half of the population lives near the coast, increase in temperature, change in precipitation and rise in sea level due to human activities will not only lead to loss of land but to lowered prospects for economic growth as well as quality of life for its people,” he said.

* The cocoa industries of Ivory Coast and Ghana – the mainstays of their economies - are threatened by climate change, according to research conducted by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture. An anticipated rise in global mean temperature by as much as 2 degrees Celsius would make many cocoa-producing areas in West Africa unsuitable for cocoa agriculture and chocolate production by 2050, according to the report. Rising mean temperatures have already adversely affected cocoa crops in some marginal areas, noted Dr. Peter Laderach, the report’s lead author.

* Climate change is affecting land, plants, water resources and wildlife in Yellowstone National Park. Temperatures in the Yellowstone area have risen faster in the past ten years than the global average 20th century rise, according to a study by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. The changing climate could increase the frequency and severity of wildfires, eliminate moisture-dependent trees such as aspen — whose numbers are already falling precipitously in Colorado — lower water volume and flows of mountain streams with world-class trout fisheries and further degrade habitat for threatened and endangered species including grizzly bears.

* The Canadian government’s advisory panel on business and environmental issues submitted a report warning that increasing greenhouse gas emissions could cost the Canadian economy as much as $43 billion a year by 2050 if a strong action plan to combat global warming isn’t put into effect. The consequences could include major flooding in coastal cities, effects on human health and dramatic changes in the forestry industry, agriculture and other economic sectors, according to the panel’s report, “Paying the Price: The Economic Impacts of Climate Change for Canada.”

It’s long been said that “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.” That’s becoming abundantly clear with respect to climate change and the effects a world population equipped with 21st-century technology is having on our environment and climate.

As the authors of Canada’s National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy stated, “Ignoring climate change costs now and will cost us more later.”

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