Monday, August 10, 2009

Needed - A Real Bill for the Climate

From the New York Times:
Opinion »

Editorial: A Real Bill for the Climate

The U.S. needs a climate bill that forces technological change.

Every two years, like clockwork, Congress seems to pass an energy bill, each one marginally better than the one before. What this country does not need in 2009 is another energy bill, even a better one. What it needs is a climate bill, one committed to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in a way that engages the whole economy and forces major technological change.

Without such a bill, America will lose the race against time on climate, lose the race for markets for new and cleaner energy systems, and forfeit any claim to world leadership in advance of the next round of global climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December.

The bill approved by the House last month is a start. It calls for greater efficiency and alternative energy sources. But at its heart is a provision that would cut greenhouse gases by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by midcentury. It would do so by imposing a steadily declining ceiling on emissions — raising the cost of dirtier fuels while steering investments to cleaner ones.

Also from the Times:
August 9, 2009

Climate Change Seen as Threat to U.S. Security

WASHINGTON — The changing global climate will pose profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades, raising the prospect of military intervention to deal with the effects of violent storms, drought, mass migration and pandemics, military and intelligence analysts say.

Such climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions, say the analysts, experts at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies who for the first time are taking a serious look at the national security implications of climate change.

Recent war games and intelligence studies conclude that over the next 20 to 30 years, vulnerable regions, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and South and Southeast Asia, will face the prospect of food shortages, water crises and catastrophic flooding driven by climate change that could demand an American humanitarian relief or military response.

An exercise last December at the National Defense University, an educational institute that is overseen by the military, explored the potential impact of a destructive flood in Bangladesh that sent hundreds of thousands of refugees streaming into neighboring India, touching off religious conflict, the spread of contagious diseases and vast damage to infrastructure. “It gets real complicated real quickly,” said Amanda J. Dory, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy, who is working with a Pentagon group assigned to incorporate climate change into national security strategy planning.

Much of the public and political debate on global warming has focused on finding substitutes for fossil fuels, reducing emissions that contribute to greenhouse gases and furthering negotiations toward an international climate treaty — not potential security challenges.

But a growing number of policy makers say that the world’s rising temperatures, surging seas and melting glaciers are a direct threat to the national interest.
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  1. From the Wildlife Society Blog:
    Thoughts on “Junk Science”
    July 17th, 2009

    Whether it is initially called junk science, heresy, lunacy, or whatever, there has always been great debate about new scientific findings and endeavors. Classic examples include evolution, the earth rotating about the sun, the bio-accumulation of toxic contaminants (DDT), climate change, and even landing on the moon. In each of these examples, even though the science is over-whelming, there STILL remains a minority who, for whatever reason, choose not to accept the science.

    Just one case in point is that in this year, the 40th anniversary of man landing on the moon, the New York Times reports that “polling consistently suggests that some 6 percent of Americans believe the landings were faked and could not have happened.”

    Clearly, those who wish to deny the science will do so, despite the evidence. Meanwhile, the rest of society will move on and make great advances with the new discoveries. Indeed, and as it should, in the interest of wildlife conservation the wildlife profession is moving rapidly forward with addressing climate change. Just a few of the endeavors underway include:

    * The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies has a Climate Change Committee, which is developing plans for incorporating climate change considerations into State Wildlife Action Plans.
    * The USFWS has put forth a draft plan for addressing climate change impacts to wildlife resources.
    * The USGS has established the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center.
    * Other federal land management agencies are actively developing plans for addressing climate change impacts.
    * TWS has established a climate change working group and AFS is working on a climate change policy.

    The challenges to our profession are to:

    1. develop appropriate strategies for effective wildlife conservation that take into account climate change; and
    2. find the resources ($) to take on this new challenge.

    The National Wildlife Federation is working on both of these challenges, including supporting the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES). Passage of this legislation is critical for reducing our global warming pollution and providing the resources to our professions to manage wildlife in a changing climate. It is going to take a lot of continuing effort by every one of us to make sure this important legislation passes. For more information go here

    Doug Inkley, Ph.D. Senior Scientist, National Wildlife Federation

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