Climate Change News January 2, 2012

Climate Change News

Carol Werner, Executive Director
January 2, 2012


South Florida Releases Climate Change Action Plan

On December 9, the South Florida Climate Change Compact released a climate change action plan that combines efforts from Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.  The action plan is a result of various community leaders, scientists, and local residents working together over a two year period to study potential impacts of climate change on the South Florida region.  The plan recommends 100 various projects to improve local transportation and natural infrastructure, water, energy and fuel supplies over the next five years.  “Southeast Florida is uniquely vulnerable to sea level rise, with very few areas of the country having as many economic assets at risk,” said Steve Adams, Climate Adaptation Senior Program Advisor for the Institute for Sustainable Communities.  The compact includes 30 percent of Floridians, totaling 5.6 million people from 108 municipalities.

For additional information see: Miami Herald

India Refuses to Sign Agreement to Reduce Emissions

The Indian Government declared that they will not ratify a pact to reduce their country’s greenhouse gas emissions, stating that an agreement to do so would hurt the country’s economic development.  Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said, “There is no question of signing a legally binding agreement at this point of our development. We need to make sure that our development does not suffer.  Our emissions are bound to grow as we have to ensure our social and economic development and fulfill the imperative of poverty eradication.”

For additional information see: The Pioneer

World Faiths Unite on Environmental Responsibility

A recent study by the Citizens Climate Lobby states that religious communities worldwide agree that humans need to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change.  Lynn Whitney, head writer of the report, said that she was urged by her mother, retired biologist Ellie Whitney, and other members of the Citizens Climate Lobby to research different religious organizations views on climate change.  “I think what surprised me the most was the general consensus from all the different religious groups. Among the Judeo-Christian groups, I was really surprised to find that evangelicals recognized that humans may have had something to do with causing climate change and should be involved in helping to mitigate the effects on those people most in need,” said Whitney.

For additional information see: Ashbury Park Press, Daily Record, Report, Citizens Climate Lobby

North American Mammal Evolution Influenced By Climate Change

A recent study by Brown University biologists found that climate change forced six consecutive waves of North American mammal evolution over the last 65 million years.   "Although we've always known in a general way that mammals respond to climatic change over time, there has been controversy as to whether this can be demonstrated in a quantitative fashion," said Christine Janis, Evolutionary Biology Professor at Brown University. "We show that the rise and fall of these faunas is indeed correlated with climatic change -- the rise or fall of global paleotemperatures -- and also influenced by other more local perturbations such as immigration events."  The authors found that the rise and fall of the mammal species correspond with global temperature changes and were closely linked to vegetation transitions in the area.  When the earth warmed up during the Miocene epoch, for example, woodlands changed to grasslands and local herbivores’ jawbones evolved to process grass instead of leaves.  Said the authors, "Such perturbations, related to anthropogenic climatic change, are currently challenging the fauna of the world today, emphasizing the importance of the fossil record for our understanding of how past events affected the history of faunal diversification and extinction, and hence how future climactic changes may continue to influence life on earth."

For additional information see: Science Daily, Study

Research on Links Between Extreme Weather and Climate Change Face Budget Constraints

In 2011, the United States experienced twelve extreme weather events that caused at least $1 billion each in damages, together totaling over $50 billion.  An average year sees only three or four such events, leaving researchers to explain 2011’s severity and determine if similar weather patterns can be expected in the future.  NOAA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy all fund studies to better understand the causes of extreme weather events, including the effects of climate change.  This research can help to improve short- and long-term forecasting of extreme events, but funding to do so is becoming elusive.  Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the director of NOAA, cautions that shrinking budgets make it “more and more challenging to devote resources to many of our research programs.”  

For additional information see: New York Times

Climate Impact of Coal Extraction from Federal Lands Analyzed During Leasing Process, But Not a Factor

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held four lease sales of coal-rich Wyoming land in 2011, after no such sales the previous two years.  In an effort to better understand the climate impact of these leases, the federal government now requires BLM field offices to conduct greenhouse gas (GHG) analyses of proposed coal mining operations, using documents that state “several activities contribute to the phenomena of climate change, including emissions of GHGs (especially carbon dioxide and methane) from fossil fuel development.”  However, BLM has stated that it does not believe that the recent land leases will have any net impact on GHG emissions, a claim that is being challenged by environmental groups.

For additional information see: Washington Post

Other Headlines

January 4: Citizens Climate Lobby Bimonthly Introductory Call

The Citizens Climate Lobby Semi-Monthly Introductory Call takes place on the first and third Wednesday of every month at 5 PM Pacific Time, 8 PM Eastern Time. Please feel free to join members of CCL at: 1 (866) 642-1665; pass code 440699#.

Writers: Alison Alford, John-Michael Cross

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