Table Of Contents

    A new study outlines how severe coral bleaching events driven by warming oceans pose a threat to Florida's coastal tourism and fishing industries. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.


    EDITOR'S NOTE: CCN will be on hiatus for two weeks, but will resume publication on July 24.


    House Armed Services Committee Acknowledges Climate Change as a National Security Threat

    On June 28, the House Armed Services Committee took a formal step toward acknowledging climate change as a threat to national security and military readiness. During its review of the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill detailing the Department of Defense’s annual operating budget, the committee approved an amendment that declares “climate change is a direct threat to the national security of the United States and is impacting stability in areas of the world both where the United States Armed Forces are operating today, and where strategic implications for future conflict exist.” The amendment was introduced by Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and passed by a voice vote. The amendment would direct each service branch to compile a list of the ten facilities under its command which it deems to be the most vulnerable to climate change impacts over the next 20 years. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) was the only committee member to openly oppose the bill, while Republican representatives Rob Bishop (UT) and Jim Bridenstine (OK) suggested the findings of the report could be instructive.

    For more information see:

    The Hill, Amendment Language


    Differences Between Past Agency Climate Directives and Trump Administration Priorities Could Conflict with Legal Requirements

    According to a 2011 law, the Trump administration will have to submit its long-term agency priorities to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) by September 2017 to be published in early 2018. These strategic plans contain the priorities for each agency, and can be a useful tool for directing federal funds. Although current plans for several agencies reference the need for climate action, President Trump has taken steps to eliminate several Obama administration climate initiatives like the Clean Power Plan. OMB Director Mick Mulvaney has also told agency employees they do not need to pursue existing plans unless “they are aligned with the policy priorities of the current administration.” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), who was a lead sponsor of the 2011 law, said the law was created to “provide more of a long-term strategic vision and consistency beyond the back-and-forth of election cycles." The Trump administration’s drastic changes to previous policies and the lack of top-level agency appointees are expected to make the planning process very difficult.

    For more information see:

    E&E News


    U.S. Mayors Take Lead on Climate Change, Pursue 100 Percent Renewable Energy

    A lack of climate leadership from the Trump administration has led the United States Conference of Mayors, which represents 1,408 American cities, to pledge its support for achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 in member cities. The resolution urges Congress and the Trump administration to support the Paris Agreement, as well as the Clean Power Plan. The resolution also calls for the electrification of the U.S. transportation sector, a federal “risk management program to address future flood risks from sea level rise,” and expanded government investment in renewable energy. An assessment by the Sierra Club found that if the conference members’ adoption of 100 percent renewable energy were carried out, it would cut carbon dioxide emissions by 619 million metric tons, equivalent to the emissions from 180 coal plants. The mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, Steve Benjamin, said, “We are showing the world that cities and mayors can and will lead the transition away from fossil fuels.”

    For more information see:

    Inside Climate News, Resolution Text


    Florida’s Dying Reefs Could Kill the Local Economy

    The world’s third-largest barrier reef along the Florida Keys, once a flourishing ecosystem, is now struggling and on the verge of collapse, having lost 90 percent of its living coral due to bleaching from rising temperatures. Three and a half million people visit the Florida Keys every year, providing 54 percent of all employment on the islands. As a result, the region’s $2.7 billion coastal economy is highly vulnerable to disruptions from climate change. Extreme weather events that bring warmer waters have been known to trigger coral bleaching. The possible defunding of Environmental Protection Agency programs that protect the reef is a fear of Monroe County’s board of commissioners, who stated, “A healthy marine environment is essential and the most important contributor to the economy of the Florida Keys.” Scientists are replanting coral, but are unsure if the ecosystem will be able to stand up to climate change over the long-term. Research suggests the Keys could experience annual coral bleaching events by as early as 2020.

    For more information see:

    Washington Post


    Climate Change Threatens Global Food Supply “Chokepoints”

    A new report from Chatham House warns that climate change is threatening 14 critical “chokepoints” used for the distribution of global food supplies and that little is being done to address the threat. More than 50 percent of the world’s crop exports travel through at least one of these chokepoints, which include the Suez and Panama Canals, Black Sea ports, and U.S. Gulf Coast ports, inland waterways, and railways. According to the report, many of these areas have already experienced major flooding, drought, sand storms, and heavy rains in recent years which can lead to a chain reaction of rising food prices and major conflict, particularly if they coincide with a harvest failure. Areas that are particularly vulnerable include the Middle East and North Africa, which are the sites of numerous chokepoints, as well as any country that is heavily reliant on imports. The report urged increased global cooperation and a diversification of supply routes and infrastructure to limit the risk of major disruptions from these chokepoints.

    For more information see:

    Guardian, The Atlantic

    Landmark Sale of Carbon Credits Creates New Opportunities for Agriculture

    The U.S. carbon trading market took a large step forward with the recent purchase of carbon offsets by Microsoft. The purchase of the offsets, which came from rice farmers in Arkansas, Mississippi, and California, is notable because it has traditionally been difficult for farmers to participate in the carbon trading market due to the complexity of measuring emissions for agricultural activities. The landmark effort was aided by numerous groups, including the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and was hailed as a “proof-of-concept” moment by Debbie Reed, director of the Coalition on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases. Reed added that the development of a “protocol with farmers that's verifiable and rigorous enough so you can sell it in the market” was one of the challenges behind the effort. Corporate purchases of agricultural carbon offsets are expected to play a part in building the market, while participating farmers are calling for special branding to help their crops stand out on store shelves.

    For more information see:

    Inside Climate News


    Atlantic Coast Pipeline Approval Likely, Despite Severe Environmental Impacts

    The 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline is expected to move 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. Running from North Carolina to West Virginia, the pipeline will cross 2,900 private properties and parts of the Monogahela and George Washington National Forests. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave developers a favorable draft environmental assessment, despite warnings that the project could “induce sinkhole development, alter spring characteristics, and impact local groundwater flow and quality." Dominion Energy, which owns 48 percent of the project, claims they have plans to mitigate these impacts and argues the pipeline will be necessary to supply domestic natural gas markets. Environmental groups argue Dominion is overestimating demand to justify the project. PJM, a regional grid operator, calculates peak power demand in 2027 will be 3.5 gigawatts lower than Dominion estimates. Advocates are also fearful the pipeline will lead to dozens of miles of mountaintops being cleared. Dominion expects the project will receive approval in the fall of 2017.

    For more information see:

    Utility Dive


    Study: Great Barrier Reef Is Worth $42 Billion and “Too Big to Fail”

    A recent report from Deloitte valued Australia’s Great Barrier Reef at $42.4 billion, which is comparable to the market values of auto companies like BMW and General Motors. The reef also supports 64,000 jobs. In the past year, the reef has endured two massive coral bleaching events. The report states, “The Reef is critical to supporting economic activity and jobs in Australia. The livelihoods and businesses it supports across Australia far exceeds the numbers supported by many industries we would consider too big to fail." Bleaching occurs as a stress response to warm ocean temperatures, and corals can die if exposed to prolonged periods of excessive warmth. Recent bleaching events affected about two-thirds of the 2,300 kilometer (1,429 mile) reef, and corals may take up to 20 years to fully recover. Sean Connolly, program leader of an Australian coral reef center, says, “You're looking at some potentially unfolding human tragedy over the decades if reefs cannot provide the same source of livelihood."

    For more information see:

    Washington Post, CNN


    Carbon Dioxide Levels Continue to Rise, Despite Stabilized Emissions

    Carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere increased at record rates in 2015 and 2016, even though scientists say CO2 emissions have stabilized in recent years. In the past, oceans and land surfaces absorbed around half of the CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels, acting as “natural sponges.” However, as emissions increase, some scientists predict these sponges may no longer be able to keep up. Scientists say the current system to monitor greenhouse gases is not able to provide specific information on where gases are being absorbed or released at any given time, which makes it difficult to say why atmospheric CO2 has rapidly increased. Although country-reported emissions have been leveling off, scientists warn this is not enough to negate the impacts of climate change. Scientists hope to improve the existing CO2 monitoring network to catch any early signs of a “permanent shift” in the behavior of the Earth’s CO2 sponges.

    For more information see:

    New York Times


    Study Warns That Global Sea Level Rise Is Accelerating Over Time

    For the third time in the past year, scientists have confirmed that not only are sea levels rising, but they are doing so at an increasingly faster rate. The most recent study attributes the primary cause of this increase to an accelerated melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, which are the two largest sources of land-based ice in the world. The study shows that the melting ice from Greenland is now responsible for 25 percent of all sea level rise, a drastic increase from five percent in 1993. While there is still some uncertainty on the precise rate of sea level rise, with studies disagreeing over just how rapidly sea levels are rising, a consensus has emerged that sea levels are increasing and will have a significant impact on coastal regions. Christopher Harig of the University of Arizona said, “[Sea level rise is] no longer a projection, it’s now an observation. It’s not something that [coastal communities] can continue to put off into the future.”

    For more information see:

    Washington Post


    Study: Climate Change to Hit Southern and Midwestern Economies the Hardest

    A new study in the journal Science has documented how the impacts of climate change will impact regional economies across the United States. The study mapped the historic economic effects of climate-driven events, such as extreme heat and drought, to counties across the country. Researchers found that if global warming continues at its current rate, the United States could see a 3-6 percentage point drop in GDP by 2100. As the warming scenarios worsen, so does the projected economic performance. Lead author Soloman Hsiang of UC-Berkley said, "I think the takeaway…is that the effects of climate change on the U.S. are not the same everywhere. Where you are in the country really matters." The South and Midwest would experience significant damage to their agricultural industries, as well as rising electricity bills and a loss of residents. While solutions to these climate scenarios may be costly, economist Chris Field of Stanford compared the effort to the U.S. space program, which "unleashed a huge amount of creativity and innovation and really launched the United States on a trajectory to being ready for the 21st century."

    For more information see:



    European Researchers Fear Loss of U.S. Climate Data Following Proposed Budget Cuts

    European research institutes and universities are recruiting American scientists to take advantage of the Trump administration’s lack of support for climate research. Piers Forster, director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate, said, “We live in a global marketplace and want to recruit the best minds—and many of the very best are in U.S. labs.” However, some European researchers are more concerned that the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts to NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research offices could have significant impacts, with many in the global scientific community reliant on U.S.-produced scientific data. Forster added, “[Europe needs] their satellite data and access to the U.S.’s many freely available datasets. We need their expertise.” Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University said, “There seems to be an interest in the administration of shifting resources out of science and once again to manned [space] exploration,” but such research tends to produce “very modest returns” given the high cost.

    For more information see:




    EPA Official “Bullied” Science Advisor to Alter Congressional Testimony

    Covenant of More Than 7,400 Cities Worldwide Have Pledged to Work Together in Fighting Climate Change

    Louisiana’s Bayou Bridge Pipeline to Face a Court Challenge

    Group Led by Former UN Climate Chief Publishes Plan for Meeting Paris Goals

    Vanishing Lake Chad Brings Hunger to Surrounding Nations

    Activists Fight for Clean Land and Water in the Coal Industry’s Wake


    Writers: Sara Tanigawa, James Stanish, and Erin Brown

    Editor: Brian La Shier