Articles Posted in Reports

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The White House has issued a new report on the increased costs associated with delaying action on Climate Change. The report notes that taking action now, rather than waiting, is in some respects the same as purchasing an insurance policy. Plus, once carbon dioxide concentrations reach a certain point, there could be enormous increases in annual costs associated with increased temperature.

The summary of the report states in part:

“Based on a leading aggregate damage estimate in the climate economics literature, a delay that results in warming of 3° Celsius above preindustrial levels, instead of 2°, could increase economic damages by approximately 0.9 percent of global output. To put this percentage in perspective, 0.9 percent of estimated 2014 U.S. Gross Domestic Product ( GDP) is approximately $150 billion. The incremental cost of an additional degree of warming beyond 3° Celsius would be even greater. Moreover, these costs are not one-time, but are rather incurred year after year because of the permanent damage caused by increased climate change resulting from the delay.

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Today the White House issued the latest National Climate Assessment. The summary of the report notes impacts in every region of the country and what it calls “key sectors of society and the U.S. economy.”

Summarizing areas of impacts it notes:

“Climate-Change Impacts on Key Sectors of Society and the U.S. Economy

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Portions of the new IPCC report have been leaked and they do not provide good news. As reported by National Geographic, the report comes with some dire predictions for the future unless action is taken.

“The leaked draft from Working Group II further warns: ‘Impacts from recent extreme climatic events, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, and wildfires, demonstrate significant vulnerability and exposure of some ecosystems and many human systems to climate variability (very high confidence). These experiences are consistent with a significant adaptation deficit in developing and developed countries for some sectors and regions.'”

-Steven Silverberg

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The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society have published a primer of Climate Change facts. Entitled “Climate Change Causes and Facts” the booklet tries to provide a fact based summary of what scientists now know and don’t know about Clinate change.

The stated purpose of the report is:

“The Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences, with their similar missions to promote the use of science to benefit society and to inform critical policy debates, offer this new publication as a key reference document for decision makers, policy makers, educators, and other individuals seeking authoritative answers about the current state of climate-change science. The publication makes clear what is well established, where consensus is growing, and where there is still uncertainty.”

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A recent study by the University of Toronto looks at the potential of Perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA), a greenhouse gas, to have long term impacts upon climate change. An article in the Geophysical Research Letters reports the results of the study.

While only noted in trace amounts in the atmosphere, the significance of PFTBA on climate change going forward relates to its “potency”. Angela Hong the lead researcher is quoted as saying:

“Calculated over a 100-year time frame, a single molecule of PFTBA has the equivalent climate impact as 7,100 molecules of CO2,”

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An insurance industry group has come out with a report on the significant and unpredictable risks caused by climate change. The Geneva Association Report warns that models previously used by the insurance industry to predict climate related events are no longer reliable. The report focuses on the uncertainty resulting from sea level rise and ocean warming.

“Another implication of ocean warming is the potential for longer tropical cyclone seasons….A longer hurricane season, starting earlier and ending later, can change some of the storm characteristics and increase the damage potential of cyclone season. There are indications that this is the case for example in the Hurricane Sandy on the U.S. East Coast at the end of October 2012….The impact of ocean warming on other loss-relevant hurricane characteristics, such as size, genesis potential and location of landfall, is deeply uncertain and, because of the sparse data, it will take some time until a potential signal may appear in observational time series.”

In addition to calling for internal actions by the industry in risk assessment, the report calls for “external” actions.

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NASA is continuing a multi-year study which, so far, is demonstrating that Arctic permafrost is warming more rapidly than the air. In a release this week the situation in the Arctic is referred to as the “canary in the coal mine” for climate change.

The extreme conditions in the Arctic prevent decomposition of most plant and animal material. Each year there is a partial thaw which allows vegetation to grow, which then dies and is added to the permafrost when the colder weather returns. The result is thousands of years of stored organic material. The report notes:

“…Arctic permafrost soils have accumulated vast stores of organic carbon – an estimated 1,400 to 1,850 petagrams of it (a petagram is 2.2 trillion pounds, or 1 billion metric tons). That’s about half of all the estimated organic carbon stored in Earth’s soils. In comparison, about 350 petagrams of carbon have been emitted from all fossil-fuel combustion and human activities since 1850. Most of this carbon is located in thaw-vulnerable topsoils within 10 feet (3 meters) of the surface.”

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On June 11, 2013 New York City Mayor Bloomberg announced a plan for the City to address the impacts of climate change. The full report details a multi-billion dollar plan described in the introduction as providing initiatives that:

“…will further protect the coastline-our first defense against storms and rising sea levels-as well as strengthen the buildings in which New Yorkers live and work, and all the vital systems that support the life of the city, including our energy grid, transportation systems, parks, telecommunications networks, healthcare system, and water and food supplies. Meanwhile, for the areas of New York that Sandy hit especially hard, this plan proposes local rebuilding initiatives that will help these communities emerge safer, stronger, and better than ever.

The underlying goal of this report is resiliency. That is, to adapt our city to the impacts of climate change and to seek to ensure that, when nature overwhelms our defenses from time to time, we are able to recover more quickly.”

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For the first time in what is believed to be 3 million years, carbon dioxide levels were recorded this week at 400 ppm on top of the 11,000 foot Mauna Loa mountain in Hawaii. As noted by National Geographic, the last time CO2 was at those levels:

” the Earth then was in the final stage of a prolonged greenhouse epoch, and CO2 concentrations were on their way down. This time, 400 ppm is a milepost on a far more rapid uphill climb toward an uncertain climate future.”

-Steven Silverberg

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NASA released a study predicting that, with increased global warming, areas prone to heavy rains will see increases in rainfall while areas prone to drought will experience even less rainfall. The the announcement of the study released on May 3, 2013 notes:

“The models project for every 1 degree Fahrenheit of carbon dioxide-induced warming, heavy rainfall will increase globally by 3.9 percent and light rain will increase globally by 1 percent. However, total global rainfall is not projected to change much because moderate rainfall will decrease globally by 1.4 percent….Some regions outside the tropics may have no rainfall at all. The models also projected for every degree Fahrenheit of warming, the length of periods with no rain will increase globally by 2.6 percent. ”

-Steven Silverberg