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Recent Extreme Weather Caused by Climate Change December 22, 2011

Climate change “believers” have been saying for years what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirmed today: that recent incidents of extreme weather has climate change partly to blame. The IPCC tells us to expect more extreme weather in the future-heat waves, heavy rainfall, and of course higher temperatures. But the IPCC isn’t the only organization who is linking climate change with the weather. Findings by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (a collaboration between 13 federal government agencies) support those of the IPCC.

The occurrence of extreme weather in the U.S. has been increasing over the past 50 years, but recent increases have caused significant damage, dollar-wise. Drought has caused $9 billion in property losses in Texas and $45 billion in damages have been caused by the last 10 weather disasters. It is also estimated that the destruction caused by October’s snowstorm in the northeast could cost up to $3 billion.

So how will this affect you and your business? Well, depending on where you are, you will be affected in different ways. Some areas will experience increased rain, others like the southwest U.S. will experience extreme drought. The important thing to take away from these findings is that we can no longer wait to see what will happen because of climate change. We need to mitigate, by reducing our carbon dioxide emissions, and also find better ways to adapt to our new weather, right now. If short-lived climate forcers are reduced, such as hydrofluorocarbons, black carbon and ground-level ozone, the rate of global warming could be reduced by half. Fortunately, there are already laws and technology that can assist in this reduction, allowing it to happen quickly if we take the initiative. But of course, it is up to each of us to do so.

Photo courtesy of San Angelo Standard Times


America’s Climate Choices Final Report July 8, 2011

The National Research Council has just released its final report on America’s Climate Choices.  The report highlights the environmental, economic, and social risks of climate change and calls for action to reduce the amount of environmental change we will face while also preparing to adapt to future warming

The report finds that climate change is happening and human activities are very likely the primary cause.  The report acknowledges the uncertainty about risk but affirms that there is enough reason to begin acting now.

According to the National Research Council, local, state, and private sector efforts are valuable, but they will not be able to achieve the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions needed to avert a climate crisis.  The report calls for strong federal policies to set national goals and engage international efforts.  To effectively address climate change mitigation, the U.S. must reduce GHG emissions, prepare adaptation strategies, fund scientific research and technology development, and promote communication between experts and the stakeholders that make the country’s climate policy.

The National Research Council is the research body of the National Academies.  Sponsored by NOAA, the report was authored by renowned scientists and engineers, economists, business leaders, a former governor, an ex-congressman, and policy experts.

For more information about America’s Climate Choices, visit the America’s Climate Choices website.


EPA’s Policy Statement on Climate Change Adaptation July 3, 2011

Regardless of the efforts we undertake today to limit future climate change, some amount of change is unavoidable.  In this light, it is important that we not only consider mitigation strategies (reducing climate change), but that we also include adaptation when we think about how we will solve the global climate change problem.

Climate change adaptation involves coping with the changes that will occur, creating a society that is resilient in the face of climate change.  Adaptation strategies would include planning for impacts on public health, coastal areas, agriculture, forestry, ecosystems, water, and energy.  Recognizing its importance, the EPA has recently embraced climate change adaptation as a central concern of the agency.

About a month ago, the EPA released its Policy Statement on Climate Change Adaptation.  The EPA has identified climate change action as one of its priorities, and the Policy Statement will guide the agency in developing and implementing a climate-change adaptation plan and integrating the plan into its program’s policies, rules, and operations.

In coordination with the EPA’s national headquarters, every national-program office and regional office will be required to develop an implementation plan showing how it will carryout the measures called for within the agency wide plan.  The individual offices will be allowed the flexibility to decide how they can best meet agency wide goals and requirements, making for a more efficient climate change adaptation process.

The EPA website provides resources on both climate change and climate change adaptation.  It’s time to follow the EPA’s lead and not only ask ourselves how we can limit climate change, but also how we will adapt to a changing natural environment and remain a strong global society in the future.


Is the Increase in Extreme Weather Events a Product of Climate Change? June 20, 2011

Filed under: Air pollutants,Climate change,General — Matt Cohen @ 6:16 pm
Tags: ,

Radically changing weather patterns have been marked by torrential rains and catastrophic flooding, heavy snowfalls, extreme droughts, and devastating forest fires.  Severe weather events have become increasingly regular, and many are beginning to view these extremes as normal under a changing climate.  As earth’s climate continues to change, so will our perceptions of normal weather.

TornadoAlthough climate change is never tied to one specific weather event, it does influence weather.  Climate change drives the environment that impacts storms and droughts, multiplying the intensity of weather events.  In an article for Planet Ark, Deborah Zabarenko describes extreme weather as the “New Normal Climate.”

The article goes on to discuss the costs associated with the increase of climate driven extreme weather events.  The City of Chicago’s 4,400-mile sewer system has been constructed over the past 150 years and is not equipped to handle the extreme storms and floods that are projected for the future.  For the City, it is imperative to forecast future storms and floods.

The City estimates that it will cost between $690 million and $2.5 billion to cope with extreme weather for the remainder of this century.  Homeowners and businesses will be faced with costs that far exceed the City’s estimate.  Economic losses from natural disasters were $25 billion per year in the 1980s.  Through the last decade, the cost has increased to $130 billion per year.  As the global climate continues to change and weather becomes even more extreme, we can only expect these costs to increase.


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