“Climate change is here, action needed now, says new White House report” – CNN, 6 May 2014

The White House released a new climate change report in early May, as part of President Obama’s attempt to ready the US for the effects of climate change. Obama has made climate change awareness a cornerstone of his second-term, primarily by taking it upon himself by using executive action to implement his Climate Action Plan. The White House report details reasons why Obama wants the US to take precautionary measures against our growing sea levels and progressively unpredictable weather.

However, Obama has been butting heads with conservatives, the fossil fuel industry, and their allies over the debate of whether or not climate change is indeed real, and if carbon emissions from power plants, factories, and cars—or human activity—are the biggest culprits. Conservatives view the report as a means for Obama to push his own agenda, which they believe would damage the economy, and place the burden on middle-income families.

While polling shows that Americans believe that climate change is a result of human activities, they are less concerned about environmental issues than they are about the economy, for instance.

A Gallup poll from March produced interesting results: 34% of those surveyed believe climate change is a “serious threat” to the earth, while 64% didn’t believe that. Over 60% believed climate change is currently happening or going to happen.

The report clarifies the approach of counteracting climate change into two strategies: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation calls for curbing the effects of climate change by reducing the cause; adaptation calls for preparing for the consequences that are currently or likely to occur. The report also analyzes the US by region, pinpointing specific impacts to each region.

The report identifies three major concerns: rising sea levels, increased droughts, and a longer fire season. The report foresees sea levels growing by one to four feet by the end of the century. Those living on tropical islands and on the coast will be the hardest hit. Miami, for example, is spending hundred of millions of dollars to prevent massive flooding. The Great Plains, too, will suffer from prolonged droughts and heat waves, which is likely to cause more wildfires and endanger agricultural and residential areas.

The report upholds regulations that limit carbon emissions, and encourages investing in programs that stop climate change in its tracks.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

May 24, 2014

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Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

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“Climate panel: Time to act is now” – Politico, 31 March 2014

In March, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a new report that urged the world to come to a consensus on a new global climate agreement. The effects of climate change are worsening and will continue to endanger crop yields, the lives of poorer populations, low-lying lands, aggravate droughts and even provoke wars.

The US and the rest of the world must agree on a global climate agreement by the end of 2015, which would become enforced in 2020. For the agreement to have any impact, both the US and the world’s biggest polluters—such as India and China—must cooperate on the agreement’s terms.

The US, however, is still up in arms about its climate policy. To combat the climate skeptics, Obama has begun pushing his climate policy—like regulations on new power plants and limiting international coal use—through executive branch actions. Climate skeptics are fighting Obama’s executive orders in the House and the courts, justifying that the world isn’t actually warming and the US can’t enforce such harsh regulations when major polluters aren’t following suit.

The report details how the poor and other marginalized groups of people will bear the brunt of climate change impacts through employment, lowered crop yields and soaring food prices. There are also other risks, such as:

  • Agriculture: Wheat and corn have weathered the worst effects of climate change. Food accessibility and food prices could also be affected.
  • Global security: Low crop yields and high sea levels will lead to displacement, and will increase and cause new security worries.
  • Human health: Human health will worsen due to extreme heat waves, wildfires, bad nutrition and diseases spread through water and food.
  • Water: Water levels will plummet as greenhouse gases increase. Some areas will have lower sea levels and some, like low-lying areas and islands, will experience floodings.

A report on methods to counteract climate change will be published in April in Berlin. A final report with all the information will be released in Copenhagen in October.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

April 2, 2014

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“Climate Change Seen Posing Risk to Food Supplies” – New York Times, 1 November 2013

According to a UN report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the effects of climate change are now expected to reach the global food supply: during each decade, our supply is anticipated to decline by 2%, while food prices increase. This comes at a time when food demand is also expected to skyrocket — 14% each decade.

The panel’s 2013 report is far harsher than its previous report, from 2007; the 2013 report includes recent research on how vulnerable crops are to heat waves and droughts, as well as more warnings of the necessity to lower global GHG emissions. However, the panel found that carbon dioxide emissions have the added affect of boosting food production — the gas apparently performs as a type of plant fertilizer.

The panel found that the effects of climate change and global warming will hit tropical regions’ food supplies the worst, due to greater poverty rates and tremendous heat waves. Not being able to satisfy global food demand might force us to cultivate more farm land for production purposes — i.e., deforestation, which would speed up the effects of climate change by releasing significant quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Sweeping climate policy reforms, like the Obama Administration’s, though helpful, come a little late: the report finds that such actions might not be drastic enough to slow down the effects of climate change; advantages from steps, like curbing emissions, will generally be seen late in the 21st century.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

November 20, 2013

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