“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 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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“Americans Back Greenhouse Gas Cuts from Power Plants” – USA Today, 13 November 2013

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USA Today

Gone are the days of pretending that climate change isn’t real: according to a recent poll taken by Stanford University, an overwhelming amount of Americans think global warming is a real and serious threat to our world. The concentration of those concerned by global warming were marginally higher in coastal areas — with growing sea levels — and areas plagued by drought.

Stanford’s poll reported that 75% of American adults believe that global warming has been continually occurring, while 84% or more of those living in drought-stricken states (Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas) or states susceptible to rising tides (Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island) also believe in global warming.

Though many in Congress postulate that global warming and climate change haven’t been happening, US adults don’t agree. A majority do agree, however, that environmental warming is mainly due to human activities (ranging from 65% in Utah to 92% in Rhode Island) and that the government is right to place limits on power plants’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (ranging from 62% in Utah to 90% in New Hampshire). Surprisingly, polls from the major coal-producing states of Kentucky and West Virginia were high as well: 78% for Kentucky and 85% for West Virginia.

A national Pew poll from October found that there is a rift in the Republican party: only 25% of Tea Party Republicans believe there’s evidential support of global warming, while 61% of other Republicans agree. The Pew poll also reported that 67% of Americans believe in the effects of global warming.

People who do not believe in manmade global warming are obviously living in an “Echo Chamber” — i.e. they are moved only by ideological belief (similar to the pre-Copernicus thinking that the “sun goes around earth”), and not persuaded by scientific data-driven facts.

Among the most popular questions on Stanford’s poll were whether more efforts should be made to increase energy efficiency for cars, appliances and buildings; and if there should be tax incentives to generate renewable energy, and curb air pollution from coal.

Last week, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power introduced legislation that could obstruct Obama’s sweeping climate policy reforms to restrict new power plants’ carbon emissions. If all goes well for Obama, then next year his policy will be enacted by the EPA, which will also introduce new restrictions for existing power plants.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

November 14, 2013

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