“Climate change isn’t for the birds” – Politico, 8 September 2014

In addition to affecting food supplies and increasing the likelihood of natural disasters, climate change is drastically impacting wildlife, especially our birds.

Earlier this month, the National Audubon Society published a study, which concluded that half of North America’s bird species will be endangered, and could go extinct, at the century’s end, due to the effects of climate change.

The bald eagle and Baltimore oriole are at a huge risk for endangerment, and Louisiana, Utah, Vermont, Nevada, Idaho, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Washington DC’s state birds are as well. The Audubon’s report comes after a draft of the UN’s climate change report was disclosed, which cautioned about the effects of climate change on people and ecosystems.

President Obama and the EPA are doing everything they can to stop climate change in its tracks, including introducing the Climate Action Plan and the Clean Power Plan Proposal, which are aimed at curbing power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions. Of course, there is pushback from Republicans, conservatives, and coal states, like Colorado, Kentucky, and Michigan where politicians contend that new climate regulations will deplete jobs and increase consumer’s expenses on energy.

For the report, the Audubon studied species prevalent to the US and Canada. Of the 588 species the Audubon chose, the Audubon found that by 2080, 314 of them will be in danger of extremely diminished populations because they will be without over half of their livable geographic range. The lives of these birds are indelibly linked to their physical environment.

Moreover, renewable energy — wind and solar power — also has a lasting impact on birds. Many conservatives and conservationists are calling this, “Obama’s war on birds.”

According to a report published last year by the journal Biological Conservation, around 140,000 to 328,000 birds are killed yearly through contact with wind turbines. In 2013, the Interior Department granted 30-year permits to wind farms that allowed for accidentally killing or injuring bald and golden eagles. There have also been reports of a California-based solar power plant that causes birds to catch on fire while flying.

Conservatives are using the repercussions of renewable energy on birds as more political fodder against Obama and his climate policy. Perhaps this is rightfully so, as Obama hasn’t specifically incorporated flora, fauna, and their ecosystems into his climate policy. At the same time, however, if conservative policymakers — any policymakers, at that — are concerned about the birds, then they should make efforts to integrate climate change into conservation planning. It works both ways.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

September 10, 2014

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2014. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

Social Share Toolbar

“Utah Cracks Down on Smog” – Wall Street Journal, 12 March 2013

Due to high levels of smog, Utah is enacting new regulations to decrease smog-creating airborne particulates by 40%, similar to California’s cap and trade program. Though some companies think the new regulations go too far, new rules will help the state abide by federal clean-air standards set by the EPA. Utah is hoping the legislation will be put into place by 2014.

The smog gathers on Utah’s Wasatch Front, the pollution sitting over a city of 2.1 million people. So far this winter, state officials have announced 35 “red alert” days in Salt Lake City, the highest level of unhealthy air quality. In response to the smog, groups like the Utah Clean Air Alliance have formed, aimed at urging the state to reduce emissions allowances. However, Utah is widely known as a business-friendly, regulation-averse state, and, in the past, has allowed many companies to expand without lowering their emissions caps.

Metal smelters, steelmakers, wood manufacturers, specific restaurants, auto body shops and hair salons will be most drastically hit by the Utah Division of Air Quality’s new regulations, which will prove costly.

By August 1, for example, restaurants that use chain-driven flame broilers to cook their meat will have to install catalytic converters to catch any particulates. The new rules will also limit the amount of volatile organic compounds found in industrial coatings and consumer products,  like wood stains, paint primers and hair spray. Additionally, auto body shops will have to switch to water-based primers.

Many residents and small businesses don’t believe Utah’s new regulations go far enough, and that big businesses won’t be monitored by the state. Industry representatives maintain that auto pollution is the real culprit, citing a report from the Division of Air Quality shows that 52% of particulates come from vehicle exhaust, and the rest from small businesses.

In light of the “gridlocked political environment” currently in Washington, it seems unlikely that any climate legislation will pass at the national level until 2014 mid-term national elections, as Republicans and red state Democrats in both the House and Senate run for “conservative political covers”.

Until then (and maybe even beyond 2014, if democrats don’t take control of the House and achieve a filibuster-proof majority in Senate), the only two viable options are:

1. Let states, such as California and now Utah, regulate emission at the state level. Which states are likely to follow? Perhaps Oregon, Washington, New York and other Northeastern  states.

2. Let President Obama and the EPA initiate and enforce emission standards as articulated by the President in his second inaugural address. The US Supreme court has already upheld EPA’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases under existing Clean Air Act.

We are betting that the best solution will be the first option, as it has been for so many recent social changes, such as “gun violence  and “marriage equality”, that have occurred at the state level.

See also:
On Climate Change, Some Arguments Shift
Europe’s Emissions Plan Hits Turbulence
Your Biggest Carbon Sin May Be Air Travel
A Grand Experiment to Rein In Climate Change

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

March 26, 2013

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

Social Share Toolbar