Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Chris Christie Denies Climate Change Has Anything To Do With Hurricane Sandy

Yesterday, Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) rejected the notion that Hurricane Sandy's damage was worsened by climate change.

At a ceremonial event to mark the rebuilding of the Jersey Shore boardwalk post-Hurricane Sandy, Christie responded to a question from WNYC/New Jersey Public Radio about how the state could have better prepared for the consequences of climate change:

Well, first of all, I don't agree with the premise of your question because I don't think there's been any proof thus far that Sandy was caused by climate change. But I would absolutely expect that that's exactly what WNYC would say, because you know liberal public radio always has an agenda. And so since I disagree with the premise of your question I don't feel like I have to answer the rest of it.

Of course, this isn't about whether Sandy was "caused" by climate change. It's about whether climate change and sea level rise are making such storms more frequent and much more destructive (see links below) - and that is something we can plan for.

Christie is already one of the few Republican leaders that acknowledge human activity causes climate change. Even so, he still casts it as a second-tier issue. "Maybe in the subsequent months and years, after I get done with rebuilding the state and getting people back in their homes," he told reporters in February, "I'll have the opportunity to ponder the esoteric question of the causes of the storm." He even acknowledged climate change is real in the same speech where he announced that he was pulling New Jersey out of a regional compact aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Contrast Chrstie's words with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), who said, "We have a one-hundred year flood every two years now." Still, both governors make the case for greater greater resiliency, even though Christie does not directly reference climate change. The different responses also characterize the gulf in NY and NJ preparations for climate change. According to a report from WNYC, New Jersey overlooked climate change warnings before Sandy, which resulted in it losing over one-quarter of its public transit fleet. Meanwhile, New York had consulted scientists on climate change-related incidents, and lost 19 of its 8,000 rail cars.

What Christie fails to grasp is the impact climate change is having on his constituents today, including coastal flooding, powerful storms, sea level rise, and drought. Extreme weather has also cost taxpayers $136 billion in the last three years, with Sandy's toll alone at $60 billion.

Related Posts:


USGS finds US aquifers being drawn down at accelerating rate

A new US Geological Survey study finds that US aquifers are being drawn down at an accelerating rate. Groundwater Depletion in the United States (1900-2008) comprehensively evaluates long-term cumulative depletion volumes in 40 separate aquifers (distinct underground water storage areas) in the United States, bringing together reliable information from previous references and from new analyses.

From 1900 to 2008, US aquifers decreased by more than twice the volume of water found in Lake Erie. Groundwater depletion in the US in the years 2000-2008 can also explain more than 2% of the observed global sea-level rise during that period, according to USGS.

Since 1950, the use of groundwater resources for agricultural, industrial, and municipal purposes has greatly expanded in the United States. When groundwater is withdrawn from subsurface storage faster than it is recharged by precipitation or other water sources, the result is groundwater depletion. The depletion of groundwater has many negative consequences, including land subsidence, reduced well yields, and diminished spring and stream flows.

While the rate of groundwater depletion across the country has increased markedly since about 1950, the maximum rates have occurred during the most recent period of the study (2000-2008), when the depletion rate averaged almost 25 cubic kilometers per year. For comparison, 9.2 cubic kilometers per year is the historical average calculated over the 1900-2008 timespan of the study.

One of the best known and most investigated aquifers in the US is the High Plains (or Ogallala) aquifer. It underlies more than 170,000 square miles of the Nation's midsection and represents the principal source of water for irrigation and drinking in this major agricultural area. Substantial pumping of the High Plains aquifer for irrigation since the 1940s has resulted in large water-table declines that exceed 160 feet in places.

The study shows that, since 2000, depletion of the High Plains aquifer appears to be continuing at a high rate. The depletion during the last 8 years of record (2001-2008, inclusive) is about 32% of the cumulative depletion in this aquifer during the entire 20th century. The annual rate of depletion during this recent period averaged about 10.2 cubic kilometers, roughly 2% of the volume of water in Lake Erie.

Groundwater is one of the Nation's most important natural resources. It provides drinking water in both rural and urban communities. It supports irrigation and industry, sustains the flow of streams and rivers, and maintains ecosystems. Because groundwater systems typically respond slowly to human actions, a long-term perspective is vital to manage this valuable resource in sustainable ways.

-Suzette Kimball, acting USGS Director


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Worse Than Watergate: Growing Scandal Brings Nation To The Brink Of Ruin

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein points us to the ever-growing scandal that will echo through the ages:

When future generations look back on the scandals of our age, it'll be the unchecked rise in global temperatures, not the Benghazi talking points, that infuriate them.

Yes, unchecked warming is likely to prove the greatest scandal in U.S. history.

Certainly it's the one that will ruin the lives of the most people, far more than Watergate did if our government doesn't act to expose what's going on and work to put an end to it - before it puts an end to our stable climate:

Scandalous: Projected warming this century (in red, via recent literature) if humanity allows current carbon pollution trends to continue compared to the temperature change over past 11,300 years (in blue, via Science, 2013).

I know it's not one of the scandals the major media are now obsessed with 24/7, but that is business as usual for the MSM, as Klein notes:

Things go wrong in government. Sometimes it's just bad luck. Sometimes it's rank incompetence. Sometimes it's criminal wrongdoing. Most of the time you never hear about it. Or, if you do hear about it, the media eventually gets bored talking about it (see warming, global).

It was Watergate and the fame it brought Woodward and Bernstein that inspired so many journalists to enter the field. But now that post-modern cynicism reigns supreme -which is to say, much of the media acts as if their really is no objective truth or over-arching public interest - fame alone seems to drives the media.

And so this scandal goes largely unreported (see "Silence Of The Lambs 3: Media Coverage Of Climate Mixed In 2012, But Still Down Sharply From 2009") or misreported (see "False Balance Lives").

Fortunately for the media, having largely missed the chance to report the scandal when it might have had some positive impact on the outcome, they'll have plenty of time to become famous reporting on its consequences (see Climate change "largely irreversible for 1000 years," with permanent Dust Bowls in Southwest and around the globe).


Thursday, May 16, 2013

VIDEO: 97% of Climate Scientists Can't Be Wrong

The biggest survey of climate research to date finds that scientists are more united than ever.

Telling Americans that scientists don't agree is the classic climate denial strategy. It's been over a decade since consultant Frank Luntz famously furnished the GOP with strategies to kill climate action during the Bush years, recommending in a leaked memo [PDF]: "you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue." Oh yeah, and avoid truth: "A compelling story, even if factually inaccurate, can be more emotionally compelling than a dry recitation of the truth." It seems to have worked: only a minority of Americans believes global warming is caused by humans: 42 percent, according to a 2012 Pew study.

That "consensus gap", as it's known, has proven fertile ground in which to sow resistance to climate action, says John Cook, a climate communications researcher from the University of Queensland in Australia. He has led the most extensive survey of peer reviewed literature in almost a decade (published online this week in Environmental Research Letters). And what he found, just as in other attempts to survey the field, is that scientists are near unanimous.

A group of 24 researchers signed up to the challenge via Cook's website, Skeptical Science (the go-to website for debunking climate denial myths), and collected and analyzed almost 12,000 scientific papers from the past 20 years. Of the some 4000 of those abstracts that expressed some view on the evidence for global warming, more than 97 percent endorsed the consensus that climate change is happening, and it's caused by humans.

His team pulled work written by 29,083 authors in nearly 2000 journals across two decades. "People who say there must be some conspiracy to keep climate deniers out of the peer reviewed literature, that is one hell of a conspiracy," he said via Skype from Australia (watch the video above). That would make the moon landing cover-up look, "like an amateur conspiracy compared to the scale involved here."

Cook is hoping to capitalize on the simplicity of his findings: "All people need to understand is that 97 out of 100 climate scientists agree. All they need to know is that one number: 97 percent."


White House Arctic Strategy Is Clear in Drilling Goals but Not Conservation Goals

Frances Beinecke, President of NRDC, New York City

As Secretary of State John Kerry headed to the Arctic Council meetings in Kiruna, Sweden this week, he described the way melting ice is altering life in the Arctic. "Our warming planet means the Arctic's ecosystem is experiencing significant, rapid shifts with far-reaching consequences," he wrote. "All of the changes in the Arctic must change the way we approach the region."

The Arctic most definitely needs a new approach to stewardship-one that can protect its natural wonders and ensure it remains resilient in the face of global warming. Yet the National Strategy for the Arctic Region that the White House released last week in advance of the Arctic Council meetings does not deliver what the region requires right now.

Despite Shell Oil's recent drilling fiascoes in the Arctic Ocean and mounting scientific evidence that ecosystems are under stress, the administration has outlined a plan that could open the Arctic to even more harm.

The new strategy emphasizes U.S. security interests in the Arctic. That makes sense in the light of the Arctic's international significance. But then the administration's plan makes the mistake of equating security with drilling for oil in the region. In fact, the Arctic Ocean may be the least secure place on Earth to drill for oil-as Shell confirmed when its effort to drill there resulted in one failure after another last summer. Moreover, America won't ever achieve energy security by increasing our dependence on a commodity that is traded on a volatile international market. True energy security means beating our oil addiction and investing in renewable energy and efficiency measures.


Shell's drill rig, the Kulluk, ran aground near Alaska's Kodiak Island on New Year's Eve.

Instead of looking to the Arctic for more oil, the administration should freeze drilling approvals and undertake a thorough, clear-eyed review of whether offshore drilling can ever be done safely in the region. The environment is known for twenty-foot seas, gale-force winds, dense fog, and sub-freezing temperatures much of the year. Arctic waters are also packed with ice for up to eight months each year, and no technology has proven capable of cleaning up an oil spill in ice.

The disastrous BP oil spill occurred in the ice-free waters of the Gulf of Mexico-a much more accessible location with industry infrastructure readily at hand. Now imagine a similar spill in the Arctic lease sites where the closest Coast Guard base is 1,000 miles away.

A sober, factual re-evaluation of offshore drilling should lead to the conclusion that, for both environmental and security reasons, the Arctic Ocean has no place in the United States energy future.

The administration should take clear steps to protect the region's rich and vulnerable ecosystems from the full suite of development threats they face. Though Arctic Strategy mentions important conservation goals including Arctic stewardship and integrated management, it discusses them at the broadest level. The Arctic Strategy released by the Bush Administration offered more details about how the U.S. could strengthen environmental protection and address challenges like the impact of marine noise on whales. The Obama Administration's strategy on the environment, however, is remarkably devoid of substance-a marked contrast with the unambiguous call for more oil development.

It puts a welcome if ill-defined emphasis on scientific research and integrated management, but we need action to protect this most vulnerable part of our planet. We need an affirmative plan to identify biological hotspots, create protected areas in the ocean, and preserve landscapes that help wildlife become resilient in the face of climate change.

Secretary Kerry was committed to making progress this week at the Arctic Council meetings-a gathering of foreign ministers from the eight Arctic nations and several indigenous groups. As someone concerned about climate change, the oceans, and the Arctic region, Secretary Kerry is poised to help the U.S. become a leader in sound Arctic management. But the U.S. cannot urge other countries to protect the region's environment if we are not making concrete commitments to do the same in our own Arctic waters and landscapes.

Now is not the time to ignore the hazards of unbridled energy development and unchecked climate change. There is simply too much at stake in the Arctic. It is home to the world's last wild ocean, some of America's most breathtaking natural treasures, and an indigenous culture thousands of years old. The Arctic is also the air conditioner for the world-as it warms our communities suffer more extreme weather events.

If we fail to protect the Arctic in this time of rapid change, we risk losing one of the crowning jewels of America's natural heritage. We have a responsibility to preserve this spectacular and fragile region.

Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg


Experts Affirm the Benefits and Importance of California's Clean Energy and Climate Leadership

Stefanie Tanenhaus, MAP Energy Fellow, San Francisco

In the face of daunting challenges, California stands strong as a national leader on climate action, according to experts who testified today at a state Senate committee hearing on climate change and implementation of the state's clean energy law, AB 32.

Also known as the Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32 is California's groundbreaking effort to mitigate climate risks and lower statewide greenhouse gas emissions. Since its passage in 2006, AB 32 has kept California on course to build a robust, clean energy economy with the goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

California Emissions grapg_hearing blog.png

Source: Air Resources Board Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Forecast

Protecting Californians from Climate Risks

The Select Committee on Climate Change and AB 32 Implementation hearing today covered both the mounting risks of climate change in California and our progress toward mitigating them. Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird explained that while the impacts of global warming are already being felt in California -- with droughts, loss of snowpack and an extended wildfire season-- if we don't prepare and adapt, climate-related costs will continue to mount. Fortunately, California has the policy measures in place to curb emissions and help lower the costs associated with extreme weather and climate change.

Experts also testified on the link between greenhouse gas emissions and negative health impacts. Although carbon dioxide is the largest contributor to climate change, other greenhouse gases like black carbon and methane threaten both the climate as well as the quality of the air we breathe. Poor air quality puts communities at risk for asthma and other respiratory problems, low birth weights, heart attacks, and lung cancer. Many of the greenhouse gas reduction measures in AB 32 that target vehicle, power plant, and other industrial emissions sources simultaneously address both climate and health impacts for the state.

A National Perspective

To put California's progress in context, the hearing highlighted action beyond our borders. While California has led the charge on climate policies, other states have been moving forward as well.

For example:

  • Half of the nation's states now require utilities to invest in energy efficiency programs that help customers use less energy and lower their utility bills. California has been a leader on energy efficiency for decades.
  • Twenty-nine states have adopted Renewable Portfolio Standards requiring a minimum percentage of power from clean energy like wind and solar. California has the most aggressive standard in the nation, but other states are quickly catching up. In the Midwest, Iowa's largest energy company, MidAmerican Energy, just announced plans to invest $1.9 billion to build an additional 1 gigawatt of wind power by 2015, which will produce electricity to power roughly 250,000 homes.

In the Northwest, Washington recently ratcheted down its Emissions Performance Standard (EPS), which limits the amount of pollution from power plants. Washington's EPS is now 12 percent tighter than the current California standard, making it the most ambitious in the nation.

Carbon Trading Beyond California

Cap-and-trade, a policy tool that gradually decreases the number of carbon pollution permits that are available to large emitters, is an important element of achieving AB 32's goals. California's program launched in January and continues to gain momentum, holding its third auction earlier today. Today's Senate committee looked at developments in carbon markets beyond California's borders. The nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states within the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) recently affirmed their commitment to cleaner power by voting to reduce their carbon emissions cap on the power sector by 45%. Across the globe, China is poised to launch seven regional pilot emissions trading programs it plans to link together in 2020 In total, China's programs will surpass California's as the world's second-largest carbon market, after the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme.

Progress on Reducing Emissions

Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board (ARB) that oversees implementation of AB 32, closed the hearing by providing a summary of California's progress toward reaching its 2020 emissions reduction goals. As the chart below shows, there has already been a steady decline in emissions between 2008 and 2011 from the facilities that release the highest levels of pollution in the state, with the added benefit of improving air quality and public health.

Thumbnail image for Facility Emissions_hearing blog.png

Source: ARB Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting (MRR) Data for In-State Facilities

As we move closer to meeting AB 32's emissions targets, California is upholding its position as a national leader in climate policies. In fact, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) - the federal government's energy statistics agency - just this week ranked California in the Top 5 both for lowest emissions per capita and carbon intensity.

To stay ahead of the curve, California must continue to move forward and build on its strong foundation of clean energy and climate leadership.


World's melting glaciers making large contribution to sea rise ...

While 99 percent of Earth's land ice is locked up in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the remaining ice in the world's glaciers contributed just as much to sea rise as the two ice sheets combined from 2003 to 2009, says a ...


Sea level: One-third of its rise comes from melting mountain glaciers ...

How much all glaciers contribute to global sea-level rise has never been calculated before with this accuracy. An international group of researchers involving two geographers from the University of Zurich has confirmed that ...


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lessons Learned in the Wake of Sandy: Saving Transit Means Taking the High Ground--Literally

Theo Spencer, Senior Advocate, Climate Center, New York

As the six month anniversary of Hurricane Sandy rolls by, the passage of time is giving us a clearer picture of what preventive measures really worked. Thanks to an excellent series running this week on WNYC, we can see that New York did a good job of protecting its trains and subways cars while New Jersey didn't.

The stories, part of WNYC's Life After Sandy series, detail among other things how New Jersey used incorrect data and maps to determine a safe place to store it's trains during the coming storm.

As WNYC's Kate Hinds and Andrea Bernstein note:

If officials had entered the right numbers, they would have predicted what actually happened: a storm surge that engulfed hundreds of rail cars, some of them brand new, costing over $120 million in damage and thrusting the system's passengers into months of frustrating delays.

But the fate of NJ Transit's trains - over a quarter of the agency's fleet - didn't just hang on one set of wrong inputs. It followed years of missed warnings, failures to plan, and lack of coordination under Governor Chris Christie, who has expressed ambivalence about preparing for climate change while repeatedly warning New Jerseyans not to underestimate the dangers of severe storms.

The reporters found a tale of two agencies: one in New York that planned well in advance for extreme weather events, and on in New Jersey that didn't.

The stories are part of a lengthy investigation in partnership with The Record newspaper (Bergen, NJ), and New Jersey Public Radio. Reporters looked at hours of testimony by the (greater New York) Metropolitan Transit Authority and NJ Transit officials, as well as hundreds of pages of internal documents. They also interviewed transit officials and climate and weather experts.

When reporters for WNYC and The Record asked NJ Transit officials for their official extreme weather planning documents, they both received the same thing-a three page memo. That memo appeared to be the extent of NJ Transit's plan, and all but the first page had been blacked out.

NJ Transit's basic response was that the yard where their trains were stored had never flooded before, and that no one could have predicted the severity of Sandy. That's not sitting too well with New Jersey Transit riders who endured months of delays in the wake of the storm, and have seen little evidence of a more enlightened approach to extreme weather preparedness.

New York's MTA, on the other hand, developed detailed plans to prepare for an extreme flooding and storm surges. The plans involved moving trains to higher ground, and pulling electrical signals from tunnels prone to flooding. Thanks to such measures, the MTA was able to get its systems up and running soon after the storm, and only 19 of its 8,000 rail cars were flooded.

Back in 2008, the agency prepared a forward-looking report and plan: MTA Adaptations to Climate Change--A Categorical Imperative. Among the actions recommended in the plan:

Identify MTA facilities and programs subject to climate risk; Identify main climate change impacts to MTA facilities and programs; Apply future climate change scenarios by time slice; Develop implementation plans, including timeframes for implementation; Monitor and reassess adaptation strategies according to unfolding of climate change and developments in climate science...

You get the point. The MTA's assessment was part of the PlaNYC which represents probably the single best climate preparedness initiative in the United States. Post-Sandy MTA and New York officials are looking to future impacts and how best to prepare for them.

New Jersey, and other states and cities, should take note.


False Balance Lives: Bloomberg News Gives Equal Weight To Climate Disinformer And Scientists

False balance is alive and well at even the best media outlets (see links below). Bloomberg news, famous for the post-Sandy cover story,"It's Global Warming, Stupid," now proves they can be the stupid ones, in a Monday piece on "Greenhouse Gases Hit Threshold Unseen in 3 Million Years":

Happy Plants

"The Earth has had many-times-higher levels of CO2 in the past," said Marc Morano, former spokesman for Republican Senator James Inhofe and executive editor of Climate Depot, a blog that posts articles skeptical of climate change. "Americans should welcome the 400 parts-per-million threshold. This means that plants are going to be happy, and this means that global-warming fearmongers are going to be proven wrong."

Yes, "Happy Plants" is Bloomberg's header. Plants will be so damn happy when it is 10° F warmer and a third of the arable land has been turned to dust bowl!

And yes, Bloomberg actually quoted Marc Morano, the Charlie Sheen of global warming, former denier-in-chief for Sen. James Inhofe (R-OIL) - "among the first reporters to write about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign."

As Media Matters notes, you should know your news article is pushing false balance when you are quoting someone making the exact same argument as a "rock bottom" Wall Street Journal op-ed:

Marc Morano is not a scientist and has no scientific education. He is paid by an oil-industry funded organization to confuse the public about climate change, and has compared climate science to the Mayan calendar, Nostradamus, and medieval witchcraft. Moreover, his argument is laughable: by focusing on how carbon dioxide stimulates plant growth in a controlled environment, he ignores that our huge emissions of it and other greenhouse gases are warming up the planet, thereby increasing the risk of extreme rainfall and drought to the detriment of agriculture. A Wall Street Journal op-ed made the same argument on Thursday, leading to a deluge of condemnation.

So why is Bloomberg News not only featuring Morano, but giving his discredited argument equal weight to the extensive evidence presented by scientists?

Equally lame, Bloomberg trots out a long-debunked denier talking point:

Skeptics of man's influence on warming temperatures note that while CO2 levels in the atmosphere have continued to rise since the 1990s, no year has been statistically warmer on average than 1998, with higher levels for 2005 and 2010 falling within the margin of error for that year, according to data compiled by the U.K. Met Office.

Is Bloomberg really suggesting that those who are skeptical of man's influence on warming temperatures have any credibility?

Somehow the 2000s were still the hottest decade on record - and somehow 90% of manmade global warming ended up precisely where scientists said it would (see "Global Warming Has Accelerated In Past 15 Years, New Study Of Oceans Confirms").

Even as written, this torturous myth is beneath Bloomberg:

Even if the UK Met Office's ranking of 2010 and 2005 as the warmest years on record globally is within the margin of error for 1998 (U.S.'s NASA and NOAA both rank 2010 and 2005 as statistically warmer than 1998), the fact that the difference between these individual years is small illustrates again that we should pay more attention to the long-term trend. As NASA explained, "all three [surface temperature datasets] show the last decade is the warmest in the instrumental record."

Bloomberg can - and must - do better.

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Taxpayers Get Nearly $100 Billion Bill for 2012 Extreme Weather, Equivalent to One-Sixth of Non-Defense Discretionary Spending

Dan Lashof, Program Director, Climate & Clean Air, Washington, D.C.

With all the debate on the federal budget in Congress, climate change rarely gets mentioned as a deficit driver. Yet dealing with climate disruption was one of the largest non-defense discretionary budget items in 2012. Indeed, as NRDC shows in Who Pays for Climate Change?, when all federal spending on last year's droughts, storms, floods, and forest fires are added up, the U.S. Climate Disruption Budget was nearly $100 billion, equivalent to 16% of total non-defense discretionary spending in the federal budget-larger than any official spending category.

2012 U.S. Federal Non-Defense Discretionary Budget

(in Billions)

Source CRS, BEA, OMB (Table 8.7), NRDC estimates

Education, training, employment and social services




Housing assistance and other income security




Veterans benefits and services


Administration of Justice


International Affairs


Natural Resources and Environment


Science, Space and Technology




Other Non-Defense Discretionary


Total FY2012 Non-Defense Discretionary Spending


Federal Climate Disruption Costs, CY2012 Impacts


That means that federal spending to deal with extreme weather made worse by climate change far exceeded total spending aimed at solving the problem. In fact, it was eight times EPA's total budget and eight times total spending on energy.

Overall the insurance industry estimates that 2012 was the second costliest year in U.S. history for climate-related disasters, with over $139 billion in damages. But private insurers themselves only covered about 25% of these costs ($33 billion), leaving the federal government and its public insurance enterprises to pay for the majority of the remaining claims. As a result, the U.S. government paid more than three times as much as private insurers did for climate-related disasters in 2012.

That reflects a major shift in liabilities with respect to climate change away from private insurers to public alternatives that began in earnest following the $72 billion hit the industry took in 2005 from hurricane Katrina.

Federal spending related to climate disruption falls into two major categories: Storms and droughts.

Spending related to storms includes appropriated funds for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as well as emergency supplemental appropriations following major disasters, such as Superstorm Sandy. It also includes the National Flood Insurance Program, which is supposed to be self-supporting, but is increasingly under water.

Drought-related spending includes the federal crop insurance program as well as the government's share of higher food costs (see this post for more details).

The figure below shows how the federal climate disruption budget breaks down.

While some of these federal programs-such as forest fire prevention, crop insurance, flood coverage, and disaster preparedness-offer wider benefits to the country, it should be noted that these liabilities have largely been assumed by the public sector due to a lack of private sector alternatives. The true scorekeepers of climate risk-the insurance industry-realizes it can't win when the dice are increasingly loaded with carbon pollution, so it's walking away from the table, leaving taxpayers holding the bag. Last year that cost amounted to over $1100 per taxpayer, and we can expect to see even higher costs in future as CO2 concentrations continue to soar past 400 parts per million.

Even as the budget to clean up climate disruptions hit a record high in 2012 and is expected to continue to grow, the budget for programs to fight climate disruption-such as environmental enforcement, energy efficiency, clean energy vehicle research, and ARPA-E-suffered cuts of more than $100 million the "sequester" that went into effect in March and remain under continued pressure from the budget-cutting process.

Our climate plan is, in effect, to cut critical investments now for the sake of small short-term deficit reductions and send our children the tax bills to clean up the mess.

That's colossally short-sighted, even by Washington standards.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Rep. Mark Sanford supported action on climate change and environmental issues

Tuesday's election of former Gov. Mark Sanford to the House of Representatives in South Carolina raises a crucial climate change question. Will Sanford, like so many other Republican politicians, flip-flop on his acceptance of human-caused...
Newly elected Rep. Mark Sanford