Category Archives: climate change

Carbon Fee and Dividend In-Depth

From the Citizens Climate Lobby website:

The Basics of Carbon Fee and Dividend:
1. Place a steadily rising fee on fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas).
2. Give all of the revenue from the carbon fee back to households.
3. Use a border adjustment to discourage business relocation.
4. It’s good for the economy AND even better for the climate.

“…phased-in carbon fees on greenhouse gas emissions (1) are the most efficient, transparent, and enforceable mechanism to drive an effective and fair transition to a domestic-energy economy, (2) will stimulate investment in alternative-energy technologies, and (3) give all businesses powerful incentives to increase their energy-efficiency and reduce their carbon footprints in order to remain competitive…”

Read more.

Download Carbon Fee and Dividend, a full-text version of CCL’s Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal.

1952: Smoke pouring from the New Farm Power House in Brisbane, Australia caused numerous complaints from residents. Source: Wikimedia Commons

US Senate says climate change not caused by humans

Thank you SAFE member, Nancy Gilberg, for pointing out this story. It’s disturbing that so many elected officials don’t understand basic science.

From Sean Cockerham, McClatchy Washington Bureau:

The Senate rejected the scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change, days after NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared 2014 the hottest year ever recorded on Earth.

The Republican-controlled Senate defeated a measure Wednesday stating that climate change is real and that human activity significantly contributes to it. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, offered the measure as the Senate debated the Keystone XL pipeline, which would tap the carbon-intensive oil sands in the Canadian province of Alberta.

The Senate voted 50-49 on the measure, which required 60 votes in order to pass.

“Only in the halls of Congress is this a controversial piece of legislation,” Schatz said.

Read more.

Inhofe is greeted by a reporter

U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) (C) is greeted by a reporter as he arrives for the weekly Senate Republican caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 13, 2015.


Obama Just Got Very Good News About His Environmental Policies From A Federal Court

Two bits of good news in the West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency case (where the EPA is being charged with breaking the law when it sought to lower greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants). There is still no guarantee that the EPA will win, but the environmental community was happy to hear that two of the three judges who will hear the case are Democratic appointees. The parties that members of a judicial panel belong to has been shown in other cases to make a great deal of difference, especially for judges on the DC Circuit. EPA opponents also sought a delay, but were not granted it (a delay would have meant the emissions could have gone on for years).


“​At the very least, the fact that Democrats enjoy a majority on the West Virginia panel suggests that the EPA rules will not receive the same questionable treatment that Obamacare received in the Halbig case. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the EPA will prevail in the DC Circuit — or that the Supreme Court will not get involved if it does. But the environmental community undoubtedly breathed a sigh of relief when they saw the identity of the judges assigned to this case.​​”

Read more.

Look at this wonderful blog post from the National Wildlife Federation…

The survival of many species has been challenged by climate change. It’s really good news to hear that the National Wildlife Foundation is not only advocating for all the species gone (and all those that still may yet be lost), but also for renewable energy power sources as a possible solution for global warming/species extinction. A replacement by renewable energy sources of fossil fuels could completely change the mix that is destroying our planet.

From National Wildlife Foundation contributor, Amber Hewitt:

On Thursday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker will give his State of the Commonwealth address. He’ll reflect on the successes and challenges of 2015 and lay out his vision for the year ahead. Given the highly anticipated energy debate unfolding on Beacon Hill, we’ll be listening extra closely to his words on the Commonwealth’s energy challenges. There is no shortage of debate surrounding which energy sources should power our economy into the future. Gov. Baker’s words will underscore where his Administration stands in the critical energy conversation underway.

Read more.

national wildlife federation

Study: Gulf of Maine warming faster than thought

wpdms_nasa_topo_gulf_of_maineA new study shows that the waters in the Gulf of Maine, (which a previous study showed to be warming faster than 99.9 percent of the rest of the Earth’s oceans), are warming at an even faster rate than previously thought. The gulf sits at the intersection of two currents: the warmer water in the shifting Gulf Stream on the south and the colder water in the Arctic and Labrador streams to the north and east. Less of the colder water is entering the gulf, while more of the warmer water from the south is. The warming trend could result in a rise of 4 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 80 years. This would result in catastrophic changes in the region’s ecosystem. For example, the cod population would be dramatically affected, since their normal habitat is in colder water temperatures.

From Sean Horgan, Salem News Staff Writer:

“The Gulf of Maine is really being subjected to a one-two punch,” said Vincent Saba, a NOAA Fisheries scientist and lead author of the study. “On one hand, the region is dealing with the elements of global warming being experienced in all of the oceans, but there also has been a change in the circulation of the two gulf streams that feed into the Gulf of Maine.”

The result, according to Saba, is that more of the warmer water contained in the shifting Gulf Stream is making its way into the Gulf of Maine from the south, while less of the colder water from the Arctic and Labrador streams are entering the gulf from the north and east.

“The Gulf of Maine really sits at the intersection of those two currents,” Saba said.

(map source: Wikipedia, Gulf of Maine)

Read more.

Environmental Damage Is Bad Enough To Create A New Geologic Period

There has been scientific debate for more than ten years if the changes humans have been making to the planet actually comprise a new name-worthy geologic time period. A new study indicates that is indeed so.

From contributor Alejandro Davila Fragoso on 1/7/16:

Waters and other authors of the study — which gathered data from multiple other studies — said the amount of data available identifies various so-called signatures that can be found worldwide in a similar time and scale. This makes the case for the Anthropocene and its proposed starting date compelling, some authors said.

“It’s the things like the novel materials we’ve seen in the last 60 years,” said Waters, a principal geologist at the British Geological Survey. “It’s the way that the atmospheric geochemistry, the CO2 and the methane (have) changed dramatically in the last 60 years. It’s the general contamination from nitrates and phosphates, heavy metals, all the things that we looked at seem to show a very dramatic change in the mid 20th century.”

Read more.


Graph based on data from the U.S. Geological Survey. CREDIT: DYLAN PETROHILOS


The logging prevented in an average conservation project simply moves to an unprotected area. As a result, this kind of conservation effort is becoming ineffective, especially as it relates to preserving the earth’s rainforests to mitigate climate change.

From onEarth contributor, Brian Palmer (onEarth is published by the Natural Resources Defense Council​) —

…conservationists must coordinate their efforts at both the national and the international level. So far, however, global attempts to get on the same page have basically failed. According to a 2007 study in the journal Ecological Economics, at least 42 percent of the logging prevented in an average conservation project simply moves elsewhere. In many cases, that figure can be as high as 95 percent—rendering conservation efforts essentially useless from a climate change perspective.

Read more.

rain forest

An aerial image shows the contrast between forest and agriculture land in Brazil (PHOTO: KATE EVANS, CIFOR/FLICKR)

Daily Diagnosis: Tropical Diseases Moving North Toward US


From the American Society for Clinical Pathology and BulletinHealthcare: due to climate change, disease-carrying insects are making their way father and father north.

Tropical Diseases Moving North Toward US.

In a nearly 1,200-word article, the New York Times (1/5, D3, McNeil, Subscription Publication) reports that as mosquitoes and ticks are able to expand their ranges due to climate change, tropical diseases, including Lyme, West Nile, Chagas, dengue, chikungunya, and Zika, are moving north. Scientists say that while this does not mean epidemics are imminent, as a “set of factors far more complex than the weather” will determine whether a full outbreak occurs. However, they say some factors “are, for now, unstoppable, scientists say: the weather is hotter; cheap airfares mean humans travel more than they did decades ago; and cities in tropical countries are becoming more crowded, creating nurseries for each disease.” Meanwhile, “other factors can be manipulated to stop outbreaks: insects can be killed; patients can be cured before they are bitten again; vaccines can be developed; and simple measures like screens, air-conditioning and bug spray can play big roles.”

Forbes (1/4) contributor Judy Stone gives an overview of the Zika virus, describes its’ origin, how it spreads, the symptoms associated with the virus, prevention, travel and treatment. Given her overview, Stone concludes that “with globalization and climate change, we can expect to see more and more similar infectious.” She predicts that viruses like dengue, Chikungunya and Zika “are likely to be growing problems in the US over the coming year or two.”

Read the Forbes and the New York Times articles.

California’s gas leak is doing 7 million cars’ worth of climate damage

Natural gas has been pouring into a Los Angeles neighborhood since October 23. It’s considered to be the biggest environmental disaster since the Deepwater Horizon oil leak. It could be months before the methane leak is stopped. An estimate of the impact on climate change (methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, stronger than carbon dioxide) has been equated to driving seven million cars FOR THE NEXT TWENTY YEARS.

David McNew/AFP/Getty Images

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​Utilities under pressure to fix leaky gas pipes

​This story by Christian M. Wade​,​ Statehouse Reporter​, was printed in the 12/26/15 edition of the Salem News. ​​Representative Lori ​Ehrlich file​d​ ​a ​bill to prevent utilities from passing ​the ​bulk of costs​ of gas leaks​ on to ratepayers​. ​A Harvard University study​ revealed that the cost of these leaks is $90,000,000 a year. Also, the effect of​ natural gas escaping into the atmosphere contributes to climate change, since methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.​

BOSTON — Utilities are under growing pressure from lawmakers and environmental groups to plug tens of thousands of leaks in aging underground gas pipelines, some of which are decades old.
An interactive map of leaks[NOTE: as reported by th​​e​ various​​​ local utilit​ies​ on ​2/26/2015​] throughout the state posted by a Cambridge nonprofit group, the Home Energy Efficiency Team, pinpoints tends of thousands of leaks, some of them major. The map uses data provided by National Grid, Eversource, Columbia Gas and other providers.
A law passed last year requires the utilities to track and grade all gas leaks on a scale of 1 to 3, with 1 being most serious, and immediately repair the most hazardous. The law also requires utilities to share the information with the public.
Read more.

2-26-15 map of gas leaks in Salem MA

The map of leaks in Salem, as reported by th​​e​ local utilit​y​ on ​2/26/2015​. Go to HEET’s website (Home Energy Efficiency Team) for a more detailed look at Salem’s map, and those of other communities.