Climate change

New climate plans would cut projected warming levels

Read the full post at EnvironmentalReseachWeb.

Climate change analysts say latest commitments by China, the US and Europe on emissions cuts could mean significant progress towards ensuring that global average temperatures this century will rise less than predicted.

NASA-USGS Climate Data App Challenge: An Invitation for Innovation

NASA in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is offering more than $35,000 in prizes to citizen scientists for ideas that make use of climate data to address vulnerabilities faced by the United States in coping with climate change.

The Climate Resilience Data Challenge, conducted through the NASA Tournament Lab, a partnership with Harvard University hosted on Appirio/Topcoder, kicks off Monday, Dec. 15 and runs through March 2015.

The challenge supports the efforts of the White House Climate Data Initiative, a broad effort to leverage the federal government’s extensive, freely available climate-relevant data resources to spur innovation and private-sector entrepreneurship in order to advance awareness of and preparedness for the impacts of climate change. The challenge was announced by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Dec. 9.

According to the recent National Climate Assessment produced by more than 300 experts across government and academia, the United States faces a number of current and future challenges as the result of climate change. Vulnerabilities include coastal flooding and weather-related hazards that threaten lives and property, increased disruptions to agriculture, prolonged drought that adversely affects food security and water availability, and ocean acidification capable of damaging ecosystems and biodiversity. The challenge seeks to unlock the potential of climate data to address these and other climate risks.

“Federal agencies, such as NASA and the USGS, traditionally focus on developing world-class science data to support scientific research, but the rapid growth in the innovation community presents new opportunities to encourage wider usage and application of science data to benefit society,” said Kevin Murphy, NASA program executive for Earth Science Data Systems in Washington. “We need tools that utilize federal data to help our local communities improve climate resilience, protect our ecosystems, and prepare for the effects of climate change.”

“Government science follows the strictest professional protocols because scientific objectivity is what the American people expect from us,” said Virginia Burkett, acting USGS associate director for Climate Change and Land Use. “That systematic approach is fundamental to our mission. With this challenge, however, we are intentionally looking outside the box for transformational ways to apply the data that we have already carefully assembled for the benefit of communities across the nation.”

The challenge begins with an ideation stage for data-driven application pitches, followed by storyboarding and, finally, prototyping of concepts with the greatest potential.

The ideation stage challenges competitors to imagine new applications of climate data to address climate vulnerabilities. This stage is divided into three competitive classes based on data sources: NASA data, federal data from agencies such as the USGS, and any open data. The storyboarding stage allows competitors to conceptualize and design the best ideas, followed by the prototyping stage, which carry the best ideas into implementation.

The Climate Resilience Data Challenge is managed by NASA’s Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation at NASA Headquarters, Washington. The center was established in coordination with the Office of Science and Technology Policy to advance open innovation efforts for climate-related science and extend that expertise to other federal agencies.

For additional information and to register (beginning Dec. 15), visit the Climate Resilience Data Challenge website.

Trees are fed up with our carbon, refuse to grow faster

Read the full post in Grist.

Scientists have long expected extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to boost tree growth — the climate-changing waste product of our fuel-burning ways is plant food, after all. But a new study suggests that trees in tropical rainforests around the world are not in fact growing any faster, even as CO2 levels in the air shoot past 400 parts per million.

Climate Change Performance Index: Global Shift Needs Further Action

Read the full story from the World Resources Institute.

Global emissions have reached a new peak, but recent developments indicate a new readiness for action on climate protection. This is the message of the 10th edition of the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI); a ranking of the climate protection performance of the 58 highest emitters worldwide published by Germanwatch and CAN Europe at the UN Climate Conference in Lima yesterday.

Public Perceptions of the Health Consequences of Global Warming

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A new report, Public Perceptions of the Health Consequences of Global Warming, which analyzes results from our national survey conducted in October 2014, finds that Americans are generally unaware of the potential health consequences of global warming. Key findings include:

  • Few Americans have thought much about the health consequences of global warming. Asked how often, if ever, before taking this survey they had thought about how global warming might affect people’s health, seven in 10 said they had given the issue little or no thought. Only one in 10 said they had given the issue a “great deal” of thought and only about two in 10 (22%) said they had thought about it a “moderate amount.”
  • Few Americans are aware of any current health consequences of global warming. When asked “In your view, what health problems related to global warming are Americans experiencing, if any?” a majority either didn’t answer the question (43%) – which likely indicates they didn’t have an answer – or answered that they “don’t know” (14%).  Only one in four (27%) named at least one health problem related to global warming, and 10% answered, incorrectly, that there are no health problems associated with global warming.
  • Moreover, with the exception of respiratory problems including asthma and other lung diseases (14%) and illness, injury, and death caused by extreme weather (6%), fewer than 5% of Americans identified any of the other health consequences of global warming.
  • When asked “Do you think some groups or types of Americans are more likely than other Americans to experience health problems related to global warming?” only one in three Americans (32%) answered, correctly, that some groups of Americans are more likely than others to have their health harmed by global warming; most survey participants are either “not sure” (45%) or said no group is at higher risk (23%).
  • Only one in three Americans (31%) thinks global warming is currently harming the health of people in the U.S. a “great deal” or a “moderate amount,” while one in six thinks their own health (17%) or the health of others in their household (17%) is being harmed to that degree.
  • Four in ten Americans (39%) think global warming will harm the health of people in the U.S. a “moderate amount” or “great deal” over the next five to 10 years, while nearly three in ten think their own health (27%) or the health of others in their household (28%) will be harmed over this time period.
  • When asked if specific health problems will become more or less common over the next 10 years in their community due to global warming, more than one third of Americans think the following conditions will become more common: air pollution, including smog (38%); pollen-related allergies (38%); asthma/other lung diseases (37%); heat stroke (36%); and bodily harm from severe storms and/or hurricanes (34%).
  • Few Americans are aware of the current or projected future health impacts of global warming worldwide. A plurality of Americans say they are not sure how many people worldwide are currently injured, made ill, or die each year – or will each year 50 years from now – as a result of global warming. Many others (21% to 33%) think no people will suffer health consequences from global warming, either now or in the future.
  • By contrast, only 12 to 15 percent of Americans think that thousands or millions of people worldwide currently die or are sickened or injured due to global warming, and only 25 to 28 percent think that thousands or millions will die, be injured or made ill each year 50 years from now due to global warming.
  • When asked whether certain government agencies or branches should do more or less to protect people from global warming-related health problems, nearly half of Americans think the following should do more: federal agencies such as the CDC, NIH, or FEMA (47%); the U.S. Congress (46%); and their state government (44%)

While more Americans support rather than oppose funding increases for government agencies to protect the public from health problems related to global warming, the largest group of Americans – approximately three in ten – has no opinion on this matter.

When asked whether they trust or distrust various sources of information about health problems related to global warming, Americans are most likely to say they trust: their primary-care doctor (49% trust him or her “strongly” or “moderately”); family/friends (41%); and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (41%). By contrast, Americans are least likely to trust religious leaders and U.S. military leaders on this subject.

These findings come from a nationally-representative survey – Climate Change in the American Mind – conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. Interview dates: October 17-28, 2014. Interviews: 1,275 Adults (18+).
Total average margin of error: +/- 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The 11th Hour Project, the Grantham Foundation, the Energy Foundation, the V.K. Rasmussen Foundation, and the National Science Foundation funded the research.

Red states more likely to be burned by climate change

Read the full story in Grist.

Yuma, Colo., a farming town of 3,500 people near the Kansas border, celebrated last month as homegrown Republican Cory Gardner was elected to the U.S. Senate. Gardner, a high school football player and the son of a farm equipment dealer, defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall to help the GOP gain control of the Senate in the second-most expensive congressional race of all time

Climate models project that Gardner’s current House district — along with much of the food-producing Great Plains and Corn Belt — will experience the country’s most drastic temperature and precipitation changes in the coming years. Gardner’s home turf, one of the 10 largest congressional districts in terms of agricultural area, will likely face a temperature increase of more than 8 degrees F and a more than 9 percent drop-off in precipitation by 2100 — among the most extreme projections for the country.

That’s according to analysis from a forthcoming peer-reviewed study in the journal Ecosphere by Brady Allred of the University of Montana and colleagues. Allred’s study looked at political representation, agricultural, and natural-resources land cover, and projected climate disruptions across the nation’s 435 U.S. House districts. The researchers discovered that the districts with the most agriculture and natural resources are predominantly represented by Republicans who, like Gardner, generally deny the science of global warming. Those districts also likely face the most severe climate changes.

Health Care Leaders Recognize Climate Risk, Take Action

Read the full post from the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

All over the country, American communities depend on hospitals to provide essential services – at all times and under every possible circumstance. That’s why today, as part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is releasing a voluntary climate resilience guide for health care providers, design professionals, policymakers, and others to promote continuity of care before, during, and after extreme weather events. The new guide addresses a wide range of health care facility vulnerabilities and identifies best practices that health care organizations can adopt to improve their climate readiness.