President Obama Urged to Outline Plan to Tackle Global Warming in State of the Union
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In his Inaugural Address last month, President Obama committed to addressing global warming with strong words:
“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
We expect the president to follow up on this commitment in his State of the Union address tonight.
From Hurricane Sandy to the worst drought since the Dust Bowl, far too many Americans have already been affected by extreme weather events fueled by global warming pollution. Scientists warn that these events will grow more common and more severe unless we cut emissions of the carbon pollution fueling global warming, rein in our energy use by making our homes and businesses more efficient, and swiftly ramp up our production of truly clean, renewable energy like wind and solar power.
Here's some helpful background information on the issues that need to be addressed:
EXTREME WEATHER AND GLOBAL WARMING: Numerous studies have outlined how global warming fuels extreme weather events, ranging from heavy downpours and flooding to devastating droughts and deadly heat waves. Our In the Path of the Storm report found that four out of five Americans live in counties that were hit by at least one weather-related disaster between 2006 and 2011. And our When It Rains, It Pours report found that extreme rainstorms and snowstorms are happening 30 percent more frequently on average today than they were in 1948, and dropping 10 percent more precipitation.
CLEANING UP THE LARGEST SOURCES OF CARBON POLLUTION: We know that the largest sources of carbon pollution fueling global warming are our cars and trucks, and our power plants. The Obama administration made historic progress toward cutting emissions from our cars and trucks in its first term when it finalized clean car standards that will raise fuel efficiency standards to 54.5 mpg by 2025, easily the largest step the U.S. has taken to cut global warming pollution. Now in its second term, the Obama administration is using its Clean Air Act authority to develop carbon pollution limits for new power plants, and is expected to soon propose carbon pollution limits for existing power plants as well. More than 3.1 million Americans submitted public comments in 2012 in support of the Obama administration setting strong limits on carbon pollution from power plants.
BUILDING EFFICIENCY: Powering America’s buildings accounts for 36 percent of our nation’s total energy use. And because much of this energy comes from dirty and dangerous sources like coal, oil, and natural gas, powering America’s buildings is responsible for nearly one-third of our global warming emissions. Too much of this energy is wasted because of poor insulation, leaky windows, inefficient lighting, heating or cooling systems, and poor construction techniques. By Building a Better America we can reduce energy use in buildings 24 percent and cut global warming emissions from building use 30 percent by 2030. President Obama should use his existing executive authority to make our nation more energy efficient as a necessary step in addressing global warming. As first steps, he should direct federal agencies to undergo all cost-effective retrofits and be leaders in energy efficiency, encourage the Federal Housing Finance Agency to establish guidelines and rules to allow for residential PACE financing, and make sure that appliance energy-savings standards are set in a timely fashion.
WIND AND SOLAR POWER: To avoid the worst effects of global warming, we must quickly and responsibly ramp up our production of clean, renewable energy like wind and solar power. Wind energy is a true American success story and is already powering 13 million homes across the country. According to a report by Environment America Research & Policy Center, Wind Power for a Cleaner America, our production of wind power avoids as much global warming pollution as taking 13 million cars off the road and saves enough water to power a city the size of Boston each year.
OFFSHORE WIND: Our country has enormous potential to harness the wind that blows off our coasts to produce pollution-free, renewable energy. We are getting closer than ever to having turbines spinning off our coasts. The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has announced lease sales notices for wind energy areas in waters off of Virginia, Rhode Island and Massachusetts and the Department of Energy is investing in seven offshore wind pilot projects to spur innovation and development. President Obama should continue to promote the responsible development of our offshore wind resources.
Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Eoin Higgins
Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.
<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
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Summer has finally arrived in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, liberating hundreds of thousands of northern stream fish from their wintering habitats.
A Good News Story?<p>On the surface, the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/fwb.13569" target="_blank">results from our study</a> appear to provide a "good news" story. Warming temperatures were linked to higher numbers of fish, more species overall and, therefore, potentially more fishing opportunities for northerners.</p><p>Initially, we were surprised to learn that warming was increasing the distribution of cold-adapted fish. We reasoned that modest amounts of warming could lead to benefits such as increased food and winter habitat availability without reaching stressful levels for many species.</p>
Photo of Arctic grayling (left) and Dolly Varden trout (right). Alyssa Murdoch / Lilian Tran / Nunavik Research Centre and Tracey Loewen / Fisheries and Oceans Canada<p>Yet, not all fish species fared equally well. Ecologically unique northern species — those that have evolved in colder, more nutrient-poor environments, such as Arctic grayling and Dolly Varden trout — were showing declines with warming.</p>
Fish Strandings and Buried Eggs<p>Recent news headlines run the gamut for Pacific salmon — from their increased escapades <a href="https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/more-pacific-salmon-showing-up-in-western-arctic-waters/" target="_blank">into the Arctic</a> to <a href="https://www.juneauempire.com/news/warm-waters-across-alaska-cause-salmon-die-offs/" target="_blank">massive pre-spawning die-offs</a> in central Alaska. Similarly, results from our study revealed different outcomes for fish depending on local climatic conditions, including Pacific salmon.</p><p>We found that warmer spring and fall temperatures may be helping juvenile salmon by providing a longer and more plentiful growing season, and by supporting early egg development in northern regions that were previously too cold for survival.</p><p>In contrast, salmon declined in regions that were experiencing wetter fall conditions, pointing to an increased risk of flooding and sedimentation that could bury or dislodge incubating eggs.</p>
Headwaters of the Wind River within the largely intact Peel River watershed in northern Canada. Don Reid / Wildlife Conservation Society Canada / Author provided<p>Interestingly, we found that certain climatic combinations, such as warmer summer water temperatures with decreased summer rainfall, were important in determining where Pacific salmon could survive. Summer warming in drier watersheds led to declines, suggesting that lowered streamflows may have increased the risk of fish becoming stranded in subpar habitats that were too warm and crowded.</p>
The Fate of Northern Fisheries<p>The promise of a warmer and more accessible Arctic has attracted mounting interest in new economic opportunities, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2019.103637" target="_blank">including fisheries</a>. As warming rates at higher latitudes are already <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank">two to three times global levels</a>, it seems probable that northern biodiversity will experience dramatic shifts in the coming decades.</p><p>Despite the many unknowns surrounding the future of Pacific salmon, many fisheries are currently <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/03632415.2017.1374251" target="_blank">thriving following warmer and more productive northern oceans</a>, and some <a href="https://doi.org/10.14430/arctic68876" target="_blank">Arctic Indigenous communities are developing new salmon fisheries</a>.</p><p>As warming continues, the commercial salmon fishing industry is poised to expand northwards, but its success will largely depend on extenuating factors such as <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060023067" target="_blank">changes to marine habitat and food sources</a> and <a href="https://www.yukon-news.com/news/promising-chinook-salmon-run-failed-to-materialize-in-the-yukon-river-panel-hears/" target="_blank">how many fish are caught during the freshwater stages of their journey</a>.</p><p>Even with the potential for increased northern biodiversity, it is important to recognize that some northern communities may be unable to adapt or may <a href="https://thenarwhal.ca/searching-for-the-yukon-rivers-missing-chinook/" target="_blank">lose individual species that are associated with important cultural values</a>.</p>
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If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus.
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“You’ve Been Exposed”<p>After the case interview, contact tracers will get to work calling the folks who may have been exposed to the coronavirus by the person who tested positive.</p><p>"We give them recommendations about quarantining or isolating, getting tested, and what to do if they become sick. If they're not already sick, we still want them to self-quarantine so that they don't spread the disease to anyone else if they were to become sick," said Labus.</p><p>Generally, the contact tracer won't ask for additional contacts unless they happen to call someone who is sick or has a confirmed case of the virus. They will help ensure the contact has the resources they need to isolate themselves, if necessary. The contact tracer may continue to stay in touch with that person over the next 14 days.</p><p>"We follow the percentage of people that were contacts, then converted into being actual cases of the virus. It's an important marker to help us understand what kind of transmission happens in our community and how to control the virus," said Gullett.</p>
Why You Should Participate (and What Happens If You Don’t)<p>A <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30457-6/fulltext" target="_blank">Lancet study</a> from June 16, which looked at data from more than 40,000 people, found that COVID-19 transmission could be reduced by 64 percent through isolating those who have the coronavirus, quarantining their household, and contacting the people they may have exposed.</p><p>The combination strategy was significantly more effective than mass random testing or just isolating the sick person and members of their household.</p><p>However, contact tracing is only as effective as people's willingness to participate, and a small number of people who've contracted the coronavirus or were potentially exposed are reluctant to talk.</p><p>"Contact tracers have all been hung up on, cussed at, yelled at," said Gullet.</p><p>The hesitation to talk to contact tracers often stems from concerns over privacy — a serious issue in healthcare.</p>
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