Regulating Carbon Emissions: Moving from Rhetoric to Reality on Climate Action
Experts from different fields and from all around Ohio joined together for a teleconference today to share their perspectives on the benefits of regulating carbon pollution from power plants and the urgent need to finalize the carbon pollution rule, proposed in April 2012. The rule would, for the first time, set national limits on the amount of carbon pollution emissions that can come from power plants built in the future.
“The President and Congress have the authority to act, and are compelled to by the Clean Air Act to mitigate climate change pollution,” said David Beach, director of the Green City Blue Lake Institute, the sustainability center of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. “We have come together today to urge action on this important environmental and economic priority.”
Every year, power plants produce 2 billion tons of pollution, contributing to climate change and creating conditions that lead to increased health risks for children and seniors including more asthma attacks, heart attacks and premature deaths. More extreme and deadly weather events like floods, intense storms, drought and heat waves are occurring. According to the Center for American Progress, there were 25 extreme weather events with damages of more than $1 billion during the time period of 2011-2012. These events left more than 1,100 people dead and the economic costs reached nearly $188 billion.
Dr. Brent Sohngen, a Professor of environmental economics at the Ohio State University and co-author of sections of the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, discussed the effects of climate on Ohio’s farming sector.
“All farm output is climate sensitive,” said Dr. Sohngen. “Crops in Ohio, such as corn and soy, will be heavily impacted in a negative way by climate impacts that we will see over the next century. For every one degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature, we expect to see a 2.7 percent reduction in corn yields. Climate models project we could see increases anywhere between four and 15 degrees by the end of this century.”
In addition to protecting our air and agricultural environments, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulation of greenhouse gas emissions has the potential to make a more energy-efficient and globally competitive economy in the future. History demonstrates that good jobs and a clean environment work hand in hand in the 21st century.
“In the long run, the real choice is not jobs or the environment; It's both or neither,” said Lee Geisse, regional program manager for the BlueGreen Alliance. “If we believe in a future with good jobs, a clean environment and a safer world, then we must act to prevent the effects of climate change. We can do this while making our economy and environment prosper.”
For many Ohioans, faith and spirituality have compelled them to action on climate change as a deeply moral imperative. Being good stewards of creation, faith leaders from Ohio and around the country have joined the movement to protect our environment.
“Climate change is also an environmental justice issue,” said Dr. Greg Hitzhusen, lecturer in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at the Ohio State University and board chair of Ohio Interfaith Power and Light. “Climate impacts impose a disparate burden on the poor and vulnerable on our planet. There is widespread support among congregations in Ohio to care for creation and respond with action now.”
There is widespread agreement that Lake Erie is a treasured resource for Ohioans. Lake Erie is the most biologically productive of all the Great Lakes, often producing more fish for human consumption than all the other Great Lakes combined. However, climate change now threatens this as its water levels, already below average, could drop four to five feet by the end of this century, significantly altering shoreline habitat and decreasing water quality.
“Just as we saw with Hurricane Sandy, an increase in extreme storms will also impact shoreline inhabitants like it did in Northeast Ohio,” said Hyle Lowry, Ohio outreach coordinator for the Alliance for the Great Lakes. “Lake Erie is viewed as the Walleye Capital of the World, but heavy rainfall and flooding caused by climate change will have an environmental and economic impact on our area.”
President Obama has repeatedly talked about his obligation to address the causes of climate change. Setting limits on dangerous industrial carbon pollution are a logical step, starting with the most important step of limiting carbon from power plants, which are the biggest pollution source in the U.S. Millions of Americans support this course of action.
These new standards, when taken together with other air quality standards proposed to cut pollutants will help to protect health and create jobs by encouraging the development of cleaner, safer technologies.
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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The Washington Redskins will retire their controversial name and logo, the National Football League (NFL) team announced Monday.
By Alyssa Murdoch, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and Sapna Sharma
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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A heat wave that set in over the South and Southwest left much of the U.S. blanketed in record-breaking triple digit temperatures over the weekend. The widespread and intense heat wave will last for weeks, making the magnitude and duration of its heat impressive, according to The Washington Post.
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By Joni Sweet
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.
Interviews With Contact Tracers<p>Contact tracing is a public health strategy that involves identifying everyone who may have been in contact with a person who has the coronavirus. Contact tracers collect information and provide guidance to help contain the transmission of disease.</p><p>It's been used during outbreaks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Ebola, measles, and now the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.</p><p>It starts when the local department of health gets a report of a confirmed case of the coronavirus in its community and gives that person a call. The contact tracer usually provides information on how to isolate and when to get treatment, then tries to figure out who else the person may have exposed.</p><p>"We ask who they've been in contact with in the 48 hours prior to symptom onset, or 2 days before the date of their positive test if they don't have symptoms," said <a href="https://case.edu/medicine/healthintegration/people/heidi-gullett" target="_blank">Dr. Heidi Gullett</a>, associate director of the Center for Community Health Integration at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and medical director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health in Ohio.</p>
“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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NASA scientists say that warmer than average surface sea temperatures in the North Atlantic raise the concern for a more active hurricane season, as well as for wildfires in the Amazon thousands of miles away, according to Newsweek.