Environment - May 23
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Study says inaction on climate change could cost trillions
Bob Keefe, Austin American-Statesman
Higher energy and water costs, hurricane losses would add up; Congress to take up legislation next month.
If the United States doesn't do something soon to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it could cost the country $3.8 trillion annually from higher energy and water costs, real estate losses from hurricanes, rising sea levels and other problems, an environmental group predicted Thursday. Southern states could bear the highest costs.
The study by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Tufts University comes as Congress is set to take up controversial global warming legislation next month.
The Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008, sponsored by Sens. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn. and John Warner, R-Va., would create a carbon "cap and trade" system that would force power companies, manufacturers and the transportation industry to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 4 percent below 2005 levels by 2012, and 71 percent by 2050.
(23 May 2008)
Oceans turning acidic decades earlier
Roger Highfield, UK Telegraph
Greenhouse gases are turning the oceans acidic enough to dissolve the shells of sea creatures decades earlier than scientists had expected, with potentially catastrophic consequences for marine life.
Many marine organisms produce calcium carbonate (chalk) shells but, when the acidity of the water is increased, a point is reached at which that calcium carbonate starts to dissolve.
Today an American team publishes evidence that this acidic "tipping point" has been reached on the continental shelf along the west coast of North America, where many delicate organisms live.
(22 May 2008)
A sea of synthetic trash
Unnati Gandhi, Globe and Mail
Out in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, hundreds of kilometres from land, Captain Charles Moore stood at the bow of his 50-foot catamaran and looked toward the horizon. But instead of gliding along calm, sapphire-coloured waters glistening in the afternoon sun, his aluminum-hulled Alguita carved through a sea of shiny, modern-day refuse.
For days on end, it was plastic, plastic, everywhere.
That was nearly 11 years ago. Capt. Moore was returning to his home in Southern California from a sailing race in Hawaii.
With some time to spare that Aug. 3, 1997, he decided to take a slightly longer route home, one that would see him sail through a stretch of ocean historically avoided by even the most weathered sailors. The 26-million-square-kilometre area known as the North Pacific Gyre is essentially free of wind - a kind of ocean desert - and its slow-moving, clockwise vortex of water is nearly impossible to plow through.
What he discovered at the heart of the deep swirls were miles upon miles of water bottles, plastic tarpaulins, dolls and furniture that have been collecting there for as long as 60 years.
This plastic soup, with billions of tiny shards of the synthetic material floating just below the surface of the water, is estimated to span an area 11/2 times the size of the continental United States.
(19 May 2008)
China's Environmental Conditions And The Olympics (video)
Scott Nance, Energy Policy TV
Washington, DC - Jennifer Turner, Director, China Environment Forum at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Scott Nance, Content Acquisition Manager, Energy Policy TV
Turner is interviewed on energy demand and environmental conditions in China leading up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Turner discusses China's long-term energy and environmental concerns, as well.
Related content found at:
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
(21 May 2008)
Turner is articulate and knowledge in this wide-ranging interview about China's environment. -BA