Energy and Global Warming News for May 8th: Global warming — it’s a health hazard

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"Energy and Global Warming News for May 8th: Global warming — it’s a health hazard"

Warming – it’s a health hazard

Global warming won’t just affect our planet – it will also affect our health, says Ainslie Macgibbon.

“Climate change will affect, in profoundly adverse ways, some of the most fundamental determinants of health: food, air, water,” the director-general of the World Health Organisation, Margaret Chan, says.

It is an alarming scenario – and one that hit home in Australia this year after the deadly heatwave and bushfires in Victoria and the devastating floods in Queensland.

There were 374 more deaths than what would normally be expected during the January heatwave in Victoria, according to an assessment released by the Victorian Chief Medical Officer. The deaths represented a 62 per cent increase in total mortality from all causes.

Read the whole piece for a discussion of

  • Increase in FOOD AND WATER pathogens
  • Increase in MENTAL HEALTH problems and PTSD
  • Increase in HEAT WAVE deaths
  • Increase in MOSQUITO-BORNE DISEASE
  • Increase in OZONE and AIR QUALITY problems

Climate change displacement has begun – but hardly anyone has noticed

The first evacuation of an entire community due to manmade global warming is happening on the Carteret Islands.

Rising sea levels have eroded much of the coastlines of the low-lying Carteret Islands situated 50 miles from Bougainville Island, in the South Pacific.

Journalists – they’re never around when you want one. Two weeks ago a momentous event occurred: the beginning of the world’s first evacuation of an entire people as a result of manmade global warming. It has been marked so far by one blog post for the Ecologist and an article in the Solomon Times*. Where is everyone?

The Carteret Islands are off the coast of Bougainville, which, in turn, is off the coast of Papua New Guinea. They are small coral atolls on which 2,600 people live. Though not for much longer.

Clean Energy for the Tennessee Valley?

Even as it works to clean up last December’s coal-ash spill, the Tennessee Valley Authority is trying to figure out how to add wind power to its largely coal, nuclear and hydro mix.

The T.V.A., a giant, federally-operated power provider that was set up during the New Deal, is not subject to a mandate to produce renewable power. But it has seen the writing on the wall when it comes to federal policy, according to Joe Hoagland, the T.V.A.’s vice-president of environmental science, technology and policy.

T.V.A. currently gets less than 1 percent of its power from wind and solar power and methane gas from a wastewater treatment plant. About 60 percent of its generation comes from coal plants, plus another 30 percent from nuclear and around 10 percent from dams.

T.V.A. is looking to make its dams run more efficiently, and to add additional nuclear units. It also hopes to purchase some 2,000 megawatts of renewable power, or about 6 percent of its current peak load. Mostly, T.V.A. is looking to add wind power from the Dakotas and elsewhere in the Midwest. Solar, said Mr. Hoagland, is “hard to justify” because of the costs.

US won’t drop cap-and-trade auctions: White House

The White House is committed to auctioning off polluter permits under a ‘cap-and-trade’ system to fight climate change, a top official said Thursday in remarks likely to anger US industry.

“You should anticipate no changes in our climate proposals,” Office of Management and Budget chief Peter Orszag told reporters, despite reported hints that President Barack Obama might now compromise about the auctions.

I suspect that the reporter didn’t quite get what Orszag is saying here.  The compromise was always inevitable.

Ambitious California Program Aids Renewables, Efficiency and Water

In March, my colleague Leslie Kaufman wrote about an innovative solar financing scheme taking root in Palm Desert and other California locales, in which homeowners can avoid the high up-front costs by paying for a solar system gradually, through higher property taxes.

Sonoma County appears to have taken the model to its most ambitious level. The county has just launched a program that is notable both for its hefty, $100 million price tag, and also for including energy efficiency and water conservation measures along with solar panels.

‘Smart Turbine Blades’ To Improve Wind Power

Researchers have developed a technique that uses sensors and computational software to constantly monitor forces exerted on wind turbine blades, a step toward improving efficiency by adjusting for rapidly changing wind conditions.

Do Carbon Offsets Cause Emissions to Rise?

Michael Wara, a law professor and energy expert at Stanford’s Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, has cast new doubts on the efficacy of the European Union’s Emissions Trading System, which is the model for a carbon-capping system foreseen in the United States.

Mr. Wara wrote in an e-mail message to Green Inc. that European-based polluters are likely to buy so many permits from carbon-reduction projects based outside the trade bloc that industries will have emitted roughly 1 percent more in 2008 than they did in 1990.

I’m not sure this last story is news to CP readers, but worth reporting.

Compiled by Max Luken and Carlin Rosengarten

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13 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for May 8th: Global warming — it’s a health hazard

  1. MarkB says:

    Useful graphic and study on the home page of the CBO:

    http://www.cbo.gov/

  2. Robert says:

    “Energy and Global Warming News for May 8th: Globlal warming — it’s a health hazard”

    Plays havoc with your spelling as well…

  3. Sasparilla says:

    Nice one here by Manbiot:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2009/may/07/monbiot-climate-change-evacuation

    The first evacuation of an entire community due to manmade global warming is happening on the Carteret Islands although nobody is noticing.

  4. “Energy Independence: Consequences for Human Health” was a conference in Berkeley in 1981 sponsored by AAAS, bringing together top experts in a variety of fields to lay out their visions. I think we need a similar conference today. Great bit on Letterman.

  5. Gail says:

    Being burnt to death is also a health hazard:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090508/ap_on_re_us/us_wildfires

    C’mon people. Who are we kidding here?

  6. Rick says:

    the obvious rebut to this is that winter is a health hazard – people die from the cold and by trying to keep warm with indoor combustibles as well as getting heart attacks from pushing snow, broken hips slipping on ice, you name it.

    the trouble with being alive is the 100% mortality rate

  7. paulm says:

    Hell and High water – looks like its arriving!

  8. Gail says:

    Rick, that would be funny, except we are talking about a 100% mortality rate for entire species, not just any particular individual. 30,000 species are going extinct every year.

    http://www.actionbioscience.org/newfrontiers/eldredge2.html

  9. Ron Cram says:

    I am amazed people are still worried about global warming. In a peer-reviewed paper in 2002, Bratcher and Giese predicted a shift in climate regime back to a cool phase, such as existed from about 1942 to 1975. That finally happened in late 2007 at the same time the PDO shifted to its cool phase. What is interesting is that a number of other peer-reviewed papers came out in 2007, as well, showing AGW would not be catastrophic. These include the paper by Stephen Schwartz of Brookhaven National Lab and a paper by Petr Chylek from Los Alamos National Lab, both coming to a much lower than usual estimate of climate sensitivity to doubled CO2. Roy Spencer of UAH also published in 2007 on his discovery of a new negative feedback over the tropics he identified as the Infrared Iris Effect hypothesized by Richard Lindzen of MIT. Since 2007, there have been a number of other papers too numerous to mention supporting the view AGW will not be catastrophic. Perhaps the most important work, however, has been the work done on Ocean Heat Content. Jim Hansen had claimed the earth’s energy budget was out of balance and that excess heat was being stored in the oceans. This excess heat was “heat in the pipeline” as he called it. That is really not a very good term because it makes it sound as though heat in the atmosphere is more important than heat in the oceans. It’s not true. The best indicator of global warming is ocean heat content. According to data from ARGO network and all of the recent papers, ocean heat content has not increased since 2003. If the earth’s heat budget were really out of balance, heat would be increasing every year… year over year. Heat in the atmosphere has been decreasing since 2005. 2009 is cooler than 2008. 2008 was cooler than 2007. 2007 was cooler than 2006. 2006 was cooler than 2005. Anyone see a pattern here?

  10. C. Vink says:

    ‘Do Carbon Offsets Cause Emissions to Rise?’.

    In the Dutch newspaper ‘De Volkskrant’ ExxonMobil Benelux CEO Joost van Roost says today (May 9th):

    ‘A direct carbon tax would be much better [than carbon trade]. (…) A tax is more predictable and more transparent. Companies can take it into account. Also a tax system is easier than a system that requires administration of the offsets of each company.’

    According to the author of the article, VK staff editor Michael Persson, ExxonMobil boss Rex Tillerson thinks carbon trade is not the mechanism of choice to force companies to lower their emissions too.
    [Tillersons lousy environmental record is well known (see e.g. Joe's piece 'NYT suckered by ExxonMobil in puff piece titled “Green is for Sissies”').]

    How to judge this? Does this tell us anything to help ‘take position’ in the carbon trade versus carbon tax debate?

    [By the way: in the same article Persson lets Roost get away with the pertinent lie: 'When we were skeptical [about global warming], this was based on scientifically founded doubts’ (see the NYT article of April 23th: ‘Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate’.) And with the predictable assertion that not a transformation to green energy sources, but ‘efficiency’ is the solution for global warming (so that ExxonMobil will be allowed to scrape and sell every gallon of oil out of the earth, including tar sands or course.]

  11. Joel Dignam says:

    In regards to carbon offsets causing emissions to rise it may be worth noting that the ETS proposed for Australia allows for unlimited offsetting of emissions by purchasing offsets internationally. Under this mechanism, treasury forecasts actually show Australia’s emissions increasing by around 30% by 2020.

  12. C. Vink says:

    Dear Joe Romm, I wonder why my comment (May 9th) is still not moderated / approved. Would appreciate your answer to this.
    Sincerely, C. Vink

    [JR: My post on carbon tax vs. cap-and-trade had already addressed that argument and I didn't want to do so again. It is always a difficult choice as to how many times you let people post arguments in a later post that you feel you have already answered in an earlier post.]

  13. C. Vink says:

    Thanks for explaining Joe, I hadn’t come across ExonMobil’s favouring carbon tax over carbon trade earlier, I must have missed it on CP and I’m not an expert like you anyway. I admire your work a lot. Wish you lots of succes!
    Coen