Energy and Global Warming News for August 28: Climate change causing severe food shortages in Nepal

Millions in Nepal Facing Hunger as Climate Changes

Millions of people in Nepal face severe food shortages because global climate change has disrupted weather patterns and slashed crop yields in the Himalayan nation, an international aid agency warned Friday.

Changing weather patterns have dramatically affected crop production in Nepal, leaving farmers unable to properly feed themselves and pushing them into debt, Oxfam International said in a report released in Katmandu.

The British aid agency described the situation as ‘’deeply worrying.’’


‘’Communities told us crop production is roughly half that of previous years … Last year many could only grow enough (food) for one month’s consumption,’’ said Oxfam’s Wayne Gum, adding that less precipitation has been forecast this winter, which will make the situation worse.

More extreme temperatures, drier winters and delays in summer monsoons have all compounded the situation, the report said.

More than 3.4 million people in Nepal are estimated to require food assistance, and food stocks in farming communities will last only a few months, it warned.

Oxfam said Nepal will likely suffer more frequent droughts because of climate change. River levels will decline due to the reduced rainfall and glacial retreat, making it harder to irrigate crops and provide water for livestock.

Here is the report, Even the Himalayas Have Stopped Smiling: Climate Change, Poverty and Adaptation in Nepal.

NAM Targeting Senators on Cap-and-Trade With Multimillion Dollar Ad Buy

The National Association of Manufacturers has begun targeting Senators in seven states on cap-and-trade legislation that awaits the Senate when it returns in less than two weeks.

The trade group on Thursday announced a multimillion dollar television, radio and Internet advertising buy in Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio and Virginia. Each of those states is represented by one, or in some cases two, Senators who are viewed as swing votes on the climate change bill.

One of the likely targets, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), has acknowledged she has some reservations about the legislation.

Specter targeted by energy group on cap-and-trade legislation

The American Energy Alliance has been in Pennsylvania, targeting consumers about cap-and-trade legislation it says will cost Pennsylvania families $125 a month.

The ads target Sen. Arlen Specter, the new Democrat.

At a town hall meeting on Aug. 11, Specter did not say he opposes cap-and-trade legislation, but told an audience that the House version of the bill has problems and that in the Senate, there will be attention paid to legislation that effectively ships jobs overseas as a result of tighter regulations on emissions and energy.

Clean Energy Patents Hit Record High in the US

According to intellectual property law firm Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C., who publishes the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index (CEPGI) every quarter, 274 clean energy patents were granted last quarter. This is 31 more than the previous quarter and 57 more than in the same quarter last year.

This is a good sign that clean technology will continue to provide the US with a greater and greater share of its energy. Additionally, clean technology in the transportation sector is advancing at great speed and with momentum and maybe we will find our way out of gas and oil related crises soon. Fuel cell* technology is leading the way. Victor Cardona, co-chair of the firm’s Cleantech Group, states: “Fuel cells continued to dominate the other technologies while wind and solar patents continued an upswing. Honda earned more patents than the other patentees to again claim the Clean Energy Patent Crown.”

UN chief urges world to ‘seize day’ on climate

The U.N. chief is urging the world to “seize the day” on climate change ahead of a major conference on global warming set for December in Copenhagen.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the threat posed by greenhouse gas emissions underscores how the world’s nations must all take action. Ban says the outcome of the Copenhagen conference “will impact the planet for generations to come.”

Ban says he also plans to visit the North Pole soon — and he hopes that will send an important message to the international community about the need to tighten pollution controls.

He says “the future of humanity and planet Earth are at stake.”

Air pollution lawsuit: Federal and state lawyers sue Midwest Generation over Illinois power plant emissions

From the outside, the power plant that towers above Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood looks like a sooty relic from the early part of the last century. The Fisk plant has been burning coal to generate electricity on the Near West Side since 1903.

The Fisk plant has been burning coal to generate electricity on the Near West Side since 1903. But federal and state lawyers alleged Thursday that its internal parts — the massive boiler, steam chest and turbine — have been repeatedly upgraded without the modern pollution controls required under the Clean Air Act.

By steadily replacing worn out equipment, a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court alleges, owner Midwest Generation kept Fisk and five other power plants operating well past the time when they otherwise would have been closed. The noxious smoke churning out of the plants makes them some of the biggest contributors to dirty air in the Chicago area, according to federal records.

The 75-page lawsuit marks a renewed effort by the Obama administration to crack down on emissions from coal-fired power plants, an undertaking that languished under former President George W. Bush. Coal plants are major sources of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, toxic mercury and other pollutants that create lung-damaging soot and smog.

Salazar: Let’s take renewable energy lead

The United States can fall behind the rest of the world in addressing renewable energy and climate change, or it can take the lead, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told a large group of students and area residents at Fossil Ridge High School on Thursday.

At the two-hour regional forum on President Barack Obama’s “Clean Energy Economy” agenda, Salazar, Gov. Bill Ritter, Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey and representatives of the White House and the states of Washington and California stumped for future congressional climate legislation focusing on renewable energy and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.Ritter said his vision for such a clean energy economy in Colorado means creating an “ecosystem” in Colorado supporting research and development of renewable energy technology, something that is already quite robust here.

Is China Ready to Play Ball on Global Warming?

China is finally tackling climate change head on. Sort of.

The Chinese parliament passed a resolution today calling for the country to “control” greenhouse-gas emissions and promote energy efficiency, lower energy consumption, and more renewable energy, Reuters reports. That’s the culmination of a spate of Chinese reports from government and academia warning about the environmental impacts of the country’s current growth path.

Now, that’s not quite the same as accepting a cap on greenhouse-gas emissions, as many Western countries (and especially, many Republican legislators) want as a condition for even more aggressive action from rich countries. It’s really a continuation of the two-pronged approach China’s been following for years: use energy more efficiently and ramp-up clean energy.

Still, Chinese observers at least figure the non-binding political statement will give China more leverage at the big climate summit in Copenhagen in December. And Chinese legislators hope the new statement will derail U.S. talk of slapping Chinese exports with “carbon tariffs.”

Indonesia agency seeks sweeping CO2 emissions cuts

An Indonesian environment agency has set out a roadmap for the government to adopt forestry, energy, transport, industrial and agriculture policies that would slash carbon emissions by the world’s No. 3 emitter.Indonesia’s government-backed National Climate Change Council, or NCCC, said significant cuts in emissions could be made through efforts to conserve forests and peatlands, among its top recommendations in a report published this week ahead of the key climate change talks in Copenhagen in December.

Study says shines light on sun spot-climate link

The sun is presently in a calm period after reaching a solar minimum at the end of last year, according to the Space Weather Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States.

The next solar peak is expected in May 2013. (For more details, see:

“This paper represents a useful step forward in understanding how solar activity may lead to modest but detectable climatic effects,” said Brad Carter, senior lecturer in physics at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia.

“It is a good reminder that solar activity is not an explanation of global warming over recent decades.”