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 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