Climate

US EPA issuing new Air Quality rules
January 12, 2012 07:10 AM - Timothy Gardner,David Gregorio, Reuters

The Environmental Protection Agency is introducing its most ambitious clean air rules in decades, though it is making some concessions to election-minded Republicans who oppose them. The EPA, facing backlash from heavy industry, has delayed several of the rules and made adjustments in others. Some industry groups say the rules will cost companies billions of dollars and increase power bills for consumers. The EPA says money saved on healthcare costs will be greater than the amount polluters will need to invest in retooling plants to meet the new standards. So far, the major delay in the rules has been President Barack Obama's backtracking in September on smog pollution, which came as a disappointment to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Below are important dates for the clean air rules: 2011: CROSS STATE AIR POLLUTION RULE Finalized by the EPA in July, this rule aims to slash air pollution that blows downwind from coal-fired power plants in the eastern United States. Two days before it was to take effect, a U.S. federal appeals court delayed the implementation, pending further review, after power generators complained about the deadline. The first phase of regulation had been set to begin on January 1, 2012, and the second two years later.

List of natural disasters and extreme weather makes 2011 the worst on record
January 11, 2012 02:27 PM - Click Green Staff, ClickGreen

A sequence of devastating earthquakes and a large number of weather-related catastrophes made 2011 the costliest year ever in terms of natural catastrophe losses. Estimates of around US$380 billion in global economic losses were nearly two-thirds higher than in 2005, the previous record year with losses of $220 billion. The earthquakes in Japan in March and New Zealand in February alone caused almost two-thirds of these losses. Insured losses of $105 billion also exceeded the 2005 record of $101 billion.

How Elks are Destroying Song Birds
January 10, 2012 09:32 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The link between the two very different species may seem strange, but taken in the context of climate change, it makes perfect sense. Elks are highly prevalent in the American West and are known to be prolific eaters of local flora. One of climate change's most noticeable effects in this region is the decrease in amount of winter snowfall. This allows the elks to continue consuming plants and at higher elevations. As a result, deciduous trees and their associated song birds have been in continuous decline.

Europe's mountains show clear and rapid change to a warming climate
January 10, 2012 08:47 AM - ClickGreen staff, ClickGreen

The decade from 2000 to 2009 was the warmest since global climate has been measured, and while localized studies have shown evidence of changes in mountain plant communities that reflect this warming trend, no study has yet taken a continental-scale view of the situation – until now. With the publication of "Continent-wide response of mountain vegetation to climate change," scheduled for Advance Online Publication (AOP) in Nature Climate Change on 8 January, researchers from 13 countries report clear and statistically significant evidence of a continent-wide warming effect on mountain plant communities.

2011 was the driest year on record in Texas
January 8, 2012 07:45 AM - Marice Richter, Reuters, FORT WORTH, Texas

It's official: 2011 was the driest year on record in Texas, according to the National Weather Service. It was also the second-hottest ever. That won't surprise Texans who lived through a year in which wildfires roared through the Lone Star State, cattle went thirsty and many Fourth of July fireworks shows were canceled. The weather service said the average rainfall in Texas in 2011 was 14.89 inches. The previous record of 14.99 inches of average rainfall was set in 1917. The average temperature in 2011 was 67.2 degrees. The warmest year on record was 1921, when the average temperature was 67.5 degrees, the weather service said. The prolonged Texas drought is to blame for devastating agriculture and livestock losses, estimated in the billions of dollars. The historic drought has killed as many as half a billion trees, not including those that died in wildfires that scorched some 4 million acres in 2011, the Texas Forest Service has reported. While some parts of Texas received substantial rainfall during December, 97.83 percent of the state remained in severe drought this week, according to a Thursday report by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

U.S. weighs retaliation over Europe carbon tax
January 7, 2012 07:57 AM - John Crawley and Andrew Quinn, Reuters, WASHINGTON

The Obama administration is laying the groundwork for possible retaliation in response to a European law requiring airlines to pay for carbon emissions. Discussions between key agencies have ramped up recently, although there is no consensus yet on what, if anything, the U.S. government should do unilaterally or in concert with other nations also upset with the law. The EU law went into effect on January 1 and requires global airlines to pay for carbon emissions on flights to and from Europe. Several experts said one option the United States could pursue would involve charging European airlines to maintain U.S. access to pressure EU policymakers. This strategy was used by the United States in a recently concluded dispute with Argentina over landing fees. "We are contemplating a wide range of possible steps that we could take, or actions that we might take," a senior administration official told Reuters. "All these are on the table, we haven't decided how to move forward on any specific one," the official said, while declining to give specifics on the possible steps.

Who pays the EU airline carbon tax? Not Chinese airlines!
January 5, 2012 06:36 AM - Reuters, BEIJING

China voiced its deep concern and opposition on Thursday to a European Union plan to counter airline emissions and called for talks to resolve the issue a day after China's major airlines refused to pay any carbon costs under the new law. From January 1, all airlines using EU airports fall under the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), and could be forced to pay fines of 100 euros ($128) for each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted for which airlines have not surrendered carbon allowances. "China opposes the European Union's unilateral legislation. China has expressed to the EU our deep concern and opposition many times on a bilateral level," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. "We hope the EU can take careful precautions with a cautious and practical attitude, and regarding those aspects involving China, appropriately discuss and handle this matter," Hong told reporters during a regular briefing. The scheme was launched in 2005 as one of the pillars of Europe's efforts to combat climate change, and if airlines persistently flout the law the EU has the option of banning the operator.

Gulf Stream: Charting the Chaotic Current That Warms Norway
January 3, 2012 08:42 AM - Editor, Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Dec. 2, 2011) — The North Atlantic Current -- popularly known as the Gulf Stream -- warms Norway and Northern Europe. It is the chaos of the seas that warms the country, researchers have discovered. If its waters flowed smoothly north along the Norwegian coastline, the current would deliver far less warmth. Norway is situated at the same high northern latitude as Greenland, Northern Canada and Northern Siberia, but thanks to the Gulf Stream, its climate is significantly more temperate.

Who pays for carbon taxes on airlines? The customers!
January 2, 2012 08:05 AM - Reuters, FRANKFURT

Deutsche Lufthansa AG will pass on to its customers an expected 130 million euros ($169 million) of costs for carbon permits it needs this year under a new European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Germany's biggest airline said on Monday it will add the costs from the ETS to its fuel surcharge, becoming the first carrier to provide details of how it plans to cope with the additional burden. "In the face of intensive competition, especially of companies from non-EU countries whose production is subject to emissions trading to only a small degree, Lufthansa will have to pass on the burden via ticket prices, as suggested by the EU," it said in a statement. However in the short term Lufthansa will not raise its existing surcharges, which it had increased last month -- to between 102 euros and 122 per flight leg for intercontinental flights and to 31 euros for domestic and European flights -- though it said at the time this was just to cover higher fuel costs. From this year, all airlines touching down or taking off in the EU will have to account for their CO2 emissions as part of an expansion of the world's largest carbon market.

Mammal Evolutionary Waves in North America
December 27, 2011 09:50 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Climate changes do affect how animals adapt and change. A new novel statistical study by Brown University shows that climate changes profoundly influenced the rise and fall of six distinct and successive waves of mammal species in North America over the last 65 million years. Warming and cooling periods, in two cases confounded by species migrations, marked the transition from one dominant grouping to the next.

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