Climate Change Risks

Corporate involvement

In the last few years, many multinational corporations and US businesses have committed themselves to addressing climate change. Large companies are able to use their market power to influence the types of products consumers buy. Some companies have realized this, and are now leveraging their market power and offering increasingly environmentally friendly products to their customers. For example Home Depot, one of the largest suppliers of lumber in the US, has decided to sell only certified...

Pamela P McVety

Ms McVety has a master's degree in zoology from the University of South Florida and has worked for the State of Florida's Department of Environmental Protection for over 30 years. She began her career in dredge and fill permitting and worked for the first four Secretaries of the Department of Environmental Protection in policy development and coordination. She was the Director of the Division of Marine Resources and Executive Coordinator (Deputy Secretary) for Ecosystem Management and Water...

Storm surge barriers The European experience

The notion of storm surge barriers is not unique to New York - they are being tried in a number of other locations. London has been periodically flooded since records began back in 1099, with water levels reaching as high as 2.38 m (7.8 ft). In 1953, a particularly disastrous flood occurred in which the tide rose by 2 m (6.5 feet) above its predicted normal level, 300 people drowned and about 65,000 hectares (160,000 acres) near the mouth of the Thames River were covered with seawater. The...

William A Nitze

Mr Nitze has been working on energy and environmental issues for most of his career. He currently serves as chairman of two companies that are developing clean energy technologies GridPoint, Inc., which designs, manufactures and markets intelligent energy management systems and Oceana Energy Company, which is developing an innovative technology for converting tidal energy into electricity. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of the Climate Institute, and serves on the board of the Galapagos...

New evidence suggesting more rapid climate change

The climate sensitivity may be larger than has been traditionally estimated In its Third Assessment Report (IPCC, 2001) the IPCC assumed that the climate sensitivity (the global warming after a doubling of the pre-industrial CO2 concentration) is in the range of 1.5 C to 4.5 C. However, recent estimates of the climate sensitivity, mostly based on modeling, constrained by recent or paleoclimatic data, suggest a higher range of around 2 C to 6 C (Murphy et al, 2004 Piani et al, 2005 Stainforth et...

Storm surge barriers The New England experience

1938 Hurricane Stamford

Although dwarfed in scale by the European barriers, three New England barriers constructed during the 1960s have some design features and operating characteristics that might be relevant to the New York metropolitan region. Barriers across open waterways exist at three locations Stamford CT, Providence RI and New Bedford MA. The construction of hurricane-flood protection for the region was authorized by Congress in the Flood Control Act of 5 July 1958 Public Law 85-500, 85th Congress . The...

Characteristics of tropical and extratropical storms in the Metropolitan region

The height and reach of storm surges and flooding along low-lying coastlines are influenced by a variety of factors, including offshore morphology, coastline geometry, astronomical tides and both the regional and local wind and pressure fields. Tropical for example, hurricanes and extra-tropical for example, nor'easters storm systems are associated with different wind and pressure fields, and these produce characteristically different storm surges. Extra-tropical storms cover a larger...

Acknowledgements

This book is the result of a remarkable conference that marked the 20th Anniversary of the Climate Institute. The Washington Summit on Climate Stabilization had two principal objectives to provide an accurate picture of the risks that climate change might accelerate past the point at which humanity and ecosystems could reasonably adapt, and to outline the beginnings of a public private partnership to pioneer in comprehensive, pro-active Climate Protection Strategies that might provide humanity...

Variation in fire severity and its effects on ecosystem characteristics

The community structure ofupland forests in interior Alaska results from secondary succession following fires (Viereck et al, 1983 Van Cleve et al, 1996 Chapin et al, 2006). Ecosystem processes in these upland areas are strongly influenced by the aspect or orientation (which regulates the amount of solar insolation reaching a site), elevation (average temperature decreases with increasing elevation) and slope position (Slaughter and Viereck, 1986). Because of the role of topography, north...

The current renewables boom

In an absolute sense, the world is heavily dependent on fossil fuels, which currently provide over 80 per cent of the energy on which global society depends. However, the annual growth rates of various energy sources show that change is on the way (see Figure 19.1). Since 2001, the growth rates of the solar photovoltaic (30 per cent), wind (26 per cent) and biofuel (17 per cent) sectors have been much larger than for the traditional sectors of coal (4.4 per cent), oil (1.6 per cent), natural...

Recycling energy

The manufacturing and electric-power industries, by and large, capture only a small portion of the potential energy in the fuel they burn, and then discard the rest as waste energy. Many cost-effective approaches are available to recycle these waste streams, generating incremental electricity and thermal energy without increasing pollution or burning additional fossil fuel. Recycled energy's unused potential may be society's best-kept secret. Recycling waste energy can take two approaches. In...

Energy markets are not free

If modern, distributed generation is more efficient and less polluting, requires half of the capital investment, and reduces system vulnerability to weather and terrorism, why do most countries continue to build central generating plants The key factor seems to be a flaw in conventional thinking about the role of free markets. Most economists simply assume that market economies have optimized the production of goods and services, and that opportunities for additional efficiency do not exist....

Preparing and Protecting American Families from the Onslaught of Catastrophe

American families need to be better prepared for and protected from mega-catastrophes. Hurricane Katrina underscored this point with the same force and clarity that the savage attacks of 11 September 2001 crystallized our national awareness and galvanized our national thinking about the immediate need to improve and enhance our preparation and defenses with regard to terrorism. The US needs the same resolve and commitment to a national effort to improve and enhance preparation, mitigation and...

International efforts

Not only states, but also other nations are providing leadership and taking initiative on the climate issue. Countries on every continent are switching to alternative energy sources such as wind, biofuels and even hydrogen power. Other parts of the world, particularly Europe, are modifying current energy-generation practices to reduce their impact on the environment. Later chapters discuss in more detail ongoing efforts in Iceland and small island states. Here, we highlight other groundbreaking...

Impacts on water and foodborne diseases

Climate-related effects on water and food-borne diseases are likely to be a much more significant factor in developing countries than in the US. The El-Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle is already associated with large fluctuations in incidence of cholera in Peru (Pascual et al, 2000). Although climate change may affect the overall availability of water in the US, it does not seem likely to compromise the safety of drinking water. Higher temperatures may, however, heighten risk of...

US potential for renewable energy

In contrast those in Europe, US renewable energy policies over the past two decades have been an uneven and ever-changing patchwork of regulations and subsidies. Abrupt changes in direction at both the state and federal levels have deterred investors and led dozens of companies into bankruptcy. Embracing the path of renewable energy is not only an environmental necessity, it also makes good economic sense, allowing both companies and individuals to save money, and generating high-wage jobs in a...

Implications for developing nations

The plans of these small island developing states highlight a way forward for climate policy in developing countries. If even small developing countries with fairly weak economies can take significant strides toward reducing their carbon emissions, surely larger developing countries with greater resources can do the same. The key will be to develop plans that play to each country's individual strengths, as the small island developing states have done. For some countries, the best initial course...

Stimulating a Clean Energy Revolution

The 'perfect storm' of climate change, political instability in key energy regions, and high oil prices has created a demand for a new energy path. The advent of promising new technologies capable of turning abundant domestic energy sources - including solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass and ocean energy - into transportation fuels, electricity and heat offer a path to an unprecedented energy revolution. Renewable energy technologies, combined with substantial improvements in energy...

Tropical storms

The most extensive flooding, shoreline erosion and wetland loss in the Gulf Coast region occurs during hurricanes and lesser tropical storms. An increase in the frequency or intensity of tropical storms entering the Gulf of Mexico could have serious consequences for human settlements and natural ecosystems along this low-lying coastal margin. During Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, for example, about 300 km2 of land in south Louisiana were converted to open water, according to preliminary...

Reducing coastal risk

With so many living on the coastal edge, how can society reduce the inevitable risks of living near the shore Beach nourishment is seen by an increasing number of coastal communities as an alternative to forcing people to move from the coasts, even though many replenished beaches have lasted only a few years rather than decades for most locations, this strategy cannot work in the long term. Armoring the beach with seawalls can stabilize the shore, but the monetary and aesthetic costs are very...

Effects of forest cover change on ecosystem services and society

The ecological changes caused by fire have important societal consequences, which can be described in terms of ecosystem services (the benefits that society derives from ecosystems). Some of these services affect society globally through changes in the climate system and others affect society more locally through changes in local conditions. Fire-induced changes in tree cover and carbon sequestration in boreal forest can have large effects on the global climate system through changes in energy...

Impacts on nutrition and the food supply

The IPCC has tended to see the positive and negative effects of climate change on agricultural production, if the warming were to occur at a moderate pace, as close to even in terms of overall global food production, but with some regional variations that might harm local food security (IPCC, 2001). Generally, the areas of the globe most vulnerable to climate-related stress on food production are poorer countries in lower latitudes. Not only do these nations have limited capacity to adapt, but...