The US Geological Survey has published the first-ever comprehensive estimate of carbon storage on federal lands under future climate scenarios. Initially, it looks like good news: federal lands are projected to store more carbon in 2050 than they did in 2005. However, a closer look reveals that a big chunk of these gains are dependent on the world staying on a relatively low-emissions pathway. The difference in net emissions from federal lands between high- and low-emissions climate scenarios has the potential to undercut the emission reductions expected under the Clean Power Plan. And going deeper, the study may not account for processes that could release much more carbon into the atmosphere.
September 30th, 2015
July 23rd, 2015
This summer has been a remarkably wet one in the Midwest, punctuated by a few really big downpours. The increase in heavy precipitation has disrupted farming, increased flooding, and threatened cultural landmarks. Recent science tells us that extreme rainfall will become more common in the Midwest if we continue to pump more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Read More
July 13th, 2015
Is 2015 shaping up to be a sign of things to come? It’s only a few weeks into summer, but already we’re seeing exceptional weather conditions driving a very active wildfire season. Some of these events are breaking records – but they’re entirely consistent with what we expect to see in a warmer world. Unfortunately, this may be just the beginning.
We Must Find Smart Ways to Prepare for Climate Change, or Growing Risks Could Lead to Fiscal Disasters
May 15th, 2015
The effects of climate change are becoming more apparent every day, from the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with bleached coral. Policy makers are beginning to realize that science can help them anticipate how risks are changing along with the climate, and this knowledge could help them control the costs of climate-related disasters, which taxpayers often bear. Thus, getting a handle on these risks is a crucial first step toward fiscally responsible policy – but some of our leaders still want to deny the problem. For taxpayers, this is a rare case in which doing something is cheaper than doing nothing at all. Read More
September 22nd, 2014
I was in Colorado a short time ago to release “Rocky Mountain Forests at Risk,” our latest report on the regional impacts of climate change. The report focuses on how climate change has amplified the effects of tree-killing insects, wildfires, and stress from heat and drought — what we called a “triple assault” — on forests. But my work on the report didn’t prepare me for the scene that confronted me on the ground. Read More
May 7th, 2014
Farmers and foresters already face a great deal of uncertainty in their professions. All it takes is a few weeks of intense drought, a single hailstorm, or an uncontrolled wildfire to destroy the results of their labors, and with it, their livelihoods. Read More