When Congress failed to pass national climate legislation in 2010, many said that marked the end of so-called “cap and trade” programs, —in which government sets an overall limit on pollution and issues pollution “allowances” that individual companies can use or trade with others. The naysayers couldn’t be more wrong, as demonstrated by the recent announcement that China will start a national cap and trade program in 2017 as a primary tool to lower its emissions of the heat trapping gases that cause global warming. Read More
October 6th, 2015
New energy storage technologies can make electric grids better as batteries become part of the electricity supply. Huge markets for storage and self-supporting micro-grids are coming, and not because of our renewable energy needs. One of the largest U.S. power plant owners, NextEra, recently predicted that storage may be used for all new peaking power plants within a decade! Read More
October 5th, 2015
Hurricane Joaquin, while a category 4, unleashed torrential rain over the Bahamas, uprooting trees, disrupting power and ripping rooftops. Joaquin lingered in the tropics, shedding vast amounts of moisture that became part of a complex mix of weather systems in the eastern U.S., creating soggy conditions even before Joaquin shifted northeastward from the tropics offshore of the U.S., giving a one-two punch for the eastern states. Punch one was life-threatening inland flooding, and punch two was storm surge along coastal areas. Read More
September 30th, 2015
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.
Sea Level Rise and the March of King Tides: Why We Need to Get Familiar with This Week’s Tidal Flooding
September 30th, 2015
This week, many residents of the U.S. East Coast communities are witnessing flood waters rise with each high tide. These people are getting a taste of the future. Almost like being picked to try out some futuristic device for a few days — only this is messy, costly, and, if you realize it’s a taste of things to come, unnerving. Unwilling pioneers, in a way, these people are living on the front line of sea level rise and experiencing the periodic soaking that others don’t yet know, but will. Read More
September 28th, 2015
Last Thursday night news broke of the impending announcement of a national cap-and-trade program for carbon in China, as part of a U.S.-China joint climate announcement. This market-based approach, pioneered in the U.S. with the sulfur dioxide trading program, has clearly come to be seen as an essential policy tool to combat climate change, increasingly embraced by countries, policymakers, and global business leaders of all political persuasions. Read More
September 24th, 2015
As a Catholic, I’ve often disagreed with the institutional church on many issues. But as thousands of other Catholics, I have grown fond of the present Pope. Pope Francis’ outreach to the poor and marginalized, his disdain for pomp, and his tolerant tone all have made him a much beloved world figure. Read More
September 23rd, 2015
As I write this, Washington DC is in a state of excitement at the first visit by Pope Francis to the United States. For those concerned about the mounting threat of climate change, there is great anticipation about what the Pope will say on this issue when he addresses a joint session of Congress tomorrow, and when he speaks before the United Nations General Assembly on Friday.
September 23rd, 2015
UCS has received a remarkable gift from an even more remarkable scientist.
William Borucki has served as the principal investigator for NASA’s Kepler Mission, which has discovered more than 1,000 confirmed planets.
“I’ve spent a large portion of my career searching for other worlds,” Borucki told us. “What we’ve found has underscored how important it is to protect this one. While we can detect other worlds, we cannot go to them. Our future is here on Earth and we must do much more to ensure that our planet’s climate remains hospitable.”
Dr. Borucki will share a portion of the funds he is receiving from the Shaw Prize in Astronomy – often considered the “Nobel Prize of the East” – with UCS to support its work on climate change. Read More
September 22nd, 2015
In the last few years, there has been heartening news, based on new scientific data, about progress in reducing global deforestation. The IPCC, in its Fifth Assessment Report in 2014, reviewed all the previously published evidence and concluded that deforestation and the emissions of global warming pollution that it produces had dropped in recent years. The Global Carbon Project, an annual review of the planet’s carbon cycle and its implications for climate change, found the same trend in its 2014 assessment. Read More