Author Archive: Emily Saari
Emily is a graduate of St. Mary's College of Maryland with a B.A. in psychology. While in school, she spent her time leading environmental and social justice campaigns. She recently worked for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network as a grassroots organizer for a moratorium on natural gas fracking in Maryland.
Cities emit two-thirds of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and hold the majority of the world’s population. For these reasons, not only are they increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, but they are well-poised to take action to prevent the worst of such impacts.
“Spread truth. Destroy denial.” That’s the tagline of Reality Drop, a new project that makes it easy for anyone to intervene in the public debate on climate change with facts that debunk denial and misinformation. The scientific consensus is clear – 97% of all climate scientists agree that climate change is real and caused by human activities, and no legitimate scientific body disputes those facts.
As communities recover from extreme floods in the midwestern United States, a new study reveals that the media has overwhelmingly ignored the role climate change plays in these natural disasters. A Media Matters for America analysis found that less than 4% of all media coverage of the Midwest flooding made the connection between these events and climate change, despite the scientific evidence that links them.
Latin America is emerging as a leader in regional clean energy investment. In 2012, over $4.6 billion in clean energy investments were made in the region, an impressive 127% growth rate (excluding Brazil, which raked in $5.17 billion alone). Several countries saw triple-digit growth in domestic clean energy investments, including Mexico (595%), Uruguay (285%), and Peru (176%). Mexico and Chile led the way in dollar-amounts, with $1.9 billion and $1 billion in clean energy investments respectively.
Species extinction is becoming a more worrying possibility as the impacts of climate change continue to emerge, altering the stable weather conditions that plants and animals depend upon. New research published in Nature Climate Change found that if the world warms by 2 degrees Celsius, about 5% of land would shift into a new climate zone. If these climatic shifts occur rapidly – a real possibility given rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide – species may not have time to handle the changes, and may face extinction.
Floodwaters surged this week in the Midwest following torrential rains and snow, closing portions of the Mississippi River, which only months ago stood at record lows. The resulting flooding killed three people — and possibly two more — and closed roads and bridges, including sections of major highway. The swollen river also tore 114 barges loose near St. Louis; four of them hit the Jefferson Barracks Bridge in St. Louis County, 10 of them sunk, and another two couldn’t be found.
Top UN climate change official Christiana Figueres said that it is ‘no longer necessary’ for the World Bank to rely on coal in its funding activities, after commending World Bank director Jim Yong Kim on his commitment to climate action. Figueres acknowledged that while coal has understandably played an important role in past energy development projects funded by the World Bank, the organization should now focus on bringing alternative energy sources forward. Figueres said:
As part of their campaign to end Arctic drilling, Greenpeace launched the site ‘Arctic Truth’ to provide oil company employees with a secure platform to submit knowledge of safety and environmental violations in their day-to-day work. This effort towards greater transparency takes on additional importance as Shell embarks on a renewed effort to drill in the Russian Arctic with Gazprom after a failed attempt to drill north of Alaska in 2012.
The U.S. EPA has challenged the State Department on its draft environmental impact statement on the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline, objecting to its conclusion that the KXL presents no significant climate change impact or environment risk. This criticism raises an important hurdle in the overall executive review process for the construction of the pipeline and gives the pipeline’s opponents additional support in their fight against the project.
New analyses reviewing the 2012 global clean energy market report strong international growth, despite some declines in investment. The U.S., China, and the EU led record new installations and many developing nations ramped up their investment to gain a record share of the global market. In their reports, however, both the Pew Research Center and the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) warn that policy uncertainty from governments will hurt the outlook for continued growth in 2013.
At Milan Design Week, which runs from April 9th-14th and brings in more than 300,000 visitors, Connect4Climate teamed up with carbon-neutral Italian company Alcantara to engage designers, architects, entertainers, and businesses with the issue of climate change. In addition to working with an internationally-renowned architect to construct a climate change exhibition at Design Week, the partnership also hosted the Alcantara Dialogues/Connect4Climate: Re-Think, Re-Design, Re-New. This series of panels brought together prominent leaders, advocates, and visionaries from across various fields to share insight on climate and sustainability in fashion, culture and the arts.
In its new report entitled ‘Peak Planet,’ HSBC draws attention to the dwindling state of the global carbon budget and urges swift political action to reduce carbon emissions from five leading emitters: the United States, the European Union, India, Russia, and China. The prominent bank and financing institution remains optimistic that the needed peak and decline of emissions can occur, indicating that various economic and political factors are aligning to make this the right time to double down on cutting carbon.
In the last week of March, the safety record of the tar sands industry became even more incriminating when a tailing pond leaked, a train derailed, and a pipeline burst all in a matter of days. Given the risks associated with tar sands exploitation and transportation, a bad week for the tar sands industry isn’t just a coincidence — it’s a sign of things to come in North America and abroad if the industry is expanded.
On Friday March 29th, families in Mayflower, Arkansas were evacuated after an ExxonMobil oil pipeline burst in their neighborhood, sending over 80,000 gallons of tar sands crude down their streets in only 45 minutes. Many of the residents were completely unaware of the pipeline until the accident filled their yards with oil and they were forced to leave with only what they could carry in their cars.
The IMF reports that governments around the world are spending nearly $2 trillion to subsidize oil, natural gas, coal and electricity production. Almost 9% of all annual country budgets are spent supporting the fossil fuel industry through direct subsidies, consumer rebates and avoided taxes. The U.S. is the leading fossil fuel subsidizer, doling out $502 billion in 2011. China, the second-highest energy subsidizer, handed out $279 billion, followed by Russia with $116 billion.
Unseasonable winter weather has swept across Europe in recent weeks, causing havoc in the north of the continent. Professor Sir John Beddington, the UK’s chief science advisor, has warned that Europeans should brace for more of this extreme weather over the next 25 years, as climate change is set to make these types of storms the new norm.
Statistics from the China Electricity Council show the nation added more new wind power capacity than coal power in 2012. This goes hand-in-hand with Premier Li Kaqiang’s commitment to tackle rampant air and water pollution at his debut press conference. Premier Li Kaqiang made the most high profile remarks to date regarding the nation’s pollution concerns, saying:
A newly published study has confirmed that the deep ocean, below 700 meters, is warming at an unprecedented rate – a phenomenon that had gone under-researched due to a greater focus on ocean surface temperatures. The study, authored by Balmaseda, Trenberth, and Kallen and published in Geophysical Research Letters, has confirmed that the heat trapped by the greenhouse gas effect is not only warming air, land, and surface water temperatures, but also warming even the deepest parts of the ocean.
Both the United Kingdom and Poland have created incentives and loopholes to promote hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking,’ a newly hyped form of natural gas drilling with dubious public health and environmental consequences. Despite growing public opposition to fracking and to natural gas (also known as shale gas) as a solution to achieving emissions reductions targets, UK and Polish leaders have sent positive signals to natural gas corporations that their countries are open for drilling.