Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

Climate Change News – 5/22/09: Sea Level Rise Estimates, Oil & Military, Emissions in a Recession

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Here are some of the climate-related news stories that I’ve seen this week:

A new study proposes that if the West Antarctic ice sheets melted, global sea level rise would only be 10 feet, not 20 as previously estimated by other studies.  The new study’s author claims that enough of the ice sheet would remain grounded on the Antarctic continent so that only some of the melting ice would find its way directly to the world’s oceans.  If true, this would be at least some good news in the sea level rise arena. One take-away message is that we still don’t know nearly enough about ice sheet and glacier dynamics to reliably forecast their future conditions.  These are interesting results – since they challenge previous findings, they need to be explored further.

Though not my chief concern over fossil fuel usage, a group of retired military officers argue in a recently released report that energy security and efforts to reduce the risks of climate change should be included in the nation’s national security and military planning.  From the article:

The concerns extend beyond America’s dependence on foreign oil, the report says, because no matter what the source, America’s dependence on oil “undermines economic stability, which is critical to national security.”

Also, the report called for modernizing the nation’s electric power system. The country’s “fragile domestic electricity grid makes our domestic military installations and their critical infrastructure unnecessarily vulnerable to incident, whether deliberate or accidental,” said the report.

The report raised alarm about three converging concerns: A future global oil market shaped by limited supplies and increasing demand, rising fossil fuel prices caused by regulating climate-changing emissions, and the impacts of climate change on global insecurity.

Another casualty of the 2008-09 recession?  CO2 emissions.  Many people were curious how the worst recession since the Great Depression would impact emission trends. Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions declined by 2.8 percent last year compared to 2007.  The Energy Information Administration attributed the decline to a 2.2 percent drop in energy consumption, largely because of high gasoline and diesel prices last summer and the sharp economic decline in the last half of the year.  It’s not the way anybody wanted emissions to be reduced – millions of Americans are unemployed and our economy is in tatters.  Meanwhile, Cons and ConservaDems watered the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade legislation down significantly, as I’ll cover later.

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