Science

"Climategate" Scientists Exonerated

I posted previously on the controversy surrounding emails that were hacked from a computer server at the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Climatic Research Unit (CRU) in the U.K. The emails revealed the private exchanges of several prominent climate scientists dealing with their science and their reactions to climate change deniers who requested access to their private computer files and intellectual property. The contents of the emails suggested to the untrained eye that the scientists had manipulated data and tried to undermine the scientific peer-review process. From my reading of the emails, I judged that nothing of the sort had happened. Since my last writing on the topic, five separate independent investigations (3 in the United Kingdom and 2 in the U.S.) of the matter have concluded that there was no mishandling of data or other wrongdoing beyond some foot-dragging in response to Freedom of Information requests by climate change deniers. The clear message from these investigations is that proper scientific methods were followed and the integrity of climate science remains solid as a rock. 

Hurricanes and Oil Will Mix: Managing Risk Now

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
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Capitol Hill briefings on the 2010 hurricane season, which forecasters predict will produce between 14 and 23 named hurricanes - the most active season since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina and 27 other named storms swept the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Key discussion topics include risks an active hurricane season pose for energy-related infrastructure, for inland areas as storm surges push oil from the Gulf spill beyond beaches and marshland, and for stakeholders dealing with flooding in coastal communities in the Gulf and along the East Coast. 

This briefing will be held at two separate times and locations to accommodate House and Senate staff.

Wednesday, June 30

12:00 Noon to 1:30 PM
Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2325

3:30 to 4:45 PM
Capitol Visitors Center, Room SVC 202

Seasonal forecasters predict that 2010 will produce between 14 and 23 named hurricanes -- the most active season since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina and 27 other named storms swept the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.  As economic challenges continue and oil spews from the damaged Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf, the growing impacts to the region's economic recovery and unique ecosystems are staggering.  What risks does an active hurricane season pose for other energy-related infrastructure, for inland areas as storm surges push oil beyond beaches and marshland, and for stakeholders dealing with flooding in coastal communities in the Gulf and along the East Coast?  Can recent advances in hurricane prediction help manage these risks? Might related climate change impacts exacerbate them in the future? What does an increasing scale of catastrophic loss associated with hurricane activity mean for critical services provided by the insurance sector? Please join our panelists as they address these questions and discuss research results, institutions, and processes in place to help manage potential catastrophic risk of this hurricane season. 


AGENDA
   
Opening remarks by Senator Mary Landrieu, Honorary Host (3:30pm briefing only)

Moderator:

  • Heidi Cullen
    CEO and Director of Communications, Climate Central


Panelists:

  • Greg Holland
    Director, NCAR Earth System Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research
  • Rick Luettich
    Professor & Director, Institute of Marine Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Rowan Douglas
    CEO, Global Dynamics, Willis Re and Chairman, Willis Re Research Network

 

RSVP to Gloria Kelly at gloriak@ucar.edu or (303) 497-2102 by Monday, June 28

Sponsored by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the Congressional Hazards Caucus Alliance, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), and the Weather Coalition.

With appreciation to the House Committee on Science and Technology and the Senate Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Press Release: New Publication Highlights Urgent Need for Strong U.S. Energy-Climate Policy

Press Release
May 19, 2010
Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, 703-516-4146

 


New Publication Highlights Urgent Need for Strong U.S. Energy-Climate Policy
Pew Center on Global Climate Change Makes Compelling Case for Action

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change released The Case for Action: Creating a Clean Energy Future, a straight-forward synthesis of the urgent need to enact a strong U.S. energy and climate policy. The Case for Action adds to the growing chorus of expert research and analysis that underscores the need for effective policy action.

The new Pew Center publication coincides with the release of America’s Climate Choices, a Congressionally-mandated study by the National Academies that represents its most comprehensive assessment of climate change. America’s Climate Choices examines the science supporting human-induced climate change and options for reducing and adapting to climate change impacts.

“The case for action has never been stronger,” said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. “The science is clear: Further delay will only make the impacts of climate change more severe and the costs of action more expensive. With a strong energy and climate policy, the United States will be in position capitalize on its competitive advantage and lead the 21st century clean energy economy.”

In compelling, straight-forward language, The Case for Action explains why the United States needs to act now to reduce the risks of climate change, strengthen our energy independence, protect our national security, and create new jobs and economic opportunities.

The United States has the opportunity to drive the global climate effort through renewed leadership at home and abroad. Comprehensive national energy and climate legislation can spur the development of new technologies and new job markets, setting the United States on course to become a global clean energy leader. Globally, it is critical that the United States continue working with the international community to develop a binding but flexible framework that ensures all of the world’s major economies take steps to meet the climate challenge.

For more information about global climate change and the activities of the Pew Center, visit http://www.c2es.org.

# # #

The Pew Center was established in May 1998 as a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Statement: National Academies Release Climate Change Assessment

Today the National Academies released its most comprehensive assessment of climate change entitled America’s Climate Choices.

Statement of Eileen Claussen
President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change

May 19, 2010

I commend the National Academies for producing America’s Climate Choices – a landmark study that puts an authoritative stamp on strategies to tackle climate change.

Fulfilling a Congressional mandate, the National Academies have provided U.S. policymakers and the American public with an independent, comprehensive assessment of the science of human-induced climate change and what is required to reduce and adapt to its impacts.

“These reports show that the state of climate change science is strong,” said Ralph J. Cicerone, President of the National Academy of Sciences. The study emphasizes that our current understanding of human-induced climate change is supported by many independent lines of evidence that have weathered intense debate and serious exploration of alternative explanations.

The study underscores that, more than ever, we have credible and convincing evidence that human activities are driving our changing climate. “Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for – and in many cases is already affecting – a broad range of human and natural systems,” the report says. Further delay in addressing these risks will only make climate change impacts more severe and the costs of action more expensive.

The urgency is reflected by impacts beginning to happen in our own backyards – more heat waves across the Midwest; wildfires in California and other western states; sea-level rise encroaching on the eastern seaboard. Effective national strategies to limit the causes and adapt to certain unavoidable changes to our climate are urgent. Scientific uncertainty is no longer an excuse to delay action. The case for action is clear and we must find the political will to reduce our nation’s greenhouse emissions and adapt to unavoidable changes already in motion.

Pew Center Contact: Tara Ursell, 703-516-4146

The Case for Action: Creating a Clean Energy Future

Download the report (pdf)

 

The Case for Action: Creating a Clean Energy Future
May 2010

The United States needs strong action now to reduce the risks of climate change, strengthen our energy independence, protect our national security, and create new jobs and economic opportunities. The Pew Center on Global Climate Change believes that the case for action has never been stronger. With a strong energy and climate policy the United States can lead the 21st century clean energy economy.

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Comprehensive Climate Science Reports Released Today

Today the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released three of its long-awaited “America’s Climate Choices” (ACC) reports. A fourth report will be released later this year, as will an overarching synthesis report. The three reports released today focused on advancing the science of climate change, adapting to unavoidable climate change, and limiting the ultimate extent of climate change. The reports and background information on the study are accessible from the ACC web site.

Collectively, the ACC reports are the most comprehensive study the NAS has conducted on climate change. The project was mandated by Congress and requested by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in 2008. Unlike past NAS efforts, the ACC reports emphasize how the nation can move forward on solving the climate change problem.

NAS president Ralph J. Cicerone said, “These reports show that the state of climate change science is strong.” The study emphasizes that our current understanding of human-induced climate change is supported by many independent lines of evidence that have weathered intense debate and serious exploration of alternative explanations: “Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for – and in many cases is already affecting – a broad range of human and natural systems,” the report says.

A statement about the ACC by our center's president Eileen Claussen is available here.

We will be sure to let you know when the remaining pieces of the ACC report come out later this year.

Jay Gulledge is Senior Scientist and Director of the Science & Impacts Program

National Security & Climate Change

As stated by the Department of Defense in its Quadrennial Defense Review Report in February 2010, “climate change, energy security, and economic stability are inextricably linked.” The impacts of climate change are expected to act as a “threat multiplier” in many of the world’s most unstable regions, exacerbating droughts and other natural disasters as well as leading to food, water, and other resource shortages that may spur mass migrations. The primary driver of climate change—greenhouse gas emissions from the use of fossil fuels—is central to many of the U.S. military’s activities: the military is the world’s top consumer of energy, and many of its activities are dedicated to protecting fossil fuel supplies. Alternative, low-carbon sources of energy will not only reduce the impacts of climate change, but they will also lessen both the human and economic strain of U.S. military operations.

Related Publications & Reports

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Workshop Proceedings: Assessing the Benefits of Avoided Climate Change: Cost-Benefit Analysis and Beyond

Workshop Proceedings: Assessing the Benefits of Avoided Climate Change: Cost-Benefit Analysis and Beyond
May 2010

Executive Summary:

Based on decades of research by the scientific community, there is now wide recognition that emissions of greenhouse gases are changing our climate and that the future impacts from such changes will largely be harmful. In response, policymakers across the U.S. government are beginning to consider what actions should be taken to limit climate change damages. An important tool used in making such policy choices is cost-benefit analysis (CBA), but this technique has been widely criticized as inadequate as the primary approach to valuing the impacts of climate change.

In March 2009, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change convened an expert workshop to examine the state of the art, limitations, and future development needs for analyzing the benefits of avoided climate change. Approximately 80 people from academe, federal agencies, and nongovernmental organizations participated. This event was motivated by widespread recognition of two developments: First, policy decisions that result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions are becoming more commonplace across the government. Second, one of the key tools used to analyze such policies, CBA, is challenged by the longterm, global, and uncertain nature of climate change.

Drawing from the environmental economics, impacts and vulnerability, and risk analysis communities, the workshop sought to glean insights on how to better quantify the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The main objectives were to inform the development of a set of practical recommendations that decision makers could employ in the near-term and to outline new approaches to improve decision-making tools over time. Based on the outcome of the workshop, the Pew Center responded to the Office of Management and Budget’s request for public comments on how to improve the process and principles governing federal regulatory review. In February 2010, the Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon issued a report detailing its recommendations for how this metric should be calculated in agency regulatory decisions.

Press Release

Summary Report (pdf)

Full Workshop Proceedings (pdf)

Workshop Agenda, Videos, and Presentations

 

Expert Papers:

benefits-report-cover.jpg
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Press Release: Workshop Proceedings Assess Benefits of Avoided Climate Change

Press Release
May 3, 2010
Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, 703-516-4146


Pew Center on Global Climate Change Releases Report Assessing
the Benefits of Avoided Climate Change
Workshop Proceedings Suggest Risk-Management Approach

Washington, D.C. – There is now wide recognition that emissions of greenhouse gases are changing the global climate in ways that are largely harmful. In response, policymakers across the U.S. government are beginning to consider what actions should be taken to limit climate change damages. 

An important tool used in making such policy choices is cost-benefit analysis (CBA). But this technique has been widely criticized as inadequate as the primary approach to valuing the impacts of climate change. 

Motivated by recent attempts by government agencies to account for the benefits of reduced greenhouse gas emissions in rulemaking, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change held an expert workshop to examine the current state of the art, limitations, and future development needs for analyzing the benefits of avoided climate change. Approximately 80 experts from academe, nongovernmental organizations, and the federal government attended.

“The benefits of avoided climate change are substantial, but too often they are underestimated or ignored,” said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. “Incorporating the risks of inaction into our assessments of greenhouse gas reduction benefits will give us a more accurate view of the benefits of acting. These proceedings help identify practical steps forward to provide policy makers with more sound estimates of the benefits of climate action.

The main objectives of the workshop were to inform the development of a set of practical recommendations that decision makers could employ in the near term and to outline new approaches to improve decision-making tools over time. Based on the outcome of the workshop, the Pew Center submitted recommendations on the appropriate use of cost-benefit analysis to the Office of Management and Budget during its 100-day review of its own role in regulatory review. These recommendations are available on the Pew Center’s web site: http://www.c2es.org/docUploads/Pew-Recommendations-OMB.pdf.

Many participants agreed that estimates of the social cost of carbon (i.e. benefits estimates used in CBA) are systematically biased low and require significant improvement. However, with such improvements, and with appropriate discounting, CBA can be an appropriate tool for incorporating the societal benefits of reduced greenhouse gas emissions into individual policies, such as CAFE standards, that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions incrementally.

A major focus of the workshop was the inadequacy of traditional analytical tools, such as CBA, for guiding policy decisions about non-incremental changes in economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions. Many participants recommended a risk-management approach that views climate stabilization as insurance against uncertain but intolerable outcomes.

The workshop report contains an extended summary of 17 presentations and the full text of nine background papers by experts in climate science and economics. Please visit http://www.c2es.org/events/2009/benefitsworkshop to access the full contents of the workshop proceedings, including video of expert presentations and free downloads of the workshop summaries and background papers.

For more information about global climate change and the activities of the Pew Center, visit http://www.c2es.org.

# # #

The Pew Center was established in May 1998 as a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation Across the Federal Government

Today we released a report on climate change adaptation and the role of the federal government.

As we continue to await Senate action on a comprehensive bill that limits carbon pollution and grows the clean energy economy, the words of NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco resonate:

“Climate change is happening now and it's happening in our own backyards and it affects the kinds of things people care about.”

Ambitious greenhouse gas reduction programs are essential to prevent the worst impacts, but some impacts are unavoidable, such as more intense Midwestern heat waves, Western wildfires, and coastal threats from rising sea levels. If you haven’t already, check out this great map from the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s report on climate change impacts across the United States or look at EPA’s recent report on climate change indicators.

GCRP: Climate Change Impacts in U.S.
Source: U.S. Global Change Research Program. Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. 2009. http://www.globalchange.gov/publications/reports/scientific-assessments/us-impacts/usimpacts-brochures.

If we hope to minimize the costs of these impacts we’re going to have to better understand our vulnerabilities to climate change and begin to take steps to adapt.

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