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Announcements – Oct 25, 2006. New York Times October 1, 2004 With Russia's Nod, Treaty on Emissions Clears Last Hurdle

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New York Times

October 1, 2004

With Russia's Nod, Treaty on Emissions Clears Last Hurdle

The long-delayed Kyoto Protocol on global warming overcame its last critical hurdle to taking effect around the world on Thursday when Russia's cabinet endorsed the treaty and sent it to Parliament. The treaty is the first to require cuts in emissions linked to global warming. The United States has rejected the treaty and will not be bound by its restrictions. But the treaty, which has already been ratified by 120 countries will take effect if supporters include nations accounting for at least 55 percent of all industrialized countries' 1990-level emissions. The only way for it to cross that threshold was with ratification by Russia. In 1990, the United States accounted for 36.1 percent of emissions from industrialized countries, and Russia 17.4 percent.



Nov. 10, 2004

Climate report leaves U.S. policy unchanged -

Climate treaty considered threat to U.S. jobs and economic growth

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush is holding fast to his rejection of mandatory curbs on greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming, despite a fresh report from 300 scientists in the United States and seven other nations that shows Arctic temperatures are rising. Critics say Bush's opposition is ironic because the treaty was modeled after the market-based U.S. program for cutting acid rain created in 1990 by Bush's father and often pointed to by the current administration as a success story.



President Bush’s plan offers incentives to businesses to voluntarily reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 4.5 percent over 10 years and to reduce power plant emissions. Bush's plan is dramatically lower than the estimated 33 percent mandatory reduction sought by the Kyoto agreement for the United States, the world's largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions.

Bush has criticized the treaty, saying it set unrealistic goals and could damage the U.S. economy. But other nations worry about scientific concerns that climate change could lead to severe floods and droughts, rising sea levels and an increase in malaria and respiratory disease.


Friday, 8 September 2006,

World's most wanted: climate change

Human-induced climate change must be treated as an immediate threat to national security and prosperity, says John Ashton, the UK's climate change envoy. He argues that we must secure a stable climate whatever the cost, as failure to do so will cost far more.


26 September 2006

World 'warmest for 12,000 years

The world is the warmest it has been in the last 12,000 years as a result of rapid warming over the past 30 years, a study has suggested. Nasa climatologists said the Earth had warmed by about 0.2C (0.4F) in each of the last three decades.

As a result, plant and animal species were struggling to migrate fast enough to cooler regions, they said.

air quality ii
Air Quality II

Lecture Objectives:

  • What is the greenhouse effect?
  • Is global climate change/warming real?
  • What are the worst-case scenarios under global climate change?
greenhouse gases
Greenhouse Gases
  • Gases that are transparent to light, but absorb infrared radiation
  • Mainly CO2, but also chlorofluorocarbons, methane, nitrous oxide
  • General Causes
    • Burning coal, oil, gas: releases CO2
    • Deforestation: releases stored CO2, reduces capacity for CO2 storage
    • More CO2 emitted than can be absorbed
    • Industrialized nations
the controversy
The Controversy
  • Debate: Are the increasing levels of CO2 due to natural climate cycles or human-generated?
  • Opponents argue that reducing emissions will hurt the economy
  • Supporters argue that not reducing emission may have catastrophic effects, so isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?
what do we know for sure
What do we know for sure?
  • Human activities are changing the composition of Earth's atmosphere.
  • Human activities are strengthening Earth's natural greenhouse effect.
  • A warming trend of about 1°F has been recorded since the late 19th century.

what is likely but not certain
What is likely but not certain?
  • Rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will increase global warming
    • to what extent is difficult to determine.
  • Average global temperatures will continue to rise. By how much and how fast remain uncertain
    • Could be 2.2 - 10°F

what are the big unknowns
What are the big unknowns?
  • Exact local impacts on health, agriculture, water resources, forests, wildlife and coastal areas
  • Large-scale predictions easier to make than small-scale predictions
    • Will local rainfall increase or decrease?
    • Will hurricanes be more frequent or severe?
    • Will ocean currents change?

evidence for global climate change
Evidence for Global Climate Change
  • IPCC –Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
    • Appointed by the United Nations in 1988
    • Mission: To study the issue and make recommendations
    • First Assessment published 1990
    • Second Assessment published in 1996
    • Third Assessment published in 2001
      • Scientific Basis, Impacts Adaptation and Vulnerability, Mitigation, Synthesis
evidence for gcc
Evidence for GCC
  • IPCC conclusions
    • CO2 and temperature correlated
    • 0.6C average temperature increase since 1861
    • Declines in snow and ice cover since 1960s
    • 10-20 cm sea-level increase in last 100 years
    • human activity is the cause
  • Near unanimity of scientific opinion
  • National Research Council (U.S.) agrees
co 2 and temperature are correlated
CO2 and temperature are correlated

Climatic records indicate a correlation between CO2 concentration and global temperatures over the past 400,000 years


Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the few places in the world where ice and snow can be found on the equator, could lose its entire ice field by 2020 because of climate change.

The ice fields Ernest Hemingway once described as "wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun" have lost 82 percent of their ice since 1912—the year their full extent was first measured.


Human activity is the cause

effects of global warming26
Effects of Global Warming
  • Not uniform; regional differences
    • some areas hotter, some colder, some wetter, some dryer!!!
  • These local, regional changes are difficult to predict
worsening health effects
Worsening Health Effects
  • Direct heat stress: 2003 heat wave in France killed 15,000
  • Diseases: cold weather kills many diseases, especially mosquito-borne diseases:
    • malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, encephalitis
  • Ozone: pollutant near the ground
  • Cholera – ENSO link
agriculture and food supply
Agriculture and Food Supply
  • Increase yields for some crops, but not uniformly
  • World food supply unaltered, but problems in poor countries will likely get worse
  • Increase pest populations
  • Increase irrigation
disruption of water weather cycles
Disruption of Water & Weather Cycles
  • Major changes to hydrological cycle
    • Increased evaporation will dry some areas
      • Exacerbate problems in Middle East & Africa
      • Decreased hydropower
      • Impair navigation ability
      • Decrease water quality & recreation
    • Increased precipitation will flood some areas
      • Increased intensity of storms
      • Problems with flood control
worst case scenario
Worst-case scenario…
  • Increase in freshwater input to North Atlantic could halt warmer currents & thus cool Gulf Stream
  • Drastic, rapid climate changes in W. Europe (also NE United States, E. Canada)
    • Southern England like Iceland
  • 4-year study on currents started Feb 2004 (Nature 427:769)
is there anything we can do
Is there anything we can do?

Reduce Greenhouse Gases by:

  • Reducing emissions
  • Increasing CO2 uptake
    • Political and economic issues
    • Annual US per capita contribution = 22 tons of CO2 emissions per year
    • World average per capita = 6 tons
how to reduce greenhouse gases
How to reduce greenhouse gases?
  • Improve energy efficiency
    • Current & future buildings using available, cost-effective technologies
    • Increase investments in renewable and longer-term technologies.
  • Carbon tax: stimulate development of increased efficiency
  • Removal of CO2 from atmosphere
    • plant trees
    • Stop deforestation
    • Increase CO2 storage in the ocean
side benefits of reducing emissions
Side Benefits of reducing emissions
  • Reduced air pollution
  • Reduced human death, disease = lower health care costs & increased productivity
  • Improved energy efficiency
    • Reduced dependence on fossil fuels, foreign oil
    • Reduced need for expensive new power plants
  • Increased investment in alternative energy technologies

Who reaps benefits and who pays costs?


VP Cheney: “Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.”

Pres. Bush: “As you know, I oppose the Kyoto Protocol because it exempts 80 percent of the world… and would cause serious harm to the U.S. economy”

Who reaps benefits and who pays costs?

points to know april 21
Points to know – April 21
  • What is the greenhouse effect? What are the greenhouse gases?
  • What do we know for sure in the controversy over global climate change? What are the big unknowns?
  • What is the IPCC? What conclusions did it reach regarding global warming? Did the National Research Council of the U.S. agree with their findings?
  • Will global warming be felt evenly across the earth? Can we predict what will happen in a given region?
  • What will happen to the hydrological cycle? What is a worst-case scenario of global warming?
  • How can we reduce greenhouse gases? What are some side benefits of emission reduction?