Climate Capsule: Gardening, Gore & Civil Disobedience

This week’s stories:

  1. Highlight of the Week: Adaptation in a Rapidly Changing Climate
  2. Quote: Bishop Stephen Blaire
  3. Economic Story of the Week: Keystone XL Bill Passes House Committee, Spurs Protest
  4. Editorial of the Week: Spurring the EPA on Greenhouse Gases
  5. EcoCARs cross the Finish Line
  6. Killer Heat
  7. Gardener’s Guide to Climate Change
  8. Al Gore Rolls Some Punches
  9. Happening this Week

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Highlight of the Week

Adaptation in a Rapidly Changing Climate

via USFWS/Flickr, the diamondback terrapin turtle, whose habitat is likely to be inundated as the sea rises.

Scientists are looking toward the future, working on concrete plans to help people and wildlife adapt in an increasingly warming world. More than 80 experts in climate change adaptation shared their knowledge at Adaptation 2011: Conserving Natural Systems in a Rapidly Changing Climate Workshop, hosted by he National Wildlife Federation and the National Council for Science and the Environment.

Resource managers, scientists and researchers from federal and state agencies, non-profits and academia  expressed the need for clear communication with stakeholders, from local communities to national policymakers. The group wants to prioritize working together to move climate change adaptation from  planning stages to on-the-ground implementation. Adaptation 2011 was designed to help develop critical guidance for carrying out conservation in an era of climate change.

In one concrete example, the Union of Concerned Scientists has just released an interactive tool to help explore the impacts global warming is having on our lives. Using their Climate Hot Map you can participate in a Scavenger Hunt to virtually travel the world and could win a trip to help scientists investigate answers to climate change challenges.

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“Such standards should protect the health and welfare of all people, especially the most vulnerable members of our society, including unborn and other young children, from harmful exposure to toxic air pollution emitted from power plants.”

-Bishop Stephen Blaire, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, commented in support of the EPA’s mercury and air toxic rules.

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Economic Story of the Week

Keystone XL Bill Passes House Committee, Spurs Protest

via Rainforest Action Network/Flickr

The House Energy and Commerce Committee recently approved legislation, H.R. 1938, which will force the Obama administration to make a decision on the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline by November. The bill comes as the pipeline builder, TransCanada, was just cited by federal regulators for frequent spills of its existing major U.S. tar sands pipeline known as Keystone I. TransCanada’s own documents say the proposal would cut oil supply to 15 Midwest states. Observers say choking supply would increase gas prices.

Jeremy Symons, NWF senior vice president said, “The oil companies behind this bill are desperate for Congress and the administration to rush the approval of this pipeline scheme because the truth about this pipeline’s real cost is coming to light.

“If we let oil companies build this pipeline, they will manipulate oil supplies to increase gas prices at the pump in 15 states throughout the Midwest. Changing the rules robs Americans of a full and fair debate and puts Big Oil ahead of consumers and ahead of pipeline safety.”’s Bill McKibben and environmental crusader David Suzuki are calling on Canadians and Americans for civil disobedience this summer to halt construction of the pipeline.

More on this story: Reuters

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Editorial of the Week

Spurring the EPA on Greenhouse Gases

(Los Angeles Times)

The Supreme Court decision to reject a climate-change lawsuit against power plants should be a catalyst for the EPA to work on rules to limit greenhouse gases….The EPA — too slowly — is working on rules for limiting greenhouse gases from power plants. It should see this decision as a spur to set meaningful curbs. Meanwhile, the political debate over climate change continues. Environmentalists need to be vigilant on every front. Global warming denial is still common, as is opposition to supposedly burdensome government regulation. And some members of Congress oppose an effective EPA. Having been deferred to by the court, the agency now needs to make the most of its mandate. (More…)

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EcoCARs cross the Finish Line

via AVTC/Flickr

After a three-year competition students from Virginia Tech were named the winners of EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge for designing and building an exceptional extended-range electric vehicle (EREV) that runs on E85 ethanol.

“The ingenuity and dedication shown by the students of Virginia Tech in building this next-generation vehicle will help them launch careers as leaders in the clean energy field,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. “With the experience and skills these innovative students have gained through the EcoCAR competition, they will help reduce our nation’s reliance on oil imports and keep U.S. industries competitive in the global marketplace.”

Engineering students from Virginia Tech competed against 15 other universities in this competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors (GM) to re-engineer a GM-donated vehicle to minimize fuel consumption and emissions, without sacrificing utility, safety and performance.

More on this story:

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Killer Heat

A new study in Europe released by Nature Communications finds that one of the few benefits of global warming, reduced deaths from milder winters, may be more than offset by the increase in deaths due to extreme summer heat waves.

The study uses computer models to analyze climate under global warming and compares the death rates from heat and cold to those in 200 regions of Europe. Findings suggest that by 2070 the warming climate may cause 15,000 more temperature-related deaths a year in Europe.

More on this story: Associated Press

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Gardener’s Guide to Climate Change

via NWF

Americans may notice the impact of climate change right in their own gardens and backyards. The federal government recently announced that it will take advantage of this easy connection to the natural world with a pilot project in partnership with the American Public Garden Association.

Starting with an exhibition at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA, where evidence of climate impacts is already apparent in earlier flowering plants, the project will educate some 70 million annual public garden visitors on climate change.

Learn more about how wildlife and plants are affected by global warming in your garden and region with the National Wildlife Federation’s Gardener’s Guide to Global Warming report.

More on this story: New York Times

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Al Gore Rolls Some Punches

Al Gore via Juampe Lopez/Flickr
In a passionate and hotly-debated Rolling Stone article, Al Gore critiqued the Obama Administration’s environmental record and leadership on climate change. Mr. Gore wrote “[W]e are destroying the climate balance that is essential to the survival of our civilization. This is not a distant or abstract threat; it is happening now. The United States is the only nation that can rally a global effort to save our future.” The article also rebukes the media for seeming “confused about whether he is in the news business or the entertainment business” and acting like a wrestling referee.

National Wildlife Federation CEO and President Larry Schweiger commented:

Look, it’s fair to criticize President Obama for not doing more. He hasn’t done nearly enough to reach his own goal of cutting carbon pollution 17 percent by 2020. There is in fact no known plan or any process to evaluate our energy choices and where we are heading.But how can President Obama lead when the American public is so misinformed about the threats America is facing and the opportunities for action? One of my great frustrations is that the conservationists aren’t asking the media for any special treatment here – we’re just asking journalists to report what climate scientists are telling us about the potential impacts we face and the ways to solve them.

How much is global warming fueled by man-made carbon pollution to blame for 2011′s extreme weather events? Should we be building a massive new Keystone XL pipeline through America’s heartland to carry tar sands, one of the dirtiest fuels on the planet? Television, radio and print journalists cover these questions rarely, if at all.

Instead, the news media has helped turn our public square into a pro wrestling ring, with the heroes and villains refereed as equals by journalists.

More on this story: Rolling Stone, Wildlife Promise

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Happening this Week

Tuesday, June 28

Webinar of the highlights of NOAA’s 2010 State of the Climate report. With Tom Karl, Deke Arndt, Peter Thorne, Walt Meier. 1PM [RSVP]

Thursday, June 30

Hearing on EPA Power Plant Rules, Senate Environment and Public Works, 10AM, 406 Dirksen

Coming Soon…
Wednesday, July 13

Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment, 9:00 AM- 12:30 PM, The Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium, also live webcast.

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For more global warming news on Wildlife Promise click here.