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Global Warming Bill

Guest Christine Dorsey

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Guest Christine Dorsey

Legislation to confront global warming introduced in the Senate last week includes unprecedented funding for wildlife conservation that could generate between $500 million and $2 billion annually in new revenue for state wildlife grants.


The new wildlife provision was added to the bipartisan Climate Stewardship Act sponsored by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT).


“The prospect of getting a real grip on global warming in a way that produces enormous benefits for wildlife all across the country is one of the most innovative ideas to come out of Congress in recent decades,” Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation, says.


The legislation combines a market-based approach to spur technology with clear goals and safeguards to control U.S. global warming pollution. It came close to passage in the Senate during the last Congress, and the revamped measure is slated for another possible vote in the coming months.


“This is great news for wildlife and for the millions of Americans who want to assure a wildlife legacy for our children’s future,” says Schweiger. “Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman are listening to sportsmen, birders and other Americans who love the great outdoors and are concerned about the impacts of global warming.”


The new wildlife provision requires at least 10 percent of revenue collected from a new system of global warming pollution permits be used to assist states with wildlife conservation by enhancing the existing State Wildlife Grant program with a reliable, guaranteed source of funding. The revenue would support the shared federal-state responsibility to manage wildlife under the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program of the Pittman-Robertson Act.


“Enhancing wildlife conservation with revenue from this global warming legislation makes good sense,” says Schweiger. “Generations of sportsmen have purchased hunting and fishing licenses to promote the responsible use of our wildlife resources. Meanwhile, industrial pollution has left the public footing the bill from the mounting impacts of global warming on wildlife. It is time that industry pays its fair share to protect wildlife.”


A recent report by The Wildlife Society, the nation’s leading authority on wildlife, finds that wildlife species in North America are beginning to respond to the average 1-degree Fahrenheit global temperature rise experienced in the last century. As habitats continue to change in response to global warming, many wildlife species will be forced to adapt, or could face extinction.


“If we want wildlife to be resilient in the face of a changing climate, we must give wildlife managers a secure, guaranteed funding stream to manage public lands with the future in mind,” Schweiger says. “Revenue from this bill will enhance the ability of state wildlife managers to address existing conservation needs and the additional burden of global warming.”


The Climate Stewardship Act (S. 342) is considered a modest first step toward curbing U.S. global warming pollution, joining the dozens of nations that are already taking steps to reduce emissions. The bill calls on major polluters to rein in growing emissions of global warming pollution to the levels they emitted in the year 2000.


The measure establishes a new system of global warming pollution permits that limits the total amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that could be emitted in the United States each year, beginning in 2010. The limit would be set at 5.9 billion tons each year, the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by major sources such as power plants, oil refineries and other large manufacturers, in the year 2000. Households, small businesses, farms, ranches and rural electric coops are not regulated under the bill.


Every year, the government would sell and otherwise issue the available permits to industry. Because the bill features a flexible compliance system that encourages innovation and minimizes the cost of compliance for industry, the exact cost of permits – and the revenues paid to the government – will be determined by the free market.


The bill is modeled after the highly successful cap and trade program for acid rain created by the Clean Air Act.


In addition to funding wildlife, the revenues will be used to bolster federal investments in technology, to assist communities in responding to global warming, and to assist low income families and others with energy bills.


The bill would support development of a suite of new energy technologies, including advanced coal, biomass, solar, and nuclear energy. While NWF supports the Climate Stewardship Act’s market based approach to limiting global warming pollution, NWF does not believe the bill's nuclear power provisions are necessary. Economic analyses by the Department of Energy and other institutions show that dramatic cuts in global warming pollution are possible through advances in energy efficient technologies, biofuels and other cleaner, renewable energy sources. NWF will continue to work with the bill's sponsors to improve the bill with the goal of eliminating potential subsidies for nuclear power.


The National Wildlife Federation is America’s conservation organization protecting wildlife for our children’s future.

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Guest Doug Inkley

Ducks, geese and other migratory waterfowl face substantial population declines during this century in North America from a warmer climate and shrinking wetlands habitat caused by global warming, according to scientific research presented in a new National Wildlife Federation report.


The Waterfowler’s Guide to Global Warming reports that ducks and geese that use America’s flyways face “a trifecta of troubles caused by global warming,” says National Wildlife Federation President Larry Schweiger, “including major loss of prime breeding grounds, a reduction of coastal winter habitat and disruptions in migration.”


Already, in northern breeding habitats, where global warming has already gained a strong foothold, ducks and geese are responding by breeding earlier and expanding their ranges farther north, the report states.


“Global warming is setting up ducks and geese for a Pandora’s box of problems that could devastate populations across the nation,” Schweiger says.


“We must not allow global warming to take our nation’s waterfowl legacy away from our children,” Schweiger says. “Global warming poses a basic threat to our conservation tradition. It challenges our responsibility to be good stewards of the water, land and wildlife. I am confident that sportsmen will lead the way in overcoming this challenge.”


The report, the first comprehensive look at how global warming’s multiple effects threaten North American waterfowl, was issued jointly by the National Wildlife Federation and 27 of its affiliated state conservation organizations. It highlights the latest scientific research of how changes in climate already are affecting waterfowl and how changes in the coming decades will likely affect breeding, migration and population of ducks, geese and other waterfowl.


“We are looking at a possible trifecta of pressures all convening within a few decades,” says Patty Glick, global warming specialist for the National Wildlife Federation and the report’s author.


The report looks at how projected global warming could affect waterfowl in each of the four North American flyways: Atlantic, Mississippi, Central and Pacific.


One of the most startling findings is in research by top waterfowl experts in North America suggesting that global warming could reduce wetland habitat in the Prairie Pothole Region by up to 91 percent by 2080. This could result in a decline in duck breeding pairs of anywhere from 9 to 69 percent, the research shows. Species at particular risk include mallards, gadwall, blue-winged teal, northern pintails, canvasbacks, redheads and ruddy ducks.


According to Glick, “As the climate warms and evaporation and plant transpiration increase, many of these ponds are likely to dry up or be wet for shorter periods, making them less suitable habitat for breeding pairs and duck broods.”



“Waterfowl are part of an American wildlife tradition that we cannot afford to lose,” says George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, a co-sponsor of the report. “The millions of ducks, geese and cranes Americans love depend on the health of the Prairie Potholes as a breeding ground, and we could be leaving ducks high and dry by the end of the century.”


The Prairie Pothole Region is dubbed “North America’s Duck Factory” because it produces millions of ducks and geese annually, thanks to millions of shallow depressions and ponds that fill with water in spring, providing ideal breeding habitat.


Waterfowl also are facing the loss of up to 45 percent of the coastal wetlands they depend on in winter due to a possible 3 to 34-inch rise in average sea level by 2100, the report states. Especially vulnerable are the shallow wetlands of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. These regions provide important wintering habitat for diving ducks such as canvasbacks, redheads, ruddy ducks and scaup.


Finally, warmer fall and winter temperatures in northern regions may reduce seasonal ice cover, making it unnecessary for ducks and geese to fly as far south to find ice-free water and adequate food.


The report highlights the multiple challenges waterfowl throughout North America will likely face if global warming continues unabated. Among them, changes in inland precipitation patterns and a significant decline in average mountain snowpack are expected to affect the quality and quantity of water in many coastal marshes and estuaries along the Pacific Coast. Thawing permafrost and changes in the vegetation of boreal forests and tundra regions of Alaska and Canada also could affect important breeding habitat for a number of North America’s waterfowl species.


“Even where changes associated with global warming alone might not cause problems, the combined effects from human activities such as oil and gas development, forestry, mining and global warming make it difficult for some waterfowl to adapt to a rapidly changing environment,” says Glick. “Waterfowl face an up-hill battle.”


Climate scientists point to carbon pollution as the primary culprit behind global warming. In the last 100 years, global temperature rose by an average of 1 degree Fahrenheit, but in places such as Alaska, the change has been more dramatic. The average temperature in Alaska has risen by 5-7 degrees Fahrenheit in the last century, and is beginning to cause problems associated with softening permafrost and erosion along the state’s coastline.


Temperatures globally are projected to rise on average by between 2-10 degrees Fahrenheit in the coming decades, primarily because of carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels that is trapping heat from being released in the atmosphere. A 1-degree Fahrenheit rate of change in temperature in 100 years is faster than any time in recorded history.


The report includes a plan of action to reduce global warming pollution and help waterfowl and other wildlife adapt to the changes already occurring. Among the recommendations:


• Uphold the Clean Water Act and Farm Bill wetlands protections and expand other programs that encourage protection and restoration of wetlands;


• Develop wetland and waterfowl conservation strategies that account for the potential effects of global warming and reform floodplain and coastal management practices; and


• Enact policies that limit the nation’s global warming pollution, protect and enhance forests, grasslands, wetlands and other natural systems that absorb and store carbon; promote energy efficiency and accelerate deployment of renewable energy technologies.

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Guest Jason Miller

America’s Corporatocracy is leading the human race down a path of global extinction. Representing only 5% of the world population, the United States consumes 25% of the world's energy and possesses approximately 27% of its wealth. Through lobbying efforts and major campaign donations, the major oil companies ensure the implementation of government policies that ensure continued dependence on fossil fuels, a non-renewable resource. Despite being a significant contributor to the greenhouse effect, the US Plutocracy has spent millions of dollars to create junk science to "debunk" the notion of global warming, and has refused to sign the Kyoto Treaty.

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Guest Cheryl L. Dybas

Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., have created a computer simulation showing Earth's climate in unprecedented detail at the time of the greatest mass extinction in history.


The work gives support to a theory that an abrupt and dramatic rise in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide triggered the massive die-off 251 million years ago. The research appears in the Sept. issue of the journal Geology.


"The results demonstrate how rapidly rising temperatures in the atmosphere can affect ocean circulation, cutting off oxygen to lower depths and extinguishing most life," says NCAR scientist and lead author, Jeffrey Kiehl.


Kiehl and co-author Christine Shields focused on the dramatic events at the end of the Permian Era, when an estimated 90 to 95 percent of all marine species, as well as about 70 percent of all terrestrial species, became extinct.


At the time of the event, higher-latitude temperatures were 18°F to 54°F (10°C to 30°C) warmer than today, and extensive volcanic activity had released large amounts of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere over a 700,000-year period.


To solve the puzzle of how those conditions may have affected climate and life around the globe, the researchers turned to the Community Climate System Model (CCSM). The model can integrate changes in atmospheric temperatures with ocean temperatures and currents. Research teams had previously studied the Permian extinction with more limited computer models that focused on only a single component of Earth's climate system, such as the ocean.


"These results demonstrate the importance of treating Earth's climate as a system involving physical, chemical and biological processes in the atmosphere, oceans and land surface, all interacting," said Jay Fein, director of the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s climate dynamics program, which funded the research. "Other studies have reached similar conclusions. What's new is the application of a detailed version of one of the world's premier climate system models, the CCSM, to understanding how rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide affected conditions in the world's oceans and on its land surfaces enough to trigger a massive extinction hundreds of millions of years ago."


The CCSM indicated that ocean temperatures warmed significantly at higher latitudes because of rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. The warmer temperatures reached a depth of about 10,000 feet (4,000 meters), interfering with the normal circulation process in which colder surface water descends, taking oxygen and nutrients deep into the ocean.


As a result, ocean waters became stratified with little oxygen, proving deadly to marine life. Because marine organisms were no longer removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, that, in turn, accelerated warming temperatures.


"The implication of our study is that elevated [carbon dioxide] is sufficient to lead to inhospitable conditions for marine life and excessively high temperatures over land would contribute to the demise of terrestrial life," the authors conclude.


The CCSM's simulations showed that ocean circulation was even more stagnant than previously thought. In addition, the research demonstrated the extent to which computer models can successfully simulate past climate events. The CCSM appeared to correctly capture key details of the late Permian, including higher levels of ocean salinity and high latitude sea-surface temperatures that paleontologists believe were 14°F (8°C) warmer than present.


The modeling presented unique challenges because of limited data and significant geographic differences between the Permian and present-day Earth. The researchers had to estimate such variables as the chemical composition of the atmosphere, the amount of sunlight reflected by Earth's surface back into the atmosphere, and the movement of heat and salinity in the oceans at a time when all the continents were consolidated into the giant land mass known as Pangaea.

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Siberian permafrost is melting, leading to the potential release of up to 70 billion tons of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. The last time this happened, during the Thermal Maximum, much of the United States was plunged under water.

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