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Climate Change by Industry: Who Is Most at Risk?

This is a guest post by Aaron Viles of Care2.

When we talk about the effects of climate change, often the first place we look is the natural world. There are polar bears dying from starvation for lack of sea ice; there are forests in the American West catching fire and burning rapidly after years of drought have dried out the vegetation. There are human costs too: the damage to homes and communities from extreme weather events that happen with more frequency and severity as the planet warms. And there’s the poor air quality that causes and exacerbates health problems, especially for children and the elderly.
 
These are compelling arguments for those of us already concerned about our changing planet. However, some of the best arguments to win more supporters for climate action aren’t about the environment at all. Climate change is going to cost us real, hard dollars that we just can’t afford. It’s not just taxpayers on the hook for cleanup and resilience investments. Whole industries will have to change dramatically or disappear. Here are a few that are most at risk:

Bjorn Lomborg's Deception About 'Climate and Health Assessment' in Wall Street Journal

This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup originally published at Daily Kos.
 
new op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Bjorn Lomborg misses the mark, and while it’s not as bad as some of Lomborg’s misleading opinions, there can be no doubt that the deception is intentional.

Lomborg attacks the recently released Climate and Health Assessment, a comprehensive overview of how climate change impacts the American public by the US Global Change Research Program. He attacks the report’s finding that heat-related deaths from rising temperatures will outnumber the avoided cold-related deaths, which has been debated among legitimate scientists (see this piece or this piece).

February's Global Temperature Spike is a Wake-Up Call

By Steve Sherwood, UNSW Australia and Stefan Rahmstorf, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Global temperatures for February showed a disturbing and unprecedented upward spike. It was 1.35℃ warmer than the average February during the usual baseline period of 1951-1980, according to NASA data.

This is the largest warm anomaly of any month since records began in 1880. It far exceeds the records set in 2014 and again in 2015 (the first year when the 1℃ mark was breached).

In the same month, Arctic sea ice cover reached its lowest February value ever recorded. And last year carbon dioxide concentration in our atmosphere increased by more than 3 parts per million, another record.

What is going on? Are we facing a climate emergency?

Confusion and Fear in North Carolina As State Ends Drinking Water Safety Warning

This is a guest post by Rhiannon Fionn,  an independent investigative journalist and filmmaker in post-production on the documentary film “Coal Ash Chronicles.” 

“I’m fighting for my kids and my neighbors,” says a determined Amy Brown.

Brown and hundreds of other North Carolina residents have been using only bottled water for the better part of a year now for cooking, drinking, hygiene and even for their pets. Like Brown, most of those residents live near impoundments of coal ash — the waste product created when coal is burned for electricity.

Now residents are learning that the “do not drink” orders placed on their well water supplies have been lifted by state officials. That decision has provoked fear and confusion among residents and some experts about the safety of their water supply. “This news makes me feel like we’re not getting anywhere,” said Brown, before her voice wavered with emotion.

In April 2015, the state began notifying residents their water wells were contaminated, many with the carcinogen hexavalent chromium and vanadium, which is known to harm kidneys and affect blood pressure.

Residents were issued the “do not drink” notices by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. Duke Energy’s coal ash impoundments were suspected as the cause of the contamination and the company was compelled by the state legislature to provide bottled water.

But last Monday, March 7, during a county commission meeting in rural Lee County, state officials announced most of the “do not drink” orders were being withdrawn.

Should Kids Be Able to Sue For a Safe Climate? This Federal Court is About to Decide

This is a guest post by Clayton Aldern, originally co-published by BillMoyers.com and Grist.

EUGENE, OREGON — Courtrooms usually aren’t jovial places, but with 21 youth plaintiffs and two busloads of supporting junior high-school students in tow, the air in the US District Courthouse here on Wednesday felt more field trip than federal court.

The occasion for the youthful energy was a hearing on a complaint filed on behalf of the plaintiffs, aged 8–19, by Oregon nonprofit Our Children’s Trust. The kids’ lawyers assert that their clients, and the younger generation as a whole, have been deprived of key rights by their own government. By failing to act on climate change, they argue, the United States government — including President Obama and a baker’s dozen federal agencies — has valued its own generation more than future generations, who will bear a greater burden with respect to the climate crisis.

Emissions From Global Food Production Threaten To Overwhelm Efforts To Combat Climate Change

Rice fields in the Kashmir region

By Pep Canadell, CSIRO and Hanqin Tian, Auburn University

Each year our terrestrial biosphere absorbs about a quarter of all the carbon dioxide emissions that humans produce. This a very good thing; it helps to moderate the warming produced by human activities such as burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests.

But in a paper published in Nature today, we show that emissions from other human activities, particularly food production, are overwhelming this cooling effect. This is a worrying trend, at a time when CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are slowing down, and is clearly not consistent with efforts to stabilise global warming well below 2C as agreed at the Paris climate conference.

To explain why, we need to look at two other greenhouse gases: methane and nitrous oxide.

Here's Why Even The World's Largest Coal Company Is Teetering On Bankruptcy

This is a guest post by Nick Abraham, originally published on Oil Check Northwest

Peabody Energy, the largest private coal company in the world, is one of the last remaining coal majors to still be floating above the bankruptcy tidal-wave that has hit the industry. But it now looks like that even this coal behemoth will likely go under. Languishing under the same over capitalization and changing market structures that have plagued the entire industry (more on that below) Peabody's stock has dropped 30% just since the final fiscal quarter of last year.

Peabody is now $6.3 billion in debt. Its Gateway Pacific terminal, just north of Bellingham, WA, (which if built would be the largest facility of its kind in North America) has been in a holding pattern as local communities weigh whether a project like this is in the collective interest. 

Coal's demise has been well-reported. Once the standard bearer of our power grid, coal has dropped from providing a substantial 50% of the nation’s electricity to 29%. Just last week, the Oregon legislature passed a bill to transition off coal power completely. The result of this downturn is that many domestic coal companies were becoming heavily dependent on exported coal (and exports have been falling since 2012)—carried by train through American cities and towns—to make up the difference.

Will Cap-And-Trade Slow Climate Change?

This is a guest post by David Suzuki

The principle that polluters should pay for the waste they create has led many experts to urge governments to put a price on carbon emissions. One method is the sometimes controversial cap-and-trade. Quebec, California and the European Union have already adopted cap-and-trade, and Ontario will join Quebec and California’s system in January 2017. But is it a good way to address climate change?

Ford Just Dumped ALEC, Latest Major Corporation to Dump American Legislative Exchange Council

By Nick Surgey, originally published by the Center for Media and Democracy

Ford Motor Company confirmed to the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) that it is cutting ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that has drawn heavy criticism for promoting climate change denial and for opposing the development of renewable energy sources.
 
“As part of our annual budget review, we have adjusted our participation in several groups. We will not be participating in ALEC in 2016,” wrote Christin Baker, a Ford spokesperson in an email to CMD.
 
Its products might be “Ford Tough,” but in making the decision to stop funding ALEC, Ford executives are responding to consumer concern over its membership in the controversial, Koch-funded ALEC, which has both an extreme anti-worker agenda as well as an anti-environmental agenda.
 
The departure makes Ford the 108th identified company to cut ties with ALEC in recent years.

Is Intel Fighting To Keep Oregon Hooked On Coal?

coal trains wyoming

This is a guest post by Nick Abraham, originally published on Oil Check Northwest
 
As you are reading this, a crucial compromise is making its way through the Oregon legislature: the state could finally transition completely off coal power and double its renewable energy portfolio.

Currently, Oregon still gets about 30% of its electricity from coal. This all comes from the state’s two largest utilities: PGE and Pacific Power. PGE purchases power from massive coal fired plants in Coalstrip, Montana as well as Boardman, Oregon (set to be shutdown in 2020), while Pacific Power pulls from their whole western grid, which is fed by 20+ coal plants.

Despite these two utilities historic reliance on coal, they’ve come to an unprecedented agreement with environmental groups and consumers to wean themselves off dirty energy over the next 30 years.

The Citizens Utility Board, an electricity ratepayer advocacy group, is championing the deal, which it calls, “best for consumers, best for utilities and best for the environment.” This trifecta of groups rarely sees eye-to-eye on small issues, much less a massive leap like this agreement. It’s one of those rare moments where everyone seems to be on the same page. That is except one rarely heard of regional association.

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