White House Approves Report On Climate Change

Human Activities Causing Global Warming

The climate of the United States is strongly connected to the changing global climate. The statements below highlight past, current, and projected climate changes for the United States and the globe.

Global annually averaged surface air temperature has increased by about 1.8°F (1.0°C) over the last 115 years (1901–2016). This period is now the warmest in the history of modern civilization. The last few years have also seen record-breaking, climate-related weather extremes, and the last three years have been the warmest years on record for the globe. These trends are expected to continue over climate timescales.

This assessment concludes, based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.

In addition to warming, many other aspects of global climate are changing, primarily in response to human activities. Thousands of studies conducted by researchers around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; diminishing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; and increasing atmospheric water vapor.

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For example, global average sea level has risen by about 7–8 inches since 1900, with almost half (about 3 inches) of that rise occurring since 1993. Human-caused climate change has made a substantial contribution to this rise since 1900, contributing to a rate of rise that is greater than during any preceding century in at least 2,800 years. Global sea level rise has already affected the United States; the incidence of daily tidal flooding is accelerating in more than 25 Atlantic and Gulf Coast cities.

Global average sea levels are expected to continue to rise—by at least several inches in the next 15 years and by 1–4 feet by 2100. A rise of as much as 8 feet by 2100 cannot be ruled out. Sea level rise will be higher than the global average on the East and Gulf Coasts of the United States.

Changes in the characteristics of extreme events are particularly important for human safety, infrastructure, agriculture, water quality and quantity, and natural ecosystems. Heavy rainfall is increasing in intensity and frequency across the United States and globally and is expected to continue to increase. The largest observed changes in the United States have occurred in the Northeast.

Heatwaves have become more frequent in the United States since the 1960s, while extreme cold temperatures and cold waves are less frequent. Recent record-setting hot years are projected to become common in the near future for the United States, as annual average temperatures continue to rise. Annual average temperature over the contiguous United States has increased by 1.8°F (1.0°C) for the period 1901–2016; over the next few decades (2021–2050), annual average temperatures are expected to rise by about 2.5°F for the United States, relative to the recent past (average from 1976–2005), under all plausible future climate scenarios.

The incidence of large forest fires in the western United States and Alaska has increased since the early 1980s and is projected to further increase in those regions as the climate changes, with profound changes to regional ecosystems.

water shortages and drought

Annual trends toward earlier spring melt and reduced snowpack are already affecting water resources in the western United States and these trends are expected to continue. Under higher scenarios, and assuming no change to current water resources management, chronic, long-duration hydrological drought is increasingly possible before the end of this century.

The magnitude of climate change beyond the next few decades will depend primarily on the amount of greenhouse gases (especially carbon dioxide) emitted globally. Without major reductions in emissions, the increase in annual average global temperature relative to preindustrial times could reach 9°F (5°C) or more by the end of this century. With significant reductions in emissions, the increase in annual average global temperature could be limited to 3.6°F (2°C) or less.

The global atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration has now passed 400 parts per million (ppm), a level that last occurred about 3 million years ago, when both global average temperature and sea level were significantly higher than today. Continued growth in CO2 emissions over this century and beyond would lead to an atmospheric concentration not experienced in tens to hundreds of millions of years. There is broad consensus that the further and the faster the Earth system is pushed towards warming, the greater the risk of unanticipated changes and impacts, some of which are potentially large and irreversible.

The observed increase in carbon emissions over the past 15–20 years has been consistent with higher emissions pathways. In 2014 and 2015, emission growth rates slowed as economic growth became less carbon-intensive. Even if this slowing trend continues, however, it is not yet at a rate that would limit global average temperature change to well below 3.6°F (2°C) above preindustrial levels.

Introduction

New observations and new research have increased our understanding of past, current, and future climate change since the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA3) was published in May 2014. This Climate Science Special Report (CSSR) is designed to capture that new information and build on the existing body of science in order to summarize the current state of knowledge and provide the scientific foundation for the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4).

Since NCA3, stronger evidence has emerged for continuing, rapid, human-caused warming of the global atmosphere and ocean. This report concludes that “it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

The last few years have also seen record-breaking, climate-related weather extremes, the three warmest years on record for the globe, and continued decline in arctic sea ice. These trends are expected to continue in the future over climate (multidecadal) timescales. Significant advances have also been made in our understanding of extreme weather events and how they relate to increasing global temperatures and associated climate changes. Since 1980, the cost of extreme events for the United States has exceeded $1.1 trillion; therefore, better understanding of the frequency and severity of these events in the context of a changing climate is warranted.

climate change and extreme weather

Periodically taking stock of the current state of knowledge about climate change and putting new weather extremes, changes in sea ice, increases in ocean temperatures, and ocean acidification into context ensures that rigorous, scientifically-based information is available to inform dialogue and decisions at every level. This climate science report serves as the climate science foundation of the NCA4 and is generally intended for those who have a technical background in climate science.

This report discusses climate trends and findings at several scales: global, nationwide for the United States, and for ten specific U.S. regions (shown in Figure 1 in the Guide to the Report). A statement of scientific confidence also follows each point in the Executive Summary. The confidence scale is described in the Guide to the Report. At the end of the Executive Summary and in Chapter 1: Our Globally Changing Climate, there is also a summary box highlighting the most notable advances and topics since NCA3 and since the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report.

Global and U.S. Temperatures Rising

Long-term temperature observations are among the most consistent and widespread evidence of a warming planet. Temperature (and, above all, its local averages and extremes) affects agricultural productivity, energy use, human health, water resources, infrastructure, natural ecosystems, and many other essential aspects of society and the natural environment. Recent data add to the weight of evidence for rapid global-scale warming, the dominance of human causes, and the expected continuation of increasing temperatures, including more record-setting extremes.

Click Here For The Entire Report On Global Warming

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Crossbow Communications is an international marketing and public affairs firm. It specializes in issue management and public affairs. It’s also promoting sustainable, resilient and livable cities. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com to join our network.

Climate Change The Top Threat In Chile

Climate Change Now Taught In Public Schools

Fernando Rojas is holding up a photograph of a pocket of countryside, between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountains, that has been his home, his livelihood, and his passion for all of his 74 years.

His picture shows a lake, brimming with water, in front of a range of hills that are silhouetted by the sun. In the foreground, by the water’s edge, there’s a small boat, ready to set sail. Next to that, there’s a wooden jetty, jutting out into the waves.

Chile drought and climate change

You would hardly know that this image, taken in Chile just a few years ago, is of the same depleted landscape on which Rojas is now standing, grim-faced, puzzled and — he says — full of sadness.

Most of the water has gone. The jetty is marooned in a sea of mud and grass. Beside it, there is a new wire fence, erected to keep out horses and cattle that are grazing on the lake’s bed. Some boats are still there, stored away under canvas.

What water is left in the lake is in the hazy distance — about half of a mile away, a languid puddle, less than 3 feet deep, fringed by weeds and white egrets.

The Laguna de Aculeo — as this lake’s known — used to be a favorite retreat for many of the 7 million citizens of Chile’s capital, Santiago, 45 miles to the north.

On weekends, they came to windsurf, sail and Jet Ski, and to enjoy the tranquility of a valley with almond orchards, vineyards, poplar groves and wood cabins. Before the water suddenly receded, lakeside villas sold for more than $500,000.

For much of his life, Rojas farmed around the lake, growing melons and corn. He says the lake, which depends entirely on rainfall, began to shrink about seven years ago, and “got lower and lower and lower.”

The lake was roughly four times the size of New York’s Central Park. Rojas used to motor across it in a small boat to buy groceries. That same journey is now a walk. Lakeside villa prices collapsed — “no one wants to buy them, if they are not beside the water,” he remarks — and so have parts of the local economy.

Local people are “suffering [because] they depend on the water,” says Claudio Mella, an orthopedic surgeon in Santiago, who owns one of the villas and has been coming to the lake with his family for 15 years. “We have a lot of good friends here, and many of them have some depression, some family problems.”

Among those dependent on the lake is Oriana Lopez, who’s 55. Her once-thriving windsurfing business has received no clients for about five years, she says. Her family is left “in penury,” and must survive on her 97-year-old father’s pension, plus whatever money her son can earn doing casual labor.

“It is pitiful to see the lake like this,” Lopez says, as her dogs romp across what used to be the lake’s bed. Many people have had to leave the area, because of the lack of jobs. She, however, will stay and struggle on.

“I was born and raised here,” she says tearfully, “I love this land.”

Chile has been through an unusually severe seven-year drought that hit the central and southern areas where most of its population of 17 million lives. The affected zone includes the Laguna de Aculeo.

“We have been calling it the mega-drought because it has been very extended in space and in time,” says Maisa Rojas, a climatologist from the University of Chile. “We have seen this before, but never so widespread.” Although there has been a recent increase in precipitation, scientists are not yet sure if the drought’s over.

climate change policy

Studies are now underway investigating ways of saving the lake. “If nothing is done, it is possible the lake will dry out in a couple of years. It’s on the edge,” says Felipe Martin, a leading hydrologist who used to head the commission that develops Chile’s water resource policy.

Martin is among those working on rescue plans. He says the lake lost some water after its aquifers were disrupted by Chile’s 2010 earthquake. But drought is a major factor, and he blames that on climate change.

For Chile, the possible impact of climate change has now become an issue of profound concern on numerous fronts, from melting glaciers to conflicts over water rights between big agricultural businesses and small farmers.

“There is nobody who has not been affected by climate change, directly or indirectly, here in Chile,” says Matias Asun, director of Greenpeace Chile.

Chile’s Environment Minister, Marcelo Mena, cites “temperature anomalies” of 2 degrees Celsius in parts of Chile, and says there is “no space for climate denial because we see climate change threatening us in multiple shapes.”

Mena points to a wave of disasters that has hit Chile recently, including deadly floods and landslides, and a giant “red tide” — when an algae bloom, fueled by unusually warm sea temperatures, wiped out millions of fish, including 20 percent of the salmon production.

Sao Palo drought and water crisis

In January — fed by drought conditions — the worst wildfires in Chile’s history ripped across the landscape, destroying more than 2,300 square miles, including large areas of forests, and threatening some of the country’s famous vineyards.

“When you see the desperation in people’s eyes, and when you see things that you haven’t seen before, that really makes you worry that this is really getting out of hand,” Mena says.

“And when you see that some people are trying to deny the climate science, then … you have to take your gloves off, and you have to be very blunt about the fact that we are facing a challenge that is like something we have never seen before.”

Mena says most Chileans now regard climate change as their greatest external threat.

Proving that Chile’s wave of catastrophes was caused by climate change is highly complex. You have to use modelling studies to show any given event would have not have happened, were it not for climate change, says climatologist Maisa Rojas.

“We haven’t done any attribution studies for this, so I cannot say event[s] wouldn’t have happened, if it weren’t for climate change,” she says. “But the climate context in which these events have occurred are very much what we’d expect from climate change.”

Chile’s government is introducing a range of measures to help the country adapt to hotter, drier conditions — for example, better water conservation and fire prevention methods, and creating green spaces to help cool urban areas. To further raise awareness, there will be mandatory climate change classes in Chile’s schools, from next year onward.

Chile’s also rapidly expanding its use of renewable sources, which are expected to generate at least 80 percent of its energy by 2050. More than half the electricity used to power Santiago’s subway system will soon come from the sun and the wind. The lion’s share of this will be generated by a giant solar plant in Chile’s Atacama Desert, using hundreds of thousands of solar panels covering an area the size of 370 football fields.

At the Laguna de Aculeo — the shrinking lake — residents wonder what they will do if the water never comes back.

Paulo Gutierrez quit a high-pressure job in information technology and telecoms in Santiago to move to the lake with his family in search of a more tranquil way of life. He set up a cafe and a bakery around the time the lake’s water levels first began to drop. He is now is considering buying land further south, and moving there.

Gutierrez has moved beyond the debate over whether climate change is real; he believes Chile must now focus on figuring out how to adapt to it.

“We already know this thing is true, because we are suffering,” he says. “Twenty years ago, it was a possibility. Right now, it’s a reality.”

Read the full story at Climate Change News

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Crossbow Communications is an international marketing and public affairs firm. It specializes in issue management and public affairs. It’s also promoting sustainable, resilient and livable cities. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com to join our network.

UNDP Launches Program For Green Cities

Cities A Massive Problem, Opportunity

By Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme

On behalf of UNDP, welcome to the launch of the UNDP Sustainable Urbanization Strategy. As we meet here in Quito today for the Habitat III conference, we are also celebrating the International Day for Poverty Eradication.

greener cities conference

Many of the world’s poor now live in cities where the most pressing development challenges are found. In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we need to ensure that the urban poor are not left behind.

The New Urban Agenda, which is due to be adopted here at Habitat III, aims to ensure that the cities of today and tomorrow offer an inclusive and sustainable future for all. The UNDP Sustainable Urbanization Strategy lays out the support which UNDP as a global development organization can provide to help achieve that.

Around our world, people are moving to cities in very large numbers.  Cities are seen as places of opportunity and hope, where hard work and determination can transform lives.

UNDP has developed its sustainable urbanization strategy to support cities to deliver on the hopes of their citizens and to implement the New Urban Agenda.  Many people in cities, particularly young people, lack work and say they currently feel excluded from opportunities. For women and girls, cities can be dangerous places where they cannot walk in safety and may risk exploitation in dangerous and demeaning jobs.  Natural disasters – including those exacerbated by climate change – and conflict and citizen insecurity can turn back the clock on hard won development gains.

UNDP’s experiences of working in towns and cities around the world have shaped this first UNDP sustainable urbanization strategy, and will guide our efforts beyond Quito.  Allow me to share three of our lessons learned:

  1. For cities to be succeed, they need to meet the needs of all their residents. Truly dynamic cities make space for all, and serve the needs of all.  Inclusivity is one of the main principles of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in which UN Member States pledged to leave no one behind. The needs and aspirations of poor and marginalized people in the world’s cities must be addressed to fulfill that ambition.
  2. Cities must be resilient to natural and man-made disasters and crises. Urban areas are now home to more than half the world’s people, and they also host most of the world’s critical infrastructure, key development assets, political institutions, and major socio-economic architecture. If disasters and crises rock cities, the spillover effects are great. In the first half of 2016 alone, natural disasters caused US$71 billion in damages worldwide, with most economic loss concentrated in cities. Political instability and conflict also have major costs.
  3. Cities are at the forefront of the battle against climate change and environmental degradation. They produce more than seventy percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and use eighty per cent of the world’s energy. How cities grow and develop in the coming decades will play a significant part in determining whether the world can live within its planetary boundaries.

climate change policy

Delivering the sustainable, inclusive, and resilient cities of the future requires that we work together in partnership, as UNDP is committed to doing. Our partnerships are diverse:

  • Here in Ecuador, we have been part of the efforts to help local communities recover and rebuild in Manabí province following the 16 April earthquake this year.
  • In Soacha, Colombia, a town close to Bogota, UNDP and UNCHR have been working together on a programme called Building Sustainable Solutions. It supports the local municipality with land registration and title, promoting economic development with the support of the private sector, and with community and institutional strengthening.
  • In Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, UNDP has worked with local community groups to improve access to municipal services.
  • In Bangladesh, UNDP has supported municipal leaders to improve the livelihoods of millions of urban dwellers through our large scale Urban Partnerships for Poverty Reduction programme.
  • Initiatives like these, taken to scale through partnerships and strong urban leadership, will be critical to implementing the New Urban Agenda and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Helen Clark is the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. She also chairs the United Nations Development Group.

Are Cities Ready For The Next Major Hurricane

Coastal Cities Unprepared For Extreme Storms

By Nick Stockton, Wired

After the storm, after the flooding, after the investigations, the US came to realize that what happened to New Orleans on August 29, 2005 was not a natural disaster. The levee system built by the US Army Corps of Engineers had structural flaws, and those flaws were awaiting the right circumstances. In that way, what happened was all but inevitable.

sustainable cities and climate change

And just as the storm is not to blame, New Orleans is not unique in its vulnerability. The city endured a lot of scolding in the aftermath of Katrina, as if the storm was the climax to a parable about poor urban planning. Sure, the city sits below sea level, at the end of hurricane alley, and relies heavily on an elaborate (and delicate) system of infrastructure. But where the city’s geography is unique, its vulnerability is anything but. Just about every coastal city, state, or region is sitting on a similar confluence of catastrophic conditions. The seas are rising, a storm is coming, and critical infrastructure is dangerously exposed.

The basic math of carbon dioxide is pretty simple: Generally, as CO2 levels rise, the air will warm. Warmer air melts glaciers, which drip into the sea—even as the water itself warms, too. Both cause the oceans to rise. Even if the entire planet stopped emitting carbon dioxide, Earth would continue to suffer the effects of past emissions.

“We’ve got at least 30 years of inertia in terms of sea level rise,” says Trevor Houser, a Rhodium Group economist who studies climate risk. And even if the sea weren’t rising, the rate of urban growth will more than double the area of urban land at high flood risk, according to a study Global Environmental Change published earlier this year.

But the sea is rising, at about .13 of an inch per year, for the past 20 years. (It was rising before then, too, but at about half the rate for the preceding 80 years.) Another recent study calculated that the world should expect about 4 feet of sea level rise for every degree Fahrenheit the global average temperature rises. This puts nearly every coastal city, in every coastal state, in danger of floods. Climate Central has an extensive project looking at sea level risk, if you’re curious about your city’s risk.

Warm air also holds more moisture, and moisture holds more energy, hence stronger (though not necessarily more frequent) storms. Those storms combine with high sea levels to create a danger greater than the sum of their parts. In a combined flooding event, a severe storm traps a city between rainfall and surging seas. Higher sea levels cause rivers to back up, water tables to saturate, shorelines to shorten. Storms—which are likely to be stronger than before—have fewer options to run off, so they pool and flood. And America built its coastal civilization oblivious to their threat.

hurricane Katrina

Take Florida, the most climate-threatened swath of American soil. It’s low, flat, built on porous limestone, and hurricane prone. According to a new analysis by disaster insurance agency Karen Clark and Co., Florida has four of the 10 US cities most vulnerable to combined flooding events.

Florida, knowing its place in the world, has copious levees and seawalls. But the levees are there mostly to protect against the Everglades. The seawalls are about as good at breaking a hurricane as a hood ornament is at breaking the wind. And all of that infrastructure is of little use in the face of combined flooding events—the sea will simply come up from below. Miami flooded last year when the storm sewers backed up because the water table was too high to drain them.

The Sunshine State’s geography makes it an easy target for blame (not to mention hurricanes). But if there’s anything the US should have learned in the decade since Katrina, it’s that storms don’t always hit where you expect them—because, you know, Sandy. “Florida is definitely the most vulnerable place, but you also have places like Norfolk that are built on the coastal floodplain, and parts of New England where there is a lot of sunk infrastructure very close to the increasingly vulnerable coast,” says Houser. The pattern repeats itself all along the Atlantic coastal plain: Physical protections are largely insufficient to protect against a new class of climate threats.

And then, sometimes, that infrastructure falls apart entirely. Louisiana’s levees couldn’t have held off Katrina entirely, but it was their collapse, not the hurricane itself, that turned the Big Easy into a bathtub. “Some were improperly designed, some were improperly constructed, the rest were improperly maintained,” says Sandy Rosenthal, the director of Levees.org, an infrastructure watchdog group.

That same sentence could apply to key infrastructure nationwide. A lot of the country’s infrastructure—its bridges, transportation corridors, airports, seaports, water supply systems, electrical grids, flood control, and so one—were built poorly, hastily, or both. A lot of it is old and neglected. In a 2013 survey, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave US infrastructure a D+ grade.

“A lot of infrastructure went up in the midcentury,” says Solomon Hsiang, a UC Berkeley economist who studies public policy. “Now we’re reaching the end of the natural lifetime of that infrastructure, and we need to decide that we can no longer ride on all the investment that occurred 50 or 60 years ago.” Much of this stuff is directly vulnerable to climate change. Earlier this year, the Army Corps of Engineers released two surveys describing hundreds of dams and thousands of levees vulnerable to rising seas and stronger storms. Threats identified—but not yet remedied.

Sustainable City News via http://climatedesk.org/2015/08/no-one-is-ready-for-the-next-katrina/

Sao Paulo Water Crisis A Symptom Of Deforestation In Amazon

Another Symptom Of Amazon Destruction, Privatization

In Brazil’s biggest city, a record dry season and rising demand for water has led to a punishing drought. It has actually been raining quite heavily over the last few days around Sao Paulo but it has barely made a drop of difference because of climate change.

The main reservoir system that feeds this immense city is dangerously low, and it would take months of heavy rainfall for water levels to return to normal.

Sao Palo drought and water crisis
Is the Sao Palo drought and water crisis caused by Amazon deforestation? This is Sao Paulo’s supply of drinking water.

So how does a country that produces an estimated 12 percent of the world’s fresh water end up with a chronic shortage of this most essential resource – in its biggest and most economically important city?

It’s interesting to note that both the local state government and the federal government have been slow to acknowledge there is a crisis, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. That might have been a politically expedient position to take during the recent election campaign, when the shortage of water in Sao Paulo was a thorny political issue, but the apparent lack of urgency in the city and wider state now is worrying many.

At the main Cantareira reservoir system, which feeds much of this city’s insatiable demand for water, things have almost reached rock bottom. Huge pipes suck out what water remains as the reservoir dips below 10 percent of its usual capacity. The odd local villager wanders around the dry bed of the lake hoping for a temporary windfall as fish flounder in the few pools that remain.

Deforestation and drought in Brazil
Deforestation kills more than trees.

In the town of Itu, not far from the slowly diminishing reservoir, Gilberto Rodriguez and several of his neighbours wait patiently in line. All of them are carrying as many jerry cans, empty plastic drinks bottles or buckets as they can muster. For weeks now they’ve been filling up with water from this emergency well. Twice a day Gilberto heaves the full containers into his car and heads home.

Every other house on the short drive seems to have a homemade poster pinned to the gate or doorframe. The same message, or plea, is written on each one; “Itu pede Socorro” – “Itu needs help.” Gilberto and his wife almost break into a laugh when I suggest to them that, according to Sao Paulo’s state government, the situation is manageable and there’s no need for water rationing.

“There’s been no water in our pipes now for a month,” says Soraya. “It’s not as bad as this in every community but we’ve had water rationing here since February.”

The car-crash scenario of a record dry season coupled with the ever-increasing demand for resources from South America’s biggest city seems almost to have caught the state water authority, Sabesp, by surprise. The authority, in turn, is being widely criticized for failing to plan and is now trying to manage a crisis.

Deforestation kills entire  ecosystems
Deforestation kills entire ecosystems.

Home to some 20 million people, the sprawling city of Sao Paulo continues to grow. But the failure of city services and basic infrastructure to keep pace merely exacerbates the problems, in particular the dwindling supplies of clean water.

Open sewers mean that Sao Paulo’s rivers are completely polluted. They’re now part of the problem rather than, as should be in times of drought, part of the solution.

Maria Cecilia Brito is part of the umbrella organization Alliance for Waters, which is belatedly trying to raise public awareness about the chronic shortages.

“People here were brought up to believe that water was a resource that would never end,” Maria Cedilla explains. “We were taking more water from the sources than those sources were able to replenish through natural means.”

But now one of Brazil’s leading scientists is suggesting that the causes of the drought may be even more worrying for Brazil in the long run. Antonio Nobre is one of country’s most respected Earth scientists and climatologists. He argues there is enough evidence to say that continued deforestation in the Amazon and the almost complete disappearance of the Atlantic forest has drastically altered the climate.

“There is a hot dry air mass sitting down here [in Sao Paulo] like an elephant and nothing can move it,” says the eminent scientist, who divides his time between the southern city of Sao Jose dos Campos and the Amazon city of Manaus.

reforestation and climate change solution
Reforestation can help turn the tides of climate change. Our sister company is ready to help.

“That’s what we have learned – that the forests have an innate ability to import moisture and to cool down and to favor rain. If deforestation in the Amazon continues, Sao Paulo will probably dry up. If we don’t act now, we’re lost,” adds Mr Nobre, whose recent report on the plight of the Amazon caused a huge stir in scientific and political circles.

Water shortages have the potential to harm the economy too, and that’s where the politicians in Sao Paulo and Brasilia just might start to act. Sao Paulo is by far Brazil’s richest state – the engine of the country’s economic growth – but if water and electricity, generated by hydroelectric dams, start running out the consequences for the economy could be dire. At a car parts factory in the north of the city I meet businessman Mauricio Colin. His aluminium plant needs about 15,000 litres of water a day to operate at normal capacity. Mauricio is already having to buy in extra water. He is worried about future supplies.

“The authorities know exactly what’s needed,” says Mauricio, above the din of his round-the-clock operation. “They have to invest in basic infrastructure because, without water, there are companies here who won’t be able to produce anything.”

Thus far public protests against the water shortages have been small – but the potential for frustration and disruption is there. Sao Paulo’s Water Authority has now acknowledged that unless water levels recover there may be power cuts and more water rationing. Everyone is praying for more rain, hoping that it’s not too late to reverse the effects of climate change and drought.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-29947965

Rising Temperatures Ahead In Cities Around The Globe

Thermal Momentum Will Change Life In Many Cities

If it feels hot to you now in the dog days of this summer, imagine a time when summertime Boston starts feeling like Miami and even Montana sizzles. Thanks to climate change, that day is coming by the end of the century, making it harder to avoid simmering temperatures.

climate change city temperatures
Climate changing city temperatures.

Summers in most of the U.S. are already warmer than they were in the 1970s. And climate models tell us that summers are going to keep getting hotter as greenhouse gas emissions continue. What will this warming feel like? Our new analysis of future summers illustrates just how dramatic warming is going to be by the end of this century if current emissions trends continue unabated.

For our Blistering Future Summers interactive we have projected summer high temperatures for the end of this century for 1,001 cities, and then showed which city in the U.S. — or elsewhere in the world, if we couldn’t find one here — is experiencing those temperatures today. We’ve highlighted several striking examples on the interactive, but make sure to explore and find how much hotter summers will likely be in your city.

By the end of the century, assuming the current emissions trends, Boston’s average summer high temperatures will be more than 10°F hotter than they are now, making it feel as balmy as North Miami Beach is today. Summers in Helena, Mont., will warm by nearly 12°F, making it feel like Riverside, Calif.

In fact, by the end of this century, summers in most of the 1,001 cities we analyzed will feel like summers now in Texas and Florida (in temperatures only, not humidity). And in Texas, most cities are going to feel like the hottest cities now in the Lone Star State, or will feel more like Phoenix and Gilbert in Arizona, among the hottest summer cities in the U.S. today.

In some cases, summers will warm so dramatically that their best comparison is to cities in the Middle East. Take Las Vegas, for example. Summer highs there are projected to average a scorching 111°F, which is what summer temperatures are like today in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. And at 114°F°, living in Phoenix will feel like summering in sweltering Kuwait City.

On average, summer heat is projected to warm 7-10°F, though some cities will have summers 12°F warmer than they are now. As you explore the interactive, you’ll find that for cities in the Northwest, the Great Plains, the Midwest, and the Northeast, warming is best illustrated by a southward shift. In some cases, however, the shift is slightly northward and inland — for example, warming in coastal San Diego will make it feel like Lexington, Ky., — and represents more than a 6°F temperature increase.

This analysis only accounts for daytime summer heat — the hottest temperatures of the day, on average between June-August — and doesn’t incorporate humidity or dewpoint, both of which contribute to how uncomfortable summer heat can feel. This projected warming also assumes greenhouse gas emissions keep increasing through 2080, just as they have been for the past several decades.

Source: http://www.climatecentral.org/news/summer-temperatures-co2-emissions-1001-cities-16583

Climate Change Talks Convene In Yokohama

IPCC Preparing Report On Climate Change Impacts

Government representatives and scientists on Tuesday opened a five-day meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to finalize a report assessing the impacts of climate change on human and natural systems, options for adaptation, and the interactions among climate changes, other stresses on societies, and opportunities for the future.

IPCC meeting in Yokohama
If today’s floods are just a warning shot, many cities and nations might need a bigger boat.

The meeting, the culmination of four years’ work by hundreds of experts who have volunteered their time and expertise to produce a comprehensive assessment, will approve the Summary for Policymakers of the second part of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, checking the text line by line. The meeting will also accept the full report, which besides the Summary for Policymakers consists of a Technical Summary and 30 chapters in two volumes.

This report, produced by the IPCC’s Working Group II, deals with impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. It is part two of a four-part assessment. The first part, by Working Group I, dealing with the physical science basis of climate change, was finalized in September 2013. The Working Group III contribution, assessing mitigation of climate change, will be finalized in April. The Fifth Assessment Report will be completed by a Synthesis Report in October.

“The Working Group II author team assessed thousands of papers to produce a definitive report of the state of knowledge concerning climate-change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Many hundreds of volunteers, in and beyond the author team, approached this work with dedication and deep expertise,” said Vicente Barros, Co-Chair of Working Group II.

The meeting, hosted by the Government of Japan, runs from 25 to 29 March 2014. The Summary for Policymakers is due to be released on Monday 31 March. The draft full report will also be released at the same time, with final publication online and as a two-book series a few months later. Volume I will cover issues sector by sector. Volume II will consider continental-scale regions.

“This report considers consequences of climate changes that have already occurred and the risks across a range of possible futures. It considers every region and many sectors, ranging from oceans to human security. The focus is as much on identifying effective responses as on understanding challenges,” said Chris Field, the other Co-Chair of Working Group II.

The report builds on the four previous assessment reports produced by the IPCC since it was established in 1988. Compared to past Working Group II reports, the Working Group II contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report assesses a substantially larger knowledge base of relevant scientific, technical and socio-economic literature, facilitating a comprehensive assessment across a broader set of topics and sectors.

Source: http://www.ipcc.ch/

British Floods Just A Warning Shot

Extreme Weather Testing Urban Resiliency Around Globe

Just outside this pretty village in southwest England is a steep, grassy mound called Burrow Mump. From the ruined church on the top, you can see miles of what look like shallow lakes but what are really submerged wheat fields and pasture.

flooded British cities
If today’s floods are just a warning shot, the UK might need a bigger boat soon.

This is the Somerset Levels, a vast expanse of low-lying land, 25 square miles of which has been under water this winter, according to the government. Hundreds of years ago, the Levels were wetlands, but they were drained with a network of canals and pumping stations to create farms. This year’s winter, already the wettest since record-keeping began in the 18th century, overwhelmed the system, inundating farms, disrupting lives and leaving a handful of villages either flooded or cut off.

“We have been living in this weird world since New Year’s Eve,” said Rebecca Horsington, whose family’s 250-acre farm near the village of West Zoyland has 100 acres submerged. “It is very frustrating that none of the authorities are doing anything about it.”

In 2012, when there was also flooding, Ms. Horsington helped found an organization, the Flooding on the Levels Action Group, to “badger the authorities and try to embarrass them into doing something.”

After the flooding this winter extended for weeks, the government of Prime Minister David Cameron turned for help to the masters of water management, the Dutch. Last Sunday, Jan Groen, an engineer for the Dutch company Van Heck, was at Dunball, on the edge of the Levels, tending eight pumps the size of small vans that he had helped bring from the Netherlands and install in a matter of days in early February.

The pumps lift the swirling waters from an 18th-century drainage canal over a dam and into the tidal marshes beyond. They are helping to draw down the water, but another month’s pumping will be required. Coming from the Netherlands, where dealing with water is a refined science, Mr. Groen remarked on the antiquated state of flood management in Britain. “They are going to have to spend more money,” he said.

The number of homes and businesses that have been flooded on the Levels could be as few as 40 or as many as 150, depending on whether you believe the government or the activists. But even the effect of widespread flooding across Britain this winter is small scale compared with the devastation Typhoon Haiyan inflicted on the Philippines last year or the damage that Hurricane Sandy did to the East Coast of the United States in 2012.

Yet Somerset may be a microcosm for the dilemmas that Britain and other countries are likely to face in the future as sea levels rise and climate change accentuates unusual weather.

As in other places around the world, people in Britain have chosen to live near water, where damaging floods may occur and are likely to become more frequent. “You often hear people saying, ‘You shouldn’t build on flood plains,’ but many cities are on flood plains,” said Roger A. Falconer, a professor of water management at Cardiff University in Wales, not far from the Levels. “Where do you draw the line?”

Professor Falconer doesn’t see any easy way to prevent flooding on the Levels in future years. Yielding to local demands, the government has agreed to pay four million pounds, or $6.7 million, for dredging the River Parrett, the main channel through the area. But Professor Falconer is skeptical: Because the Levels are so flat, dredging “may not make a big flow difference,” he said.

Another solution, buying the farmers out and letting the land return to nature, seems unlikely. “The land is quite resilient,” Ms. Horsington said. “It will recover.”

Many Britons live in places vulnerable to flooding, and Britain’s population and wealth are concentrated around the Thames River. A record number of closings this year of the Thames Barrier — steel gates that span the river downstream from London — have helped protect the city from major flooding, but the Thames and its tributaries have made unwelcome incursions into the suburbs.

Britain over all has taken a beating from the rains and vicious Atlantic storms that have battered the coasts. More than 6,000 properties have been flooded this winter, according to the government.

Bad years like this one in Britain are likely to become more frequent, according to a study published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change. Brenden Jongman, a researcher at the Institute for Environmental Studies at VU University Amsterdam, writes that “extreme flood losses could more than double in frequency” in Europe by 2050.

In an interview, Mr. Jongman said flood damage in Europe, which averages five billion euros, or $6.9 billion, a year but can vary widely, was likely to increase to almost €24 billion a year by 2050. While much of that increase would be because of people’s growing wealthier and living in more expensive homes, more frequent and intense storms from climate change would also be a big factor, he said.

Mr. Jongman said spending money on flood defenses like dikes and other water management systems would be effective, possibly preventing as much as eight times their cost in damage. “The trouble is the investment has to be made now,” he said, while the disaster being guarded against will come later, if ever.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/06/business/international/british-floods-could-be-a-harbinger.html?_r=0

 

Super Typhoon Death Toll Could Reach 10,000

Extreme Weather A Matter Of Survival For Many Cities

In the wake of once-Super Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda), the death toll has climbed to over 3,600 with more than 12,000 injured and more missing according to the Philippines government. A senior regional police official and a city administrator in the typhoon-ravaged Tacloban city in the central Philippines say the death toll there could reach 10,000 people as reported by the Associated Press.

Most of the deaths have been caused by drowning and collapsed buildings. However, it is feared that the coastal cities will have even more casualties. With wires, trees and debris cutting off access to these areas, aid has been struggling to reach victims and unable to determine a final death toll.

resilient cities extreme weather
Building more resilient cities in the Philippines will be a challenge for many reasons.

Tacloban was “ground zero” for Haiyan’s devastation, stated AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Eric Wanenchak. CNN reports that no building in Tacloban appeared to have escaped damage from Haiyan.

Haiyan was so strong that Friday morning, local time, an observation site in Guiuan, Philippines, measured the sustained winds at 96 mph, before the site was disabled. South of landfall point, Surigao City recorded over 10 inches of rainfall, much of which fell in under 12 hours.

Roxas City had sustained winds over 70 mph for several hours as Haiyan passed south of city Friday afternoon, local time.

Other areas were hit even harder, but due to power outages, no observations were reported in the direct path of Haiyan.

At its peak, the winds of Haiyan were equivalent to peak winds of the infamous Typhoon Tip, which was known for having the lowest sea-level pressure ever observed on Earth and its massive size.

Haiyan topped Utor as the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year and could end up the strongest cyclone ever at landfall after further analysis of the typhoon becomes available.

“Three other cyclones [Nari, Utor and Krosa] have crossed the Philippines at typhoon strength so far this year. All three tracked across Luzon, while Haiyan crossed through the central Philippines,” stated Wanenchak.

Widespread torrential rain and destructive winds accompanied Haiyan through the centralPhilippines, leaving a trail of destruction and triggering life-threatening flash floods.

Unfortunately areas that were devastated by a powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake less than a month ago, were directly in the path of Haiyan on Friday.

The U.S. Department of Defense said it directed its Pacific Command to send search and rescue and other resources to the damaged areas..

After slamming the Philippines, the storm targeted Vietnam and China, where more than 20 people were killed.

Source: http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/super-typhoon-haiyan-a-serious/19561621