Bulgaria: Within 20 years Dobrudja to Turn into a Desert



In less than 20 years Dobrudja (northeastern Bulgaria) known for its wheat fields and rich harvest, might turn into a desert. The same fortune might befall some regions in the Danube Plain as well as on the Romanian regions Banat, Oltenia and Muntenia. This might happen due to climate changes, shows a research conducted for several years by specialists from 13 leading European meteorology and hydrology institutes. According to the scientists, after 20 years the southern part of the Old Continent will be strongly affected by the global warming and in many places there will be droughts and poor crops. The climate changes will cause a decrease in grain production nearly in half.
“In two decades the global warming might lead to droughts in at least 10 Romanian regions, which will lower by nearly 40 per cent the grain production,” said Romania’s minister of Environment Nicolae Nemirschi about the research, quoted by Adjerpress.
‘We have to take the results of that research under serious consideration and to try to slow down the process and to prepare ourselves for the expected changes,’ added the minister.


Mississippi: Population helping drive climate change concerns


PAUL SIMS | Starkville Daily News

Population is one factor driving global climate change concerns, a Mississippi State University professor said Monday.  Dr. Roger King, a William L. Giles Distinguished professor and director of MSU’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, spoke to Starkville Rotarians today from his background as chief technologist for Earth Science Applications with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  King cited statistics which showed that in mid-2003, some 6.2 billion people inhabited the planet and the United States had about 290 million residents. As of Friday, the global population figure stood at approximately 6.7 billion and the U.S. number was about 305 million.
The global population increase over roughly the last five years is about 474.1 million. Projections show that by 2025, some 8 billion people will live on the Earth.  “According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientific evidence confirms that human activities are a discernible cause of a substantial part of the warming experienced over the 20th century. New studies indicate that temperatures in recent decades are higher than at any time in at least the past 1,000 years. It is very unlikely that these unusually high temperatures can be explained solely by natural climate variations,” the report entitled “Climate Change Impacts on the United States” from 2000 reads.
Other documents and information on the subject of global climate change can be found through http://www.climatescience.gov/.
One point King made about the greenhouse effect is that “if it didn’t exist, we wouldn’t exist,” he said. If greenhouse gases were not in place, the planet could not capture heat, King said.   “The plant has got to warm up or we can’t live,” he said.  “It’s very much a system,” he said and noted that it’s important to monitor what happens in systems.  King noted that 2007 was the eighth warmest year on record and ice mass in at least one location is changing.  “It’s a very challenging thing to look at this,” he said.

Fires, floods pressure Australia govt on climate

James Grubel | Reuters

Australia’s deadliest wildfires increased pressure on the national government to take firm action on climate change on Monday as scientists said global warming likely contributed to conditions that fuelled the disaster.

At least 130 people were killed in wildfires, set off by a record heatwave in southern Victoria state over the past week days, while large areas of Queensland state remain flooded by tropical downpours.

Scientists said Australia needed to prepare for more extreme weather events due to global warming, while the Greens and environmentalists said the fires and floods proved the government needed to toughen its targets to curb Greenhouse emissions.

“It’s very clear, both globally and in Australia, there has been a warming trend since about 1950,” leading Australian climate scientist Kevin Hennessy told Reuters.

“In a nutshell we can say the heatwaves and the fires we’ve seen in Victoria recently maybe partly due to climate change through the contribution of increased temperature.

“Going forward, we anticipate there will be continued increases in greenhouse gases and that locks in a certain amount of warming, and in the case of southern Australia further drying, and this will increase the fire weather risk.”

Australia is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change because of its hot, dry climate, with the nation’s south in prolonged drought and temperatures tipped to rise by 3 degrees Celsius by 2050 across the tropical north and desert interiors.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has set a target to cut overall greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent by 2020, and will only cut further, to about 15 percent, if there is widespread international agreement on tougher action.

But Green groups want Australia, which creates about 1.5 percent of global emissions, to cut emissions by at least 25 percent by 2020 as an example to the developing world, particularly India and China, about the need to take firm action.

Greens climate spokeswoman Christine Milne said all Australians had been deeply touched by the fire tragedy and the increased risk of fires from global warming.

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a strong warning that global warming will have “substantial human health impacts” within the next few decades. The warning came in a report released only days after the same agency declined to regulate global warming-causing greenhouse gases as pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

“Today typifies the climate-change schizophrenia in the Bush administration,” said U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey, chair of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. “On one hand, government scientists are saying that global warming poses grave threats to our health and our welfare, and, on the other hand, [there] are White House political hacks following the oil industry’s bidding to do nothing.”

The EPA report warns that rising temperatures will cause air quality to worsen in Eastern cities, as well as more deaths among the elderly, the poor and inner-city dwellers during future heat waves.

“It’s going to be hotter; it’s going to be hotter sooner in the year than it was in the past,” said co-author Kristie Ebi. Young people now living near Washington “[are] going to look back and think back about how nice the summers used to be,” she said. “Within 20, 30 years, on average, the [public] should notice that it’s warmer.”

Global warming is also likely to lead to more frequent and powerful hurricanes, dwindling water supplies in the West, loss of coastal land to rising sea levels and storm surges, and the more rapid spread of food- and water-borne illnesses.

According to the EPA’s former deputy associate administrator, Jason K. Burnett, the president’s deputy chief of staff for policy originally approved an EPA decision to regulate greenhouse gas emissions as air pollutants, a move supported by several cabinet members and senior administration officials. Before the decision could be made official, however, the White House prohibited the EPA from taking action.

Global Warming Suit Settled

Wired PR News.com

An environmental lawsuit against the federal government in 2002 has been settled.  As reported by the Associated Press (AP), the suit alleged that two U.S. agencies financed projects oversees that would cause environmental and economic harm due to a change in the global climate.

As part of the settlement, the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. and the Overseas Private Investment Corp. will reportedly provide financing for renewable energy projects to the tune of $500 million, and consider the amount of greenhouse gas emissions equated with further projects they assist with. Michelle Chan of Friends of the Earth, one of the organizations that brought forth the lawsuit, is quoted in the AP report as stating, “This settlement is a substantial victory for our climate… It will force federal agencies to move away from fossil fuel projects and account for the climate impacts of their lending.”

Bluegrass and the Greenhouse

Campbell Wood | Business Lexington

The United States could yet take the lead in countering global warming, if the U.S. Climate Action Partnership’s Blueprint for Legislative Action (www.us-cap.org) is a sign of things to come. Last June the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008 brought greenhouse gas cap and trade legislation to the Senate Floor for the first time.

Work lays ahead for legislators to shape a bill that will gain passage. Such legislation will have challenges for the Bluegrass State, given that Kentuckians use about 25 percent more electricity than the average American, and over 90 percent of that energy comes from coal-fired power plants.

The U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) includes over 25 major corporations and several leading nonprofit environmental organizations. Their proposals are based on 100 percent consensus from member organizations, said USCAP spokesman Jim Luetkemeyer. Ford, G.E., Alcoa, Dupont, and Duke Energy, all with major operations in Kentucky, are members of USCAP. The Blueprint, released in January, is an urgent 24 pages of proposals for legislation to advance energy efficiencies in the economy through conservation and innovation while also moving the United States and the world as rapidly as feasible to increasing reliance on renewable energy sources. A core recommendation is the establishment of a cap and trade system to “slow, stop and reverse” greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated by industries and utilities burning fossil fuels. It includes support measures for vulnerable populations and industry sectors.

In November 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (www.ipcc.ch) stated, “Warming of the climate is unequivocal, as is now evident from observation of increases in average air and ocean temperature, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea levels.” Despite the scientific consensus that global warming is happening and that human activities are a major cause, scientists have found it difficult to convey the gravity of the situation. Global warming effects accrue incrementally, and the public has had a “let’s wait and see” attitude, as though somehow it will be reversible.

Some states and cities across the country have taken initiative, and Lexington has been a part of that trend. “We’ve had an energy team in place since 2003 that deals with city facilities — to be better stewards of taxpayers’ dollars and the environment,” said Tom Webb, environmental compliance coordinator for LFUCG. The team works to cut costs and make energy use more efficient in government buildings and operations. “We signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in 2005 (www.usmayors.org),” Webb said. “That agreement is designed to encourage communities to reduce their carbon foot print — on a local level, since there’s no national legislation on carbon emissions.”

In February of 2008, Lexington joined the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (http://www.iclei.org), which provides a framework along with software solutions to help facilitate reducing the carbon footprint. “We are now in the process of quantifying our emissions for city facilities and the city as a whole,” said Webb. Utility companies have provided the project with gross numbers of electricity consumption for 2005 and 2007, which are being modeled. “Once we get our emissions quantified, we’ll set reduction targets. Then we’ll set up teams and develop a local action plan.”

Emissions trading ‘won’t hurt inflation’

Garry Shilson-Josling | Sydney Morning Herald

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is confident the government’s scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will not cause inflation to overheat and force it to raise interest rates. Tucked away in the back of the quarterly statement on monetary policy on Friday was an analysis of the likely effect of the government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS). The centrepiece of the CPRS is an emissions trading scheme that will ration the right to emit greenhouse gases. Trading in permits is slated to begin in September 2010. The RBA is interested in the scheme because it will drive up the price of emissions-intensive goods and services as businesses bid for increasingly scarce permits. The desired effect will be to encourage energy efficiency and a switch to alternative energy sources. The undesired effect will be a rise in the general price level. “Assuming an initial permit price of roughly $25 per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted (or the carbon dioxide equivalent of other greenhouse gases, CO2-e), the retail prices of electricity and gas are estimated to increase by around 18 per cent and 12 per cent respectively,” the RBA said. Electricity and gas together account for 2.5 per cent of the consumer price index (CPI). The RBA estimates the first round of price rises will add 0.4 percentage points to the index in the first few quarters after emissions trading begins. By way of comparison, the GST added three percentage points to the CPI over the year following its introduction in 2000 and the spike in petrol prices added 0.9 percentage points over the year to last September. The RBA said it expected price rises from the CPRS after the first round to moderate as permits were gradually rationed, despite some possible volatility now and then.

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