Climate Change

Op-Ed

Environmental Policies

Author: Julia E. Sweig
Folha de Sao Paulo

On the heels of the EPA's announcement of new carbon emission rules, Julia Sweig reflects in her column on the need for leadership from major economies to tackle climate change and on the prospects for cooperation between the United States and Brazil.

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Primary Sources

Global Change Research Act

The Global Change Research Act was mandated by Congress in 1990 to develop and coordinate "a comprehensive and integrated United States research program which will assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change." Every four years, the National Climate Assessment (also called Climate Change Impacts in the United States) reports scientific consensus on how climate change affects the United States, produced by experts from U.S. government science agencies and from several major universities and research institutes.

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Must Read

BusinessWeek: Drowning Kiribati

Author: Jeffrey Goldberg

"In our interview, [Anote] Tong said he believes the Obama administration cares about the issue. But he noted that "there are people in Congress who are allergic to the term 'climate change.' " These are the people, he said, he wants to visit Kiribati before it's too late."

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Must Read

The Conversation: Why Is Antarctic Sea Ice Growing?

Author: Guy Williams

"This winter, the maximum total Antarctic sea ice extent was reported to be 19.47 million square metres, which is 3.6% above the winter average calculated from 1981 to 2010. This continues a trend that is weakly positive and remains in stark contrast to the decline in Arctic summer sea ice extent (2013 was 18% below the mean from 1981-2010). To further complicate this picture, we find this net increase actually masks strong declines in particular regions around Antarctica, such as in the Bellingshausen Sea, which are on par or greater than those in the Artic."

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Ask CFR Experts

What is the most urgent global environmental issue and how should it be addressed?

Asked by Matthew Woltmann, from American Military University, California
Author: Daniel P. Ahn

Determining the "most urgent" global environmental issue is somewhat subjective; many would argue that carbon emissions and climate change is the most pressing issue. Others are just as passionate about deforestation, water scarcity, groundwater contamination, loss of biodiversity, landfills, ocean acidification, air quality… the list goes on.

Read full answer

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CRS: Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress

Author: Ronald O'Rourke

Many observers have noted that the loss of Arctic ice is already leading to stepped-up human activity in the high north, particularly in the form of increasing commercial traffic and development. This trend has brought forth a range of issues on the geopolitical front, from environmental protection to search-and-rescue capabilities to the delineation of national boundaries—which will determine access to natural resources. These concerns are being addressed cooperatively in both bilateral and multilateral fashion, especially under the aegis of the Arctic Council and the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

See more in Arctic; Climate Change; Environmental Policy