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.
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.
"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."
President Obama gave this executive order on November 1, 2013. The order establishes the Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, outlines coordination between federal and state planning, and requests a review of policies related to protecting natural and environmental resources.
"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."
President Obama spoke at Georgetown University, before the release of his Climate Change Plan, on June 25, 2013. The plan focuses on cutting carbon pollution, preparing for the impact of climate change, and leading international ifforts to address global climate change.
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.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) released this report on June 10, 2013. It explains current and future energy and climate policies and the importance of the energy sector's help to meet international targets on greenhouse gas limits.
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.
Asked by Soumaya Maghnouj, from Sciences-Po Author: Daniel P. Ahn
The global economic crisis and the subsequent attention to economic and budgetary issues have monopolized the political debate. With the aftermath of the crisis still being felt, there is not much political will for policies that may create short-term economic pain for long-term benefits. These include policies to combat or adapt to climate change.
The Arctic region is undergoing unprecedented and disruptive change. Its climate is changing more rapidly than anywhere else on earth. Rising temperatures are causing a retreat of sea ice and changes to seasonal length, weather patterns and ecosystems. These changes have prompted a reassessment of economic and development potential in the Arctic and are giving rise to a set of far-reaching political developments.
Asked by Lindsey Wahlstrom, from Columbia University
Climate change has both direct and indirect health consequences. Direct consequences include those resulting from high temperatures and severe weather events; while indirect ones arise from changing air and water quality and ecological shifts that favor tropical diseases and parasites.
Since 1988, Brazilians have cleared more than 153,000 square miles of Amazonian rain forest, devastating the environment and driving global climate change forward ever faster. Recently, however, Brazil has changed its course, reducing the rate of deforestation by 83 percent since 2004. At the same time, it has become a test case for a controversial international climate-change prevention strategy that places a monetary value on the carbon stored in forests.
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