The White House launched an effort today aimed at helping communities and individuals understand their vulnerability to climate change, starting with rising sea levels that will swamp the coasts. The Climate Data Initiative springs from President Obama’s commitment last year to improve how the government provides information about warming. It’s also part of a broader push spearheaded by White House counselor John Podesta to make climate change more tangible to an American public that polls suggest sees the issue as distant and theoretical.
President Obama wants Americans to see how climate change could deluge or destroy their own backyards — and to make it as easy as opening a web-based app As part of an effort to make the public see global warming as a tangible and immediate problem, the White House on Wednesday inaugurated a website, climate.data.gov, aimed at turning scientific data about projected droughts and wildfires and the rise in sea levels into eye-catching digital presentations that can be mapped using simple software apps. The project is the brainchild of Mr. Obama’s counselor, John D. Podesta, and the White House science adviser, John P. Holdren.
Higher natural gas prices and a lack of adequate pipeline capacity pushed wholesale prices for electricity up 55 percent in 2013, according to data released yesterday by ISO New England, the region’s grid manager and operator of its wholesale electricity markets. The news comes as no surprise as New England’s six states are literally at the end of the nation’s energy pipeline. What to do about it is another matter.
New Jersey’s energy regulation agency on Wednesday rejected the funding mechanism for a $188 million offshore wind farm, essentially blocking a proposal that supporters said could have made the state a leader in offshore wind. At a meeting Wednesday in Trenton, the four commissioners of the state Board of Public Utilities voted unanimously, in support of board staff’s recommendation, to reject the proposal. The funding was the final necessary piece of the proposed Atlantic City Offshore Windfarm project, developer Fishermen’s Energy said. Without it, the project remains dead in the water. The plan involved five turbines almost three miles off the coast of Atlantic City in a pilot program generating about 25 megawatts of electricity.
It’s been almost two weeks since Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R) made the controversial decision to block a new set of science standards that include climate change in the curriculum. Now, education and climate change activists are speaking up to voice their concerns over the state’s bold decision. Wyoming’s rejection of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) — a set of K-12 guidelines developed by national science education groups and delegates from 26 states — was initiated through a footnote to the state’s budget, which states, “neither the state board of education nor the department shall expend any amount appropriated under this section for any review or adoption of the next generation science standards.”
Mentioning FERC, or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, at social gatherings inside the Beltway hasn’t always been cool. Dropping the f-bomb, some energy wonks say, could clear your corner of the room. “If you mentioned FERC at a cocktail party, people would just try and walk away from you,” said Allison Clements, an environmental lawyer at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “You have these conversations about cool renewable energy policies, big-picture federal issues and then you say FERC. It’s like someone dragged a needle across the record and everyone stops talking.”
Prestigious science society seeks to move dialogue on climate change by releasing ‘What We Know’ report
Scientific consensus that humans cause climate change is akin to the scientific consensus that smoking causes cancer, says a report released today by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The report, called “What We Know,” marks the kickoff of a new AAAS initiative to increase dialogue on the risks of climate change. “Opinion polls show that more than half of the American public still think that there is a debate over whether climate change is happening or whether it is human-caused,” said James McCarthy, a Harvard University oceanographer and co-chairman of the report.
The White House will host a high-level forum tomorrow evening on its plans to make the United States more resilient to climate change. In a statement released yesterday, the administration promised “new announcements” from federal agencies and the private sector on efforts to help communities shore up infrastructure and respond to the effects of warming.
A bill that could allow hundreds of acres of preserved farmland to be converted to wind farms or other renewable energy projects was approved Monday by the House of Delegates, 97 to 33. Supporters say farmers need the ability to diversify their income to stay viable. Some conservationists, though, worry that the measure would open the door to other commercial activities, ultimately undermining the viability of farmland preserved at taxpayer expense.
Here in the Midwest we are seeing the perennial first signs of Spring: a few early buds are appearing on the magnolia trees, rivers and lakes are starting to thaw, and of course, ALEC and the Koch brothers are pushing yet another pointless and harmfulattack on Kansas’s wildly successful Renewable Energy Standard. This year’s bill, SB 433, is sponsored by the Kansas Senate’s Committee on Ways and Means, which is chaired by Ty Masterson, a known ALEC member and supporter of last year’s failed attack on renewable energy policy in Kansas. There will be a public hearing on the bill at 1 p.m. (half an hour earier than the usual hearing time) this Wednesday, March 19th at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Room 548 South.