Sustainability Reads: June 22- June 28

New study links global warming to Hurricane Sandy and other extreme weather events
Hurricane Sandy, Snowmaggedon in Washington DC in 2010, and supertyphoon Haiyan were some of the recent extreme weather events that a study has recently linked to be caused by global warming. The scientists who completed the study were able to connect the events with climate change, as their extremity was caused by increased sea temperatures and a warmer ocean. Where previous studies of this kind were not able to provide evidence of a climate link and these events, this new report the evidence in thermodynamics (occurrence of warm air/humidity/cold air/evaporation). The scientists asked guided questions, specifically targeting at how climate change effected the impact of the weather event, rather than asking why the event occurred. This is significant as the study was able to show what many other studies have failed to show, by asking different types of questions. By John Abraham at the Guardian.

In a new study by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), researchers reveal that investing in fossil fuel infrastructure today locks in greenhouse gas emission for decades to come, undermining a transition to a low-carbon economy. Although this is not surprising, the study shows that this carbon ‘lock-in’ problem is present not only for coal-fired power plants, but also for the supply side of gas plants and cars. According to the study, the overproduction of mines,wellheads and coal-fired power plants results in overproduction of 7gigatonnes of CO2. Gas plants, which are being labeling as a bridge to a low-carbon economy, are being over-built. Cars with internal combustion engines also prose the ‘lock-in’ problem, as the oil involved in running these vehicles requires high capital costs to be extracted. Because wellheads and mines for oil and gas are capital-intensive and costly to develop, once they are in place, it is likely that extraction will continue, thus undermining a low-carbon economy. By Megan Darby at RTCC.
In a report by the EPA released last Monday, one of Obama’s latest push for climate action, a price is put on climate inaction, to the tune of billions of dollars and thousands of lives, if nothing is done to cut emissions. The report, which is intended by the Obama administration to be used in international climate negotiations this December in Paris, states that by 2100, if no progress is made in reigning in GHG emissions, there will be an additional 12,000 annual deaths related to extreme temperatures in the 49 cities analyzed for the report, as well as an increase of 57,000 premature deaths annually related to poor air quality. Economically, the report’s findings include: – $4.2 – $7.4 billion in additional road maintenance costs each year – $3.1 billion annually in damages to coastal regions due to sea-level rise and storm surges – $6.6 – $11 billion annually in agricultural damages – A loss of 230,000 to 360,000 acres of cold-water fish habitat – A loss of 34 percent of the US oyster supply and 29 percent of the clam supply – $110 billion annually in lost labor due to unsuitable working conditions By Luke Whelan at Mother Jones.
Yup,the Dutch government last week got sued by their citizens for not reducing GHG emissions. According to the judge, the state “must ensure that the Dutch emissions in the year 2020 will be at least 25% than those in 1990.” Way to go, Netherlands, for basically signaling that allowing climate change to occur is an attack on human rights! Piece by Amelia Urry at Grist.

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