Disappearing Polar Bears and Permafrost: Is a Global Warming Tipping Point Embedded in the Ice?

Wed, 17 Oct 2007 14:00:00 GMT

On Wednesday, October 17, 2007, the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the impacts of global warming on the Arctic. This hearing will provide the Committee with an opportunity to hear from witnesses on three interrelated matters: (1) the current situation in the Arctic, including the situation facing the polar bear, (2) ways in which warming in the Arctic may accelerate global warming, especially through the emission of more greenhouse gases, and (3) interim steps that could be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while the Congress weighs more elaborate carbon trade or tax proposals.

One of the themes that should emerge from this hearing is that, from a layman’s perspective, the models used to project climate change and its ramifications appear to be conservative in their projections. This is because any phenomena that are not understood well enough to be represented in models with confidence are excluded. These other phenomena may accentuate or depress warming trends. In the case of the Arctic, most of the phenomena that have been excluded from the models are believed to accentuate warming and its effects. Few will depress it. The modeling on polar bear survival, for example, uses projections from the IPCC models to estimate future changes in sea ice extent. Since the bears’ condition is very dependent upon both the extent of the sea ice and the duration of ice-free periods, projections of the bear survival are very dependent upon projections of sea ice. This summer the sea ice extent is far less than projected by the models.

The Center for Biological Diversity will appear to provide some advice on steps that can be taken to reduce warming, with particular emphasis on their efficacy in the Arctic. Among the steps they advocate are programs to reduce methane emissions and “black carbon.” Black carbon is soot that, in the Arctic, has a particularly pernicious effect. When it is deposited on snow and ice it decreases its reflectivity and increases its heat absorption leading to greater melting. As the Arctic comes under more and more industrialization with other warming, one could anticipate further production of black carbon. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, with an estimated global warming potential 23 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 100-year time frame. Methane is a precursor to tropospheric ozone. In that form, it traps shortwave radiation as it enters the earth’s atmosphere from the sun and then when it is reflected back again by snow and ice. As a consequence, its impact is strongest over the poles. Reducing global methane emissions would provide a particular benefit to the Arctic.

  • Dr. Richard Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Geosciences
  • Dr. Glenn Juday, Professor, University of Alaska at Fairbanks, School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences
  • Dr. Sue Haseltine, Associate Director for Biology, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of Interior
  • Kassie R. Siegel, Director, Center for Biological Diversity, Climate, Air and Energy Program

EPA Approval of New Power Plants: Failure to Address Global Warming Pollutants

Wed, 17 Oct 2007 14:00:00 GMT

This hearing has been postponed.

Break Through Author Event

Fri, 12 Oct 2007 23:00:00 GMT

Nordhaus and Shellenberger, labeled “the bad boys of American environmentalism,” have expanded their 2004 seminal essay that incited a split among the Greens when they declared that climate-change advocates must discard outdated concepts and exhausted strategies so that a new vision can live.

Current tactics can’t solve today’ s complex global crises. The “bad boys of environmentalism” call for a bold and empowering new vision Environmental insiders Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus triggered a firestorm of controversy with their self-published essay “The Death of Environmentalism,” which argued that environmentalism cannot deal with global warming and should die so that a new politics can be born. Global warming is far more complex than past pollution problems, and American values have changed dramatically since the movement’ s greatest victories in the 1960s, but environmentalists keep fighting the same old battles. Seeing a connection between the failures of environmentalism and the failures of the entire left-leaning political agenda, the authors point the way toward an aspirational politics that will resonate with modern American values and be capable of tackling our most pressing challenges. In this eagerly awaited follow-up to the original essay, the authors give us an expansive and eloquent manifesto for political change. What Americans really want, and what could serve as the basis for a new politics, is a vision capable of inspiring us to greatness. Making the case for abandoning old categories (nature/market, left/right), the authors articulate a pragmatism fit for our times that has already found champions in such prominent figures as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. This book will hit the same nerve as What’s the Matter with Kansas and Don’ t Think of an Elephant. But its analysis will reshape American politics for decades to come.

Politics & Prose Bookstore 5015 Connecticut Ave., NW Washington, DC 20008

Solar Decathlon Opening Ceremony 1

Fri, 12 Oct 2007 14:00:00 GMT

The Solar Decathlon is a competition in which 20 teams of college and university students compete to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house. The Solar Decathlon is also an event to which the public is invited to observe the powerful combination of solar energy, energy efficiency, and the best in home design.

The event takes place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., October 12 – 20. The team houses are open for touring everyday, except Wednesday, October 17, when they will close for competition purposes. An overall winner is announced on Friday, October 19 at 2 p.m.

Teams of college students design a solar house, knowing from the outset that it must be powered entirely by the sun. In a quest to stretch every last watt of electricity that’s generated by the solar panels on their roofs, the students absorb the lesson that energy is a precious commodity. They strive to innovate, using high-tech materials and design elements in ingenious ways. Along the way, the students learn how to raise funds and communicate about team activities. They collect supplies and talk to contractors. They build their solar houses, learning as they go.

The 20 teams transport their solar houses to the competition site on the National Mall and virtually rebuild them in the solar village. Teams assemble their houses, and then the active phase of the Solar Decathlon begins with an opening ceremony for students, media, and invited guests. The teams compete in contests, and even though this part of the Solar Decathlon gets the most attention, the students really win the competition through the many months of fund raising, planning, designing, analyzing, redesigning, and finally building and improving their homes. The public is invited to tour the solar homes and event exhibits during much of the competition.

Awards Ceremony – Winner Announced: 2:00 p.m., Friday, October 19

Houses Open for Public Tours The public is invited to tour the houses during the open hours, listed below. Expect to stand in line to tour the houses. If you wish to see all of the houses, plan to spend two days.

  • 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., weekends
  • 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., weekdays

Houses Closed Houses will be closed for 1 – 2 hours while jury evaluations are taking place October 13 – 16 and October 18 – 19. Times vary for each house. All day Wednesday, October 17, the houses are closed for controlled temperature and relative humidity measurements.

Consumer Workshops The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and other event sponsors are offering solar energy and energy efficiency workshops for consumers. Workshops will not be offered on Thursday, October 18, during Building Industry Day. See the daily schedule below for workshop offerings.

Ask the Experts Panel Weekends only: 11:00 am – 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm.

A group of green-building experts, coordinated by sponsor Blue Egg, will be on hand to answer questions. (Each presentation will be 30 min, with 10 min for Q&A)

Educational Exhibits Two educational exhibits are open during the following times:

  • 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., weekends
  • 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., weekdays

Break Through Book Party

Thu, 11 Oct 2007 21:00:00 GMT

Come to a book party from 5 – 7 pm at Third Way’s DC headquarters, (2000 L Street NW, Suite 702).

Cohosts: Ted Nordhaus, Michael Shellenberger, Robert Nordhaus, Jeff Navin, Teryn Norris, Mark Schmitt, Michael Tomasky, Kelly Young, Third Way, The Breakthrough Institute

The Business Opportunity in a Low-Carbon Energy Economy

Wed, 10 Oct 2007 13:30:00 GMT

As Congress turns its attention to passing an energy bill to begin the United States on a path towards a cleaner energy future, the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming will host several CEOs who have seen the business opportunities in a low-carbon energy world.

Representatives from three leading business groups advocating for caps on the heat-trapping emissions that cause global warming will appear before Chairman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and the Select Committee to discuss their companies’ work to reduce emissions and increase profits.

Witnesses
  • Alain Grisay, CEO, F&C Investments, member of the UK and EU Corporate Leaders’ Groups on Climate Change
  • Neil Carson, CEO, Johnson Matthey plc, member of the UK Corporate Leaders’ Group
  • Ralph Izzo, Chairman, President and CEO, Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated (PSEG), member of Clean Energy Group and its Clean Air Policy Initiative
  • Jonathan Lash, President, World Resources Institute, member U.S. Climate Action Partnership

National Conversation on Climate Action

Thu, 04 Oct 2007 04:00:00 GMT

On October 4th, mayors and other local government leaders across the U.S. will convene meetings in their communities to discuss the science and what is needed to solve global warming as part of the first annual National Conversation on Climate Action, an initiative sponsored by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, an international membership association of local governments dedicated to advancing sustainable development and climate solutions through local action; Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and the Association of Science-Technology Centers, an organization of science centers and museums dedicated to furthering the public understanding of science among increasingly diverse audiences.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's reactor oversight process

Wed, 03 Oct 2007 14:00:00 GMT

Impact of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Policies on Natural Gas Demand

Wed, 03 Oct 2007 14:00:00 GMT

The Natural Gas Council will hold a news conference to discuss a new study that projects the impact of proposed greenhouse gas reduction policies on future natural gas demand and energy markets.

Contact: Jeff Eshelman at 202-857-4722

1201 15th St. N.W., Suite 5000

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