LI Climate Solutions Network: End of 2008 updates

from Long Island Climate Solutions Network

  • LIPA decided to increase 2009 funding for the solar program (from $8 to $12.5 million) and will also establish a small wind program and we should celebrate that victory!  LIPA failed to provide adequate funding for a much needed expansion of the energy efficiency program that was promised last May, when LIPA announced the Efficiency Long Island Initiative to be funded with an average of $92 million annually over ten years.  Unfortunately, funding for 2009 will remain flat at $32 million, less than 1% of LIPA’s $3.8 billion budget. ( see for more info.)

  • One of the ways we can support “green” infrastructure projects, is to avoid replacing or adding to roadway lighting when that lighting serves no public safety benefit.  Most roadway lighting has been installed under the auspices of utilities, designed by the manufacturers, and paid for by the public through increased taxes, without criteria based on safety.  There is a legitimate estimate that 90% of all roadway lighting in the U.S. does not meet safety criteria and should be removed, and not just replaced with “energy efficient” roadway lighting (e.g. LEDs).  ( )
  • Discover the Earth–Shattering new Energy Technology being developed here on Long Island  – Inventor Nelson Stewart recently presented his innovations at the Advanced Energy Conference held in Hauppauge. ( )

  • As reported by the South Shore Civic Alliance, over 200 people attended a forum in Hampton Bays Nov 24 to voice their concerns over Riverhead Resorts, an ambitious $2.1 billion multi-faceted resort complex-one that includes a 350-foot-tall indoor ski mountain among other amenities-that developers want to build on the former Northrop Grumman property in Calverton.  (Indoor Ski Slopes???)

  • On Saturday, December 6, 2008, concerned citizens around the world participated in the fourth annual Global Day of Climate Action.  The Climate Crisis Coalition’s international ally, The Global Climate Campaign, is synchronizing demonstrations around the world in as many places as possible – to call on world leaders to take urgent action on climate change. As in previous years, CCC is calling on friends and allies to partake in any way they can.

National News:

Obama Presents His Green Team. By Barack Obama,, December 16, 2008, audio and text. “In the next few years, the choices that we make will help determine the kind of country – and world – that we will leave to our children and grandchildren. All of us know the problems rooted in our addiction to foreign oil – it constrains our economy, shifts wealth to hostile regimes, and leaves us dependent on unstable regions. These urgent dangers are eclipsed only by the long-term threat of climate change, which – unless we act – will lead to drought and famine abroad, devastating weather patterns and terrible storms on our shores, and the disappearance of our coastline at home… we cannot fail, nor be lulled into complacency simply because the price at the pump has – for now – gone down from $4 a gallon… We can create millions of jobs, starting with a 21st Century Economic Recovery Plan that puts Americans to work building wind farms, solar panels, and fuel-efficient cars… Just as we work to reduce our own emissions, we must forge international solutions to ensure that every nation is doing its part. As we do so, America will lead not just at the negotiating table — we will lead, as we always have, through innovation and discovery; through hard work and the pursuit of a common purpose. The Team that I have assembled here today is uniquely suited to meet the great challenges of this defining mom ent. They are leading experts and accomplished managers, and they are ready to reform government and help transform our economy so that our people are more prosperous, our nation is more secure, and our planet is protected.”

Chu is a Great Energy Pick. By Joseph Romm, Grist, December 15, 2008. “Here are the top five reasons Steven Chu is one of the best cabinet picks in recent memory: 5) His ‘views on climate change would be among the most forceful ever held by a cabinet member.’ He said last year, scientists had come to ‘realize that the climate is much more sensitive than we thought’ (see Scientists are Underestimating Climate Change, Part I). He said people who said they were uncertain whether climate change is being caused by humans were ‘reminiscent of the dialogue in the 1950s and ’60s on tobacco.’ In a speech earlier this year, he said that climate change of the scale we face ‘will cause enormous resource wars, over water, arable land, and massive population displacements… We’re talking about hundreds of millions to billions of people being flooded out, permanently.” 4) As a Chinese American and Nobel Prize winner, he will be uniquely poised to help enable the crucial energy and climate negotiations the Obama team must undertake immediately with the world’s other big emitter… 3) He has experience running a major DOE lab, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, so he knows the archaic and bureaucratic DOE system well… 2) The lab he runs is responsible for developing the technologies that have paid for all the clean energy research the tax payers have ever supported. So while even the most knowledgeable clean energy experts focus too much on supply side solutions, Chu will ensure efficiency gets the equal time it deserves. 1) He isn’t fooled by clean coal claptrap. Earlier this year he said, ‘Coal is my worst nightmare.'”  [Wilderside disagrees:]

GAO Report Says International Programs for Emissions Trading and Offsets Fall Short. By Juliet Eilperin, WashPost, December 6, 2008. “The Government Accountability Office, in a report issued as negotiators convened the latest round of U.N. climate talks in Poland , has concluded that two key international programs aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions are not getting the job done. The study [International Climate Change Programs: Lessons Learned, PDF, 69 pp], requested by Rep. Joe L. Barton (R-Tex.), ranking minority member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and two other House Republicans, highlights problems in the European Union’s emissions trading system and in a U.N. program that allows industrialized countries to offset their domestic greenhouse gas emissions. The GAO said that Europe ‘s cap-and-trade system had created ‘a functioning market for carbon dioxide allowances, but its effects on emissions, the European economy, and technology investment are less certain.’ A separate program that grants offsets to industrialized nations for funding energy projects in the developing world, investigators wrote, has had an ‘uncertain’ effect on carbon emissions, ‘and its impact on sustainable development has been limited.’ The report, released Tuesday, has implications for the United States , which could launch a program to limit greenhouse gas emissions as early as next year. President-elect Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are determined to adopt a cap-and-trade system for emissions linked to global warming, and opponents of such a plan seized upon the GAO study as a reason to block it.”

Global Ecology

Are the Oceans a Passing Critical CO2 Threshold? By Stephan Leahy, InterPressService, November 24, 2008. “An apparent rapid upswing in ocean acidity in recent years is wiping out coastal species like mussels, a new study has found. ‘We’re seeing dramatic changes,’ said Timothy Wootton [ University of Chicago ], lead author of the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study shows increases in ocean acidity that are more than 10 times faster than any prediction. ‘It appears that we’ve crossed a threshold where the ocean can no longer buffer the effects of CO2 in the atmosphere,’ Wootton told IPS. For millions of years, the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the ocean were in balance, but the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation has put more CO2 into the atmosphere over the last 150 years. The oceans have absorbed one-third — about 130 billion tons — of those human emissions and have become 30 percent more acidic as the extra CO2 combines with carbonate ions in seawater, forming carbonic acid. Each day, the oceans absorb 30 million tons of CO2, gradually and inevitably increasing their acidity. There is no controversy about this basic chemistry; however, there is disagreement about the rate at which the oceans are becoming acidic and the potential impact… ‘CO2 is making the oceans very sick,’ said Jackie Savitz, senior campaign director for Oceanas Pollution Campaigns… ‘There is a strong likelihood of a massive extinction of corals by mid-century,’ Savitz said in an interview. To prevent this, atmospheric CO2 concentrations need to return to 350 parts per million, the pre-industrial level, she said. Currently CO2 is 385 ppm and growing at 2 to 3 ppm annually. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, European Union and others have called for a climate stabilization of 450 ppm to ward off the worst affects of climate change. ‘Four hundred and fifty ppm is not going to save corals,’ she said, because the acidification of the ocean would kill and weaken corals and other species that make up the reef ecosystems. ‘We need to stop using fossil fuels period. Carbon that’s in the ground now should stay there.'”

Increased Arctic Ocean Methane Releases Raises Tipping Point Concerns. By Susan Q. Stranahan, YaleEnviro360, October 30, 2008. “For the past 15 years, scientists from Russia and other nations have ventured into the ice-bound and little-studied Arctic Ocean above Siberia to monitor the temperature and chemistry of the sea, including levels of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Their scientific cruises on the shallow continental shelf occurred as sea ice in the Arctic Ocean was rapidly melting and as northern Siberia was earning the distinction — along with the North American Arctic and the western Antarctic Peninsula — of warming faster than any place on Earth. Until 2003, concentrations of methane had remained relatively stable in the Arctic Ocean and the atmosphere north of Siberia . But then they began to rise. This summer, scientists taking part in the six-week International Siberian Shelf Study discovered numerous areas, spread over thousands of square miles, where large quantities of methane — a gas with 20-times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide — rose from the once-frozen seabed floor… Gustafsson of the Department of Applied Environmental Science at Stockholm University and the co-leader of the expedition, said in an interview [that] there was no doubt; the methane was coming from sub-sea permafrost, indicating that the sea bottom might be melting and freeing up this potent greenhouse gas’… The shallow Siberian Shelf alone covers more than 1.5 million square kilometers (580,000 square miles), an area larger than France , Germany , and Spain combined. Should its permafrost layer thaw, an amount of methane equal to 12 times the current level in the atmosphere could be released, according to Natalia Shakhova [a U of Alaska scientist]… What concerns some scientists is evidence from past geological eras that sudden releases of methane have triggered runaway cycles of climate upheaval.”

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