Environment: Denver roundtable shows how climate action will benefit Colorado

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Global temperatures have reached record levels the past few months, with 2015 on track to be warmest year ever.

Heat waves, increased air pollution seen as key climate risks for Colorado

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new EPA report suggests that failing to curb greenhouse gas emissions could cause up to 57,000 additional deaths across the U.S. in coming decades due to poor air quality.

The study was released as part of the run-up to the finalization of the controversial Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The EPA is set to finalize the plan later this summer.

The report’s findings were part of the discussion at a Denver roundtable convened by Environment Colorado this week, as EPA experts joined with state leaders and health experts to bring the message home to Colorado.

“Climate change is already having an impact on human health and is challenging EPA’s ability to fulfill its mission,” said EPA regional climate change coordination Laura Ferris. “We know that taking action to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions will significantly benefit Americans by reducing health impacts, saving lives and avoiding more costly damages across the economy.” Continue reading

Why are oil and gas companies wasting $360 million worth of natural gas each year?

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Oil and gas operations on public and tribal lands produce 21 percent of national emissions from gas production.

Study says easy fixes available to stop methane leaks

Staff Report

FRISCO — Methane emissions from oil and gas operations on federally managed public lands and tribal lands totaled more than 1 million tons in 2013, accounting for about 12 percent of total methane emissions across the U.S.

That methane was worth about $360 million at current gas prices, showing how oil and gas companies are squandering a valuable public resources and polluting the atmosphere, according to a new economic study released by the Environmental Defense Fund. Continue reading

Climate change threatens native plant diversity in California grassland ecosystems

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Global warming is likely to cut native plant diversity in California, with cascading ecosystem effects, a new UC Davis study suggests. @bberwyn photo.

UC Davis study documents ‘direct loss’ of native wildflowers

Staff Report

FRISCO — California scientists say they’ve documented a loss in native wildflower diversity after with a string of dry winters, showing how climate change will affect the state’s grassland ecosystems.

The study is based on 15 years of monitoring on about 80 sampling plots at McLaughlin Reserve, part of the natural reserve system at the University of California at Davis. Continue reading

Pope’s message tackles ethical and moral implications of climate and environmental policy choices

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Pope Francis released his environmental encyclical just as climate scientists said that May was yet another record warm month for planet Earth, and that 2015 is likely to be the warmest year ever for the globe.

‘Those who profited least from the exploitation of fossil fuels and contributed least to greenhouse-gas emissions are hit hardest by global warming impacts’

Staff Report

FRISCO — It’s easiest to look at global warming through a purely scientific lens. Simple physics provide a completely logical explanation for the steady upward trend in global temperatures.

It’s much harder to to address the issue when you add politics and ethics to the equation, which is what Pope Francis sought to do with his recent “Laudato Si” encyclical on inequality and the environment.

Crafting the language may have been like walking on a tightrope above a political and religious minefield, but in the end, it will pay off by giving scientists more of a buffer for talking about climate and the environment in moral terms. Continue reading

Environment: New fuel standards for heavy trucks would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 1 billion metric tons

Trucking industry cautiously supportive of new rules

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There are a lot of trucks on the road these days, and they emit a lot of greenhouse gases. Proposed new federal rules could cut those emissions by 1 billion metric tons and amount to huge fuel savings for the trucking industry. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Obama administration says its proposed new fuel efficiency standards for trucks will cut CO2 emissions by 1 billion metric tons — about equal to the greenhouse gas emissions from all domestic energy use in the U.S.

The new rules would cut fuel costs by  about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to 1.8 billion barrels, more than a year’s worth of imports from OPEC. Continue reading

Study: Global warming won’t cut winter-related deaths

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Winter deaths are unlikely to decline substantially because of global warming, a new study says. @bberwyn photo.

Professor Patrick Kinney of Columbia University

Hot summer temps more of a problem

Staff Report

FRISCO — Even though winters may become warmer as climate change ramps up, it probably won’t result in a big reduction of winter deaths, says a new study that contradicts the conventional wisdom on health impacts of climate change.

“For years I’ve been hearing people say that global warming will reduce winter deaths but I wanted to check this claim out for myself,” said Columbia University Professor Patrick Kinney.

Kinney and his colleagues used statistical methods to pick apart the possible factors contributing to deaths of older people during the winter; they found that cities with warmer winters have similar amounts of winter deaths as do cities with colder winters. The new research was published this week in IOP Publishing’s Environmental Research Letters journal. Continue reading

May 2015 ends up as warmest-ever for planet Earth

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Hard to find the cool spots.

Year to date temps also on record-setting pace

Staff Report

FRISCO — The world’s average surface temperature soared 1.57 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average in May to set a new all-record for the month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported in its new update this week.

Nearly all areas of the planet were warmer than average, with three cool spots: far northeastern Asia, a small area of the North Atlantic near Greenland, Australia and the central U.S.

All of Greenland, but particularly the far northeast, was colder than average for May, as was Iceland, where temps ran 5 to 7 degrees below the average of the past 10 years.

Notable hot spots included Alaska, northern Scandinavia and northern South America, as well as parts of the equatorial Pacific Ocean where a brewing El Niño has heated things up considerably. Continue reading

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