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Green Eyeshades

Scared off by corporate accounting scandals and a year of bad economic indicators, big investors are starting to keep an eye out for other possible financial red flags -- and the hidden risks associated with global warming are high on their lists. As increasing temperatures trigger environmental changes ranging from drought to rising sea levels, investors are growing wise to the possibility that they could end up footing part of the bill. One large German insurance company has estimated that global warming could cost $300 billion annually by 2050, a toll that would be exacted in weather damage, pollution, industrial …

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No Island Is an Island

Climate change was the leading concern at the annual Pacific Island Forum this week, where leaders of small island nations chastised the United States for abandoning the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. The islands have an unusually vested interest in the protocol because they face a high risk of being swallowed up by seas swollen from melting ice caps and thermal expansion of ocean waters. The leaders of the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, the Marshall Islands, and Tuvalu released a statement at the forum noting their "profound disappointment at the decision of the U.S." The consortium stopped short of …

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Umbra on diesel engines

Dear Umbra, Longtime reader; first-time writer. Love the column. My partner and I recently bought a small station wagon to replace our 4WD pick-up and '83 sedan. After some debate, we chose a turbo-diesel engine that boasts about 45 miles per gallon instead of a gas engine, which gets about 30 MPG. Our thinking led us to choose the higher fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions of the diesel engine, although the gas engine produces fewer particulate emissions, sulfur, and other nasties. Would you please comment on our decision, and also help us understand the other pollution and energy costs …

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Tempura’s Rising

Global warming has come to Tokyo with a vengeance: While the average global temperature has increased by 1 degree Fahrenheit in the last century, the average temperature in the Japanese capital has risen by more than five times that. Like most large cities, Tokyo is an island of heat. Concrete, cars, and rooftops absorb sunlight all day and discharge it at night, preventing the city from cooling; vertical buildings block breezes; and omnipresent air conditioners cool interior environments but further warm the outside air. The heat has brought with it increased smog and new, subtropical species, including dengue-fever-bearing mosquitoes. But …

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Canada Drier

Global warming could spell big trouble for Canada's freshwater supply, according to a report from the government agency Natural Resources Canada. The predicted global surface-air temperature increase of between 2.5 and 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century would sap some of the country's hydroelectric power potential, lower lake levels, and pave the way for severe drought on the Canadian prairies, the report warns. Parts of the prairies are already suffering their second and third consecutive summer droughts. Other problems could include stranded docks and harbors as water levels drop; decreased potable water supplies; reduced fish habitat and possible species …

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The Big Uneasy

In Louisiana, the sea-level rises caused by global warming aren't the stuff of dry scientific reports; they're already a local reality. Up to 35 square miles of the state's wetlands get a little too wet every year -- they disappear into the Gulf of Mexico. To date, Louisiana has lost an area the size of Rhode Island. Low-lying areas that have suffered years of poor environmental management are so endangered that the Red Cross estimates that a major hurricane in New Orleans could claim from 25,000 to 100,000 lives. Virtually every other Atlantic and Gulf coast state also is likely …

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Coal Shoulder

Interior Secretary Gale Norton was snubbed today by seven West Virginia environmental groups, which declined an invitation to meet with her to discuss statewide mining issues. Norton initially offered to set aside a half-hour with the groups, coinciding with her visit to the state on the 25th anniversary of the Federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. Prior to her appointment as Interior secretary, Norton opposed the act, arguing that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to regulate strip mining. The West Virginia citizens groups say that poor federal enforcement of the act is benefiting coal companies at the …

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Links related to “Power Shift,” a special edition of Grist

Looking for more info on global climate change? Look no farther. The links below can help you find what you need. General Climate Change Information The Smithsonian Institution offers one of the slickest websites around when it comes to climate change (after Grist's, of course). This online exhibition on global warming, developed in partnership with Environmental Defense, includes dramatic visual examples of climate change in action and statistics that will shock you, plus games to learn more about global warming and suggestions to reduce your own energy consumption. Climate Change Solutions, a project of the Pembina Institute, provides resources in …

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