General Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

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A Tale of Two Droughts: As in '88, Will 2012's Weather Extremes Push Climate Change Higher on the National Agenda?

In 1988, America faced an extraordinary summer heat wave and an extensive drought that  helped to propel climate change into national politics.   Republican presidential candidate George H.W. Bush said that year: "Those who think we are powerless to do anything about the 'greenhouse effect' are forgetting about the 'White House effect.'''  In 2012, even more of the country has been afflicted by drought; and it is another election year.  Might we again hear of the "White House effect" this August? If there is to be any chance for a meaningful national conversation about climate change after the election, we have to hope that the candidates candidly address the issue before the election.

To Politicians Napping on the Fireline: Wake Up, Smell the Smoke and Act on Climate Change

Extraordinary wildfire conditions are among the indications that climate change is well underway in the Southwestern U.S.  Cities and towns in the region are responding, showing leadership where the federal government does not.  Alas, many of our elected representatives in Washington are napping on the fireline. They need to wake up, smell the smoke and take climate change seriously.

Colorado Congressman Wants Federal Support for Fossil Fuels -- and for Coping with their Climate Impacts

Congressman Cory Gardner, a freshman Republican representing a large part of northern and eastern Colorado, is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Gardner along with the majority of committee members, supports expanded U.S. production of fossil fuels. Pollutants released by those fuels are accumulating in the atmosphere and making his state and the rest of the Southwest hotter and drier. Gardner and many of his colleagues deny that fossil fuel use seriously threatens climate, and oppose regulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) under the Clean Air Act. While they promote policies that undermine Federal efforts to address the threat of climate change, their home states and districts are experiencing weather extremes -- and impacts -- that foreshadow the ultimate consequences of such policies.  The High Park Fire in Gardner's district has torched 87,284 acres, burned 257 houses and has cost $33.5 million to suppress. To the south, in Colorado Springs, the Waldo Canyon Fire destroyed 346 homes this week, and threatens over 20,000 more homes.

National Public Radio: Researchers Observe Climate Change, First-Hand

National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation" features a discussion of some of the changes scientists are witnessing and studying in the field as climate rapidly changes.  Guests include Craig Allen, research ecologist, United States Geological Survey; and George Divoky, director, Friends of Cooper Island (Alaska). 

Rising Temperatures Expose Cities' Vulnerable Electrical Supplies

A report  from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) released last week highlights the many ways infrastructure critical to American cities is vulnerable to weather extremes -- with some vulnerabilities well beyond city limits.  That infrastructure includes the electrical supply, transmission and distribution systems. Extreme summer heat drives up electricity demand for cooling; and can strain the systems and increase the risks of very costly and disruptive blackouts.

Federal Report Warns of Costly Impacts to U.S. Cities from Changing Weather Extremes

A new report from Oak Ridge National Laboratory warns that urban areas in the U.S. "are vulnerable to extreme weather events that will become more intense, frequent, and/or longer-lasting with climate change." The authors say that the "true consequences of impacts and disruptions" associated with those events "involve not only the costs associated with the clean-up, repair, and/or replacement of affected infrastructures but also economic, social, and environmental effects as supply chains are disrupted, economic activities are suspended, and/or social well-being is threatened." They note that the risks "can be substantially reduced by developing and implementing appropriate adaptation strategies."

Earth Hour 2012 Kicks-Off WWF City Challenge

The City of Tucson was at the center of World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour celebration in the United States.  As the lights went out over the Sonoran Desert, the City of Tucson joined with WWF to launch a new initiative called the Earth Hour City Challenge. "The Earth Hour City Challenge will create a healthy competition among cities to chart a course to a climate smart future and recognize those cities that are leading the way," said WWF President and CEO Carter Roberts.

Video: Arizona Public Media Interview with two Leaders of Tucson's Efforts to Address Climate Change

Arizona Public Media (AZPM) interviews Leslie Ethen, the director of the City of Tucson's Office of Conservation and Sustainable Development; and Phil Swaim, an architect and Co-Chairperson of the city's Climate Change Advisory Committee.

Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona: Will you join us for Earth Hour Celebration?

The Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona today invited their scouts and friends to Tucson’s Earth Hour celebration on Saturday, March 31.

"Power to Prepare Tucson" Summit: Faced with more Extreme Weather, Citizens Engage in City's Climate Preparedness Efforts

On Saturday the City of Tucson, Arizona, is bringing its citizens together to discuss the challenges climate change poses for the city and the opportunities to respond. "As an Arizonan and former Governor, I’m proud to see the City of Tucson take up the challenge to prepare for these serious changes and work with the public on solutions," says former Arizona Governor, Bruce Babbitt.  "These are big challenges, but they are ones we can overcome...The first step is to look the problem square in the eye, rather than bury our heads in the sand; the second is to prepare for the impacts." 

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