|Issue of the Day Posts Tagged ‘Climate Change’|
New Study to Improve Early Tornado Warning Systems
Published Friday, May 15th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
With Tornado season in full swing, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has initiated a joint project that explores the origins, structure and evolution of tornados. The project, Verification of the Origin of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment 2 (VORTEX2) involves more than 50 scientists, 40 vehicles and 10 mobile radars. Its objective is to collect data in order understand how tornadoes form and how the large-scale environment of thunderstorms is related to tornado function. The principle area of interest is the Great Plains including South Dakota, western Iowa, eastern Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, the Texas panhandle, and western Oklahoma. Preliminary results from V2 are scheduled for presentation at Penn State during the 2009 fall semester. Funding for the study — amounting to $11.9 million — will come from NOAA and the National Science Foundation, 10 universities, and 3 non-profit organizations.
The initial VORTEX study operated during 1994 and 1995; its findings led to a greater understanding of the entire life cycle of tornadoes. The results of the study may, in part, be responsible for the improved National Weather Service severe weather warning statistics. Given the spike in the number of tornadoes in recent years, the improvements to the NWS have managed to significantly reduce the nationwide number of fatalities due to severe weather and tornadoes.
Governor Schwarzenegger’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which calls for a 10% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, has been adopted by California’s Air Resources Board. According to the Board, the regulation aims to increase the market for alternative-fuel vehicles and achieve 16 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2020. This is a regulation under California’s Global Warming Solutions Act. The regulation means that fuel providers must prove that their California fuels meet an average declining standard of “Carbon Intensity.” Intensity is a figure related to the sum of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, transportation and consumption of a specific fuel. California’s regulation efforts have come under fire from those who claim the new regulation will indirectly affect land use changes that further inflate grain prices and reduce forests. This move comes ahead of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, to which President Obama has invited the 16 states with the highest emissions of greenhouse gases.
The total summary of on-road alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles has Ethanol (E85) far surpassing all other fuels, which have remained flat (Compressed Natural Gas, Liquefied Natural Gas, and Hydrogen) or have reduced (Liquefied Petroleum Gas). The price of a bushel of wheat, a growing Alternative Fuel ingredient, has skyrocketed from $3.42 in 2005 to $6.65 in 2007. A bushel of corn, the main ingredient in ethanol, has also doubled from $2.00 in 2005 to $4.00 in 2007.
EPA Calls Greenhouse Gases Hazard to the Public’s Health
Published Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded a scientific review ordered by the US Supreme Court in 2007. Findings stated that Greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution and thus threaten public health or welfare. Concentrations of six gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride) are at an all time high due to human activities. The second finding stated that combined emissions from motor vehicles contribute to the atmospheric concentrations of the six greenhouse gases. This would mean the most complex assertion of authority over the US economy and individuals’ lifestyles. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and President Barack Obama have previously said they prefer comprehensive legislation on climate change over federal regulation. Congress is now considering such bills.
Impacts of such climate change include increased drought, more heavy downpours and flooding, more intense wildfires and heat waves, greater sea level rise, more intense storms and harm to water resources, agriculture, wildlife and ecosystems. The findings also suggested that the climate change has a disproportionate impact on the life expectancy of the poor, the very young, the elderly, those already in poor health, the disabled, those living alone and indigenous populations. Currently, the US stands at 50th in the world at a life expectancy of 78.11 years in 2009, with White women surviving at all ages better than all other sexes and races.