Daily Forecast: Today’s Online Buzz on Environmental Issues
New statistics compiled by researchers at Weather Underground estimate that in 2011, 32 major weather disasters have caused more than $100 billion in damages worldwide. The top individual costliest weather events include floods in Thailand and Australia and tornadoes in the United States.
These 32 Extreme Weather Disasters Each Did Over $1 Billion in Damage in 2011
Brian Merchant – Tree Hugger
As if you somehow hadn’t heard, 2011 was a record-shattering year for extreme weather events around the globe. Floods, drought, and storms killed tens of thousands of people and caused over $150 billion in damages. In fact, at least 32 disasters caused more than a billion dollars in damage, and four topped out over $10 billion each. Droughts in Somalia led to a bona fide famine–the U.N. used the official term for the first time in 30 years–which claimed the lives of over 30,000 people, most of whom were children. Huge, often unprecedented flooding rocked Brazil, Colombia, Pakistan, Australia, and, Thailand.
Police Inquiry Prompts New Speculation on Who Leaked Climate-Change E-Mails
Leslie Kaufman – New York Times
For two years, the mystery has endured: who set out to undercut climate scientists by publishing more than 1,000 of their private e-mails on the Internet? The original e-mails, released in 2009 on the eve of a high-stakes United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen, sowed doubts about the scientists’ research and integrity and galvanized skeptics who challenge the scientific consensus that global warming is under way. It set off six separate official inquiries, all of which cleared the researchers of scientific misconduct.
The Platform Opens a Window: An Unambiguous Consequence of the Durban Climate Talks
Robert Stavins – The Huffington Post
In my previous essay — following the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP-17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which adjourned on December 11, 2011 — I offered my assessment of the Durban climate negotiations, addressing the frequently-posed question of whether the talks had “succeeded.” I took note of three major outcomes from the negotiations: (1) elaboration on several components of the Cancun Agreements; (2) a second five-year commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol; and (3) a non-binding agreement to reach an agreement by 2015 that will bring all countries under the same legal regime by 2020.
Vermont Plans For 90% Of Its Energy From Renewable Sources By 2050
Matthew McDermott – Tree Hugger
Vermont has taken a large step forward for US states, outlining in its Comprehensive Energy Plan how it will get 90% of all its energy from renewable sources by 2050. Currently Vermont gets 23% of its energy from renewable sources, mostly biomass and hydropower which supply roughly 50% of the state’s electricity. The report gives a snapshot of the challenge facing the Green Mountain State; it’s essentially the same challenge facing the entire United States: Robust electric efficiency efforts in the past decade have…helped significantly—we are keeping our electric demand down and using many renewable sources to meet our need.
Climate coverage down again in 2011
Douglas Fischer – The Daily Climate
Media coverage of climate change continued to tumble in 2011, declining roughly 20 percent from 2010’s levels and nearly 42 percent from 2009’s peak, according to analysis of DailyClimate.org’s archive of global media. The declining coverage came amid bouts of extreme weather across the globe – historic wildfires in Arizona, drought in Texas, famine in the Horn of Africa – and flashes of political frenzy. Australia’s approval of a carbon tax, the U.S. presidential election, a Congressional inquiry into the failed solar startup Solyndra all generated significant coverage within the mainstream press, but it was not enough to stem the larger trend.