Sunday, January 3, 2010

Of Regulations & Reefs: U.S. and Australia consider climate change effects

In the United States, the Obama administration is considering ordering all federal agencies to evaluate any major actions to be taken by considering either their impact upon or how they would be affected by climate change.  As reported by Jim Tankersley in the Los Angeles Times, the order would expand the scope of the National Environmental Policy Act and represents a step forward in recognizing the impact of global warming in the U.S. and is considered a victory for environmentalists.

"The act already requires federal agencies to consider environmental impacts such as land use, species health and air and water quality when approving projects.  By formalizing a requirement to consider effects on climate -- a step some agencies already take -- the administration would introduce a broad new spectrum of issues to be considered."

But it's not a done deal yet.  According to Nancy Sutley, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the decision is not yet final.  This will provide time for climate change opponents and business interests to get their lobbying efforts into high gear.  Admittedly, the current environmental impact report process is a drawn out one that has delayed more than a few projects in the past.  Having to make the additional consideration as to whether a shoreline road project might impacted by rising sea levels or whether rising temperatures might mean that different species of trees would replace trees cut down in a clear-cutting project - as was cited in the Times article - will provide environmentalists with additional reasons to question certain federal agency plans.  So, expect the battle lines to be drawn.

But if the current administration is going to hold true to its concerns about addressing climate change, then this step is probably a good one.  

The article quoted David Bookbinder, chief climate counsel for the Sierra Club as saying, "People will think longer and harder and smarter about what they build when they understand that the environment around them is changing." 

Read the LA Times article. 

On the other side of the globe, in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has dismissed claims from some local scientists that the corals of the Great Barrier Reef are currently not at risk from climate change.  GBRMPA chairman, Dr. Russell Reichelt said there is strong scientific consensus, research and fieldwork to confirm that the increase in ocean temperatures brought on by global warming poses the greatest risk to the future health of Australia's coral reefs.  This refutes the contrary position taken by Dr. Peter Ridd, who believes the threat is greatly exaggerated.

According to an article in the online, Dr. Reichfelt says that coral bleaching is the most compelling evidence of the effects of temperature change and that the incidence of coral bleaching and its severity have been increasing over the past two decades.

"You’ve got animals and plants there that are adapted to withstand up to the normal [temperature] limits," Dr. Reichfelt said. "If you’ll take it above what they’re adapted to, they’ll die." 

Read article.

1 comment:

organic baby crib said...

I hope they would really get into it before it is too late. One will never know when the worst would happen.