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Category Archives: Environmental Law

The Cost of Carbon – Interactive Database

This is a living documentation of the price we are all paying for carbon pollution. Find out how you are paying, add your cost, and share with those who can help to end climate denial and put a price on carbon.”
“The Cost of Carbon is the never-ending toll that carbon pollution is having on our planet. Carbon pollution is disrupting our Earth’s atmosphere, causing a long-term rise in temperatures. Increased temperatures are in turn leading to extreme climate-related disasters. It is the exposure to these rising temperatures and extreme climate-related disasters that is resulting in a wide variety of costs, both financial and other.  In using the Carbon Tab, the current risk level that you are assigned is based on your location. It has been determined in large part by Maplecroft through an evaluation of the vulnerability of populations to extreme events and changes in environmental parameters. It combines the risk of exposure with the degree of human sensitivity and the ability to adapt to climate change. While scientists are currently unable to study and link every extreme climate hazard event to climate change, the science is advancing rapidly. Such extreme events are increasingly found to be influenced by carbon pollution.  Baseline data provided by Maplecroft and taken from the Maplecroft Natural Hazards Risk Atlas 2013 and Maplecroft Climate Change and Environment Risk Atlas 2013. Maplecroft produce 170+ data indices, maps, scorecards for 197 countries worldwide combining rigorous research methodologies with internationally recognised data sets. 
Climate Hazards Risk: The fossil fuel industry (coal, oil, gas) is increasing carbon pollution in the Earth’s atmosphere. In turn, increasing carbon pollution is causing the planet to warm. In addition to rising sea levels and higher storm surges, and changes in some vector-borne diseases and parasites, this warming is linked to an increase in the frequency, and in some cases the intensity, of extreme weather events such as heavy downpours, heat waves, and droughts. Each of those events, in turn, is linked with a host of other risks and associated costs. 
Rising Temperatures: Global temperatures are rising. The increase in temperature has varied regionally and seasonally with higher latitudes exhibiting some of the most substantial increases. 
Flood Risk: The Flood Risk represents the risk from riverine flooding. This refers to the floods associated with rivers bursting their banks as opposed to flooding associated with inundations caused by flash flooding or sea water, or water pooling following heavy rain. 
Hurricane Risk: The Hurricane Risk represents the risk from tropical storms and tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons). 
Landslide Risk: The Landslide (precipitation-related) Risk represents the risk from landslides triggered by heavy and/or prolonged precipitation. In this index the term landslides refers to rapid mass movement, rockslides and debris flows which can be induced following heavy precipitation. 
Storm surge Risk: The Storm Surge (Tropical Cyclones) Risk represents the risk from storm surges originating from tropical cyclones. 
Wildfire Risk: The Wildfire Risk represents the risk to a country from wildfires. 
Drought Risk: The Drought Risk is designed to quantify the risk from the occurrence of droughts. It provides an assessment of meteorological drought risk, defined as a period of below average rainfall resulting in a deficiency in water supply. The affect droughts have populations is determined by external socio-economic factors. 
Malaria Risk: The Malaria Risk assesses the risk from malaria in a given country by taking into account malaria cases and deaths, mosquito net coverage and the capacity each country has to contain infectious disease. 
Note: Extreme heat events have increased in frequency and intensity. Climate models project further increases into the future. Geographic-specific data of current extreme heat risk at a global scale was not available for this analysis. 
Resulting Costs :The listing of resulting or associated hazard costs is by no means all-inclusive. These costs are intended to give the user a small sampling of the cost types typically resulting from rising temperatures and climate-related hazard events. Not all of these costs are financial. Climate-related hazards also impart an emotional toll that is not easily valued. 
Hazard Events: A small selection of recent hazard events is included in timeline form. The hazard types shown here are those that are or expected to be in the future influenced by manmade changes to the Earth’s climate system. While linking a specific hazard event to climate change is a difficult task, scientists are increasingly able to do so with advanced modeling techniques. 
Source: Data provided by Maplecroft, the global risk analytics firm. Further information see www.maplecroft.com

Report – large US and global companies ready for a price on carbon

“A new report released today by CDP, an environmental organization that gathers information on behalf of investors, provides powerful evidence that: There is a global corporate consensus that carbon will be priced; Businesses are preparing for a robust, internationally-linked carbon market; and These companies would welcome regulatory certainty, nationally and internationally, with respect to climateContinue Reading

NOAA, UNC-Wilmington study finds warming Atlantic ocean temps could increase expansion of invasive native species

News release: “Warming water temperatures due to climate change could expand the range of many native species of tropical fish, including the invasive and poisonous lionfish, according to a study of 40 species along rocky and artificial reefs off North Carolina by researchers from NOAA and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. The findings, reported forContinue Reading

Fugitive gases in eight clusters of domestic water wells overlying the Marcellus and Barnett Shales

Noble gases identify the mechanisms of fugitive gas contamination in drinking-water wells overlying the Marcellus and Barnett Shales. Published online before print September 15, 2014, doi:10.1073/pnas.1322107111 PNAS September 15, 2014: “Significance: Hydrocarbon production from unconventional sources is growing rapidly, accompanied by concerns about drinking-water contamination and other environmental risks. Using noble gas and hydrocarbon tracers, we distinguish natural sources of methaneContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – Critical Infrastructure Protection, EPA Regs and Electricity

CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION: DHS Action Needed to Enhance Integration and Coordination of Vulnerability Assessment Efforts, GAO-14-507: Published: Sep 15, 2014. Publicly Released: Sep 15, 2014: “DHS is not positioned to manage an integrated and coordinated government-wide approach for assessments as called for in the NIPP because it does not have sufficient information about the assessment tools andContinue Reading

An Energy and Sustainability Roadmap for West Virginia

Van Nostrand, James M, An Energy and Sustainability Roadmap for West Virginia (2013). West Virginia Law Review, Vol. 115, No. 3, 2013. Available for download at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2495555 “This article explores the measures that West Virginia policymakers can take to position the state for a more sustainable energy future. Throughout its history, energy resources have beenContinue Reading

Rocky Mountain Forests at Risk – Report

Union of Concerned Scientists - Confronting climate-driven impacts from insects, wildfires, heat, and drought: “Tens of millions of trees have died in the Rocky Mountains over the past 15 years, victims of a triple assault of tree-killing insects, wildfires, and stress from heat and drought. Global warming is the driving force behind these impacts, bringing hotter andContinue Reading

40 Percent of Countries with Largest Shale Energy Resources Face Water Stress

Paul Reig and Andrew Maddocks, World Resources Institute: “…extracting natural gas and tight oil from shale poses environmental risks, especially when it comes to water. Hydraulic fracturing requires up to 25 million liters of fresh water per well, meaning shale resources can be hard to develop where fresh water is hard to find—including in some of the world’s fastest-growingContinue Reading

Draft of UN’s New Report on Global Warming Delivers Bleak Assessment

Justin Gillis, New York Times: “Runaway growth on the emission of greenhouse gases is swamping all political efforts to deal with the problem, raising the risk of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” over the coming decades, according to a draft of a major new United Nations report. Global warming is already cutting grain production by several percentageContinue Reading

ProPublica, Satellites and The Shrinking Louisiana Coast

“At the heart of the story is the fact that the Louisiana coastline loses land at a rate equivalent to a football field each hour. That comes to 16 square miles per year. The land south of New Orleans has always been low-lying, but since the Army Corps of Engineers built levees along the Mississippi after the huge 1927Continue Reading

NOAA lists 20 coral species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act

News release: “NOAA announced [August 27, 2014 that] it will afford Endangered Species Act protections to 20 coral species. All 20 species will be listed as threatened, none as endangered. Fifteen of the newly listed species occur in the Indo-Pacific and five in the Caribbean. “Coral reefs are one of the most biologically diverse ecosystemsContinue Reading

World Water Week Seeks Solutions to Water and Energy Challenges

World Bank: “Water is needed in almost all energy generation processes. At the same time, the water sector needs energy to extract, treat and transport water. These inextricable connections between water and energy – and how best to manage them for the benefit of the poor – will be the focus of this year’s WorldContinue Reading