Scott Pruitt and global warming – John Reilly

MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer John Reilly

Many news outlets are questioning how long Scott Pruitt will hold onto his job at the EPA as criticism of his spending continues.  However, even if Pruitt loses his position, it’s likely that his views and positions will continue to live on at the EPA and elsewhere—especially if, as expected, his deputy director were to take over. This, of course, is cause for concern. It may therefore be worthwhile to consider the continued resistance to views on global warming.

For example, The Chicago Tribune recently reported that Pruitt has once again questioned the scientific consensus that rising levels of carbon dioxide from human-fueled activity are warming the planet.

But now, according to the Tribune, he’s also taking a different tack. Even if climate change is occurring, as the vast majority of scientists say it is, Pruitt is questioning whether a warmer atmosphere might not be bad for human beings.  While it is unclear exactly why Pruitt thinks things won’t be so bad for humans, it’s worth considering his arguments.

Indeed there is evidence that some things may do better with global warming—as Pruitt has suggested —poleward areas where the growing season is short, would likely benefit from longer growing seasons and crops could benefit from higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. In general, CO2 enhances growth and can increase water use efficiency.

But low lying coastal areas, such as Florida and the Gulf coast will surely suffer from sea level rise.  Amplified by likely stronger tropical storms—some low lying island nations are almost certainly destined to disappear even if we hold the temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees.  With large populations centers on the US coasts and coasts around the world, its pretty clear that coastal damage will outweigh the benefit from longer growing seasons in poleward areas.  In addition, crops toward the equator including southern areas of the U. S. would likely suffer.

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Has China’s coal use peaked? Hear’s how to read the tea leaves – Valerie J. Karplus

Assistant Professor Valerie Karplus

Assistant Professor Valerie Karplus

From The Conversation

As the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, how much coal China is burning is of global interest.

In March, the country’s National Bureau of Statistics said the tonnage of coal has fallen for the second year in the row. Indeed, there are reports that China will stop construction of new plants, as the country grapples with overcapacity, and efforts to phase out inefficient and outdated coal plants are expected to continue.

A sustained reduction in coal, the main fuel used to generate electricity in China, will be good news for the local environment and global climate. But it also raises questions: what is driving the drop? And can we expect this nascent trend to continue?

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To get ahead, corporate America must account for climate change–John Reilly

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer, John Reilly

From The Hill

Scott Pruitt’s confirmation last week as chief of the Environmental Protection Agency was a setback for environmentalists and scientists who waged a fierce campaign against the nominee.

As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt led or took part in 14 lawsuits that sought to block EPA regulations and policies intended to tackle climate change. In addition, his views on global warming put him at odds with both the stated positions of many companies and their current policies toward climate change.

Pruitt is one of many announced appointees who is hostile to efforts aimed at reducing emissions linked to global warming. Many in the administration are skeptical that climate change is caused by human activity or doubt its consequences will be significant. President Trump has expressed extreme skepticism about climate change, calling it a hoax created by China.

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On the Path to Paris, Obama and Xi Invite Stronger Global Climate Ambition — Valerie Karplus

Assistant Professor Valerie Karplus

Assistant Professor Valerie Karplus

From ChinaFAQs

The latest Obama-Xi announcement sends a strong message: the two nations are acting fast to enable a global low carbon transition. Friday’s joint announcement is an unprecedented step by the world’s #1 and #2 emitters to commit, at the highest levels, to a strong set of domestic policies and to reinforce global mechanisms that will help to engage peers ahead of the upcoming landmark climate change negotiations in Paris.

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The Paris accord is #OurAccord – Jason Jay

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Jason Jay

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Jason Jay

From The Huffington Post 

The UN international climate change negotiations in Paris, COP21, concluded on Saturday. The outcome: 196 countries came to the table, and committed to preventing the worst effects of climate change. For the first time, developing countries recognized their future responsibility, while developed nations acknowledged their historic contribution. Together they set out an aggressive goal to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees C. Like countless others, I eagerly shared the news on my Facebook feed and I rushed to explain the significance to my five-year-old son.

Reading responses to the COP21 accord in the news and social media, however, revealed a wide mix of reactions. Some share my enthusiasm; others are more tentative, wondering how “they” can follow through on targets that are aspirational and not binding. There is a chorus of critiques, from multiple sides of the political spectrum. Many have validity, particularly those grounded in the science who have run the numbers on future warming.

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