(CNN) The federal government is doing a worse job managing the problem of climate change under President Donald Trump, according to an investigation from the Government Accountability Office that included climate change on its High Risk List report on Wednesday.
This year’s High Risk List is a 293-page assessment of the threats facing the federal government, including such matters as cybersecurity and problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The GAO has been putting the list together since 1990 and delivers it to Congress every two years to make legislators aware of the programs that it considers most vulnerable to mismanagement, fraud, waste or abuse and most in need of fixing. Testifying Wednesday before the Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, GAO Comptroller General Eugene Louis Dodaro said that of the many areas that need improvement, “three areas have actually regressed,” and limiting the federal government’s fiscal exposure by better managing climate change risks is one of them. Also in that category were the Environmental Protection Agency’s process for assessing and controlling toxic chemicals and NASA acquisition management. Because the government has revoked policies that had partially addressed climate change and has not taken steps recommended in previous reports, this high-risk area requires “significant attention,” the new report says. Read More Is it climate change or global warming? How science and a secret memo shaped the answer The government had been making big strides in improving its leadership on climate change in the Obama administration, according to past reports, but it “has not made measurable progress since 2017,” the latest report says.
Climate change, in particular the severe storms it brings, has cost the American taxpayer nearly half a trillion dollars since 2015, the report says. “The last several years have been some of the most costly in US history,” Dodaro said. Mark Gaffigan, managing director of the GAO’s natural resources and environment team, explained that there have been 241 billion-dollar events, an average of six a year, since 1980 . In recent years, there have been many more: an average of about 15 a year. Here’s how climate change will impact the US The government would be smart to spend money on the front-end to prepare for climate change, Dodaro said. “For every dollar spent in hazard mitigation and resilience building saves $6 later,” Dodaro said, citing research from the National Institute of Building Sciences . He said that if the United States were to adopt the most recent international building codes , which take climate change into account, it would save $11 for every dollar invested.
The Trump administration’s response to flooding that will increase with climate change could also be a problem, he said. “I’m also concerned that the administration revoked the flood hazard mitigation standard [that] required buildings to be elevated [and] have a national standard in that area,” Dodaro said. The federal flood insurance program is also on the High Risk List, he added. Even though Congress has forgiven $16 billion in debt to the Treasury, the program is still more than $20 billion in debt.
Here’s how climate change will impact the US The report says the Trump administration increased the government’s risk by rescinding guidance directing agencies to consider climate change in their reviews of certain federal projects. Climate change also poses a serious threat to the country’s 555,000 defense facilities, according to the report, especially those along the coasts.
Asking what should be done about it, Sen. Gary Peters , D-Michigan, cited Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Florida, which was unable to move a number of F-22 Raptors ahead of Hurricane Michael in 2018. Damage to the planes and the base cost $3 billion. “They need to have a plan to look ahead as they are building their infrastructure, modernizing their infrastructure, to building resistance, climate resistance policies and procedures,” Dadaro said, adding that Camp Lejeune in North Carolina had more than $3 billion worth of damage from Hurricane Florence last year.
The government should also create a national climate information system to help state, local and private-sector decision-making, the report said. Better climate change information could help local governments create better building codes, for example. Top White House adviser acknowledges threat posed by climate change Weather satellite data is the one bright spot in the GAO’s new report when it comes to climate change. The previous report singled out aging satellites as a real problem. But now, the GAO determined that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Defense followed its recommendations and created independent monitoring programs, and the departments showed that new satellites did not lead to data gaps. The report probably would not come as a surprise to President Trump, who has repeatedly dismissed concerns about climate change . In November , he dismissed a study produced by his own administration involving 13 federal agencies and more than 300 leading climate scientists, warning of the potentially catastrophic impact of climate change. Earth’s fish are disappearing because of climate change, study says “I don’t believe it,” Trump said at the time, adding that he had read “some” of the report.
Trump created a White House committee on climate change but put a climate change skeptic in charge. The administration has proposed an end to several programs that fight climate change that were not mentioned in the report. In December, the EPA proposed relaxing regulations for newly built coal-fired power plants, a proposal that its own risk analysis determined would result in 1,400 more premature deaths a year as of 2030.
Also in December, the United States sided with Russia and Saudi Arabia to contest language supporting a landmark climate report on limiting greenhouse gas emissions. The United States has reaffirmed its intention to withdraw from the landmark climate agreement called the Paris Accord, and polluters have seen the lowest level of EPA fines under this administration. How climate change is revealing, and threatening, thawing relics There has been a call for rapid action on climate change on Capitol Hill. Congress has held dozens of hearings to hear from experts who continue to warn that the government needs to act before it’s too late. The climate change report released in November said that the nation’s economy could lose hundreds of billions of dollars — or, in the worst-case scenario, more than 10% of its GDP — by the end of the century and that it would kill thousands of people. Get CNN Health’s weekly newsletter Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.
Humans are already living with the warmest temperatures in modern history. Even if the best-case scenario were to happen and greenhouse gas emissions were to drop to nothing, the world is on track to warm 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit. Without preparation for changes like this, “there is a lot of exposure that the federal government has,” Dodaro said..
Climate change may lead oceans to be as acidic as 14 million years ago
Made in NYC Stock quotes by finanzen.net Global warming is making oceans so acidic, they may reach the pH they were 14 million years ago Business Insider Deutschland Aug. 16, 2018, 11:36 AM If we don’t curtail our CO2 emissions soon, our oceans could soon be as acidic as they were 14 million years ago,…
Made in NYC Stock quotes by finanzen.net Global warming is making oceans so acidic, they may reach the pH they were 14 million years ago Business Insider Deutschland Aug. 16, 2018, 11:36 AM If we don’t curtail our CO2 emissions soon, our oceans could soon be as acidic as they were 14 million years ago, killing off marine life as we know it. According to a study published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, global warming isn’t the only problem caused by excess CO2 emissions. Our oceans are currently experiencing unprecedented acidification due to rising CO2 levels in the water. If we don’t curb the problem soon, our oceans could soon be as acidic as they were 14 million years ago, killing off marine life as we know it.
We already know plastic waste leads to a colossal level of marine pollution and threatens the lives and habitats of many animals and plants.
We also know sunscreen can bleach coral and destroy whole reefs and that even traces of drugs can tip the hormonal balance of various marine animals. Man is to blame for a large portion of the damage the underwater world has been subjected to, but as if that weren’t bad enough, it turns out we’re causing the ocean another problem, according to a study published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters. Global warming isn’t the only problem caused by excess CO2 emissions Research conducted by scientists at the University of Cardiff in Wales found that carbon dioxide levels will soon be as high as they were 14 million years ago, when the average temperature on Earth was three degrees Celsius higher. Due to rapid global warming, the pH will have dropped dramatically by 2100. Ocean acidification occurs when the pH of water drops, due to the absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere.
One third of CO2 emissions are caused by the burning of fossil fuels, which has been ongoing since the beginning of the industrial revolution: 525 billion tons of CO2 have been released into the oceans since that period began. Smoke is seen from a chimney in Altay, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Thomson Reuters The ocean’s pH will soon be as low as it was 14 million years ago The scientists examined the pH value of the water and the CO2 content of the past 22 million years. “Our new geological record of ocean acidification shows us that on our current ‘business as usual’ emission trajectory, oceanic conditions will be unlike marine ecosystems have experienced for the last 14 million years,” said lead author of the study Sindia Sosdian in a statement .
But even the current pH value is alarmingly low: “The current pH is already probably lower than any time in the last 2 million years,” said Carrie Lear, co-author of the study. She added: “Understanding exactly what this means for marine ecosystems requires long-term laboratory and field studies as well as additional observations from the fossil record.” The catastrophic damage to marine life can no longer be averted Though scientists still have to conduct further experiments to establish the precise ramifications this change will entail within the next next few decades, one thing is clear.
If we continue as we have done up until now, the over-acidification will not only kill off existing and future coral reefs entirely; it will cause catastrophic damage to many ecosystems, in which many animals rely on underwater plants for food sources. Read the original article on Business Insider Deutschland . This post originally appeared on Business Insider Deutschland and has been translated from German.
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Single-use plastics banned by EU Parliament – CNN
(CNN) The European Parliament has approved a law banning a wide-range of single-use plastic items, such as straws, cotton buds and cutlery, by 2021. Final implementation of the legislation is expected in the next few weeks. The law, which was supported by 560 Members of the European Parliament against 35 on Wednesday, stipulates that 10…
(CNN) The European Parliament has approved a law banning a wide-range of single-use plastic items, such as straws, cotton buds and cutlery, by 2021.
Final implementation of the legislation is expected in the next few weeks. The law, which was supported by 560 Members of the European Parliament against 35 on Wednesday, stipulates that 10 single-use plastic items will be banned in order to curb ocean pollution. MEPs also agreed a target to collect and recycle 90% of beverage bottles by 2029. “Europe is setting new and ambitious standards, paving the way for the rest of the world,” the European Commission’s first vice-president Frans Timmermans, who is responsible for sustainable development, said in a statement. Read More The new plans come after the EC found that plastics make up more than 80% of marine litter, which has disastrous effects on wildlife and habitats. The EU parliament notes that because of its slow rate of decomposition, plastic residue has been found in marine species as well as fish and shellfish — and therefore also makes its way into the human food chain.
JUST WATCHED Saving our oceans from plastic pollution Replay More Videos … MUST WATCH
Saving our oceans from plastic pollution 04:47 Under the new European law, tobacco companies will be required to cover the costs for the collection of cigarette butts and manufacturers of fishing gear will also have to pay for the retrieval of any plastic nets that have been left at sea. There’s also a new focus on further raising public awareness, where producers of items such as tobacco filters, plastic cups, sanitary towels and wet wipes will be required to clearly explain to users how to appropriately dispose of them.
The European Commission first proposed the ban in May , which was approved by member states in October. Dead whale found with 40 kilograms of plastic bags in its stomach China last year banned the import of 24 varieties of solid waste , including types of plastic and unsorted paper, putting pressure on Europe to deal with its own waste.
The World Economic Forum estimates that there are about 150 million tons of plastic in the world’s seas. A study published in Science in 2015 suggested that between five and 13 million tons more are flowing into them every year. Research shows there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the world’s oceans by 2050, which has spurred policymakers, individuals and companies into action. European nations began phasing out plastic bags more than 15 years ago.
Dozens of other countries and cities have already imposed bans or restrictions on plastic goods, including microbeads, plastic straws and coffee pods..
The last straw: European parliament votes to ban single-use plastics | Environment
Vote by MEPs paves way for law to come into force by 2021 across EU. The European parliament has voted to ban single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers as part of a sweeping law against plastic waste that despoils beaches and pollutes oceans. The vote by MEPs paves the way for a ban…
Vote by MEPs paves way for law to come into force by 2021 across EU. The European parliament has voted to ban single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers as part of a sweeping law against plastic waste that despoils beaches and pollutes oceans.
The vote by MEPs paves the way for a ban on single-use plastics to come into force by 2021 in all EU member states. The UK would have to follow the rules if it took part in and extended the Brexit transition period because of delays in finding a new arrangement with the EU.
The UK environment secretary, Michael Gove, who has previously sparred with the European commission over who is doing the most to cut down plastic pollution , also wants to curb single-use plastics.
As well as targeting the most common plastic beach litter, the directive will ban single-use polystyrene cups and those made from oxo-degradable plastics that disintegrate into tiny fragments.
EU member states will have to introduce measures to reduce the use of plastic food containers and plastic lids for hot drinks. By 2025, plastic bottles should be made of 25% recycled content, and by 2029 90% of them should be recycled.
The EU is also tackling the scourge of wet wipes that help to clog sewers in the form of “fatbergs”. Wet wipes, sanitary towels, tobacco filters and cups will be labelled if they are made with plastic. Packaging will warn consumers of environmental damage they do by disposing of these items incorrectly.
The “polluter pays” principle will be extended to manufacturers of fishing nets so that companies – but not fishing crews – pay the cost of nets lost at sea.
Frans Timmermans, a European commission vice-president, who has spearheaded the plan, said: “Today we have taken an important step to reduce littering and plastic pollution in our oceans and seas. We got this, we can do this.
Europe is setting new and ambitious standards, paving the way for the rest of the world.
At the sitting in Strasbourg, 560 MEPs voted in favour of the recent agreement hammered out with EU ministers, 35 against, with 28 abstentions.
The directive only has to pass through formalities before it is published in the EU rulebook. Once that happens, EU member states will have two years to implement the directive.
Every year, Europeans generate 25m tonnes of plastic waste, but less than 30% is collected for recycling. More than 80% of marine litter is plastic.
Topics Plastics European Union Marine life Oceans Pollution Europe Wildlife news.
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