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Obama climate change report points to bioenergy for forest health

By Anna Simet | May 07, 2014

The Obama Administration has released a new U.S. National Climate Assessment, which it describes as the most comprehensive scientific climate change assessment ever generated. The report was developed over four years by hundreds of climate scientists and technical experts and took into consideration input from thousands of public and outside organizations, and details current and future impacts of climate change on every region of America, as well as major sectors of the U.S. economy.

A White House summary of the report provides brief synopses of climate change impacts on each region of the U.S. For the Great Plains—Wyoming,  North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas— it says the region “experiences multiple climate and weather hazards, including floods, droughts, severe storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and winter storms. In much of the Great Plains, too little precipitation falls to replace that needed by humans, plants, and animals…These variable conditions already stress communities and cause billions of dollars in damage. Climate change will add to both stress and costs…Rising temperatures lead to increased demand for water and energy and impacts on agricultural practices.”

Transportation, energy, water, agriculture, ecosystem and health effects of increasing temperatures and extreme weather are detailed in the report. On health impacts specifically, it suggests climate change already is and will continue to threaten human health and wellbeing in many ways, including through impacts from increased extreme weather events, wildfire, decreased air quality, threats to mental health, and illnesses transmitted by food, water, and disease carriers such as mosquitoes and ticks.”

On climate change’s impact on forests, it emphasizes increased vulnerability to ecosystem changes and tree mortality through fire, insect infestations, drought, and disease outbreaks, and suggests that bioenergy could emerge as a new market for wood, as it could aid in the restoration of forests killed by drought, insects, and fire.

The report acknowledges the potential of utilizing low-value wood and forest thinnings for energy to lower carbon emissions from those of fossil fuels, and points out that the total amount of carbon stored in U.S. forests and wood products equals roughly 25 years’ worth of U.S. heat-trapping gasses at current emission rates.

Biomass Power Association President and CEO Bob Cleaves commended the report’s address to the use of low-value wood for energy and carbon emissions reductions. "The report emphasizes that forest biomass energy could be one component of an overall bioenergy strategy to reduce emissions of carbon from fossil fuel, while also improving water quality, and maintaining lands for timber production as an alternative to other socioeconomic option,” he said.

 "The report highlights the potential for bioenergy, noting that plant-based material contributes about 28 percent of America’s renewable energy supply,” Cleaves added. “Bioenergy has the potential of displacing 30 percent of the nation’s current U.S. petroleum consumption …we look forward to working with the administration to implement bioenergy policies that provide predictable and long-term markets for biomass energy as we do our part to fight climate change."

The 25X25 Alliance— a group of agricultural, forestry, environmental, conservation and other organizations and businesses that are working to advance the goal of securing 25 percent of the nation's energy needs from renewable sources by the year 2025—said the authors of the report understand that renewable energy, including wind, solar, biomass, biofuels, geothermal and hydro, will play a key role in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change.  In a statement issued on the assessment, it pointed out that emissions can be avoided through the use of biofuels, providing that regulators leave intact the required blending requirements called for by Congress in the federal renewable fuel standard.

Access the assessment here.  

 

 

 

1 Responses

  1. James Rust

    2014-05-09

    1

    Climate change is clear and present danger, says landmark US report This is the title of an article in the May 5 Internet edition of The Guardian written by Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent. The article is about the release May 6 at the White House of the National Climate Assessment Report (NCA) with a great deal of fanfare. The article states “Climate change has moved from distant threat to present-day danger and no American will be left unscathed, according to a landmark report due to be unveiled on Tuesday. The National Climate Assessment, a 1,300-page report compiled by 300 leading scientists and experts, is meant to be the definitive account of the effects of climate change on the US.” The article further states “Gary Yohe, an economist at Wesleyan University and vice-chair of the NCA advisory committee, said the US report would be unequivocal that the effects of climate change were occurring in real-time and were evident in every region of the country. ‘One major take-home message is that just about every place in the country has observed that the climate has changed,’ he told the Guardian. ‘It is here and happening, and we are not cherrypicking or fearmongering.’ The draft report notes that average temperature in the US has increased by about 1.5F (0.8C) since 1895, with more than 80% of that rise since 1980. The last decade was the hottest on record in the US. Temperatures are projected to rise another 2F over the next few decades, the report says. In northern latitudes such as Alaska, temperatures are rising even faster.” It takes a very astute observer to note climate change is happening in the United States the past hundred years; or for that matter over the 4 billion year existence of the planet. The country is blessed to have such people working on the NCA. Surely these individuals will state climate change is the normal state of affairs for the nation. The U. S. Weather Service and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has been collecting data since the late 19th century on all types of weather events such as temperatures, rain fall, drought, snow fall, wild fires, sea level rise, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. The data shows little change in event occurrence over times of observation. If anything there is less frequency of some events the past twenty years when atmospheric carbon dioxide has been at its highest rate of increase. The graph of monthly average of all daily high and low temperatures at all NOAA U. S. Historical Climate Network stations for the period 1895 to 2013 shows U. S. temperatures barely changed from 53 degree F. over that period. It is hard to visualize a continuous rise in U. S. temperatures from 1895 to 2013 in this data. The planet is in a global warming cycle called the Current Warming Period since about 1850. So it would be expected to see some warming over this 160-year period. This warming can’t be attributed to increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. Does the NCA report the pause in global warming since 1998? Based on The Guardian article, it appears the NCA is another report similar to the latest United Nations 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report forthcoming the past eight months. To counteract omissions, half-truths, and false statements in these reports, the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) was formed in 2003. Since 2009, the NIPCC has released six reports that give authoritative, easily-read information about the vast amount of experimental data showing negligible influence of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels on climate, financial losses from mitigation, and proper role of adapting to climate change. If the material in the NCA contains the information cited in The Guardian, my only comment is a quote from attorney Joseph Welch protesting Joseph McCarthy actions June, 9, 1954, "Have you no sense of decency?" After Mr. Welch’s statement, Senator McCarthy’s credibility was ruined and he died a lonely man three years later. Let us hope the NCA will show the illogic reasoning for stopping use of the nation’s abundant, economical fossil fuel resources of coal, oil, and natural gas. The attempts so far are the reasons for the economic malaise besetting country the past 6 years. This agony must come to a halt, and the possible illogic NCA will awaken the public about the mass of false reasoning presented the past 25 years. James H. Rust, Professor of nuclear engineering and policy advisor The Heartland Institute

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