Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Hearing entitled, “Nomination of Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency” January 18, 2017
16. Are you aware that each of the past three decades has been warmer than the one before, and warmer than all the previous decades since record keeping began in the 1880s?
(Pruitt) This trend is based on actual temperature measurements. Do you believe that there is uncertainty in this warming trend that has been directly measured? If so, please explain. I am aware of a diverse range of conclusions regarding global temperatures, including that over the past two decades satellite data indicates there has been a leveling off of warming, which some scientists refer to as the “hiatus.” I am also aware that the discrepancy between land-based temperature stations and satellite temperature stations can be attributed to expansive urbanization within in our country where artificial substances such as asphalt can interfere with the accuracy of land-based temperature stations and that the agencies charged with keeping the data do not accurately account for this type of interference. I am also aware that ‘warmest year ever’ claims from NASA and NOAA are based on minimal temperature differences that fall within the margin of error. Finally, I am aware that temperatures have been changing for millions of years that predate the relatively short modern record keeping efforts that began in 1880.
Article published in response to Pruitt’s testimony:
Santer BD, Solomon S, Wentz FJ, Fu Q, Po-Chedley S, Mears C, Painter JF, Bonfils C. Tropospheric Warming Over The Past Two Decades. Scientific Reports. 2017 May 24;7(1):2336.
Satellite temperature measurements do not support the recent claim of a “leveling off of warming” over the past two decades. Tropospheric warming trends over recent 20-year periods are always significantly larger (at the 10% level or better) than model estimates of 20-year trends arising from natural internal variability. Over the full 38-year period of the satellite record, the separation between observed warming and internal variability estimates is even clearer. In two out of three recent satellite datasets, the tropospheric warming from 1979 to 2016 is unprecedented relative to internally generated temperature trends on the 38-year timescale.
GAO – FLOOD INSURANCE Comprehensive Reform Could Improve Solvency and Enhance Resilience 2017
What GAO Found
Based on discussions with stakeholders and GAO’s past work, reducing federal exposure and improving resilience to flooding will require comprehensive reform of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that will need to include potential actions in six key areas (see figure below). Comprehensive reform will be essential to help balance competing programmatic goals, such as keeping flood insurance affordable while keeping the program fiscally solvent. Taking actions in isolation may create challenges for some property owners (for example, by reducing the affordability of NFIP policies) and therefore these consequences also will need to be considered. Some of the potential reform options also could be challenging to start or complete, and could face resistance, because they could create new costs for the federal government, the private sector, or property owners. Nevertheless, GAO’s work suggests that taking actions on multiple fronts represents the best opportunity to help address the spectrum of challenges confronting NFIP.
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Insurgency, Terrorism and Organised Crime in a Warming Climate Analysing the Links Between Climate Change and Non-State Armed Groups (2017)
Over the past ten years, both our understanding and awareness of the links between climate change and
security have increased tremendously. Today the UN, the EU, the G7 and an increasing number of states
have classified climate change as a threat to global and/or national security. However, the links between
climate change, conflict and fragility are not simple and linear. The increasing impacts of climate change
do not automatically lead to more fragility and conflict. Rather, climate change acts as a threat multiplier.
It interacts and converges with other existing risks and pressures in a given context and can increase the
likelihood of fragility or violent conflict. States experiencing fragility or conflict are particularly affected,
but also seemingly stable states can be overburdened by the combined pressures of climate change,
population growth, urbanization, environmental degradation and rising socio-economic inequalities.
Taking the state of play on the links between climate change and fragility as a starting point, this report
addresses the question of how the impacts of climate change are a contributing factor in the rise and
growth of NSAGs. Non-state armed groups are not a new phenomenon. Today, however, we can observe
an increasingly complex landscape of violent actors with a range of hybrid organisational structures,
different agendas and different levels of engagement with society that set them apart from ‘traditional’
non-state actors and result in new patterns of violence. They operate on different levels, within or outside
formal armed conflict and include youth and street gangs, criminal groups and organised crime as well
as highly professionalized terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, or Al Shabaab or militia providing
Four case studies that span the whole spectrum of NSAGs and patterns of violence, conflict and fragility
explore in depth the specific role NSAGs play in the complex dynamics of climate change and fragility and
try to identify how climate change acts as a risks multiplier in regards to NSAGs. These case studies
show that as the climate is changing, so too are the conditions within which NSAGs operate. The complex
risks arising from climate change, fragility and conflict can contribute to the emergence and growth of
NSAGs. This does not imply that there is a direct link between climate change and NSAG-related violence
and conflict. However, large-scale environmental and climatic change contributes to creating an environment
in which NSAGs can thrive and opens spaces that facilitate the pursuit of their strategies.
THE NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM: CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS. American Academy of Actuaries Flood Insurance Work Group (2017)
The NFIP affects many constituencies, including property owners, local governments, builders, realtors, mortgage lenders, insurers, and taxpayers. The program differs from traditional private insurance in several fundamental ways. Changing it without causing market disruption or triggering unintended consequences may be difficult. The program’s current authorization expires in September 2017 and Congress will need to consider many complex and highly technical issues as it debates reauthorization.
The American Academy of Actuaries Flood Insurance Work Group developed this monograph to assist Congress and other stakeholders in understanding the key issues surrounding the NFIP and its role in flood management and recovery after catastrophic events.
The National Flood Insurance Program: Past, Present…and Future? American Academy of Actuaries Flood Insurance Subcommittee (2011)
Flood insurance in the United States primarily is provided by the federal government via the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), in partnership with private insurers and servicing contractors. In the aftermath of the 2004 and 2005 hurricanes that struck the East and Gulf coasts of the United States, and in consideration of the substantial losses suffered in those storms, there have been calls for reform of the program. But since the NFIP is substantively different from typical insurance, few insurance professionals and public policymakers are sufficiently familiar with the NFIP to recognize the broad consequences of changing it. This monograph is focused on the background and the current structure of the program and the primary issues surrounding the program today.
Capitol Hill Briefing – Weathering the Storm: Placing the NFIP on Actuarial Solid Ground
Flood Insurance Subcommittee presentation regarding the actuarial condition of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and its future. (July 12, 2011)
The flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to the 100-year floodplains that is determined in the Flood Insurance Study by approximate methods. Because detailed hydraulic analyses are not performed for such areas, no Base Flood Elevations or depths are shown within this zone. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.
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Civil Defense and Homeland Security: A Short History of National Preparedness Efforts (2006)
This report is the result of a requirement by the Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Preparedness Task Force to examine the history of national preparedness efforts in the United States. The report provides a concise and accessible historical overview of U.S. national preparedness efforts since World War I, identifying and analyzing key policy efforts, drivers of change, and lessons learned. While the report provides much critical information, it is not meant to be a substitute for more comprehensive historical and analytical treatments. It is hoped that the report will be an informative and useful resource for policymakers, those individuals interested in the history of what is today known as homeland security, and homeland security stakeholders responsible for the development and implementation of effective national preparedness policies and programs.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (2010)
Publication 1 (Pub 1) is the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) capstone doctrine. Pub 1 describes FEMA’s ethos, which is to serve the Nation by helping its people and first responders, especially when they are most in need. It identifies FEMA’s core values of compassion, fairness, integrity, and respect. Finally, Pub 1 delineates eight guiding principles that provide overarching direction to FEMA employees for the performance of their duties.
Introduction to Crisis, Disaster, and Risk Management Concepts
The purpose of this chapter is to introduce the reader to current and historical crisis, disaster and risk management concepts, to define the four phases of emergency management, and to highlight issues concerning communications, business continuity planning and international disaster programs. Also included in this chapter is a discussion of the attributes of a successful emergency management system that will be illustrated in the case studies presented in this book.
A fundamental premise of the most Louisiana coastal restoration plans, including the Master Plan, is that coastal salt marsh acts as a horizontal levee, reducing hurricane surge for each mile of marsh. The primary source that is usually cited for this proposition is:
Corps of Engineers, US Army Engineer District, New Orleans, Interim Survey Report, Morgan City, Louisiana and Vicinity , serial no. 63, US Army Engineer District, New Orleans, LA (November 1963).
This report is nearly impossible to find because it is embedded in a transmittal document with a different citation.
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Reflecting upon 10 Years of Geoengineering Research: Introduction to the Crutzen + 10 Special Issue
“Ten years ago, Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen called for research into the possibility of reflecting sunlight away from Earth by injecting sulfur particles into the stratosphere. Across academic disciplines, Crutzen’s intervention caused a surge in interest in and research on proposals for what is often referred to as “geoengineering” – an unbounded set of heterogeneous proposals for intentionally intervening into the climate system to reduce the risks of climate change. To mark the 10 year anniversary of the publication of Paul Crutzen’s seminal essay, this special issue reviews the developments in geoengineering research since Crutzen’s intervention and reflects upon possible future directions that geoengineering research may take.”
A great collect of open access articles on Geoengineering
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Implications for US National Security of Anticipated Climate Change (2016)
Long-term changes in climate will produce more extreme weather events and put greater stress on critical Earth systems like oceans, freshwater, and biodiversity. These in turn will almost certainly have significant effects, both direct and indirect, across social, economic, political, and security realms during the next 20 years. These effects will be all the more pronounced as people continue to concentrate in climate-vulnerable locations, such as coastal areas, water-stressed regions, and ever-growing cities.
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J. Richter-Menge, J. E. Overland, and J. T. Mathis, Eds., 2016: Arctic Report Card 2016, http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/Report-Card.
- The average surface air temperature for the year ending September 2016 is by far the highest since 1900, and new monthly record highs were recorded for January, February, October and November 2016.
- After only modest changes from 2013-2015, minimum sea ice extent at the end of summer 2016 tied with 2007 for the second lowest in the satellite record, which started in 1979.
- Spring snow cover extent in the North American Arctic was the lowest in the satellite record, which started in 1967.
- In 37 years of Greenland ice sheet observations, only one year had earlier onset of spring melting than 2016.
- The Arctic Ocean is especially prone to ocean acidification, due to water temperatures that are colder than those further south. The short Arctic food chain leaves Arctic marine ecosystems vulnerable to ocean acidification events.
- Thawing permafrost releases carbon into the atmosphere, whereas greening tundra absorbs atmospheric carbon. Overall, tundra is presently releasing net carbon into the atmosphere.
- Small Arctic mammals, such as shrews, and their parasites, serve as indicators for present and historical environmental variability. Newly acquired parasites indicate northward sifts of sub-Arctic species and increases in Arctic biodiversity.