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Scientific American recently reported that U.S. forests are among the most vulnerable in the world to predators and disease, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The report also explained that biotechnology has the potential to be a part of the solution in protecting forest trees against destructive pest and disease outbreaks,
This week, California Congressman Ted Lieu introduced the first major climate bill of the 116th Congress. In a statement, Lieu said that: “There is no threat greater to our nation’s security than climate change. Failing to protect our planet will endanger the lives of millions, hurt our economy and jeopardize our children’s future. The wildfires […]
A new “front” opened yesterday in the fight to ensure that the world’s ocean resources are used sustainably, with the launch of the Stephenson Ocean Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The Project’s web site explains its objective — to raise awareness about the ways that competition for marine resources contributes to instability and geopolitical risk for the United States.
Why This Matters: Full disclosure — I (Monica) have had a long standing interest in the issue of ocean resources and national security, and have been working to help CSIS get the ball rolling on the project. I believe that if you substituted the word “oil” for “fish” in the paragraphs above, no one would even blink at the national security implications and environmental significance of this work. Fish in my view could be even more important than oil to a larger segment of the public globally — those in the developing world who don’t have cars but do eat fish. The resources available at the Department of Defense (both technical and financial) could be a game changer for efforts to ensure ocean sustainability into the future.
Warming ocean temperatures are causing massive changes for fishermen, some of which may force them out of business, according to several recent stories examining the impacts of climate change on the fishing industry.
Why This Matters: Warming waters that shift fish populations make a barely viable business downright impossible for many small and medium-sized fishing operations. Not to mention the additional fuel and time it takes to chase fewer fish, that are now found farther from ports. Watching this play out is painful in U.S. fishing communities, but for many parts of the world, it could become a real food security crisis. The U.S. government currently is very lethargic in changing its fisheries management schemes even as the evidence of shifting fish populations grows. Given the challenges of climate change, a more engaged approach to fisheries management that takes climate change into account is needed. It will benefit the fishermen and the fish populations as well.
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected (with no written explanation) an effort by oil giant Exxon Mobile to block an investigation by the State of Massachusetts’ Attorney General, Maura Healey, into whether the company misled the public and investors about how much it knew regarding whether its products increased the threat of climate change. As a result, Attorney General Healey can force the company to provide her decades of records about how it has dealt with the threat of climate change to the world and to its businesses.
Why This Matters: The Supreme Court has twice refused to step in and cut off novel climate change lawsuits in recent months. That they passed up the chance to stop these untested cases is telling. Even if the cases are ultimately unsuccessful, the public will learn a great deal about the complicity of oil companies in our current climate predicament, which could hasten their desire to shift away from fossil fuels. Moreover, the negative publicity these cases generate is bad for the oil companies, and for Congress and the Executive Branch as well, which are look anemic in the face of the growing challenges climate change presents the country.
To Go Deeper: Inside Climate News has a great summary of the many court challenges challenging the fossil fuel industry right now, both in the U.S. and abroad.
The new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives was sworn in last week and they’ve already set an agenda for hearings addressing climate change. Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) as well as Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) have already scheduled hearings that will put climate change back into the political dialogue on Capitol Hill.
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