Climate Change - Union College

Climate Change - Union College

Global change and inequality Prof. Jeff Corbin Dept of Biology Union College Global change Humans have altered many aspects of Earths biology, geology, chemistry on a global scale Climate change

Land use change Species extinctions Global change and inequality Contribution to global change is not spread evenly across globe while the consequences are not and will not be borne equally

Environmental justice The fair treatment of all with respect to environmental laws, regulations, and enforcement Regardless of race, color, country of origin, or income US Environmental Protection Agency

Environmental justice The fair treatment of all with respect to environmental laws, regulations, and enforcement Regardless of race, color, country of origin, or income Reality: Benefits, and consequences, of activities are not equal

Environmental justice at the local level We all need landfills, power plants, etc. But they arent in white/wealthy neighborhoods!! Waste facilities are often in predominantly minority neighborhoods

Source: Energy Justice Network: http://www.energyjustice.net/content/dc s-waste-and-environmental-racism Populations near hazardous waste facilities are disproportionately people of color Bullard et al. 2007: Toxic

Waste and Race at Twenty: 1987-2007. http://www.ejn et.org/ej/twart. pdf Even clean energy!! Cape Wind project, off Cape Cod/Nantucket

468 mW of carbon-free electricity 75% of regions energy Would replace current oil and natural gas powered electricity plant in Sandwich All good, right? Not In My Back Yard!! (NIMBY)

Opposition based on threat to property values Kennedys John Kerry Mitt Romney against it 81% of MA, 61% of Cape Cod supports it

Economic drivers of environmental injustice Environmental damage is often a by-product of industrial activities Benefit of pollution Producer Consumer (Cheaper goods) Costs of pollution Society

INEQUALITY!! Imagine a manufacturing facility This facility produces widgets, and sells them to buyers. (= market). Price is set according to the cost to make the widgets, and the demand for the product

Imagine a manufacturing facility BUT, there are chemicals involved in the manufacture, that are expensive to dispose of So, the company dumps them into the nearby river . SAVES $$ Externalities This pollution is an externality The price of the widget doesnt reflect the true

cost of production. The price on the market is not set efficiently One agents actions influence the well-being of another agent without compensation Externalities This pollution is an externality The price of the widget doesnt reflect the true cost of production.

The price on the market is not set efficiently One agents actions influence the well-being of another agent without compensation Those who produce the damage do not pay for it (e.g. company) Those who receive the damage (e.g. local towns) do not receive compensation

Externalities are common in environmental problems Water and air pollution Pesticides Climate change! Climate change presents a unique challenge for economics: it represents the greatest example of market failure we have ever seen Nicholas Stern, 2006

Climate change in 10 words Its real

Its us Its bad Scientists agree Theres hope Anthony Leiserowitz, Yale Project on Climate Change Communication Climate change Its real

The Earth is warming Global temperatures have risen by ~ 1.4 oF (0.8 oC) since 1950s 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded NASA: http://youtu.be/-ilg75uJZZU Top 10 hottest years ever have all been since 1998 Climate change Its us The cause of this is accumulating carbon in the

atmosphere Charles Keeling More CO2 and CH4 More Greenhouse effect This is not in doubt it is ESTABLISHED PHYSICS Climate change Its us (Summary)

We have been inputting carbon into atmosphere via fossil fuel burning (And deforestation) This traps heat in the atmosphere Climate change Climate change Its bad!! We are already seeing major impacts

Extreme weather, droughts, coastal inundation Climate change Its bad!! We are already seeing major impacts Extreme weather, droughts, coastal inundation And it is expected to get worse Threats to current agricultural systems Temperature extremes, drought, pests

Climate change Its bad!! We are already seeing major impacts Extreme weather, droughts, coastal inundation Threats to current agricultural systems Temperature extremes, drought, pests Even National Security!! 2014 Pentagon report Climate change is a threat multiplier

Perhaps played a role in Syrian conflict and Arab Spring uprisings (http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/WCASD-13-00059.1) Biological responses to climate change Ecosystem range shifts 10-50% of globe high to very high probability 20% of worlds population lives in such areas, especially in Asia, N & S

America Gonzalez et al. 2010. Global Ecol. and Biogeog. Climate change Scientists agree Overwhelming consensus among scientists Every major scientific organization and national academy

Climate change Scientists agree Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures? http://tigger.uic.edu/ ~pdoran/ 012009_Doran_final.pd

f Climate change Theres hope The degree of impact depends on our future CO2 emissions We should do our best to keep warming < 4 deg F

Source: IPCC New Yorks climate future Virginia? or Georgia? Source: Union of Concerned Scientists

Climate change Theres hope Technology to reduce CO2 emissions ALREADY EXISTS!! Climate change Theres hope Technology to reduce CO2 emissions ALREADY EXISTS!! We must shift to a low-carbon economy as soon as possible

End subsidies for fossil fuel production Shift to alternative energy Conservation, conservation, conservation Climate change in 10 words

Its real Its us Its bad Scientists agree Theres hope Anthony Leiserowitz, Yale Project on Climate Change

Communication Carbon emissions are not evenly distributed Developed nations are primary emitters http://www.wri.org/blog/ 2014/11/6-graphs-explainworld%E2%80%99s-top-10emitters Carbon emissions are not evenly distributed

Developed nations are primary emitters US, EU, Japan, and Canada have emitted ~60% of the cumulative carbon into the atmosphere Carbon emissions are not evenly distributed Developing countries have contributed relatively little Even large emitters are a product, mostly, of large populations

But vulnerability falls onto developing countries More intense storms E.g. Typhoon Haiyan (2013) in Philippines and SE Asia Killed 6300 people in Philippines alone But vulnerability falls onto developing

countries More intense storms Sea level rise Source: Sustainable Cities Collective http://www.sustai nablecitiescollectiv e.com/davidthorpe/1038231/r

evealed-greatestglobal-businessand-societalopportunitiessustainability But vulnerability falls onto developing countries More intense storms Sea level rise World Bank: As the coastal cities of Africa and Asia expand, many of their poorest residents are being pushed to the edges of livable land

and into the most dangerous zones for climate changeThese communities are among the most vulnerable to climate change and the least able to marshal the resources to adapt. What, then, must we do? The challenges are largely political, not technological or scientific. Everything from emissions to externalities can

be confronted to the benefit of the poor and vulnerable if we have the will. Pope Francis Laudato Si A potential game-changer in the policy debate Covers wide range of global change issues Relies on well-established science and economics Reorients the debate in terms of ethics and

inequality Pope Francis Laudato Si A potential game-changer in the policy debate Chapter 1, section 49: The last word Your generation didnt cause climate change and other environmental challenges

But they will be a defining issue of your lifetime

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