Conservation Update - September 2014


Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change Report

The Audubon Birds and Climate Report is based on three decades of “citizen-science observations” and predicts how climate change could affect the ranges of 588 North American birds. Hundreds of thousands of these observations resulted in Audubon’s conclusions that “Of the 588 North American bird species studied, more than half are likely to be in trouble.” Audubon predicts that “314 species will lose more than 50% of their current climatic range by 2080. Click the link above to get to the full report and see how the birds near where you live are projected to respond to global warming.


Ruling on Keystone XL pipeline could come down to two key points

September 1

On Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on a constitutional challenge involving the Keystone XL pipeline. Arguments will be heard on the State’s appeal to overturn a ruling by the Lancaster County District Court that struck down the 2012 Nebraska law used to approve the Keystone XL pipeline route through Nebraska. Joe Duggan of the Omaha World Herald says that “the court’s decision could turn on two key arguments”: 1) Do the landowners have legal standing and 2) Is the Keystone XL pipeline a common carrier? The answers to these questions will determine if TransCanada will have to submit a new route to the Public Service Commission, further delaying the pipeline. A ruling in the case will likely not come out for months.


Straight from the farm: ‘Food hubs’ help get more locally produced food to market

September 3

Lone Tree Foods, one of the three food hubs in Nebraska, is featured in this article in the Omaha World Herald, which discusses this growing sector of the ag industry. “Food hubs increase the amount of local foods available to retail, commercial and institutional customers by aggregating farmers’ products in quantities these bigger buyers need. Food hubs also help farmers reach these customers by handling tasks such as advertising, sales, order fulfillment, storage and delivery.”  Also mentioned is the growing number of farms under 50 acres and Nebraska’s “significant” growth in number of farmers markets. With interest in local food nearly mainstream today, these sectors of the ag economy will likely keep growing.


Ruling against BP could mean $18 billion in fines

September 4

“BP could be looking at close to $18 billion in additional fines over the nation’s worst offshore oil spill after a federal judge ruled Thursday that the company acted with “gross negligence” in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster…In the next stage of the case, set to begin in January, the judge will decide precisely how much BP must pay.”  


Global economies must lower carbon emissions at five times the levels currently achieved

September 7

The PwC, “a network of firms in 157 countries committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax and advisory services,” released their climate change analysis, which estimates that “global economies need to cut their energy related carbon emissions for every $ of GDP by 6.2% every year from now to 2100. That’s more than five times the rate currently achieved.” This rate is based on how much countries need to reduce their emissions while growing their economies in order to keep global warming under the 2°C mark scientists have agreed is the threshold beyond which we will suffer catastrophic, runaway climate change. Current rates of carbon intensity will lead the world over that threshold in 20 years, and for the 6th year in a row the PwC analysis shows that we aren’t doing enough to reduce our carbon intensity and avoid going over the 2°C mark.


Federal agency actions on energy efficiency could save us $2.6 trillion

September 10

“The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, signed by President George W. Bush, has allowed federal agencies under Obama to rack up real savings for the American people. The ACEEE looked at four sets of actions on energy efficiency that agencies have taken since 2009 or could do in the next few years (most of which are already underway) and estimate that collectively these policies could save the American people $2.6 trillion. Half of those energy savings are from policies that have not been issued yet. To achieve them the agencies will have to work even harder and continue to make smart choices. The biggest opportunity for savings is the carbon dioxide emissions standard for existing power plants, as customer efficiency cuts the need for fossil fuel power plants and thus cuts their emissions.”


Office of Management and Budget chief says inaction would cost ‘billions and billions’

September 19

In his first speech addressing climate change, White House Office of Management and Budget Director, Shaun Donovan stated that climate change is one of the greatest budgetary threats facing the United States in the 21st century, but addressing it offers economic opportunity. Donovan further stated that cutting greenhouse gas emissions and hardening infrastructure will not only prevent economic loss, but encourage the growth of job-creating industries like renewable energy and energy efficiency.


White House announces 14 executive actions to deploy solar energy

September 20

The White House announced a series of executive actions that focus on solar energy: building a skilled solar workforce, loans and grants for renewable energy, energy efficiency improvements, improving appliance efficiency, strengthening building codes, supporting clean energy and efficiency in affordable housing and more. Altogether, the executive actions will “cut carbon pollution by nearly 300 million metric tons through 2030 – equivalent to taking more than 60 million cars off the road for one year – and will save homes and businesses more than $10 billion on their energy bills.”


The People’s Climate March

September 21

The People’s Climate March drew an estimated 311,000 people through the streets of Manhattan, and countless more in solidarity marches across the world. While the march included notables like Al Gore and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, it was an event for concerned ordinary people who want our world’s leaders to take action on climate change. The march coincided with the UN summit meeting on climate change, and the Major Economies Forum.


Climate Change Implications for Nebraska

September 25

The UNL Climate Change Study has been released, stating that “Human industry is driving climate change, and the implications for Nebraska are dramatic.” The report includes analysis on the impact climate change will have on water resources, energy supply and use, agriculture, forests, human health, ecosystems, urban systems, infrastructure and vulnerability, and rural communities. The assessment raises “serious concerns about how the projected changes in climate will impact Nebraska, and provides a starting point for discussions about the actions that we should take to adapt to the changes in each sector.”