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1 posts from November 2020


Union of Concerned Scientists' Dr. Rachel Cleetus Discusses What the Biden Administration Needs to Do to Address the Climate Catastrophe (November 18th)

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Catastrophic climate crisis effects continue to accelerate.  Atmospheric carbon concentrations are now measured at 417 ppm, the greatest concentration of atmospheric carbon in our  existence.  This year will again prove to be one of warmest on record.  This year is also a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season, with 30 named storms to date, and a record breaking year for wildfires.  In the Arctic, the albedo effect from the now inexorable loss of summer ice (currently, the Arctic is projected to be completely free of summer ice by 2035) will be equal to the release of 1 trillion tons of carbon equivalents into the atmosphere.  Northern permafrost, that holds almost twice as much carbon than is currently in the atmosphere, is thawing 70 years earlier than previously predicted.  A warming planet is also causing the planet to experience unprecedented and accelerating biological annihilation, e.g., NOAA just reported as much as 98% of  coral cover, that helps support over 25% of all marine life, remains along the Florida coast, vector borne diseases including COVID-19 continue to proliferate, the Trump administration, has defined its legacy by rescinding approximately 100 environmental regulations and as dedicated listeners are also aware a federal court ruled earlier this year that Americans do not have a constitutional right to a survivable climate.    

During this 36-minute interview, my 15th on the climate catastrophe, Dr. Rachel Cleetus discusses moreover what the Biden administration, and the incoming 117th Congress, will Rachel-cleetus-200pxneed to accomplish to keep the planet from warming beyond 1.5C.  Dr. Rachel Cleetus is the UCS's Climate and Energy Program Policy Director.  She leads the program’s efforts in designing effective and equitable policies to address climate change and advocating for their implementation.   Among other expertise, she is an an expert on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process and has been attending international climate negotiations since 2009.  She has co-authored numerous reports and articles including the recent UCS reports Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implications for US Coastal Real Estate; Surviving and Thriving in the Face of Rising Seas Building Resilience for Communities on the Front Lines of Climate Change; and The US Power Sector in a Net Zero World: Analyzing pathways for deep carbon reductions.  Prior to joining UCS, she worked as a consultant for the World Wildlife Fund, conducting policy-focused research on the links between sustainable development, trade, and ecosystems in Asia and Africa.  She also worked for Tellus Institute in the energy and environment program.  Dr. Cleetus has been quoted widely, including by the Associated Press, Reuters, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, CNN, Politico, USA Today, and U.S. News & World Report, and has appeared on Al Jazeera America, The Today Show, and National Public Radio.  Dr. Cleetus holds a PhD and an MA in economics from Duke University and a BS in economics from West Virginia University.

Dr. Cleetus's related blog post noted during this discussion is at: https://blog.ucsusa.org/rachel-cleetus/biden-climate-priorities

The UCS's "warning to humanity," also noted during this interview, is at: https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/67/12/1026/4605229