The Week Ahead: Final Presidential Debate in Florida Spurs Experts to Demand Answers on Climate Change


More than 120 experts on sea level rise want President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney to address climate change during the third and final presidential debate Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla.

In a letter sent to candidates, Florida officials, scientists and other climate change experts said the state has experienced an eight-inch rise in sea level over the last 100 years, resulting in flooding during seasonal high tides, the abandonment of drinking wells due to salt water intrusion, and failure of flood control structures to operate during high tides. Part of the problem they said, is that state's underlying porous limestone resembles "Swiss cheese," which is allowing subsurface water to penetrate far inland.

Officials from southeast Florida released a plan this month, A Region Responds to a Changing Climate. The plan provides "regionally-consistent methodologies" for mapping sea-level rise impacts, assessing vulnerability, and understanding the sources of regional greenhouse gas emissions. The plan was developed by the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact which represents Broward, Monroe, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties.

At the federal level, as detailed in a Sept. 24, 2012, article in World Climate Change Report, the White House Council on Environmental Quality's Susan Ruffo said work is under way to provide climate change projections for relatively small areas that local governments and states can use to make decisions about adaptation. Federal agencies also are working on a national climate assessment, due to be released in 2013, which aims to bring together the best available science on climate change impacts on the United States.

Meanwhile, Monday's presidential debate will be on foreign policy, which for the environmental community cries out for an answer to a question included in the group's letter, "How would you work with the rest of the world to address rising sea levels and other effects of climate change?"

Other Climate Change, Energy Events  

Draft reports and new research projects, some related to climate change, will be discussed during a California Air Resources Board Research Screening Committee meeting Oct. 26 in Sacramento. The draft reports cover modeling techniques for measuring greenhouse gas emissions, climate impacts of residential buildings, and the global warming potential of black carbon. Research projects cover the co-benefits of cool pavements, brown carbon, and clean cars.

The Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law will host a discussion Oct. 22 in New York on "The Future of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative." RGGi is currently reviewing its greenhouse gas trading program, with a key item being its carbon dioxide emissions cap and whether it should be lowered. RGGI, which covers carbon dioxide emissions from large power plants, includes the six New England states, plus New York, Delaware, and Maryland.

On Oct 25, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute will hold a briefing in Washington, D.C., on "Clean Energy Financing: What Works?" Speakers include Georg Maue, first secretary for energy and climate for the German embassy in Washington, D.C.; Osha Gray Davidson, author of Clean Break: The Story of Germany's Energy Transformation and What Americans Can Learn From It (to be released Nov. 13); Sabine Miltner, group sustainability officer for Deutsche Bank; and Ethan Zindler, head of policy analysis for Bloomberg New Energy Finance.