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NEW ON RNRF BLOG

How Scientists Got Climate Change So Wrong

Arctic

The New York Times recently published an opinion essay by Eugene Linden titled How Scientists Got Climate Change So Wrong. The author described how climate scientists consistently underestimated the impacts of climate change. He cites reports of the National Academy of Sciences, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and United Nations. As a result of these miscalculations climate change impacts are occurring much sooner and more intensely than predicted.

Read more by clicking here.

Prepare for more downpours: Heavy rain has increased across most of the United States, and is likely to increase further

Extreme
                      Precipitation Map


Warming conditions mean more evaporation, which leads to more water vapor in the air. When rain-triggering conditions are favorable, more saturated air leads to heavier precipitation. This has been the story across most of the United States in the past century. Extreme precipitation events have grown more frequent since the start of the twentieth century, and such events are likely to become even more frequent over the twenty-first.

Adapted from Figure 2.6 in the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), these maps show observed and predicted changes in heavy precipitation events—those bouts of heavy rain or snow ranking among the top 1 percent (99th percentile) of daily events. All four maps use the same color scale. Percentage changes below 0 (decreases) are pale yellow, and increases appear in shades of pale green (smallest) to navy blue (greatest).

The maps of observed changes cover two time periods, 1901–2016 and 1958–2016, and display uniform percentage changes by region: Northwest, Southwest, Northern Great Plains, Southern Great Plains, Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast. Because the latter half of the twentieth century had denser weather station coverage, different methods have been used to calculate changes. The change from 1901–2016 reflects the difference between 1901–1960 and 1986–2016. The change from 1958–2016 shows the linear trend over that period. (The high-resolution image for 1958–2016 also shows observed changes in Alaska and Hawaii.)

Read more on RNRF's blog, the Renewable Resources Report, by clicking here.

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Harvard University's Environmental Policy Initiative is tracking the Trump Administration's environmental rollbacks.  Click here to learn more.
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NEWS

RNRF Congressional Forum:
Can EPA Fulfill Its Statutory Mandate?

On October 15, the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation (RNRF) conducted a congressional forum on the impacts of recent administrative and regulatory changes at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology hosted the meeting on Capitol Hill. Speakers were Chris Zarba, formerly with EPA, and Gretchen Goldman, with the Union of Concerned Scientists. Both speakers discussed the changes in the context of EPA’s ability to fulfill its mission to protect human health and the environment.

Advisory Panels

ZarbaChris Zarba is former director of the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) staff office with nearly 40 years of experience with the agency. He shared his knowledge of the value of high-quality independent reviews, and how they influence, support and challenge agency actions. He also described how recent changes to SAB operations have negatively impacted EPA’s ability to accomplish its mission.

High quality independent scientific reviews are essential for EPA to ensure that its efforts are based on the best available science. The SAB staff office facilitates and supports this process.

SAB staff are housed within the EPA Administrator’s office and manage two major committees—SAB and the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). SAB provides vital science advice to the EPA Administrator to ensure that agency actions are based on sound data and analyses. CASAC provides independent technical advice to the EPA Administrator on national ambient air quality standards. CASAC oversees panels on environmental science topics related to its mission including particulate matter (PM) and ozone pollution standards. SAB covers a more diverse environmental portfolio.

Zarba explained the importance of SAB by detailing his experiences with it throughout his career. His first professional interaction with SAB was the process of establishing criteria standards for pollutants contained in sediments. There were none at the time. This was a pressing issue because many Superfund sites around the country needed to be cleaned but there were no set criteria for measuring contamination levels.

Zarba assembled a team to develop a strategy to establish these criteria. In this process he recognized the importance that SAB should prepare a comprehensive review of the report. The SAB review provided Zarba’s team with credibility and set a high bar for their report. The SAB review also added the benefit of transparency through public meetings. Zarba noted that a SAB review provided the credibility necessary to move the project forward. After this positive experience, Zarba became an ardent advocate for SAB and helped other EPA programs prepare for the SAB review process...

Read more on RNRF's news page here.
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Charting a New Course for the Mississippi River Watershed
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