January 27, 2013

Major Climate Changes Looming. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle detailed the growing belief among scientists that the Earth’s climate is fast approaching an irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate change tipping point. The planet has warmed 0.8°C (1.4°F) since preindustrial times which is already causing the Arctic ice sheet to melt at a dramatic rate, the acidity of the ocean to rise to alarming levels, and triggering a previously unseen frequency of extreme weather events around the globe. Even more troubling, a November report by the World Bank predicted that if current trends continue, the Earth could warm by as much as an additional 4°C in 50 years, largely due to a lack of governmental action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and the addition of powerful positive feedbacks loops in the climate. The current international political consensus is that global warming should be capped at 2°C which is expected to be reached in a mere 25 years based on current trends. Alan Robock of the Rutgers Center for Environmental Prediction and a CECI affiliate, criticized this number as being arbitrary and that on our current path we will simply “go zooming way past” it.

January 28, 2013

Keeping Green Green. At the recent Rain Bird’s Intelligent Use of Water Summit, speakers and panelists shared proven smart-water practices and encouraged the golf industry to take on a leadership role in innovative water management practices. One of the panelists, Rutgers turfgrass researcher Stacy Bonos, described ongoing research to develop a new breed of grass that is both salt tolerant and drought resistant.

January 31, 2013

EPA Administrator Urges Student Involvement in Climate Change Debate. Judith Enck, the EPA’s regional administrator for New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, gave a lecture at the Cook Campus Center on the past, present and future of environmental protection. She noted that carbon pollution, from fossil fuels (power plants and transportation) are undoubtedly warming the earth and that confronting climate change is an important issue for EPA. She mentioned a disconnect between political rhetoric from actual actions, "My experience, almost always, is that  members of Congress want the EPA to be more active in protecting the environment and their community,” she said. Enck said that action on climate change will only come when students get directly involved. “Whether you think global warming is legitimate or you think it’s a hoax – I think students have an obligation to voice their opinion and become active in these debates,” she said. Enck said she works with Native American tribes living in New York. They understand climate change’s implications, she said, because they look to the future seven generations when making decisions.

January 31, 2013

Professor Reviews Sea Levels Before, After Hurricane Sandy. In his lecture at the Wright-Rieman Auditorium entitled “Sandy comes to the Jersey Shore: Past, Present, and Future,” Rutgers professor of earth and planetary sciences and CECI affiliate Ken Miller described the factors that made Hurricane Sandy into a so called superstorm. Although Miller said Sandy cannot be directly attributed to global warming, he did say that increasing storm intensity can, and that a 1.8 millimeter rise in sea level over the last century certainly did not help either. Miller also pointed to the melting of polar ice caps as providing more water and energy for storms, further adding to the intensity of storms.