E&E News’s ‘Climate Wire’ Online Service … News You CAN Use but May Not Find Elsewhere

The new online ‘ClimateWire’ news service, produced by the publisher of the more established ‘Greenwire’, is starting off by providing some useful reporting on climate issues that may have slipped under the radar of most less specialized media.

A few recent examples:

  • Reporter Lauren Morello on March 12 reported that environmental grantmakers “are increasingly looking at ways to help ecosystems adapt to climate change, broadening their focus from efforts to slash greenhouse gas emissions.” She points to a five-year $70 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation – helping Asian cities and African farmers cope with floods and droughts – as “perhaps the splashiest foray.”

    But there’s more to it, Morello reported. She quotes John Nordgren, a program officer from Boston’s Kendall Foundation, as saying, “We’ve seen over the past 18 months to two years an explosion of interest in climate change impacts. The reality is, the general public has come to see this as something that is happening.”

  • In its April 2 posting, Christa Marshall reported on a New York University/John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress survey suggesting something of a decline in public concern over climate change over the past two years.

    With public concern increasing over issues of Medicare, Social Security and energy [of course a penultimate climate change issue in itself], those indicating they are “very and somewhat” worried about climate change dropped to 67 from 70 percent between 2006 and 2008, according to the survey.

    Those 1,001 Americans surveyed and saying the issue requires immediate action dropped to 69 from 77 percent over those two years, “raising a potential public opinion barrier for Congress as it considers major climate change legislation,” Marshall reported.

    She quoted NYU Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service Professor Paul Light as saying “Something’s not getting through to the public” about climate change … You almost need a Ph.D. to understand the cap-and-trade proposals floating around. Most Americans would guess that the term is about baseball, not climate change.” Light said the issue has less grip on the American public than the issues of Medicare, Social Security, or energy.

    “Other pollsters and communications experts have noted in recent months that the global warming issue is lagging behind the economy and the war in Iraq,” Marshall reported.

    As have several other opinion surveys on the issue, the Brademas Center survey found the climate change issue to be highly partisan, with Democrats far more worried than Republicans about the issue. It also showed women more likely than men to be “very worried” about the issue.

    The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

  • Also writing in the April 2, 2008 update, reporter Lisa Friedman provided national security and defense news media a peg they might find useful in making the link to climate change.

    She wrote that two leading German climate change scientists were traveling the U.S. to emphasize to policy makers and politicians the “dire” international security implications of climate change. “Climate policy is not only environmental policy. It’s preventive security policy, she attributed to Meinhard Schulz-Baldes, secretary general of the German Advisory Council on Global Change and co-author, with Dirk Messner, of “World in Transition: Climate Change as a Security Risk.”

    Friedman reported that the French scientists acknowledged that their meetings on Capitol Hill largely involved preaching to the converted. She reported that their book pointed to migration as the greatest risk to international stability resulting from climate change. “Politically, it’s very sensitive,” she quoted Messner as saying. “Nobody wants to talk about a new migration regime because it’s political suicide,” but he said the implications for the U.S. will be serious. “The destabilization of regions throughout the world is a threat to the United States.”

    “We have to start now,” Schulz-Baldes said, because impacts set in motion today will be manifested later in the century: “In 10 or 15 years it will be unmanageable,” Schulz-Baldes was reported as saying.

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