Driscoll C.T.,Syracuse University |
Buonocore J.J.,Center for Health and the Global Environment |
Levy J.I.,Boston University |
Lambert K.F.,Harvard University |
And 3 more authors.
Nature Climate Change | Year: 2015
Carbon dioxide emissions standards for US power plants will influence the fuels and technologies used to generate electricity, alter emissions of pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, and influence ambient air quality and public health. We present an analysis of how three alternative scenarios for US power plant carbon standards could change fine particulate matter and ozone concentrations in ambient air, and the resulting public health co-benefits. The results underscore that carbon standards to curb global climate change can also provide immediate local and regional health co-benefits, but the magnitude depends on the design of the standards. A stringent but flexible policy that counts demand-side energy efficiency towards compliance yields the greatest health benefits of the three scenarios analysed. © 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited.
News Article | November 28, 2016
Earlier this month, Robert Murray, President and CEO of coal giant Murray Energy Corporation, sparred with Tesla founder Elon Musk on the issue of subsidies. Murray called Tesla a “fraud” for failing to achieve a profit despite benefitting from consumer-facing electric vehicle tax credits, and then Musk lobbed back that EVs get “pennies on the dollar” compared to coal. We reported the exchange here on DeSmog, adding some background on how the coal industry and companies like Murray actually do benefit from a broad range of subsidies. Murray took exception, and sent the following note to the managing editor of DeSmog: Murray referenced data from this CNBC article: Musk fires back at coal CEO who called Tesla a ‘fraud’, that uses perfectly legitimate data from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) about subsidies for electrical generation from coal, solar, wind, and other sources. The problem with Murray’s argument is that the data he cites has absolutely nothing to do with any of the points made about subsidies for coal and EVs. First of all, the data Murray cites confirms that the coal industry receives over $1 billion in subsidies for electricity production alone. From the CNBC article Murray referenced: That’s half of the $2 billion that Murray ridiculed Tesla for “receiving.” But keep in mind that Tesla didn’t get any such direct cash outlays, but rather the American car buyers that choose to buy a Tesla or any other electric vehicle receive this cash. Moreover, that $1.08 billion is a tiny slice of the full coal subsidy pie. The EIA data is, by the EIA’s own description, limited in scope. Here’s how the agency describes the data in the second paragraph of their report: As in the prior EIA reports on this subject, the scope of the present report is limited to direct federal financial interventions and subsidies that are provided by the federal government, provide a financial benefit with an identifiable federal budget impact, and are specifically targeted at energy markets. As requested, the report focuses on subsidies to electricity production and also includes subsidies to federal electric utilities in the form of financial support. Given its scope, the report does not encompass all subsidies beneficial to energy sector activities (see text entitled “Not All Subsidies Impacting the Energy Sector Are Included in this Report”), which should be kept in mind when comparing this report to other studies that may use narrower or more expansive inclusion criteria. So what types of subsidies to coal aren’t included in the EIA’s accounting? There are a whole range—many of which we described in the original article—and different entities define subsidy in different ways, as the EIA notes above. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) provides a revealing contrast to the EIA’s numbers. The authoritative international financial organization with 189 member countries calculates post-tax subsidies for various energy sources. Here’s how the IMF defines these post-tax subsidies: According to the IMF, in the United States, coal benefits from over $203 billion in post-tax subsidies every year. This $203 billion includes factors like forgone tax revenues, the costs of climate change impacts, air pollution, and more. Only one country, China, provides greater post-tax subsidies to coal than the United States. While the IMF doesn’t itemize all of the various subsidies that make up this total, we can survey a number of the elements as defined, described, and calculated by other organizations. According to the G20’s peer review of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, data from the U.S. Department of Transportation indicates that coal is among the top commodities transported on America’s railways. The reports also cites Association of American Railroads numbers from 2013, which reveal that coal “accounted for almost 40 percent of tonnage,” but only generated “nearly 20 percent of rail revenue for U.S. Class I railroads.” In essence, coal is afforded half-price transportation along America’s railways. With transport-by-barge, according to the G20 report, “$923 million are spent annually on the operation or maintenance and construction of inland waterways,” and “operation and maintenance costs are fully borne by the U.S. Treasury, whereas construction costs are equally split between the Inland Waterway Trust Fund and Treasury.” Fossil fuels make up 56-percent of the volume of freight transported on America’s inland waterways. The G20 review “argues that responsible parties are not paying their fair share to cover the costs of upgrading and maintaining waterway infrastructure. This revenue shortfall imposes substantial costs on the federal Inland Waterways Trust Fund, the U.S. Treasury and, eventually, the taxpayer.” States with major coal resources like West Virginia, Kentucky, and Wyoming offer a great range of subsidies—direct and indirect, pre- and post-tax—to the coal industry, and these aren’t factored by the EIA data. An EarthTrack report from 2012 reviews fossil fuel subsidies in five states, including coal support in Kentucky and Wyoming. In Kentucky alone, EarthTrack identified roughly $1 billion in state-level subsidies. One post-tax form of state-level subsidy is “self-bonding,” which allows mining companies to pay for the mine reclamation that is required by the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. A 2015 report by Carbon Tracker and the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis last year estimated that self-bonding in the Powder River Basin created an addition subsidy of $0.78 per ton of coal mined. Through competition-free leases, royalty rate reductions, and other quirks of the federal coal leasing program (that has since been placed on a moratorium), each ton of coal from these federal lands receives on average about $8 per ton in subsidies. All told, Carbon Tracker and the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis calculate that coal companies operating in the Powder River Basin alone are subsidized to the tune of $4.6 billion per year. The EIA doesn’t factor any external costs into their calculations, though many experts (including those at the IMF) consider the failure to include external costs a subsidy. To that end, the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, found in 2009 that the “hidden” costs of air pollution from coal combustion amount to around $62 billion. Ordered by a Republican Congress to conduct the study, the NRC found: Crucially, according to the NRC, “the figure does not include damages from climate change, harm to ecosystems, effects of some air pollutants such as mercury, and risks to national security.” A few years later, in a 2011 study, Dr. Paul Epstein of Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment attempted to quantify how harmful coal is in terms of local impacts alone: Ultimately, comparing subsidies across technologies comes down to the scope and definition of the subsidy. The EIA’s $1.08 billion figure only looks at federal support or tax credits that have an “identifiable federal budget impact” and directly target energy markets. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), calculates global inventories of fossil fuel subsidies, and found that “total producer support” for coal in the United States, “including tax expenditures at the federal level and for some states, represented about $6 billion in 2011.” The IMF includes a number of external costs like the impacts of climate change and to public health, and comes up with a whopping $203 billion worth of subsidies for the coal industry. We will continue to take a much closer look at subsidies—comparing and contrasting government support for fossil fuels and for renewable energy and clean tech—in an ongoing series here and on Koch Vs Clean, a project of DeSmog that exposes the Koch-funded groups attacking clean energy solutions and propping up the dying fossil fuel industry.
News Article | January 30, 2017
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has abruptly canceled the climate change summit it has been planning for months. But no need to fret, as former vice president Al Gore has stepped in to host his own conference in Atlanta next month. Last Thursday, Gore announced holding the Climate & Health Meeting in the state on Feb. 16 along with Howard Frumkin, former National Center for Environmental Health director, as well as health and climate groups such as the American Public Health Association, Harvard Global Health Institute, The Climate Reality Project, and the University of Washington Center for Health and the Global Environment. “[Al] called me and we talked about it and we said, ‘There’s still a void and still a need,’” recalled APHA’s executive director Georges Benjamin in a Washington Post report. “We said, Let’s make this thing happen.” The news came days after the CDC canceled its summit in the lead-up to the recent change in administrations in the White House. The decision was not explained in emails given to participants as well as invited speakers, the agency saying, when sought for comment, that the event might be held later this year. In a statement announcing the meeting, Gore said the conference will go forward anyway. “Today we face a challenging political climate, but climate shouldn’t be a political issue,” Gore asserted, citing the urgent need for health professionals for “the very best science” to protect the public. He also mentioned current warming and how it worsens the spread of public health threats such as the Zika virus. The one-day Feb. 16 meeting will not involve government circles, and will be conducted at the nonprofit Carter Center rather than at CDC. Organizers are eyeing as many as 200 participants from around the United States. It also remains unclear whether previously involved CDC employees will attend. Studies continue to warn the major public health risks of climate change around the world, with experts implicating warming in millions of deaths from heat, disease outbreak, longer allergy seasons, and more extreme weather events. Research published in the journal Lancet in 2016 argued that failing to address climate change could “undermine the last half century of gains” made in global health and development. But Frumkin is no longer surprised by how political climate change could get. He pointed out the external political pressure faced by the CDC, and sometimes its self-censorship and decision to shy away from specific issues. “Climate change has been that issue historically,” the expert told E&E News. The Huffington Post cited federal agency sources saying that the Trump administration’s efforts to limit access to climate change information from government have already begun. EPA sources, for instance, said they have been told to stop disseminating press releases and social media announcements, with the possibility of their climate change webpage coming down. The new summit vows to “preserve the focus of the CDC conference” and offer a platform for professionals and the community to discuss and provide solutions to climate change-related health problems. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | February 17, 2017
Climate change will not wait for us; it is already affecting our health. The Climate & Health Meeting fills an important void and will strengthen the public health response to this growing threat. Some issues should rise above the clatter of Capitol Hill discord. Like the air we breathe and the water we drink, they are too fundamental to ignore – and too important to get lost amid partisan squabbling. They are concerns at the heart of the universal human rights we all enjoy. Public health ranks high among them, and it’s threatened in a critical way by the climate crisis. Climate change will continue to exacerbate existing threats to health and give rise to new ones. And while the movement for solutions may seem in the throes of an especially challenging moment, addressing the crisis’ impacts on our current and future well-being is not a political issue but an ethical and practical one. According to the World Health Organization, “Climate change is among the greatest health risks of the twenty first century. Rising temperatures and more extreme weather events cost lives directly, increase transmission and spread of infectious diseases, and undermine the environmental determinants of health, including clean air and water, and sufficient food.” The impact of the climate crisis on human health is far-reaching, but solutions exist that can help us improve quality of life around the world right now and work toward a healthier, more sustainable future for all. Indeed, this very subject will be front and center on February 16 when the public health and climate communities come together to share knowledge and advocate for action at the Climate & Health Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. Hosted by former US Vice President Al Gore, the American Public Health Association (APHA), The Climate Reality Project, Harvard Global Health Institute, the University of Washington Center for Health and the Global Environment, and Dr. Howard Frumkin, former director of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, the meeting will provide a crucial forum for collaboration. But to solve a problem, first you’ve got to understand what’s at stake. Here’s a quick look: Burning fossil fuels not only pollutes our air directly with irritants like particulate matter and soot, but as greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere and average temperatures rise, they also contribute to higher levels of ground-level ozone that can cause acute and long-term respiratory problems. Moreover, rising global average temperatures lead to longer pollen seasons in many places and – when combined with stronger rainfall events, flooding, and higher humidity – create the perfect environment for mold to flourish. The result? More allergies, asthma attacks, and other respiratory health problems. Periods of extreme heat are directly related to higher rates of death from cardiovascular disease and heat stroke, particularly among the elderly and low-income communities who tend to be disproportionately affected by the impacts of all types of extreme weather. It’s important to remember here that 2016 was the Earth’s hottest year on record – and the third year in a row to take that dubious honor. Vector-borne diseases are illnesses spread by insects and other organisms (the vectors) like mosquitoes, fleas, mites, or ticks. As our climate changes, the geographic areas hospitable to many vectors may shift or simply grow, changing the scope of disease outbreaks and introducing new illness to places they never previously existed. Most recently, climate change is suspected to have played a role in the spread of the Zika virus into new areas. What’s the connection between extreme weather and public health? Beyond the tragic fatalities that can result directly, extreme weather events can damage infrastructure, jeopardizing access to lifesaving care for extended periods of time, and can compromise water quality and food supplies. Drought and heavy rainfall events can make drinking water vulnerable to contamination and can ruin agriculture, leading to increases in incidents of water-borne infections and diseases like cholera, as well as malnutrition and hunger when damaged farms fail to provide enough crops for the people who rely on them. The good news is Americans aren’t the sort to sit on the sidelines when a pressing-but-solvable threat looms large. And luckily, even as climate change remains a fraught political issue, Americans continue to trust their nurses, pharmacists, and medical doctors above most other sources, making the medical community uniquely well-positioned to convey a message about the importance of climate solutions. So while alternative facts won’t cure life-threatening diseases or stop them from spreading faster than ever as the crisis continues, together, real climate scientists and medical professionals will. We have a responsibility to the people we love to solve the climate crisis and protect public health and wellness for generations to come. We can be the generation that took on the greatest challenge humanity’s ever faced – and won. Buy a cool T-shirt or mug in the CleanTechnica store! Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech daily newsletter or weekly newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.
News Article | February 15, 2017
An abruptly postponed conference on climate change and its effects on human health is going to take place after all — thanks to Al Gore. But there’s a caveat: The conference’s original sponsor — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — won’t be involved. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Assn., told the Washington Post that the former vice president called him up after the news broke of the conference’s postponement and said, “Let’s make this thing happen.” The Climate and Health Summit was originally scheduled to be held from Feb. 14-16 in Atlanta. It wasn’t officially canceled, but in the weeks after Donald Trump was elected president participants received word that the conference would not be happening as scheduled. The agency never gave a reason for the change in plan. In a statement it said it was “exploring options to reschedule the meeting while considering budget priorities for fiscal year 2017.” So non-governmental groups took the matter into their own hands. “They tried to cancel this conference but it is going forward anyway,” Gore said in a statement released by the Climate Reality Project, an education and advocacy group he founded. “Today we face a challenging political climate, but climate shouldn’t be a political issue.” The year 2016 was the third consecutive hottest year on record, and experts say that the growing number of hot days has a direct effect on public health — for example, by exacerbating the proliferation of the Zika virus. “The evidence is clear that climate change is a major threat facing the public’s health,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, in a statement. “Openly discussing these scientific issues will help us prepare for this looming challenge and better protect the American people.” The new conference will be sponsored by a consortium of organizations including the APHA, the Climate Reality Project, Harvard Global Health Institute, and the University of Washington Center for Health and the Global Environment. Organizers added that due to the expedited time frame of the event, the CDC’s originally scheduled three-day summit will be replaced by a one-day meeting on Feb. 16. Still, they say it will preserve the intent of the postponed meeting — providing a forum for public health professionals and the climate community to discuss solutions to what could be a growing health concern. Do you love science? I do! Follow me @DeborahNetburn and "like" Los Angeles Times Science & Health on Facebook. It's possible to 'vaccinate' Americans against fake news, experiment shows Psychologists ask: What makes some smart people so skeptical of science? Fearing climate change databases may be threatened in Trump era, UCLA scientists work to protect them
News Article | February 22, 2017
ATLANTA — Climate change may have surprising and wide-ranging effects on mental health, experts say. That's because climate change is both a root cause of mental health crises and a "threat multiplier," meaning that it makes existing mental health problems worse, said Dr. Lise Van Susteren, a psychiatrist in private practice and an advisory board member for the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Van Susteren spoke about the connection between climate change and mental health yesterday (Feb. 16) here at the Climate & Health Meeting, a gathering of experts from public health organizations, universities and advocacy groups that focused on the health impacts of climate change. [5 Ways Climate Change Will Affect Your Health] For example, researchers have documented a link between extreme climate and weather events and higher levels of aggression, Van Susteren said. A 2013 study published in the journal Science found that increases in temperature and extreme rainfall are associated with increased levels of conflict between individuals, and between groups, she said. One possible explanation for the link between rising temperatures and aggression is that higher temperatures increase levels of adrenaline in the body, which can contribute to aggression, Van Susteren told Live Science. In her talk, Van Susteren also highlighted the link between rising air-pollution levels — which can be caused by rising temperatures — and a higher risk of neurological and psychiatric problems. When a person breathes in particulate matter from air pollution, that matter can enter a person's olfactory nerve and cause neural inflammation, she said. Neural inflammation is linked to disorders found in all age groups, including Alzheimer's disease and cognitive disorders, she said. One question that needs to be explored, however, is whether this neural inflammation also causes more conventional psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression, Van Susteren told Live Science. The American Psychological Association has reported that when pregnant women are exposed to air pollutants, their children are more likely to have symptoms of anxiety and depression, Van Susteren said in her talk. In addition, research has shown that the average numbers of emergency room visits for panic attacks and threats to commit suicide are higher on days with poor air quality, Van Susteren said. But she noted that not all of climate change's effects on health can be easily quantified in studies. "Not everything that counts can be counted," she said. Rather, there are "insidious" effects of climate change that could cause psychological strain on a societal level that will be hard to overcome, she said. In one case, a 17-year-old boy in Australia developed such distress over climate change that he wound up hospitalized, Van Susteren said. The doctors who treated him called his condition "climate change delusion" in their report of his case, which was published in 2009 in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. The boy had refused to drink water because he believed that it would cause millions of people in the drought-ridden country to die. In her talk, Van Susteren stressed the need to take action on climate change; if action is not taken, she said, it will have profound effects on other children's mental health as well.
Bernstein A.S.,Center for Health and the Global Environment |
Bernstein A.S.,Boston Childrens Hospital |
Rice M.B.,Massachusetts General Hospital
Chest | Year: 2013
Climate change is a health threat no less consequential than cigarette smoking. Increased concentrations of greenhouse gases, and especially CO 2, in the earth's atmosphere have already warmed the planet substantially, causing more severe and prolonged heat waves, temperature variability, air pollution, forest fires, droughts, and floods, all of which put respiratory health at risk. These changes in climate and air quality substantially increase respiratory morbidity and mortality for patients with common chronic lung diseases such as asthma and COPD and other serious lung diseases. Physicians have a vital role in addressing climate change, just as they did with tobacco, by communicating how climate change is a serious, but remediable, hazard to their patients. © 2013 American College of Chest Physicians.
Buonocore J.J.,Center for Health and the Global Environment |
Luckow P.,Economy Energy |
Fisher J.,Economy Energy |
Kempton W.,University of Delaware |
Levy J.I.,Boston University
Environmental Research Letters | Year: 2016
Electricity from fossil fuels contributes substantially to both climate change and the health burden of air pollution. Renewable energy sources are capable of displacing electricity from fossil fuels, but the quantity of health and climate benefits depend on site-specific attributes that are not often included in quantitative models. Here, we link an electrical grid simulation model to an air pollution health impact assessment model and US regulatory estimates of the impacts of carbon to estimate the health and climate benefits of offshore wind facilities of different sizes in two different locations. We find that offshore wind in the Mid-Atlantic is capable of producing health and climate benefits of between $54 and $120 per MWh of generation, with the largest simulated facility (3000 MW off the coast of New Jersey) producing approximately $690 million in benefits in 2017. The variability in benefits per unit generation is a function of differences in locations (Maryland versus New Jersey), simulated years (2012 versus 2017), and facility generation capacity, given complexities of the electrical grid and differences in which power plants are offset. This work demonstrates health and climate benefits of offshore wind, provides further evidence of the utility of geographically-refined modeling frameworks, and yields quantitative insights that would allow for inclusion of both climate and public health in benefits assessments of renewable energy. © 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd.
PubMed | Resources for the Future, Syracuse University, Center for Health and the Global Environment and Harvard University
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2016
Reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants can have important co-benefits for public health by reducing emissions of air pollutants. Here, we examine the costs and health co-benefits, in monetary terms, for a policy that resembles the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencys Clean Power Plan. We then examine the spatial distribution of the co-benefits and costs, and the implications of a range of cost assumptions in the implementation year of 2020. Nationwide, the total health co-benefits were $29 billion 2010 USD (95% CI: $2.3 to $68 billion), and net co-benefits under our central cost case were $12 billion (95% CI: -$15 billion to $51 billion). Net co-benefits for this case in the implementation year were positive in 10 of the 14 regions studied. The results for our central case suggest that all but one region should experience positive net benefits within 5 years after implementation.
Asemota J.,Center for Health and the Global Environment |
Chahine T.,Center for Health and the Global Environment
Voluntas | Year: 2016
This paper presents a review and synthesis of resources available to social entrepreneurs considering social franchising as an option for scale. We identified 20 publications produced by organizations supporting social franchising and four peer-reviewed journal manuscripts. Commonalities and differences between social and commercial franchising are discussed, with a focus on capacities and considerations needed to undertake social franchising. Based on our synthesis, we propose a seven-stage approach to guide social entrepreneurs in considering this option and to inform future research on social franchising as one potential mechanism for scaling impact. © 2016 International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University