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Global Climate Change DigestArchives of the
Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999

FROM VOLUME 11, NUMBER 12, DECEMBER 1998

WEB-BASED INFORMATION...


Item #d98dec29

EPA E-GRID. EPA has compiled a comprehensive air-emission and fuel-source database, called the Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database (E-GRID). It includes information about virtually all electric power plants in the United States. It provides information on emissions per unit of electricity, permitting direct comparison of pollution from different sources. It also shows the amount and percentage of power from different fuels (coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, solar, and wind) for specific power plants, companies, states, and regions. E-GRID currently reports carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide emissions in 1996, the latest year for which complete data are available. More pollutants may be added in the future. EPA developed this tool to monitor changes in power-plant emissions. In this new period of electric-industry deregulation, EPA believes the E-GRID will encourage cleaner electricity resources by helping consumers understand product information provided by competing electric companies. E-GRID’s user interface (a self-extracting ZIP file) and data (an Excel 4.0 workbook) can be downloaded from http://www.epa.gov/acidrain/egrid/egrid.htm. Technical information about the database is available from Rick Morgan of EPA’s Acid Rain Division, tel: 202-564-9143.


Item #d98dec30

W. Alton Jones Foundation. The current tax system often keeps the cost of some harmful activities artificially low and inflates the costs of some environmentally beneficial activities. To address this failure of the market to incorporate the full environmental and social costs in energy prices, the W. Alton Jones Foundation is supporting the concept of an environmental tax shift (ETS). ETS promotes economic efficiency and reduces pollution by internalizing the health and environmental costs of pollution. That tax incentive encourages the development of environmentally sustainable technologies and practices while it generates revenues to replace taxes on income and investment. States that have enacted market-based environmental laws include Iowa, which imposes a fee on the sale of pesticides and fertilizers, and Minnesota, which charges a fee per ton of emissions for five air pollutants. Minnesota is examining a revenue-neutral ETS that would impose a tax on CO2 emissions while reducing property taxes. Vermont, Maryland, and Ohio are contemplating ETSs to address revenue shortfalls triggered by changes in real-property tax rates. Additional information on ETSs is available on the Foundation’s website at http://www.wajones.org/wajones/.


Item #d98dec31

Vegetation Map. The U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service, and the Nature Conservancy have brought up Terrestrial Vegetation of the United States: The National Vegetation Classification System on the web at http://www.consci.tnc.org/library/pubs/class/index.html. In its original paper version, the work comprised two volumes; in its web incarnation, it includes dozens of PDF files. It describes the development, status, and applications (e.g., the USGS Gap Analysis Program and the USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program) of the classification system. It also presents a list of vegetation types, broken down into forests, woodlands, shrublands, dwarf-shrublands, herbaceous vegetation, nonvascular vegetation, and sparse vegetation. That list includes the class type, scientific name, the vegetation numeric code, places of occurrence (by state), U.S. Forest Service ecoregion code, other countries of occurrence, abstract availability, and global rank for each species identified. It can be used in making local, site-specific conservation decisions; in understanding ecological systems; and in protecting biological diversity. The technical contact for the project is Tom Owens at the USGS, e-mail: Tom_Owens@usgs.gov.


Item #d98dec32

Global Biodiversity Forum. A report on the 12th session of the Global Biodiversity Forum (GBF), which met on Dec. 5-6, 1998, in Dakar, Senegal, is available on the Web at http://real.geog.ucsb.edu/vgbf/information.html#Statements. The GBF fosters analysis and dialogue on ecological, economic, institutional and social issues related to global biodiversity. Some 20 institutions were involved in the organization of the Forum, and more than 160 participants from 46 countries attended, representing the research, education, resource-management, private-sector, government, NGO, and local and traditional communities. The Forum’s workshops followed the meeting’s themes: (1) financial innovations to combat desertification, (2) linking biodiversity and desertification, (3) traditional knowledge and desertification, and (4) desertification and climate change. This last workshop addressed three main topics: climate-change implications for desertification, issues and opportunities for using the instruments of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol in implementing the objectives of the Convention to Combat Desertification and the Convention on Biological Diversity; and identifying policy frameworks for addressing climate change, desertification, and biological diversity. The Forum noted that climate change will likely accelerate desertification and biodiversity loss and that human activities that lead to desertification and biodiversity loss (such as soil and land degradation) contribute to global climate changes. Two key issues that were identified are (1) how to adapt to climate change and (2) the role of land use and forest activities in implementing the Climate Change Convention and its Kyoto Protocol.

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