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February 5-8, 2018

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Latest Newsletters

Posted on

China Launches World’s Largest Carbon Market

Swamp Stomp

Volume 18, Issue 3

Premier Xi Jinping of China announced on December 19th that his country was opening the largest carbon trading market in the world, fulfilling China’s pledge to do just that in two years’ time at the 2015 Paris climate summit. This comes after US president Donald Trump rescinded the United States’ commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris accords earlier this year, leaving a vacuum in global climate change leadership that many expect China to fill. “The launching of China’s national emissions trading system is a significant step in a long march toward a clean energy economy,” president of Energy Foundation China, Zou Ji, told HuffPost. “By launching, China sends a strong political signal internationally that China is keeping its global commitments, and is committed to the Paris Agreement.” China’s carbon trading market would function as a “cap and trade” system, wherein the central government puts a price on carbon by instituting a “cap” on the total amount of greenhouse gases a given industry is allowed to produce within a given time frame. Companies that produce less carbon dioxide than the cap allows for can then sell “carbon credits” to companies that exceeded the emissions cap, incentivizing companies to produce less greenhouse gases. As caps are reduced each year, so too are the country’s total emissions over the course of several years. Although the scheme only covers power plants producing more than 26,000 tons of carbon per year, which collectively produce 33% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, the government plans to extend the program to other industries in the future if it proves successful, such as the petrochemical, aviation, and steel industries. Due to the sheer size of China’s power sector, however, the 3.3 billion tons of carbon that are expected to be traded annually on the new market dwarfs the emissions covered by the world’s next biggest carbon market, that of the European Union, which covers only 2 billion tons of carbon annually. The high emissions are due in part to China’s massive population, which at 1.3 billion people makes it the world’s most populous country, as well as the world’s number one emitter of greenhouse gases. Yet China’s per capita emissions still lag behind that of the United States, which are more than double that of China. Ambitious as China’s cap and trade scheme is, official trading will probably not begin until 2019, according to Energy Foundation China, as the Chinese government has yet to fully plan out the regulations under which the market would operate. Of particular concern is determining how to get the price of carbon high enough to be effective at actually limiting emissions, an objective the European Union market struggled with in the wake of the 2008 financial crises when the price for carbon credits dipped from 25 Euros per ton to 5 Euros per ton, eventually stabilizing at around 7 Euros per ton. According to economists, every ton of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere today will do $125 worth of damage to society at a global scale in the future, a number commonly referred to as the social cost of carbon. In order for the scheme to actually reduce emissions and have a mitigating effect on climate change, the price of carbon needs to be as close to this number as possible. If all goes well, the program could help China achieve its goal of reaching peak carbon dioxide production by 2030.


  1. Bradsher, Keith and Lisa Friedman. “China Unveils an Ambitious Plan to Curb Climate Change Emissions.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 19 December 2017. Web. 23 December 2017.
  2. Mosbergen, Dominique. “China Unveils World’s Largest Carbon Market.” HuffPost. Huffington Post, 19 December 2017. Web. 23 December 2017.
  3. Rathi, Akshat and Echo Huang. “The complete guide to the world’s largest carbon market that just launched in China.” Quartz. Quartz Media LLC, 18 December 2017. Web. 22 December 2017.
Posted on

One of the Worst Fires in State History Ravages Southern California

Swamp Stomp

Volume 18, Issue 2

Over 230,000 square acres and upwards of 1,000 structures in urban southern California have been burned in what is now recognized as one of the worst wildfires in California state history. At least 200,000 residents from the towns of Ventura, Ojai, and Montecito, all to the northwest of Los Angeles, have been evacuated as the flames continue to be driven west by the desiccating Santa Ana winds, annual gusts that blow from the southwest deserts over the Santa Ana mountain range and into coastal California in the winter. “It’s not like someone-pointing-a-gun-at-you scared,” said Montecito resident Charles McCaleb referencing the approaching wildfire. “Its more of a controlled fright where you know what’s happening.”

Numerous factors are contributing to these intense wildfires, not least of which includes the fact that this summer and fall have been both the hottest and driest on record for California. “The [relative] humidities right now along the coast are much drier than what you’d normally see in the interior desert in the summertime,” said Daniel Swain, a UCLA climate scientist. “Once you get down to 1% or 2%, you’re down almost as low as is physically possible.” After a historically wet winter last year that allowed more grass and underbrush to grow throughout the state than normal, the extreme heat and dryness of summer and fall killed off the majority of this vegetation, building up an excess of natural dry tinder that the current wildfire has been able to continuously feed off of. Even though California’s wet season was supposed to begin in October, precipitation has been below the historical average, further exacerbating the wildfires. “Normally if we had a little bit of rain, there’s some moisture in the soil to recover,” Swain said. “But there is no rain in sight, about as far as I can possibly say about the weather.”

While it is too early to determine, human-induced climate change is thought to be a culprit in contributing to California’s extreme weather conditions, with studies showing that climate change contributed strongly to the state’s drought in 2012. In accordance with climate change models, annual variations of precipitation and temperature, like the kind California has seen in the past decade, are expected to increase, exaggerating the differences between wet and dry years and increasing the risk of wildfires.“ This is looking like the type of year that might occur more often in the future,” said A. Parker Williams, a climate scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, who led one of the studies investigating climate change’s impact on California’s drought.

Some meteorologists argue that climate change may not be to blame, citing a ridge of air over the Pacific Northwest influenced by the naturally occurring La Niña cycle as the reason for southern California’s abnormal weather. Yet according to Dr. Williams, due to the warming effect of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, “whatever happens, it’s all superimposed on a warmer world.”


  1. Fountain, Henry. “In a Warming California, a Future of More Fire.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 7 December 2017. Web. 10 December 2017.
  2. Lai, K.K Rebecca, Derek Watkins and Tim Wallace. “Where the Fires are Spreading in Southern California,” The New York Times. The New York Times, 8 December 2017. Web. 10 December 2017.
  3. Serna, Joseph. “For some, Thomas fire triggers ‘controlled fright.'” The Los Angeles Times. The Los Angeles Times, 11 December 2017. Web. 11 December 2017.
  4. Serna, Joseph. “Why is Southern California burning in December? A climate scientist’s answer.” The Los Angeles Times. The Los Angeles Times, 7 December 2017. Web. 11 December 2017.
Posted on

Duck Hunting Decreasing Across U.S.

Swamp Stomp

Volume 17, Issue 52

Delta Waterfowl has conducted a study that reports that the number of duck hunters on the North American continent is steadily decreasing.  This indicates that the future of conservation projects and, ultimately, the numbers of waterfowl that continent can support are going to fail.

The report was published in the spring issue of Delta’s quarterly magazine.  The story was titled, ‘Looming Crisis: Falling waterfowl hunter numbers threaten the future of hunting and conservation.’ According to Delta’s research, only 998,600 hunters pursued ducks in the United States in 2015. In comparison, 2 million hunters did so in 1970.

The decline in the number of duck hunters started in the mid-1990s. The number of duck hunters has declined almost every year since 1997 when the number of hunters was 1.41 million.

While this may seem like a win for some people, the decrease in duck hunters does cause some issues to arise.  While the decrease in hunting might not cause an issue on its own, but couple that with a record boom in the duck populations and problems occur. While hunter numbers were similar in 2015 to what they were in 1990, in 1990 one of the lowest duck populations since records have been kept occurred. It has been estimated by biologists that fewer than 30 million ducks inhabited the North American continent in 1990. That number has increased to nearly 50 million ducks in 2015.

John Devney, vice president of U.S. policy for Delta Waterfowl believes that one of the causes of the decrease in numbers is because adult hunters do not have access to productive hunting grounds, so they do not take their kid’s hunting.  Since adults are not introducing children to hunting, it leads to problems recruiting hunters later on.

“If we want waterfowl hunter numbers to grow or remain stable, we need recruitment to keep pace with the losses,” he said. “To recruit new hunters, we need to foster a social structure and peer support that allows a kid to stay in the game.

“We tell folks to support conservation — to replace the ducks they shoot every year. We should also be telling them that you must replace yourself as a duck hunter. That’s as big a part of the job as buying a federal duck stamp.”

Devney is mainly concerned that the hunter numbers are declining despite the record duck numbers. Starting in the mid-1990s, hunters have enjoyed liberal season lengths and bag limits because population numbers have been so high. An entire generation of hunters has no idea what it’s like to hunt when regulations are much more restricted.

“And we’re still losing hunters,” Devney said. “What happens when the prairies dry out and we have shorter duck seasons? It scares me to death. Mallards are doing well, but duck hunters are doing terribly.”

What do you think should be done about the increasing duck population?  What is your biggest concern regarding the decrease in the number of duck hunters?

Source: Masson, Todd. “Duck Hunter Numbers Declining Significantly in Louisiana, Nationally.” The Times-Picayune, 22 Mar. 2017. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.