Climatologists available to comment on EPA power plant regulations

Athens, Ga. – On June 2, the Environmental Protection Agency released proposed regulations to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants. According to the EPA, one-third of greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity generation, and coal-the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel-is responsible for the majority of that. The new regulations ask existing plants to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent from their 2005 levels by 2030. The rule will go into effect in June 2016, following a one-year comment period.

Director of the University of Georgia Atmospheric Sciences Program and 2013 president of the American Meteorological Society, J. Marshall Shepherd, said reducing carbon dioxide emissions is one way to address the abundance of greenhouse gases heating the Earth.

“While there is a large stockpile of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which will have impact for years, reductions can address any new emissions,” said Shepherd, a Georgia Athletic Association Professor of atmospheric sciences. “Climate changes naturally and we are able to live comfortably on Earth because of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, otherwise Earth would be too cold to sustain life-like Mars. However, after the Industrial Revolution the natural climate has had a human-contributed steroid-adding more carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere-altering the natural cycle.”

Last year, the global concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was recorded at 400 parts per million for the first time in human history.

“Unchecked, emissions will continue to rise,” Shepherd said. “We should continue to see weather and climate changes as a result of this increase. We may pass tipping points and see system shifts-ice sheet melt, agricultural productivity changes, diseases in places they were not, national security challenges from an open arctic. But, the solution has to be global. The U.S. is not situated in a glass box. Other nations are big emitters now too and that is still a challenge for the global climate.”

UGA experts available to speak on greenhouse gas effects on climate, as well as their contact information, are listed below. For more information, contact UGA News Service at 706-542-8083 or news@uga.edu.

J. Marshall Shepherd
Georgia Athletic Association Professor and Director of Atmospheric Sciences Program. Current president of the American Meteorological Society.
Email: marshgeo@uga.edu
Twitter: @DrShepherd2013
Phone: 706-542-0517
Expertise: weather, climate science, urban climatology, remote sensing of water cycle processes, communicating earth sciences

Thomas Mote
Professor and head of the department of geography
UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
Email: tmote@uga.edu
Phone: 706-542-2856
Expertise: synoptic meteorology, remote sensing, hydroclimatology, the cryosphere

Pam Knox
UGA agricultural climatologist
UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Email: pknox@uga.edu
Phone: 706-542-6067, 706-310-3467
Expertise: climate impact on crops and livestock
*Not available on June 3.

David Stooksbury
UGA climatologist and associate professor of engineering
College of Engineering
Email: stooks@engr.uga.edu
Phone: 706-583-8806
Expertise: climate, coastal systems, wind/solar resources