SUSTAINING TENNESSEE IN THE FACE OF CLIMATE CHANGE: GRAND CHALLENGES AND GREAT OPPORTUNITIES
Understanding of climate change and its potential impacts on the environmental and socio-economic conditions and quality of life in the State of Tennessee. Opportunities for adaptation and mitigation.
Due to the increasing severity of ice storms, the Chattanooga Volkswagen production plant spent $5 million in early 2012 to install a fabric hail net over half of its 5,000-space loading yard, thereby protecting shipments of new cars from costly body damage. Each hail-damaged car costs between $300 and $1500 to repair, depending on the number of significant dents. The company has installed a similar hail net at its Nissan production plant in Smyrna. These “hail nets” have recently been installed at the Chattanooga Volkswagen production plant....
By law, nuclear plants may not heat rivers above 86.9°F with their discharged water.i During portions of July and August of 2010, the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA’s) Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant had to run at 50% or less of its capacity when the Tennessee River was found to have temperatures reaching 90°F.ii During that time, TVA had to purchase replacement power for its consumers at expensive rates. TVA ended up spending $80 million to construct an additional cooling tower at Browns Ferry....
Emerging technologies, infrastructure, and markets for biofuels in Tennessee illustrate the links between the energy and agriculture sectors. The potential of biofuels production in the State of Tennessee largely rests on the relative abundance of woody resources and the potential to develop and expand the production of switchgrass (a perennial warm-season native grass)i as well as other bioenergy resources such as agricultural and forest residues. The high cellulosic yield and drought-resistant characteristic of switchgrass make of it a great candidate for feedstock for a second generation biofuels industry. These characteristics also allow switchgrass to substitute for some of the almost two million acres of hay in the State of Tennessee, giving it the potential to become a major agricultural component of the State. Although it seems unlikely that increasing temperatures will reduce switchgrass yields, there should be more agronomic research in this area. Through recent State investments, East Tennessee currentlyTennessee’s built environment is a foundation of social and economic development in the State. The term ‘built environment’ includes urban buildings and spaces, energy systems, transportation systems, water systems, sanitation systems, communication systems, health-care systems, and other products of human design and construction that are intended to deliver services in support of human quality of life. While these different elements are often designed, regulated, and operated by different entities, they comprise an integrated and interdependent system of assets and services. For example, local and regional transportation planning must account for the geographic distribution of people and commerce. Significant infrastructure supports water and wastewater management which, in turn, is essential for everything from industrial activity to emergency management. Disruption of electricity interferes with transportation systems, commercial activity, recreational activity, and telecommunications and can pose indirect threats to public health and safety. Hence, impacts on one part of the system can have cascadingIn contemplating the options available to society to manage the threats posed by climate change to sustainability, researchers and decision-makers often look to two strategies: Mitigation – Reduction in human emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that contribute to global climate change; and Adaptation – Societal and ecological adjustments to minimize the consequences of climate change and/or take advantage of potential opportunities These two strategies are sometimes distinguished as ‘protecting the climate from society’ versus ‘protecting society from the climate’. Both strategies have limitations. Mitigation is constrained by human behaviors and rates and costs of technological change in global energy systems. However, rapid and/or high magnitudes of climate change may exceed the capacity of human systems to adapt due to economic, technological, social, or cultural factors. Hence, both strategies will be needed to manage climate risk, and if pursued in an integrated way, mitigation and adaptation can be complementary. For example,Although global climate change is often discussed as a relatively recent scientific and, at times, political issue, the evidence for global climate change dates to the early 19th century. The following represents a brief summary of the climate change science timeline: 1820: Human-induced climate change was first proposed by mathematician Joseph Fourier when he observed that Earth should be much colder than it is given its distance from the Sun. 1850s: John Tyndall demonstrated that atmospheric gasses such as carbon dioxide (CO2) trap heat to a much greater extent than oxygen and nitrogen. 1899–1903: American geologist T.C. Chamberlain and Swedish chemist Svante Arrehenius independently hypothesized that rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere can lead to changes in Earth’s climate and estimated that a doubling of CO2 might increase global temperatures by 9–11°F. 1938: Callendar observed that CO2 concentrations had increased 10% over the previous 100 years and estimated that a
While the issue of climate change has long been discussed on global level, questions are increasingly being asked regarding what climate change might mean at the local level, where individuals live, work, and play.
Sustaining Tennessee in the Face of Climate Change: Grand Challenges and Opportunities, was prepared for consideration by decision-makers within the government, business communities and nongovernmental organizations of the State of Tennessee, its 95 counties and its municipalities to help understand changes already happening and prepare for them.
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“One of the key points of the report is that we shouldn’t consider climate change in isolation. The effects of climate change will be influenced by other trends in education, health, land use, and economic development.”
“While the report is quite clear about the potential consequences of climate change for Tennessee’s natural resources, economy, and people, it also identifies a wide variety of ‘win win’ opportunities for Tennesseans to promote economic growth and environmental stewardship.”